Introduction: Firefly Class Starship Serenity (and Random MQ-1 Predator) From a Floppy Disk

About: I'm a Mechancial/Aerospace Engineer that likes to tinker in my spare time. I make my own Christmas Cards.

So it seems that my other floppy disk pieces are a bit of a hit! Knowing that the internet is a fickle lover, I offer a new set!

One of the commenters had asked if a Firefly model was coming. Um...well...why not? I love Firefly! I'll even throw in a MQ-1 Predator Drone, I'm that nutty. These are fairly quick and simple, so give them a go!

For those younger than 20 or so a floppy disk is that strange icon you press to save a document. For those older than 30 or so that is a 3.5” Floppy as we know that they also came in larger and less useful sizes. That being said my family's first computer was a Commodore PET, which actually had a tape deck for external data storage. Seriously, you had to put in a tape and press “Play”!

If more snark about these tired workhorses of the data storage world and how to mangle them into pretty shapes, my previous pieces are here and here! I would rather jump right into this one!

To start off with orienting you, I included my usual 3D model and 3D PDF. The model can be opened in Autodesk 123D ( If it proves helpful to future modelers, I also made a model of the disk and door.

This one only requires one floppy disk...and really the door only. You could use a primary buffer panel if that hadn't already fallen off. The Predator will also require one floppy disk door.

Step 1: Tools

You will need for this Instructable:
  1. Your Wit
  2. A Cunning Spirit
  3. A Needle Nose Pliers
Mostly I recommend making your cuts by the tried and true method of fatigue, which I assure you is a word. Think of it like when you wanted to break a paper clip by repeatedly bending it. The intricate details of crack propagation and crystal lattice structure are really all handled by the metal anyhow, so don't worry over it. Who knew that metal had such a detailed understanding of material science?

Some of the cuts for this model are a bit harder to bend. Scoring with a stylus before starting to bend to fatigue or working with a diagonal cutting pliers might help in this case. A good friendship with Superman would work in a pinch also.

Step 2: Remove Unnecessary Bits!

Cut out the “L” shaped section in the picture. In my haste to please you and make you nice things it seems I forgot to take a picture with the section cut from the larger panel. Use the dotted lines as a guide and accept my apologies. Hopefully the pictures in the later steps will orient you.

The cut at the base I made at a small outward angle. I found this made it easier to make the cut but also seemed pleasing to the eye, so I am going to claim that it was intentional.

Step 3: Form the Thrusters

Bend down the remaining side panel sections at 90 degrees. Curl the tips inward to form cylinders. Most needle nose pliers are tapered, so be careful that you make a cylinder and not a cone.

If you are lucky enough to have round tip needle nose pliers then this is where to use them.

Step 4: Smash the Neck

You have two spar sections coming out from your jets. We will work with the section where the door opening used to be. This will form the “neck” of the ship that connects the command cabin to the body. With the previous models we crimped the sides to bend the neck down but bending up will just tear the material.

Use you pliers to crush the side walls of the spar down into the center. Once this is done you can bend the spar upwards. The may still be some tearing, but it will be reduced (my model has a slight tear on the left side).

Step 5: Finishing Moves

Now firmly grasp the tip and bend it downward to form the “head” of the ship. Be aware that the spar will resist bending straight down and you will have to work with it to prevent it from bending down and to the side.

I feel that the back end is now out of proportion, so I trimmed back material from that side to make the model as you see it.

Step 6: To Clip a Predator

First, cut out the thin sections at the tip of the door openings. Remove rectangular sections from the larger panels as shown. The remaining panel portion will form the main wing and the smaller panel will be the empennage (which is what you get to call a tail section after years of studying Aerospace Engineering).

The empennage is too long however, so trim those guys back.

Keep your scrap bits as we will use them later.

Step 7: Form Up!

Bend down the fore and aft wings as shown. Be aware that the MQ-1 Predator has an sharp anhedral (upside-down v) set of aft wings and no separate vertical stabilizer. You could make an MQ-9 Reaper with a similar model except there the aft wings are bent up and you will have to fashion a downward facing vertical stabilizer.

Take one of the scrap bits from shortening the empennage and bend into the funky “U” shape to make the spindly main landing gear.
Using one of the wider panels you cut from the large panel form into the other funky “U” shape shown. This will slide over the front spar to simulate the bulbous command dome in the front.

While you are at it, trim the forward corners on the main wings. It just looks nicer and your parents would be pleased.

Step 8: What's Next? a leaf on the how I soar.

The best thing I can think of to do with these besides having awesome imaginary mash-up battles would be to bring them to the Cons and try to get your favorite actor to pose with it. However, if anyone gets a Firefly/Serenity cast member to pose with a Floppy Disk Firefly, the terms of the Creative Commons license says you have to post it in the comments section. It's in the fine me.

I have been thrilled with the response to these models. I am working on getting a few more together for future Instructables. Please feel free to comment. Please also vote for these if they are in contests, and make suggestions for other models. In the case of the Firefly model I had considered it at one time but when it came up in the comments was when the form clicked for me.

Also, post your own floppies! I love the other floppy art on this site!

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