Hachette Andromeda, Volumes 21-30

The wing is the thing in Volume 21.

We’ll be assembling a lateral hull panel with a wing attached, in this case on the left (port) side. It’s continuously interesting to me that Hachette uses the letters L and R for Left and Right, rather than the Japanese characters for same. Also, they don’t use “port” or “starboard,” but maybe those aren’t common nautical terms in Japan. Either way, it makes things a lot easier for English speakers.

First step is to thread a fiber into the hull panel and put together a component that attaches to the inside. Four little silver missiles are glued into that component, then it is installed (at right). The silver rectangles are more of those VERY powerful mini-magnets, which need to be super-glued in place.

When you flip the panel over and continue, you find out what they’re for; to hold tiny panel covers in place over the missile tips. The odds of me ever taking those tiny panels off again? Maybe 1%.

At right, I made a sad discovery. For the first time ever, Hachette SHORTED me a part. There are supposed to be two fiber optics in the wing, but they only gave me one.

With no extra fibers on hand as a substitute, I have no solution for this. That little notch at the middle of the wing edge will go unlit. Anyway, last step is to insert it into the hull panel. There are two pegs holding it in. It doesn’t get glued. Which means the wings are removable.

Volume 22 is the flipside of 21; the wing on the opposite side.

They didn’t short me any parts this time.

Here’s the finished piece for the right side of the ship (Starboard). I could have left out that middle fiber for symmetry, but I decided to keep it. Now it’s a permanent flaw. A petty grievance I can share with others. Because that’s what life’s all about, isn’t it?

Volume 23 is a heavy one.

Two big, meaty metal panels and a few clamps. Not much in the way of parts, but a big step forward in construction.

First step (left) is to bolt the two big panels together. Second step (left) is to attach the two side panels from 21 and 22.

Here it is from the other side. As you can probably tell, this is the bottom of the ship.

And now, this entire piece gets bolted onto the forward section, nearly doubling its length to nearly 13″. The wings are removable, remember, and they’re actually a little loose and wobbly. To avoid worsening this situation, I’ll leave them off until the end.

We’re up to Volume 24.

This will take us one more step back along the hull, on the left side.

Pretty simple task with this one; attach three fibers, clamp them down, and tie them off. Flipping it over, you can see where the lights are.

The second step is to assemble the twin bulges that will go onto the next hull panel. They were harder to assemble than they look, because I unknowingly missed a step. The twin fibers coming out of these were supposed to go through those two little holes in the middle. That was going to bite me in the butt pretty soon.

Volume 25 takes us another step back with the next panel on the left side.

This one has a bit more going on, given all these parts.

We start with the subassembly of these internal bits.

The big one goes on first. This holds a fiber and place and will connect to another segment.

This piece holds a fiber in place and also secures a flip-up hatch to reveal it. Pretty neat.

At left is the finished panel from the inside. At right, the last step is to take the two bulge parts from Volume 24 and bolt them down to this one. That’s where the misdirected fibers made things difficult. Somehow I got them on despite this, and even though it bent the fibers pretty severely, they can still transmit light. When I figured out later what I did wrong I thought about disassembling them, but decided it wasn’t necessary.

Here we are at Volume 26.

It’s the flipside of Volume 24, so we’ve been down this road already.

Here it is finished, but those twin bulges – again – were REALLY hard to deal with. The fibers did NOT want to stay put, even after the clamp went on to hold them down. It took several tries to get them together, and I still missed the part where the fibers had to thread through those holes in the middle. Things were about to get worse.

Here’s Volume 27, which is the flipside of 25.

All the same parts we’ve seen before, so no major challenge here. Or so I thought.

Here it is with the bulges from Volume 26. What you don’t see is the struggle it took to get them on. They were significantly harder to secure, so I dismantled them to try and figure out why. That’s when I discovered my mistake with the threading, but even after I fixed that they still fought me. I managed to tame one, but the other refused to mate with the hull panel. I tightened the screw (from inside) as hard as I could, until I heard a snap. That told me it had gone as far as it could, and pulling it apart again would most likely compromise the part completely. So I left it as is rather than risk making it worse. Now it’s petty grievance #2. Hopefully the last for this model.

Volume 28 gives us one of the biggest single pieces we’ve seen. It’s going to take us far.

This is a big belly panel with some pretty serious-looking brace parts. For some reason, it’s the first hull piece made of plastic rather than metal. Maybe to reduce weight.

First, we bolt together the two hull pieces for the left side (volumes 24/25) and attach them to this new piece. As you can see, the color matching is close enough not to show what’s metal and what’s plastic.

Next, we attach the two hull pieces for the right side (volumes 26/27) and stick them on. After that, a brace goes over the top.

