30-inch Rebel Blockade Runner - FINISHED


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So this is a different kind of kit in that it's cast in a material called Rigidyne Polyurethane rather than styrene or 3D printed resin. This stuff is very smooth, pretty heavy, and very easy to sand and drill into when needed. There are no sprues, but there is one drawback to this process I'll get into shortly.

Here's the kit as it was delivered. It was a HUGE box, very well packed, with two levels of material. This included everything for the kit, a base, metal frame, engine lights, an Arduino, and a bonus escape pod model.

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The detail is incredible. The one downside to using a casting creation method is that you can't have undercuts anywhere or you couldn't get anything out of the molds, which means the pipes on the tops of the engines have a solid wall or wing or whatever you want to call it underneath them. So I thought I'd be a crazy guy and try to carve out the material.

The pic below shows one of the pipes done, and one still to go. You can see the material connecting the pipe to the engine. You could paint it, I guess, but it would bug me, so I very carefully cut it out with a small rotary tool. There are 32 pipes in total so it took a while, but I was much happier with the results when I was done.


Finished engine.

It took some time to get the frame assembled because you have to widen a few of the holes and there's some tricky assembly where you have to screw some pieces together within the central body part that comes as one piece (for rigidity), so it's hard to see what you're doing and difficult to get the tools where you need them. But I got it all assembled, at least this much.


I am going to try to make the radar dish rotate on a small 5v motor. I have one that just fits into the available space. That is still a work in progress and I may give up on it but for now it's still on. I had to cut a piece out of the upper body but it will be covered regardless so if this doesn't work it won't affect the model if I leave the dish static.

There was no good way to light the cockpit because they had to cast the head part as a solid piece. They did show on a build video that you could drill in from the cockpit side and the rear side and hope they met in the middle in order to run wires if you wanted to try it. I managed to make it work and have a short LED strip on the ceiling piece and a tiny red flashing SMD I mounted above the door to simulate a warning light. I tried to get video but it jut gets completely blown out.

The big hole drilled in the back will get covered with some styrene. You can't see much through the cockpit window when it's sealed up but it still gives it a bit of life. I have glass sides used for microscopes and may cut one down to form window glass for the front. If that doesn't work I'll use clear acetate. I know the studio model didn't have any glass but I like to think I'm making a model of the spaceship and not a model of the studio model. It would be like making an F-14 without canopy glass.

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Some more painting done on the head section and side cover. Still a lot more to do. There's a lot of light gray streaking on the very front of the head, as well as black dots. I'm going to most likely use German Gray as I think black will be too stark at this scale.

Masking was done with tape and masking fluid. I did use some chipping fluid as well on the forward sections of the head on the outer red rings.
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And a bunch of shots of the current status of the parts.
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The kit comes with the radar dish cast as a single piece that you mount with a magnet so you can position it at different angles. I wanted to make it spin like the studio model so I've been doing some experimenting with how to best accomplish this.

I first tried a servo motor that really didn't work well. It wasn't symmetrical, felt underpowered, so after a few tests I abandoned it and got some inexpensive 5v motors from Amazon.

I did not want to cut apart the kit part but I had a 3D print file of the Blockade Runner, also from Merlin Models, that I purchased before they were offering the kit, so I decided to experiment with that since it was conveniently in the same scale. It was also a single piece but I was able to slice it apart in Meshmixer so that I had the radar mast and "plate" and a separate base, to which I also added a large central hole to accommodate the motor.

First I had to cut a hole in the hull large enough for the motor. I don't have a pic of the opening directly. This shows the sheet styrene I cut to act as a brace for the motor sitting in place. Right now it's just pressure it.

On the left is the kit dish and base (one piece), and on the right are the 3D parts I printed. I couldn't get a clean print of the back underside of the antenna part no matter what I tried so I ended up just cutting off the 3D print antenna and will use the cast one from the kit, which I have since removed from its base.

Here's the motor in the brace. It's sitting too high here and it took a lot of fiddling to get it to the correct height as well as perfectly centered, but it's finally there.

Here's the 3D printed base sitting on the model, and then the rotating cap on it with the antenna removed.
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Finally, here's the test in action. I primed and painted the parts. The motor brace still isn't glued into place and I may only tack it down lightly so I can remove it if need be. The base cap is also not glued down yet and the rotating part is attached with a little bit if Elmer's Glue, again so I can detach it somewhat easily if needed. I'm pretty happy with how this worked out. Now that this is worked out I can move on to assembling the main body components.
There hasn't been a ton to report on. I've been having issues with the metal armature for this that I finally got resolved. It's a VERY heavy model and the weight is all in the engines. The frame as designed really couldn't manage it and kept leaning back like it was a plane taking off. I had to add a top plate to the cross brace on the bottom to finally get it level.

Anyway, I still have to wire up the Arduino and finish the weathering, but we have a functional radar dish on the Blockade Runner. It’s a 5 volt motor running off of 12 volts with a stepper in between to drop the voltage to a little more than 4 volts, which gets the dish spinning at just about the right speed.


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