Introduction: Millennium Falcon and X-Wing From Floppy Disk (with Special Guest Appearance: Death Star)
I had been feeling bad for posting models only of villains, which is mostly because I dislike all of you. Now you have a chance to make some heroic models also. Granted, these models are scaled smaller than their dark-side counterparts, but I believe this was a conspiracy on the part of the 3-1/2 inch floppy designers. Why else would they have etched microscopic pro-Imperial rants on the edges of the floppy media. If you don't believe me, take a floppy under a microscope.
On the subject of floppies...
According to my sources (Wikipedia) there were over 5 billion floppy disks in use in 1996. That's almost 7,000 Tb....in increments of 1.44Mb each.
For reference, 1.44 Mb will hold:
- About a minute and a half of music
- One high quality digital picture
- All of my homework and personal files from 1985 through 1993.
If you stack them one on top of each other it will reach from here to someone that is tired of stacking up floppy disks. Those that are not in landfills are now mostly used ironically, or as coasters.
Still, that is a lot of floppies out there waiting to become nerd art. If you don't have any on hand try looking in the corners of your local computer lab, IT room, or creepy old shut-in.
If you are so excited that you really need to make this project so much you actually can still find them at your local office supply store. That's right, they still sell them! Of course, the whole point of floppy disk art is cashing in on the irony that you have hundreds of them sitting around unused. Here is your hipster link then: “Great for storing and transfering[sic] data in a non-networking environment.“
You will need a total of 3 floppy disks for this project.
- The Millennium Falcon model is more complex and so I have included a 3D model. The PDF has an imbedded 3D model while the CAD file can be opened with Autodesk 123D.
- A free copy of Autodesk 123D can be downloaded here: (http://www.123dapp.com/123d#download123D)
- I also have the 3D model available for viewing in the Autodesk 123D gallery here: (http://www.123dapp.com/AssetManager/Index.cfm?stgaction=getProduct&subaction=preview&step=1&inttype=4&intproductid=606047)
Step 1: Required Tools
- Needle Nose Pliers
- A second one makes things easier
- Finishing Nail (the ones with the small heads)
- A block of relatively soft wood
It has been said in the lore of floppy disk folk art that a diagonal cutting pliers or scissors are needed but this is a bold lie designed by the Diagonal Cutting Pliers Manufacturers Association. Floppy disks are generally made from thin, cheap metal. By repeatedly bending the metal at a set point you will fatigue it and form a crack. I like this method because it generally gives nice straight line cuts and doesn't need new tools. Feel free to cut pieces with cutting tools but I will be using that money to pay for my butler's salary.
If you do want to use cutting tools, try taking it up another notch and use a rotary “Dremel” cutting tool.
Step 2: Floppy Disk Massacre
- 3 Doors
- 2 Hubs
- 2 Springs
- 1 Partridge
- 1 Pear Tree
Keep the last hub, at the end of this Instructable I have instructions for making a Death Star...act surprised, as if it was not in the title.
Step 3: Forming the Center
Take one of the doors and remove the small section shown in the picture.
Next, fold the side panels down by 90 degrees.
Using a pencil or other marking tool, mark off a point on the side panel at the diameter of the disk.
Mark a similar point on the other panel.
See the picture for reference.
Make a 90 degree bend in the panel along a line from your marking to a point slightly away from the center. The distance to the center is a up to your artistic feelings (in other words, I don't know what it is). Make a symmetric fold on the other panel.
Make a second 90 degree fold parallel to the first. This should be spaced to make a box from the panels. Fold over the second panel as well. The second panel will overlap the first one.
Bend down the little triangular tips as shown. You are doing very well!
Step 4: Trimming the Spar
Now, that central spar coming out of the back is just too long. You will notice a notch in it where there is a tab to hold the door on the disk. Just past this point is where you will make the split. I found that the best way, unless you are Magneto, is to cut or fatigue to two sides first. After the sides are cut, fold the top over repeatedly until it splits off. Keep this broken piece for later, it will become the cockpit.
We now want to open up a hole for the cockpit passage. Using the hammer and nail, punch a hole through the side of the panel as shown. Use the pliers to nibble out the hole until you reach the size you want. You could put in the cockpit now, but it would just get knocked out.
While you have the cockpit, make folds in the sides and make about a 45 degree bend in the center of the cockpit section.
Step 5: Forming the Back
Now, take the two pieces you cut out from the door. Break off the small tab. These two panels will form the back of the Falcon. Bend the edges around to make a hook on each panel as shown. Slide the pieces together.
We need to keep these pieces together. To do this, use the hammer and nail to dimple out the center of the bend over. If you punch through accidentally, don't worry. You are just a failure...er...nobody will notice.
You want to bend the assembly into a semicircle. Use one of the disk hubs to size the circle to just fit into the rim of the hub. Bend in the tips to form a semicircle as shown.
Step 6: Spring Into Action
Now, on to securing the disk! For this we will use the little springs that return the door to position. Be careful with these since they are quite small, have a tendency to spring out, and have an unhealthy attraction to eyeballs and half-full soda cans. You will need two of them.
To size the bends on the spring, slip the center of the spring into the hole in the center of the disk (see the picture). Put the center spar of the bent panel through the loop of the spring. Push in the spring all the way and bend the legs of the spring out to secure the plate. I found it easiest to make the initial bend and then disassemble the parts to make a sharp 90 degree bend. Repeat this for the second disk.
