My next project: scratchbuilt Ares I in 1/96th scale

Discussion in 'Space & Aeronautics' started by dhanners, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Well, after mulling several ideas for my next project, I've finally decided to try my hand at a scratchbuilt Ares I in 1/96th scale. When "The Stick" was first unveiled, I wasn't too keen on it. It just didn't seem like much of an advancement. And, it appears, there are some fairly significant development issues. Still, the thing is kind of growing on me, so I have decided to build one in my favorite scale.

    I've been searching the tubes of the Internets for good drawings and accurate dimensions of the "current" version of Ares I, and so far, I haven't been able to find exactly what I need. But on the ATK website (they build the Reusable Solid Rocket Motors) they have good artwork of the current iteration, with the bullet-shaped launch-escape system fairing.

    But I still don't have anything that shows me the dimensions of how long the separate sections are, so I decided to scale up the ATK drawing to 1/96th scale and use it as a reference. So I measured the drawing and figured out that in 1/96th scale, a 321-foot tall Ares 1 would be 101.9 cm, or just a bit over 40 inches. So I measured the drawing and found that it was 22.6 cm long, and so if I enlarged it 450 percent, I'd have it the right size. Of course I couldn't get all that on one sheet of paper, so my plan was to copy sections of it onto 11x17 paper, cut out the sections and then assemble them into a single drawing. Then I could use it to determine how long the pieces of the vehicle should be.

    So I took my drawing down to my local FedEx/Kinko's and set it up on the copier, only to find that it can only enlarge up to 400 percent. What to do? Then it hit me: I'll enlarge it to 225 percent (one-half of 450) and then enlarge the resulting drawing at 225 percent, equaling 450 percent. Am I smart or what?

    Well, actually, the answer to that last question is "or what." When I got the drawings home and assembled them, the thing came out about 9 inches too long. Ugh. I measured and figured that if I photocopied the whole thing at 89 percent, it would be the correct height. Fortunately, the FedEx/Kinko's is just down the street....

    When I got it done and the drawings assembled, I realized what a monster this will be. I posed it next to my Atlantis shuttle stack for comparison. All I know is, Ares I won't fit on the shelf I have most of my "good" models on.

    Because I want it to be strong, I'm going to use my usual method of making "skins" that fit around appropriately sized model rocket body tubes. I had a 1.5-inch tube left over from my shuttle stack project, so I used it. It wasn't long enough, so I dug through my big box of tubes and found a short section that was the right size and grafted it on. I wound up having to get a tube for the Upper Stage at the hobby shop.

    For the skin on the RSRM, I'm going to use the glossy coated text paper that I used on the SRBs on the shuttle stack. But Ares I's booster has "UNITED STATES" written vertically on it, ala the Saturn V, so I had to come up with some way to replicate that. After a bunch of trial and error using the Draw function of Word (as I've said many times before, my computer design skills are none-existent) I finally came up with the right spacing of the letters.

    But once I got it done, I started thinking -- every artists rendering I've seen of the Ares I booster has the letter in black. I suppose that's ok, but I figured I'd pay homage to the Saturn V and print it in red.

    For the orange-colored insulation on the Upper Stage, I figure I'll use the same textured orange paper I used on my shuttle External Tank. Which brings up a whole other issue regarding markings. Again, in the artists renderings I've seen, they generally show the Upper Stage sporting the NASA meatball, the American flag and the Orion/Constellation logo. But the ET and other insulation-coated vehicles (the Delta IV, for example) don't have markings on their insulation. So I may just leave those markings off, at least for the time being.

    Here are some photos of the work so far.....

    Attached Files:

  2. CardStalker

    CardStalker Member

    Go David go. Going to be a great project. My best to you.
  3. underwoodl06

    underwoodl06 Member

    Well all I can say is good luck to ya. I hope this turns out to be a really great model for you.
  4. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Thanks for the kind words; it should be a fun project. I'm re-thinking the red lettering on the RSRM, though. I began thinking that the Upper Stage will be that orangey-rust color, so that may be a lot of red on the vehicle. Maybe I should just go with the black lettering. Thoughts?
  5. underwoodl06

    underwoodl06 Member

    I think the black would be best because the original design has the black lettering and has so I am pretty sure the Ares I rocket will be left with it throughout it's service.
  6. SAustin16

    SAustin16 Member

    Watching this should be very enjoyable.

    I have to second the black lettering. Looks more contemporary.

    You don't need it, but best of luck.
  7. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Upon reflection, you guys are right. Black does look more contemporary.

    I had a gig tonight so I didn't get a chance to do any work on the model. They're forecasting 4 to 10 inches of snow for tomorrow -- it is supposed to be our heaviest storm of the season -- so maybe I'll have some time inside to work on the thing....
  8. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    I haven't made a ton of progress, but I did get the First Stage close to finished yesterday. I still need to add the various separation motors/retro rockets and do a little paint touch up here and there, but at least I've got a start.

