1/600 Revell USS Enterprise – Star Trek the Original Series – Build Log

9th December 2013

With the saucer lighting completed and closed up I decided to get back to the nacelle engine lighting.

For the nacelle lighting I’m making an array of 16 LEDs which will flash/chase to simulate the motorised lighting assembly in the original model Enterprise.


The inner 4 LEDs will blink randomly. The Outer ring (chasers) will light up in sets of 3 similar colours and will ‘rotate’ around the disk. So for the outer LEDs all the yellows will be lit, then all the reds, then all the greens, then all the blues. Rinse and repeat.

16 LEDs gives us 32 wires to deal with, so the best thing we can do at this stage is tap into all our reserves of abject laziness and see about reducing the wire count (less work to do and fewer wires to route through the ship later).

LEDs have a positive electrode and a negative electrode (Anode and cathode in LED jive speak). The good news is that to save on wiring and time we can just connect all of the cathodes together and run them from a single negative (or ground) wire.

To make this easier for this build I arranged the LEDs so that all of the cathode legs were on the same circle:

Here’s a Photo-shopped picture to (hopefully) illustrate the idea:


In the above rear view of the LED array, the legs on the LEDs are all aligned to point to the centre of the circle… I’ve drawn green lines that shows the alignment of the LED legs.

The anodes (positive electrodes) all lie on the blue circles, the cathodes (negative electrodes) all lie on the red circles.

Sorry for the clarity of the photo BTW – I’ve had a bit of a mare with photography this evening. First my usual phone camera packed up, so I fired up the DSLR which ran out of batteries and I ended up using the faithful (but senile) Ixus 50. The above photo was taken with the DSLR but trying to get clear photos of things that are silver, shiny, see-through and small seems to be beyond me lol 😉

Anyway, given that the legs of the LEDs are arranged in a cunning pattern, the first job to do in wiring them up was to nip off all the anode legs of the outer ring leaving about 5mm protruding…


With that done, the ring of cathode legs were bent 90 degrees to the right at about the same height that the anodes were trimmed off at…

Again, sorry if the photos aren’t that clear, damned shiny-see-through-chrominess :-$


And here’s another shot this time from the side that hopefully shows it more clearly… (The middle LED anode legs are still intact at this stage)


With all of the cathodes pretty much touching each other in a ring around the disk, they could be liberally soldered together… (Or conservatively or using labour depending on how you vote).


So in the above photo, everything in the solder ring is a cathode (negative leg) and everything else is an anode…

However, the wiring economy was not over by this point, we’d eliminated 15 wires by ‘commoning’ the grounds together, but I also wanted to reduce the number of positive wires (anodes) going to the microcontroller. For this each similar group of colours in the outer ring of LEDs are also commoned together. So all the outer yellows are connected to the same wire, all the same outer reds, all the same outer greens etc… This means that instead of 3 yellow chaser LEDs requiring 3 wires, they can all be driven from a single wire that connect to all three inside the nacelle.

Note that for this build I’m placing the required LED current limiting LEDs inside the base of the model and not close to the LEDs. Usually you’d wire this with one current limiting resistor per LED and mount them on the LED but for wiring and microcontroller channel economy I’m doing things a bit differently here…

Time to prepare the wiring. For any job like this it’s best to cut all the wiring lengths together in advance. That way you get a neater end result than just cutting wires as you go.


It’s also time for the wiring schedule to come out again to make sure I’m numbering the wires correctly so they can be hooked up properly later.

Confession/disclaimer/crap attempt at hypnosis: In the above photo you can see a single red wire connected to the LED array. Now I’d like to ask you to pretend that this is a black wire and not a red wire (look into my eyes, not around the eyes but into them…). The red wire above is actually my ground wire which by tradition (and good practice) should be black, however all I had in my stash was red and green and the red is slightly heavier gauge than the green – hence I decided to use the electrically better (thicker) wire for ground and not one of the correct colour. I’ve caused myself all kinds of pain when I have to connect a red wire to a negative terminal (mental pain not electric shock) but I’d highly recommend when you wire things to choose the traditional colours instead of my half baked scheme 😉

3,2,1 – you’re back in the room…
For this wiring scheme I’m going to need to daisy-chain from one LED to another. For this it is always best to use a ‘mechanical joint’ for the wiring by twisting it together before you tin it and solder it. This is where we want to have two wires soldered onto one pin, and the use of a mechanical joint allows you to solder the wires onto a single pin without them pinging apart and flicking solder in you eye.


Note: If you want to go totally “Isombard Kingdom Brunel” over the wiring job, you’d actually wrap the first wire around the second, and then wrap the second wire around its destination pin. Kind of a mechanical joint which then forms a mechanical joint.

Here’s one of the LED chaser wires soldered up and ready for attachment to the LED array…


The single end on the left will go to the microcontroller (via a resistor) the three daisy chained ends on the right will each go to an LED (yellow in this case).

Once all the wires were prepped as above, they were soldered onto the anode pins of the LEDs.


And here’s the finished engine nacelle lighting loom looking in all it’s glory like the optic nerve of a Terminator…


So there we go, 32 LED pins handled with just 9 wires running to the microcontroller.

