In this tutorial, we will take a look at the process I used for turning a car into a Star Trek shuttlecraft.
Step 1: Choose a Chassis
Ideally, this chassis should be large enough to carry the required cargo and passengers, and have a duranium hull. If a suitable duranium hull cannot be found, the steel frame of an antique passenger vehicle may work.
In this tutorial, we will be using an ancient ground vehicle called a Fiat 500, built on earth in the year 2013.
Step 2: Gather Your Materials
In addition to a suitable vehicle, you will require a variety of the federation's most technologically advanced materials and tools
Vinyl graphics material (red and black)
Waterproof LED strips
Speaker wire or another suitable wire type
Heat shrink tubing
Various electrical connectors
Soldering equipment (iron, solder, flux)
Various hand tools (screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers)
Cutting Surface/ Mat
3d printer (optional)
This tutorial does not include information on how to use these tools. If you feel that you do not know how to do something, you may need to take a star fleet refresher coarse or watch an instructional YouTube video.
PERFORM THIS OPERATION AT YOUR OWN RISK!
I am not responsible for any harm that becomes of you or your potential shuttlecraft. Only move forward if you accept the risks and dangers that come with this modification.
Step 3: Print Out Your Letter Templates
Your shuttle needs to display such information as affiliation and registry numbers. Since the shuttle in this tutorial will be operating out of USS Voyager, it may read "United Federation of Planets," or "NCC 74656," and "USS Voyager."
The proper font can be downloaded and installed from the Internet. There are very good instructional videos for installing fonts on both Mac and PC.
The font used on this shuttle is called Airborne. It is designed to mimic the font used on the original series vessels.
Once the font is installed, use a drawing program such as MS Paint or Gimp to type out a phrase, and size it accordingly so that the printed letters are full size templates. You may need to fiddle with the print preview settings, and print a few leters at a time so that they are large enough. You can tape the pages together to creat a full size pattern.
Step 4: Cut Out the Lettering
First, you must determine which side of the vinyl graphics material is the top, and which side is the bottom. The bottom side has the adhesive, and the bottom covering usually is thicker and has writing on it.
Once you know which side is the bottom, place it on a cutting surface so the the bottom is down against the surface. Tape it flat. Next, place the lettering template against the vinyl material. Make sure it is facing up as well, so the that letters aren't backwards. Tape it flat against the vinyl.
With a sharp hobby knife, cut along the edges of the letters making sure to cut through both the template and the vinyl. It is helpful to first cut out the middles of letters like O's and such, then cut out the letter itself.
Once you have all of the letter cut out, tape them back in from the top. That way, the vinyl "negative" will help keep all of the letters aligned and spaced correctly. When ready to apply, remove the thick backing from the letters only, as shown in the pictures, and apply it to the body.
It is easiest to place it where you want it, and press down in a few places on each letter so that the whole thing will stick in place while you work. You will need to firmly press each letter to the body by sliding your hands over them one at a time. Once the decals are firmly in place, you can carefully remove the tape and the template, and remove the top covering from the letters. But be very careful. If you do not pull the covering off at a 180 degree angle from the decal, you could pull the vinyl off of the body.
Step 5: Stripes
Standard federation livery includes things like red stripes, and star fleet logos. In order to make these features for your shuttle, you are going to need to cut 2 inch wide strips of red vinyl material. These strips need to be long enough to cover each body panel, not necessarily the whole vehicle.
Once the strips were cut, I cut a 45 degree angle on one end to finish the stripe at the back of the shuttle. This is easy and looks nice and clean.
I applied the stripes starting from the back. Remove a few inches of backing material and stick the end to the body. Be sure that the stripe is as perfectly straight and level as you can. If you need to, you can peal it off and restart a few times before the adhesive starts to lose its sticking ability.
As you move forward, gradually peel off more and more backing material and firmly press the stripe against the body. Moving smoothly along the body will minimize the amount of bubbles caught under the vinyl.
Once you reach the door, you can cut the stripe off about 2 inches from the edge. Push the remaining stripe down onto the door jam inside the seam seam between the door and the body.
To start the stripe on the door, place it at the same level as the stripe you just applied, and start it with an inch hanging over the edge of the door to be bent around to the back edge of the door. Apply the stripe as far forward as you can without obstruction. Mine ended at the mirror. Roughly cut the stripe near the mirror.
Step 6: Finishing the Graphics
Now you can finish the stripe and add the star fleet logo.
Very careful score the stripe where it wraps around the mirror. Just score the vinyl, don't cut through it, or you may end up scoring the paint underneath.
Continue the stripe on the other side of the mirror and perform the same technique to cut around the front of the mirror.
Moving onto the hood, I used a length of stripe about a foot and a half long. I used a straight edge to mark a diagonal line from one corner to the other, making two long, thin tapered triangles. These will be the front of the stripe on both sides.
I applied these to the sides of the hood using the same techniques described in the previous step. Be sure to wrap the edge around the seam of the hood.
To make the star fleet logo, I searched for the shape on the Internet and printed it out at a size that I felt fit the vehicle and the width of the stripe quite well. I cut it like I cut out the letters. Be sure that you cut one out and flip the pattern for the other side so that you do not end up with two right sides.
Determine where you would like to place them on the stripe. Then score the strip around where you want the logo to go. Peel away the excess stripe and center the logo in its spot. Remove the backing and apply.
Step 7: Underglow!
Now you have a simple, dependable starfleet shuttlecraft. But we are going to take it a step further by adding some underglow, I mean ahem impulse reactors that will put off a cool blue light as it propels your shuttle through space.
First you need to lift up the car. You can lift it with a jack, but do not get under the car unless it is supported by jack stands.
Once the car is up, take a look underneath and identify possible mounting options. Sinse the LED strips are adhesive backed, I looked for long smooth plastic aerodynamic covers to apply the strips to. Luckily, my car had them on the sides and the front. There really was no place I could find on the back to apply them to, so I chose not to have the glow in the back.
Clean all of the surfaces thoroughly. Any dirt will cause a poor bond.
Once clean, you can apply the strips. Be sure to press firmly to make sure they are really stuck on there. The adhesive is pretty strong. They have survived rainstorms and highway speeds without any extra support this far, but if you would like, you can add some duct tape to the ends of each led strip just in case.
I used speaker wire to connect each led strip in parallel to the 12v battery, which in this case is located under the hood. Some cars have them in the trunk. Guide the wires around obstacles like hot exhaust pipes, moving suspension components, and spinning drive shafts, wheels, brakes, etc. You can zip tie the wires to any hole you find in the plastic aerodynamic fairings on the bottom of the car.
Included is a simple wiring diagram that includes a toggle switch, which I routed through the bodywork, into the drivers side door, and tucked under the dash where I can easily reach it. You may 3d print a mount for it to stick to the bottom of the dashboard, but it isn't necessary.
Carefully solder connectors onto the wires and bolt them to the battery terminals securely. If wires come loose, they may arc and present a fire hazard. I strongly recommend wiring a fuse in series with the switch, but again, this is optional.
Step 8: You Are Done!
Congratulations on completing your shuttle craft. As a workhorse of the federation, it is sure to serve you for many years to come.
Thank you very much for looking at my project. If you like it, be sure to vote for me in the Glove box Contest!
Live Long and Prosper
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