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Eagle One Build


I have been wanting to build a proper CG Eagle model for at least two decades now, and with the long Summer break and Covid, I managed to finally start the job.

Armed with loads of references: a copy of the Modeling the Eagle Fantasy Modeller magazine, Destination Moonbase Alpha The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide, Moonbase Alpha Technical Notebook, this site, and many images collected from the web.

I download various CG Eagle models from the web as well for inspection. All of them are too simple, and have the overall detailing all wrong.

And I purchased 5 Round 2 Eagles: the original Eagle 1 model, the special edition, the cargo pod version, the Eagle 2 Lab, spine booster, three metal kits (the metal thruster sets for Eagle 1 and 2, the Eagle 1 shoulder pod thrusters), and the smaller 14" model.

All of which can serve as references.

My intention is to build very precise Eagle 1 and 2 models, the pods, the spine booster, other accessories, and hopefully parts of the moonbase as well.

Although I will stay completely true to the originals, I am improving details here and there, because the original models are somewhat lacking in certain areas. Obviously they were made for low-resolution tv sets. My plan is adding convincing detail where it makes sense. And creating interiors with all the details.

I am covering my progress here in order to receive feedback and to stay motivated :)

A couple of weeks ago I collected references, and created a digital scrapbook.

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Eagle One: The Shoulder Pods

This week I started work by modeling the front port shoulder pod.

I drew up some SVG files as references and imported those in Blender. Then I measured parts, references, etc. to get the overall pod dimensions exactly right.

Next, adding the first pod widgets.

More detailed widgets from the original. I changed the sensors a bit at this stage, but changed my mind later. The pod thruster block is visible here.

Pod thrusters added. I feel they need more detail, though. These things are fairly large relative to a human. I may need to add more detail later if texturing isn't enough to fix things.

Next, the landing gear and pads. The pads were super simple - a negative cutout of the lower pod bottom part. I understand the original design planned for the pads to be retracted into the pods during flights, but it just did not look that good compared, so they changed the design?

Anyway, these took a few minutes to get right. Measuring things takes more time.

Purists might object to this part! ;)

The landing gear of the original Eagle models is very, very basic, and not very believable at that scale. I referenced aircraft struts and landing gears of large planes and the space shuttle, and made some changes.

The actual dimensioning is still spot-on, though - identical to the original Eagle One model. It just needed more detailing, because the original's landing pod looks a bit like an afterthought - which it probably was, because for the TV show that detail level was more than sufficient. But I am attempting to create a more convincing technical looking version here, and still staying true to the original.

This part took a bit more time and two attempts before I was somewhat satisfied.

PS some of the round parts may look a bit low-polygon. No worries, though: I am using non-destructive modifiers to build parts from relatively low-poly geometry, and with those modifiers (bevel, subdivision) I can turn it up to produce very good looking pieces when rendering.

At this point I try to keep the final resolution moderate while modeling.

The finalized (for now) landing gear/pad. Texturing will also help in getting more details in. I might be adding some cabling at some point, though.


The final version for now.

Comments and critique are appreciated!
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Eagle One and Two Shoulder Pods

I worked on finishing the shoulder pod for the second Eagle today.

The result for Eagle ONE:

And Eagle TWO:

I did encounter a concundrum, though:

According to the reference photos for both 44" Eagles, Eagle One had its shoulder pod thrusters angled away a bit from the shielding plating, while the second 44" Eagle Twohad pod thrusters at straight angles.

Yet the Round 2 Eagle One kit has straight angled thrusters, while their Eagle Two kit does put them at an angle pointing away.

I have decided to stick with the original references for now, but will angle Eagle Two's pod thrusters away later to match Eagle One's angled pod thrusters. Makes more sense from a engineering perspective as well.

Aside from the obvious widgets/plating differences between the two models, two more things I noticed while modelling the second pod:

1) the heights of the mid section and lower section differ quite a bit. The Eagle Two pod's mid section is less in height, while the bottom section is taller.
2) the bottom parts where the corner angles meet are quite different. Eagle One has a nice flattened tapering, compared to Eagle Two's simpler corner (which is identical to the top section of the pod).

I kept Eagle One's tapering for Eagle Two's pod for now, because I prefer that approach. It just looks better. But that does mean the entire pod is ever so slightly lacking in height.

Btw, the second 44" production model seems to have quite ugly looking pod thrusters compared to the first one. I also added a bit more physical detail to the thrusters based on Space Shuttle references.
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Eagle Spine Assembly

This afternoon I decided to work on the spine assembly.

Lots of measuring, which took the most effort and time, since the model itself is really very simple and easy to build.

First I laid out simple tubes for the top and lower part.

Then I started measuring things, and I read the numbers wrong for the thickness. Note the very thin looking structure here, and compare with the single piece which I changed to the correct thickness.

