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Old 06-03-2016, 02:26 AM   #1
Digidrink
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Default A large Ultra Probe

Hi. I'm Pat. I enjoy making 1/12 scale vehicles for Mattel's Major Matt Mason from the late 1960's. I always wanted to put the Major in an Eagle but the size would have been over 8 feet long. I ran across a model of the Ultra Probe lifeboat on eBay late last year and realized I could capture the most distinctive part of the Eagle (the command module) and keep the size "somewhat" reasonable. I visited here for details of other models and watched "Dragon's Domain" on Youtube. Before building a master (the parts will be vacuum formed) I had to pick a dimension and scale the rest from there. After verifying that I could sit a 6" figure comfortably in the cockpit, I chose a height of 7" for the CM. This set the other dimensions as follows: width of the CM is 11.5", overall length of the model is 21.5". If my calculations are right, this is actually about 1/19 scale not 1/12. A somewhat undersized cockpit isn't a problem for me because I want to be able to see the astronauts through the windows. Yes I know the Ultra Probe had a single seat but as I said, I wanted to see the guys. That leads me to another design choice. The model is not meant to be super detailed, it represents what might have been manufactured for the MMM line back in the late 60's. The basic shape is right but decals are used to represent surface details. Other simplifications include eliminating the transition (flare) between the CM and service module (SM) and the docking straps at the rear. Hope this doesn't ruin it for you.

Last edited by Digidrink; 06-03-2016 at 02:35 AM.
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:29 AM   #2
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Default Ultra Probe

Here are some pictures of the master for the CM: it is built from plywood and foam board.
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File Type: jpg temp 01.jpg (82.0 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg temp 02.jpg (65.6 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpg temp 03.jpg (73.5 KB, 26 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:31 AM   #3
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Default Ultra Probe

The foam board is covered with aluminized duct tape to protect is from the heat of melted styrene:
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File Type: jpg temp 04.jpg (77.1 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg temp 05.jpg (66.8 KB, 29 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 02:34 AM   #4
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Default Ultra Probe

Finally, pieces of thin cardboard (from a beer case) are soaked in hot water and formed over the master to create panels. The cardboard is then glued to the master. Here is a picture of a completed CM half in a 16x16 vac-forming frame.
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File Type: jpg temp 06.jpg (70.9 KB, 36 views)
File Type: jpg temp 07.jpg (86.9 KB, 50 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:55 PM   #5
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Default Ultra Probe

Once two CM halves are vac-formed and trimmed, they are joined with Rapid Fix (a UV-cured glue).
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File Type: jpg District 11-20160122-01242.jpg (112.5 KB, 29 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 12:59 PM   #6
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Default Ultra Probe

I built a jig from plywood to form the elliptical shape of the service module. A sheet of styrene is taped to the jig and heated in an oven at 170 F for about 20 minutes. When it is removed, it retains the elliptical shape.
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File Type: jpg Prog 16.jpg (89.0 KB, 13 views)
File Type: jpg Prog 17.jpg (64.1 KB, 14 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:03 PM   #7
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Default Ultra Probe

The final large piece is the rear end or boat tail. The master has the same elliptical cross section as the CM and SM. It is built from two plywood bulkheads and covered with basswood. The engine mounts are 1-1/4 PVC pipe cut at a 15 angle.
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File Type: jpg Prog 12.jpg (97.4 KB, 24 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:13 PM   #8
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Default Ultra Probe

The remaining pieces include the 4 engines, the 2 seats and the 8 thrusters. I turned a piece of balsa wood on my drill press to make the master for the engines which are vac-formed. There are separate masters for the pilot and command pilot seats because the outboard edges are curved to fit within the contour of the CM. Finally, the thruster master is the end of ball point pen. The thrusters are thermal-formed by melting small styrene squares and pulling them over the master. The thrusters are attached to a balsa block that is coped to the contour of the SM shell.
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File Type: jpg prog 08.jpg (87.9 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Prog 18.jpg (133.2 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg 04.jpg (90.8 KB, 29 views)

Last edited by Digidrink; 06-03-2016 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:17 PM   #9
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Default Ultra Probe

The large pieces are all painted flat white. The CM is masked off and the "window sills" are painted flat black.
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File Type: jpg District 11-20160123-01244.jpg (91.1 KB, 16 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:23 PM   #10
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Default Ultra Probe

The hatches and doors are printed on cardstock and glued to the surfaces. Other decals are printed on full sheet shipping label paper (Peel & Stick).
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 01.jpg (77.1 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg 02.jpg (75.6 KB, 33 views)
File Type: jpg 03.jpg (112.7 KB, 49 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 01:29 PM   #11
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Default Ultra Probe

A few more pictures.
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File Type: jpg 05.jpg (185.1 KB, 38 views)
File Type: jpg 06.jpg (50.8 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg 07a.jpg (95.5 KB, 21 views)
File Type: jpg 08.jpg (66.7 KB, 33 views)
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:06 PM   #12
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Nice version of the Ultra Probe. It makes me think of the 1976 Mattel Eagle Transporter.
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:36 PM   #13
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Very nice work!
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Old 06-03-2016, 07:58 PM   #14
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Hi Pat. Nice work, a nice scratch build. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:43 PM   #15
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Cool that will be big, nice!
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:44 PM   #16
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Thanks for the comments. I listed one on eBay. There were over 1100 views and 5 bidders (some Major Matt Mason collectors, some from S99 fans).
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Old 12-03-2016, 06:15 PM   #17
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Good work!

Thanks for posting the details of the construction process.

Cheers
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Old 13-03-2016, 02:56 PM   #18
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That looks great and good imagination!
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