Millennium Falcon Dashboard (Full Scale Garage Build)

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Introduction: Millennium Falcon Dashboard (Full Scale Garage Build)

About: Some people can work on one project at a time. Not me.

Over the past few years, I've built a couple different Star Wars Millennium Falcon playhouses for my kids, but while relocating to Texas, our moving company completely destroyed our second version. We were heartbroken, but our sadness resolved into a determination to move on to a full-sized Millennium Falcon cockpit, starting with the dashboard. In this Instructable, I'll show you how we built our full-scale dashboard with lights and sounds, and I'll provide my 3D stl files for those who want to build their own.

Supplies:

To put it simply, this is a wooden box with pinstripe, Christmas lights, and 3D printed pieces that happens to look pretty amazing.

This is a multi-discipline project, including woodworking, 3d modeling and printing, and very simple electronics.

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Step 1: Making Plans & Cutting Basic Shapes

We started by finding reference material online. Particularly helpful was this schematic. From it, I was able to line up the top, front, and side views in my 3d modeling software, scale them to actual size, and then explode those pieces into the parts I needed to cut out.

Since I don't own a CNC, these had to be done the old fashioned way, measuring out each length and angle and then cutting them out of thin MDF board. Once the parts were all cut out, I taped them all together with masking tape and then built an internal frame using 2"x2" boards.

At this point, my kids were pretty confused. They wanted a Millennium Falcon, not a biplane, and I had a hard time convincing them that we were headed in the right direction.

Step 2: Painting & Beginning Pinstriping

Next, I spray painted each of the panels and then attached them to the frame using sheetrock screws. Scavenging our old broken Millennium Falcon playhouse of switches and wires, I started installing some of the switches in the area between the seats as well as beginning to apply the telltale pinstripe patterns.

Step 3: Designing & Printing Greeblies

Next came the slow process of building out the many components seen in the Falcon. Particularly helpful at this point was the beautiful 360 degree view of the Force Awakens era Millennium Falcon cockpit on the Star Wars website.

Don't tell anyone, but designing in 3D is one of my favorite things to do, and for sure I had my work cut out for me. With just the dashboard, there are dozens of components that required my attention and many many hours of printing on my beloved CR-10.

Initially, I used silicone and resin to duplicate a few parts, but for the most part, this ended up being a waste of time, and I eventually went back to printing each piece. I've added all the 3D printed components here for you to download.

Pinstriping is a tedious but simple process. Taking your time to keep the lines straight is a pain, but it looks amazing when it's done.

Particularly challenging early on were the multiple large lights. My final solution was to 3d print the lenses in a translucent white filament and then color in the front of the lenses with a marker. I know it sounds janky, but it worked.

Step 4: Main Lighting

The white and blue illuminated buttons are the primary visual element on the dashboard. These either make our break the look. With the previous playhouses I had built for my kids, I had just used square pieces of plastic or wood, but now I needed something that would both look crisp and also disperse light well.

The solution, 1/8" thick #2447 acrylic laser cut into 1"x1" squares. I made a custom order from Delvie's Plastics and got great customer service and a quick turnaround on the parts.

Since I needed many of the squares tiles to be blue, I used fabric dye and followed the instructions on the package with hope that they'd turn out well. Fortunately, the dye worked perfectly.

For illumination, I decided to go the simplest and easiest route - using strings of Christmas lights secured with hot glue. Behind the tiles, I drilled 7/8" holes. For the small lights, I drilled small holes and filled the top with a small cylinder of transparent 3d printing.

It still gives me a cold chill to think about the strand of lights failing, but so far, they've worked without fail.

Step 5: We Have Light and Sounds!

Honestly, I was nearly giddy with excitement when I got the panels reassembled and plugged in the lights for the first time. Though only half the details were done at this point, the lighting is already giving the console a very finished look.

At this point, my kids began clamoring for me to get some buttons and sounds installed, so I once again scavenged our broken playhouse project for our Adafruit Audio FX board. I powered this and an old computer speaker system (with a subwoofer - everything fit nicely inside the console) with the same switch going to the lights. Then I placed momentary switches in different areas on the console and tied each to a different sound (explosions, guns, takeoff, and the Falcon theme music).

