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Which light kit for Polar Lights 1/350 Enterprise Refit?

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  • Member since
    August, 2017
Which light kit for Polar Lights 1/350 Enterprise Refit?
Posted by Faisal Ali on Friday, August 04, 2017 11:33 AM

I've got one of the Polar Lights 1/350 Enterprise Refit kits sitting in my closet. My wife bought it for me a few years ago as a present. Well, I think I'm finally ready to build it, but I'd like to include a light kit. As far as I can tell, the premier light kit for that particular model is the one from TrekModeler found here:

http://www.trekmodeler-electronics.com/refitlkv4-0

Not only does it look very well done, but it seems that installation of the light kit is a simple as you could hope for, especially if like me you've got no wiring experience. But, as much as I want to get this one....it's quite pricey.

There's another sold by Galactic Modeler found here:

http://shop.galacticmodeler.com/1-350-SCALE-USS-ENTERPRISE-REFIT-FLASHING-LED-FIBER-OPTIC-KIT-1350-LED-FIBER-KIT.htm

My question is...does anyone have any thoughts on the Galactic Modelor light kit? I've found tons of reviews for the Trek Modeler one, but next to nothing about the Galactic Modeler version. Is is relatively simple to install? Does it look good? The lack of reviews, limited information, and strangely low rez/outdated videos on the Galactic Modeler youtube page (some posted fairly recently) makes me cautious of buying their product.

In fact, the 240p videos on their Youtube page is one of things I find the most odd about their company. It's 2017! Nearly everyone is capable of recording 1080p on their phones, yet their videos, the most recent of which was posted 4 months ago, are all of the absolute lowest quality possible on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hzx8RIOSn0

Because of this it's really hard to get a good sense of the products presented in those videos. 

Still though...at $120 it's a compelling option. The Trek Modeler version can cost upwards of $300.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!!

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Wednesday, August 09, 2017 4:11 PM

The light kits you've listed are all good quality, but each has its quirks. For instance, the Trek Modeler set is made of quality components in both the pre-assembled and DIY versions. However, installation involved drilling a sizeable hole in the engineering hull to accommodate the MIL-spec connector and patching the old mounting point in the deflector dish array. In addition, the spot light effects cut out when the warp mode is activated. That bothers some Trekkies.

The Galactic Modeler kit is not made up of the same components and relies on fiber optic for some of its effects. I passed it over because I had other plans in mind for my build.

Big Easy Modelling Solutions (BEMs) offers a selection of effects boards which allow you to add functioning lasers to simulate the phasers and screen accurate timing for various effects. Impressive stuff, but I had a bad experience with ordering from them. Be careful with them.

In the end, I went with the new Tena Controls "all in one" board - it has differing modes of operation that are timed to the movies, phasers, photons, RCS thrusters, sequential lights, and outputs to power the steady on lights. I picked up the bundled edition, which includes the board and all of the LEDs and resistors to light everything. HDA Modelworx has this bundle at $150, but be advised that you will be soldering things together. That being said, it's a very impressive board with plenty of options and effects to give all that plastic new life - well worth the effort.

  • Member since
    August, 2017
Posted by Faisal Ali on Thursday, August 10, 2017 10:54 AM

Thanks for the input!

I'm curious....what plans did you have that disqualified the use of the Galactic Modeler light kit? I'm still eyeing that one due to it's price but the Tena Controls kit you mentioned has got my attention too.

  • Member since
    April, 2013
Posted by KnightTemplar5150 on Thursday, August 10, 2017 12:57 PM

The Galactic Modeler kit is a 3v system that relies on the use of LESs with effects built into them - blinking, strobing, flicker, etc. This translates into having to rely on battery power or installing a voltage regulator to run the system from an outlet. That was a big consideration for me because it simply didn't have the voltage and amperage necessary to add much to the system down the line as the project evolved.

The system relies on the pre-programmed sequences of the LEDs, so if I wanted to build the ship from TMP, I would be in good shape because the lights above and below the hangar entrance are steady-on lights. But, if I wanted to model the -A from ST VI, these would have to be swapped for strobes, which would require me tinkering with calculations of Ohms Law to guarantee the correct resistor value to cover the change.

I wanted an accurate RCS thruster effect from the system, which flickers and fires in a screen accurate sequence instead of remaining on constantly. The GM kit doesn't allow for that feature with re-engineering the components.

I wanted sound. This was a personal choice. While many times, a sound module often comes across as a bit hokey, it seemed wrong to me to see the photon effects without sound. Plus, I wanted enough space on the board to include the sound of Garth Algar ("Wayne's World") whistling the Star Trek theme before admitting, "Sometimes, I wish that I could boldly go where no man has gone before". The GM system is not set up to do any of that for me.

The GM kit uses fiber optics for some of its lighting. For a ship this size, fibers do well on portions of the interior to draw a little more interest, but to my eye, they are underpowered for exterior application in the nav/strobe positions. Great for pinpoints of light, but worthless for trying to get much more. A lighthouse LED used in those same positions is far more convincing in terms of appearance and brightness.

With the 12v system, I have plenty of power to expand on the system and add more LEDs where I need them. All of the effects depend on a digital circuit which is timed out to the movies rather than reliant on the individual LEDs to deliver the effect, so simulating a space dock start-up is a breeze. Not sure if GM can do that.

 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2017
Posted by Faisal Ali on Thursday, August 10, 2017 2:38 PM

I kinda thought the Galactic kit might be lacking in at least one way or another. As they say, you get what you pay for. 

I'll take a closer look at the other options. Looks like I might have to bite the bullet and go for the pricier kit, but if I'm gonna do this, I might as well do it right!

Thanks!

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