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space shuttle stack accurate flight deck question

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey folks, first I want to say THANK YOU for all the amazing things you've put together for the shuttle. The 1/72 Shuttle has been an obsession of mine since I first saw the prop in the movie ET. I've been a shuttle fan my whole life, driving to florida for launch after launch until the end. Recently my brother unearthed my old beat up 1/72 monagram and he returned what was left of her to me. Since then I have purchased pretty much every part you folks have on shapeways, and have began tinkering. I recently discovered this blog and if it's cool with you would like to join the discussion and share my build. This build has provided me with much needed therapy during the stress of covid, and I cant thank you enough for providing me this experience. -Simon 

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Hello Simon and Tracy, thank you both for the encouragement.  Tracy, I'm awaiting your response to another message in your Arcforums inbox to help me figure out how to get the umbilicals to fit the Tamiya model.  Scaling those parts down shouldn't be too hard.


Simon, I would be delighted if you would share with us how your build is progressing; please feel free to post to this thread with images of your progress so I can better understand how others are using these part on their models.  Thank you as well for purchasing my parts.


I have tried to modify my SSME mounting plate so that its interface with the body flap looks more accurate.  I had thought that I could leave the bottom lip of the fuselage intact, but after realizing that the body flap has this semicircular surface where it articulates, I decided to make my mounting piece full thickness here and thus require a little more surgery.


Here are the current versions of the parts in Blender.  I added some alignment keys both for the body flap and as you can see in the sockets of the SSME mounts.  I went to the Air and Space museum annex in Virginia a few years ago to take pictures of the Discovery, and as it turns out, the superior and starboard SSME nozzles are identical, and the port nozzle has a different arrangement of the pipes.



This image shows how I am going to try to get the SSME mounting plate to integrate with the fuselage inferiorly along this recessed lip.  You can see that if I had left the inferior edge of the fuselage intact, there's no way I could have sanded it down accurately enough to match the semicircular curve needed for the body flap hinge.



The rounded internal ribbing on the SSME nozzles are 0.17 mm tall and about 0.5 mm wide at their base.  Hopefully they will look realistic when printed in smooth fine detail plastic.  The Ultimaker can't reproduce these details at this size, especially in the print orientation I'll be using to test out the prototypes.




In this image it's easier to appreciate how the piping arrangement for the superior and starboard nozzles differs from the port nozzle.




One of the nicer features in Blender 2.8 is the ability to display reference images in the actual 3d space, using the Wayback document archive that Habu2 linked to earlier.  Here is my attempt to get the body flap shape accurate enough for the model part, using PNG cropped bitmaps from those vector graphics pdf files.50644945082_395e8e66b9_c.jpg




I haven't yet added the tile pattern to the body flap.  I mention this further below.  But, if I want to embed the tiles in the printed part, I might have to break up the body flap into upper, lower, and side face pieces, since the best resolution for fine details is quite print orientation dependent.


The inferior lip of the body flap interface required me to do a little more surgery on the fuselage, removing a 3.8 mm width strip, leaving the lateral walls intact.  I want to be able to simulate this tiled body flap hinge point afterwards, so I'll need some of the plastic from the fuselage to overlap the body flap semicircular section.




Here is the section to be removed.




I used the carbide scriber and some labeling tape to create a score line, for the Olfa plastic cutter to follow.




Here is the result of the surgery.




Here is the mounting plate now in place.




And the underside:




Here is the prototype of the body flap:




Here are the nozzles, with their keyed insertion collars.






There's a bit too much play between the collars (10.7 mm wide) and the sockets (11 mm), so I might tighten up the clearances before I send these off to Shapeways.


I also need to figure out how to simulate the T-0 umbilical panels; hopefully I can just print out some pieces on the Ultimaker that will suffice like with the external tank umbilicals.  I can see that the T-0 umbilical pieces will need to accommodate the SSME mounting plate in that tight aft corner.


I am also struggling to figure out how to reproduce the tiles on the rest of the orbiter so that it will match, more or less, the tiled sections on these various Shapeways-printed pieces.  The tiles on these parts have about a 0.2mm gap between their edges, and they have a depth of 0.1 mm.  I thought about using the Cricut to score 0.1 mm thick styrene sheet, but I am not sure that it will conform well to the underlying curved surfaces.  I also thought about using thin silicone sheeting scored with the Cricut; the silicone sheeting would be far more flexible and could be stretched to conform better to curved surfaces.  The Cricut allows you to create custom pressures for the blade, so I am guessing that I could through trial and error find the right pressure for the material so that it scores but doesn't go all the way through.


