Introduction: Darth Vader's TIE Advanced X1 Made From Floppy Disks!

About: I'm a Mechancial/Aerospace Engineer that likes to tinker in my spare time. I make my own Christmas Cards.
Unless you have been in a cave since 2006 or so, you have likely seen the various postings of instructions on how to make a small USS Enterprise from the metal bits of a 3-1/2 Inch Floppy Disk. If you have been in a cave since then, I trust that you have been making far more interesting widgets, Mr. Stark.

The oldest references I could find for the Floppy Disk USS Enterprise are these:

For those too young to remember the floppy disk, it was the pinnacle of 1980's file transfer technology. You may recognize it as resembling the cryptic "Save" icon used in software still. Over time it became less floppy, but smaller. It was a simpler time when files were smaller than 1.44Mb and placing your backpack on a strong magnet would make your thesis disappear. It eventually became the 3-1/2 inch wide plastic square seen in the image with a metal hub for the magnetic disk inside and a metal sliding door that was just asking to be opened. Opening the door revealed the magic black insides that, when touched, made your thesis also disappear.

By 2006 there were vast numbers of these disks that held obsolete files and poor quality vido games. Desperate to find a use for them, Floppy Disk Crafting was born. You can still find them in old desk drawers, backs of computer stores,  and some specialized applications where they might still be used. Use them while they are still out there!

You may be thinking, "Where are the Star Wars models?" or "How are you reading my thoughts?" The answer is "Here." and "With the Force."

In this Instructable we will go through the steps to make a TIE Advanced X1 as seen piloted by Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and an Imperial Shuttle.

As a bonus, I will also include, at no extra charge, a super secret bonus model. (If you skip to the end you will find out it is a Borg Cube from Star Trek)

You may find it helpful to have my 3D model as a reference. I have attached both an Autodesk 123D file of the model and a PDF with an imbedded 3D model to this step.
If you need Autodesk 123D, it can be found here.
The 3D model can also be found and viewed online here.

Step 1: Required Tools and Materials

While many people will tell you that "tools" are required, this is not strictly true. Your will alone is enough. Try shouting at it.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

I have found that at least one pair of needle nose pliers will make things go much easier.

You will need to cut the metal as well. For that many recommend using wire cutters. If you have a pair of scissors that you don't like then they can be used also.

I would rather spend my money on beer, and so will fatigue the metal. For our purposes fatigue is a technique of sharply bending the metal back and forth until it splits. Now, my material professor would be screaming at me now that fatigue is a material failure mode caused by crack propagation from cyclical loading but he has no authority here and I already have my diploma and he can't take it back. (editor's note: They can take it back and I have to go back to college now.).

To make metal fatigue faster you should start with cheap metal (which we have) and bend it sharply. If done right you will get a nice straight clean split in the metal. If you bend it against the jaws of your pliers you will get the best results.

For your models you will need the following raw materials:
Tie Fighter: 5 Floppy Disks
Imperial Shuttle: 2 Floppy Disks

A note on safety: the sheet metal edges are probably already very sharp. Cutting or bending them will only make them sharper, pointier, and stronger. Take a lot of care working with the pieces or you could get bad cuts.

Step 2: Cutting the First Piece

Gripping the disk as shown, bend and break at the root of the small section. You may get better results without the second pliers and bending it against the first pliers by hand.

Do not remove the small section!

Step 3: Bend the First Piece

Using the pliers, bend down each of the large panels down 90 degrees at the root. At approximately 1/3 of the panel, bend each panel back up about 20 to 30 degrees. It should resemble the last picture.

Do this for a total of 2 panels.

Rest a bit, that was a lot of work. Have a celebratory beverage.

Step 4: Prepping the Other Panels

Split out the two "L" shaped sections of a panel as shown in the first picture.

Repeat this for a total of 3 panels.

For all three panels bend the large panels down 90 degrees at the panel roots.

For two panels bend the panels up to match the shape of the first two panels.

