About this Blog

This is about the combination of two interests, Radio Control vehicles and Science Fiction models. Its also about vehicle design. The models have to satisfy two main precepts.

1. The vehicles have to work, ie be driveable, but not nescessarily win any races or rock crawling competitions.

2. The main thing is that they have to look cool.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Moebius-1 part 6

I have started on the main hull and cockpit section.

First up I reinforced the 3mm aluminium plate with some 3mm thick angle, pop riveted on. The weight of the flat top was sagging a bit after pressing on it while detailing the top surface of the flat top. Next some 10mm thick foamed PVC sheet formers were positioned and some 2mm black styrene sheet was added longitudinally.

67mm OD PVC tube was cut up on the bandsaw and superglued to the sides of the black styrene box to form the curved sides of the top of the hull.

The hull was carefully profiled with a Dremel sanding drum to match the curvature of the dome/half sphere which was masked up and superglued to the front end of the hull.
I then filled in the compound curve section of the lower hull with foamed PVC leaving about 2mm left for car putty to form the finished surface.

Car Putty was then applied. When the filler was still at the leather stage unwanted lumps were cut away with an extended Olfa snapper knife, then after fully set sanded with a sanding stick, a piece of 6mm plywood with 80 grit wet and dry sandpaper spray glued on.  This was repeated with rapidly decreasing amounts of filler about 4 times to eventually fill in all the low spots.

The Blue tape covers a DC power connector installed flush with the bottom of the hull. The other hole is for the support pipe.

The dark line shows the point where the hull is split. It hooks on at the top with a tab that fits into a slot and is retained at the bottom with a screw that goes into 3 layers of 2mm styrene. I didn't have this split originally but found I had no room to remove the ribbed cover under the flat top that is held on by a magnet to access all the wiring. I think it will be better to have the cockpit section removable to work on anyway so its turned out for the better. I will install a plug and socket for the electrical power to the cockpit lighting.

Here is the model the right way up so far with a few shamefully unfinished projects in the background.

I was attempting to get this finished for the Wasmex scale model show which is in April but I don't think I will make it as there is still a lot to do. Hopefully I will have it done by Supanova which I believe is in June.

Thanks for looking, more soon...

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Moebius-1 part 5

Along with some more styrene sheet and kit part detailing, I have added a piping layer to the underside of the Flat Top.

The large pipes are made from 8mm ABS solid Rod from Hobby King with mid sizes from assorted plastic knitting needles. These were heat bent using a hot air gun and a simple right angle made from a slightly rounded corner of a scrap of 9mm plywood. The solid works well for heat bending as it maintains its profile while bending unlike tube that would collapse and fold in on itself.

Some short pieces of Evergreen Styrene tubing were used on the 8mm rod for joints. The small size pipe is from the usual pvc sheathed copper single core electrical cable at 4mm.

Then, to see how how well it is looking and whether any more detailing is needed it was time to spray some grey primer.

I think it is probably enough detail for now, the rest can be done in paint.

It is time to get started on the hull and cockpit bubble.
More soon...

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Moebius-1 part 4

I started paneling and detailing the flat top side of the moebius-1 project.
It's still a work in progress.

The long grey finned panel at the rear above where the engines sit is a paper guide from an inkjet printer. The two red panels are from the transformers SCVNGR toy.

The rest is an assortment of kit parts, evergreen panels and strips, black 2mm, 1mm and 0.5mm styrene and 3mm and 6mm foamed pvc sheet.

There is still more paneling and piping to be done as well as a fine detail pass.

Thanks for looking.
More soon...

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Moebius-1 part 3

Thanks to a reader comment I have finalised  the design and construction of the forward pontoons.
The reader suggested that the original Battlestar Galactica flat top pontoons were made from Bolton Paul defiant fuselages and that lead me to look at other suitable aircraft kit donors. I was originally thinking submarine hulls but couldn't find anything cheap enough or the right length to width ratio. Finally I found some 1/144 scale Kawanishi " Emily" flying boat kits at the right price and importantly the right size for my needs on Hobby link Japan.

The fuselage sides are cemented to a central spine made from two layers of 2mm styrene sandwiching a core of two layers of 1.5mm styrene. The two layers of 1.5mm styrene leave a 3mm wide pocket for the support struts made from heat bent 3mm PVC sheet.

A section of fuselage was cut away for some recessed nurney kit part detail.

 Here they are with the first coat of grey primer. There is still a bit of spot puttying required here and there to be done, along with some detail on the struts but for the most part they are done.

And finally here they are in position on the spaceship hull.

Thanks for looking, more soon...

