The Viper Project

A lot has happened from 2011 to 2013, from my venturing into Scale Model lighting as a Business and failing, to the passing of my Mom, to more job changes and the launch of my first commercial design (The Cylon Raider). It was the same time I started to actively use Facebook and created my Page, Piscean Works (Yes, I am not that imaginative when it comes to names). So the following images are more or less our activity in lighting up the models using the prototypes and working units.

04.11.2012 The Viper Project.

Hokay… looks good but for this particular Viper, you’re gonna need a lot of light proofing as the plastic is white and well, quite translucent. I wonder if the Revell version uses the same plastic…
04.11.2012 The Viper Project: How hot am I?

OK, for those who have been following the development of this project, we’re actually quite worried that these bright LEDs might get too hot. So, this morning, out of curiosity, I ripped out my PC’s temperature panel and (OK, just joking, I don’t have a PC…) decided to test the lights.

The panel actually consist of two independent non-calibrated-able temperature probes. After switching it on, I gave it a few minutes to stabilise itself. The temperature differences are now 1.3º, 0.7º,1.1º, etc…
04.11.2012 The Viper Project: Am I hot or what?

I left the Lighting System on for about 13 minutes or so (Its hard to gauge the time while you’re Facebooking…) and these are the readings I have. The test was done on a cool morning without any form of ventilation.

There are other tests to be done to complete the data however, I lack the funds for trips to the Sahara Desert, the Moon and sadly, in a shopping mall shelf where bright lights will shine on it.
This is a small update of putting the prototype PCBs into both models. There is a design problem where the flicker is very prominent for the cockpit lighting. I think I will disable this feature for the final version. Also, I have a problem in the sense I do not know how properly to mount the thrusters LEDs for both models.
01.11.2012 The Viper Project 006

OK. I am exhausted. My favourite Mk II Viper is fast becoming my least favourite Viper. It took me hours to get the correct LEDs into the model. Its not an easy task since I was trying not to use any glue. Not only that, for most of the assembly step, you literally have to keep the original manual aside.

So, in the manual, there would be lots of plastic and metal cutting, something which I am not happy since this is supposed to be a simple ‘plug and play’ system.

So, Boys and Girls, this will most probably be a ‘Cut and Snip’ system instead….
27.10.2012 The Viper Project 002

Just had a bit of an unexpected surprise today when I went to the shop to get some SMD LEDs. The Viper PCB boards have arrived!

Yes, this our second product and it might thrill a few of you. However, I need more time to secure production funds to get the components, complete the instruction manual and also, well, solder them all. So, keep your eyes peeled for this, folks. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or Bruce Toh.

For those who have asked, we are still not able to accept deposits for the time being as the pricing has yet to be finalised and some components still needs to be sourced.
I have fine-tune the design and now, it can be fitted into three versions of the Fighter.
As the Centurion project was on hold months ago due to my not daring to take the risk on producing circuit boards based on photographs, Because when the actual product came out, I was quite off, by 30%, I think and also there were a few areas which I did not see until I did a mock up PCB.

So, I decided to go back to one of the other projects waiting in line, which was the Viper Lighting system.

Just today, I have sent an eMail for the PCB manufacturer to go ahead with production. I just hope the price is still the same since it was way over seven weeks….
30.10.2012 The Viper Project 003

Just a test shot for this morning. What you are seeing here is the Moebius 1/32 cockpit tub of the MK VII Viper where I have hot-melt glued all the 3mm LEDS into place. I am contemplating whether I should use this shot for the instruction manual or not.

I will need to ask his permission to ‘scrape’ off the surface that needs to be lit.
30.10.2012 The Viper Project 003

One more shot before I go to work. This is the shot of the MK VII Viper in all its ‘lighting glory’. This is also another reason why I do not like the ship’s design as the thruster nozzles are so small that there is no ‘Ooomph’ to it. Its as if its just sipping tylium.

Give me the TOS or the MK II where the bigh thrusters screams POWER!!!

Note: I have double-side taped some plastic strips to the wing edges as they’re very very fragile.
31.10.2012 The Viper Project 004

I just realised that out of the three Vipers, the Mk II was really a pain in the butt to mount the LEDs. Although the model is really designed (again) for lighting, it was really a torture for me since I could not locate the filing tools; only a cutter and a blade… but its getting there.

So, in this picture, you have the Mk II on the left and the TOS Viper on the right. The easiest to mount? The Mk VII, or course, followed by the TOS.
31.10.2012 The Viper Project 005

This is the Reissued TOS Viper from Monogram and as you can see, I have fitted the set of lens into the thrusters area. And I am using a lot of 3M double-sided tapes to secure them to the body. At this moment, this is the only method that works but once I have the opportunity, I think I will either use Aves Apoxie or, hot-melt glue.
02.11.2012 The Viper Project: Warm White or Pure white?

