Building Miniatures – Flying Miniature Airplanes – FREE CHAPTER


IAN HUNTER: We’ve covered planes, or no, planes, trains and automobiles. So we’ve done trains on our track. We’ve talked about using an Omega drive to move an automobile. We’ve talked about radio-controlled automobiles and we’ve also talked about taking the Omega and putting it in the train here, in the track, if we wanted to move the train that way. But now we want to fly an airplane. We’re going to talk about what’s called the
Lydecker method. It was Theodore and the other brother. Two guys named Lydecker. They were brothers and in the 30s and 40s they did a lot of effects for movies. They’re probably best known for doing the
effects for the Flash Gordon serials and Buck Rogers and
things, but they actually were used on less – you know, more legitimate movies all the time
too. And especially during the war, a lot of times they were used to simulate
flying and explosions and things like that. And they specialized in setting up really large miniatures outside and then blowing them up. And doing a lot of flying, either with people, in the case of, like, some of the serials had like, guys with rocket packs, they would fly them. They also flew a lot of airplanes. And the way they did it, was a system that used two guide cables and a drive cable. So, in our world, we can see our plane here, we’ve got these two guide cables and those go up and over our shivs here. So we’ve, on this end, we’ve got a pair of shivs, they’re spaced apart 5 inches, in our case. And they’re mounted on this bar and they’re mounted on a stand. So if we change the height of the stands on
either end, we can change the height of our rig. And anyway, over these shivs, we’ve got our cable. Our cables come down, through the plane, back up and over another set. There’s no shivs at this end, this is the
fixed end. This is the idler, let’s say. So they would actually tie off the cables
at this end and put this into the stand. We could raise this stand if we wanted the plane going at a steep angle, or we could just get it level. And so this is the fixed end, the two cables come down, these are our guide cables that take the weight. And then what we’ve done is, through our plane, we’ve added these pieces of tubing to run our cables through. And let me show you something about the plane, hold on, let me grab a… So this is a stock Airfix Harrier Jet Kit that we’re going to use in our show. And we’re gonna paint it and decorate it later,
but for now we just need to make this work for
the effect. So I wanted access to this, so what I did was, I took the wings and the top of the fuselage and I added Allens, Allen screws, little flathead Allen screws to hold it together so we could get into it. And that allows us to put in lights or batteries or anything else we need for the
plane to take with it. I’ll show you how I did that. So I’m taking out the Allens. So as you can see here, I’ve built the plane, pretty stock, but where I wanted to put my screws, there’s one in the front and one for each wing, I packed the inside with epoxy putty. So this is regular steel-filled epoxy putty. And we’ve packed that into the seam between the wing and the fuselage. And then I just built a layer of it here, in the middle of the fuselage where I want to put this panel. And once I did that, I took the panel and I slipped it in place and then I drilled a hole through the top
of it. And that was a tap hole, so I used a 4-40, I think it’s a number 42 drill. Whatever the right size drill is, you want to drill through the part and into
that epoxy putty. You let the epoxy putty get hard, naturally. It dries pretty fast, but still let it get hard first, slip our piece in, and then drill a hole through it. That’s the tap hole. Then remove our panel we want removable and tap this hole for a 4-40 screw. And the same here. I did the same thing. I took the wing and I put the wing on, drilled through, and then I tapped here and here for 4-40 and that, without the epoxy putty, there’s not enough
meat to take a screw, so you need to put the epoxy
putty in. That gives you enough area for the threads
to go into. It reinforces that joint. Now to keep the back part of the wing on, I added a simple tab. So, the wing fits against this edge, so all I did was, I took a piece of plastic and I drilled and mounted two pins in there. So these are two brass pins I put in the back of the wing. And I put a piece of plastic over it. That became a tab that allowed me to stick the wing into the fuselage like that, and then push that down, like so, and now I can just add my Allens. Tighten those down. And that mounts my wing to the fuselage and that way I can take this apart and get into it if I need to. Very quickly. Let’s say the pilot gets hungry or something, we can pull that out and get the pilot down. And this has got an engine in it. It’s really not necessary, the only reason I added the engine part is that there’s fans that go in the sides, some
details. But I’ll probably pull that out. So we put our hatch back on. There we go. Snaps in. Add our Allen. So, that allows us access to our airplane. And anything we need to put in there, like