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Moebius-1 part 2

Part 1 here

Most of the large toybashed detail pieces have now been superglued to the underside of the flat top.
The final placement differs only slightly from the preliminary layout and I have laid out a couple of non-lethal plastic mousetraps which you can clearly see labelled Big Cheese.

The clear baby's toy housing has had some 10mm ABS half round strips added to mimic the ribbing in the concept sketch. It took a lot of bending by hand to get them into the contour to match the surface of the baby's toy. The half round strips were purchased online from HobbyKing along with a selection of the other ABS profiles they carry such as square, rod and tube. They are not very precisely extruded, for example the half round shapes are a bit flatter than an exact half circle and the square sides are not exactly at 90 degrees or flat but they come 500mm long and are very cheap.

On the sides there is half a section of a crane toy, another charity shop find and the Blade support arms from the old Bruder dozer toy. I have to find something to go in the gap at the side in front of the mouse trap, it may be half a cab from the Transformers SCVNGR toy.

The front section is pretty much sorted with just a layer of finer detail and piping to come. I have to remember to leave a space for the "pontoon/float" support struts you can see in the concept sketch. In fact I still havn't come up with anything for those pontoon shapes. I was thinking of a couple of submarine hulls chopped up but I cant find any sub kits cheap enough at the size I need and I haven't stumbled across anything suitable in my charity shop visits so far.

The vacant space in front of the engines is also still unresolved at this point, I haven't found anything in my stash I like for that area yet, might have to build something...

Thanks for looking, more soon.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Post Comments

Google changed the way the comments system worked in May 2018 with out telling me. Since then I have not received an email notifying me that a comment has been left as I always did in the past. All the comments are moderated by me, that is I have to read them and then approve them for publishing on the blog posts. I have been wondering why nobody was commenting anymore, first assuming that interest in my projects had diminished so much that nobody was reading anymore. I just did a search on the topic and find its a huge issue for all the users of google blogger with masses of complaints about the change. I casually looked at the comments awaiting moderation and there was a small stack sitting there I didn't realise was there.
I have now approved all the comments that have been waiting in the queue and apologise for the lateness of publication. The comments really do keep my motivation high and I appreciate the time and effort taken to make them.
In the future I will be more diligent in scanning the comment moderation list.

On a side note I am now on instagram, search for #rcscifi
I occasionally publish sample pictures of the projects before I do a blog post but the blog will be the best place to read all the detail and see all the pics on a any project.

Below is a photo from a show I worked on in Sydney Australia in 1989. It was a series of the Japanese giant superhero Ultraman known as Ultraman Into the Future or Ultraman Great in Japan. It was the first series shot outside of Japan in english. I co-designed and built this underground base along with Adam Grace.  I also designed and built the small white 6 wheel service trucks you can see. They were made from a block of pine wood, some kit parts and some wheels from cheap toys I bought in the Franklins supermarket over the road from the studio. I might do some posts on the work done for this show in the future.

If you're curious the series can be found on YouTube the first episode of which is below. I must warn you that it is no Citizen Kane but it does however have some interesting examples of miniature effects done on a very low budget. I can add that it was a huge amount of fun to work on, 'cause nuthin' beats building models and blowing them up.

more soon...

Monday, 13 August 2018

Moebius-1 part 1

I have started a new project, a spaceship model and one I have been thinking about off and on over the last 3 years or so.
I came across a concept sketch of a background spaceship called Flat Top from the original late seventies Battlestar Galactica series on the website galactica.tv a site that has a lot of interesting info on the original series. The sketch may be by Joe Johnston, it certainly looks a lot like his style, but is not signed so it's attribution is not certain. Here's the sketch below followed by the Flat Top model made for the show;

and for comparison here is Moebius's original ship;

The Flat Top in Battlestar Galactica is a particularly rough and ready model perfectly suitable for use as a background ship in the so called Rag Tag Fleet. It does not faithfully copy the two seater bubble  Moebius design but ups the scale somewhat making it a much larger ship.
As is my custom, I am not making a Flat Top replica but am freely interpreting the concept sketch in my own way. I rather liked the Moebius two seater configuration and the clear bubble cockpit so one of the first questions as to the feasibility of the project was to locate a suitable clear plastic sphere or more usefully a pair of half spheres. A couple of years ago I did eventually find some cheap domes on ebay in the form of dummy CCTV cameras at about 100mm in diameter. Scaling up the drawing I reasoned that the length of the craft was roughly 10 times the diameter of the sphere so a 100mm sphere would equate to a metre long ship. The scale works out to be 1/24 as I think I can comfortably fit two 1/24 scale driver figures into the 100mm bubble.

More recently I started on a rough 2D cad drawing tracing over the artwork scaled up to size in the free 2D CAD program DraftSight.