I just took a photo this morning to compare the Viper’s LEDs on the left with my pure white torchlight on the right. The more I look at it, it seems to be warm white. Or maybe not. But I do know I am going slightly blind now.

Well, I’ll have to wait a little bit more until the actual LEDs arrive. But I told the camera not to fool with me last night….

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, what do you guys think?
04.11.2012 The Viper Project: Soldering

Just finished soldering some of the Viper PCB boards. The ones on the right are the Prototype boards while the ones on the left are Production boards. The next step is to program the chip and it’s ready to go.

That is, once I get some of those 1Watt LEDs since they cost a lot.

Hmmm…. if I sign the Prototype boards, I can sell them as Limited Edition Signature series…. haw haw haw haw.
28.11.2012 The Viper Project: Mk I Viper

This is the Monogram re-issue Mk I Viper which I will be attempting to insert the electronics this week. Each version of the Vipers has its own Pros and Cons, which I will reveal later in the assembly manual.

The space inside the model is so huge, it is actually possible to insert the AAA battery holder into it. But we’re not out of the woods yet as there is the mounting hole at the bottom for the base which might obstruct/negate this idea. Still, its a nice idea as the back thrusters are so tight fit, you do not actually need magnets to hold it in place.

As for the circuit board? You can just double-side tape it, of course. However, I did not add the ‘Turbo Boost” effect for this one since it would suck out the batteries faster than it already is.
10.01.2013 The Viper Project: Last Prototype/Back on Track

Finally, after so many days (or was it weeks) that I have a ‘new’ PC since my Notebook died. I am not going to be fussy over the choice of the PC but hey, even a small little Atom was enough to get me back on track even if it means crawling. So, as soon as the PC was rebuilt, I spend quite a bit of time recovering the files from the Notebook’s HDD and also from the NAS. It was not much but enough to get this Project back on track. So, in the meantime, the Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad will have to wait. Heck, I might be tempted to buy a nice little transparent acrylic casing for this little guy…

See the small weird casing in the background of this photo? That’s the salvaged casing I got. Now, all I need is some duct tape as the power/USB panel keeps coming off…

And this is the result. This is the last prototype board for the Viper Project and it will go into Monogram’s TOS Viper soon. Once these three are ready, I will take some videos and photos of them. Next, will be the assembly manual. Stay tuned, folks!
When I got the 1/32 ME262 months ago, I knew for some unexplained reason that I needed the 1/32 Mustang as well.
OK, now I know the reason was Mk.0 Viper!
This is the teaser videoI did to get some people excited. It shows how the board can be fitted into three version of the Viper and, their different flickering modes. Alas, mobile phone cameras are still unable to capture the exact flickering so, they will be weird in this video too.
20.01.2013 The Viper Project: 4 hours of soldering

Yep. Four hours. My brain is tired due to the busy schedule today which started beautifully in the morning and horribly stretched to late afternoon causing my brain to hemorrhage with tired cells. Its one of those days.

Anyway, I have no choice but to kick the Viper instruction manual to the fartherst nook in my mind. But still, there is work to be done and so, I started soldering the boards until they’re more or less ready for the next stage, which is chip programming and also, soldeing the LEDs in. And this is the easiest part of the Project. Sheesh.
23.01.2013 The Flux Capacitor’s broken…

Well, not really. One of the main problem I still have with the Viper Board is that the 3mm LEDs still flickers. I have some help with another RPF Forum member which deals with putting a big capacitor across the power supply.

And they still flicker… Oh, well. Nothing can be done now since I wanted to give you guys bright LEDs at the last minute and this is the price I have to pay for not researching the circuit well enough.
28.01.2013 Here is how you do it…

My less than three year old (or is it two?) Hakko soldering iron just burnt itself out. Which is not a good thing since I m still not clear of my critical debts. So, with nothing else to go on, the only course is to work on stuff that does not cost money.

And so, here I am, continuing with the assembly instructions for the Viper Board. And its not easy since I have to go through and take apart all three Vipers. Well, either that or hollow out the Playmates Tricorder…..
03.02.2013 Clearing the issue…

The caster just got back to me on the casting matter yesterday. He has given me the price which I see is quite reasonable. Now, its a matter of costing because if I wanted to maintain the original quantity, it would cost much more. So, I told him to get as many as possible from his existing material, which I hope is enough.

I have made quite a lot of Viper boards this time compared to the Cylon Raider which is just a fraction. So, not all will be used for the Vipers as I will turn the remainder into General Purpose custom boards for other projects.

