Saturday, May 7, 2016

U571 Class Communications Station

NOTE:  You can click on most pictures to get a larger view of them.

I love to kitbash.  Scratchbuilding can be almost as fun.  My mind is always going and I'm always thinking about making something new that no one else has seen before.  Let's face it, nothing spices up a collection than having something unique or one of a kind in it.  There are very few space station models available to the model builder.  I think you have a huge choice of either Deepspace Nine or Station K-7.  Very few modelers also make thier own stations.  It's sometimes hard to come up with the right materials to build one.  Which is why, when the idea struck me to try to use some ordinarily trash items for parts, I figured I would give it a go.

I present to you , Marathon Station, a federation communications relay station.


After the destruction of Epsilon IX as well as other incidents involving either unmanned or sparsely manned communications stations, Starfleet began to reassess its subspace communications relay network.

Epsilon IX

Relay Station 47

Finding that their typical relay stations could easily be hijacked or destroyed, Starfleet began to look at ways to better protect the stations and its occupants.  The U571 Class station was one of the solutions designed to help safeguard Starfleet’s data, communications, and personnel.

Marathon Station
U571 Class Communications Station
[1:2500 Scale Kitbash/Scratchbuild]


The station itself is rather large.  It dwarfs most starships in regards to sheer mass.  About two thirds of the station is taken up by power source, computer core and communications equipment.  The rest of the station is dedicated to housing the crew 420 to 500 people.

In order to ward off would-be attacks, the station boasts an impressive armament of 13 Type 8 phaser banks and 8 photon torpedo launchers spread across the hull of the station.  The station was also equipped with defensive shielding to further strengthen it against would be attackers.

The command section, located on top of the station, is actually a decommissioned saucer section from an Excelsior Class Refit starship.

Under emergency circumstances, this section can detach from the station to serve as auxiliary defenses (adding an additional 5 phaser emitters located on the bottom of the saucer), while under dire circumstances, the command module can serve as an escape vehicle.

The midsection of the station is covered with all sorts of relay antennae and dishes.  These cover a wide range of communications functions.

The lowest part of the station serves as the station’s docking platform.

The station’s 4 main shuttle bays are located in this section.  These bays are rather large and house the station’s 12 shuttlecraft as well as leaving room for visiting craft too.  The large torpedo launching pods located in this area of the station can rotate 180 degrees.  One side of these pod are powerful torpedo launchers while the other side of the pod houses a single docking port for larger starships.


Parts Used: Aqueon Goldfish Food Container, Old Spice Deodorant Stick Covers, Contact Lens Cases, Left Over Sprue, Sheet Styrene, AMT Round 2 Enterprise B Saucer Section, AMT Round 2 Refit Enterprise Saucer Section

Ever since I built Omnium Gatherum, I've been wanting to build another space station.  You can read more about Omnium Gatherum at THIS LINK.

Omnium Gatherum

As I stated earlier, my mind is always thinking about ways to build things, and this especially happens when I'm looking at odd items.  Primary hulls for stations can be a challenge when kitbashing or scratch building which is when I saw this.  It got me a wondering.

I kept throwing away the caps from my favorite flavor of deodorant, UNTIL I realized that they looked like deflector dishes.  Once I decided to build a communications station, it didn't take long to collect four of them.

While I dry-fitted these new "dishes" I realized that there was a lot of empty space.  I began looking at ways to add more, but different, types of dishes to the station.  That's when I realized that my contact lens cases looked like mini satellite dishes.

Editor's Note: Maybe I'll get lucky and get some kickback from one of those companies for promoting thier product.  😆

At this point, it was time to get to work so I started base coating the main hull. I also started painting the communications dishes.

I also started looking through my greebles box to further decorate the top and bottom of the model because as of right now, she would look pretty plain.  At this point, I was contemplating sticking a bunch of antennas on top.

I usually like to have a name and class thought up when I'm building as it makes it easier to reference in online forums.  I put out a request to the users at both the Star Trek Modelers Group page and the E.A.M. Everything About Models group page on Facebook asking for name suggestions.

A special THANK YOU goes out to Michael K. Payton and Andrew Shortall from those two groups for the naming ideas that I finally decided on.

The name suggestions I got were:

Marathon Station (Michael Payton)
Comms Station U571 - Codename Shrann (Andrew Shortall)

The following day, I finished the primary hull base paint job and painted silver around all the comm dishes.

At this point, I was still deciding on whether I was going to use all four of each of the dishes or just three.  And I' was still looking through my greebles box to work out some extra details.

The next day's work was rather boring in that I just started painting the black onto all the dishes and arrays.  I also gave the copper and brass paint a second coat.


The next day is where it looked like we were starting to make some progress.  I finished painting the backs of the contact lens cases.


I then started making cuts to be able to mount the upper communications dishes.  This process of fitting the dishes was a little bit of work and resulted in a lot of scratches in my freshly applied base coat.  I needed to carve away some of the plastic on the backs of the large dishes and I also needed to use a drill bit and put some holes in the hull to give the dishes something to hold on to.


I ended up needing to do some propping of the model while the super glue and model glue set.  I also scratched the heck out of the paint on the main station hull.

Once the paint was dry on the contact lens cases, I glued them on too.

And of course, at this point, I was still trying to figure out a docking port structure for the bottom of the station.


At this point in the build, I was still on the fence about what to do with the top of the station.  I though that just sticking a bunch of antennae up there would be pretty boring.  So I threw out a question to my two favorite FaceBook groups on a suggestion on what to do about the top.  The consensus seems to lead more to using the Excelsior Refit saucer on top.  Although I liked the idea of turning the impulse engines into hanger bays, I had already planned on painting some hangars onto the bottom section of the station.  I really liked one idea that was suggested by Tim Miller at the E.A.M. Everything About Modeling Facebook Group.

The command section (saucer section) is actually a decommissioned saucer that can under emergency circumstances, detach from the station to serve as auxiliary defenses or even as an escape vehicle.  I am still going to use the Constitution parts, but on the bottom of the station instead..  So a big thank you goes out to everyone who offered thier words of wisdom.

And so, I proceeded to cut a hole in the top of the station so that the saucer can fit flush.  Paint time for the command deck was non-existant as I was re-using a saucer section that had come from a previously finished, then retired and rebuilt model.  It seemed a waste of time to repaint something that was already done.


I also did some cutting and re-gluing to make a whole bottom section of a Constitution dish, complete with FOUR phaser banks.  I glued these two pieces on and will let everything sit overnight to set so I can do a little putty work on the bottom.


I took a couple days off from the build and while I was doing this, I was also thinking about how to accomplish the lower docking ports of the station.  I wanted something that was lower than the dishes, AND, I also wanted the station to be able to stand up straight on a shelf or table without the need for some sort of stand.  I had also started thinking ALOT about defenses for this beast as I am sure she would normally make for an easy target.  So the idea I came up with was this.  The "bulbs" on the bottom of the station can rotate 180 degrees.  The "tube" on one side of the bulb is a docking port, while the little hole on the other side of it is a photon torpedo launcher.  After making some "necks: for these new ports so that they could clear the bottom saucer assembly, I glued it all together.  Since the model is all static, I wanted to show that the docking ports move. So I mounted one of them facing outward.  I may try to figure out later on a way to show a ship docked there.


Lastly, while letting everything dry and set for the night, I roughly painted on the shuttle bays around the bottom as well.

The next day, I unscrewed the bottom section of the station to make it easier to work with.  I found that the dishes tend to pop off if I handle them tough roughly.  I then did a LOT of focus on the docking section for the station.  I ended up doing taping to better square off the shuttle bays and the outcome was very nice.  The bottom of the station is now done and clear coated.  I will probably leave it off while I work on the rest of the station.


Even when I have an idea of what I want the model to look like, I often find that my design will change over the course of the build.  This is often because I feel the need to change part of the design, either due to parts availability, or just artistic views.

As I was building this model up, I was starting to feel like the middle section could use a little more "something".  After looking at other communications stations in the Trek universe, I decided to scratch-build some panels for her.  I will probably make a row of these between the large dishes and the double dishes and have them facing up and down.  I got one side of them painted.


The next day was going to be spent just painting the backs of the panels one solid color, but I had an idea on how to use scotch tape to make lines.  I liked the end result ALOT so I am going to add lines on the front side.


I was so happy with the line trick that I redid the lines on the fronts of the panels.  I then added a second coat of paint to both sides.  I should be able to attempt to mount them this weekend.  I added some RCS thrusters to the bottom section of the station.  And finally, I finished painting over the scratches on the main hull, and touched up all the dished with an extra coat of paint.


I liked that my old saucer section had the RCS thrusters still on it.  It makes sense that the station should be able to adjust its positioning on its own but it looked lopsided just having them on top, so, I painted a couple on the docking section as well.  And finally, I finished painting over the scratches on the main hull, and touched up all the dished with an extra coat of paint.

Finally, I drilled holes for the new antenna arrays and then glued them on.  Once the glue set, I touched up any scratches in the paint.


And that is all I ave to share about this model and the build process I went through with it.  It was a fun project to see if a crazy idea I had would work, and in my opinion, it did.

As always, I hope you found this article useful and informative.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to comment below.

So for now, "Live long and prosper!!!"

Additional Links To Photos Of My Collection:

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