Step 7: Millennium Falcon Final Assembly
Final assembly time. Re-insert the spring loops through the center of each disk. Slip the center spar through the spring loops of both disks. Hold the disks together and push the Semicircular back assembly in between the backs of the disks. Be sure to hook the bent sides of the back assembly through the triangular tabs in the bent panel.
Now push the cockpit into the hole in the side. Depending on the quality of the hole you will have to work a bit to get the piece in. Bend the sides out or in a bit to make a snug fit. Imagine you are trying to get a couch in through the hatch, but turned slantwise...jsut hold it in place if you need to.
I will have to advise against using the ship during games of sabacc as history is against you.
Step 8: On to the X-Wing!
Now on the the X-Wing, which I assure you is much simpler. Start off by splitting two door panels at the point shown in the picture. Make sure to split it at the right end of the small strip, as these will be important. Remove the rest of the panel as shown.
On one of the two door panels you will need to remove the entire lower strut. Again, this is a lot easier if you start by splitting the sides and then bending over the center.
Step 9: Folding the Wings
Bend both side panels down. Importantly, don't bend them both to 90 degrees! The longer of the two panels should be bent to about 70 to 80 degrees while the shorter panel should be bent to 100 to 110 degrees. If you didn't sign on for a trigonometry course...well...this really isn't trigonometry...just look at the picture.
If you are feeling skilled, there is a slightly more advanced variant that starts at this point. If you have already botched 5 disks now, you will want to keep it simple.
Step 10: The Basic Wing
To make a more basic X-Wing, take a hammer, finishing nail, and a block of relatively soft wood. Whiskey is optional. What we will be doing is making a dimple at the ridge center of the shorter door piece.
Look at the attached picture to get the general layout. Don't look at the picture while making the dimple as that's a great way to smash fingers and screens. You will want to use the head-end of the nail to make your dimple. The reason is that the pointy end will tend to follow it's design and nail a hole in your piece...which is not the intent. You want to make a little dimple like the one in the picture. If you break through, it's up to your “artistic judgment” to determine if you have wasted a disk or not.
The dimple is your Astromech Droid...or R2D2...depends on the extent of your fantasy...
Now, form up the wings better by cutting off the back angle from the larger wing patterns. This has nice straight-line cuts across the surface.
That is quite unlike the more advanced design.
Step 11: X-Wing Advanced
If you peeked ahead or have good visual acuity (and the vocabulary to know what visual acuity means) you will notice that the simple design has very large and lumpy wings that are better suited to...say...an imperial shuttle.
To make a more sexy and accurate model, you will need to cut in closer to the front and at a sharper angle. This will require a second cut at the root of the “wing”. This is one area where some tin snips or other cutting tool might come in handy. Myself, I am cheap beyond reason and drunk on my cutting tool savings and will stick to fatiguing the parts.
While the X-Wings center body did stick out a bit at the rear, the center spar is sticking out too far. This will not do. Cut down the center spar to size, leaving just a hint sticking out for good times.
You will need to repeat the dimple maneuver from the basic version of the steps, since Luke will still need a chatty side-kick that can fix anything within his one-foot reach. You should notice here that the dimple goes closer to the front now.
Step 12: Forming the Cockpit
Either way you get the wings shaped, you are not quite done. The cockpit needs to be made!
To form the cockpit, first stop giggling at the word cockpit. Next, take the longer door section and grip the side wall of the center spar as shown. Twist to flare the tip outwards. Repeat for the other side.
Grip the center bit and bend the whole spar downwards to an appropriate angle.
Crimp the flared sidewalls back into line and fold the excess wall of the bent section in to tidy it all up.
Step 13: X-Wing Final Assembly
Congratulations! You have reached final assembly!
Look inside the center spar of the shorter piece and check if there are any tabs sticking into the center. If any tabs are there, fold them flat.
Line up the two center spars with the shorter spar on top. Press them together. The top spar will tend to flare out, but that is ok. This is the point where brute force is the answer. Generally man-handle the parts into the unholy marriage until they stop struggling. Wash your hands if you feel dirty now.
Bask in your glory!
Step 14: Final Model: a Fully Armed and Operational Battle Station!
Now, you are probably asking, “What about this center hub from the last disk? It seems lonely.” I have asked you before to stop projecting yourself into my head. It is a dangerous place...a wretched hive of scum and villainy if you will.
In any case, I have your answer. We will pair it with a rubber-band ball to make a small moon.
Making a rubber band ball if fairly straight-forward. Take a rather large amount of rubber bands. Start with a few bunched up in the center and secure them with a band wrapped around several times. Continue wrapping new bands around in an even pattern until you have a ball of sufficient size.
It is tedious business and frankly no matter how cheap I am I raided my couch and went to Staples where they actually sell rubber band balls. Just tell your friends you made it yourself.
Now that you have your rubber band ball, peel off a few of the bands. Re-apply the bands in a horizontal pattern as far up as you can without having them fall off. Wrap a thin band or two in a second pattern to make longitudinal lines on the ball.
Roughly halfway up the side of the ball, grab one of the imbedded rubber bands and pull it away from it's drinking buddies. Form a loop with this band and slip the loop through the center of your remaining disk. I find the orientation in the picture is best as the disk will better follow the curve of the ball.
That's it. You have your moon.
Wait...that's not a moon, that's a sci-fi cultural icon!
If you are doing a text search...it's a Death Star.
Step 15: All Done!
Thank you for reading! Please vote for any contests this is in, but more importantly leave comments! I love to get feedback!
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Please be positive and constructive.