The Starship Enterprise

This was my attempt to build a truly spectacular nightlight, the Round2/Polar Lights 1/350th scale U.S.S. Enterprise from the the original television series. This is a very large model, approximately 30 inches long when completed. You can see it above, with a similarly scaled space shuttle Enterprise (actually a bit large, at 1/288th scale). I bought a LOT of stuff to properly light and paint this beast, making it easily the most expensive lamp in our house.

I used Polar Lights own lighting kit to light it, which is relatively easy to install, although I spent a good bit of time removing the notoriously unreliable quick clip connectors and soldering the wires to the LED strips instead.

The kit comes with two motors to recreate the spinning fan blades of the glowing bussards. Unfortunately, the little DC motors make a lot of racket, so I installed them, but left them disconnected. I learned the hard way from an earlier C-57 saucer model that spinning lighting effects look awesome for the thirty seconds a day that you can stand to listen to them. Since I wanted the option to leave the lights on for an extended period of time, I decided to live without the spinning fans. I can always reconnect them down the road if I really want to.

Routing all the wires through the nooks and crannies of the Enterprise proved to be a challenge. The hangar bay was especially problematic. The kit comes with a nicely detailed hangar bay and shuttle, as well as a bridge, but I opted to not install those. I have heard the hangar bay lighting is an especially difficult fit, and did not want to mess with it. Ironically, ommitting the bay created its own problems, as the lighting kit is only designed to be used WITH the bay, and I had to get creative with some styrene and my light placement. Other lighting adventures included a PCB board with some bad ports (which Round 2 replaced free of charge...very impressive) and trying to fish the connecting wires through the dorsal and Jeffries tubes (be careful with your glue when you assemble the pylons).

The big 'E' is a very accurate kit, and I wantd the color to be accurate, as well. Fortunately, the Smithsonian recently did a high quality restoration of the original Enterprise model, and one of the restorers was also part of this kit's design team at Round 2. He has graciously shared his findings with the rest of the modelbuilding community, (part of the restoration team even spoke at a panel at Wonderfest, which I attended) so there is no shortage of good information about the model. I did omit a couple details: the paint anomalies on the top of the primary hull (greener tint and 'rust ring'), which I feel were unintended discolorations incurred during the life of the model, and the colorful hull markings on the bottom of the secondary hull (which I accidently wiped out while masking the hull stripes and decided to simply ignore, since they are never visible during the pre-restoration series and cannot be seen unless you crawl on the floor). This photo is me trying to determine the best hull paint mix. The actual hull color is a greenish grey, very close to the color of a vintage Japanese Zero fighter from early WW2.

The kit comes with some nice decals, but I opted to use Aztec Dummy's vinyl paint masks to paint most of the ship's markings. In some places, I used pinstriping tape and even colored pencil to create the details. I used my airbrush for weathering.

The wooden base was generously supplied by my father, a woodworker, for which I created a faux brass plaque cut from metallic vinyl.

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