"Vol III - The LUT" published

Posted April 7th, 2020, 4:54 PM

Cover of Vol III Part 1 of Bricks in Space

Contraty to previous volumes, it only has a single MOC, but it contains in two Parts and over 400 pages the complete instructions to build Nathan Readioff's LUT.

You can download it here

My deepest respect and gratitude to Nathan, but of course to all other LUT designers as well, Valerie Roche, Bailey Fullarton, Joseph Chambers Michael Cameron and Greg Kremer for answering questions, providing .io files and writing short introductions to their works.

Working on the N1 delayed this volume, but it deepened my understanding of how much thought, work and effort goes into the creation of such a model.

The N1 is done!

Posted April 7th, 2020, 10:27 PM

The N1-L6 separated into its five stages, plus lander and LOK-7

I am very proud to present my first stable version of the Soviet moon rocket, the N1-6L. It is not yet quite swooshable, but one can take the individual stages apart and take a look at engines and fuel lines. And being able to stage was the biggest reason I started my own model, nearly a year ago.

Of course the physical model underwent countless changes in its inner support structure to make it more sturdy. So the digital files will have to be reworked again before I can actually release them and create instructions from them. I plan on finishing the files in fall and publishing instructions in spring of 2021.

This was my very first MOC, and the learning curve was steep indeed. There are lots of parts that still can be improved, and I suspect the parts cound could be reduced, too. But all of this can wait for now - I am just happy to be done with and proud of the result.

The N1-6L model next to the Saturn V, both at 1:110 scale

Learning from Sergey Korolev

Posted Mar 5th, 2020, 10:27 AM

The Top of Blok A with the interstage lattice and the lower part of Blok B with part of the fairing removed

I have been busy with the N1, and here is where I'm at right now:

  1. As already pointed out by Benny, the digital file, while looking good in stud.io, is next to unbuildable - unstable and fragile. This is my first MOC of this size (I only used the V2 to practice), so that was bound to happen I guess. Korolev went from the R7 to the N1, and the results were accordingly ;) So I am building up, breaking down and building up again.
  2. First lesson learned: Always build from the core outwards, if the core is stable, you can tinker with the hull, but the other way around bits and pieces just keep falling off
  3. Second lesson learned: The built follows function. When designing the N1 i split the model into various stages in stud.io, to make the large files easier to handle. Naturally, I split the files into Blok A, Blok B, and so forth. However, collided with my desire to have the stages separate properly, with the fairings coming of the upper stages. Which means - structurally - Blok A, the interstage lattice, and the fairing of the second stage (Blok B) are all one piece (since they are discarded as such after burnout of the first stage), and therefor need to fit/cling together much tighter. The "real" split is between First Stage/Fairing and Second Stage without Fairing. Needless to say, my digital model didn't reflect that at all, and so I have been busy rebuilding and redesigning it since January.
  4. Where am I at now? The first stage is stable and solid, and I am at a point where I am confident that only minor tinkerings are nevessary to have Blok A and Blok B sit solidly on top of each other while being separable for the staging. I am currently working on the same mechanism for the separation between Blok B and Blok V (the third stage).
  5. How long is it gonna take? Honestly I don't know, but given my limited time probably way into May, since April is busy with various trips and holidays. So maybe expect a finished model at the beginning of June.
  6. And what about the books? I promise to have Vol III. done by the end of March, so before the model.

Corrections to Volume II online

Posted Jan 5th, 2020, 00:21 AM

Final step of the instructions showing the finished model of Helicopter 66

I've uploaded a new and corrected version of Volume II today. Most changes are corrections of spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, but what prompted an actual new version was the fact that my instructions to the Helicopter 66 were close to unworkable. A team consisiting of Adam Wilde, Sebastian Schön, Matthew Hildebrand, Nico Daams and me, headed by Martin Sira, swapped and discussed ideas until Martin finally some days ago presented the final and build-tested instructions to the model. And since I am very much in favor of having workable and tested instructions in my books, I set out to layout and include them in a new version.

In other news, I am adding three new models to Volume I, but the third edition presenting those will have to wait until I have instructions for all of them. However, the new edition will also give me an opportunity for an overhaul of the instructions to the V2 launch squad and the Atlas and Atlas Agena instructions, since we can now take advantage of some new parts giving the model more realistic look. But since instructions are a laborious job, do not expect the new version before April at best. Before that, I hope to finally get Vol III with the LUT out of the door, and my N1 built!

