Zentradi/Meltrandi Connection Joint Redux

I decided to (re)build a larger Zentradi/Meltrandi (male/female) assembly to connect Sections 2 and 3. I shared in my ‘Reconstruction Blues’ post that I had to widen both sections to scale the ship correctly. Even before I did that the previous Zentradi/Meltrandi connection assembly I had built did not perform as greatly as I expected it to. In cruiser mode I still needed and external plate to hold the two sections together and when I vertically set Section 2 on top of Section 3 as it would be after transformation the connection wasn’t super tight and rigid.

The rebuild gave me an opportunity to try to build a better Zentradi/Meltrandi assembly. The male/female assembly concept is great but I felt I could execute it better. Before the rebuild the connection point was 3x, after the rebuild it was 4x giving me more real estate to work with. I built another test version of the assembly from spare pieces:

Test of the new Zentradi Meltrandi Assembly made from spare LEGO.

This new Zentradi/Meltrandi connection will be taller and wider. I think I will build the new version to also be longer so that it goes deeper into Section 3. The prior section also only used one pin and one axle to connect; the new assembly will double that to two pins and two axles. I’m hoping that this new Zentradi/Meltrandi assembly will provide more support and strength to the connection in both modes. I still wouldn’t be surprised though with the combined weight and length of Sections 1 and 2 that I would still need an external plate to connect Section 2 to Section 3. Even so, this new is assembly will still be two times better than the old version.

Note that this is my third time rebuilding all or a portion of Section 2. Again, this is the main reason I build only one half at a time!

Work in Progress To Date

I just to submitted two new orders on Bricklink for pieces to attempt to build the legs of the SDF-1, in the meantime here are a few snapshots of progress to date:

Details of the underside - still under construction.

I still haven't rebuilt the white tip of the Main Gun yet. I'm also not sure if the center white section is the right length.

Over the next few days while I wait I’ll concentrate on deciding on what methods I’ll use to construct legs. I’m pretty much at a standstill until I receive the new pieces.

Claudia approves of progress to date.

The Legs of the SDF-1

I predict building the legs will be diabolically challenging, some of the hardships include:

  • the dimensions: length, width and height
  • the weight
  • how to securely connect them to the rest of the ship
  • ensuring the legs will be able to support the weight of the ship after transformation
  • the elongated slope of the legs

Yep, this will be extremely hard – and a lot of the factors are interrelated: A) The larger I build the legs, B) the heavier they will be, C) and the more support they will need when I connect them to the ship. No factor can be considered without weighing the others.

Another issue is again scale, in most of the SDF-1 line art the legs are drawn shorter in cruiser mode and then longer after transformation. Obviously the line art has not been drawn to scale and unfortunately for me that is primary resource for this build. I would prefer to avoid another scenario where I build a section and discover it is not to scale (too short in this case) and thus forcing me to once again reconstruct. Only time will tell if I’ll be successful on my first attempt.

Also another unfortunate point about using the line art is often details about the ship differ. For example this angle on the lower half of the legs:

Which angle to choose for the build? Also note the differences around the black stripe.

The more I think about building this next section I think the word ‘hard’ is an understatement. The legs will most likely be the most difficult portion of the ship to build; if the legs are not built to the correct scale it will make the SDF-1 look unrealistic either in cruiser mode and/or after transformation. If the legs are too heavy I won’t be able to connect them soundly to the ship. If the leg’s footprint is not large enough after transformation the ship will not be able to stand. Perhaps most critical, the legs extend out from the ship to give it more height, a feature I will need to duplicate. At this time I’m very unsure how I will replicate this critically vital feature in LEGO.

Maybe I should have purchased a SDF-1 model or toy from eBay before I embarked on this ambitious build. Perhaps having a physical SDF-1 could answer some of these questions, but honestly I would rather spend that money on LEGOs for this project.


Reconstruction Blues

LEGO SDF-1 in progress. Rebuild of 3 sections, still need to finish rebuilding the white tip of the Main Gun.

I have spent the past couple of days reconstructing much of the SDF-1 I thought I had completed. This is the prime reason to only build one side at a time! When I decided to build the white center section 10x across I wasn’t careful enough with considering the width of the other sections I was working on at the time. As it turned out the scale was way off, the other (blue) sections were way too thin making the center section look fat and way out of proportion. Since I wish for this to be largest most massive LEGO SDF-1 I have ever built I decided that instead of decreasing the size of the white middle section I should instead increase the width and length of the sections I had completed so far.