Next job will be hooking this up to the microcontroller and writing some code to chase and flash the LEDs – gotta say it’s going to get pretty freakin Christmassy looking on my workbench

Thanks for visiting!

I write this blog for fun, to share what I've learned, and to share my builds with you. If you like what you see here please leave a comment, and head over to facebook and like my page!

Cheers - Rich

59 comments on “1/600 Revell USS Enterprise – Star Trek the Original Series – Build Log
  1. Keith says:

    Hi Richard!
    My name is Keith & I live in Louisiana, USA. I have been studying your awesome build of the Original Series Revell Enterprise. Know you have heard this many times, but….WOW! You did such an amazing job on the building AND the documentation of this model project. My hat is off to you, sir!!! I have purchased the same kit & have rounded up most of what I will need to put her together. I am planning on having the engine nacelle fans rotate via some small DC motors. Also will have LEDs in them of course, though I’m probably only going to have about 8 or so in each. Anyway, I’ll get to the point, (if there is one!😁). Do you think I can drive all the LEDs & the motors with a single Arduino Nano or such? Or would it require two? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much for your time!

    • Richard says:

      Hi Keith, thanks for posting here – much appreciated 🙂

      A single Arduino could handle 8 LEDs no problem at all. Regarding the motors it would depend on what current the motors will draw.

      If I were you I wouldn’t drive the motors from the Arduino because AFAIK the motors will just need to run at a constant speed and will either be on or off (it’s the LEDs that will flash on and off). So probably best to just wire the motors onto the main power supply and not through the Arduino.

      If you do decide to connect the motors to the Arduino, I’d recommend not directly connecting them to the Arduino outputs but instead connect them via a driver transistor. 2 reasons for this: 1) The driver transistor will be what provides the current to the motor, so you won’t be limited to the maximum output current of an Arduino pin. 2) Since motors are inductive loads they can induce a reverse current into their source (back EMF) – this might damage a micro controller so better to have the motor isolated from the chip via a driver transistor.

      HTH – Rich

  2. Goran says:

    Hi, Richard. I have a favor to ask if you could help me. I am trying to buy a plastic box for the stand of my Enterprise, but I don’t know what are dimension of this included stand ? I won’t be able to get to my model few more days, and I need that info like yesterday 🙂 If you have your model somewhere around you, could you post dimensions of the stand (only vertical part that has shape on star trek logo) thanks 🙂

    • Richard says:

      Hi Goran, the height of the vertical part of the stand is 100mm from the top of the base plate to the top of the highest part of the vertical part of the stand. Does that help?

  3. Manuele says:

    Thank you Rich, very helpful
    we completed the same model with arduino and leds, we just added a pulsating led light on the tail

  4. Diego says:


    I found your build log amazing! Please can you share your paint chart for this build? I don’t want to use Revell paint so I want to follow your lead by using Tamiya paint instead.

    Please can you share info?

    Thank you very much

  5. Gordon Duquette says:

    I love the work you did on this build. I know you’re not crazy about the tamiya xf12 with 10% white, but I think it looks great. I was wondering though, you never mentioned whether you added thinner or not. Did you? And how much? And what airbrush did you use? Thanks. Keep up the great work.

    • Richard says:

      Hi Gordon,

      I must admit I’m really happy with the end result but would aim to reduce the green tint if I did one again.

      When I spray Tamiya acrylics I always thin it very heavily probably 30% paint to 70% thinners (X-20a). This way I can build up many coats of paint gradually, and the end result is very smooth and free from orange peel effect.

      My airbrush of choice is the Harder & Steenbeck Evo 2 in 1 with a 0.2mm needle. It’s a great all rounder for modelling and very easy to clean.

      Cheers – Rich

  6. Gordon Duquette says:

    Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it.

  7. Diego says:

    Hi Rich,

    Thank you for your explanation about the paint. Much appreciated.

    I have one more question about the painting. What painting did you use for Engine nachelle’s back end/”exhaust cover” (for want of a better word). It looks like you use same paint on it as intercooler interior (stainless steel paint?). If it is not the case, please can you tell us which grey paint (of Tamiya) did you use on Exhaust cover/back end of nachelle.

    Finally, I was reading Page 7 of Build log and I was a bit unclear on 2nd last paragraph on that page. Shouldn’t it be 32 LEDs and 10 wires running into the microprocessor?

    Thank you again

    • Richard says:

      Hi Diego,

      The round domed bit at the back of the nacelles was done in a very light grey, could have been XF-80 Royal Light Grey with a bit of added white. The bit that the round domed bit attaches onto was painted with XF-66 Light grey.

      In the photo on Page 7, there are 16 LEDs per side which is 32 pins. The outer ring has 4 groups of 3 LEDs (4 wires since I connect all 3 of a similar colour using the same wire) and there are 4 separate inner LEDs (4 wires) plus 1 wire for common which equals 9 wires in total per side.

      • Diego says:

        Hi Rich,

        Thank you for the reply and clarifications as those are much appreciated.

        I thought for once that it was stainless steel on the bit that the round domed bit attached onto. I looked again at the photo and I could see that it just got shiny because of your camera’s flashing. Thank you again for correcting me.

