My 1:350 Enterprise NX-01 build with custom 24-channel lighting system


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I recently finished a 1:350 NX-01 from the show, "Star Trek: Enterprise." This was a real labor of love, as I designed the circuitry, wired it up, built and painted the model, and wrote all the code from scratch. This all came about because I couldn't find a single after-market lighting kit that was even remotely accurate. This is my first ever lighted starship build. It took me more than a year to plan out, test, and put together in my spare time.

I decided to go with an Arduino for its heart, but realized that I didn't have nearly enough PWM channels to work with to do what I wanted to do, so I went with the 24-channel TLC-5947 LED controller board from Adafruit. As I read more and more posts by starship modelers about how they wish they would have made this LED brighter or that one was too bright, I decided to do something crazy and make every one of the many segments of COB, LED strips, and 65 discreet LEDs have software-controllable brightness. Not every LED individually, but I came up with 24 lighting groups which made sense to be controlled together. This approach would allow me to leave the Arduino accessible for reprogramming in the base, while mounting the 5947 in the saucer section, requiring only 6 wires to run up through the mounting tube. Here are a couple shots of the MDF base all wired up.


Driving all of the LEDs from the 5947 required some additional circuitry for some of the channels, since the chip wasn't capable of pushing nearly enough current on its own. All of this made for some pretty crazy wiring!


I also coded in a startup sequence, just because I had the lighting channel separated out. I shot this video as soon as the model was running under its own power, before I'd even finished up the light blocking.

The animations and timings are pretty accurate, enumerated from analyzing scenes from the show frame-by-frame. Even the blinking lights don't just snap on and off - they take a couple of frames to fade in and out. Here is a picture-in-picture sort of edit I did to finish up tweaking the timing

I shot the segments of this video on my 5-year old Samsung phone in front of a black tablecloth. It's obvously not the best, but you get the idea. I'm going to try to put a better video together soon.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that a new technology called "WebSerial" had recently been released. Browser support isn't very broad yet, but it works great in Chrome. As a web developer by trade, I had almost no choice but to built a show-themed, browser-based interface for the model. It's still a work in progress, but here's what I have so far.

One of my next steps will be to work music and sound effects into the interface for various functions like the startup sequence, going to warp, and who knows what else. I'll hopefully be updating this topic soon with more progress. I realize I'm already way over in overkill territory, but I'm having a blast working on it, so why not?
I'm finishing up one of these now. Yours in fantastic! It's such a frustrating model because the nacelles and pylons are absolute trash from a design standpoint, but I do love the overall look of the ship. Kudos!
Thanks! I put together a massive post on imgur with more than 100 commented images, and the whole thing just went up in a puff of smoke as I was trying to adjust the order of a couple of images. Unreal. I had HOURS into that post, and it vanished after a "we're sorry, we couldn't save..." message. Debating: Should I make a massive media-heavy thread here, or put one up on my own site and link to it? Or both?
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This is an amazing job!

Also, I'm working up a lighting plan for my 1/350 Refit and that TLC-5947 may be just what the doctor ordered, so thank you for sharing. ❤️
That is gorgeous! How did you get the sag out of the nacelles? Broke my heart when I did a dry fit!
Thanks! All I did was to glue everything in stages - pylons to nacelles, then nacelles to upper warp field regulator, upper regulator to lower, then the whole assembly to the lower saucer. I made sure that glue-receiving surfaces were paint/primer free, clamped / taped pieces into position, allowed them to cure for at least 24 hours at every step. I think that making sure everything was held in the proper position while allowing a long cure was probably the biggest factor.

probably the most crucial step of the assembly process
Hmmm - I'm wondering if Round 2 fixed an issue! I have the first release of the kit & out of the box the nacelles have a distinct upward angle so the centerline of the nacelles aft to fore is probably 4-5 degrees off kilter from the saucer centerline...
If they fixed that issue could be worth getting a whole new kit & starting over!
Outstanding work turner 3d!
Congrats on a beautiful build.
I think the lighting controller app- interface you shared is awesome. Any more you can share on this will be greatly appreciated!. :cool:

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