SDF-1 Arms and the Start of Macross City

Yesterday I was able to construct the arms (not the carriers) of the SDF-1. Fortunately I had about 90% of the white pieces I needed. I plan on using a Technic brick assembly to connect the carriers to the ship and to hold the carriers horizontally after transformation. This assembly is a huge challenge because it has to handle a lot of weight post transformation; only testing will tell if my design theory will work. I foresee post transformation the arms and carriers will be another section of the ship that will require glue to provide extra strength to manage the weight and stress.

There is not really anything extremely complex about my arm design, just turntables to rotate the arms out and wedge plates to get the angle effect. The rest is just white bricks, tiles and plates. The photos below best show the functionality:

Note the arm above is still under construction.

My apologies that this is not the most up to date image of the arms. The image above is of Continue reading

Main Guns & More

Sorry I have been away for so long, but real adult life often gets in the way and can keep even the best of us away from building with LEGO. Fortunately for me I have had a lot free time the past couple of days so I could dedicate time to making some progress on building my LEGO SDF-1.

One of the big issues I was having was with attaching the Main Guns after transformation. Each gun weighs over 2 lbs when hollow and I plan on inserting details inside of each so in the end they they possibly could weigh much more. What I used to connect the Main Guns to the body of the ship were three 6 stud long Technic axles (sorry no picture). I knew that using a simple stud connection wouldn’t work and after some trial and error with a couple of other techniques the 3 axles were the best method I could come up. Continue reading

The Second Leg

I’ve only had a limited amount of time to work on building the SDF-1 due to my real life responsibilities, and unfortunately extra time will only become more and more limited going forward. Since the last time I posted I’ve been dealing with a number of weight issues – even beyond the legs. With the size and weight of this model, the traditional LEGO connections aren’t doing the trick.

In cruiser mode, the blue sections on the left and right side shown in the picture below were not being held tightly connected to the main white center section with just a couple of technique pin assemblies. This was especially troubling since this was happening before I attached the legs and before I have even built and attached the carriers – which would add even more weight. I tried to remedy the situation with numerous additional pin and axle connections which all improved the quality of the connection between the white and blue sections but none were able to make the connections really ‘tight.’ The best solution was to build a 1×1 hole on both sides of the white center section which I was able to line up with the top of the blue sections. Through this hole I slid a plate that I was able to use to connect the sections and create a tight connection.

I buitl the 1 x 1 hole about where the gray brick is at

I’ve also rebuilt a significant portion of the leg to improve it and have started building the second leg. I’ve have come to the realization that glue is the only solution to make the model strong enough to support the legs. I’ll most likely need some form of super glue, because the legs are extremely heavy and there is not LEGO trick I can think of that I can use to connect he legs to the ship AND still have the SDF-1 be able to transform.

Before I begin to start to glue the leg I wanted to make sure the SDF-1 didn’t have some form of fundamental design flaw that would not allow the SDF-1 to stand and support its own weight after transformation. So I built a skeleton of the second leg to test the balance during transformation and fortunately it worked: Knowing that it could support the weight I went on ahead and also tested the transformation:

I was most afraid that the SDF-1 would tip backwards because of the weight of the Main Guns, but fortunately no issues.

The only issue I found with this test was with the technique I’m using to attach the Main Guns is not really holding the guns upright and tightly to the ship. I may have to go back to the drawing board on that feature.

I have to order a ton of new bricks on Bricklink in order to finish the 2nd leg. If the gluing the LEGOs together does not work in providing enough support for the legs then I’m not sure if I’ll be able to continue the model, at least not at this large size. I’m going to hope that all the time, energy and money I put into this model will not go to waste because of that.

Locating the Rotating Points

DYRL Transformation

For transformation into Attack Mode the middle section rotates 180 degrees, the tricky part is finding the appropriate point of rotation. I used some spare LEGO bricks as placeholders to help me locate the rotation point. The white main section is so pretty but I always knew I would have to break it apart and install a Technic brick on each side (I’ll also have to break it apart to add additional mechanisms for support too). Below is a photo of me lining up the location for the Technic brick:

The photo below is of a test to see what the SDF-1 would look like after transformation, I’m attempting to line the blue section up correctly.

The line art images that I have are not too much help because they are not really drawn to scale, especially after transformation. Because the artwork is untrustworthy, I had to use my own best judgment to decide how far out the white section should protrude after transformation.

This is the most detailed image I have of the SDF-1 in attack mode but the I use it the least because so many areas of the drawing is not to scale.

This week I’ll have less time to spend on this, I have to get back to real life! Also, progress is limited until I receive my new LEGO orders from Bricklink. Best case I hope to at least finish the leg by the weekend.

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!

Building Techniques

For all my past LEGO SDF-1 models I have used the same building technique. I always start from the main guns and work my way back to the legs and then out to the arms and carriers, see below:

Sections 1 and 2 should be the easiest sections by far.  They are pretty straight forward except for a few color scheme issues. For each of these sections I plan to use different techniques and pieces to achieve a more detailed and accurate model, nonetheless Sections 1 & 2 should be still relatively easy.  Section 3 will be a bit difficult because this section overlaps section 5 and I need to figure out a way to have to be able to transform. I have never built this section before with the overlap so this will be a new challenge.

Section 4 will be somewhat difficult because this is the center of the ship and integral to the transformation, I will need to find the optimal point for rotation. Plus at this stage I haven’t decided yet if this will be the place for Macross City (I know in DYRL the city is located in the leg but I haven’t found any images of where the city resides within the SDF-1 in the original Macross series). Plus the bridge section is another part that will be extremely challenging to build because of the slopes, the moving parts required for transformation as well as the scale of the bridge and radar.

Section 5 has traditionally been the most difficult part to build, one of the most challenging features is that during transformation the legs slide down (and out) to give the SDF-1 additional height. For LEGO this could be an issue, especially impacting the sturdiness of the model. The model will need to stand and be able to support the weight of the top and middle sections as well as the main guns…I don’t think I have it quite figured out how I will achieve that. Also in the past I have had issues with the long slope of the legs as well as getting the length and height of the legs correct as far proportion to the rest of the ship.

As if Section 5 wasn’t hard enough, Section 6 is the section I am drawing a complete blank on – this I anticipate to be the most challenging part to build.  Even after spending a considerable amount of time on Bricklink I’m not sure what pieces to use. The fact that these sections have to hold up two carriers when it transforms makes it seem that this section is next to impossible. I am not sure of what structure or technique I can use with LEGO to achieve this effect.

If I can get past 5 and 6, Section 7 should be fun to build; I just have to be cognizant of the weight depending on how successful I am with section 6. Limiting the weight could impact the amount of detail.

I already foresee after I ’finish’ each section I will most likely need to go back and alter prior sections either because of scale, proportion, weight and/or transformation issues. This has always been the case with the smaller LEGO SDF-1s I have built in the past. With the increased scale of this one, these concerns are heightened. If I was simply building the SDF-1 in cruiser mode there would be no sections, everything would be connected and the model could be relatively sturdy. However building it in sections so that it can transform creates multitudes of issues that at this point I am not sure how I will resolve and overcome.