Scratch-built Space Tug (another go)

Can I give you some masking tips for airbrushing?
The blue tape peeled your paint off (probably) because there was an oil on the surface that prevented the primer from adhering. You can avoid this in the future by washing your parts before you paint them. Some people use rubbing alcohol, but I scrub all my parts with degreasing dish soap and a soft toothbrush. Once it's washed, try not to handle it with your fingers, or wear gloves, so you don't get oil on it again.
Another trick you can use is to stick the tape to the back of your hand a couple times to remove some adhesive before you stick it to your model.
Do both of these things, and you shouldn't have any paint coming off with your tape ever again.

That said, your paint job looks great. I'm enjoying watching this come together.
Thank you. The parts coming out of the 3D printer are given an alcohol bath to remove excess resin. But then they get a UV light tanning, and I do handle them after. Perhaps a degreasing dish soap (and careful handling after) is what I need.

Also "de-sticking" is a good idea. I have not had problems with the Tamiya yellow masking paint so it is easy for me to swear off the blue tape in favor of Tamiya. But I really need my vinyl for masking ... and there was one occasion (visible above on the left closet door frame) where the vinyl bit me.

Note to self: also de-stick the vinyl before applying as a mask.
 
Picked up some of those surface-mount LEDs to light the space tug. (The ones that come prewired with magnet wire.)

The interior of the space tug will include both red and cool-white lighting (red for space missions, white when landed on the Moon (when coupled with a lander section) or, you know, whenever the astronauts feel like it.

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Above it the ceiling. Port side has one each: red and cool-white LED. (Starboard, not shown, has the same complement.)

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Micro Kristal Klear is used to fill the light housings. (I am beginning to suspect Micro Kristal Klear is in fact just plain ol' PVA glue.)
(Also, how about "Mycrow Kristle Kleer"? I mean why not if you're just going to Scrabble-cheat the name of your product, ha ha.)

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When the Micro Kristal Klear dries it is ... clear. Above I hit it with a coat of clear matte finish to try and diffuse the light. (I may go further though and find something semi-opaque to cover the light wells.)

Oh, decided against the zinc chromate for the interior so painted it grey.

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A pair of lights flank the observation windows (the port-side light is seen above). Each of these are SMD LEDs as well — but warm-white in color. Above you can see the LED potted in more Micro Kristal Klear.

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Micro Kristal Klear suggested you can make "lenses" by putting drops on wax paper (I used silicon-backed paper) and allow the stuff to dry. It worked okay. The next day, when dry, I added more Micro Kristal Klear to the exterior light wells and carefully landed a small lens on each.

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Above the completed exterior lights — again with a clear matte coat applied. Not a great job though, I admit. The edges of the light well got a little crusty. And I dislike being able to see the LED.
 

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Love your build :cool: (y)(y) For filling lights, I used candle wax (doesn't melt on LEDs). Easy to remove excess wax from around the housings.
As for the bubble ones, I use Alumilite on a wax paper and build a few drops each time;) Eager to see your next update
 
A bit of a tangential pursuit....

I wanted the Space Tug to be perhaps gripping something when I do some kind of display with the finished model. Somehow my mind went to the Vela satellite system the U.S. put into place in the 1960's. It was still very much active in the 1970's when this space tug was to join it in Earth orbit.

Vela was a nuclear explosion detection satellite. It has an interesting history including the rather intriguing "Vela Incident" if you were interested in space history.

I had a difficult time finding the precise size of Vela. Even the appearance of the satellite is all over the map. It looks like all of the models in various museums are just props. There were early mockups as well that muddy the photo archive. There was an "advanced" Vela later as well — perhaps also adding to the strange mix I see doing image searches. The photos that look the most legit seem also to be the most incomplete.

vela5b_2.gif


Nonetheless, at 1/48 scale, I was not going to sweat getting a precise representation of Vela.

One thing that all of the images had in common was an icosahedral shape with essentially a cylinder through the polar axis. All but two of the exposed vertices of the icosahedron had a small sensor box — the remaining two vertices had small cylindrical sensors. And the faces of the icosahedron were tiles with solar panels.

Vela Blender.png



After knocking out the basic shape in Blender (above), I got to printing, painting, iterating.

Vela_1.jpeg


After printing the model as a single piece a few times, I eventually settled on printing the Vela in two halves (shown above). Each was hollow and they fit together nicely like two halves of a clam shell.

Vela_2.jpeg


For painting the solar panels I discovered the color shifting paints by Vallejo. For the solar panels specifically, I used the Electric Blue/Intense Violet color shifting paint. Above, after painting the entire model gloss black, painted it with Electric Blue/Intense Violet.