lights or batteries. So our carry – our weight carrying cables are here. These are our guide cables. They don’t do anything to move the plane, they just take the weight of it. So in order to put those in, what I’ve done is, I’ve added tubing in the wings. So I started with 1/8th inch tubing. I started with a 1/16th inch drill bit and I drilled a pilot hole in each wing, the same distance apart as our two guide shivs. So in this case it’s 5 inches, so I measured 2.5 inches from one side, 2.5 inches from the other, going to get a tape measure, and I drilled two pilot holes, then I kept going to a larger hole, 3/32 then finally up to 1/8 inch. And drilled those holes open, and I took my drill and I held it parallel to the line of the plane. So I didn’t go in straight, like that, or
some weird angle. I held it parallel so that it made an elongated
hole so that I could put my tube through. And I did the same in the back. I started with a 1/16 inch hole, drilled that out and then I went to a 3/32 inch hole and then finally to an 1/8th inch hole. And I drilled those parallel to the line, so that I got an elongated oval shaped hole
there. Now we want to put some tension on this to carry the weight. So, what do we do? Pull this down? So, alright, so we’re gonna take our two guide
cables and pull them down like that. There we go. And we’re using a bungie so that over the, there it is – and we’re using a bungie cord that we tied our cables to, and so it’s got a little give. So now we’ve got our plane, and it’s flying. It’s flying! Isn’t that something? And you want this on the other side? So now we’re gonna pull this back. It makes a great sound too. And then, through the nose, we’ve added a loop of wire and then we’ve tied some monofilament to it and that’s gonna be our articulation. That’s what we’re going to pull with. So, who do you want to have pull this? One more thing I want to show, is that uh, can we just twist this? RICHIE HELMER: I’ll pull it, you can twist
it a little bit. IAN: Okay. Now does it just twist? Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Alright, you want to take it back to one? Alright, we’re going to go back to one. I’m going to have you pull it faster. So, one of the beauties of the Lydecker method, is that, with these two guide cables, as I was doing at that end, if you twist the cables, you can actually impart roll into the model
plane. In fact, the Lydeckers could actually get
this to barrel roll, if you saw the movie 1941, the World War II comedy by Steven Spielberg, there’s some great scenes of P40s flying down the streets of Hollywood and they were done this way with Lydecker
cables and the, spinning the planes. So I’m going to grab this again and I’m going to call action and Richie’s going to do it. Say 3, 2, 1 Action. Well, you get the idea. If we had much more room and we were shooting at a high speed, but you can see we can twist the plane and pull it along. So, in our world, we’re going to set this up over our set. These stands will be much farther apart and the cables will be much further apart, but this does allow us to – where’d you go through here? Just pull it down, or where’d you… Yeah, yeah, where do you pull? Just there? Oh, okay. Anyway, we’ll be able to wing these jets through the set pretty quickly. And much like the Omega drive, this is one plane, but if we duplicate building this stand and shiv and locked off end and guide cables, we could space planes apart so we could have a plane here, we could have a plane here, we could have planes at different altitudes by changing the heights of the stands and that way we could pull them all through. Luis, you want to pull a plane don’t you? Actually, Luis, Richie does it, you steer. I want you to steer. Yeah give this a lot of twisting as it flies. So I’ll call action okay? Wait a minute. Alright, I’m going to be the monster. [Laughing] As I often am. Alright, on action. Ready Richie? 3, 2, 1 Action. [Monster growling] [Laughing] We lost our tail. Anyway. And then, unbeknownst to Richie, at some point, when we do this Rich, we could put cable cutters on that end right? RICHIE: Yeah. You can drop the plane and blow
it up. IAN: Right. [Laughing] Exactly. So we could actually cut these cables as it
goes through and let the plane drop and blow up. It appears to be wobbling quite a bit, but when we shoot these things at high speed, see, it looks like this right now, but when you shoot at high speed you’re going at a higher frame rate, you’re getting more frames, so in fact the plane will appear to go like
this, even though it appears to be doing this to
the eye, it’s going to slow down that action when we
see it on the film. Yeah, yeah, I wouldn’t jerk it, I would just ease it in, so you want to try that again? Richie you want to pull? Luis is going to, or Jerry you pull. You want to pull? Alright. Yeah just on action, I’ll ask you to pull. Yeah, yeah, one, like smooth roll. Okay. Actually hold on a second, start with it already twisted one way. Uh, that isn’t even helping. Okay. Just do one smooth one, alright? And on action, okay? And you want to go pretty, fairly quick. You know, just a good walking pace. Alright. 3, 2, 1, Action. There you go. So, that is the Lydecker method of doing airplanes. Support cables, pull cable and using the roll feature to give it some motion.

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