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3D Printed USS Cerritos build (Star Trek: Lower Decks)

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#1 Destructor!!!

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 09:17 PM

Hi everybody!

Long time no post, I know. Just a comment here and there for years now. It's hard to be an electronic-lights-and-sounds-ship-nerd these days!

Well, in summer 2020, my brother pointed out a special offer on an Ender 3 3D printer, and I leapt at it, having wanted one ever since they were invented. I checked reviews and it's a well-regarded machine, so I bit the bullet.
My first instinct was to print a 1:1 First Contact Phaser Rifle (Picard's phallic monstrosity, of course), but that proved a little too ambitious and was quickly back-burnered. Next, I started on a TR-580 First Contact/Late DS9/Late Voyager "chisel head" Tricorder. I bloody love those things and have never been able to afford the collectable replicas. That one is tabled for the last few months, despite several prototypes having been produced, as I needed something a little less electronically complex:

Enter Star Trek: Lower Decks.
A few of you may remember what a low opinion I hold of Star Trek created in the 21st century. Enterprise was a bull in a china shop when it came to canon history, and Discovery is a photon torpedo. Picard is a massive step in the right direction and I enjoyed most of it, but that finale was just piss-poor.
Imagine my surprise when the annoying try-hard comedy cartoon blossomed within a handful of episodes into the Star Trek series I had been waiting for!!!

I could gush about the production design and level of tender love for the TNG era exuded by every facet of the show, but suffice to say I was pleased. The protagonist ship started out looking a like the love-child of a Galaxy class and a zimmer frame, but I grew to love its lovable awkardness.

And I wanted one.

One in-scale with the DST Enterprise-D.

And I had a 3D printer...

So, over the course of about 5 months now, I have been painstakingly modifying a model by David Metlesits (which he made as a "live action version") to better match the version seen on screen in the show. The changes I have made are profligate, and too numerous to list, but I've learned a whole hell of a lot about how to use Blender.
I've also learned a lot about product design and how to think mechanically in 3D so that pieces snap snugly together and wires can run through pylons and LEDs have mounting brackets, and bits that need to show light through are thin enough for that to happen.

I've been obsessed.
I've also learned how to make my own decals and how to do simple hull patterns in Photoshop.

So now - pictures. This is not complet yet, and I'll have to re-do a lot of the decals as they came out a bit weak and got battered in the application, and some of the paint leaked under the masking tape etc, etc, so this is thoroughly WIP... but behold!

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(exceeded image post limit - will reply with more...)

I'm particularly happy with the stand - it has a feature I always thought Playmates missed a trick on: it snaps into the battery cover slot, but it has a slot for the battery cover on the underside of the base, so you can stow the "flight" cover in there and never lose it!



#2 Destructor!!!

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Posted 25 February 2021 - 09:18 PM

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#3 Alteran195

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Posted 27 February 2021 - 12:25 PM

How can you say it's in scale with the DST D, and not show it with the DST D? Come on now!

 

It's very cool, and really well done. I've really grown to like this ship. 

 

Are the lights working in it yet, or is that part also still a work in progress? 



#4 MisterPL

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 05:10 AM

Welcome to the world of retail product design! If you do this too well people will want to pay you money for all those skills you're refining!

 

I'm looking forward to seeing your progress on this. And, yeah, I'm also curious to see how she scales with 1701-D.  :D



#5 RizzoPSU

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 03:32 PM

Holy hell thats an amazing job!

.....so when is the Enterprise-C coming out?🤣

#6 Destructor!!!

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Posted 08 March 2021 - 10:15 PM

Thanks guys :)
 
I wasn't satisfied with the paint job so I redid it and reprinted the decals. I'm currently applying them in segments, but they're a total bitch.
 
I also ended up re-3D-printing the nacelle-saucer pylons, as somehow adding paint made them looser. I measured and tweaked the models for better "grab" and reprinted.
 
As for the electronics, they're the final step. Once it's all wired up, I can't take the pylons off to put hull decals on, and once the decals are on, I can't change the paint, so it just logically stacks to the last thing I need to do.
 
I have an album of photos here, showing the interiors, light brackets etc, and light leak tests.

Some highlights:

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Checking the light-leak through the lower saucer.

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I used red Quality Street sweet-wrappers as the "gels" in the impulse engine exhausts, pretty effective (and quite tasty!)! I printed the windows cut-through, and then I mixed thick epoxy glue and smeared it around the inside to put "Transparent Aluminium" in the window frames.

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Upper saucer light-leak check.

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Inside the upper saucer. You can see the glue-smear technique for the windows, and some of the structural reinforcements I learned were necessary in earlier prototypes. You can also see the latches I use to connect the upper and lower saucer. The two halves slot in and then rotate 3 degrees to lock together. I had been banging my head against a wall trying to come up with something (and messed up the model severely in the attempt), when this just came to me - I modelled it out and printed the new saucer and it worked first try! It's very satisfying.

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Light bleed-through check on the nacelle. I printed them with extremely thin plastic in the field grilles, which allows light to bleed through. A total of 3 blue LEDs are going in there, and one red LED in the bussard, which has similar thin walls where the red bits are.

#7 Destructor!!!

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 01:09 PM

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This is the structure of the nacelle. The bussard gets pincered into the nacelle body, and then the pylon hooks through the nacelle and into the bussard, snap-latching on the far end into the nacelle.

