Untitled Capital Ship Project Update 5

Now that I finished working on the basic shape of the hull and the sub-light engines it was time to design the Bridge Hull Section and the Observation Deck.

The original idea for the front of the ship was to be rounded and to somewhat resemble the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette but after quite a bit of thought I have decided to change the layout of the bridge and make the front of the ship pointed. And how it turned out in the end is much different than what I had envisioned.

Earlier in the project I laid out the bridge section to be a series of rooms connected together with a wide main bridge. But, now I have decided to make the bridge interior similar to a Star Destroyer bridge which is longer than it is wide. On the previous ship I did something similar but this time it is going to be much closer to what is seen in Star Wars. Maybe I am overdoing it again for a small capital ship but the bridge is the most important part of the vessel. Continue reading

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #120 – Ray Gun

It has been a while since I participated in the Google SketchUp 3D Challenge as I have been spending much of my time modeling starships. But when the topic of Ray Gun came up I decided to “give it a shot.” So I decided to do a blaster from Star Wars… no surprise there. At first I was going to do Han Solo’s blaster from A. New Hope. After downloading some reference photos I decided it was much too complex for the time allotted. The Mouser handgun it is based on is highly detailed and just too complex for the amount of realism I try to put into my models in a short period of time. I finally settled on Boba Fett’s EE-3 Carbine Blaster Rifle from Return of the Jedi. It was much less complex overall. In the end it turns out I ran out of time to submit my entry because I had other priorities to work on. But I wanted to finish it so I kept working on it until it was done.

This blaster was made from a 1916 British Webley & Scott No. 1 Mark I Flare Gun. Starting with the flare gun the prop makers added a PVC pipe and various other parts to give it a futuristic look to it. On either side of the gun’s breach they glued a bomb rack part from a F4E Phantom scale model to cover up the writing engraved there. To the stock of the gun they added a gear case from Revel Visible V8 engine model on both side. In addition to the engine part they also added an undisclosed plate cover to both sides of the stock. It was then painted and then distressed to show a lot of use.

My virtual replica represents the blaster in “new” condition without any wear and tear. To give it the distressed appearance I would have to add textures to the model which would take much more time to do. Most of my models are without many textures because they take too much time, increase the file size and really don’t add much to the model.

I decided to model the Webley flare gun first then went on to make the changes to “convert” it into the blaster much like the original prop builders. Thankfully there were enough photos of the flare gun online to study. If it wasn’t for so many fans building blasters from these old guns there might have been nothing to go on besides screen captures from the movie. It was difficult getting the curves in the handle and the stock bracket to match the actual gun and I got fairly close but I could make it better if I had the time to do it during the challenge. Had I known I was going to run out of time to finish by the deadline I would have spent more time getting the curves right. I duplicated the finished uncolored flare gun and moved it over so I could later show a comparison of the Webley to the blaster.

Once I was done modeling the Webley flare gun I then started modeling the new barrel. That was no big deal. I moved on to the scope. The scope was pretty straight forward except until I got to the adjustment knobs on top. They are supposed to have a cross-hatched texture for gripping on them which would be easy enough to do with a textured graphic but I did it with actual module geometry. It was more time consuming than difficult. Modeling fine details like that in SketchUp is nearly impossible unless you know a trick or two. When working in a micro scale the program has a bad habit of randomly omitting faces leaving holes in shapes. To get around this I take the shape I am working on and scale it up to 10 times the intended size and when I am done I resize it back down to the correct size. Doing that also prevents the need to deal in 1/128th of an inch increments when going that small.

The final modeling work was on the rest of the details the prop makers added to the blaster. After that I added color to the model. I colored the original flare gun to match one version of it in a photo. Apparently the flare guns were made in a variety of metal finishes and this one happened to have a brass handle with everything else the typical gun metal grey. For the blaster I chose a slightly reddish black and gave all the screws a rusty brown color. I created scenes to show off both finished guns.

Even though I didn’t finish in time for the challenge I enjoyed finishing the model. Maybe I‘ll go and finish the Stormtrooper blaster for the Rifle challenge I failed to finish. I will see about that.

