First Project: The AE-35 Unit! Advice appreciated

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Abitofcredit

New Member
So... This seems like a good place to start. After creating this account with the intention of starting this project (5years ago) I have finally begun.

"Just a moment....Just a moment. I've just picked up a fault in the AE-35 Unit.
Its going to go 100 percent failure within 72 hours."


The AE-35 Unit from 2001 A Space Odyssey is a small gyroscopic device which controlled the antenna alignment on the Discovery space craft. If the Unit malfunctioned Communication with Earth would be lost.

Despite the importance to the plot of the film I have only been able to find one source where somebody has attempted to replicate it, this person is Dennis Gilliam. The page has never been updated but It will give me somewhere to get started.

One thing identified by Dennis is that the core of the AE-35 unit was made using a real functional Gyroscope.

I have sourced some of the images below from Dennis's website. (2001 Spacesuit)
AE-35C.jpg
AE-35top.jpg
1588531074502.png
latest?cb=20100803213121.jpg


Tasks to complete:
  • Buy or salvage a matching Gyroscope.
  • Modify the Gyro if required.
  • Identify any missing ancillary parts (handles, control nobs, connectors, outer case) which may not be part of the original Gyro.
  • Decide a method to replicate the electrical test points on the side (machining, Vinyl, laser engraving).

Today I bought a Gyroscope which is due to be delivered in the next two weeks so I can move on to solving some other problems.
If anyone has any extra information or knows about any other sources please let me know!
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Abitofcredit

New Member
Details on the hunt for a Gyroscope:


As identified by Dennis the core of the AE-35 is a real Gyroscope, he even provided a picture of the one which he acquired. Unfortunately reverse image searching the photo doesn't come up with anything particularly useful so I had to gather some more information from the film.
AE-35%20gyro120.jpg

1588624340489.png
Whole.png

The film uses some suspiciously detailed xrays and 3D representations of the prop. Assuming that both images are genuine Xrays the Gyro has some more distinct features not visible in Dennis's image above.
There are two objects sticking out from each end which could be connectors or control nobs.
It could also possibly have a circular screen/dial on the same face as the two smaller nobs.

Additionally the film was released in 1968 so the object must have been available as scrap or salvage around that time. This means that it must have been manufactured before 1960.
The most prominent gyroscope manufacturers around 1950-1960 were the Sperry gyroscope company LTD with manufacturing sites around the UK.

My first search "Sperry aircraft Gyroscope 1950" turns up an etsy link to gyroscope which looks to be around the correct form factor but doesn't have the right nobs to match the xrays but shows that I am on the right track.

For the second search I adjusted the search terms to "sperry gyro 1950" which leads to the first google image result with two control nobs. This looks a close match to the display and two control nobs so this could be the correct piece of equipment.
Compass Mk 4B Gyro Unit Type A; The Sperry Gyroscope Co Ltd ...

my next search for for "Sperry Compass Mk 4B Gyro Unit Type A" gives me a potential eureka. One of the results is a sale listing with a photo of the gyroscope without its black casing and is a definite match to Dennis's original.
kZziq21dzaVe4Na9z0BmkNoVIa5jwQzPKECXp1rVB&usqp=CAU.jpg
4211_754080088357307_9051289310237556736_n-200x267.jpg

It is not quite right as it only has one large rear connector instead of two, it does however have a label with the party number on it.
searching for the terms "GM Compass MK4B 6B/56" leads to a few ebay listings which look pretty good.

And one looks exactly like the item I am looking for!
s-l1600.jpg
s-l500.jpg

The exact part is a Sperry G.M.compass MK4 - 6B/563 (Part no: 16528-0)



Additional dump of information to keep my source material in one place.

 

Attachments

  • small circles end.png
    small circles end.png
    47.6 KB · Views: 64
  • large circles end.png
    large circles end.png
    33.4 KB · Views: 67

joberg

Master Member
Abitofcredit, be careful with the second "XRay" of the gyro: this is a wire representation that Doug Trumbull made of the prop (animation cells), hence the two circles at the back and front. While the knobs are in their right place (the ones near the handle), the other aluminium greeblies at the other end were added by the prop makers and serve no purpose technically.
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Abitofcredit

New Member
Abitofcredit, be careful with the second "XRay" of the gyro: this is a wire representation that Doug Trumbull made of the prop (animation cells), hence the two circles at the back and front. While the knobs are in their right place (the ones near the handle), the other aluminium greeblies at the other end were added by the prop makers and serve no purpose technically.
Do you have a source for this information joberg?

I have found evidence that Doug created the wire frame for the actual antenna but cannot find any reference to him creating the AE-35 unit diagram in the same fashion. It may be the case so I will keep hunting.

1589029091134.png
1589029259648.png
1589029602433.png

A future quick project might be to recreate the wire antenna model as seen in the images above because it looks awesome!


With regards to the aluminium greeblies, I agree. Something was definitely added although looking at the xray/scanned image below it seems fairly clear that the two military connectors on the gyroscope are still attached, it is even possible to see the metal contact pins. The connectors must have an aluminium cap over the top of them to make them more reflective and to give them the rounded shape seen in the close up shots in the film.

14731312175_5cbae9e4c2_b - Copy.jpg
AE-35C.jpg
1589031485748.png


The two control nobs by the handle on the AE-35 look incredibly similar to those used on the gyroscope and may just be painted. It does look however like the control nobs on the gyro I have bought are not the same size so I may have to find or manufacture a replacement or attempt to cut/sand it down to the correct thickness. I will be able to confirm this once it arrives.

1589031858645.png
s-l1600 - Copy.jpg

text 2.PNG
text.PNG


On a different note I have been struggling to identify the text on the top surface of the unit. I cannot find any higher resolution images of this angle and have struggled to get hold of the 4k/UHD anniversary version to see if the details are possible to make out.
 

Mike J.

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Tried a little Photoshop enhancement, can't make out anything. Congrats on ID'ing the compass.
 

Attachments

  • COMPOSITE1.jpg
    COMPOSITE1.jpg
    565 KB · Views: 26

joberg

Master Member
Abitofcredit; so many wire effect were created for different screens of different vehicules/effects that the only way to see if Doug & Co. made that AE-35 wire "X-Ray" is to ask the Stanley Kubrick's archives (in London, or Doug Trumbull on his Facebook page) if they have the Polaroids of all the special effects (I'm sure they do, since Stanley and the team took photos of everything they did). As for the knobs; 1) they're the originals (cleaned up probably), 2) a prop maker had the same kind, but in aluminium and replaced the original ones, matching the other greeblies seen on the other side of the unit (my thoughts).
As you know, all of those wholes and markings on the top parts were added for the movie. I have no idea how they came up with those (maybe Letraset, which was used extensively at the time, by prop/model makers).
 

Don't want to see this ad? Sign up for anRPF Premium Membershiptoday. Support the community. Stop the ads.

Top