Blastech E-11 Blaster Rifle

After finishing Boba Fett’s EE-3 Blaster I decided to revisit the Stormtrooper blaster model that I had never finished from a previous challenge. I hadn’t touched the model for almost 2 years. Oh boy, what did I get myself into… This is a long blog post so if you don’t feel like reading it, just go ahead and skip down to the pictures at the end.

This one takes the cake for the most detailed prop model I have ever made. I wouldn’t say it was overly difficult but it was very time consuming. No longer in the time constraints of challenge I did a lot more research on the E-11 Blaster and was able to find countless photos of the blaster and the British-made Sterling Mk.4 L2A3 submachine gun it was based on. It turns out that the pictures I had gathered back in July, 2009 were highly inaccurate and represented an inferior attempt at a replica of the prop. So after consulting The Parts of Star Wars website I found out there were at least 8 known versions of the E-11 used in Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope. I decided to go with version B because it used a functional Sterling instead of one that was had been deactivated with cast resin replacement parts. My model differs slightly from version B by using the scope used in version A because I like the look better. Luckily for me I found a blog that detailed the build-up a realistic replica that the author had built. The blog had every possible photo I needed to work from which made the modeling a lot easier.

When I opened the SketchUp file of the unfinished version, and examined what I had yet to do’, I found out that the dimensions were way off and some things were just plain wrong. I start correcting the problems with the model when I made a laughable mistake. Some of source photos had a ruler in them for size reference. I used one photo to determine the correct dimensions of the Sterling SMG that showed the right side of the gun. According to the ruler in the photo, the gun was 22 inches long. This showed that the gun’s receiver tube was about 3 1/2 inches too short and about an quarter inch too narrow. Because of that I felt I had to start over and make it the right size. I modeled the new receiver tube next to the old one so I could copy parts to the new tube. I then worked on the magazine well and then the magazine itself. Right when I finished doing all of that I read on Wikipedia that the gun was actually 19 inches long. So, I looked at the photo of the left side of the gun and it measured 19 inches and not 22! It finally occurred to me that I forgot to account for perspective! The photo of the right side had the gun resting on the magazine well which made the ruler further in the background and the receiver tube in the foreground. So all that work I did on the model was a complete waste of time because what I had before was already correct for the most part.

After the mishap I made I added the magazine well to the original model which not till much later did I realize that its dimensions were way off. I then worked to correct some other shortfalls that I had fixed when working on the wrong sized receiver tube. The next part I worked on after finally getting back on track was the trigger group. That was no big deal.

After the trigger group I worked on the folding stock. This was part of the model that was more difficult to figure out exactly how it worked than actually modeling it. I managed to find the operators manual for the Sterling SMG in PDF on a gun website which turned out to be invaluable help. I also found photos of a disassembled folding stock on another website. If it wasn’t for the manual I would never have been able to figure it out without have a physical Sterling in front of me. The design is a very clever one. In fact, everything about this firearm seems clever to me and I don’t even like guns. The final result of the model was to be a virtual recreation of a movie prop so how I feel about guns is beside the point. Back to the folding stock… After learning about the function of the stock I got to work on it. I decided that if II was going to do it right that I have to show it not only to show it folded but also fully unfolded. To make sure that everything would line up I modeled the stock in its unfolded position while folding it up along the way to make sure it looked right. The stock on this blaster had to look right or the whole blaster would look wrong because it is a very prominent element of its design.

At this point the Sterling SMG in the model was now complete except for the magazine and magazine well being dimensioned wrong and the bolt of the SMG. The next part of the modeling process was to “convert” it into the Blastech E-11 Blaster Rifle. This involved adding the M38 1942 gun scope, the fins that fit in the cooling holes in the barrel, the Hengstler industrial counter, and the somewhat illusive cylinders that go on top of the magazine well.

The version B of the blaster that I decided to make is supposed to have a M32/M19 scope on it but I did the M38 from the version A instead. The reason for the change is that I liked the look of it on the blaster better and I already had many good photos of the M38 to work from. First I had to add a rail to the receiver tube to mount the scope. The front of the rail is bent at a couple of 90 degree bends to fit in to the Last barrel vent hole. The back of the rail was likely riveted directly to the rear sight of the SMG and that is how I attached it. The scope was easy to do because it is mostly extruded circles. The most difficult part was the adjustable eyepiece which has ridges on its surface. I finished that and bonehead me failed to realize that piece was never even part of the finished blaster. And that really makes sense considering that the scope is intentionally mounted backwards making it useless anyways. The scope is mounted to the rail with its original hex Allen head bolts. The Allen bolts are two different sizes and have ridges like the adjustable eyepiece had.

