A HAL 9000 faceplate from scratch

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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yes, this is yet another HAL 9000 faceplate thread, I'm afraid. There are quite a few going on here right now, but they all seem to have generally different focuses, and I didn't want to keep adding my own comments hijack-style to other people's.

Anyway. Basically I'm aiming for as screen-accurate a replica as I can make, matching the HAL brain room sign I made a little while back. I'm basing my work on the ludicrously detailed research I did on the original movie HAL 9000 faceplates, published in the link below:

HAL 9000’s faceplates

The basic parameters I'm using for my replica are:

- Must look as close as possible to the film props.
- Will not contain an actual Nikkor 8mm f/8 lens. This may seem to contradict the previous goal, and of course it does. However, those lenses typically go for £1000-$1300 USD each, and I can't justify the expense at this point.
- While my replica will contain a fake 3D-printed lens, it will be modelled as closely as I can afford to the real lens, particularly the sizing. So if I come across an affordable Nikon lens somewhere down the line I can drop it in.
- I'm not concerned about attempting to replicate the construction methods used for the original props. I'll therefore use modern construction methods and materials, so long as they look reasonably convincing on the outside.
- I'm going to light it, since the red glow is essential to the look of the piece. But I'm not going to add speakers and audio players at this point.

So - hope this latest addition to our current glut of 2001 prop replicas is of interest to someone!

1617328845896.png
 
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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
One of the challenges is finding a reasonable material for the black plate surface. It isn't certain what they used in the film. It seems quite possible that it was a solid block of aluminium, given a brushed finish and then painted satin black. There is definite evidence of brush lines in the film, running parallel to the long edge. But the panel seems less reflective than anodized black aluminium normally looks.

To save money and cutting inconvenience I experimented with 3mm dibond, which is an acrylic plastic sheet with a thin veneer of aluminium on either side. I found one that was brushed aluminium, and another that was billed as brushed black anodized aluminium. I painted the metal-finish plate with Citadel Chaos Black paint, since I like its finish generally. And I put the two surfaces side by side, along with a 1/8" (3.18mm) strip, matching the frame width of the original prop.

dibond.jpg


So, I don't know. I'm not truly satisfied with either. The Chaos Black finish is a tiny bit too reflective, which makes it look dark grey rather than black in the photo, though it looks satisfactorily black to the naked eye. The paint also fills in the brushed texture somewhat.

The "anodized" finish, however, is too sparkly. The grooves of the brush marks are too deep and thus too reflective. It looks quite nice, but it also doesn't look like the film props.

Coming soon - replicating the Nikkor 8mm f/8 lens...
 
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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So. As noted, I've been researching the original HAL 9000 faceplate props, and have put a bit of work into the lens of late. We know the original props used Nikon (Nikkor) 8mm f/8 lenses, so replicating one of those has been the goal.

Getting the "lens" parts made in CNC-cut metal would be pretty costly. There are fine threads, and engraved lettering. So I've decided to go for 3D prints using resin. Here's what I've got right now.

Screen Shot 2021-04-02 at 12.43.49.png


Making a Moebius version of the Nikkor lens.

While I'm scratchbuilding my own HAL faceplate, there's also some interest in accurizing the Moebius HAL 9000 styrene model kit. I don’t own this kit, but from what I can see, it has a bunch of problems in terms of the lens assembly.

So. Question - would anyone be interested in a more accurate lens model compatible with the Moebius kit?
 
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joberg

Master Member
Great to see you tackle that particular prop Neil (y) As you said, it's always difficult to see the true colors of a prop/costume from pics.
The challenge is, of course, those different parts, specially the aluminium face and the right hue of black. When you start examining the face, you're beginning to see that this is not necessarily an easy project...and I wont even mention getting a real Nikkor lens.
Eagerly waiting for your next update!
 

