If you've been following this blog you may recall me mentioning I wanted to make a movie. I want to make a retro 50s-style movie with corny robots and laser pistols and UFOs and stuff like that. This is another prop I needed to complete this project.
Photo simulation of this UFO zooming over New York City
I started out with a Christmas ornament bubble you can buy at a craft store for about $3. I kept one half as it was, and sliced the inner ring off the other half using a bandsaw. I'll glue that ring down onto the UFO to serve as a holder for the bubble dome on the top of the UFO. By doing this the dome can be removable.
I bought some plastic plates at Target in the dollar section. This particular plate came in a set of 2 for $1, which made me happy seeing as how I needed 2. I spent a lot of weeks looking around in the stores for a plate with a convex shape, and it's more difficult to find than you would think. Most plates have a reversing curve in them which works great when you want to eat off them, but it's totally wrong for UFO builders. It's pretty rude of them to only build plates for their own selfish needs.
I traced off the bubble so I knew how much space I had, and cut a hole through the plate smaller than the mark I made to leave myself some room to glue.
The wooden piece is to hold the bubble ring, and the large hole is for the alien to sit, and the smaller hole is for the ON/OFF switch. I roughed up the 2 connecting surfaces and epoxied the wooden piece onto the plate.
I used Krylon Fusion silver paint to paint the plates. Fusion paint bonds with plastic. Other paints will eventually crack and flake off. Might as well make it to last. I masked off the bubble ring so it would still be clear. Later I will screw it together and the screws will be visible, so I painted them too since they were black. In this photo they are sticking into a piece of cardboard to hold them upright.
This disk is the inner ring which goes between the upper and lower plates. It's just barely larger than the diameter of the plates. It's made of MDF scrap I found at work.I could have used wood instead but MDF paints up slicker with no grains showing through. I drilled 10 large evenly spaced access holes around the edge of the disk. Then IN the edge, I drilled small holes for LED lights to pass through. The little holes connect to the larger access holes in the surface.
I painted the edge silver and the middle black since it would show. There is a threaded bolt hammered into the center. This will be used to screw the alien in place. Originally it was centered but later I realized the alien needs to sit back off-center in the cockpit bubble so I filled in that hole and put in a new one. In the LED holes I put little LED holders I got at Radio Shack. At first I was going to just glue the LEDs in place but this is better in case I need to replace lights in the future. The little pieces of wood glued onto the top make a battery pocket.
With the smallest brush I had (and still not quite small enough) I painted various buttons and dials on the dashboard. The large red button in the center (see arrow) is an actual working button. It will turn on the LEDs. This button stays on until it's pushed a 2nd time to turn it off. The throttle sticks and levers are made with sewing pins and toothpicks.
I twisted wires onto 10 green LEDs to lengthen them. It looks like a big rat's nest of wires but that's just because I was sloppy. I connected one hunk of wires to the switch in the dashboard, and the other hunk to the battery. All the LEDs were poked into the holes in the MDF disk. Then I screwed the upper plate onto the disk.
I used large tacks for the feet. I didn't want the UFO to sit directly on the painted plate and get scuffed up. I made small pre-bored blocks of wood and glued them to the inside of the plate to help hold the tacks in place.
Almost done! I screwed the bottom plate in place, and TA-DA! It's done, and it works! YEEHA! To turn it on you open the bubble dome and click the red button on the dashboard, and then put the bubble dome back in place. In the last picture you can see I added little fake buttons to even out the screw spacing around the edge. Later I'll be making a little alien to drive it. The alien will be a scale version of my Questor robot.