I then worked on the fins that go along the barrel. These to hobbyist prop modelers’ best guess are made of plastic drawer guides. The Boba Fett EE-3 Blaster uses these on its barrel as well. The strips of the guides were then bent and shaped on their ends and Inserted into the barrel vent holes. The drawer guides are actually a bit wider than the holes causing me a headache. I tried several different bend angles and bend radiuses until the tapered ends finally fit in the vent hole without causing collision with the receiver tube. One thing I cannot stand in SketchUp models are components that overlap into the space of other components. It just seems sloppy to me and I like things to fit right.

Next I started work on Hengstler counter. These counters are used in manufacturing and other industrial purposes. Version B of blaster uses one that has the name Hengstler on it with an eagle with the number 890 in the middle. The other versions used in alternate versions of the blaster have just the eagle. These counters are hard to find because the new version of that model counter no longer has the eagle on it at all because, after World War II, the company felt the eagle too closely resembled the Nazi eagle insignia. The difficult part of the counter to model was the rotary counter wheels. I tried to “engrave’” the numbers into the curved surfaces of the wheels but I couldn’t stop the faces of the shape from disappearing. That happens when the dimensions of what you are working are so small that SketchUp cannot record the vertex coordinates accurately causing vertices to jump and make the face disappear. At least that is the best way I can describe the problem. To get around this I typically size the component or group 10 times larger than it is supposed to be, then I do what I ‘m having trouble with and then shrink it down to the right size. But in this case it just wasn’t working. So, instead I made the wheels 10-sided so when I inset the numbers, they were on flat faces instead of curved ones. The counter body was difficult to measure leaving me to keep adjusting it until it looked right. It is very close but not perfect. The counter is mounted to the blaster using a short piece of metal strip bent at 90 degrees and screwed to the side at one end and bolted to the scope mounting rail using the Allen-head bolt from the scope.

On the prop there are 2 small cylinders and 2 smaller cylinders mounted to a bracket that go on top of magazine well. It is somewhat a mystery about what these came from but likely they are oscillator vacuum tubes from an old amplifier with smaller capacitors between them. The same parts appear on Luke Skywalker’s speeder and the mouse droids so in the least I have photos of the actual parts to examine. Easy modeling.

After I added the cylinder part I discovered that the magazine well was not looking right in comparison to the photos I had as I mentioned earlier. Somehow I made it 5/16” too wide and 5/16” too thin. I don’t know how that happened but it was so far off that I had to redo the magazine all together. The second time around I was much more accurate in my modeling and I included a few more details such as the scalloped edges and making the end cap so it actually appeared to be slid on instead of just a flat shape. I don’t have a problem redoing something if I make it better.

Some versions of the blaster have wires that go from the counter’s plug to the cylinders. I debated doing that but in the end I decided to omit the wires. It isn’t clear how the wires are attached and the version B of the blaster, according to the Parts of Star Wars website, doesn’t have wires. It I were to have built the original props I would have soldered metal wire terminal ends onto the wires to attach them to the bolt heads on the cylinders and soldered the other ends of the wires to the counter connectors and cover the connector with shrink wrap.

The final part of the blaster model that I added was the gun bolt for the SMG. I had just a cylinder inside the receiver tube in place of the bolt up to this point. It was not difficult to make the bolt. I was worried about the diagonal grooves that the gun bolt has but it was not a problem. I just drew the lines for the grooves of each face of the bolt cylinder at the right angle and did the same a little farther down to make the width of the groove right. There is a large spring that goes behind the bolt. To make the spring I first created a ring in the right diameter and thickness using 24 segments. Each complete turn of the spring was a half inch in length. This meant I need to move each segment over by 1/48” of an inch to get the right pitch of the spring. I didn’t need to move every segment over because all I had to do was copy, paste and rotate a single segment of the spring until an entire turn of the spring was complete. Then I exploded the copied segments and duplicated the result enough times to make the spring long enough.

When all of the blaster was modeled it was time for me to finish coloring the model. I had been doing most of this during the modeling process and I made sure everything looked consistent. In reality the prop would probably been sprayed all the same shade of black but with mine I alternated a few shades of very dark gray to give the model more definition. I did this because models in SketchUp can look flat and hide the fine details. To further combat that issue the SketchUp style I created shows the lines of the model the same color as the components which basically highlights the edges to make them stand out. The only texture I used in the model was the texture of the grip. I actually tried to make the texture with actual geometry when I tried to do it; SketchUp kept crashing because there were way too many vertices. So in the alternative I made a small section of the textured geometry and screen captured a close up of it and turned it into a repeating pattern in Photoshop and applied it to the grip.

