CVN-65 USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier
By Russ Caslis -
Posted on 21 January 2003
Toys, Toys, Toys
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. One of the best things about being an adult is being able to walk into a toy store and know that if I really want something, I can buy it. I have only myself to be accountable to. It almost makes up for having to pay taxes...
The toy I bought that gave me the idea. The planes that came with it are metal die-cast, and sucked - really cheap construction. The ship itself was much nicer.
The main hull and deck are, of course, where the majority of the work was performed. In general, the work proceeded in three stages - plan the components with respect to location and function, perform all modifications to the case' itself, and assemble everything together. That completely ignores all the difficulty actually associated with each task, however.
The planning of the hull was actually a gradual thing. I knew which motherboard I would be using, and I knew which power supply. But items such as the sound circuit, DVD-ROM drive, and memory card reader/writer were relative late-comers in the process. One significant problem with the planning stage was that despite the size of the toy, there were few areas which were flat enough on the hull to add all the ports I needed.
There were quite a lot of modifications to the basic structure that may not be readily apparent. A lot of plastic was removed from the toy to make sure that everything would fit. I had to be careful not to remove any critical structures. Obviously, I needed to remove at least one main screw mounting hole in the center or the motherboard wouldn't fit. I had to make sure that losing that mount didn't affect the structural integrity of the mod overall.
Trying to cut holes for the memory card reader/writer and the DVD-ROM was especially difficult. While the pictures may not totally show the state of the hull, it's actually slightly curved. Trying to cut precise holes for non-curved pieces in a curved structure is not the easiest thing to do.
The deck of the aircraft carrier went through a lot. There was a lot of painting, of course. But also quite a few lights were added so that the runway would light up (actually, the white lights down the side simply light up while the lights in the center of the runway light up in sequence). Over twenty-two LEDs were each individually sanded and wired into the runway alone. Also, the command center went through serious modification. It was painted, had electronics for switches added, and had additional detail added with sheet plastic.
All in all, these modifications were the hardest part of the mod. Knowing that a single accidental cut with my Dremel could ruin weeks of work was certainly somewhat stressful.
The command center - there was detailing only on 2 sides. I used some spare plastic to add details to the other sides.
The is the top of the command center without the main antennas. I added some more antennas with model railroad telephone poles.
The runway took a good deal of paint. It was painted with 5 colors, each requiring separate masking.
The main hull, already hacked up to fit the motherboard. The risers for the DVD-ROM and the motherboard are in place.
The hole for the memory card reader. It may not look like it, but the hull is slightly curved here making this addition very difficult.