Once he gives me the actual price, I can give him the deposit to start work. A small price to pay for something which is free…
10.02.2013 Ah, a lovely Sunday Afternoon over here and what better than to continue my work. This is Paragrafix’s Photo-Etch set which is for Moebius’s 1/32 Mk.VII Viper. The beautiful set comes in a well protected backing board and a set of stickers which is to be back-lit. Also, his instruction sheets are very well documented, which is very important to me since I have never worked with PE before. Fortunately, (or unfortunately) Paragrafix’s has the honour to be the first on my Work table.

I wanted this plus the Mk.II version a long time ago, but somehow, they always eluded me. Paul Bodensiek designed this PE set for those who found the model’s cockpit details lacking. Also, he has designed it in such a way that it can be lit. Anyway, I am going to give this a try. Mind you, the brass plate is very heavy but fragile at the same time.

Sheesh… I found the PE set, the scalpel went missing. A few days ago, the scalpel was here, but the PE set was not.
10.02.2013 Two and a half hours later…

With a steel ruler, a normal blade, soldering iron and a flat screwdriver, I managed to get it done. Paragrafix’s Photo-etch set is so precise that its error of margin is quite small. Which means, for a doofus like me, I had to struggle quite a bit.

Unfortunately, I do not have CA glue or any cyanoacrylates and so, my only means to secure all the parts was to use solder. Since Brass is
12.02.2013 The wonders of the Mk.II

This is the Mk.II taken apart again to help me with the assembly manual. The construction of the model is quite complicated to me but one wonderful surprise is that, the wells inside the two lower thrusters holds the LEDs snugly as if Moebius has designed it to be that way. So far, the Advanced Cylon Raider and this Mk.II was a joy for me to design the lighting. The only problem is that for the Mk.II alone, you need to have more patience and remove more plastic.

Anyway, I must remind myself not to look into the LEDs. Again. Yeah, I just got blinded for the upteempth time. Must put that in the manual too…
12.02.2013 Just taking a break here, folks.

For curiosity’s sake, I plonked a 3mm white LED into the front of the cockpit to see how the light are doing. I am taking advantage of the shiny brass surface which will reflect the LED’s lights. So, you might want to try not to spray into the cockpit’s inner walls too much.

AS today is a bright sunny day and coupled with a weak battery in the LED tester, you can barely see the effect. But once I set up another Viper Board, we can really see the effects. Oh, this time, I’ll wait till evening too…
16.02.2013 The Viper Project: Behind the Scenes

Here’s Bruce with all the three Vipers and the electronics. He’s having a slight headache because *ahem* I took everything apart as I needed to re-take some photos for the manual.

I can’t wait for him to do his magic on the models. Man, we’re both very excited over this.
14.04.2013 Cups of goodies

A little tad too much on my plate this weekend where all my plans went South. But nevertheless, my Caster sent me this wonderful picture which more or less melted my stress away. There are at least 80 pairs in these cups and with another 20 more, I would have my first batch.

Alas, for every good news, there are some bad ones. With those 100 pairs ready come Tuesday, I would need to redirect the funds to the Caster and away from the Beast’s prototype Circuit Board. I could dig more into my own Salary but with the heavy outstation trips planned for the next two weeks, its not possible.
16.04.2013 The cup runneth over…

Just came back from the caster and lookit what I got! These are beads for my BSG necklace.
18.04.2013 There are 98 pairs…

Ah, I love coming to the office early in the mornings. Not that I have a choice since this was the time left after I dropped the kids off to school. So, with a big hot cup of privacy layered with a dash of locked doors, I am free to do what I want.

Since there are no Beds, I decided to pack the castings. One thing I have to keep reminding myself that in a manufacturing process, you can never get 100% results. For example, this morning, I have 110 casting of item A and 104 casting or item B. Plus, there are actually 98 bags out of a bag of supposedly 100-packets of mini ziplock bags. This means, your result depends on the maximum number of components in a set. Yeah, so, there are 98 pairs of ready to ship castings.

For the record, I did not intentionally whiten the images but this was the best photo out of 15 or so shots. I can disable the flash but when you’re tightly crouched in middle of the room and the only support/balance to your body was your butt, taking multiple photos with flashes was a much better option than explaining to people why you can get cramps on your derriere…
28.04.2013 Its all coming together now…

Just managed to search all the necessary photos of the Mk.II and Mk.VII for the assembly manual. Yes, the manual is about 8 pages long and if I had my way, it would be double. But sanity said, ‘You don’t have enough money to write even a book.”. Based on the last price and taking into account for increased expenditure, I would say the cost of the manual is going to be insane.

There is another alternative where I can do away with colour printed manuals; save them as PDF files and then using papers from some dustbin, photocopy a handwritten note telling you where to download them.

But I cannot do that because, when it comes to modelling, there is no greater substitute for the feeling you get when you spill your paints on parts of the manual you have not read and then screaming your lungs out.
03.05.2013 All Clear and ready to go!