        As for wiring. I admit that I don’t have great experience in electronics myself so I am learning here and there.

        1.) I assume that your reference to common wire as for that Red wire/negative wire?

        2.) After looking at photos and explanations, I realised that it could be possible to extend the daisy chain wiring of outer rings of LEDs to include inner rings of LEDS. So that way, you would use 7 wires (6 “positive” wires and 1 “negative” wire). Does that make sense?

        I haven’t reached this stage yet but I wonder though. Hence, in your frank opinion, is it feasible or workable? Or not possible?

        Thank you for your feedback and sharing your thoughts.


        • Diego says:

          Apolgoises, I made a small mistake in my comment.

          Correction: You would use 6 wires (5 “positive” wires and 1 “negative” wire) per side, at the end.

        • Richard says:

          Hi Diego,

          You’re welcome.

          1) Common wire is also known as ground, negative, earth etc…

          2) The inner ring of LEDs – all LEDs in the inner ring have a separate wire so that they can be flickered on and off individually.

          Any more questions just fire away 🙂


  8. Diego says:

    Hi Rich,

    I wonder if you have used any Tamiya primer for this model kit or not? Especially when you used Tamiya XF-66 paint?

    The reason I asked this is because when I used XF-66 paint on this model as per your build log, the 1st coat was a bit too runny (as if there is too much thinner in the paint which I never used thinner at all as I used brush-painting for this model (I can’t afford air-brushing kit at the moment)). I left it to be dried for a week (I’m poor time-wise) before I applied 2nd coat of XF-66 which something odd happened – 2nd coat painting was basically removing 1st coat of painting! O_O It seems that the painting was too thinning or too running all along.

    I wonder if I apply primer to the parts of this model where XF-66 paint is on, it may stop this problem happening? But then I don’t see anywhere on this build log that you used primer which made me wondering otherwise.

    Thank you again for your insight and helps.


    • Richard says:

      Hi Diego, the problem is that Tamiya paint is not good for hand brushing.

      Tamiya is alcohol based acrylic, and when you brush on a second coat, the alcohol in the paint will eat into the first coat and will turn it back into wet paint.

      For hand brushing you should use a water based acrylic such as Vallejo Model Color. This is excellent paint for hand brushing because once a coat is dry, subsequent coats will not affect the dried coats. Also where it is water based it won’t dry as fast as Tamiya paint so you’ll get a smoother finish.

  9. Gordon Duquette says:

    Hi Richard. Well I’m halfway through my model and I love the color. The green tint doesn’t bother me at all. But I made the mistake of painting the model first before putting it together and puttying and sanding the lines out. It was a nightmare to say the least. I ended up with a less perfect paint job because of it. The reason I went this route was because I was worried about messing the windows up. Did you mask your windows before painting? And if so, what did you use? I’ve watched dozens of videos of people building this model and the 1:350 scale from round 2, but none of them explained how they painted it. I still have the saucer to build, and I’ve heard about this stuff called liquid mask. Is that something I could use to cover up the windows before I paint? I’m sorry this is my first model. I’m still learning. lol

    • Richard says:

      Hi Gordon, I opted for painting the kit first, then fitting the glass, and then gluing it together and sorting out the seams last.

      The reason for this is that to fit it all together and then mask the windows before painting would be a huge job, and it would be difficult to get it looking neat.

      There are several approaches you can take with the windows…

      1. Build the whole kit and paint it at the end. Problem is masking the windows. You can use a masking fluid (Humbrol Maskol) but this will tend to flow right into the seams around the windows and be difficult to remove. Also masking fluid tends to crack the paint around it when removed so you’d end up with a poor finish around the windows. Masking using tape would be very fiddly and time consuming.

      2. Build the whole kit without the glass and paint it at the end. Then use PVA glue to create the windows. With this technique you leave out the glass, paint the model and then put a dab of PVA glue in each window hole to create a window. It will dry clear and look like glass. See page 2 of the build where I tried this but wasn’t satisfied with the result – http://www.makingmodels.co.uk/builds-in-progress/1600-revell-uss-enterprise-star-trek-the-original-series-build-log/3/ good thing is this technique doesn’t require masking.

      3. Paint the kit first, then fit the windows and assemble, taking care of the seams afterwards. This is the approach I chose and it worked for me, though sorting out and re-touching the seams is challenging.

      HTH – Rich

  10. Diego says:

    Hello Richard,

    I was reading this build log – particularly page 4 – concerning the petal lense (the one behind the orange/outer nacelle lense.

    I can’t tell from the pictures on this page 4 – whether you actually painted petal lense or not. If you did paint the petal lense, please could you tell us what paint did you use? It looks like silver paint?

    Although the official revell instruction says that the petal lense to be painted as clear orange and those sticking out bits of lense to be painted as silver, your picture suggested the otherwise.

    Thank you very much for letting us know whether you painted petal lense or not.


    • Richard says:

      The outer petal lens was sanded on the inside to make it opaque, and then sprayed on the inside with Tamiya Clear Orange. This is so that you can’t see through it to see the LEDs.

      The inner clear lens was left clear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *