Saturday, January 26, 2013

KBoP Part 12

Previously on Klingon Bird of Prey...

Here's a demonstration of the lighting effects I've installed so far in the Klingon Bird of Prey. It's engine and warp core lighting, and lighting to a panel next to the door at the top of the entry ramp.

The first part I did was the the LED and fiber optic lighting for the panel next to the door at the top of the entry ramp. (Actually, it required rework recently. My soldering is just awful, and it was working intermittently. Now it's fixed.) The green and yellow ones are flashing LEDs and they're in parallel. The red one is in series with them, so if either of them lights, it should light too. Problem right now is that the 9V battery powering so much lighting it can't quite keep up with the load, so there's only enough current to light the red LED when both the green and yellow LEDs are lit. There's a single strand of 0.25mm fiber optic coming out of the top of each LED to illuminate the panel next to the door at the top of the boarding ramp. Neither you nor I understand the significance of these flashing lights, but I assure you they are perfectly intelligible to Klingons.

Also lit in part with fiber optic is the warp core. I say "in part" because the hole the fiber optics pass through is a bit oversized and the red and blue LEDs are right above it. As with the other LEDs, I drilled holes into them and stuck fiber optic in with one-minute epoxy. I am given to understand that cyanoacrylate glue is destructive to fiber optic. Because my supply of fiber optic is low, I have not yet verified this, even though I love destructive testing. By the way, you can safely drill holes pretty deeply into LEDs since they are mostly clear acrylic lens. The actual diode that lights up is tiny and you can see from looking at the side that it's near the bottom.

You can see the blue and red illumination of the warp core is flickering. This is because the two blue LEDs and one red LED are in series, respectively, with two flickering yellow LEDs that I scavenged from LED candles I bought at the dollar store, three for a dollar. The yellow LEDs provide part of the glow for the upper and lower sections of the engine. I think the flickering is a cool effect and is prominent in onscreen appearances of the Klingon Bird of Prey.

Another reason for the flickering yellow LEDs is to supplement the main illumination for the engine provided by 12 warm white LEDs. My initial impression of the engine lighting effect watching Star Trek III was that it was a pulsing effect. I happened to find a pretty cool string of mini Christmas lights at Walmart, which has 36 surface mount warm white LEDs on lacquered wire, with a battery power supply that has three settings: steady on, blink, and phase. The phase setting slowly ramps up, then back down again, which is pretty much the effect I wanted, except that it goes all the way off, which I didn't want it to do. That's one reason I supplement it with the flickering yellow LEDs.

The string of warm white LEDs is wrapped around a couple pieces of popsicle stick. I understand they're called iced lollies elsewhere in the English-speaking world. The warm white LEDs and their effects board are supposed to be powered by three AA batteries. Instead the effects board will get 5V from a 78L05 voltage regulator, which is how it's breadboarded right now. I figured the LEDs and the effects board were probably engineered with at least enough factor of safety that they could handle 5V, and indeed they can, so a 78L05 voltage regulator is dropping the 9V down to 5V. This way, the lighting can all run from a single 9VDC power supply, which makes it simpler and prevents circuits from getting the wrong voltage. The 78L05 is big enough for the job since the effects module is only drawing about 60mA.

I've stripped the lacquer off the ends of the wires of the remaining warm white LEDs and stuck them into the breadboard in series with a resistor to test out the planned interior lighting and navigation lights. Actually, it won't require all the remaining LEDs, just about a dozen of them. These LEDs are all in parallel sharing one limiting resistor--I guess in violation of conventional wisdom, but I won't get into the issues here. I already installed 1.0mm fiber optic in the wings for the headlights--the KBoP Owners' Manual calls them something else, but they sure look like headlights to me.

There are a few bits of lighting to add to this. A red LED will light up the two vents under the front of the main hull, and the navigational deflector/torpedo launcher needs lighting, but all that will be constant lighting. So it's not too much more work, and I'll be able to close up the hull.

Next time: more progress, some of it according to plan...


  1. Amazing Effect!
    I was imagining myself seeing this in Hollywood
    special effect/movie :D

    BTW, did I see a 1/16 scale Tiger on the bench??

  2. Hi, Sunny! Glad you liked it!
    Not a Tiger--DML 1/35 Sturmgesch├╝tz.