A slice of Dark Aster if you please? Spaceship build WIP - NOVA PROPS

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Daniel Nelms

Sr Member
Howdy good people it's Daniel again with yet another crazy project to talk about. A few months ago trying to think of a new project, something ambitious. Something ridiculously difficult and challenging and I thought what about the Dark Aster? So I shot off an email to my partner IronManiac figuring he would talk some sense in to me and bring me back down to reality but to the contrary he was totally in to it!


And so as our beloved captain said, "Make it so" we began to plan this in earnest.

So as those of you who watched the movie know, the Dark Aster is made of a central core and has long wings made of 60 identical modules, 30 on each side and each one spinning seemingly independently of the other.

My first thought was to make the modules stationary so they could be put in place by hand and left there but IronManiac had an idea, why can't we make them move?

How on earth are we going to do this?!
At first I thought about putting in tiny servo motors in each module but that would be both complicated to control and very expensive.

As I thought about how to actually do this lightning struck my brain (figuratively speaking) I came up with this idea.
(See two pictures below)


So I had the basics of the idea down but now we needed to make something that would function on this basic framework.
I was able to construct a set of 3d printed planetary gears along with a bearing and slip system which would attach to each module and allow some to make a greater rotation than others, rotating more the further away from the central body and mounted on a central support shaft that also drives torque to each module.
So while the first modules move only a little then stop, the further modules continue to rotate without losing power.

Short video taken with my iPhone to show how this works.
View attachment IMG_2720.MOV

Next IronManiac used his mad skillz with Adobe Illustrator and set out to build a sketch of the modules that I could use to work out a rough 3d model.
I printed it out on paper and cut these out of foam board:


So how big is this going to be? About 1:3000th scale which is over 3 feet long.

So yeah it's still really early in this build and even tho it was started in late November there's still lots to be done.
If you find this interesting you can subscribe to the thread and watch the progress.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions, the more feedback we get the more motivated I'll feel.
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Daniel Nelms

Sr Member
Okay so it's been awhile since I posted anything in here. This is because we've been so busy on other projects that I haven't had the time to mess with this at all but being that it's the 4th of July weekend I've had some free time to get my geek on and to get a little more done on this project.

Here are a few renders out of Fusion

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 9.02.27 PM.png
A lone module with greeblies added.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 9.23.35 PM.png
A stack of modules with mechanical joints.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 9.24.11 PM.png
View of the inside, each module is hallowed out with a space to fit our gears and torque transfer module.
Basically a motor will transfer motion to that central shaft, since each of the 60 modules has it's own gear box torque from that drive shaft will spin each unit to a pre-set location, and also be able to return each module to it's full up-right position.

What is left to get this thing done?

We still have to model the main central unit, the command unit if you will. Settle on the right drive motor and gears (if need be) in the command unit. Fab and paint everything and see if it actually works!

Daniel Nelms

Sr Member
Quickie update:

I've been so busy filling orders with con season that I have not had much time to work on this but I did print several modules so I could get an idea of scale.
I was looking to build something about 5 feet long but IronManiac grounded me back in to reality so we're going to start with something a little less ambitious/crazy.

What I personally want is something that would fit over my fireplace. No larger than about 2.5-3 feet long in total. I've got just about everything designed now it's just a matter of doing a final 3D print, making a mold and casting a bunch of modules. I'm not sure when exactly I will have time to do that but expect lots of pictures/video when I do!
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Daniel Nelms

Sr Member
Well it took awhile with runs and commissions getting in the way but I finally have some time to work on this. I've 3d printed the first module and now am in the process of casting the pieces. I've got to cast 60 of these, 30 per side for the wings and finish off the central part of the ship but at least we're finally rolling.

This should pretty cool above my fireplace at home or in my office at work. I've decided not to do all the gearing and stuff, it'll take too long and I'll never have time to finish it.

One down, 59 to go...

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