The reconstruction has forced me to rebuild 4 parts (I have rebuilt 3 so far – I still need to rebuild the white section of the Main Guns):

The 4 sections I had to rebuild, it was no fun.

Since the building techniques were essentially the same the rebuild wasn’t too complex, just time consuming. The only major discovery is in cruiser mode my male/female assembly I designed to connect the Main Gun (Section 2 to Section 3) doesn’t work as well as I predicted. The Main Guns are really relatively ‘heavy’ and the axle and pin still doesn’t provide enough support, an external plate is still needed for extra support. Also, with the rebuild the Main Gun section is longer and wider too. I’ll have to revisit how to better connect the Main Gun to the ship later on, but at least now with the Main Guns being wider I have more real estate to work with at the point of connection.

I’m also using the male/female assembly for the arm joints (the white section protruding out), but for now what I have built for them is more so just a place holder. What you see now in regards to the white center section is another place holder (mostly). I only started building it to help me with the building of the legs, I need the section to help build to the correct proportions. I know I’ll have to tear it apart and rebuild it at least 2 or 3 times. I’ll need to find numerous connection points, decide what to with the inside, figure out how to build and connect the bridge section, etc. – all of which will require extensive trial and error. However, with this at least I’ll have the basic length, width and height confirmed and proportional.

I still need tons of new pieces, so I’ll be back on Bricklink soon. Tomorrow I want to get started on the SDF-1 Legs…I already know it will be a difficult beast. This project so far is far, far more challenging then I originally thought it would be. Hopefully I won’t have another reconstruction mistake like this one, it’s more fun building new sections then rebuilding old ones.

Minmay worried about building the SDF-1 Legs...

No Smoking on the Bridge Sir!

Unfortunately my last order from Bricklink all of the LEGOs were smoked out, I guess that’s the risk you take buying off the internet. The odor of cigarette smoke was so strong I had to place the box outside once I opened it. Of course the seller was no help when I contacted him about the situation, all he wanted was my money and he had that already.

To remedy I let them sit in soapy water for a few hours and then rinsed them off with hot water. Last I set them out to dry for the day. Hopefully this treatment will get rid of the cigarette smoke smell.

"I was just holding it I wasn't going to light it!"

Work in Progress: Section 5

Section 5 Work in Progress. Still missing a lot of pieces so Sections 3 and 4 are also incomplete.

Above is snapshot of my progress to date. I could have been further along if I didn’t underestimate the quantity of blue bricks and plates I would need. At this point I have run out of or running short of numerous types of pieces, so much so that I believe I am on my eighth Bricklink order.

The new section, Section 5, I am building is just like Sections 1 through 4, much more complicated than I expected. Some of the challenges I have with building this section are:

1)      building the overlap from section 4

2)      how to firmly attach section 4 to section 5 in cruiser mode

3)      how to firmly attach section 4 section 5 after transformation

4)      making a space for the arm joints (which I haven’t figured out yet how I’ll build)

5)      what slopes to use for the top

6)      insuring the length and width are proportional

7)      figuring out what method to use to attach the legs (for transformation)

In short, there is a lot going on in this section, and much of it is features I have never included before in previous (smaller) LEGO SDF-1 models. For example: The connection method I plan to use to connect sections 4 and 5 together (tile pins) should work both for cruiser mode and after transformation, but for now it is just a blueprint in my head until I can test it when my pieces arrive. Until then I won’t know if what I have planned will provide enough support in both modes.  Also, I have never included the overlap between Sections 4 and 5. I am also going to attempt to build a version of the male/female joint discussed in the previous post for the white arm joint, again something I never attempted before.

Section 5 in Crusier Mode

During transformation the legs disconnect and slide out from this section. I have built that functionality before and I am thinking about using the same technique (pins, tiles, etc.), but I have to see if it will work on a larger scale. Most importantly I have to build it so that it can support the weight of the top of ship after transformation with my goal of improved sturdiness.

The legs slide down revealing this midsection connection point.

Also, no matter how perfect I build Section 5 I WILL have to take some of it apart (perhaps multiple times) once I complete the building of the main center section. I will need to locate where exactly to place the pin or axle that will connect the center section to Section 5. I remember on previous models there was a great deal of trial and error to pinpoint the correct position…I know that part won’t be any fun.

I don’t want to miss mentioning a small detail, this section has yellow border going around it at the bottom and I ordered pieces so that I include that feature. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do to replicate the interior (the bottom), but I think that will be relatively easy. Last, the only other feature is the gun turrets; there are 3 just on this section alone and unfortunately I have no idea what those will look like at this time.