One of my long-term makes is to build a 24″ starship from scratch. And not a classic ship like the Enterprise. A new ship class, familiar but unique, and featuring a higher level of detail than anything I’ve done before.
Something I haven’t done before, though, is to really dive deep into the design and to properly scale the base design (the Excelsior refit, as seen in Star Trek: Generations) up to the size it will need to be when I start updating, modernizing, and modifying the details.
The Excelsior refit, as designed for the movie, is about 480m long. I wanted something closer to 800m long. The headcanon I’ve developed for this new class of ship has it acting as a mobile international development and humanitarian relief platform, and it carries a small fleet of support vessels in its bulk. It needs to be big enough to accommodate an escort-type ship (think Defiant) stapled to the primary hull, behind the bridge, and docking bays for four runabouts along the dorsal secondary hull.
Once I figured out the relative dimensions of all the measurements I took from the little Excelsior I’ve had since I was a kid, I could scale up the Excelsior’s spaceframe to become the Frontier and finally scale down to the roughly 60 cm that the final model will be.
All my drawings and notes seem a lot more real now than they did before.
My next step, now that I know how big things are meant to be, will be to draw out the cross-section of the saucer. I’ll use a dowel for the core and laser-cut MDF sheets for the cross-sectional fins, because I have more access right now to a laser cutter than a bandsaw.
Ridiculous how that worked out.
But wait! Now I’ve named the Frontier, but what is this tentatively-named Fort Romaine? That’s the new class of runabout I’m working on, a bridge between the Danube-class featured in Deep Space Nine and the Yellowstone runabout from Star Trek Online (which I’m not a fan of, really, but it has some interesting lines and elements I can play with). I wasn’t going to spend time on new shuttles and runabouts, but then I had an epiphany. A pull-over-the-car and hang out with mouth agape kind of epiphany. I might not be able to make one small enough and detailed enough by hand to make it worthwhile to include with the model, but I can certainly model one in 3D and print the hell out of it.
The goal for this scratchbuild, overall, is to make a real showpiece, something I can be proud to have mounted in my office to show off. It’s going to be as perfect as I can possibly make it, and as detailed as I can possibly make it. The idea that I can 3D print some objects that I’d never be able to make by hand is a complete game-changer. And I can’t wait.
As always, folks, paddle your own canoe.