In both Moebius's ship and the BG Flat Top there is a single central support column that ties the flat upper part of the ship to the lower crew hull. This is one of the areas in which my interpretation of the concept sketch differs significantly in that I propose that there are two angled columns either side of the central spine that sits under the flat top section. In my view the concept drawing suggests that the column is in front of the large ribbed form and not in line with it. The other significant difference is in the shape of the flat top section. Again Mobius's original design shows a simple rectangle and the BG version follows suit. I am going for what I can only describe as a coffin shaped outline. 

One of the first tasks was to make a supporting armature that rigidly held the major sections together and provide mounting points and electrical power connectors. This I made using aluminium rectangular and channel section, 3mm aluminium sheet and 3/8" steel water pipe fittings. I did make an error in the angled cuts on the rectangular section. The angle struts are are several degrees too steep fore and aft but I should be able to correct this with the cladding.
As a TIG welder capable of welding aluminium is way beyond my means I used aluminium brazing rod. It goes under a few different names such As Durafix or HTS-2000 and only needs a propane torch to melt. Unlike a silver soldering process, the rods do not work with capillary action, the melted material will just bond with the surface and bridge across the joins much like welding, so to get a really strong bond, where possible, I will tin both surfaces first before placing them together and reheating them until the material on the joints melts and fuses together. This means you have to be able to precisely locate the two parts together where they need to join so they cant move whilst heating and joining. I drilled a small hole in the plate and the strut and bolted them together whilst reheating the joints. Once remelted I had to tap the parts until the melted brazing rod flattened and joined together. The solidified material on the pre-timnned surfaces takes up some thickness which the bolts are tightened against. Once it melts again the bolts will become loose so it is a tricky operation to get right. You have to scratch the rod on the surface to get the material to bond properly as this process removes the aluminium oxide on the surface of the parts which floats to the surface, increasing the bond strength. You can also use a piece of stainless steel wire to scratch the surface during the melting process. In fact you have to thoroughly clean the mating parts with a stainless steel brush before you start or the stuff will not stick. Any contamination from ordinary steel and the bond wont work at all.

The flat top surface is made from 6mm foamed PVC sheet with a stiffening spine of 12mmm aluminium C channel and a reinforcing bridge of 10mm solid grey PVC. Provision has been made for mounting on the top surface as well as the under hull section along with 12volt DC power connections. A second layer of 3mm foamed PVC sheet will be added to the underside so that the 3mm aluminium flat plate will become flush.

The main spine forms and under surface detailing will incorporate a number of charity shop toy parts I have on hand and some I have recently acquired. As an example here are a couple of recent charity shop acquisitions;

The large clear plastic part of the babys' toy on the left is being used along with a similar clear dome part to the one on the right. I don't know what this clear plastic is but it has a slightly rubbery feel to the surface, deforms without cracking and sticks with the normal solvents that cement acrylic, ABS and High Impact Styrene. It can also be sanded and painted just like the previously mentioned plastics.
Below is some preliminary laying out of the charity shop main central spine parts. From the rear the order of parts is as follows; half an acrylic wine glass, the clear dome from a baby toy followed by the baby toy part shown above, then dummy CCTV camera bases joined end for end and cut down, the inside of a plastic double walled drinking cup, two wheels halves from a WallE truck toy and then half of a strange Toy Story electronic TV game.

I was contemplating a few notions for the engines when I pulled out some bits left over form the first toybash truck project that used a couple of cheap rubbish truck toys. These are two front cabs with the roof, grills and bumpers removed and turned to face upwards.

Here's a picture of the original toy for reference.

 I installed two 12volt led light strips per engine which then get a screen of old fluorescent light diffuser in front and styrene strips glued over all the gaps  from the inside.

I also installed a switch on the top surface so I can turn the engine light off separately from the rest of the lighting. The baby toy shapes were made removable for access using a magnetic cupboard catch at the front. The magnet part was stuck into the clear shell using a lump of epoxy putty placing it into position until the quick hardening putty set. The rear has a convenient lip which fits snugly under the half acrylic wine glass at the back.

I have been playing around with the arrangement of the other large detail pieces to go on the underside of the flat top. These comprise parts left over from the bruder bulldozer and a transformers toy SCVNGR. There is also wheely bin from the rubbish truck plus the two green roofs from the cabs. Except for the central spine parts these are not yet glued into position.

The two orange ribbed tanks are the handles from the controller of a cheap motorised crane toy.

On the sides at the rear are a molding from an old washing machine with a section of disposable razor handle and a part from the WallE truck toy. The brown shapes in front of the green engines are also from the WallE truck toy.

It all looks pretty chaotic at the moment but once that grey primer goes on, somewhat down the track at the moment, it will all get a little more cohesive.

More soon...