For the final panel, remove one outer corner of each of the two folded sections as shown.

Using your pliers, crush the protruding center into a box shape but not flat! Continue crushing to the root of the folded down sections.

Step 5: Little Bits

Locate two of the "L" shaped pieces removed in the last step. Break off the smaller bits of the "L".

Bend each into the shape shown in the last picture. The first bend should be at 90 degrees and the folde back section should be crimped fairly tight.

Step 6: Mounting the Disks

You now have all of your pieces!

Start by taking a slight bow.

You didn't bow, did you? Don't you trust me?

Next, slide one disk onto the hub of the cut panel as shown.

Take one of your first panels and slide the small tabs into the small gaps above and below the hub. This may involve some work with the pliers to ensure that there, in fact, is a gap above and below the hub.

Take the other first panel and repeat the process for the other side. Make sure both sides are snug.

Now slip the other disk onto the hub as shown. Make sure that the opening is oriented to the bottom of the part.

Using the pliers, crush the hub horizontally. Bend the crushed hub upwards to secure the disk in place.

Step 7:

With the final two panels, there is a little tab in the long section that will cause problems during assembly. The tab is used to keep the door on the disk in a former life. Using the pliers flatten this disk.

Slide the central channel over the channel of the side panel. Repeat for the opposite side.

At the tips of the panels slip the inner corner out over the outer corner. You will probably have a little stub left from the cutting to help here. This will tidy up the whole model, so do it for all four outer corners.

Slip the small bits into the opening on the front disk as shown to make some scary looking blasters.

Insert one Darth Vader and, like the Empire, you are all set to go out and fail to conquer the universe!

Next we make the shuttle...

Step 8: Now, About That Shuttle...

To start the shuttle, you will need the doors from two floppy disks. Only the doors are used.

Remove the small "L" shaped pieces from one door as shown.

For the other door, cut off the base section at the root of the larger panels and remove one of the larger panels.

Step 9: Hurry Up, the Emperor Is Not As Forgiving As I Am.

Now to begin folding.

With the larger piece, you will first want to fold down the protruding section. Flare the sides out slightly with your pliers before bending it down as shown. Grip the sides and twist to fold over the sides flat. This may cause some cracking. If it is too much try again.

Fold down the panels to approximately the angle shown.

With the second piece, fold the single panel back around all the way. Crimp it tight.

For all three panels you will need to trim the leading edges back at an angle. Trim from close to the root at about a 20 to 30 degree angle.

On the smaller piece, flatten the tiny tab inside of the lower channel. This will allow you to slip the channel over the back of the other piece.

You've done well, Lord Vader. And now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker. Before that...on to the secret bonus round!

Step 10: Bonus Round: the Borg Cube

I made this piece last since I can use it for my remaining scrap pieces. I tried to tear them up a little bit into smaller pieces to better resemble the model. Since the original model of the Borg Cube for Stark Trek was a combination of serendipity, slap it together, and kit bashing, we will use a similar technique.

You will need a couple of new tools also:
 - Long handled pliers (channel lock pliers or long handled needle nose pliers)
 - A hammer (I feel more manly with a ball-peen hammer, but all I had was a claw hammer)
 - Safety Glasses (iron helps us play, but is bad for the eyes)
 - A hard surface for hammering

Use the pliers to carefully begin crushing the pieces into each other. Do your best to link the pieces together.

Transfer over to your hard working surface and for goodness sake put on your safety glasses.

Holding the pieces with your long pliers and keeping fingers and toes clear, begin hammering your pieces into a smaller package. Do your best to shape it into a roughly square shape. You may notice some of your pieces breaking and/or falling out of your piece. Do your best to re-insert the pieces back in but some losses are expected.

When all of your pieces are properly assimilated you are all set to sit back and feel superior. You have earned it.

Step 11:

Now, take a bow. Bask in your glory.

If you like this, feel free to drop a note! Enjoy!
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