But I'm worried that scoring any sheeting, styrene or silicone, will look too obviously different than the tiling surfaces stemming from 3d printing.  I use the "inset" function in Blender to simulate the tiles; this results in a distinctly triangular gap reminiscent of chocolate bars that looks like this up close:




So, I started playing with the Ultimaker again.  The Ultimaker 3 has dual print heads, which are usually the most useful when using PVA as a dissolvable support material.  But I tried experimenting to see if I could create discrete 0.2mm thick or more tiles in PLA, then coat the backside with a 0.1 mm layer of TPU 95a, which is a nice rubbery material that is pretty strong.


After a couple of really unsuitable attempts, I printed these two yesterday.


In this first one, I adjusted the delta between the two print heads so that the white TPU layer printed far above the yellow PLA layer, which was squashed against the printer bed.  By squashing the outward facing layer against the print bed, it fuses the linear deposition artifact created by the extruder and looks far more uniform and smooth.  While the print model is supposed to be 0.27 mm thick for the PLA layer, then another 0.1mm added for the TPU extruded on top of it, but according to my micrometer, this print is 0.77 mm thick.




In the next print, the delta was much closer to zero.  As you can see, the TPU layer is more fused with the PLA layer, so much so that it filled in the spaces between the tiles too much; again, while it should be 0.27+0.1 mm thick, the micrometer for this reads 0.15 mm total, since the TPU fused with the PLA layers (the TPU nozzle temp is higher than the PLA temp by about 20 degrees, so the TPU melts the PLA a little when it gets laid down over it).  But the membrane that it produced is far more promising for the purposes of covering the orbiter than the first test.




The tiles on the right side of the print have a little Z axis definition against the TPU seeping in from the back.  I will try to narrow the space between the PLA tiles to see if I can keep the TPU from obliterating the gap and mess with the delta a bit more.


The good news is that I think the membrane is thin enough that I have some more room to thicken the PLA layer, which will hopefully give me enough standoff to keep the TPU from destroyed the tile gaps.  Here is the membrane pressed against the beanie cap for comparison.  I don't think you can tell from the photo, but the 0.15 mm thick print is clearly thinner than the beanie cap tiles.




Ideas from the field would be welcome at times like this.  Hotdog, if your tile kit is moving forward, I would much rather use what you have done than try to reinvent the wheel here.


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Homer ... this is looking My-T-Fine!

Is this gonna be an in-flight representation. I just went back to the first page, and judging by the Astronauts in the cockpit, it looks like Launch config ... so will you also be correcting the ET and SRB's?


... and 1981 ... we'd love to see your build, but be sure to start your own thread!


Keep up the terrific work Homer!


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Thank you Pete for the encouragement.  I'm sticking with the launch build for now, and I already assembled the ET and SRBs OOB several years ago before I learned how to create replacement parts using 3d printing and design.  Consequently, for now I'm not planning on building more accurate parts for those components.  However, maybe after I finish the Discovery and display it, I might be tempted to follow Manfred's inspiring work and try to imitate his brilliant ET and SRB corrections at the much less difficult 1/72 scale.  Given how expensive Shapeways is turning out to be, this might have to wait until I'm retired in a few years and have my own resin printer (I uploaded just the OMS pods into Shapeways and it will cost a litel over $100 to print the two of them with the nozzles in fine detailed plastic).  My job places me overseas, so I don't have a dedicated shop presently, just a hobby room in an apartment.


I've been working on the T-0 umbilicals recently.  I used these diagrams from George's Rockets.




Here is the port side:




And the starboard side.




I'll test them out on the Ultimaker this week and see if they will fit well and not be too difficult to blend into the existing plastic.


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Thank you, will def get a thread going. Just received my ebay win of multiple decal sets, full monogram stack and an extra revel orbiter. sad site the revel.. gonna be a better quarantine now. work shop looks like a very disorganized rockwell factory 

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Homer, Shapeways is going to get me divorced. I've dropped 250+/- there on my orbiter already. I hope you get some cut of that ! So far got your base, cockpit,beanie cap, fore bulkhead and inflight 'hotdog' rcs mod. also grabbed ssme's, oms, dock from the other folks. learned some unexpected skills already, like cutting half inch glass window panes. These creations of yours are incredible. 

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Thank you Simon for the compliment and for purchasing the parts.  I hope that they make the build more enjoyable for you.  I'm sorry about the expense; the Shapeways fees comprise the bulk of the cost of these models.  I think I make enough from the parts sales to cover the cost of purchasing my own parts from them.