Vela_3.jpeg


I played around with a vinyl cutter until I got a decent mask for the solar panels. Above I have stuck all 20 of them on.

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Above, painted silver.

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And vinyl masks removed. Not too bad.

Vela_6.jpeg


Above some of the iterations (oldest on left). Yes, at 1/48 scale, they are pretty close to the size of a Dungeons and Dragons 20-sided die.
 
Getting close to wrapping up the Space Tug build — that seems to be when I start heading off to new projects and slow down...

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Beginning to paint the bottom of the space tug (above).

For painting the top I went with under-painting again:

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And then building up layers of the off-white:

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I haven't tried my hand at using Blender to sculpt and so didn't have any astronauts of my own design. Instead I tried to find some but I was not able to.

I wanted shirt-sleeve style astronauts (not all suited up for the Moon or for an EVA). Maybe I am not good at searching for models but I came up empty handed. (Also, I didn't want to pay $100 or whatever.)

So instead I just went with any ol' "civilian" figure I could find. I landed on a slacker guy with his hands in his pockets and a woman in stilettos (?) shooting photos (once I created a base for her in Blender the stilettos kind up disappeared).

IMG_3387.jpeg


I suspect my lack of enthusiasm for these passengers shows in how quickly I painted them (and, well, they're not going to be very visible once inside a tiny spacecraft cockpit).

IMG_3388.jpeg


And speaking of cockpits, I added windows to the space tug front and roof. These were cut on my vinyl cutter and glued in place with "canopy glue" (which, like Micro Kristal Klear I am beginning to suspect is just PVA glue). I went through a few different materials trying to find the right stuff for the windows. If it was too thick, the vinyl cutter couldn't slice it. I wanted something optically clear though (like PET plastic, but that is often quite thick). I ended up picking up some kind of no-heat-required lamination sleeves from a craft store (3M branded?) that had the right optical clarity but were thin enough to cut in three passes on the vinyl cutter at full blade extension.

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You can see our free-fall tourists behind "glass" above.

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Wiring in progress above.

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Wiring complete (above).

I'm going with two circuits: one that turns on the "headlights" and red cabin lights (space mode) and another circuit that only turns on the white cabin lights (landed/docked mode?).

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At least one of our passengers appears to be enjoying the sights.
 
Getting close to wrapping up the Space Tug build — that seems to be when I start heading off to new projects and slow down...

View attachment 1669267

Beginning to paint the bottom of the space tug (above).

For painting the top I went with under-painting again:

View attachment 1669268

And then building up layers of the off-white:

View attachment 1669269

View attachment 1669270

I haven't tried my hand at using Blender to sculpt and so didn't have any astronauts of my own design. Instead I tried to find some but I was not able to.

I wanted shirt-sleeve style astronauts (not all suited up for the Moon or for an EVA). Maybe I am not good at searching for models but I came up empty handed. (Also, I didn't want to pay $100 or whatever.)

So instead I just went with any ol' "civilian" figure I could find. I landed on a slacker guy with his hands in his pockets and a woman in stilettos (?) shooting photos (once I created a base for her in Blender the stilettos kind up disappeared).

View attachment 1669271

I suspect my lack of enthusiasm for these passengers shows in how quickly I painted them (and, well, they're not going to be very visible once inside a tiny spacecraft cockpit).

View attachment 1669272

And speaking of cockpits, I added windows to the space tug front and roof. These were cut on my vinyl cutter and glued in place with "canopy glue" (which, like Micro Kristal Klear I am beginning to suspect is just PVA glue). I went through a few different materials trying to find the right stuff for the windows. If it was too thick, the vinyl cutter couldn't slice it. I wanted something optically clear though (like PET plastic, but that is often quite thick). I ended up picking up some kind of no-heat-required lamination sleeves from a craft store (3M branded?) that had the right optical clarity but were thin enough to cut in three passes on the vinyl cutter at full blade extension.

View attachment 1669273

You can see our free-fall tourists behind "glass" above.

View attachment 1669275

Wiring in progress above.

View attachment 1669276

Wiring complete (above).

I'm going with two circuits: one that turns on the "headlights" and red cabin lights (space mode) and another circuit that only turns on the white cabin lights (landed/docked mode?).

View attachment 1669278

At least one of our passengers appears to be enjoying the sights.
Not even Space Station V was safe from the Gawker paparazzi…

“Honey…could you not photograph Elon in the nude please.”
 

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