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Markus

Well-Known Member
Yes, this is yet another HAL 9000 faceplate thread, I'm afraid.
Wonderful! I can't get enough HAL build threads (it's just that it's becoming increasingly harder to memorize which thread it was where I saw a certain post :)).
I also want to thank you for all your research and for documenting this on your webpage. This is a great source of information.
 

nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
My current lens test print. Needs some work, and I couldn't find my can of gloss black paint, but it's getting there. This is with the glass lens sold by a certain eBay seller of a certain reputation.

The spacing on the hand-engraved lettering is copied from an actual lens.


1617406522514.png


I kind of messed up the white ink on the lettering, but hey.

1617406118694.png
 
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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So here are a few notes about the Moebius representation of the Nikkor fisheye, and the lens model I've been working on.

Moebius HAL kit "lens" problems:

- A superfluous extra groove or recess was added to the inside of the aluminium ring.
- The top of the aluminium ring is also too high. ie: the visible part of the ring sticks out too high past the black plate. (fortunately this does mean you can probably get the aluminium ring a bit closer to prototype by carefully cutting off the protruding outer edge of the aluminium ring, and sanding the top surface smooth and flat. I think that might be a bit low, though - not sure)
- The aluminium ring interior isn’t deep enough. The bottom of the ring interior should be below the level of the black plate. As a result the Moebius lens isn’t recessed correctly.
- The lens barrel doesn’t have engraved lettering on it - they just supply a waterslide decal.
- The decal for the lettering doesn’t emulate the original engraved lettering. It looks to me like the decal uses Rocko, a cheap font from the 1990s which is a sort of round typeface. That's pretty half-ass in my opinion. Even VAG Rounded (the old Volkswagen font) would've been closer since it has even strokes.
- The two thin clear plastic “lenses” aren’t very convincing and don’t look much like the original, which was an actual camera lens from Nikon that had solid glass lenses.
- The plastic lens barrel ring can’t easily accommodate the substitute glass lenses that were recently marketed on eBay by a certain seller.
- The “lens” rings don’t have the correct threads in them. These threads were used by the lens cap on the original Nikon 8mm fisheye lens.
- The kit "lens" is a shallow dish, and doesn't look much like the real lens, which is actually quite deep.
- There's a spurious rectangular tab sticking out the top of the outer ring. This has to be cut off, and the remaining area has to be carefully rounded to match the rest of the ring.

I am working on four variants of the 3D printed design:

- Moebius replacement, version A: a simple drop-in replacement for the Moebius kit. That gives you the engraved lettering, the simulated lens threads, and an aluminium ring with a lower ring wall. However it does not have the correct deeper ring interior since that would require enlarging the ~80mm hole in the black plate.
- Moebius replacement, version B: a deeper replacement set for the Moebius kit. This gives you the advantages above, plus it has a deeper aluminium ring. Installation requires you to enlarge the hole in the black plate. This isn't difficult - you just need to carefully cut a 95mm hole in the styrene. The ring has a narrow lip around it, so the hole has to be fairly accurate.
- Simulated lens, version C: seen in the previous post; a more accurate replacement set that can accommodate the eBay-sold glass lens. It's designed for scratchbuilt applications, but can also by used with the Moebius kit if a 95mm hole is cut into the black plate. Includes a model of the aluminium ring, and the lens barrel is sized to be as close as possible to the original Nikon lens. (its inner barrel is about 1mm more in diameter to accommodate the eBay-sold glass lens)
- Simulated lens, version D: same as C, only without the aluminium ring. This is for people who want to make their own turned metal rings.