But my favorite part was using a capacitor to trigger a sound when flipping on the lights. It's a very nice effect.

Help a fellow out: I'd love to add some slight delays in the strands of Christmas lights so that a few come on, and then a few come on a split second after that, etc. I think I might be able to achieve this with capacitors in line with the lights, but I could use some advice with this.

But we've still got work to do.

Step 6: Adding More Details

Initially, I thought I was going to need to install rows of switches, but I eventually decided to go with a screen accurate look by designing the parts and printing them out on the 3d printer. It ended up being a quick and easy way to add a ton of detail.

One of my favorite details of our Millennium Falcon dashboard was inspired by my oldest twin. He suggested that one of all the switches in the mass of switches on the console should do something. I used a switch of his choice to toggle on and off the map-looking interface. The challenge was to make the interface completely disappear when the light is off. To make this work, I stacked a piece of welding mask plastic on top of some transparency paper that I had printed the design onto. When the light is on, the design shines through, but when the light is off, you can only see the welding mask screen.

Using 3D printed handles and some wooden dowels and wheels, I was able to create a rudimentary mechanism for the motion of the light speed controls. My first attempt to build in a mechanism to hold these in place at any point failed, but we'll keep on trying until we get it all figured out.

Step 7: Keep It Going!

While there are still a few little details left to be added, namely the steering wheels and some spur-looking parts, this is where we stopped for now. Time to clean out the garage and make more space, because my four kids have let me know that we're not finished yet. Of course, they're still wanting the full cockpit. :)

Like always, I love hearing your feedback. If you use my files to make something or if you've been inspired to build your own, let me know in the comments. Happy building!

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    26 Discussions

    0
    gmikles1
    gmikles1

    24 days ago

    Hey Kyle,
    Nice job and Instructable. I haven't seen your earlier versions but your kids have to be enjoying this one. Thanks for sharing!
    Garth

    1
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 2 days ago

    Thank you, they're pushing me to keep going on the build. Lol.

    0
    gmikles1
    gmikles1

    Reply 2 days ago

    I don't doubt that a bit

    0
    inkybreadcrumbs
    inkybreadcrumbs

    18 days ago

    Just wow. I want to flip all those toggle switches :)

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 2 days ago

    Yeah, it's pretty fun.

    0
    Jedi_zombie85
    Jedi_zombie85

    13 days ago

    Epic Build and top result

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 2 days ago

    Thank you!

    0
    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    18 days ago

    If you just want "random" flashing LEDs then a 75154 and 555 would work well but the CD4060 chip does it all. It has an on oscillator and a counter.

    http://www.circuitdiagram.org/multiple-timing-flasher.html

    If you want the LEDs to come on in sequence then stay on, then a bar-graph display chip - the LM3915 - would work I think. This circuit looks good

    https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/dotbar-display-driver-hookup-guide/all

    (about half way down, labelled "Schematic view of simple LM3914 circuit"). But replace R3 - the input to pin 5 - with a 10k resistor to 5V and a 1000uF capacitor to 0V.

    The voltage should slowly rise and switch on the LEDs. The LEDs will be different colours and scattered around the dashboard of course.

    0
    MikeS287
    MikeS287

    24 days ago

    Arduino or other microcontrollers is a whole lot to learn just to have some semi random lights. If you just want lights that move about... maybe being shut on or off based on a switch.
    You could use a simple counnter chip (reaching into the faint crevases of decades ago, I remembered a 74154 driven by a 555... or a 4017
    See:
    https://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/blog/christmas-lights-sequencer-circuit.html
    and
    https://steemit.com/technology/@morbyjohn/running-led-lights-using-ic-s-74ls154-74ls193-and-555-timer
    and
    https://www.brighthubengineering.com/diy-electronics-devices/61040-how-to-build-a-simple-led-light-chaser-circuit/
    for anything like this, a simple 5$ breadboard, a couple 50cent chips ( and a few resistors is all thats needed. Note that chips that are 50 cents at a electronics supplier are $7 at that place that everyone thinks first of.