The great thing about Blender are its non-destructive modifiers. Most pieces are instanced and I only had to construct one half of one side of the spine. I used the mirror modifier to mirror in the x and y axes. And I used linked instances where I could, which saved me a lot of time fixing things later - instead of having to adjust each part, I generally only had to fix one or two, and the changes then cascade throughout.

All parts have actual thickness, which may come in handy later if I decide to create a crash landed Eagle. This screenshot shows an x-ray vision of the structure.

And the final result. This took much longer than I had expected due to my measuring mistakes at the beginning.

A simple object, yet so eye-catching and important. I am quite pleased with the result, although I will double-check the measurements one more time tomorrow.


Tubes, tubes! Tubes everywhere!

Did not have a lot of time today to spend on the model, but I promised myself to post something.

It made sense to me to continue with the two "spine cages" at the front and back of the Eagle. Tubes are my friends.

More tubes and mirror modifiers. I really wouldn't have liked to tackle this without some kind of non-destructive modifiers in 3d software. I recall working in Lightwave Modeler, which was a completely destructive workflow (still is). That would not have been fun to work with in this case. The mirror modifiers make short work of all this.

So far, so good. Next, more precise measuring, double checking the dimensions of all pieces, and getting the angled tubes right. Adding connecting pieces, and more angled sections.

I will do that tomorrow, or perhaps Monday.

And start work on the widgets. Interiors are on my list as well.



Spine & Cages - Continued

Although it might look as if nothing much is changed, I spent an afternoon meticulously checking the dimensions of the cages and other dimensions. Somehow quite a few values turned out to be mistaken because of a tired eye last weekend.

Quite mind-numbing, but at least everything self-references now and fits as expected. Notice all the lines which I added to measure and check the alignment of the parts. Still need to check the references and photos for a few things, but I am just glad this boring part is over. It is important to get this part right, though.

Onward to more widgeting and the engines!



Joins: to be or not to be

Today I spent time researching mechanical joins. Why?

Because of the original mechanical joins fastening the cages to the spine of the original models. They are not very convincing, and too rudimentary, and a simple nut and bolt approach wouldn't be very dependable in a real-world space ship. Vibrations tend to loosen those. And driving a large bolt through the main structure would only serve to weaken it.

But perhaps these rationalizations are merely justifications to ground my opinion that they just look ugly and too simple. Visually they degrade the overall look of the Eagle in my opinion. Purists may object, of course.

So I invented my own solution here, yet I tried to keep a similar look and feel.

These actually took me some time to figure out. I had various ideas, but liked this simple one the best so far. I might change my mind later - we'll see. I will also create a version with the original joins later for comparison (and to pacify anyone objecting to this change). I am up for ideas, still.

I also fixed the final remaining issues for the cages, and started work on the engine section. More measuring!

While building this model I keep noticing the pleasant looking proportions. Brian did a grand job designing the Eagle.

Continuing work on the engines tomorrow. I force myself to work on the model every day, even if it is only an hour, or so, to keep the momentum going. I am a terrible procrastinator... :)


Engine Trouble

I dreaded working on the engine section because of all the piping, but I finished all of it in one go, against expectations!

Bottom view. I noticed the piping is actually a closed loop, which of course doesn't make much sense (how can it work if no pipes are fed from the back section?) - so I decided to make a small change and have the main pipes run into the back section. Will add some greebles later. The changes are very hard to spot, though.

I ran into a spot of trouble, though: the engine tanks longitudinal mid-point should align with the cage, but it is a bit off. The cage is a smite too small, it seems - and I measured everything correctly, I thought. Seems I did not :think:

Tomorrow I will have to triple-check. :cry:

And I will add the details, and work on the second version of the engine section: it changed sometime during the first season. The original Eagle One model's breakdown in the "Modelling the Eagle" magazine is quite helpful to base the second version on.
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The Bells, The Bells

I finished the engine section! Well, that is, I will be adding a couple more details based on the second version.

Things align nicely now after some adjustments of the two cages: the width of the two outer sections of each cage turned out to be somewhat off despite the second set of measurements. Now fixed!

Here is a wireframe version. The thruster bells or nozzles took a bit of time to get right, but they look quite acceptable now. All built using one single Bezier spline. The advantage spline-based modeling: the resolution is fully adaptable and non-destructive. I turned it up a notch here. The closer to spline points, the finer the division. It is probably the most efficient and controllable method to model these in Blender.

And a close-up view of the wires. I love wireframe views.

View from the rear. Check out the bell inserts. I initially thought to use a simple boolean subtraction to create these, but that resulted in a horrible looking mesh with kinks and problems everywhere.

In the end I just modeled it the old-fashioned way by molding points in a very simple mesh and using a subdivision modifier with selected edges set to sharp seams. Worked out great.