Advantages of the 3D prints:

- I've modelled the original Nikon 8mm fisheye design as closely as possible, based on photos and measurements provided by a person who owns one of the lenses. There are various diagrams out there with errors that I hope I've mostly avoided.
- I've carefully simulated the recessed lettering of the original lens barrel by reconstructing the engraved letterforms, based on photos and scans of the original lens (Amadeus Prokopiak, Ken Rockwell, others). I didn't just use a font, since that just looks wrong. This approach simulates the notches and bumps in the lettering caused by the hand-engraving procedure that was used back in the 1960s - they used a pantograph mechanism on an engraver with a template.
- The engraved lettering should be filled in white, ideally using a water soluble ink or paint to avoid marking the gloss finish.
- The first three versions are printed as four separate parts – the aluminium ring, the outer lens barrel, the inner lens barrel, and the bottom of the inner lens barrel. Printing the lens barrel as inner and outer parts makes it easy to paint the narrow gap between the two sections. The bottom of the inner barrel is separate as a cost-savings measure. The fourth version is three parts since it lacks the aluminium ring.
- The parts look moderately convincing when painted a gloss black like the original lens, which was enamelled black.
- The movie set lenses were probably bought new and looked black and clean. But if you were to simulate "brassing" on the lens barrel through subtle use of silver paint on protruding parts of the knurling it could make the lens barrel seem more realistic.
- Versions C and D model the deeper sections of the lens interior to give a look closer to the real lens. They have a spot for a 3mm white LED, and a slot for you to add a red photographic filter cut into a small 5mm disc. The original lens was built this way - it had a rotating filter disc next to the aperture mechanism. A red LED does not match the appearance of the original HAL camera eye, which was yellow in the very centre and red further out.

Drawbacks of the 3D prints:

- The 3D printed replacement parts are pretty expensive. Probably around £80/$110 via Shapeways for versions A and B.
- The parts use the Shapeways “fine detail" process, which leaves some corrugated lines. You need to carefully scrape the wax off the prints, clean with hot water and a brush, and gently sand the corrugated areas to get it looking like a lens barrel and a genuine metal ring.
- You can't print the parts using lower quality print processes, such as the Shapeways "versatile" process, since it would look too grainy and you couldn't reproduce the lettering or the knurling.
- The simulated lens is not 100% accurate to the original Nikon lens. Certain compromises had to be made to fit either the Moebius plastics or the eBay glass lens. However, I think it looks reasonably good.
- Copout: I did not model the threads as an actual spiral, but as angled concentric rings. You can’t tell this just by looking at it though.
- The simulated threads are not as fine as the real machined threads on the original lens, owing to limitations of 3D printing.

What's the block at the bottom with the the little holes for?

I’ve put small holes into the sides of each part. The idea is you take a 1.5mm brass rod or thin piece of wire and feed it through the holes. This lets you keep all the of parts firmly joined and aligned. If you use fairly stiff rod/wire you can also have that protrude out under the top black plate. This prevents the frame and lens barrel from falling out when the faceplate is mounted vertically.

Thanks:

Thanks to Karl Tate and Adam Johnson for help with researching the original props and the Nikon lenses. Amadeus Prokopiak posted a lot of useful information to the RPF on the subject of HAL and the Nikon lens. His lens blueprint has a couple issues, but his pictures of the lettering were a very handy data point. And thanks to Ed Stephens III, without whose help in providing detailed Moebius kit part dimensions I wouldn't have been able to get a Moebius version together.
 
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nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So, would the "C" version be the same price?

Unfortunately not. The Moebius "lenses" are shallow and not representative of the actual lenses. I'm not going to model the real lens exactly, because I don't have all the exact dimensions, and because I don't have an exact set of lens elements anyway. But I'm making a deeper representation of the original Nikkor lens, which of course requires more plastic to print.
 

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nalyom9

Active Member
One of the challenges is finding a reasonable material for the black plate surface. It isn't certain what they used in the film. It seems quite possible that it was a solid block of aluminium, given a brushed finish and then painted satin black. There is definite evidence of brush lines in the film, running parallel to the long edge. But the panel seems less reflective than anodized black aluminium normally looks.