    The model rocket tube is covered with my homemade "skins." I lay down a piece of double-sided tape lengthwise on the tube, then curve the skins around and once they are aligned, I burnish them down. Fortunately, the systems tunnel covers the seam, so when all is said and done, there's no seam showing. For the insulation used to cover the stiffening rings, I went the same route on my shuttle stack, using painted paper towels cut into thin strips; in fact, I still had some left over from that build so I used that.

    I'm hoping the Upper Stage will go faster....

    Attached Files:

  9. NYC Irish

    NYC Irish Member

    Excellent work...well done.

    Im kind of appreciating the Stick a bit more...Im a shuttle era guy...what can I say?

    John John
  10. Ronson2k3

    Ronson2k3 Member

    Very cool.. I'm going to be watching this one. I myself feel the moon is the future and this is that step back to go forward I've been looking forward to..
  11. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    ARES 1 Launcher in 1/96 Scale

    It looks great, David,

    I like the semi-glossy paper that you are using, with just the right kind of reflections. Also, the black letters look more 'real' somehow.
    Excellent work, as always.

    Keep up the good work,
    Bengt :thumb::thumb::thumb:
  12. Hans Christian

    Hans Christian Active Member

    Great job on the Stick so far sir!!!
  13. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Thanks, gang. Sorry the updates haven't been more frequent; work has been busy lately and by the time I get home of an evening, I'm beat. I'm hoping to make some headway this weekend, though.

    Frankly, it's one of those projects that if I had six or eight hours just to sit down and start going, I'd get it finished in one sitting. Although it's a scratchbuild, it's not that complex -- just cylinders and cones struck in the right order, with a few details added on....
  14. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Well, have you ever had one of those projects where you get excited about a model, get started, get some stuff done and then about halfway through you lose interest and the parts just sit there and stare at you, mocking you each day?

    This is one of those projects for me.

    I haven't made a lot of progress because work has been crazy lately. And I seem to have lost what momentum I had on the model. But I sat down with it today and got back to it, and here are some photos of how the thing looks now. I modeled the new bullet-shaped Launch Abort System fairing by re-scaling the External Tank nose designed by Bill Spencer and offered at the LHVCC website. Everything else has been scratchbuilt.

    I haven't glued the second stage to the SRB yet, and I still have to build the SRB nozzle and the flexible curtain that surrounds the SRB. Also, I've got to add the little motors on the frustum that kick the SRB away after stage separation, and there are various other odds'n'ends that need to be added.

    Attached Files:

  15. underwoodl06

    underwoodl06 Member

    Looks great David. I think it will be great when it is finished!! I think you should also get permission from Bill and ask if you could publish that new LAS design. would be great to have.
  16. gpw

    gpw Member

    It looks fantastic, great job David. :thumb::thumb::thumb:

  17. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

    Ares 1 Launcher in 1/96 Scale


    I agree with Gerd. The LES and CM cover is beatifully shaped and the detailing overall is superb. It will make a very fine display next to the Atlantis shuttle (and the Buran-Energia). Not to mention the Gemini-Titan II.

    The textured orange-brown paper, that you used for the Atlantis space shuttle´s ET, works really well here too. It has just the right color and 'feel' to it, if you compare it to the close-ups of the shuttle ET (for example the one that was damaged by the hail storm).

    Great work, as always - thanks for sharing.
    Bengt :thumb:
  18. NYC Irish

    NYC Irish Member

    amazing....really amazing work

    John John
  19. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    Well, thanks for the kind words, gang. Here are some photos of the finished model, and boy howdy, am I glad to have it done. It just seemed like one of those scratchbuilds that would never get done, even though it is far from complex.

    A note about the flexible curtain around the nozzle on the bottom of the SRB: On the shuttle, the current iteration of the curtain is a tan color (at least as far as I could find) but in digging through some stuff on the the ATK website -- the company that makes the SRBs -- they have a drawing of the Ares 1 which shows black or dark gray curtains with silver stripes between the segments. I thought that looked visually interesting, so I thought I'd use those colors. And you'll note that the photo I took showing the bottom of the SRB showcases the big ugly seam in the gray inner piece. Sorry about that, but by the time I got to making the nozzle, I was ready to quit....

    As far as offering a design of the bullet-shaped boost-protective LAS cover, I didn't really do anything special. I re-sized and built Bill Spencer's ET nose, then used an online shroud calculator to make the next cone-shaped piece, then used a piece of plastic tubing as a form for the paper I used for the tower part of the LAS tower.

    Attached Files:

  20. dhanners

    dhanners Member

    A couple more....

    Attached Files:

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