And finally I created some scenes to show off the model. Done. Wow, this blog entry is way too long.

See the model in the Google 3D Warehouse here and the gallery below:

Untitled Capital Ship Project Update 2

This time around I made a lot of progress on the model’s interior. In my last update I said I was going to work on the engineering and cargo section but I didn’t stop there. I did some preliminary work on the Bridge, designed the Turbolifts twice, modeled some interior windows to allow viewing of the Landing Bay and Engineering Room, designed the Sleep Pods for the Bunkrooms and made the Briefing Room much larger. While working on all of those aspects, I also reconfigured the layout a bit to make things more cohesive with what I envision the ship looking like. I now think the model is almost too big for SketchUp to handle so expect some growing pains in the future.

In the Engineering Room I accomplished putting up all the basic wall panels and implementing the enclosed catwalk that will surround power core allowing unauthorized passengers to bypass the engineering room. The floating catwalk is based directly off of the design of the catwalk above the Landing Bay. In addition to the straight sections there are corner sections allowing for 90 degree bends. Initially the catwalk was to be a true circle around the power core but I decided it was too complex to make and would take away from the theme of modularity. I could have done it, but I didn’t want to devote too much time to doing it. After the floating catwalk was done I added some support struts to, you guessed it, support the weight of the catwalk over the floor of the Engineering Room.

After working on the Engineering Room I started on the Entryway which will serve as the main entrance for the ship and access point for the cargo bays when landed. When it comes time to work on the ship’s exterior the loading ramp will be added. The first thing I did here was to create an enclosed catwalk along the ceiling that will eventually provide access to the maintenance ports for the sub light engines to be added later. Once that was done I put up the wall panels. I then modeled the bulkhead doors for the cargo bays. At the front of the entry I added two small rooms that connect to the Engineering Room. The next step was to add the wall panels to the cargo bays.

I decided to do some work on the main bridge but only as much as I could do since there is no outer hull. All I did was added the wall panels for the back and side walls and model the floor for the upper level.

Next I went to work on creating the Turbolifts. At first I was lacking inspiration so I made a big square box of a turbolift. I’m not go into much detail on their design because I ended up scrapping their design. But, before I made the decision to scrap them I worked on other parts of the ship.

I did some thinking about the Briefing Room and I thought there should be some windows for observation of the Landing Bay. For the windows I simply modified the standard bulkhead door to have a pane of transparasteel in place of the door. I added the windows to the back wall of the Briefing Room’s second level. I also added these windows to the turbolift rooms in the entry area. This allows observation in to Engineering Room and into the entry area.

The next things I decided to work on were the sleeping pods in the bunkrooms. The bunkroom will be the sleep quarters for the starfighter pilots/flight crew and for the engineering crew. The reason I decided to make pods instead of bunks was to save space. Their design is based directly off the sleeping pods used in the Kamino clone training facility as seen on Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Three. I scaled mine a little smaller to fit my standard wall panel dimensions. The inside of the pods are actually pretty spacious inside and include a ceiling mounted computer terminal and a storage cabinet for personal belongings. They kind of resemble an MRI machine but that is purely unintentional.

The Briefing Room seemed too small so I doubled its size and put up it’s wall panels. I then extended the second level around the perimeter of the room. I then added an inner wall on both levels as a back drop for the speaker’s podium. It also creates a buffer zone for the entrance into the room. I also added a entry door for the upper level.

The final thing I worked on was redesigning the Turbolifts. The reason I didn’t like what I first designed is that they completely blocked the view down the corridors and they just looked boring. The new turbolift design is round and see through and a lot better looking. There will probably be many other components that I will end up changing in some way.

What’s next? I’m really not sure. I might add some color because all the white is starting to irritate me. I will probably finish the rest of the basic wall panels before doing much else. It won’t be too long until I begin on the exterior.

See the gallery below or here to see what was added this update:

Untitled Capital Ship Project Update 1

For this update I primarily focused on the Landing Bay and Hangar section of the ship. This entailed creating wall panels for it, laying out the main walls, creating archways for the repair bays, creating support beams, designing the hangar blast doors and the landing bay bulkhead doors and creating the enclosed catwalk that crosses the ceiling.