Well, not quite. They will come in a pair for you and the only thing left is to take some shots coming from behind and also, get the darn sheets approved by the Sales and Marketing guy. But in the meantime, if Monday is a peaceful Public Holiday, I am going to devote sometime for soldering.

And then, see how much I have left for some colour photocopy printing. The count at the moment, would be a modest 30 for now due to budget reasons. I will open this offer to SFTPMS members for a week or so, depending on the feedback and then, then we’ll see about Worldwide release…
04.05.2013 Words from the Editor…

I’ve been doing this since evening, going to and fro, trying to make sure the instructions for all three versions are as surreal and as impossible to follow. And so far, my new 2GB PC happily crunches these Inkscape files as if they’re just hors d’oeuvres. Now, all I need are some extra macro photos and a few nice evenings multilating some unfortunate pilots…

Once this is done, I’ll pass this to Bruce Toh for final checking and approval. And after that, secure some funding to print them out. Yep, all eight pages crammed into two sheets of A4 paper.
09.05.2013 Stuffing Bruce Toh‘s Face…

Oh, heck. Why the Frack not? I had to get his ugly mug, shrink it and then stretch it. No, I am not doing him any favours in the area of plastic surgery else his Wife will replace him with… me. Oh, the horrors.

Anyway, after killing a few thousand grey cells, I decided to post up this picture after all. (OK, Bruce you can post the TOS ones too if you want to.) This was my idea of having a ‘face’ inside the clear casted helmet and light it up from within. The sad thing is, you can barely see his face, even after I have dipped his head in ‘Future’. So, I guess my Future is not helping him see anything.

There was a lot of factors which I did not foresee:

1. I did not ‘polish’ the visor to a smooth surface before casting as I was trying to locate a good original. So, in theory, if this was smooth, and when I applied ‘Future’ on it, I can, in theory, see the insides.

2. The 3mm hole was meant for the LED. Once you dipped the ‘Future’ into the hole and also the piece of paper, the hole ‘contracted’. Should have been 4mm.

3. Although the clear cast is great, once you start applying pressure on areas where its not like a ‘ball’ (such as the shoulders), the shape goes. That is why, in the manual, I would reccommend you to slowly hand drill.

4. There is another way. Try to carefully hollow out the helmet’s insides, especially the visor, then, maybe, when you stick the face (sorry, Bruce’s is not included in the manual), it might show up more. Because it keeps slipping in my fingers, I do not dare to do this when the only tool I have on hand is a scalpel.
19.07.2013 Just a few more photos…

Well, that and some more edits. Its been three weeks and I cannot get the models I needed to take more shots. Because once this is done and approved, I can then start to look for a printer to do them. Its going to cost much more this time since there are eight pages instead of the normal four. This is because the Starfighter Lighting System caters for all three versions of the models.

I suppose I could wait until the Moebius version of the Mk.I Colonial Viper comes out. But damn it, this is taking too long and I seriously need the money for the Pegasus.
04.09.2013 The Viper Project 033: The MM Pilot

In just less than 10 days, I got the package from John T C Lester of Starship Modeler (Thanks, John!). This is the resin replacement from Milllenia Models which can be used on the Monogram 1/32 TOS Viper. But with Doug Shepherd coming through with his Monogram pilot on the way, I might want to keep this on hold and see if it can fit into the new TOS Mk.I Viper from Moebius which is coming out very soon.

I am still wondering when the Cylon Interior kit I ordered last month would arrive….
04.09.2013 The Viper Project 034: The Contents

I am very pleasantly surprised by the kit. There are enough parts (or limbs) to set your BSG Pilot to be left or right handed. More to that, you can even do a John Woo on him since there are a pair of blasters in there. And, should you not like the heads, there are three for you to choose as well; helmeted, Starbuck or Apollo. And to complete the Pilot, there is a set of PE fret which has to much details, it really makes him stand out.

And the instructions? Well, its quite detailed which shows you to how assemble the Pilot of your choice; Starbuck or Apollo. (I did not know Apollo was a South-paw). The instruction also shows you how to detail your Pilot with the PE parts too.
11.02.2014 Viper 034

I got the printout done this morning via Photofiltre and Inkscape. These two Opensource Software are great!

There are two sizes; 5mm(H) x 6.5mm(W) and 5mm(H) x 10.5mm(W). Also, I played with a bit of colouring, from a normal to that shown on the TV (ie being lit by those whitish/blue lights in the helmet) and something in between.
11.02.2014 Viper 035

After choosing and testing the different variations, I finally settled on a normal 5mm (H) x 6.5mm(W) with normal colours. Here is my itty bitty face on the 3mm LED.
11.02.2014 Viper 036

I also prepared the helmet by coating the front visor and the inside of the hole with Future. Unfortunately, you can’t see the face from any front angle. Darn it.