Building The Death Star - PRODUCTION

Discussion in 'Studio Scale Models' started by PHArchivist, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    All right ladies and gents, hold on to you butts because HERE WE GO! (I say that lovingly - you're greatest bunch of hooligans and scallywags I know!)

    This past Friday I picked up the two acrylic domes to begin building the Death Star.

    So...

    After many years and various threads, NO MORE TALK! It's being built!

    However, I anticipate this to be a six to twelve month project. I suspect the physical construction should take a month or less, but the masking and painting will be considerably longer. Then the lights... Good god!

    For the record, this is a personal build project intended solely for my personal collection. It is not a commission, nor can I, or will I repeat this project on a commission basis.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2018
  2. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    First order of buisness...

    I'm nearly certain I miscalculated the dish. I was advised that the current replica may be 23cm which is a bit over 9". I'm afraid it looks too big, and should be in the 7.5" to 8" range. What do you think?

    I'm not terribly concerned about the incorrect hole. I can use the cut dome as the lower hemisphere, and orient the hole in the back. It will vent heat (if the lamp generates heat), and will provide access to replace the lamp.

    Though I am a little nervous about cutting a new hole... Thoughts?


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    Last edited: Nov 1, 2008
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  3. glim999

    glim999 Sr Member

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    Yeah, gotta say the the hole looks a bit too big. Not terribly so but it is noticable.
     
  4. robn1

    robn1 Master Member

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    It does look a bit big, but that could be the perspective of the photo.
    You should rule that out before making any alterations.

    Try taking another pic of the domes, back up as far as you can
    and zoom in. Get the perspective as flat as you can.

    Rob
     
  5. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Quite valid point. I was farther away in the shot taken at he museum, than the shot taken in my own shop.
     
  6. AT-AT Luvah

    AT-AT Luvah Sr Member

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    Daunting project, my man. But I'm psyched to watch the journey. Looks like a promising start. Dish cut does look a tad large, but I am certainly no expert on the dimensions of the Death Star. Pure empirical observation on my part.

    I will be watching this project with great interest. :)

    Hector
     
  7. ralphee

    ralphee Sr Member

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    About time :lol, seriously, you have researched this sooo much Rob, its really made me grin your kicking off what i know will be a killer build, you lucky so and so!
    As for the hole, it looks about right in the first pic, then a tad off the the others, so yeah id say a perspective issue?
    Im gonna love watching this take shape!

    lee
     
  8. minifig

    minifig Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If in doubt about the size why not cut out some discs of paper of different radii and tape them in the right place, then take a series of photos to compare with your shot of the prop (overlay them in photoshop!); not very scientific but sometimes the eye is more accurate than the ruler!!!!
     
  9. Guy Cowen

    Guy Cowen Sr Member

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    Its great to see this starting Rob.
     
  10. CutThumb

    CutThumb Sr Member

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    Good luck with this, particularly the lighting side. My SD is giving me alot of food for thought, so this build should be really great to watch. Good start though, those spheres look about right.
     
  11. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Thanks guys - yeah this is going to be a long, somewhat challenging build. But as Lee pointed out, there has been much preparation, talk, research - now I'm psyched to be actually doing it!

    Consensus is the hole is too big. The idea of doing paper cut-outs I think would work fine. The current hole is 9 1/8. I think just about 8" will be fine. I'm concerned about cutting the acrylic; don't want to crack it. I think I'll go at it with a drill bit in my Dremel, and drill a series of holes along the circumference, then "cut along the doted line".

    My goal for today is to build the beginning of the armature, cut the necessary holes (new super laser hole, and a hole at the south pole for the support rod), and get the lower hemisphere mounted in place

    Later on down the line, I'll need to manage the upper hemi - getting that in place will be a bigger challenge, as it needs to ride at a very specific height, and the edges must be parallel. Easy in concept; not so easy when you really think about it.

    What do you all think about the overall shape of my ball of death? We all know its ovoid, and not perfectly sphereical. The domes are 16 5/8" from equator to pole (no 18" as a true sphere would be at 36" in diameter). These images show the ovoid shape better. I'm happy with the results, but frankly, were I to do it again, I think I'd go 16 1/4". The original really is a football!

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    Last edited: Nov 2, 2008
  12. CutThumb

    CutThumb Sr Member

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    If you were going to fill in the hole a bit to reduce the size I would cut out a large circle from sheet of plasticard . I'd then cut an inner circle out of that to support the dish in place when you've established its size (so in effect you have a ring just below the surface like an iris for the inside of the DS).This would leave a slight lip between the dish and the rest of the DS that you could infill with either another ring of plastic cut from the plastic (or many cut strips)or an infill with something like epoxy sculpt for strength. You then need to re enforce it with thicker strips on the inside for support anyway but it would be pretty stable. Be warned about drilling or cutting acrylic- I tried it once when trying to build shelves and kept cracking it! its very difficult to work.
    You might find building a cubic skeleton out of a 1/2 " ( or larger) hardwood helpfull to add rigidity to the upper and lower spheres.It would then be easy to slip inside to do wiring and may allow you to remove the upper sphere from time to time .It would not be a perfect cube obviously because of the DS shape but it would then allow you to build alot of internal supports for fibre optics and wiring off of it , which will be complicated enough anyway.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2008
  13. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    My first thought on the super laser hole was exactly that - affix a ring on the backside to allow a "ledge" to add filer to.