    Also, the digital picture frame someone else mentioned - wire the "next" and "back" button on it to various of your switches.

    3
    larry03052
    larry03052

    26 days ago

    One small problem. When you turn it on, the lights should come on and it should hum for a second, and then the lights should go out and the hum stop. And nothing else will happen until you bang on a panel with your fist. THAT is just like the REAL Millennium Falcon!

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 25 days ago

    Totally! I see this as a future component. LOL.

    0
    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    25 days ago

    It sounds like you're not 100% comfortable with designing electronics. Electronics hobbyists will immediately suggest addressable LEDs and an Arduino but, as you've probably found, that needs quite a lot of background knowledge.

    It may be easier for you to use simple logic gates rather than learn how to program a microprocessor.

    Search eBay for "LED chaser kit". Perhaps it isn't quite what you want but it's getting closer.

    Or this youtube project gives some nice effects; I like the randomness:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0CPXh-ycvk

    I presume what you want is, when you flip a switch, a bunch of LEDs come on in sequence then stay on. Right?

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 25 days ago

    Yep. That pretty much sums it up. I’ll check that out. :)

    0
    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    Tip 26 days ago

    > I'd love to add some slight delays ... but I could use some advice with this.

    My understanding is that in LED christmas lights, the LEDs are wired in series. Whatever you do to affect one of them will affect all of them. So you can't do it with LED strings like that.

    Let's say, instead, you wire-up individual LEDs to individual switches. The calculation goes like this:

    The LED has a forward voltage drop of 1.7V. It needs a current of 10mA (0.01A). You're powering it from a 5V "wall wart". You need a resistor to limit the current to 0.01A. So the resistance is (5-1.7)/0.01 = 330 ohms. For an indicator light, most people use 470ohms so the LED isn't as bright as it could be.

    Let's say you put a capacitor across the LED. So the capacitor has to charge through the resistor before the LED will turn on. A 470uF capacitor is a fairly large commonly available capacitor. The time is takes to charge the capacitor will be very roughly the "time constant" of the resistor-capacitor circuit.

    The "time constant" is resistance times capacitance which is 470*470/1000000 = 0.22 seconds.

    So the LED will turn on 0.22 seconds late. Does it work that way? Yes, I just tried it. The delay is there but it's so short you really have to be looking for it to notice - maybe 0.1sec.

    Also, with a capacitor across the LED, the LED stays lit for a little while after the switch is off. If you switch it back on a couple of seconds later, it illuminates immediately because the capacitor hasn't discharged.

    You could use a much bigger capacitor - say 1 Farad. They're bulky and cost a few dollars - how many will you use? I've got some I could test if you want.

    I suspect that your best bet is to use a string of "individually addressable LEDs". They'd be great for your display - they could blink or come on in sequence or change colour in response to the switches. But I don't know of any simple controller that is plug-and-play. You need to be an electronics buff to get the best out of them.

    Peter

    0
    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    Reply 26 days ago

    Update: I looked a string of blue LED lights from a "dollar store" powered by 3 AA cells. They're wired in parallel with just one 33 ohm resistor for all of them. So it's not goint to work for what you want. I think you're going to have to use individual LEDs.

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 26 days ago

    Really helpful info. Thank you!

    0
    ChuckCelt
    ChuckCelt

    Reply 26 days ago

    I'd look into LED's and the assortment of Drivers out. You'll lose the heat that the Christmas Lights produce. Various drivers can be set up to come on in sequences, or through relays enacted by switches (momentary or on/off). Although a little more expensive initially, their long life will outlast the project. Lots of YouTube Vids on LED/Driver projects. You could even have some that react to the sound effects you're generating.

    0
    Peter Balch
    Peter Balch

    26 days ago

    Update: I tried it with a 12V supply, a 1.5k resistor and a 2200uF capacitor. That gives a quarter second delay which may be what you're looking for.

    Have you thought of using a digital photo frame for the display to show a sequence of "technical" and "navigation" pictures? They're pretty common in charity shops and car-boot sales and are not too expensive on eBay.

    0
    kylegilbert
    kylegilbert

    Reply 26 days ago

    Love this idea!