I did a quick search for the OMS pods on Shapeways and didn't come up with any hits.  Would you please forward me a link to the OMS pods you found so I can see how another modeler made them?


Hotdog, I forgot that you had already made the T-0 umbilicals.  Thanks for mentioning them here; I have printed out one prototype of my T-0 umbilicals and have to make some modifications, so I'll print them again this week and see if they will be usable, and if not, I'll be ordering yours.


Not to pester you with the question on everyone's mind, Hotdog, but is the 1/72 tile set stuck in development?  Is there something we can do on our end to help you surmount any challenges?  I was thinking of trying to make it in 0.2 mm thick silicone sheet vie styrene so that it conformed better to the curved surfaces, but I'll need a laser cutter like you have access to in order to do it.  My Cricut digital cutter can't handle files that big.


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Hey there, I finally figured out how to get a string going, and started adding photos. Just click on my name and go to "Space Shuttle restoration" if you want to check it out. I am much farther along in the project that where I left off on the thread so I will be updating rapidly. Just know that I bought the parts and got started before I knew that there was a forum. I was really flying blind in the beginning. 



Edited by 1981
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Hi Simon,


Here is how I post from Flickr to ARC Forums.


I select the photo on Flickr I wish to post, then click on the share icon.  That brings up this dialogue box, and I copy the URL in the window to the clipboard.  You need the URL from the "Embed" tab.  The "Share" tab URL won't work.




Then, when on ARC forums, I select "insert image from URL" from the "other media" dropdown menu on the bottom right of the text box where you are composing your post.




Paste your link into the dialogue box that follows.




In the middle of that pasted link, you will find a shorter embedded URL in quotes that is identified as "img src."




This is the link you wish to insert in the ARC forums URL box, starting with https: (no quotes), ending with .jpg (no quotes).  You can delete the rest of the text.


Here is my attempt to create the T-0 umbilicals.  Here are the pieces from the Ultimaker with the edges sanded to free them from the support material.




I need to create an accurate mask around which to cut out the existing kit plastic, so I taped one of the outward facing pieces to some painter's tape, then trimmed the excess edges of the tape off with a blade.




I used that tape polygon as a guide for making my cuts on the fuselage.




I then placed some labeling tape against the boundaries of this piece to constrain my scribing tool.





Then I scribed in the perimeter of this cutout with the carbide tip scriber.




Once I had a reliable perimeter scribed into the plastic, then I used the Olfa plastic cutter to remove most of the plastic.



As I found out (oops), the Olfa blade has a sidedness to it.  So, to avoid cutting through the labeling tape, I needed to keep the left side of the blade against the tape (in the direction you see in the image above).  Consequently, I had to turn the fuselage around to cut the other side.  You can probably guess how I made this discovery.


I then used the MicroMark toothed razor blades to finish the cut.





I dry fit the recessed part of the piece into the hole, and noted I needed to do a little sanding to get the piece to seat correctly.  I marked the corner with a black sharpie where I needed to remove a little more plastic.




I drilled some 0.5 mm holes in the approximate center of these simulated ports, and then painted the outward facing portion with black primer.




After drilling, I cut short sections of silver-colored wire (monofilament) to simulate the cylindrical projection that sits in these ports (I think they are for LO2 and LH2).  I then used the glue gun to secure them from the backside.








I then placed these pieces in the slots and secured them with the glue gun.






Here is the starboard piece from the outward facing side.  I messed up the paint job when some of the glue leaked and smeared over this face, so I had to scrape it off once the glue dried.  Fortunately, I don't think you'll be able to notice the amateurish paint job once the other piece is placed over it.




Here I've dry fit the overlying pieces to confirm that they will fit.  They are thicker than needed, so they stand off from the surface.  This is because as an artifact of the 3d FDM printing, the surface that is produced isn't smooth enough; you can see the irregularities of the deposition process.  So, I will need to sand it down until it lies flush with the adjoining plastic, but then the top layer will look smooth enough to blend.  The irregularities in the deeper recessed surfaces hopefully won't be too noticeable.






Sanding them flush and then test painting them will be the project for the holiday weekend.