The first thing I did was make a slight change to the corridor bulkhead cowling. It was too wide to be used in the narrow corridors so I made it a foot narrower and now it fits. In regular corridors I have put the wall panel spacers on either side of the cowling making them consistent with the regular room bulkhead doors. I then decided to make wall panel dividers that flank each side of the doors a different design just to make the walls look more interesting.

Originally, the repair bay sections of the landing bay were going to be separate rooms with their own bulkhead doors. After some thought, however, I found no feasible way for these sections to have doors and they were just too small for a star fighter or small craft to fit in. I eliminated the separate rooms and decided to create the repair bays with interior walls instead.

For the walls in the landing bay I chose to create new wall panels to differentiate the section from the rest of the ship. For the first two levels of the landing bay I created a simpler 2 foot square panel to use. For the upper 3 levels of the landing bay I made a 4 foot square panel. I based these larger panels on the acoustic wall tiles seen in the interrogation room on the TV series Bones. I just figured a landing bay could use some sound deadening panels to cut down on the noise from star fighter engines. I then went to work on creating the walls for the front and back of the bay. To add some flair to the room I designed some modular support beams and put them in place.

The next step was adding the floor for the upper hangar areas. Nothing special there. I then added the walls for the repair bays using the same components created for the landing bay. The opening of the repair bays needed an archway so I designed one kind of quickly but I liked how it turned out.

The floor space above the repair bays seemed too shallow to land star fighters on so I extended the floor depth by 18 feet. After some more thought I extended the floors out another 9 feet. The extension of the floors allowed for good placement of the blast door entrances for the hangar.

Once the size of landing bay was decided I started on the entrances for the star fighter hangar. There are a total of four entrances located at each corner of the landing bay. First I created the side walls for the bay with more support beams. After that was done I designed the cowling that surrounds the entrances which was done in no time. I went on to create the blast doors for the hangar entrances. They are made similarly to the bulkhead doors on the cargo area of the last ship I created, the 210BR. The doors don’t have any detail work on them but I will address that later on.

Now it was time to cut the hole in the floor of the landing bay for the landing bay bulkhead doors. I surrounded the new opening with a transitional molding around it. I then took a moment to verify that the Millennium Falcon can fit in the landing bay and it does just barely.

The landing bay bulkhead doors are fairly simple. They have interlocking teeth for looks only. After their basic shape was done I added some detail to their surface so they wouldn’t look so plain.

Last thing I worked on was the enclosed catwalk high above the floor. The reason for the catwalk is to avoid having to walk across the floor. This is especially helpful because the entire floor opens up! It also keeps those out of the landing bay that don’t have permission to be there. Again, it was designed modularly in keeping with the idea of the overall design.

What’s next? I plan to work on the engineering and cargo sections.

See the gallery below or here to see what was added this update:

Untitled Capital Ship Project

Now that my first starship model (the 210CR) is finished I have decided to start on a new one. This time around I have decided to create something much bigger: a capital ship. By definition a capital ship is an armed military vessel with a length of 100 meters or greater. Based on the work I have already done it is currently 236 meters long which is 86 meters larger than the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette that I used as a benchmark for my last starship. It will have many of the same features as the 210CR but on a much larger scale. In addition to those features it will have 3 full decks, a hangar/landing bay for a small complement of star fighters and a shuttle or small freighter (must fit Millennium Falcon), retractable laser cannons, traditional Star Wars style escape pods, robust landing gear and more viewports this time. It will also have a more complete engineering section including backup power cells, life support systems, garbage compactor (dianoga free) and water treatment facilities.

So far I have modeled the general design of the interior walls, the bulkhead doors for the rooms and main corridor, and created the empty rooms and bulkhead sections.

I decided to continue the idea of keeping my ships modular. This time around I expounded on the idea by creating a layout grid of 4’x4’ squares spaced apart by 6 inches that every wall panel, fixture, door will strictly line up with. Each wall module will be four feet wide and nine feet tall. Each basic wall module will consist of a top and bottom light bar for ambient lighting that are both 6 inches tall and a 4×2 grid of 2 foot square wall panels. These standard 2 foot square panels can then be replaced with additional modules that fit the 4×2 grid configuration.  Between each wall module will be a 6 inch wide divider. When a perpendicular wall is added, it will take the place of the divider this will prevent the need for fractional wall panels.

The bulkhead doors I for this ship are based on the design of the ones from the 210CR with the exception that there is just one layer of doors instead of two. The corridor bulkhead section doors function the same way as the ones on 210BR but are designed more similar to the room bulkhead doors. The openings of the corridor sections are arched and have cowlings that are reminiscent of the ones seen in the Millennium Falcon.

