The Bridge Helm & Navigation Station

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Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 08:38

06 Nov 2016, 06:49 #11

For those interested; here is a little more detail on the 2016 restoration.  We submitted our proposal to the museum and it was generally accepted with a few changes.  The museum asked if we could replicate the control panels and supply some switches and if possible the scanner hood; all without lighting.  To me, it was the lighting that would bring the console alive so we created the components and had them lit with LEDs.  We even replicated the lighting patterns of the console as seen from the last episode "Turnabout Intruder." 

We traveled back to Seattle in mid-March to test fit the mock-ups I had made.  I wanted to make sure that everything would work before we built the actual components.  Everything worked great with the exception of the scanner hood which was 1/16" too big each way.  We also disassembled parts of the console to determine how best to light areas under the astrogator and the chronometer and also we removed the knee panels on the under backside of the consoles.  It was important to understand what materials and areas we were dealing with because none of our replacement parts could be physically attached to the console.  Here are a few photos from the March visit:

Here is the helm console with the mock-up for the control panel in place.  The "mock-up" was a clear piece of plexi with the hole pattern printed on it.  That way you could clearly see how the cut-outs in the control panel would line-up with the holes in the console.  As you can see; everything lined-up quite nicely.  
We also prepared sample boards to match the paint color and texture.  Here is the sample board for the black console color:
Here is the mock-up of the hood which was 3-D printed.  As you can see it was just a hair too big to fit down into the top:

Here is a close-up of the only remaining original rocker switches which are much more vibrant in color than they appear on screen.  We matched these colors for the replacement switches.  You can see on the right side the crude foam rocker switch that someone tried to make.
As before, we took this opportunity to continue our examination of every inch of the console. 

During this visit we made our first installation on the console which was the micro switches near the bottom of the helm console.  I have no idea the make of the original switches but these vintage replacement switches are Hetherington switches which is the same company who made the white & black push buttons seen throughout the ship.
Studying the inside of the console
We also replaced a number of missing screws so of course we documented the existing screws to make sure our replacements were identical
Last edited by feek61 on 07 Nov 2016, 19:16, edited 3 times in total.

Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 08:38

06 Nov 2016, 06:54 #12

After the March "test-fit" visit; we had about a month to get everything built.  I had already done a lot of preparation by having the patterns for the laser cutting ready go and also we got going on the electronics.  I had the laser cut parts within days and had the electronics for the helm control panel and center section ready within 2 weeks.  For this segment I will focus on the helm control panel and here is a quick history of it; after the first season it was changed to a small control panel which had 6 columns of 5 lights.  The helm computer for the first season was removed (to make room for the scanner) and the electronics (the blinking lights) were installed under the helm control panel giving it a cool pattern of changing lights.  When it was time to film "The Doomsday Machine" they had to have a flashing light to show the hangar bay doors were opening so instead of messing around with the installed blinking lights they simply drilled new holes in the console top below the control panel and expanded the control panel to 6 columns of 6 rows which is how it stayed for the rest of the series.

So, I wanted to replicate exactly what we saw in the series so the electronics we made basically were for the flashing lights in the top 5 rows.  We only saw the one flashing light on the bottom row so for the replacement control panel we have the bottom light flash for 5 seconds every 2 mins which simulates what was seen in both "The Doomsday Machine" and "Mirror, Mirror".  As I mentioned earlier, we were not allowed to attach anything to the console so the replacement control panel was made to simply slide into place.  Inside I made a grid to separate the LEDs from one another and had one LED connected to a wire which we weaved under the console top through the hole back into the control panel for the bottom blinking light.  One other note is that on the original control panel apparently the heat from the lights weakened the glue causing the resin bits to fall off so the control panel was seen with many different colored resin lights.  I made it to reflect how it looked in the last episode of the series. 
Here is the early second season smaller control panel which was replaced with a larger control panel after the first few episodes of the season
Here is the larger control panel with the bottom row of flashing lights (actually only 1 ever really flashed in the show)
Here is a photo of the top of the helm showing the cut-out for the original control panel and the extra holes drilled below for the flashing light on the larger control panel

Here is the back inside of the control panel I built for the console.  Notice the dividers between the holes in the plexi to isolate the blinking lights from each other.  Also, notice the bottom row is not included in the box.  That is because the box portion had to slide into the existing holes and the bottom row had to line up with the holes drilled into the console.  
Here is the back with the electronics installed.