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

Starship Project Named and Ready to See

Now that my starship was done it needed a name so what I came up with is the Outer Rim Industries 210CR Fortified Blockade Runner. I didn’t want to use a known company name from the Star wars Universe because I don’t want my ship to be confused with ones in the films, books and other expanded universe sources. I choose the name Outer Rim Industries because the Alliance to Restore the Republic (a.k.a. Rebel Alliance) was mostly comprised of worlds from the Outer Rim territory of the galaxy and my intent is that this ship serve the Alliance. .Why 210CR? CR are my initials and 210 was derived from 2010. CR is also the prefix on the model number of the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette (CR90) in Star Wars which is similar to my 210CR. The Tantive IV was used as a blockade runner but due to the amount of guns my ship has, it is no ordinary blockade runner so I added “fortified” to it’s name.

To read the full specifications of the 210CR Fortified Blockade Runner, visit the My Starships section of my website.

To download and view the entire model you must have either Google SketchUp 7.0 or 8.0 installed. Click the link below download the model in the version of SketchUp you’re using:

SketchUp 7:

SketchUp 8:

To see the image gallery click here or  view the slideshow below:

Starship Project Final Update

After working on my Starship Project for over a year it is finally finished! It’s not like I am tired of working on it because I have enjoyed working on it the entire time. There just comes a time when you have to declare a project done before it becomes the proverbial white elephant in the room.

In this final update (which it turns out to the longest and with the most pictures, 55 total) I have wrapped up all of the loose ends. I finished head and showers room as well as the stateroom bathrooms, furnished the cargo bay with cargo containers and a way to move the cargo, redid the furniture in the mess hall, created ceiling light fixtures, created graphics for the display screens and made miscellaneous changes.

I created individual stalls for the waste extractors; there is not much difference between these and ones seen on Earth. I decided to make the doors swing in and to make that work in the limited space, the doors are made in two parts where one side nests in the other. When the doors are swung inward the nested half would automatically retract to save space. The waste extractors are the same as the one in the brig.

On the opposite wall from the waste extractors I modeled the hand wash sinks. I used the lower half of the waste extractor as a starting point for the sink. I shortened it and created a bowl and drain. The faucet has buttons on top of it to control temperature and flow rate. There is a simple soap dispenser to the right of the faucet and a hand drier on the left side of the sink.

The shower stalls are one-piece units that hang on the wall in the shower room. They each have a built-in bench to sit on and a shelf for bath supplies. The showerheads resemble those trendy UFO shaped ones becoming popular these days. The showers are controlled digitally with a panel across from the benches. In the shower room I also modeled a bench for dressing with hooks above to hang clothing.

The details of the bathroom are quite boring and nearly make me yawn as I sit here writing about it. The elements of the crew bathroom are used again for the bathrooms in the officer staterooms. Moving on…

The next part I needed to tackle was the cargo bay’s container storage system. I couldn’t find a good example for the types of containers that would be used in Star Wars so instead I settled on ones you might see watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond. The ones used in the later Star Trek series were typically containers that are actually used in real life that look sleek and modern and made of plastic. So I searched for plastic crates I liked on the web and came up with one that would work. I made some additions to the design of the containers I found: one being the ability for them to interlock when stacked, another being hinge less and lastly an electric locking mechanism that could also be used to track the container. I made the containers in two different sizes that can be stacked on top of each other interchangeably. I originally thought the containers need to be held in cages but after several failed design attempts I decided it wasn’t necessary. I settled this in my mind by making the many containers magnetized to hold together during transport. While working on the containers I decided to enlarge the engineering room and shrink the cargo bay down a bit to make it easier to view the inside of the engineering room.