...and that lovely looking wireframe. Blender's wireframe display mode received a really nice upgrade in version 2.8 (one of my pet peeves in the past. See the stupid video I made 6 years ago: ).

One more view from above.

I might take a break tomorrow. Next up: the second mid-season changed engine section.

And I really need to get going with the inner cage sections. Or start work on the passenger pod.
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That really is coming along nicely. I'm very envious!

Of course the beauty of CGI is that the models take up no space, don't need dusting and you can clone them easily to apply different paint jobs (rescue, VIP, etc.). A fleet in an afternoon.

As I said, I'm VERY envious.




Eagle One Engine V2

Thank you for the kind words, Phil!

No need to be envious, really. To be fair, anyone could model this with some effort in 3d. It is nothing too complicated, and consists mostly of rather basic shapes. The measuring and double/triple checking the references take the most time.

I recall a time when professional 3d software cost an arm and a leg. Cinema4D cost me as much money as a small car back in 2001. Still painful to think about! After the upkeep for C4D rose to such financial heights that I no longer could afford the ever increasing upgrade costs, I switched to LightWave 3D. Unfortunately the company behind LW mismanaged it into the ground, and out of frustration I tried Blender. Even though it wasn't as polished, it did the job, and development and the community were great. Never looked back.

Nowadays anyone interested in 3D modeling, rendering and animation has free access to Blender, which has evolved in a truly powerful 3d application, and is pretty much on the same level as its commercial counterparts.

Anyway, I did manage to squeeze in some build time today after all! :D

I present to you: Eagle One engine section V2. This was the final Eagle One engine later in the series. The Round 2 model was of no help here since it is based on the original V1 engine, and I referenced episode photos as well as the great Saving Eagle One article by David Sisson in the & Fantasy Modeller's magazine special Modelling the Eagle.

Some artistic freedom taken here and there, but the main parts are all there.

View from below. Here I had to guestimate things a bit. And the original's detail was actually quite lacking (even somewhat uninspired).

View from the rear.


And I noticed that I had the orientation of the thruster bell inserts wrong. Corrected.

Also notice the thick tube/pipe in the center or the V2 engine. I did not make that part up: it is indeed present in the original Eagle One model. It does award some solidity to the engine construct. I am thinking about feeding some pipes into it later.

A few things still need corrections, such as the exact longitudinal positioning of the cages relative to the spine. But I will correct that when I start work on the pods. Easier to match things at that point.
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Small Thrusters

Today I only had an hour this evening to continue work: we enjoyed the nice weather, met up with friends whom we had not seen since the start of Covid-19, and my neck got sunburned :sweat:

Still, I finished the small thrusters. Progress is progress! :)

As is the case with the main thruster bells, I measured, then drew a spline, and applied it to a circle (basically a lathe action).

One more showing the completed V2 Eagle One engine assembly with small thrusters.

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Pod Start

Today I started work on the passenger pod.

And again I noticed a number of measurements not matching or being slightly off.

I corrected things, only to discover that I made a very basic mistake when I began work on the spine a week and a half ago: the lines I use to measure things had a tiny amount of global scaling assigned. And I kept duplicating those lines, which exacerbated scaling problems... :wtf:

This means many measurements are somewhat incorrect, and it also explains why I kept having to adjust and correct, and why I kept encountering inconsistencies.

Frustrating, and a really basic mistake. The good news is that I caught myself from making more measurement mistakes, and tomorrow I will do one last round of rechecking dimensions of all components.

Anyway, a quick screen-grab of the lack of progress caused by this frustrating setback. If not for this, I could have finished the pod (and more) two days ago.

Note to self: always clear the global object scale of measurement lines. :hmm: Can't believe I goofed up like this. 3d modeling 101. Sigh.



No post for 8 days! Why? Because last week I was bogged down by having to re-measure everything. Slow going, and it took me three afternoons of boring double-checking and fixing the dimensions of parts. And there were many parts.

Just about every part had issues.

This boring job did pay off, however, and the new parts fit without issues.

So the past three days I continued work. First I created the cages' side assembly.

Very simple shapes.

Stage two:

And the finished version (for now - I might add a bit more detail later):

And I finally started work on the first pod today. First I made sure to get the basic shape and measurements correct:

Next, I split it up in parts. I decided to work first on the sides. I still have to figure out the scale for the doors (because in the original model, as everyone here probably is aware of, the scale of the doors is all over the place).

Followed by the roof and the outer sliding door. Nothing difficult, but it took some time to work out the rounded molding and have it align nicely with the side wall.

Then I modeled the famous door shapes. I free-wheeled this somewhat, so I still need to measure the inner door shape precisely to match the original. There are some issues.

Cutting out the windows here.