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A look down the bussard collector, through the hole for mounting the red LED. The red glow inside indicates that the light is transmitting nicely through the thin bits.

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Here you can see more of the internal structure of the nacelle. With the long weak strips of field grill in this design, I had to reinforce the interior or the nacelle would crush at the slightest provocation (several prototypes did). I came up with the idea of using the engineering pylon as a structural element by inserting a "tongue" from it into the nacelle and anchoring it on the far side. This also allows me to guide the wires for lighting through the hole in the tongue and minimise unwanted snaky shadows.

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A close-up at my crumby decal work. I made these decals in Photoshop. They're printed on chinese decal paper.

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Top saucer decal progress at the time of writing.

#8 Destructor!!!

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Posted 09 March 2021 - 01:18 PM

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I forgot the stand!
 
 
One thing that has always bugged me with the Playmates Defiant in particular, is that when you remove the portion of hull where the stand attaches (I went the traditional route of using the battery cover as the mounting point), that piece is just floating around, begging to be lost.
 
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(it will run on 3xLR44 button cells @ 4.5 volts)
 
SO I modelled another battery cover socket into the base of the stand. NEVER LOSE YOUR BATTERY COVER AGAIN!
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(older image - I don't want to assemble and disassemble it too many times before final assembly. I don't want to wear it out.)

#9 Destructor!!!

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Posted 14 March 2021 - 10:54 PM

How can you say it's in scale with the DST D, and not show it with the DST D? Come on now!

 

It's very cool, and really well done. I've really grown to like this ship. 

 

Are the lights working in it yet, or is that part also still a work in progress? 

 

 

Welcome to the world of retail product design! If you do this too well people will want to pay you money for all those skills you're refining!

 

I'm looking forward to seeing your progress on this. And, yeah, I'm also curious to see how she scales with 1701-D.  :D

Apologies for the delay, but here are the comparison images!

 

You'll also note I have most of the Decal work complete now. I vastly improved my process when tackling the lower saucer - it's unfortunate I didn't have this technique on the upper saucer, but I'm not going to re-do it AGAIN.

 

I had skipped the name and registry originally because I had no way to print the decals bright enough to match the ivory look of the text as seen on screen. I had planned to 3D print a stencil and airbrush it in - but a breakdown in my airbrush (due to dunderheaded maintenance by yours truly) and insufficient resolution on my printer put paid to that idea.

 

In the end, I just added it to the margins of the lower-hull decal sheet in as light a grey as I could make work, but it's still kind of lost.

 

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Next step is to add a few more decals: Lower saucer rim, connect the gold stripe between top and bottom, and I have printed some RCS thruster decals for the saucer and nacelle tips.

Then it's a clear coat and on to the uncharted waters of wiring up the LEDs and the toggle button...



#10 MisterPL

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 08:40 AM

I can see how the registry would present a challenge. Otherwise it's coming along very nicely!

 

Thanks for sharing the comparison pics. It's a little smaller than I'd imagined compared to the 1701-D.



#11 Destructor!!!

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 03:31 PM

I based it on a comparison I found of the MSDs:

 

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#12 Alteran195

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 02:09 PM

She's bigger than I expected, very cool to see. 

 

She looks great. 



#13 Destructor!!!

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Posted 22 March 2021 - 03:22 PM

Captain! I'm detecting a ship dropping out of warp!

 

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It's the USS Cerritos!

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#14 Destructor!!!

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Posted 22 March 2021 - 03:24 PM

First image here is during the transition of command ceremony. The new captain is in the background (my nephew).

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#15 Alteran195

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Posted 23 March 2021 - 06:48 AM

Looks awesome, I really like the design of the warp nacelles on the Cerritos.



#16 Alteran195

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:21 AM

Would you be open to sharing the STL's you used for this? I just got a 3D printer, and would love to print one. 



#17 Destructor!!!

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:19 PM

I'm planning to sell them, yes. I put too much work into it to give away for free. I have improved the accuracy of the model since that print. I'm waiting on some electronics to finish the second prototype. I'll link the Etsy or whatever page here when I'm ready to sell.

 

What do you guys think I should charge for the various SKUs?

- Digital files (including instruction and decal files)

- Kit form with printed instructions and decal sheets
- Assembled, painted, and decal'd

- Assembled, painted, decal'd and lit

I have a set of figures in mind that make sense to me, but what do you guys, the model-buying public, think is a fair price for these? Bear in mind that I put in months of work, so I want to make some money, but I also don't want to price myself out of the market.

 

I'm also working on my next print project - this time I'm building the 3D mesh from scratch myself.

gnbFUtp.jpg



#18 Destructor!!!

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 03:03 PM

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#19 Alteran195

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 08:16 AM

I'd say maybe $50-$70 for a painted model, lighting I'm not sure about since I don't know the cost and time investment involved with that. 

 

Probably $20 for the STL's and decals. 



#20 Destructor!!!

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 05:07 PM

That's about in line with what I was thinking:

Digital files (including instructions and decal files):
€25

Print-out of kit with quality control pass. Includes instructions and decal sheets:
€45

Full assembly with paint and decals:
€90

Complete assembly with electronics:
€130

Not including shipping fees.







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