After the containers were done I needed a way to load and unload the cargo bay. I know previously I said I wouldn’t be modeling droids for the ship but out of necessity I decided to make a cargo loader droid. Again I went to the web for inspiration and found examples of cargo droids on Wookieepedia. I liked what I saw but they did not seem big enough for the job. I finally decided on modeling something similar to the Viper probe droids that were sent to Hoth to surveil the Rebels in the Empire Strikes Back. They are plenty big enough (though a bit menacing) for moving the cargo containers but with too many arms. I reduced the arm count down to just four placing them in the corners of the droid. The droid didn’t need as many sensors as the probe droids so I left many of them out. The resulting Viper Cargo Droid is just what I needed and should surely scare off any looting Jawas lurking nearby.

To complete the cargo system I needed a vehicle to move larger quantities of cargo containers. For this I designed a repulsorlift pod with the cargo containers in mind. I found these on Wookieepedia and they were mentioned in a few Star Wars comic books. It is basically a floating platform piloted from the back that is powered by repulsor engines. The engines use imaginary space-time mumbo-jumbo particles that are harvested by black hole power refineries. The point is they defy gravity and effortlessly move stuff around in planetary environments or any place or ship generating it’s own gravity.

Before I made the cargo repulsorpod I took a slight detour. I got to thinking about the tables and chairs in the mess hall and how they didn’t go with the flow of the room. So, I ditched existing tables and chairs and came up with a new idea for chairs and subsequently their matching tables. The chairs are formed from just 3 pieces: two metal rails and a sheet of “transparasteel” (a strong glass like substance) that are bent into the final shape. The tables are made the same way to match and made to be long and narrow to accommodate more people. The new furniture works much better in the room.

Next I worked on lighting fixtures for ceilings in the rooms off of the main corridor. They’re designed to be modular and comprised of an array of recessed lights (resembling can lights) that are surrounded by a tapered bezel with illumination around the edges. They would likely be made in a shiny black material that would gently reflect the light. For the large open sections of the ship I created a small square array of these lights to be repeated evenly across the ceilings.

A smaller change I made to the ship involves the docking ports. Early on I modeled the docking ports to match those found on the Millenium Falcon but I was never quite aware of how they operate and even now I still don’t know how they work. But at the time I made them I left no way for them to open due to my uncertainty. All I did this time was add a hinge to the doors so they can open outwards. So now at least they appear to function. Someday when I get a better idea I will change it. Also, early on there was an outer ring that protruded past the doors but when I changed the hull design to have alcoves for the docking ports I got rid of outer ring. I added the ring back into the design to make it once again consistent with the Millennium Falcon.

From the beginning I knew that the display screens were going to need some graphics. Nearly every screen on the ship up until now were just blank and at some point in time I was contemplating leaving them that way to save on size of the SketchUp data file. After I blew way past the size limit of file uploads for the Google 3D Warehouse the file size savings became irrelevant. For the screen on the computers in the computer core I created a simple status display with statistical graphs on one side and a meter of some sort on the other side. For the weapon targeting displays I carefully positioned the camera between the gun barrels and created snapshots of their view. I put crosshairs on the targeting displays and they were done. Every computer console needed a keyboard so I created a keyboard graphic that resembles the layout of the keyboard I saw in an interior photo of (again) the Millenium Falcon. For the display of the cargo computer consoles I made an overhead shot of the cargo floor to indicate a visual record of the cargo bays contents. This is to help keep track of and to find all of the cargo listed in the manifest. I borrowed elements of the computer core displays placing them above the overview. I labeled the screen using a galaxy basic font that is used in Star Wars. The final display screen I created was for the engineering computer console that displays the status of all of the ship’s vital systems. Again this display borrows graphics from the computer core displays and portions of the display are labeled in galactic basic.

One final detail to the ship was added in the ready room. The ship needed an insignia to represent who owns it so I added a large logo of the Alliance to Restore the Republic also known as the Rebel Alliance to the back wall of the ready room.

There were many mistakes that were fixed and micro changes that were made in the completion of the model which are really too negligible to mention but effected the overall quality of the model. I tried to go through the entire model with a fine toothcomb and I think it is in pretty good shape.

My final work on the model involved creating all new scenes for the model to show off all the details and features. There are now 99 different scenes in the model. About a quarter of the scenes are not labeled and they are there purely to smooth transitions between scenes when the scene animation is played.