I gave up for the time being on trying to create some sort of tile sheet on the 3d printer that I could stick on the body flap, and just drew the tiles into the 3d printed piece.  Here are some images from Blender.  I'll try to print it at work tomorrow on the Ultimaker, but it will likely be another ridiculously overpriced upgraded part for my build printed by Shapeways in fine detailed plastic.  These aft parts for the model are costing more than the beanie cap parts.  Up to this point, it looks like the only parts where the Ultimaker's quality is adequate for the task are the T-0 and belly umbilicals, with their relatively simple layered details and lack of sloping surfaces that would show stair stepping at Ultimaker layer height resolution.  The inability to print smooth sloping surfaces is one reason why the body flap won't look good enough printed on the FDM printer.












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  • 3 weeks later...

I didn't like some of the imprecisions in the last T-0 prints, so I made some modifications and tried again.


The bevel that helps to center the drill for the wire holes in these ports is now on the inside of the port itself, which results in a better centered wire.  On the prior versions of this piece, the centering bevel was on the other side of the hole facing into the interior of the fuselage, and my drill attempts weren't as vertical as I hoped, so the wire emerged into the port off-center.




Furthermore, the base pieces of the T-0 umbilicals weren't seating as precisely as I needed thanks to the sloped edge that slid underneath the OMS pod above it; the base didn't "click" into place in one specific position; there was too much play in its placement.  So I created a little jig to try to seat the base more precisely.  In the next image, the jig is the white piece, and the black piece is the base.




Now the jig fits into the space that will occupied by the outward facing beauty piece, and its depth is consistent throughout thanks to the flange that rests against the orbiter hull around the cutout.






As a result of the jig providing this surface, the base rests at a more consistent depth in its position, and the imprecision of the sloped edge underneath the future OMS pods interface doesn't mess with the alignment as much.





Now it came time to sand down the outward face of the beauty pieces to avoid a step between them and the surrounding fuselage.  This helped to remove some of the irregularities of the FDM printing process, but only on the most superficial layer.




After priming, I applied some latex mask around the fore recessed areas that are supposed to be a greenish-gray:




Those received a spray coat of the green-gray color, which thanks to iModelKit turned out to be 2 parts Model Master RAF Interior Green, 1 part Model Master Euro 1 Gray.


Here is a photo I took of Discovery at the Air and Space Annex that I used as a color reference for iModelKit.






Here they are, temporarily glued into position to confirm depth and placement.  They are about the right thickness, so with a little putty there shouldn't be a visible step off.







You can see in the last image that the artifact from the FDM printing process leaves a surface that isn't really smooth under magnification.  The most superficial perimeter surface is smooth thanks to the sanding, but the recessed details show the defects from the printing.  If I sent these off to Shapeways and printed them in fine detail plastic, they should look smoother, but I'm undecided if I want to send even more of my income to Shapeways.


I have been tweaking the OMS pods a little bit to get them to fit the spaces more precisely.  After one more set of test prints this week I should be ready to send all the parts off to Shapeways for what is looking like a very expensive print job: OMS pods, body flap, SSME mounting place, SSME nozzles.  It takes 17 hours to print one OMS pod at the highest resolution on the Ultimaker, so each time I revise the model it takes a few days to produce new prototype prints.





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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you Simon.  I sent off the parts to Shapeways, and should receive them sometime in the second half of February.


In the meantime, I went back to work trying to finish the underside umbilical doors.


From this reference:



I tried to recreate some of the door drive mechanism and the uplatch hooks, trying to figure out how the linkage arms would look with the doors in the wide open position.  The sizes of these protrusions are tiny, on the order of a millimeter or two.




I ran a test print, but because of the overhanging linkages, I used dissolvable PVA s a support material; those linkages are only a millimeter wide.  They should probably be thinner, but I don't think they would be strong enough structurally to work.


The good news is that the doors seem to fit into the spaces on the orbiter with some room to spare.




You can see in this image above the roughened surfaces where the PVA was printed on top of the PLA, resulting in a less smooth finish.


I just found this image now which shows the linkages with the doors in the fully open position, and they actually don't protrude in the way that I modeled them.  Since they protrude only to the level of the door surface, this will greatly simplify the geometries involved in printing them.  I'll try to refine the design a bit to approximate the mechanism a little more accurately.  That thin linkage arm I'll try to simulate with some wire.




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  • 3 weeks later...



As requested here is another view of the flight deck light set up which I am still developing. First I painted everything flat black ( interior surfaces only so that I wouldn't have issues with tape sticking to the outside for wire management purposes ) then I painted it light gray, added a light gloss-coat for decal adhesion. I filled all the 'holes' with Testor's clear parts glue, then added translucent film as a backing to disperse the light evenly. I used 3v Micro led lights from Ebay. all and all there will probably be a total of 40 +/- lights on 3 circuits (BRIGHT WHITE cabin lights, WARM WHITE switches and breakers, BLUE monitors) Turns out the Revel decals from the latest revel orbiter edition just about fit your 3d printed deck. Some alterations were needed, but not many. in some places the decals shrank.. causing a head ache. Not perfection, and probably not terribly true to life, but I am happy with the look. 