With modularity being key to the design of the ship I have created standard rooms/bulkhead sections that all align with the layout grid I have established. Each room section is spaced apart precisely to fit the layout grid. These standard room sections have cutouts with matching plugs for multiple bulkhead door configurations. This makes it so the standard room shapes are versatile for any type of room. All non standard bulkhead sections will also align to the layout grid.

To assist me in the layout of the ship I have created a rudimentary drawing in Photoshop with guides arranged in the layout grid I chose. This allowed me to visualize and plan where the bulkhead sections will be. I then finished creating the bulkhead sections for the ship and arranged them according to the drawing. After doing this I quickly realized that the bulkhead section for the hangar/landing bay was much too small to accommodate star fighters and the Millennium Falcon comfortably so I moved things around and significantly enlarged the section. This currently makes the ship appear to be pregnant but I will try to balance it out soon.

See the gallery below or here to see what was added this update:

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Starship Project Update 9

Note: From here on out the Control Module will now be known as the Bridge and the Bridge/Landing Craft will be known as the Helm.

Yet another big update on the Starship Project. This time most of the work has been done on the interior and more specifically the Bridge.

But first I designed the outer door/cargo lift for the cargo section. It is a simple design reminiscent of the design of the lift gate found on the back of an Earth bound small delivery truck. Yes, it is not so sophisticated but it gets the job done.

Back to the Bridge… I modeled some curved panels to bridge the gap between the side panels and the bezel of the main viewport. I then created the ceiling (again nothing special).

The next part I didn’t document with many pictures because it was just repetitive. I modeled the walls of the lower section of the Bridge creating the walls of the captains ready room (or office) in the fore section and another small room between the captain’s ready room and the entry room.  The cutouts of the floor of the upper section were changed to have a consistent overhang over the walls the floor is supported by.

To facilitate personnel to go from the lower to upper section of the Bridge I designed two small lifts on the back wall of the Bridge. The ladders in the cargo room will be replaced with these when I get around to it.

The next thing I did was model the main holoprojector in style of one seen in one of the Star Wars movies. I couldn’t help myself, I had to also add a holographic image of Chewbacca.

I then went to work modeling the computer terminals for the lower section of the Bridge. They are designed to be used to control the weapon systems, communications and in an emergency they can assume helm control. They kind of look half way between a console on the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 and one on the Death Star.

And finally I created an elevator and elevator shaft to take personnel from the lower level of the Bridge to upper the up to the Helm. To accommodate space to walk around the elevator on the upper level of the Bridge I extended the floor out and added support beams underneath.

See the gallery below or here to see what was added this update:

Starship Project Update 8

Oh, boy, I have really done a lot since the last update.

First off I had been working on the loading ramp for the command module, but after getting so far into it I decided it was way to long and steep. So I scratched the ramp and removed it from the model. After watching a recent episode of The Clone Wars I was inspired by the landing craft used by Mandalorian leader Duchess Satine. That ship has a platform that lowers down from the bottom of the ship’s hull instead of the never-ending steep ramp.

While I was contemplating the whole ramp issue I moved on to other things. I made a small change to the contouring of the cowling around the bridge/landing craft. No big deal there.

I decided to make the bottom of the hull flat to allow for more room in the command module and so the entry platform didn’t have to lower so far. Making the bottom of the ship flat also allowed me to shift the front landing gear inward so it would no longer interact with the contour of the hull.

For the purposes of later adding gun turrets later on, I rearranged the "Jeffrie’s tubes" so the turrets would be in the middle of the hull plating panels instead of the edges to make it cleaner looking.

I created the engines for the landing craft in the likeness of the engines on the snowspeeders seen in The Empire Strikes Back.

The next big thing I did was starting to create the wall panels inside the command module. For the back wall I tried my best to fit as many standard sized wall panels on to it within the confines of the shape of the shape of the room. This caused there to be a lot of wasted space, so instead I created the wall then redesigned the shape of the room to fit the wall.  After that I made the side wall panels with large openings left for computer terminals/stations to be modeled later on.

After I created the entry platform, as I mentioned before, I modeled the walls surrounding it and added the doorway in to it.

I then made another small change to model by making the standard wall corners rounded instead of squared off. I think it looks much better.

With the command module underway I finally got to modeling the main viewport (front window). I won’t bore you with the details in modeling it but instead let the pictures speak for themselves.

And finally I changed the hull accent color to a darker and more vibrant shade of blue. I also "painted" other surfaces this color to change the look of the ship a bit.

See the gallery below or here to see what was added this update: