Last time, I completed the wiring of individual sections of my Green Strawberry pod bay, and the neat little Falconware pods. This time, I’m assembling the bay and the extended pod platform, adding ceiling lights, and cramming everything into the Moebius command sphere.
First, though, I needed to do a little surgery on one of the Moebius kit parts. One of my few complaints about this kit is that Moebius have moulded the pod bay door and the door surround as a single part. Because I was modelling the Discovery with a pod bay door open, I needed to scribe, drill, file and sand one of the doors out of its frame.
With the open door frame in place, I could then slot the assembled pod bay walls and floor into the lower half of the kit command sphere, for a dry fit.
It takes up a lot of space! One of the problems with modelling this spacecraft is that the movie interior sets weren’t a great match for the exterior model views—in particular, here, the interior wall of the pod bay film-set curved rather less than is evident in exterior views of the Discovery model. So there’s a bit of fudging evident in Green Strawberry’s side walls when compared to the “real thing”, and the assembled pod bay fills so much of the model interior that there would be no room for the centrifuge and airlock that featured in the film.
Here’s a rear view with the ceiling dry-fitted.
There’s very little clearance between this ceiling and the underside of the Paragrafix cockpit in the upper hemisphere. I wondered about replacing the thick Green Strawberry resin ceiling with the thin photoetch brass ceiling from Paragrafix, but decided against it because I preferred Green Strawberry’s detailing. In retrospect I might go with the Paragrafix part, because its thinness might have solved a problem that developed later in the build.
At this point I was finally able to judge the length of brass tubing I needed to use for the supports of my extended pod platform.
With the brass cut to length, I could slot it into place on the underside of my pod platform:
This involved a bit of high-stakes wiring. I had to trim the wires for my pod LED unforgivingly short, and then solder them to the interior of the brass tubing with my soldering iron very close to the resin part.
But the end result was a pod positioned exactly where I wanted it, and electrically connected to the rest of the command sphere.
The Green Strawberry platform includes a brass plate that seals over the end of the platform supports—I replaced this with styrene in order to avoid a short circuit.
Next I needed to complete my other two Falconware pods, but without the palaver of having to light them. (Because I was feeling lazy, I only detailed the side of each pod that would be visible in the assembled model.) I also put together the spacesuit rack. The Green Strawberry vertical supports are brass photoetch strips that locate in shallow indentations in the floor and ceiling. I couldn’t see a way to locate these easily and securely, so I replaced them with 0.5mm brass rod, on which I mounted the spacesuit and helmets as they were seen in the film during Bowman’s first EVA, and then I drilled holes in the floor and ceiling so that I could thread the brass through and epoxy it in position.
Here’s the pod bay with the pods and suit rack in position, and the lighting on:
And positioned inside the hull:
Then I wired up the ceiling lights—eight little low-profile light boxes that would just fit into the space between pod bay and cockpit, and an additional downlight to illuminate the ladder-well in the laboratory.
This was when the problem with the thick resin ceiling manifested itself. The light openings are small, and the thickness of the resin converted them into fairly constrained downlights, rather than general illuminants. With the extended pod removed, and peering in through the open doorway, the resulting illumination was pretty murky, particular at the rear wall, which was getting hardly any light at all.
So I decided I need to cheat, and mount some concealed lights either side of the door, to push light into the back of the pod bay:
On first testing, this produced a bit of a thermonuclear result:
The additional illuminants were producing noticeable bright spots and shadows, and overwhelming some of the detail lighting. With a couple of little baffles and some black paint, I then toned down my extra lights until I got the effect i wanted:
There are still a couple of anomalous shadows behind the suit rack, but they’re not overly eye-catching. And the additional light doesn’t drown out my feature lighting, like the octagonal corridor:
So then it was time to glue everything in place, and bundle up the wiring in the two halves of the command sphere:
And then it all had to be stowed away neatly without nipping anything between the two halves as they were glued together:
Finally, I did a check of the complete wiring run, from the batteries in the engine compartment, through the two steel spinal rods, to a connection block mounted in the rear of the command sphere.
Improbably enough, it all worked!
To complete work on the command sphere, I masked off the cockpit windows and the pod bay door, and started airbrushing on layers of paint, from a dark grey base layer through progressively lighter coats, adding Aztek Dummy panel masks as I went along:
The final result was a rather boldly variegated command sphere, which I’ll tone down when I apply my final blending coat to the whole model:
Next time: all the fiddly cargo pods for the long spine, final assembly, painting, and mounting on a display base.