OlCabour's Hangar

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Space 1999 › Launchpad

Fil des billets

vendredi, 2 mars 2012

Launchpad - the end

The orange ramp is achieved by following the foam template, on which I had written the tiny adjustements to do. Edges and central supports are again made of L PVC strips.

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It is then filled underside squares with foam, sticked with double-side tape, to ensure strong support of the assembly.


The launchpad buildings are detailled with medium gray panels using masks, made in cardboard (old visiting cards). By varying the spraying time with the airbrush, I obtained different shades of gray with only one mixture used.

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The same paint mixture is also used for preshading panels on the orange floor of the platform, adjacent to the access corridor building (this is the part of the orange + that does not go down). Orange is really difficult to work with, as as being a poor covering color, so difficult to paint correctly when used pure. Here, I mixed it with the already made off white (base color of the platform).


The masks are removed from the black disk.

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The medium gray mixture is again handy to make paint the panels on the black disk. We can see that it gives the impression of being very clear !

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The masks are removed from the lift walls.


A small part of the green left in the operation, then I re-hide this little corner, and green apple granny is vaporized.

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The lunar surface is painted my roughcast gray highly thinned with white spirit.


Final details of the service platform are finally cleaned. Bubbles and some casting flaws are hidden with parts from the spare box, or plastic card. It was necessary to remade much of the piping of the cage with Evergreen profiles.

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To ensure proper holding of the cage, metal rods are also installed in the feet, and holes drilled in the surface.

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It is then painted like the others launchpad buildings (off white and some effects of gray panels). The floor is simply stuck in place with double-side tape. Metal rods works so well that no glue was needed to set the cage.

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Back on the lunar surface, with the"dust" effect. Initially I had thought to use gray pigment or cement. Finally, I simply sprayed a light gray with the airbrush hold as horizontal as possible, and always in the same direction. So each microscopic grain is highlighted. The rendering is really dusty, and it is sufficient to give the desired effect.

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Back on the elevator with the same technique as on the platform: - preshading


- It is covered with off white, panels and markings are applied as preshades before spraying the orange color.

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- Then orange, mixed with off white to improve the coverage of this color.


Little test for eye pleasure :)

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The LED Christmas tree lights are installed. It was not an easy task! Each LED is held in place with hot glue (so that it is not definitive, in case of...). It was really a nightmare to do: I spent hours lying on the floor in an awkward position underneath the box, getting up several times for each LED (and there are around fifty) to ensure it was well positioned, and burning my fingers with hot glue drops ! At the end of the + ramp arms, the space was too small to get the gun so I had to play with an improvised sort of spatula, made from an half of pliers. I poured a large drop of glue on the spatula, that I had then to move very quickly to the right place (with my other hand, holding the LED, hiding the light there). Briefly, each LED took several attempts.

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For two lights at the corner of roof of the building (the trapezoidal one), it was not easy to put the LED in front without seeing anything. So I installed metal tubes, along the rail corridor/access hatch, in which I insert the LED (again, stuck with hot glue) on one side, and in which is shifted the optical fiber when this part of the building is installed.

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LEDs are also placed behind the windows. To avoid seeing inside, the windows are hidden using frosted clear transparent sheets.

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The trapezoidal building is not glued, to keep access to the inside if necessary. The corridor will remain movable by hand, because I did not have time to think about how to install a suitable mechanism.

The small cover, retractable back when the mandrel get up. Small plastic rectangles stop the rails to hold him in down position. left, track sealed | On the right, not yet.


The board which support the LabJack is screwed in its final position. As it significzntly waved when it goes in down position, I had to reinforce the board. I intended to use cleats, but I came across a better solution in the various spare items hanging out in my garage: aluminum rails for a do-it-yourself cupboard, that were not used. They are much stiffer than the cleats, and were even pre-perforated for easy screwing.


To store the adapter, the wire and the switch of the LED Christmas tree lights and avoid all this to shaking during transport, I stuck a cardboard box inside.


Some overviews

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Light gray, and a little dark gray are vaporized in the center of the elevator platform to give the burnt effects from the reactors thrusters.


Ater having reinforced the LabJack's board, the platform rises nicely, for cons, it generates a lot of vibration when it goes down. These vibrations are even send to all the box. Though I tighten/loosen/greased the cogs of the LabJack, nothing worked. On a Jean-Marc idea, we tested another approach: stress ,with a rubber band, the two rods that slide the along the labjack central endless screw. A first quick test showed that it was the right approach.


jeudi, 1 mars 2012

Launchpad - Base colors

The floor of the service platform is removed. This time, I will use thin sheet of MDF medium wood (3mm), again covered with plastic card.

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The seal is worked with atwo-component putty Tamyia and cellulosic automotive putty.


After one or two drying days, the whole launchpad is covered with automotive primer.

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The lunar surface is set in its place, finally stuck with the sameo gun glue, used previously with the hangar staturoc walls.


Some holes are filled with foam spare parts.


Then the joints are filled all around the launchpad with a clay like mixture made of black paint and roughcast.

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The remaining mixture is then thinned with white spirit, and spread on the ground.

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The result is less nice than on the test shot because I had to change the paint in the meantime (for the test, it was a bottom of the jar that I had for over 5 years, and it laid down its arms on the box). I did not find the pretty nice dull gray of the first test.
And, without noticing, I had less burrowed the ground, and I find it a bit flat ... Too bad, it will remain like that.
For the color, I will adjust it with a new coat of grey paint.

Quick little test with a coat of primer gray (spray can) over it.


Pre-shading of the launchpad.

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The upper disc is painted with satin black spray.

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It is masked, and a layer of Tamiya matt white, slightly broken with Sky Grey, and completed with few drops of Klir t(o make it less brittle), is airbrushed in several thin coats.
To protect it, I "sealed" it with a thin coat of Tamyia white surface surfacer in spray can (poor covering, and slightly satin).

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Launchpad - Ramp walls and main assembly

Here are the latest developments on the launchpad:

- The box is covered with primer, then painted satin black (3 layers of glycero paint), applied with a paint gun. As the sides are vertical, drips form naturally after a few minutes, they were smoothed with a small paint roller. The black is not dry, so it looks glossy on the picture.


- The walls of the elevator are also covered with primer.


The color choice is then a dilemma. Indeed, many launchpads were built for the series (at least 3, certainly at different scales). At least two were mechanized, and they did have completely different elevator inner wall (see the shots from Catacombs website) :

-> A white style: smooth walls, devoid of detail. Gray stripes and black panels with masks. http://www.space1999.net/catacombs/main/images/space/bs/spbs109.jpg

-> A Green style: really detailed, a little in back from the edge of the platform, with the same color of the hangar walls, detailed with rows, showing also raws of yellow panels (windows?) http://www.space1999.net/catacombs/main/images/space/tis/sptis198.jpg

The green style is by far the most attractive and is consistent with the hangar, but also the most detailed. By cons on the kit, I could not easily free myself of smooth walls due to the thickness of the parts and to the tiny space I already had to insert the LED Christmas tree lights. So, I went on a mix of the 2: smooth walls in the style of the first (white), but with the color palette of the second (green).

I first realized a black preshading.


Then the Granny's apple green is applied. A first test on the small movable square shows that painting stuck badly (withdrawals around asperities, and even around the preshading itself! ...), so I covered the walls with a layer of matt coat to even out the surface and give more attachment points to the paint. This little trick worked well, and the green stuck well, I applied three light coats to avoid drops.

First layer:


2nd layer:


3rd layer:


Khaki green strips are then made with a stencil (cut out from an old calendar)

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Still using cardboard stencils, rows of 3 or 4 yellow windows are added (in green walls style), and black panels/windows (in the white walls style).


All elements are dry tested again


Some tests for fun ;-) The "+" ramp is still a working version

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The buildings are screwed from below. Having previously leveled the elements, with cutouts of medium wood, from the lunar surface, had already the side effect of facilitating a modular construction. A second positive side effect is that these modules are just quickly screwed to the floor board from bellow (no glue needed). And third interest, these boards screwed between them seriously reinforced the floor board, keeping it flat.

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The joint between the disk and the central rectangular platform and a default that appeared on the surface (sorry, no photo) is worked with sintofer.

This done, I sprayed primer, which showed some imperfections, so I covered it an heavy coat of spray putty, and I let sit overnight.


The next morning, I realized that all these people reacted between them and created lots of small bulges. I tried to sand, but it was impossible to correct this, as the thickness the plastic card is not sufficient. In short, it's bad luck, I have to remove that part and scratch it again...


Launchpad - Moon surface and access corridor

The upper slide was saved and reused on new wooden blocks.


This story also helps me deal with something I had forgotten: the two signal light at the upper corners of the roof. The roof is drilled to allow 3mm optical fiber to come through. The wall part is rather thick and must be heavily sand in the corners (inner side). The optical fiber is softened with a lighter to make an elbow.

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The bottom slide is quickly performed on the same principle as the top one.

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The main building is glued to a wooden base, bringing it at the same level as the central disk.

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The service platform is also mounted on a rectangular wooden base. Wood blocks will also provide good support on the sides.

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The floor is made of thick cardboard (3mm)

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then covered with plastic card 0.5mm


Here are some test shots pictures during the different steps presented in this post. It's starting to look interesting :)

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Next step : the lunar surface. It is made from foam plates worked with a blowtorch (the room must by aired frequently. I avoided ventilation during the operation as I did not wanted that an air blow returned the flame in my face)

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The foam boards are then cut to the right dimensions. It is important to not do it before heating the foam, as it retracted slightly on all the edges, and are no longer straight.

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The moonbase has migrated to Tatooine! :)

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A side effect is that the foam surface "caramelizes" under the action of the flame. This does not fit yet with a very dusty lunar surface.


On a spare part, I did a first test by covering the foam with a mixture of paint and of sand.
To be exact, with no sand on hand, but bags of roughcast remaining since a face lift of my house frontage, So I gave it a shot.
I had seen the workers spraying with water by a system looking like a paint gun. But mixing a little of this material with water in a jar, they did not mix together.
So I tried with white spirit, and I immediately get thinned paint (the wall color) and a layer of sand.
In short:
- Roughcast is made of sand and glycero paint !
- Fortunately, it just do not mix with water, it would not come very useful if we don't want our walls to run every time it rains !
- The workers used water as a "vehicle" and not as a thinner.
End of digression ;-)

So I mixed the roughcast with black glycero paint and I spreaded this sandy and pasty mixture on the caramelized foam part with on old paintbrush, and I find the result rather encouraging. The photos are not great, because the device was very hard to get focus.

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To prevent light leakage from the LED, the inner sides of the buildings and central disk received an aluminium coat covered with black (bith with spray can)


vendredi, 24 février 2012

Launchpad - Lights and LEDs

For the lighting signals, I finally left the optical fiber for a simplier solution. As it was the end of the year, stores were full of LED's Christmas tree lights, and I found one with 80 white LEDs.

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The lights seem to differ in size and in their shape during the show (see Catacombs) :

  • bulbed or (harder to identifie with the brightness) cylindrical.
  • Reduced to the scale of the kit, the bulbed one would be 2 or 3mm in diameter (with a small rim), to 3 or 4mm for cylindrical (without rim).

Here, my 5mm LED next to the 3mm hole originally planned for the optical fiber.

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So, they are a bit too big, but considering the time saved, I'll accommodate.

Launchpad - a frisbee ?

On the floor board, the platform location is hollowed to give access from below for the lighting installation and the elevator mechanism. IMG_8648

While creating the big box, I did not thought about lunar surface, which I intend to achieve with polystyrene insulation boards, shaped and covered with gray pigment. Suddenly, I realized that I had to raise the platform to give a little more room in depth. It's easy enough for straight parts. But I had to make a disk from medium wood in a 1 cm thick board, and hollow out the inside to once again have access to the interior. IMG_8606

That's a nice frisbee! IMG_8611 IMG_8612

The little tongues will be used as support to hold the quarter rounds parts.

A nice consequence is that It will be more easy to work on the launchpad disk once the parts glued.

The curved faces of the disk parts are cleaned : filling bubbles, sanding.... Sometimes, I hid defaults with plastic card strips. IMG_8614 IMG_8601

Filling bubbles in detail corners is a time consuming sport, and need much tries. So I use a simple trick, that usually works at the first try : I push a plastic rod of an appropriate diameter into the hole, with a drop of superglue. 30 minutes later, I cut the rod with wire cutters (a classic cutter can cause a twist that can break off or unstick the rod) and I sand the excess. IMG_8600

A feature of the Launchpad is to have a series of white lights surrounding the orange ramp. I will go with 3mm diameter LED or fiber optic, so I did 43 (!) holes, first with a 2mm drill and are then enlarged with 3mm. IMG_8615

Here a test with 3mm fiber optic IMG_8616 IMG_8618

A too wide hole (I slipped) is corrected with cyano and resin dust laying on the workbench. Sanding should be done quickly behind when just dried, because when the mixture has fully cured, it is very difficult to sand properly. IMG_8620

Before gluing the disk, I have to find a way and prepare the installation of the lights.

Meanwhile, I clean the parts that I had not yet touched.

- The service platform

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- Extension of main building and its access corridor.


vendredi, 13 janvier 2012

Launchpad - building the box

As the hangar, the boards were cut on measure. The housing is built quickly. The sides hold between them with square wood. The floor will layed on these same squares in the corners, and on cleats on the sides. The board that can be seen in the bottom of the box will support the LabJack.


The location of the platform is drawn. This area will be removed to facilitate the later installation of parts and allow the elevator to go down.

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vendredi, 23 décembre 2011

Launchpad - Mechanized lift

I really wanted to mechanize the platform (an old childhood dream) and could not find an easy solution, which did not require me to become an electronician apprentice. On the advice of Alexandre Dumas, I made the acquisition of a small laboratory support (LabJack). http://www.crscientific.com/labjacks.html

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The minimum deflection of the support is 6.5 cm (the max being +30cm) and as a platform measuring ~5.5 cm high, if I want to have a run of 10 cm for the orange elevator, the dio will therefore be based on a box of 11 cm minimum height. The top plate of the LabJack is simply fixed with screws, so I may remove it and replace it with L aluminum strips (these strips will be reinforcements of the orange platform).


The same goes for the feet (they are screwed), so the labjack can be easily fixed on a board inside the dio box.

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A little test

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Finally, that will do it, but dio is getting a good fifteen cm  thick in this story !

It remains me to solve the problem of the engine of the elevator, which is now limited to the engine the LabJack, and therefore its central wheel.

After looking again for a while on the side of the electronics with stepper motors for example, Jean-Marc Deschamps arrived to the rescue (as Zorro on his big black horse:-D) with an easy solution : an electric screwdriver connected to the labjack with an flexible mandrel extension

A final detail remains to be settled: build stops in this mechanism to prevent the elevator from exceeding the top of the platform, without damaging it by the way, and always without electronic's. The idea is to block the mechanism just enough time to remove the finger from the trigger of the screwdriver.

For now, I only see two solutions:

  • use a tube to plug in the central screw and block it
  • make a hole in the central screw to insert a stop


Launchpad - Repairing the damages

The damages on the 4 quarter lift platform are repaired with cyano glue. The joints are not yet worked nor filled but some resin is flow along the edge dove, inside of course, to strengthen it. Some house painting tape and three small streams of resin did the job perfectly. In just over an hour, the face became strong enough.

  • before

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  • after

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As I was starting do the same with the two other sides (those forming the square angle), I realized that these walls must be removed ! Indeed, there is a 6 or 7 millimeters step, which, if it is static, lay the "+" orange lift part. Which also means I'll have to recreate all the walls revealing itself when the elevator slides down.

  • before


  • after

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Launchpad - First day

This is the result of the first day on the subject, immediately after receiving it in September. Indeed, I did not resist and I had immediately started work on parts of the main building :

  • Fast filling of the bubbles: the filler is wiped with acetone after 2 hours of drying. It will be very big, so it is not worth too much polish on the details finish as it will not be viewable.

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  • Other bubbles, which damaged the details, are filled with plastic strip, voluntarily taken in a different size than the original part to recap: rather than trying to redo the missing details, I divert the attention with a different detail.


  • Some casting flaws are masked with the plastic card


  • the main building is quickly built, with the help of PVC L strip (spare parts from a PVC windows frame installation in my house).

A wood reinforcement is added to the base of the building. It will certainly need a second one (I'll see that later). The joints are not yet filled, either, it will wait until the building construction is far ahead.

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The tab on the back side was deliberately not glued, in case I need to allow the passage of  electrical lighting and power wires. Since the subject has evolved (explanation coming soon), the wires will go elsewhere.  

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