Yeah, those are gaps between the segments. They should disappear once the hull is closed up, but it’s a bit disappointing.

The last step for this volume is to bolt this whole segment onto what we have so far.

CHONK! Now the entire completed segment stretches just shy of 21″ long. Nearly half the length of the entire model.

Volume 29 looks pretty simple. Shouldn’t be a whole lot to do here, right?

WRONG. Hiding under that hull plate is a pretty big distributor box and several fiber caps. That instantly tells me this will be one of the most complex volumes of the entire build.

Let’s dispense with the easy part first; the hull panel will go on the top of the ship, and all we do is stick a couple tabs on it. Done.

Now we face the music. These distributor boxes convey light and power to all the fibers and LED bulbs that have been installed so far. There are a LOT of ports here, each labeled to receive specific lines. The “pin ports” will send power to a bulb. The round ports have LEDs inside them. Fibers will be capped and plugged in to catch and convey that light to their opposite ends.

At left is the open area we’ll be working in. At right, the box has been installed. You can see labels on all the wires and fibers; each label has a corresponding port.

The instruction manual lists the full inventory of all the fibers and wires we’re dealing with, and where they connect. It looks complicated – and it is – but my experience with the Yamato model serves me well here.

The “bulb wires” are the easier part, so we handle them first. One by one, they are located and carefully fitted into their sockets. We don’t want to break any pins, after all.

Fiber optics are a whole different animal. You have to fit them into a cap before they can be connected. In order to do this, you carefully gather them up. They’re feisty little devils that resist every attempt to be tamed. Four of them go into a plug, and they all behave differently. At least one will “lag” behind the others and need special attention. Once you battle them all into a position, the cap goes on over the plug and you trim off the excess. If you trim off too much, they may not reach their socket, so there’s a lot to keep track of. Some people may think of this as the fun part, and they are insane.

At left, the first two bundles have been capped and plugged in. That takes care of all the fibers labeled “GS.”

At right, we take on the fibers labeled “SL,” and we get our first curve ball. Remember, each plug requires four fibers and here we have only two. What’s the remedy?

As it turns out, the remedy is “dummy fibers.” Two short ones that help fill up the plug. At right, the cap has been placed on and the excess trimmed off. This one is ready to connect.

At left, the SL fibers – and the two dummies – are connected. I’ll be honest, I don’t know why the dummies are necessary. They don’t lead anywhere. Maybe it has something to do with light distribution. But this is what the instructions tell me, and I’m not going to defy them.

At right, we have our next curve ball. There are eight fibers coming in from the bow of the ship (all labeled ACL) and they’re super thin. What will we do with these little demons?

According to the instructions, four of these super thin fibers will all fit into ONE hole of the plug. And, as it turns out, they do. So once we wrestle this thing to the ground, it contains two regular fibers and eight super thin fibers. A total of ten, all labeled ACL. It seems crazy, but into the socket it goes.

Now we’ve got another set of ACLs to handle. There are four of them, and they’re all normal-sized, but there’s still a curve ball. All the other fibers so far have been long enough to handle with relative ease. These are quite short, so there’s no room to manuever. The capping and trimming has to be as close to the ends as possible. If there’s any slippage, it may not reach its socket.

Patience and caution wins again. After a tense moment, these four fibers are connected to their light source.

And that’s it! Everything tamed, capped, and plugged into the box. This means all the lighting in the forward section of the ship is secured. The last step for this volume (at right) is to put a brace over everything.

Deep breath. Stretch. Slump back. Bask in victory.

Here’s where we are. The nose and upper deck aren’t attached yet, but they look darn good in the test fitting.

Let’s take on Volume 30, shall we? In terms of numbering, this means we’re halfway there.

Not many parts this time. But no big surprises in the construction, either. This will be an easy one.

We start with another hull segment, the counterpart to the one in the last volume. Again, we just put a couple of tabs on it.

Next, we have another brace part. Two magnets get super-glued into it. As I’ve said, super glue gives me the heeby-jeebies, but these go in without incident.

Next we attach two metal tabs to the existing hull, and put the brace on top of them. You can see the spots where those two magnets are located. What purpose will they serve?

If we bring in the upper hull segment, we can see that they line up with other magnets glued in under the top deck. That tells me the upper segment won’t be permanently attached. Not sure why, but we’ll find out eventually.

It’s also nice to see that the bundle of wires and fibers on the upper segment have a cavity waiting to accomodate them. There were a couple points on the Yamato model where that was not the case, and it caused a worrisome amount of internal pressure. I’m relieved not to see that here.

And there’s an overview of where we are as of Volume 30. That accounts for half the volumes, but certainly not half of the ship. In terms of total mass, I’d say about 60% is still to come.

Keep going

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