Last time, I reached the point at which I needed to start lighting my Paragrafix cockpit.
I wanted to provide a source of illumination at the front of the cockpit, which will probably be invisible from outside but will provide a little front-lighting for the couches and pilot, as if coming from the large panel of instruments and screens in the “real” thing:
My light source was necessarily going to be a much humbler affair, crammed into the limited space available—just a white light and a few spots of coloured light. I built a little box around an SMD LED, and pierced it with a lot of little holes and one big rectangular slot. Then I laid on a couple of spare instrument-panel decals from the HDA Modelworx sheet, which helpfully provides duplicates of pretty much everything.
The box stows neatly under the window to which the cockpit will eventually be attached, and there’s room for my wiring to escape through a gap between the Paragrafix photoetch and the kit part. I belatedly had to provide the central light (intended to simulate screen lighting) with a little tilted shade, because I found it was illuminating the window frame above in a decidedly unrealistic manner.
For the rear corridor, I erected a large light-box on its roof, in order to try to get a fairly uniform light coming through the styrene-sheet diffuser in the ceiling.
Above, you can see the LED clamped to some black styrene sheet while the 5-minute epoxy dries. Then I’ll position it at the front of the light-box, illuminating the tilted foil reflector you can see above, which will deflect light down on to the white styrene diffuser already fitting to the roof of the corridor.
At the back of the corridor part, I covered the windows in the door with a bit more styrene diffuser, and then added a small light box. At the sides, a pair of light boxes illuminated a red “HAL eye” on the left, and a little computer display on the right.
Here’s the final assembly:
And the view of the inside:
Moving back to the cockpit, with my little light box in place I eventually folded up the Paragrafix photoetch into its final configuration:
The kit part for the windows needed a little surgery to accommodate the corners of the Paragrafix cockpit, as you can see above. I’ve also placed my styrene-sheet diffusers over the various lighting panels, and started work on a slim little light box to illuminate the forward instrument panel in the cockpit ceiling—there’s very little room between the cockpit roof and the dome of the command sphere, here, so I’ll borrow light from the LED above the ceiling light panel, which I’ll set high enough to throw light into a flat reflective tunnel over the forward instrument panel.
With the cockpit assembled on to the windows, I did a test fitting into the command sphere to confirm that everything still came together okay, and that I was producing the desired glimmer of light on the pilot’s face from my little indirect light box immediately under the windows.
You can also see, above, how I’ve added some styrene strip to produce a bit of depth in the window frames, as an approximation to the appearance in the film.
The overhead light box went on easily, and then I needed to build a complicated pair of boxes to illuminate the side lighting panels and instruments. Here’s an early stage in construction, showing the array of right-angle styrene strips I used as a support structure for black styrene panelling covered in reflective foil:
You’ll see I also used a bit of the same styrene strip to add a little step to the back of the cockpit, where it opens into the rear corridor, and added padding detail from a spare bit of HDA Modelworx decal.
Here are the side light boxes at a later stage of construction, with LEDs in position and the reflective side walls in place.
All of this has to fit inside the low dome of the command sphere, so a lot of dry fitting and readjustment was required.
Once everything was in place, I was able to check the result by peering in the “rear door” of the cockpit, before attaching the corridor. Here’s my overhead panel:
And the two side walls:
All of this detail, of course, will be fairly minimally visible through the front windows unless you go looking for it.
After checking that the cockpit lights were working properly, I attached the rear corridor, and then soldered the cat’s cradle of wiring to the two master wires for this assembly.
I find it difficult to do the final assembly justice with photographs—the combination of “cool” lighting in the corridor and “warm” in the cockpit tends to make either the corridor look blue or the cockpit yellow, or both; and the coloured lights tend to blow towards uninteresting pastel shades. But it here it is, anyway:
For reference, the Tamiya paint pot on which the cockpit is perched is three centimetres in diameter.
Next time, I’ll move on to start work on the pod bay. There will be a lot more lights and wires.