    However, my concern is that this technique is more complicated, and introduces considerbly larger margins of error. Also, to be truly accurate, any and all filler materials would need to be clear enough to allow light transmission.

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    Last edited: Nov 2, 2008
  14. BrianM

    BrianM Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    This may sound like a silly question but did the guys who cut the whole keep the cut out piece? Maybe it's sitting on there cut off shelf?

    The only thing harder to cut/drill than acrylic, is acrylic that has been tempered by heat forming.

    Part one of my advice is make what you have work. It would be fairly easy to slush plaster on the inside of the dome and make a bunch of vacumeformed plugs you could drill cut test and break till you got it right. Then glue it in place. Even if you have to use filler you can always drill tiny holes to let the light out.

    Part two: Attach the top dome to the bottom one THEN add the central pole. Use spacers to get it perfectly even all the way around. Glue firmly with plex glue not super glue. This way if you a little off of top dead center with the pole nobody will notice.

    Part Three: I've found the safest way to cut large hole in plex domes is with a soldering iron. I know it sounds weird but buy a cheep iron from radio shack and do it in a very well ventilated area. It slow but never a crack using this method.

    Best of luck
    BrianM
     
  15. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Now that is what the RPF is all about - sharing skills and concepts. I'd not thought of that, and the logic makes perfect sense. (y)thumbsup
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2008
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  16. Jedifyfe

    Jedifyfe Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Hey Rob,
    The shape looks REALLY spot on! I do agree with the consensus about the hole but again, that may be due to the photograph. Can't wait to see the progress

    Brad
     
  17. moes1

    moes1 Well-Known Member

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    As far I remember, when I made the Dish for Guz, it was pretty much 23 cm wide, though it's been some years ago now since I made it. But Guz told it was a great fit. The dish does not sit flush with the edge of the domes, it does stick a bit out. There are some OK reference in the "from SW to Indy" book as far as I remember.

    I have some pictures of it on my site. "News" - then "more news"
     
  18. Junk Pilot

    Junk Pilot Sr Member

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    I go with the concensus in that the hole is slightly oversize but I'd go with it regardless unless you want it absolutely spot on.

    Either way this is going to be a kick * replica. I have 30cm diameter domes which I am hoping to make so yours will be mine hands down.
     
  19. James Kenobi 1138

    James Kenobi 1138 Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Sounds like my Prom night all over again........
     
  20. chibigear

    chibigear Active Member

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  21. bluelight

    bluelight Well-Known Member

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    Hi tried to do some photoshop on your original DS pics.. I overlaid photos and shadowed areas show that your hole (red shadow) should be smtg around 15-25% larger than the original. Knowing that camera distance and angle were different this is just a tentative mesurement.. IMHO it shouldn't be a big deal! I would leave it as is

    cheers
     
  22. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    That's really helpfull - so the white circle then is the original dish?

    The hole in mine is 9 1/8"

    I experimented with both 8 1/2" and 8" paper cut-out templates, taped to the dome. I didn't get around to posting the images, but the 8" was closest. I think 7 3/4 may even be better.

    I'll do a template at 7 3/4, snap a pic, and post all the images. I will be cutting a new hole for sure, though. Mine is just too big. But it will make a great access hole in the back!
     
  23. bluelight

    bluelight Well-Known Member

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    yessir!


    Looking forward to new pics! and BTW Fantastic Idea using the larger hole for maintenance purposes!

    cheers
     
  24. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Here is an 8" diameter template:

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  25. JPolacchi

    JPolacchi Sr Member

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    I don't mean to change subjects,but would the dish size for the "Star Wars" Death Star be the same as the one made for ROTJ?The two are differenmt models and wasn't everything bigger in size?
     
  26. bluelight

    bluelight Well-Known Member

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    This time is spot on!:thumbsup
     
  27. Junk Pilot

    Junk Pilot Sr Member

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    What size are you domes again?
     
  28. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Sweet - and you can tell visually just by looking at the separate pics that the template photo has the white circle off center tot he left just a bit, as shown in the overlay.

    Your overlays have been a great help!
     
  29. TridCloudwalker

    TridCloudwalker Sr Member

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    How do you plan on constructing the equator trench?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  30. vaderdarth

    vaderdarth Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    That looks better to my eye. The size is alot better. Placement looks good too.....I'm assuming you'll be bringing the equator closer to the circle. If not it may need to come down a couple millimeters.