The production of the Starship is now complete. It was really fun working on it and I am already contemplating the next one I intend to model. In the next blog post I write on the ship I will unveil the name, make and model of the ship. I post a link to the model so anyone with Google SketchUp 8.0 can download it and take a look. I will post a final image gallery using the labeled scenes I created and possibly post the animated walk through on YouTube.

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

A long time ago…

I’ll be posting the next update (possibly final update) for my starship project soon. But as of today it just occurred to me that I have been working on this model for over an entire year! I started on it on October 12, 2009 and it is still not finished. Of course, I continue to enjoy working on the project I just never expected it to take over a year to do. At some point I will have to declare it done and beyond that I may revisit it for a “refit” later on.

There are some things I would like to revise that would require me to considerably tear into the model to fix. The main revision I am considering is making the heights of the walls consistent on the top and bottom levels of the cargo, engineering and bridge. This would probably also entail making the walls of the rooms along the main corridor the same height as the mid level of the cargo, engineering and bridge. Furthermore, I would also want to make the floors in the large sections thicker than the current thickness of 3 inches to be more consistent with ship seen in Star Wars. Doing all that would require the outer hull to become larger to accommodate the new changes. I have many other changes I can see making as well: recessing the main weapons into the hull and make it so the pop out of the hull when in use, replacing the landing struts with beefier legs that flip down instead of the current scissor mechanisms, adding porthole windows to select rooms and replacing one airlock/docking port.with a conference room.

Now you can get the picture why the project has taken so long: I don’t know when to call it done.

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #105 – Cars

1 My entry for this challenge (F1 Inspired 3-Wheeled Roadster) is a 3-wheeled lightweight roadster designed for high performance yet economical. It would be powered by an Inline 4 cylinder gasoline engine (likely a large motorcycle engine with a lot of torque). It would be constructed of all lightweight materials including fiberglass and carbon fiber to keep it below 900 pounds to maximize performance and fuel economy. It features independent double wishbone suspension on the front wheels and a paralever arm suspension/drive train combination on the rear wheel. Based on a similar design, you could expect upwards of 180 horsepower, a top speed exceeding 150MPH and experience 0-60MPH in less than 4 seconds. No fancy 3D rendering has been used for display, just pure SketchUp goodness.

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

Google SketchUp 3D Challenge #102 – Public Transportation

102 Public TransportationAfter taking a long break from competing in the Google SketchUp 3D Challenge I decided to give it a go with Challenge #102 – Public Transportation. I just looked to see how much time has gone by since the last entry into the challenge and I was stunned to see that my last entry (#88 Skyscraper – Mile High Tower) was submitted July 9, 2009. That was 362 days before I submitted this one on July 6, 2010; almost a year!

Usually I post something on my blog about the challenge right after I finish my model but this time I am posting after the winner was determined. I am happy to say that I am the winner of the challenge making it my 8th win.

For this challenge I decided on making an electric bus. My inspiration came from a few concept buses I found online but in the end I came up something unique. My entry is entitled “Solocraft Electric Bus”. Just in case you are wondering, “Solocraft” is the fictional brand name I use for any vehicle I create for the challenges. The name comes from Han Solo from Star Wars.

It is designed to be small and maneuverable for tight city streets. Instead of relying on overhead wires this one gets its power from the Lithium ion batteries contained in the front and back drive module units which would save on infrastructure costs. It would be very lightweight to provide for a decent amount of battery range.

The most unique feature of the bus is the way in which it steers. There is a 4 wheel drive module at both the front and back of the bus. Each module rotates on its own 360 degree axis. This allows the bus to not only make very tight turns and the ability to turn on a dime but it also enables it to rotate the drive modules 90 degrees and pull up to the curb laterally.

The floor is at the same level as a standard city curb height in the middle for easy no climb access to the lower level seats. The floor height also accommodates wheelchair users like me without trouble at the specifically designed bus stops the bus would use. When the bus parks at regular bus stops or on flat pavement a ramp concealed in the floor also provides for wheelchair access.