...and the result for today's session. I am quite satisfied so far. Obviously not finished yet, but it already looks good.

Did I mention I intend to build the entire interiors of each pod type as well? More work, but should be fun.

Last weekend I put the entire thing together for the first time, since I'd been working on separate parts only.

I present to you the assembled Eagle One (with Engine R2):

Notice that I also worked on the pod's bottom ;)

And a close-up of the engine section. Still some small things to fix here and there.

Tomorrow I am continuing work on the pod and the fore- and aft- compartments. Must decide on a scale for the Moon Base personnel.


Pod Walls

I finished the side walls and door today. Measured and corrected the door and windows.

And started work on the interior by laying out some ribs. Yes, I plan to model/invent the pod structure as well.

I discovered that the door could never really work with those deep inset corrugated panels on the outside. But I came up with a solution: the outer sliding door will move inward a bit first, and then slide to the left. Which would make more sense as well with a door that needs to keep the vacuum of space out. Will create a rigged door later to easily animate this effect.

And a coloured wireframe to show off those ribs. Much more to be added: this is merely the start. The hull structure should become "believable". :D

This also allows me to be a bit more creative, because no-one knows how these things were supposed to be built "for real".

And I also have to figure out a believable mechanical method to attach the pods to the Eagle. The actual models made use of screws, which is of course unacceptable. More thinking to do.

*edit* replaced interior images with coloured rib versions. Based on the Space Shuttle's internal construction colour coding.

imgBB free image hosting
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Looking incredible. As to the main door, I would have changed it so that the door would be recessed in already. There are some changes between to studio model and the interior set and I believe the set had the door recessed in and just slid forward to open. The other issue would be the forward/rear set of doors between the pod and the rest of the Eagle (as well as between the forward Eagle (corridor) and the Command Module. There should be a bit of space between to the 2 doors instead of the doors being to close together as seen onscreen. (ie the door frame sticks outward from the door so that when 2 doors line up there is a good amount of space between the 2 doors.)

With the pod docking latches, there's a set forward and rearward to connect the pod to the Eagle body, however a few years back I started thinking why there isn't any connection between the top of the pod and the spine. It would make more sense (and a stronger connection) if there were.

And please, please do not have the moonbuggy stored in the front of the passenger pod as in the Eagle cutaway poster - it's a beautiful poster but that one thing has always bugged me. :D
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Ribs and Beams Part Two

Thank you, Tech_Designer!

Yeah, I had a look at those cutaway drawings, and the moonbuggy, albeit an interesting idea, is rather odd. It does make sense for a recon away mission to bring one of those buggies, though... But how would it drive off the ladder? (PS the ladder always bothered me. Might opt for a different solution)

The doors still need more thought given to them. It makes sense to have an inner door and outer door - same with the front, aft, and beak doors. In the set some of those doors wouldn't even be able to slide into the structure, and it would actually make more sense to have them slide in as halve doors (again, improved redundancy in case of emergencies). And I do kinda like the effect of an initial pushing movement followed by the sliding.

I actually already tried moving the door inward more, but it did not look right. Too deeply recessed breaks the overall look too much, in my opinion.

I aim to be as faithful to the original model as possible, yet increase the "believability" of the overall structure. The scaling issues are going to be a trade-off in any case. Today I have been working a bit on a Alpha virtual person to put into the scene to get a better sense of the overall scale of things.

Thanks for the tips on the pod locking latches. I have some ideas as well, but nothing permanent yet. I have time, and I am not in a rush. This is a hobby project.

Anyway, I did not have much time to continue work today, but I did manage to do a bit. There's more then meets the eye, here. More fitting. The pod's "eaves" now sort-of have a physical reason to accommodate an "essential" structural part. Design follows function? :D

Here is a good example of how the original model could never have worked structurally: the pod's bottom structure is supposed (I assume) to provide structural integrity. But the way it is integrated in the original models would not work... So I decided to keep as true to the original as possible, and extend the beams a bit in order for it to have structural joins.

Visually it still looks like the original, and it "could work". Visually it looks a bit more appealing to my eyes as well.

Translucent view showing off all the struts and ribs.

Might have little or no time to continue work tomorrow, since we plan on going for a long walk/hike.
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Beams, beams everywhere.

Some progress made.

I finished the sides and roof structure for the most part.

The inner door shape is also done.

I decided to add "double glazing" to the windows/ports, and also add emergency "radiation/debris/physical shielding". It can be turned off and on. Later I plan to add an animated effect.

The windows are not transparent yet, so here I removed the top glass/"transparent aluminum" panes.

The wireframe looks a bit intimidating now. ;)

Still much more to do! I started work on the interior plating. I'd rather not think about that Lab pod... :hmm:

And I want to do some hyperdetailing later as well. Ah well, one thing at a time.