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I'll go into more detail about this in my thread, but for a first try, im ok with the flaws vs the over-all look.  Some decal placement mistakes were made and I wish that I had put the decals onto a thin transparency to keep them flat. They sink into the dips of the control surfaces. Tomorrow when the glue dries I'll show you the top side of the roof so you can see how the micro leds integrate 

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Simon, your lighting effects look great!  Much more sophisticated than my effort.  I look forward to seeing the topside image so I can better appreciate your approach using the microLEDs instead of the SMD LEDs I used.


My Shapeways prints finally arrived.




I primed them for better visibility of the surface details.


The slightly undulating texture of the quilted-appearing asbestos insulating rings actually comes across in real life, not so much with the light reflections in this photo.  I'll try to highlight the simulated rivets here (the little dimples) with a white/gray pencil like I did on the beanie cap window bolts.  That should provide a nice contrast to break up the scale black monotony of the tiles.




Here is the image I used to try to come up with the asbestos rings and the rivet pattern for comparison.






Here is the underside tile pattern to the body flap.




And here is the top side.  You can tell that the print layer line artifact affected the sloped top side during the print, but it's not too noticeable, especially after it is partially hidden by the SSMEs.




I'm relieved to find that the OMS pods fit in their mildly asymmetrical spaces, and the tile design blends at the line where it merges with the rear of the payload bay bulkhead.




The lateral tile protrusions on the OMS pods:




The ribbed interiors of the SSME's:






I need to make some adjustments to the raised ridge I glued inside the fuselage here to backstop the SSME mounting plate so that the part seats a little more deeply, but it shouldn't require too much work.





It's a little fragile not glued together, but the parts appear to fit okay.







I still have to put these tiny aft RCS nozzles (red rectangle) into their sockets, but it shouldn't be too difficult.  I left them as separate parts so I could paint this little tan stripe on them (blue arrow):



Here is some of the tile detail on the aft RCS thruster/aft OMS assembly:



These underside faces of the OMS pods are exposed once assembled, so I tried to model the tiles on them as best I could from the limited photos I found. However, once assembled I doubt that one will be able to see them, since they'll be obstructed by the other structures like the engine nozzles.




Some of these surfaces might require a little sanding cleanup where the print surface came out a little rougher, but for the most part the details appear crisp.
















Edited by Homer
hit return too soon
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My goodness...those parts look amazing. Especially being able to capture all the textures on that aft bulkhead...::chef's kiss:: magnificent.

Any possibility of these parts or stl files being made available for purchase?


I have some 1/72 scale builds in my future some of these would look great on.

Edited by JPaunicka
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Thank you both for the kind compliments.  Thanks to the trial and error learning curve of the beanie cap parts, I think these aft parts came together with less mistakes.


JPaunicka, I will be happy to put these parts up for sale on my Shapeways storefront.  I need to get the depth of the backstop ridge adjusted (it’s part of the T-0 umbilical base piece), and then I will post the parts for sale, probably this weekend.


I apologize in advance to modelers interested in buying the parts.  They will not be cheap, and that’s not because of my profit margin; it’s really set by Shapeways.  At some point, I’ll have my own SLA printer and can produce these directly, but that’s a few years off.

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Homer does awesome work! He scaled the belly panels in 1/100 scale for me and they look fantastic!


Gotta ask... can you work some magic on the side panels in 1/100?  😉



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Homer, sorry for the delay. Here is a view of the top side. I have more LEDS coming to finish it out. Here again used warm white for the switches and breakers and bright white for the cabin lights. Not the thin translucent sheet over the fuse panel on towards the aft. There is a small sliver behind the two warm leds at the front too.  I set the leds with Testors clear parts glue, then cover it with silver paint followed by flat black to seal the light in. The wires will  be routed off to the sides, but there is plenty of room from them to pass between the outer shell and the flight deck assembly. Still trying to figure out the best way to hide the wires for the under-the-dash cabin lights. Anyone reading, you really want to make sure you primer the clear parts really well to prevent light leaks. I have some light leaks that I can't get rid of now that I have progressed to this point, but I don't think once it is all lit up it will be terribly visible. Hell most of this isnt very visible when its all closed up, but it is well worth the effort I think. 

wiring top panel


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