The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project - NOW OPEN SOURCE!!!

Discussion in 'Studio Scale Models' started by DaveG, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Here is my latest project, a studio scale model of a Death Star Laser Tower from ANH. I have too many unfinished projects underway right now and had promised myself not to start another until one was finished but... I just got jonesing to build a SS Laser Tower and, well, I caved!

    But Since I want to get this one done ASAP, I'm not going to worry too much about making and exact replica of the shooting model. I won't be chasing down all the exact correct donor kit parts, just a few. Most of the details will be based on the original, but using stuff I have on hand, scratch building and 3D printing. I figure, it's a BIG Death Star, there's bound to be some variations between the many Laser Towers.

    I'm also extending my tower to make it about 3 feet tall. I have a specific display location, on top of a 6 foot cabinet next to my cubicle at work. So topping out at 9 plus feet off the ground it should be pretty imposing! And visible across the entire facility. Also being so high up in the air nobody can scrutinize if the exact right detail parts are being used. The extended base will also allow me the opportunity to add more details of my own design.

    The body of the tower will be CNC milled from a special type of MDF. It's called "Super Premium" MDF from Plum Creek and has a consistent density all the way through. So the milled panels lines won't suck up paint like a sponge, as normal MDF would do. I've used this material a lot and it paints beautifully, is structurally very strong and flat, and pretty inexpensive, under $16 for a 4x8 sheet.

    There is a lot of great reference pix of this model from the traveling Star Wars Exhibition. Using these I've started by building a 3D model of the Tower. This model can be used to create cutting files for the CNC router. laser cutting files for some of the flatter details and 3D printing files for some of the more elaborate parts. Here are some renderings from the work in progress CG model. I still have a lot of detail parts to model, but the body of the tower is complete with all the score lines so I'll be able to start with the CNC work while I continue to model the details in the computer.

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    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  2. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Cutting out the 1/4" MDF panels for the body of the Laster Tower. The panels lines are milled into the surface with a 1/16 diameter bit.

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    All the MDF panels ready for assembly.

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  3. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    The MDF parts for the turret assembled.

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    I'm making the base of the turret removable to access the interior rather than the back panel as was done of the shooting miniature. To attach the MDF base plate custom corner brackets which had the correct 6 degree angle to fit the sides were 3D printed and bonded to the inside of the shell.. The brackets have a #10 hex nut glued into them for securing the panel with countersunk flat head machine screws.

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  4. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    The assembled tower base and turret. Man this sucker is big!

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    The premium MDF mills beautifully. Crisp and clean.

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  5. Lee S

    Lee S Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Impressive!
    Radio controlled with NERF darts I hope :)
     
  6. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Dave you're killing me:eek The look on your co-worker's face will be the win! Nerf darts would be great, but at that size it could also serve as your personal locker (you know, coat, shoes, lunch box...:D) Love that MDF...alas in Canada, the sheet is $35.00:behave
     
  7. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    I was seriously thinking about adding motion sensor tracking but for now I am determined to get the tower finished and not wind up yet another work in progress gathering dust. I can always add the nerf system later! (or paint balls).
     
  8. Mr Echs

    Mr Echs New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    I'm quite envious of your setup. This is coming together fantastically! I've subscribed to see how this finishes out...

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
     
  9. Mr Echs

    Mr Echs New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Btw, which program do you use for your 3D modeling?

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
     
  10. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    I use Rhino for 3D modeling.
     
  11. Mr Echs

    Mr Echs New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Nice, thanks for the quick reply. Cheers!

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
     
  12. DARKVIEW

    DARKVIEW Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Great work... never understood how the towers shot the x wings in the trench what with being so high & their guns couldn't shoot downwards!!? May need to rewatch....
     
  13. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Okay, so the guys on the Death Star analyze the Rebel's attack pattern and conclude there is a risk. They had plenty of time. Why didn't they just drag a manhole cover out and drop it over the hole?:rolleyes
     
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  14. TazMan2000

    TazMan2000 Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Or even better...stick a Womp Rat in the Hole.

    TazMan2000
     
  15. Mr Echs

    Mr Echs New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Naw, 'cause Luke used to shoot Womp Rats back home with his T-16, and they're not much bigger than 2 meters (what just happened, I blacked out for a second...)

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
     
  16. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    So the death star comes out of light speed on the wrong side of the planet. Why didn't they just blow up the planet to get it out of the way?
     
  17. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Here's the jig fixture created to mill the slots in the barrel sleeves using the CNC router. I 3D printed a set of cradles and octagonal end buttons that would hold the EMA tubing. Rectangular pockets were milled in a MDF baseplate to register the cradles on the table of the CNC router.

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    The octagonal end buttons fit in either end of the tube and were held in place with a length of threaded rod running through the center.

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    The tube assembly was then held in the cradles with fixture clamps.

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    The CNC was used to mill one slot at a time, the tube assembly being rotated 45 degrees between each pass. The octagonal buttons made exact rotation easy.

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    A little bit of clean up with a square needle file to sharpen up the corners and the parts were done!

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  18. wasili

    wasili Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Lookin' good. :thumbsup
     
  19. bwayne64

    bwayne64 Well-Known Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Wow, just Wow !
     
  20. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Wow indeed:cool
     
  21. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Progress.

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  22. Gordon Gekko

    Gordon Gekko Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    You're jigs are awesome!
     
  23. NitroTech

    NitroTech New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Love your work! Simply amazing! Curious what you have for a CNC. What is your setup?
     
  24. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Thanks! My CNC router is a DIY homebuilt. It has a cutting area of about 24 x 48 inches and a cutting height of 6 inches.

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  25. TazMan2000

    TazMan2000 Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Very nice setup.

    TazMan2000
     
  26. IEDBOUNTYHUNTER

    IEDBOUNTYHUNTER Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Love your desk. looks like my set up with the laser cutter. Safety glasses. and the mandatory Calculator. and various Stuff.

    Al
     
  27. horus

    horus Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Fantastic, only a minute to decide to subscribe !
     
  28. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Starting on the additional layers of surface plating. The panels were laser cut from single and double sheets of a resin impregnated paper board called Polybak. It's known in some places as "Laser Board" but it's just a cheap sheet material used in the cabinet trade. It laser cuts beautifully (much sharper than styrene) and the resin allows it to take paint beautifully. Before cutting I applied a high tack adhesive transfer tape to the backside so I can just peel and stick. I'm also cutting some of the flat nernie parts out of the same material.

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    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
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  29. SofaKing01

    SofaKing01 Master Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Great build! The laser cutter changes everything! :)

    I'm very interested in the Polybak. Do you have a vendor / distributor you prefer?
     
  30. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Here's the manufacturer's website:

    http://www.richwoodind.com/index.php/polybak

    They have list of distributors. It is a commercial product and you are unlikely to find an online source unless you want to buy a pallet of the stuff! I found a local lumber and sheet goods supplier in Anaheim, CA that would sell single sheets (4'x8').

    Northeastern Scale Models was selling it but you had to be a "manufacturer" (whatever that means) and buy a pack of 25 12"x24" sheets that they marked up at an 800% profit. No thanks!
     
  31. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Starting to work on the detail parts. The barrel ring was turned and CNC'd from aluminum, the vent was 3D printed.

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  32. Mr Echs

    Mr Echs New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    This is all next level stuff man... Super hero like even.

    Sent from my LG-D850 using Tapatalk
     
  33. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Pro-build once again Dave...it's going to rock...er, fire;)
     
  34. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Thanks guys!

    I laser cut some plexiglas to build up the box parts of the barrels. The white bits are pieces of Evergreen strip styrene glued to the inside corners to reinforce the joints and help keep everything square. (Laser cut edges tend to be ever so slightly not square and glued butt joints can go out of square unless something is used to help hold the joints at 90 degrees.)

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  35. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Clean and sharp; in one word: perfect!
     
  36. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Okay, here's a blast from the past! Back in 1984 I was a recent college graduate with a burning desire to build models for the movies. Shortly before moving to Los Angeles to pursue that dream I made a small 8 inch tall model of the Death Star Laser Tower, based on Joe Johnston's sketch. When I left for L.A. I made a display case for it and gave it to a friend who had helped me out a lot. More than 30 years later he still has the model and it's in almost prefect condition! And it's signed and dated on the bottom.

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  37. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    That's a good model there Dave; love the two signatures at the base :)
     
  38. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Molding and casting some of the nernies. The patterns for the rectangular parts were made using a combination of laser engraving and CNC routing.

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  39. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Glad to see that the project is on going:)
     
  40. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yup, had a little paying gig that was keeping me busy nights and weekends for the last month, but now I'm back on the Tower. Determined to get it done!
     
  41. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Always nice to have a paying gig Dave;)
     
  42. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    I decided to make the ladder rungs in a bent bar style like you might find on a warship. However they would all have to be of an exact width to fit in the CNC drilled holes. To achieve that I made a wire bending jig.

    The working parts of the jig were milled out of plexiglas using the CNC router.

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    The plex parts were held in alignment on a steel jig plate using dowel pins. The larger piece can slide on the pins, the smaller piece is held firm. A Bar clamp was used to squeeze the two together with a piece of 1/16 brass wire in between.

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    The brass wire was annealed with a torch to make it easier to blend.

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    As the clamp is tightened the brass is bent tightly around the fixed plex plate by the plex die with the cut out.

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    The finished rungs, and installed.

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    - - - Updated - - -

    Small things... the business end of the cast barrels. The little rings were milled out of plexiglas on the CNC router.

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  43. Mike J.

    Mike J. Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    She's a beaut, and she just keeps getting better!
     
  44. rbeach84

    rbeach84 Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Great technique! Thanks for sharing your solution on those rungs.
    R/ Robert
     
  45. usaeatt2

    usaeatt2 Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    The answer may be obvious to veteran RPFers, but after seeing this caliber of work, I find myself wondering if you achieved your post-graduate goal of building models for movies?
    If not, the studios missed out on some incredible talent. Thanks for posting your beautiful work and solutions to problems. Truly inspiring!!!
     
  46. DaveG

    DaveG Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yes! I've been a professional model and prop builder in the movie industry for more than 30 years now. Actually these days I'm designing and building animatronic figures at Disney Imagineering.
     
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  47. bartrman

    bartrman New Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Awesome work. Great attention to detail. It's amazing what you can do when you have next gen. tools.
     
  48. joberg

    joberg Master Member

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    Great update Dave! Thanks for the tuto on those rungs, very simple trick and the result rocks!
     
  49. qcfoundry

    qcfoundry Sr Member

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    Re: The (Uber) Death Star Laser Tower Project

    Not my favorite SW model but interesting. However, I'm absolutely impressed in your crafting skills. Sometimes figuring and making the perfect jig is almost as fun (and as much work) as making the actual model element. Such a pleasure to see the right tools used the right way and your SBS presentation. Really appreciate you sharing all of this "new-age" use of CNC and printing of parts.
     
  50. ProfKSergeev

    ProfKSergeev Well-Known Member

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    Breathtaking craftsmanship!
     

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