Utility Ship Update 02

This will pretty much do it for the updates to this ship. (aside from the issue with the interior) The idea here wasn’t to take all year on this, as it’s supposed to just be an update. Most of the stuff I wanted to change on it got changed with minimal work. I look at this kind of ship as a utility ship. It’s something that does various missions in Starfleet space. This is pretty much backed up by what we’ve seen on screen with the Miranda class. The Reliant and other Miranda class ships have been seen on scientific missions. Others have been used as cargo ships. Some are outfitted for patrol duty, such as the Soyuz-class USS Bozeman. And, who knows what kind of assignment the Saratoga was on before the battle of Wolf 359. And, of course, many were used as cannon fodder destroyers in engagements in the Dominion War. This all fits with a general purpose type of ship. It’s way smaller than your big explorers, but still pretty heavily armed. This one is even smaller than the Miranda class. So, as it’s a utility ship, being an ex Army man, I thought of the utility helicopter, the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. I’ve ridden in a few of those. 😉 I did a search and found no canon or even licensed ship named the Black Hawk. However, I found a US Naval tradition going back to the Civil War. A ship with the name USS Black Hawk was used in a number of battles. The ship was commissioned in 1848, but it wasn’t a Navy ship then, it was a civilian liner. 1848 is within the sphere of TOS registries, as NCC-1831 appears on a chart in “Court Martial,” (one on the chart might be NCC-1864 as well) so I used that as the registry. The name carried over to the 20th century a well, as I fount two different Black Hawks. The only thing Trek related I found was some fan group with what looks like a website out of the 1990s that doesn’t look like it’s been updated in a few years. But, I never worry about fan stuff and that’s a Sovereign-class ship anyway.

So, here it is:

I tried lighting the registry on the saucer, but I was only going to do it if it would work with modeled light sources. I couldn’t get them to shine on the hull just right because I wasn’t cheating it. And, I didn’t want to do several little lights as they do on a lot of modern Trek. So, I decided to just drop the whole idea.


Utility Ship Update 01

I added some boxy sensor things to the places where the trenches used to be. I figure this looks more TOS than greeble filled trenches do. Also, I’ve decided the ship doesn’t need new textures. Much like the modeling, there would only be minor improvements that are outweighed by the amount of work involved. So, I’m going to leave them alone. I may redo the interior, though, as what’s there is pretty awful. 😛

Also, I’m still deciding on a name for the ship. (no, I’m not looking for suggestions)

Bunch of Stuff

I decided I wasn’t in the mood to work on the Enterprise last night, so I planned to start a new ship instead. However, the new ship was going to be a design I’ve done before, so I took a look at my old model and decided it’s not too bad. It was for a fan film project I was involved in back in 2014. For full details, see this post:


Anyway, getting the model back into Lightwave 10 and taking a look at it, I decided there wouldn’t be much to be gained by starting a new model. So, I started modifying the existing one. I started by getting rid of a lot of the greeblies and stuff. These bits were things I added after I finished the model initially, but I was trying to add more visual interest. Most of that stuff came from the Constellation class and really didn’t fit, so I got rid of it. I also got rid of the trenches. I have something else in mind for back there. Getting rid of those involved destroying geometry and creating new faces. That didn’t take too terribly long. Then the real fun began. I had to remove the name and registry from the ship. Well, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. I’m not a huge fan of doing earlier versions of canon ships. Besides, that name and registry were for that fan film and I really don’t want them on the model. So, that was a long and tedious process, but it’s done. Then I imported the impulse engines from my Enterprise WIP because I like how I did them. AFter that, I started fooling around with materials. There’s still a long way to go, including adding some parts and possibly doing new textures, but it’s a start:

After that, I started messing around with some of the other models I did for that project. One of which is a Klingon D7:

I like that model and plan to use it. It may also get new textures. It’s a shame I don’t have my Romulan ship anymore, but I can always build another one. That’s actually the easier of the two TOS main alien ships to build.