To save money and cutting inconvenience I experimented with 3mm dibond, which is an acrylic plastic sheet with a thin veneer of aluminium on either side. I found one that was brushed aluminium, and another that was billed as brushed black anodized aluminium. I painted the metal-finish plate with Citadel Chaos Black paint, since I like its finish generally. And I put the two surfaces side by side, along with a 1/8" (3.18mm) strip, matching the frame width of the original prop.

View attachment 1442790

So, I don't know. I'm not truly satisfied with either. The Chaos Black finish is a tiny too reflective, which makes it look dark grey rather than black in the photo, though it looks satisfactorily black to the naked eye. The paint also fills in the brushed texture somewhat.

The "anodized" finish, however, is too sparkly. The grooves of the brush marks are too deep and thus too reflective. It looks quite nice, but it also doesn't look like the film props.

Coming soon - replicating the Nikkor 8mm f/8 lens...
Hi.
This new member had just posted pics of anodized black brushed aluminum plates he is using for his build. I thought it might be of interest to you. I have just completed my own Hal using vinal on the faceplate.
Best of luck with the Build

John
 

nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
OK. So about how much would it cost to have one printed like the one in post # 7 above?
I'm not sure yet as I'm reworking the design, and trying to figure out where to sprue it to lower costs. I'm also splitting the interior detail into parts to make the entire print lower in height, and thus again lowering the print price. It's kind of looking like it might be around £125. This is always for the lower of the two print quality options - the higher quality option adds around £75, which is a lot. The US pricing isn't just a currency conversion.
 

nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
This new member had just posted pics of anodized black brushed aluminum plates he is using for his build. I thought it might be of interest to you. I have just completed my own Hal using vinal on the faceplate.
Thanks. :) Yes, I've been following his build also!
 

Jive Turkey

Member
My current lens test print. Needs some work, and I couldn't find my can of gloss black paint, but it's getting there. This is with the glass lens sold by a certain eBay seller of a certain reputation.

The spacing on the hand-engraved lettering is copied from an actual lens.


View attachment 1443036

I kind of messed up the white ink on the lettering, but hey.

View attachment 1443035
This looks incredible. My Hal 9000 build was the impetus for buying an Elegoo Mars pro, but after seeing this, I might need to go with your shapeways print. Fantastic job. Fits that ebay lens nicely
 
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joberg

Master Member
Once again Neil: very thorough and detailed (y) I figured that with a real Nikkor lens, , custom aluminium ring/back plate +beveled sides, wood veneer and that famous corrugated speaker grill, I'm at $4000 CDNo_O:eek:
 

nalyom9

Active Member
So. As noted, I've been researching the original HAL 9000 faceplate props, and have put a bit of work into the lens of late. We know the original props used Nikon (Nikkor) 8mm f/8 lenses, so replicating one of those has been the goal.

Getting the "lens" parts made in CNC-cut metal would be pretty costly. There are fine threads, and engraved lettering. So I've decided to go for 3D prints using resin. Here's what I've got right now.

View attachment 1442848

Making a Moebius version of the Nikkor lens.

While I'm scratchbuilding my own HAL faceplate, there's also some interest in accurizing the Moebius HAL 9000 styrene model kit. I don’t own this kit, but from what I can see, it has a bunch of problems in terms of the lens assembly.

So. Question - would anyone be interested in a more accurate lens model compatible with the Moebius kit?
I would be interested;)
 

nkg

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Once again Neil: very thorough and detailed (y) I figured that with a real Nikkor lens, , custom aluminium ring/back plate +beveled sides, wood veneer and that famous corrugated speaker grill, I'm at $4000 CDNo_O:eek:

Nah - shouldn't be that much. The lens would be a bit under $2000 CAD. Cheap!

The original props had no wood veneer, incidentally.
 

joberg

Master Member
The price includes the making of the frame (quotes I've received from various manufacturing companies in my region) the materials, etc...
As you know, everything is double the price in Canada:rolleyes::devil:
 

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