Volumes, Parts, Pages

Posted Dec 5th, 2019, 10:21 AM

Detail of a high-res render of Nathan Readioff's LUT model

Progress on the volume containing the instructions of the Launch Umbilical Tower made me realize the numbering of volumes just got confusing and unnecessary complex. The initial plan was to collect all models related to the Apollo program in “Volume 2” and publish several parts, since the instructions for the LUT were expected to take up as much as 500 pages.

However, it makes more sense to dedicate a complete volume just to the LUT, simply because it is the biggest and most complex model related to the Saturn V so far. So the LUT will get its own volume number – Volume III, and all subsequent books will move a number upwards. To not make things too easy, Vol III will still have two parts, otherwise it would be nearly unprintable.

At any rate, this then required edits to all other volumes, since I needed to update covers, and backpages, and then of course the new covers had to go to the website, so yes, these are things that keep a grown man busy.

As a small teaser, the picture above depicts part of a high-resolution render of Nathan's LUT available in the book.

The N1 at a Saturn V scale

Posted Nov 9th, 2019, 11:19 AM

Render of all the Stages of the N1

Here's an update on what I'm currently working on: A 1:110 model of the N1-5L, the USSR's moon rocket that never made it into orbit thanks to underfunding, cut test regimes and the premature death of its chief engineer and mastermind of the Soviet space program, Sergeij Korolev.

I started this after being deeply impressed by a model of the N1 by reddit user woodpiece, and after some initial research decided I could improve the accuracy of the model. This was in April 2019, and the model thus took me about six months to create. It is far from finished, since I need to refine some dimensions (Blok V is too short) and then do a test build, which will result in yet more corrections to the model, but I feel after such a long time I am at a stage where I can share the first impressions. You can find more images at the Facebook group (which you'll find in the link section).

The N1-L3 was the Soviet answer to the US challenge to send a man to the Moon. Started two years later than the US program, the N1 rocket suffered from chronic underfunding, infighting between the different engineer bureaus tasked with designing and flying rockets, and the premature death of the USSRs chief rocket engineer, the genial Sergiey Korolev.

The N1 had a similar mission profile as the Saturn V, lifing a spaceship - the Soyuz 7K-LOK - and a Lander with one single launch and accelerating them - and an additional rocket stage - towards a Moon encounter. This payload required a lifting power that not had been designed or flown yet. The USSR already started to lag behind in engine design and couldn't get monsters like the F-1 to run, so the first stage of the N-1 was powered by a massive array of 36 rocket engines. This choice proved fatal to the program, since an engine failure had the potential - and factually did - take down the whole rocket.

Four times the N-1 launched, and four times it failed to reach orbit. After the last launch, the whole programm was scapped in favour of low-orbit space stations (the Salyut-series) and exploration of the Solar system by robot probes - a wise desicion that made the USSR the leader in space exploration right up to its very end, with the MIR Space station racking up man-years of scientific programs, white the US shuttled 7 astronauts to space in a giant satellite-carrying truck that had nowhere to go.

The model currently has 2295 parts and tries to faithfully remodel the N1-5L that launched on June 26, 1971. Other color variants could potentially be used to model the other four launchers. Despite our best efforts, the payload does not completely fit into the fairing: Whereas the Stages G and D find space inside, and even the LK lander finds some room, the Soyuz has to stay outside.

Volume II Part 1 of Bricks in Space published

Posted Nov 3rd, 2019, 7:23 PM

Cover of Vol II Part 1 of Bricks to Space

The first edition of Vol II of Bricks in Space is ready and available for download.

A couple of things about Vol II:

  • Sorry it took me so long. I got distracted by the N-1 and other shiny objects
  • Despite me calling it "1st edition", please consider it a proofreading draft. I simply have no one to proofread it entirely, and so I am putting this out there so that people can point out errors and omissions, and I will include all corrections in a second edition like I did with Vol I. So please: Be gentle, but also point out any error, spelling mistake, omission or other blunders I have built into this thing
  • With the exception of Helicopter 66, many different members of this community created the instructions, so theirs is the true credit. I am merely repackaging it, and I am icredibly grateful to have the persmission to do so by the original creators.
  • The book is free. if anyone wants you to pay for it, flip him or her off.
  • Thank you for all the fun I had in the past two years in this community and with my kids at home.