    Dave :)
     
  31. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    The placement of the paper template is accurate. The dish is 1.5" above the equator.

    Understand that on my domes there is no trench yet, so its harder to tell if the position of the template is properly juxtaposed with the equator.

    This brings up an interesting point. Per the overlays, the overall shape/dimensions of my domes match the original nearly dead on. However, mine is not separated yet for the trench (the domes are not attached to each other yet), which will add a 1/2" in height.

    So...

    My domes are 16 5/8" but I should really have taken 1/4" more off each one to allow for the 1/2" separation for the trench. So I think that a more accurate measurement for the domes would have been 36" x 16 3/8"
     
  32. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Just like the original - the domes will be separated by 1/2" via an internal bracing structure, and a backing plate/strip of clear acrylic will be adhered to the inside of the domes at the equator.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  33. vaderdarth

    vaderdarth Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    sweet, that is exactly how I'd approached the trench. I figure that's how they did the original. Lookin forward to more progress. :)

    Dave
     
  34. Jedi Dade

    Jedi Dade Sr Member

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    I think that you've just uncovered a build order dependency... Build your trench before cutting your dish... If you're off you'll probably catch it that way... just a bit of advice from soemones who's screwed up more then once ;)

    Jedi Dade
     
  35. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Absolutely. And there are plenty of those dependencies, no doubt!

    The acrylic backing strip for the trench is 2" wide, so 1" above and 1" below the true equator. The dish is 1.5" above the equator, so there will be clearance.

    However, the strip will clearly have to be installed prior to closing off the domes.
     
  36. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    All right, maggots...!!

    Here's the latest. For those that know the original, you'll know what you're looking at!

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  37. vaderdarth

    vaderdarth Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Nice!!!
     
  38. zorg

    zorg Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    very interested in the progress so far. whats the wall thickness of the dome material?

    id like to try a DS myself but getting domes that big in the uk is nearly impossible. by impossible i mean without getting my wallet repeatedly gang raped and left for dead in a ditch.

    looking forward to the updates.

    -z
     
  39. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    The wall thicness is 3/8". Though I'm not 100% positiive of the original, I really feel that 1/2" is too thick. The 3/8" feels just about right.

    The wooden ring currently is just test fit in place. It will attach to the central support tower (hopefully tonight or tomorrow). The ring looks like a cog wheel to allow light to pass through (otherwise there'd be a dark band where the wood is when lit).
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  40. Ham Salad

    Ham Salad Well-Known Member

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    Where'd you get the domes?
     
  41. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Sr Member

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    Dome Depot! :lol
     
  42. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Dome Depot! Ha!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  43. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Don't you mean Dome Hepot?
     
  44. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Small problem and I need your all's advice...

    I finished the "cog wheel", inserted it, and affixed it with four screws.

    The problem is that the compression deformed the dome so it is no longer round and the upper dome doesn't align.

    I removed the screws and the cog wheel, and the domes align fine.

    So I have the wheel with four screw holes, and the dome with four carefully cut holes as well.

    My theory is that if I redrill pilot holes in the wood at about 1/8" lower than the existing ones, then reuse the holes in the dome, then that would raise the cog wheel by 1/8" and hopefully lessen the compression, and hence the distortion of the circumference of the dome.

    Make sense?
     
  45. zorg

    zorg Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    could you not bond/glue it in somehow?
     
  46. uncannyx

    uncannyx Active Member

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    I think that will work fine. Or you could also use custom spacers between the wheel and the dome, just adjust the quantity according to the required thickness per mounting point until you get the perfect alignment with the top dome. Awesome build! :thumbsup
     
  47. darth_myeek

    darth_myeek Sr Member

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    If the cogwheel is fighting the internal curvature of the dome, it might pay off to find a cabinet maker with a shaper. Shapers can put a curvature on the edge to match the hemisphere.

    Was also thinking, it would might be easier to place & level the cogwheel on a large flat table, lower the hemisphere over the cogwheel & then drill.

    Would love to see set up pics.

    - Also agree with Zorg regarding his question about bonding and gluing. Was thinking you could glue brackets/blocks internally and then screw the cogwheel into that.

    -DM
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  48. BrundelFly

    BrundelFly Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Good GOd.
    Switch to METRIC already. Far more accurate.
     
  49. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Frank - I'm a bit schizo... I use both all the * time! Get over here and help me, dammit! ;)
     
  50. PHArchivist

    PHArchivist Master Member

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    Your on to something there, knowingly or not.

    I think I've made a small discovery (of which some of you will say, "Well --- duh!"). The screws are actually working as adjusting screws. By either backing them off or tightening them down more it (and here's the "duh" part) flexes the plastic in or out.

    Right now I've only got four screws in place. With eight total (should have built for ten) I should have enough adjustability to align both domes.

    I still have te pieces I cut out to form the "cogs". I may cut two more cogs out of them, and bring some screws in from the backof the ring to affix them between the ring and the plastic

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014

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