Then there’s this:

It’s pretty much an upscaled and TOS-ified Regula type station, dubbed Starbase 15. I see no reason to change that name, as it’s not like “Starbase X” is specific to any show or another. I think they just drew numbers out of a hat for those. 😉 To give an idea of how big it is, here it is next to a ship:

It’s pretty large. I didn’t feel that Regula was big enough to fill the role of a Starbase space station, so I super sized it. I do need to redo some of the greebles. Again, some of that stuff was from the Constellation class. I dind’t have a lot of time working on that project, as I was the only model maker and then they also wanted me to do animation, which I had to teach myself how to do. But, that’s in the past. So, I might as well use those models for something. 🙂

Enterprise 2019 Part 14

OK, now that I have the warp domes sorted, I’ve turned my attention to the impulse engines. I’m having a weird issue with them. Looking at this image:

If you look above the impulse engines, you can see some light bleed. There’s a red-orange “strip” of light there. It’s driving me crazy. I’ve tried changing Radiosity settings, I’ve tried adding geometry to block the light. Nothing seems to be working.

However, looking at this shot:

There’s no light bleed. I don’t know what’s causing it to happen on the wider shot, but not in the closeup. Perhaps it’s just some odd limitation of the global illumination in Lightwave 10. I am aware of some issues it can have, but mostly in animation. But, it’s nothing that can’t be sorted. I may just redo the impulse engine guts to a completely different design. What I have in mind should fix the bleed issue, as it won’t go as deep into the structure. (though, where it is now shouldn’t be an issue)

Enterprise 2019 Part 13

Things came to a head with me and Lightwave 2018. The render engine they rolled out for that version is just a piece of crap. Not only are the renders full of noise, but trying to use reflections causes little white spots all over that we in the 3D world call fireflies. Also, lighting effects don’t look like I want them to. I’ve looked at their forums and been chatting with a fellow Lightwave user at Scifi-Meshes, and these issues haven’t been fixed for Lightwave 2019, so there’s no point in upgrading, especially since the upgrade costs $500. Thus, I’ve moved back to Lightwave 10. It may be older, but it at least works how I want it to. Plus, the renders are nice and crisp, and any noise would be added by me in post processing, should I choose to do so.

After digging out my old dongle, (fortunately, I found it recently while looking for something else) and installing the software, I set about switching the model to LW10. Unfortunately, LW10 won’t open a file from LW2018, so I converted the model to .fbx and then imported that into LW10. The model imported well. The scale was off, but that was an easy fix. Also, all of my parts were the correct colors, but the material settings were wrong, also an easy fix.

After all that, I set about fixing my bussard collectors so that they finally look how I want them to look. I’m pretty happy with the results:

I may redo the lights inside, but the point was to get the materials where I want them. I normally don’t worry about materials at this stage, but this is a crucial element to any TOS era Starfleet ship.

Enterprise 2019 Part 12

These renders are ones I did for my own use, but there’s no reason not to share them. I finally got the bussard collectors where I want them. That means I’ll be moving on to other stuff. I’ll definitely be working on this this weekend, but I have some other stuff planned too. One thing I have planned is to put Windows on my main computer. This laptop works OK, but it’s somewhat limited due to the age and power of the processor. I’ve had the whole thing lock up on me more than once using Modeler, resulting in me having to do a hard reboot and lose work. Plus, it’s not the speediest thing for rendering. But, it’s still not a bad computer.

Enterprise 2019 Part 11

I’m playing with ideas for the bussard collectors. It took trying out a few different things to get to this point.

The light spill on the hull is there, but not as high as I’d like it to be, but I think I know the setting to change on my glass material. I’m using a Dielectric shader for the glass, as it’s supposed to more accurately simulate glass than Principled BSDF does.

Enterprise 2019 Part 10

I bought another computer. This one is a refurbished Dell laptop. It’s been totally refurbished, cleaned up and it looks like they maybe upgraded things like the hard drive, RAM and WIFI adapter. They also put a brand new copy of Windows 10 Pro on it. That means I can once again run Windows only software, such as Lightwave. So, I’m determined to finish this ship.