Here is the finished piece.  The blue tape you see is holding down the one flashing light that would have to be routed through the hole in the console top.  Also, you can see the power cord which was a standard USB connection.  In fact, ALL of the components were "plug-and-play" and were simply plugged into a USB hub which powered the entire console with the exception of the astrogator.  In this photo notice that the bottom row of resin lights are drilled out but none of the others; just like the original control panel!
Here is the completed control panel in operation.  

Here is a view from under the console looking up towards the control panel once it was installed.  You can see the colored resin buttons through the round holes in the console top and plexi.  Also notice the one light on the bottom and the glue next to it which is original; possibly from the original light that was there.  The gray area to the right is the housing with the motors for the pop-up scanner.  You can also see the wire for the lighted hood near the bottom.  
Last edited by feek61 on 07 Nov 2016, 19:20, edited 2 times in total.

Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 08:38

06 Nov 2016, 06:58 #13

We recreated the navigator control panel to slide into the existing hole but we left all of the original lighting sockets in place.  We 3-D printed the masters for the prismatic lenses that exactly matched screen-used examples so that they would be as perfect as we could make them and then poured the colored resin buttons from them.  When the console was displayed at the Smithsonian back in 1992 there was a random control panel mounted to it and you can see the larger outline and screw hole from it on the console top.
Here is the recreated navigator control panel module

Here is the navigator console before the restoration and after

Photo credit Dave Arland

Here is a photo of the bulk of the replacement components during the light tests while "burning-in" the LEDs.  We used current technology to recreate these pieces for display.  It would have been impossible due to the heat generated by incandescent lighting to display the console lighted without the LED lighting.  We used a USB hub (visible at the bottom of the photo between the chronometer and navigation control panel) to power all of these components.  All of the components fit into existing holes in the console.
Last edited by feek61 on 09 Nov 2016, 03:10, edited 6 times in total.

Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 08:38

06 Nov 2016, 07:00 #14

One of the coolest parts of the helm was the fact that the pop-up scanner was pretty much intact minus the hood.  The articulated armature was built in such a way that it actually folded-up by itself when lowered (and transversely unfolded when raise).  This was accomplished by a mechanical linkage which would pull the top in as it folded down; the motor had nothing to do with this part of the process.  So we replicated the missing hood for which the base was 3-D printed.  I had already made one of these for STC but that one was made of fibergass; this one was MUCH easier to make!  I made the viewer part from plexiglass and blended both parts together.  As with all of the parts that we made we wanted them to look like they were an original part of the console; not a brand new looking part.  We painted and aged the hood to match the color of the bottom blister under the base.  The blister by the way was just a painted piece of oak which was attached by one screw from the the hood base.  Here are a few photos of the hood:

Here is a photo of the scanner armature showing the bottom blister.  Notice the little wire connected to the bottom door which was actually a spring that pulled the door closed when the scanner was lowered
Here is the 3-D printed hood with the plexi viewer roughly attached prior to any clean-up
Here is the hood covered with primer just after the front hole was cut into it.  
Here is the completed the scanner with the aged finish.  The viewer portion is fiberglass cloth which is what the original hood appeared to be.  It really has a nice spacey looking sheen to it.
Here are a few  photos of it with the internal lighting installed and being tested.
The completed scanner installed
More to follow . . . 
Last edited by feek61 on 06 Nov 2016, 07:10, edited 1 time in total.

Joined: 29 Apr 2007, 08:38

14 Nov 2016, 09:19 #15

New article on the helm restoration at here: ... paceflight