Saturday, 20 February 2016

A Sci-fi Generator?

Introduction

I don't often write "work in progress" articles, but it's time for one now.  What's the occasion?  Well, I'm stuck and cannot decide how to proceed; your opinions would be most welcome!

OK, here's the story.  A few weeks ago, I bought a few pieces of laser-cut MDF terrain from Blotz.  I've almost completed the greenhouse, which is a lovely model, but that is stalled until I can find or make some model flower pots.  I'll hold off telling you more about it until another time.  So, the topic for today is the Shield Generator.

The Generator


I bought the (single, but double-sided) shield generator, thinking that I would add it to my Star Trek starter colony (when I finally get round to building this!)  Blotz make several variants on this pattern; the one I bought is the most basic of their generator kits.

 Once I had constructed the two end pieces, I decided that rather than glue them back to back as instructed, it would make a more impressive piece if I could lengthen the generator somewhat.  I added some spacers from balsa and I do intend to add a skin over the top to cover these spacers, but perhaps this isn't enough?  Couldn't I make something bigger from this?

Inspiration



Above are a couple of pictures of generators or engines that I've found on the Internet.  One is (I imagine) from the 1920s or 1930s, whilst the other is very much science fiction.  I'm not trying to copy either of them exactly, but rather to come up with a terrain piece that could be used for pretty much any industrial or post-industrial genre.  So, what sort of alterations could I make to the basic Blotz kit?

Option A


It would be very easy to add a half-cylinder between the two end pieces.  Such an extension wouldn't necessarily be the piece of tubing that I've pictured here; I could make it shorter, or longer, or use a smaller diameter.  The point is, would a cylinder look OK?  That's option A.

Option B


My second possibility is that I finish the generator by filling the gap with a piece of interesting-looking packaging.  I think this particular piece of black plastic came from a packet of after-dinner mints (supermarket own label, not the more famous brand), but I cannot remember for certain.  The plastic is fairly thin and flimsy, so if I used it then I'd probably need to find some way of bracing or filling it before it could withstand much handling.  But would it look the part?  Option B...

Option C


My 3rd choice would be to build the model more or less as the manufacturer intended, by gluing the two end pieces together, back to back.  Obviously I've already extended the length a bit with my balsa inserts, but the gaps will be covered with a new skin to hide them.

Conclusion

It may seem like a trivial issue, but I find many of my model-making projects stall on just such a decision point.  I find that I really need some particular piece to complete a mini-diorama, or I can't quite figure out which technique or colour to use for the next stage, or some other equally mundane issue arises.  Until I can answer the question, the model is moved from "active" to the metaphorical "to do" list, where it will often languish for weeks, months or even years.

Help me out here, please!  How should I finish the generator?

28 comments:

  1. I rather like the look of B, Hugh. Though as you say you'll need to reinforce the interior structure somehow. But I very much like the 'this really works' look of such generators.

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    1. Yes, if it weren't for the technical issues of reinforcement then I think the decision to use the packaging would have been easy!

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  2. I really like how B looks. It's a lot like your first inspiration picture.

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    1. The similarity was something I'd picked up as soon as I saw that piece of packaging :-) .

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  3. I've got to say option B looks good to me.

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  4. B. No question, the packaging looks the best by far.

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  5. Replies
    1. Everyone is speaking with one voice...

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  6. I agree that option B is your best bet of the three offered.

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    1. Sounds as if the decision has been made, then :-) .

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  7. I've broken the components down by supposed function.
    The 2 semicircular parts look like turbines (waterwheels) from a hydro-plant, or alternatively fed steam from separate boilers, or gas turbine (in which case they would likely be arranged as an adjacent pair (as in C) but with an adjacent generator.

    The Box sections in option B have the look of a typical High Voltage device (Transformer or generator). The "ribs" would be either conductive coils or pipes for coolant.

    The packaging looks as through it could separate into 2 parts, providing options of single turbines and a short generator, or a pair of turbines and a long generator on a common shaft.

    The packaging will benefit from some supporting "Filler", something like this ought to be light and robust. http://www.screwfix.com/p/no-nonsense-expanding-foam-gun-grade-750ml/87934?kpid=87934&cm_mmc=Google-_-Product%20Listing%20Ads-_-Sales%20Tracking-_-sales%20tracking%20url&cm_mmc=Google-_-Shopping%20-%20Sealants%20and%20Adhesives%20(New)-_-Shopping%20-%20Sealants%20and%20Adhesives&gclid=CjwKEAiA3aW2BRCD_cOo5oCFuUMSJADiIMILPkUocRvVzD1cUXOackVV7Du_viZMl_cNvKJPNtvX5BoCornw_wcB

    And if there's any doubt, my vote goes for option B (for a classic / pulp / steampunk exposed equipment look.
    A is a lot more modern health and safety.

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    1. The packaging is indeed divided half-way along. I hadn't really considered splitting it and making a pair of shorter generators, but that's worth thinking about...

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  8. Replies
    1. OK, I feel the weight of public opinion here :-) !

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  9. It very much looks like option B has it in votes. the final result does rest on you of course and what is most practical in the time/budget. Whatever you decide I think we will all like the finished result.

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    1. Thanks, Clint. A very diplomatic way of expressing your preference, if I understand correctly :-) .

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  10. From the very first photo in this post all I could think of was the shield generator on planet Hoth ... and there it was on photo no.3. Option B looks nice but I think Option A could work with a smaller diameter cylinder in between.

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    1. Well, the Hoth shield generator is an obvious comparison in this context :-) .

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  11. I'm going with most others and say @B@ is the best option. You could use the packagis as a mold and fill it with some self-drying clay (it sjriks very slightly on drying out and should be very easy to extract). Iirc it can be bought from the Early Years shos and hobby shops.

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    1. Thanks, Joe. I had considered using the packaging as a mould for casting plaster, but it is very flimsy and I might need to be careful how I support it before filling it with heavy material.

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