Unfortunately, while I had the project files and blueprints backed up, I didn’t have the files to align the blueprints with the background. So, I had to line them back up. They’re not perfect, but they’re close enough. If I was after the perfect version of the TOS Enterprise, it may be more of a concern. But, that ship sailed when I started adding stuff to the model that wasn’t on the original. So, close enough will do. Anyway, I added the deflector and planetary sensor, before I got into dorking around with materials.

This is after playing around with materials:

Lightwave 2018 uses newer materials than Lightwave 10, the last version I had before purchasing the upgrade last year. It uses Principled BSDF materials, which is also what Blender uses with its Cycles render engine. I had been cheating in Lightwave and using the old style “Standard” materials, which were only left in there so that you didn’t have to redo the materials on older models that you imported. (unlike Blender) But, I decided to switch over to the Principled BSDF instead. Really, it has so many improvements over the older style materials that I can see why it’s the standard now.

Anywho, it’s nice using Lightwave again. I don’t know what this means as far as my work in Blender. Buying this computer was a spur of the moment decision because the other laptop I have is terrible and I know people in the Linux community who swear by these Latitude E series laptops. But, it’s also not the speediest thing for rendering. It gets the job done, though. I also may purchase Windows 10 for my desktop computer, but the jury is out on that one. There are still things I like better about Lightwave than Blender, and that will never change. And, it’s not like I can’t either import that ship I’m working on or just rebuild it. (rebuilding it will probably be easier)

Enterprise 2019 Part 9

So, I finished up the details on and around the impulse engine, and I tweaked my glow a bit too.

One thing I wanted to do was add some reaction control system (RCS) thrusters to the impulse engines. This is real world technology that started appearing on Star Trek ships in the 1970s. Back in the early days of suborbital space flight, they experimented a lot with the rocket powered X-plane series to try out different technologies for space flight. One thing they had to solve was how to maneuver in a zero gravity environment. They tried various things that were unsuccessful before someone had the brilliant idea to put little thrusters all over the plane for course corrections. This worked, and RCS thurusters were born and have been used on NASA spacecraft since then. By the 1970s, when Star Trek was getting its revival, a number of NASA scientists volunteered their time as scientific advisors on the attempts to create a movie and a TV show that resulted in TMP. I’d assume they’re the reason Star Trek ships have had little thrusters on them since the 1970s.

One thing that bugs me about the ships is that they have a few thrusters here and there. I guess the assumption is that, with them placed where they are and with centuries newer tech, less thrusters will get the job done. That’s all fine and dandy, but one thing that seems to be somewhat missing on a lot of Star Trek ships are thrusters that point directly forward and backward. We know they exist, because they’re referenced a lot, but they aren’t shown a lot. It can be assumed that the thrusters can be pointed in different directions to achieve directional flight and maneuvers, but still. Some ships hardly have any thrusters. (looking at you, Constellation class) I like to try and make my ships somewhat realistic in the thruster department. Though, I’m no scientist, so I may not necessarily get it “right” either, but I do understand the basics of how these thrusters work. One ship that’s the exception to this is the NX-01, it has more thrusters than most Star Trek ships, including plenty that point directly backward. There are some near all four impulse engines, which makes sense. Plenty of backward thrust for moving the ship forward on thruster power. I decided to do the same here. There are screw holes in the back of the impulse engines of the actual model, to attach the part to the ship. I put the thrusters pretty much where those holes are.

Anyway, to achieve my idea for the thrusters, it was necessary to build the saucer ones first. Not really necessary, but I like to do those first and base all of the other thrusters on the ship after them. So, I did those, then I added the 12 nozzles to the impulse engines. I decided to go with a design between the NX-01 and the Enterprise refit. The NX has bell thrusters, similar to what are on real NASA spacecraft, where the refit has squared holes sunken into the model. So, I did round nozzles that stick out slightly and are sunken in. No glows on the thrusters, because I’m not a fan of stuff glowing just for the sake of it.

I’m not overly fond of the windows and thrusters being so close together, but these things happen. The windows are placed where they are on the series ship, and the thrusters have to go there. Well, they don’t have to, but 45 degrees rotation in relation to the ship’s axes is the most efficient place to put them.