I had planned to push this model further by creating an attachment that would turn it into an airplane for short distance air travel but I had to abandon that idea as I ran towards the deadline. Sometimes my ideas are just too ambitious to complete within the allotted time. You can see what happens when I don’t have a deadline for a project if read about my Starship Project on this blog. I plan on implementing the airplane idea as well as a few other ideas that would extend it’s versatility after I finish the starship.

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

Starship Project Update 11

The project is moving forward quite well. But not the ship so much because it still doesn’t have maneuvering thrusters.  This time around I worked on finishing the Bridge and also completely modeled the interior of the detachable Helm.

For the Bridge I first designed and modeled a 4 man computer console station which would be used for tactical and communication purposes.

I then moved on creating seating for all of the computer consoles. The seats borrowed parts from previous Google SketchUp 3D Challenge entries I created (See Concept Vehicle and Library entries). I used the seat cushion, seat back and armrest brackets of Concept Vehicle and the seat pedestal from the Library chair. This was a big shortcut that saved a lot of time. I simplified the armrest pads by removing the arch.  These seats will be used all throughout the vessel with only simple modifications based on their purpose.

I created some simple view screens similar to Earth bound LCD TV’s for the top of the main viewport. They also have been placed on the back of the turbolift shafts.

The last thing I added to the Bridge is a desk for the commanding officer in the ready room. The desk has dual computer consoles giving access to reports and logs as well as the comm. system.

Now on to the detachable Helm interior…

I failed to make pictures of everything I did on the Helm at first but prior to creating the Helm controls I added some walls to delineate the cockpit. This also created two equipment/storage rooms on either side of the cockpit. For the Helm controls I simply modified the computer console input panels to create a station for both pilot and copilot or smuggler and Wookiee depending on who is in possession of the ship. I created a platform to raise up the cockpit for an easier look out the viewport.

The next job was to create an entrance for the Helm when it is detached and used as a landing craft. I settled on a simple lift gate design that will reveal the door.

I then went on to create the walls for the rest of the Helm. In doing so I repeated the use of the wall computer consoles used below in the Bridge.  I used one on each side of the craft and left openings for seating and beds for rotating Helm crew. I put in the back wall with the rear bulkhead door.

Cubbyholes were then modeled for the additional seating and beds. And of course I then modeled the seating and beds.

I added wall boxes To the back to wall just to add some interest.

I then added seats for the cockpit and gave them headrests. In addition to the seats I added some control boxes flanking both sides of the helm controls. And finally I added the tactical and communication station to the back of helm craft and a desk in front of the elevator behind the cockpit.

What’s next? Weapon systems, communications array, maneuvering thrusters and the rest of the internal fixtures.   I will probably also add minor details for the hull.

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

Design It: Shelter Competition Winners

Congratulations to David Mares and David Eltang for winning the People’s Prize and Juried Prize respectively.

I find it interesting that David Mares’ Cork Block Shelter won by such a landslide margin of 63.9% with 64,875 votes from a choice of 10 finalists.  His closest competitor, Gonzalo Raymundo’s Bamboo Shelter, who had been in the lead early on only had 19.4% at 19,682 votes.  But then again, it was an Internet based voting system…  Perhaps next time I’ll name my entry The Stephen Colbert Shelter to have a fighting chance at winning..

Starship Project

I decided to make “Small Starship” the topic of Challenge #002 for the SketchUp Design Challenge.  So I figured I would make my own ship model. 

It’s likely going to be a blockade runner similar to the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette in Star Wars but of my own design.  I’ve decided to make it modular so I can easily change the interior layout. I am starting by modeling the interior corridor then building outward from there; this way I avoid trying to make an interior fit into an intricate hull design.

Each room within the ship will have it’s own hull and emergency bulkheads.  The idea is that if the ship breaks apart due to an accident or attack, atmosphere will still exist within the interior rooms for the crew to survive in.

As the model progresses, I will periodically post updates here.

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