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space shuttle stack accurate flight deck question

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On 1/16/2018 at 3:55 AM, Hotdog said:

Looking fantastic so far! Love the new tile work!


Don't forget the tiles in the window frames. I may have omitted them in my original tile drawing.



Thanks Hotdog.  Do you have any images showing the tile detail on the starboard side around the window frames?  I need roughly the same detail that your post above showed on the port side.  Actually, a whole series of images showing the tiling detail would be helpful if you have them.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks Hotdog, those were excellent references.  Here is the newer tile design in progress.  Do you have close up photos or diagrams of the multilayer window frames themselves so I can try to approximate some of the interior sandwiched layers?  As you can see from the most medial window, I currently have two separate layers of plastic deep to the glass layer.  I can see that I need to modify the little black quadrilateral inferior to the middle window - it's too long in my design.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Uwe,


Thank you for your interest.  I am trying to finish the revisions and will send off for what hopefully is the final test print in a week or two.  I am guessing that it will take another 2-3 weeks for that to be printed and arrive in my mail for to me to test.  So, hopefully, it will be ready for release in another month or two, beany cap, flight deck, and astronauts, if people who wish to buy the part won‘t mind that I won‘t have had time to really assemble it from start to finish, lighting and everything, but rather just do another test build like I did in this thread.  Given my glacial pace of actual model construction, it will take me a white to assemble my orbiter.


Once I get the model sent off to Shapeways, I will try to create the photo etch HUD frames and paint masks without causing serious harm to myself or the other people in my apartment building.

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Sounds good...I have time. I am in no hurry to start the big shuttle, I still have a 1/144 stack and a 1/100 shuttle to do...Take your time and deliver a 100% product! ;-)




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Thank you for the encouragement, Uwe.  Here is a screenshot of the latest iteration of the cap, which now includes the multilayered windows.  I'll try to make the inner two layers separate pieces so that they're easier to paint.  Thanks Hotdog for the very helpful references.


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  • 1 month later...

Thank you Frank99, those are some helpful images.


I'm still working on finishing the model prior to printing, and I'm experiencing project creep.  I realize that the model might look better with payload bay doors already printed in the shut position (i.e. less filling and fudging to get the edges to look realistic), so I tried to approximate the borders.  Here is the general shape of the doors.  When I loaded it as a test into Shapeways, the doors alone came out to around $36 for the cheap nylon material (white, strong, and flexible), which has a gritty surface that will require sanding.  The smoother materials that would be better for retaining the details of the scribed door lines and hinges would cost around $75 (the HP nylon plastic), so I think this isn't going to be a viable option for now.  I'll try printing a test piece on a 3D printer we have at work just to check for fit and see is this is worth pursuing further.




I tried to make the window multilayer frames as accurate as I could, and saw in one photo that there were some details on the "dashboard" in front of the HUDs that I tried to model.




That's probably all the detail that's worth adding at this scale - I'm not sure if they will be discernible when painted.  Now I need to adjust some of the elements so that they don't overlap with each other and then I can send this off to Shapeways for printing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I survived my first attempt making photo etch without a trip to the ER or a call from the neighbors to the hazmat team, and was able to produce some HUD frames.  Unsure of how thin of a wire the brass would support, I produced multiple variants at 0.25 mm, 0.35, and 0.5 mm thick.  The finer 0.25 mm variants on the far left column worked fine, and as you can see below.  The brass stock I used is 0.03 inches, or 0.7 mm thick, so it's thinner than the microscope glass.




I also played around with the degree of toner deposited on the sprues connecting the the pieces to the rectangular frames.  It looks like at 50% opacity on the bottom row there was an acceptable amount of etching to thin/weaken the sprue about the right amount.


I think the pieces are ready for a final test print.  Here is the base, which I'll print in strong and flexible white, which will need to be sanded down a bit to get the surface smooth:



And here is everything else, to be printed in frosted ultra detail:




I tried to make photo-etch mask covers for the windows to permit airbrush painting of the bolts around the window frames, but the holes were too small (0.5 mm) and the acid didn't penetrate enough to etch them, so I abandoned that idea.  I sunk the bolt holes a little deeper and I think they should be able to be painted with a pinhead with some light gray, and then the overflow around the hole can be dry brushed over with black.



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This is awesome!!!! Fantastic work!


I would advise against trying to sand the White Strong & Flexible material. It's like a fabric, and will only shred, not making the surface any smoother. Your best bet is to spray it with a coat or two of Rustoleum Filler Primer and then sand, or brush the surface with Smooth-On XTC 3D. Come to think of it, the fabric-like surface might be just what you want, considering that the non-tiled surfaces of the nose are covered in thermal blankets.


Can't wait to see how the parts come out.

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  • 2 months later...

Here is a brief update.  Here are the pieces from the latest version of the model, primed, then light-blocked.




I keep getting prints with asymmetrical quality issues - on the cap, on the port side, the tile pattern is clean.



But on this print, the starboard side has artifact that obliterates the tile and window frame details.




Shapeways offered to reprint or refund my money, and I saw a few tiles that didn't lie down correctly (you can see them midline front of the windows in the above images), so I reworked the geometries a little to try to minimize the effect.


After painting, you can appreciate the difference in the finish quality:






I haven't figured out if selecting the print orientation will make a difference with this print - if anyone can give me any guidance on things I could do when I submit it to Shapeways (i.e. how should I orient the piece to optimize print quality), I would be very appreciative.


I proceeded to try to assemble the components to see how the multilayer window frames would look.  I painted the dashboard brown then black on the HUD components.  Those rectangular black pieces on the dashboard are part of the innermost window frame.


I tried painting the black outlines of the windows and the overall tiles with black using latex liquid mask, but the edges weren't clean enough, so I tried to wash the black layer off with alcohol, but in doing so, I cracked the piece.  Next time I'll mask it more laboriously with tape.




The middle sandwich of the multilayer window frames is mostly gray, with a black inner section.




With the cracked tiled cap on, I think you can better appreciate how the layers will appear when it's assembled - the model gives off a nice sense of depth to the layers, and you can distinguish the two deepest layers even though they're both painted scale black..  I left a 0.2mm wide space between the middle layer and the tile cap for the cover slip glass.



I still need to try out the HUD frames and HUD glass, but I ran out of time today.  Also, I need to make a minor modification to the dashboard and will try to sculpt some wrinkles in the ACES suits to make them look a little more realistic, and then I think this model will be ready for release in my Shapeways shop to others who are interested.  I will need to order a final print for myself before Shapeways will allow me to release it to my shop, so this will probably take a few more weeks.


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Great progress! Looks amazing and I'll be excited about ordering this once you get it all figured out.


My experience with Shapeways (even though I'm not much of a 3D modeler) is that print orientation is indeed the reason for the rougher finish on one side. If you can figure out how to rotate it or change the orientation to where the rough side is on the inner side of the cockpit parts, I think you'll have found a work-around for this.


Have you test-fitted this assembly into the kit yet?

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Thanks Catfan and Hotdog.


Here are two photos of a test fit of the cap.  Catfan indicated that he wanted to use the cap on a model with the payload bay doors open, so I realized that I would need to add the fore wall of the payload bay with correctly shaped and positioned windows (as opposed to using the part from the kit).  I was able to print up a mock up of the wall on an FDM printer at work to check the fit.  It's 1 mm in width and snuggles up nicely.  Please be aware that lighting the aft wall of the flight deck will be partially limited with this payload bay wall in place.




If any subject matter experts can provide some images of whatever hardware is mounted on this wall that is visible from the payload bay, I can try to include it.


Exactly concurring with Hotdog's suspicions re: print quality issues, the Shapeways customer service technician confirmed that my cap was being printed upside down, so the support material was in contact with the tiled side of the roof, thus explaining the recurring print artifact problem.  He also told me that quality is better with fewer parts per single model printed, since when you batch them in one printout, the system has to fill the in betweener space with support material.  I thought I was saving on overall part cost by printing as many parts as possible in one model, but apparently that's not the case.  Anyway, I hope that this solves the print quality problem I've been having.


In order to use the flight deck for on-orbit shuttles, I should change the rear stowable seats alignment system.  Right now, I have these little pyramids protruding from the floor that mate with the underside of the seats.  I'll try to make them fit into slots in the floor instead, so that for modelers who don't want the seats mounted the slots can easily be puttied over.


I'll also try to make a few astronauts to mount in the cabin floating around in zero G.  I drew a long sleeved collared shirt, some cargo pants, and socks on a mannequin whose resemblance to one of the Kelly brothers is completely unintentional.  I figured out some basic sculpting techniques so I was able to create the appearance of wrinkles in the fabric this time.  I'll try to work on some hair options, although I'm not sure how it will look.  Basically hair will be a somewhat variegated blob on the scalp.  I'll probably have to make the women astronauts have their hair back in a ponytail.




Based on this diagram of the seats I found online, I created little gray boxes to the left sides of the mission specialist and payload specialist's seats to simulate the portable oxygen system.  Can anyone tell me if these systems were in use on later shuttle flights?




I will try to cut holes in the floor of the flight deck to simulate the interdeck access hatches on starboard and port sides for on orbit models, and then will make some plugs to fill them for the landing and launch configurations.


My apologies to those of you who have been patiently waiting for me to finish and release this model; my regular job is taking up a lot of time presently, so I don't have enough downtime available to focus on this project as much as I would like.  Hopefully the wait will be worth it.






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  • 2 weeks later...

Danke Ralf.  I tried to learn how to use MakeClothes with MakeHuman this past week for the clothes and hair.  Here is my on orbit crew so far:


I can't say that they look a lot like Dave Bowman, Frank Poole, Ryan Stone, Matt Kowalski, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson, but probably nobody will be able to tell who they are at 1:72 scale.  I think Frank and Neil came out the most recognizable.





I'll try to put them in various poses, so that modelers have multiple options - I thought I'd have Dr. Stone operating the Canadarm controller in a floating pose like this:



but there might be too much torque on the forearm to support the weight of the model, so I might have to model the astronaut in a more upright position like this:


Any input from the interested community on how to pose the figures or other figures to model would be welcome.  It's actually not that hard, as Ralf says, to use MakeHuman once you get the clothes loaded.


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Thanks Vidar.  I don't have the 1/100 Tamiya kit, but if this works maybe I'll purchase one and see if I can adapt the parts for a smaller model.  The problem with simply scaling it down is that the thinness of the walls is right at the limit for printing at present, so I can't easily just scale it down by 28% and preserve it's printability.  It would require a lot of rework.


I played around with the posing mode in Blender and fortunately the inverse kinematics option provided with the new MHX2 rigging is a lot easier to use than the old forward kinematics process.  Individual fingers are too thin to print as single appendages, so whatever pose the hands are in, the fingers have to be attached to either each other or some other object or they won't print at all.  So Dave is holding the IBM NewsPad, Frank is looking grumpy at HAL with his arms folded across his chest, Ryan is working the manipulator arm with both hands on the controllers (which I hope will be strong enough to support the weight of the figure), and Neil is pushing himself through the interdeck access hatch.  I thought it might be too crowded to put Matt on the flight deck at the same time, but if there is another space that would make sense to pose a figure I can certainly try to put him in there doing something plausible and let the modeler decide.



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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Okay, hopefully the final test print.


I changed the tiled layer of the beanie cap to give a little (orange) skirt so modelers could hide the seam more easily without sanding off the border of the tiles.  I plan on using medical tape to simulate the quilts, to the seam should be hidden underneath those, as opposed to the prior version where the seam would be right at the tile border.  I created some tab inserts to secure the cap down into little slots; they might need to be sanded down a little if they are too snug to fit into their corresponding slots.






I discovered a large problem with making the beanie cap compatible with the open cargo bay doors: the rear wall of the cap isn't "vertical" like that of the real shuttle.




If you close the cargo doors that come with the Monogram shuttle, they compensate for this angled discrepancy, so I couldn't just make my cap rear end vertical, since I want to model mine in launch configuration.


So, after much trial and error (mostly error), I did this with the replacement for the aft cargo bay bulkhead wall:




Here is what I hope it will look like when assembled:




This blue wedge offsets the bulkhead from the aft windows of the flight deck, so I had to create a little spacer to fill that gap.  It's attached by a sprue to the bottom of the bulkhead wall piece.


Here is the spacer in place.  There is a 0.2 mm thick little recessed area to add the glass cover slip.




I anticipate that it take about 2-3 weeks for Shapeways to get the print to me.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Prints arrived last week, had a little time to work on the parts.  They seem to fit together well.


I primed and painted the white layers on the cap, will wait for it to dry more before I mask and paint the black.  The insertion tabs are a tight fit, but they work; I had to insert a dental tool to clean some print debris out their insertion slots a little bit.  It looks like the orientation of the tiled cap is correct - the tile details are symmetrical and crisp this time.




Please be aware that the wrists of the astronauts are the weak point and snap easily.  I asked Shapeways if I should modify the model of Dr. Stone to include a little safety cage around it.  Her hand arrived broken in the bubble wrap.




I'll try to post some more photos shortly.  I put the models on my Shapeways shop page, but I recommend that modelers who wish to buy the on orbit astronauts wait until I hear back from Shapeways about the breakage before placing an order.  I haven't had a chance to put them all together, but the fit appears to be quite good, including the payload bay wall.




One modeler already placed orders for the parts minus the on orbit astronauts, and I asked him to post in this thread after he receives the parts to provide feedback.



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