Creating a skyscraper from scratch (Part 3)
This should be the final post on my attempt at 'scratch-building' an N scale skyscraper! In Part 1, I talked about the materials I used and the basic look; in Part 2, I described how I created the sidewalls, floors, and dealt with interior 'details'; and in this post (Part 3, if my math is right!), I will describe how I addressed the ground floor, and wired it up!
For the ground floor I decided that this was a pure office building - without any sort of retail businesses. I think we all know these buildings...usually a cavernous space with elevators, escalators and some modern art on the walls. Fortunately, this was easy, as I used some excess escalator and elevator pieces left over from some of my Kato structures (or maybe Tomix, forget which), applied a neutral looking tan color to a sheet of styrene for the floor, and printed out some fake 'walls' for the sides.
As I talked about a bit in Part 1, the trick with scratch-building buildings is the question of how do you make windows (walls are easy, right?)? Well...doors are a similar challenge! For the lobby entrance to the "Godzilla Corporation's" high rise, I had to improvise yet again. Most of the glass/window 'detail' is merely etched lines on plastic, but I wanted something a bit different so I attempted to try my hand at a 'revolving' door for the building entrance. This was pretty simple to create, as all I did was use a round piece of plastic that was about the right size, sliced it in half, and then glued both halves to the entry lobby plastic. Unfortunately, I messed up a bit and used CA glue (aka "super glue") when I should have gone with plastic cement, thus the ugly-looking 'fogging' around this part. Arg!
I used some excess metal wire leads (from clipped LED's) as the 'metal' parts of the door. While I regret the glue error, overall I think I got the effect I was looking for (and in reality, once on the layout, the 'fogging' won't be noticeable).
As is my obsession, I love to light my buildings! Unfortunately, I'm not an electrician, so I slog my way through this stuff the best I can! For lighting the interior of the building, I am using 3mm LED's (that were ordered online and dirt cheap) with the appropriate resistors. Again, as I'm not much of an electrician, I used a handy website for calculating the resistor code which puts out this convenient wiring diagram:
The actual LED's are placed in the building by poking the leads through the foamcore on the 'floor' section that will be the ceiling for the floor to be lit (I don't light every floor!). If that didn't completely confuse you, here's a photo that will:
What little experience I have had with wiring N Scale buildings has shown that creating something to collect and manage all of the resistors and power leads is necessary in order to manage all those wires (uh...that was redundant). I could have tried to create a PCB board (like I know what I'm doing!), but what I did instead was use a low-temp glue gun to glue the resistors to a narrow board that would act as a 'virtual' PCB board and be well hidden. Below is the initial stage of wiring the top and bottom floors before the 'virtual PCB' is installed (and note the 'notch' in the foam core floors where the wires/PCB board will slot in):
Once I got to a certain point, I placed the 'virtual PCB board' in the building where I placed the notches and completed all my soldering. Here's the ugly truth of this in all its glory right here:
After cutting out small rectangular openings on the top of the building for the corporate logo (made with several layers of laser-printed 'transparencies' and back-lit with LED's), and the initial work on the roof started, its time to plug this thing in and get a sense of whether or not I've been able to achieve a reasonable looking skyscraper!
Oh yeah, that LED sticking out of the top of the building is actually one of two blinking red LED's that I got from a company called "Evans Designs"....I've found their flashing LED's look good and already come ready to install with all the appropriate electronics and can be hooked right to the 12v DC power source. Once the roof is finalized, these blinking red LED's will be placed at the corners of the roof (which brings the total LED count to 29!).
The floors with lighting have a few interior details (as described in Part 2). Its a bit hard to make out what's happening on this floor, maybe their roughing up that guy on the right? Hmmm....
And finally, the 'lobby entrance' with the revolving door and scurrying office workers complete the building:
And here's another look from the perspective of an N Scale pedestrian:
In summary, I'm pretty happy. My biggest regret was the accident with the CA glue and I definitely overdid it in terms of 'interior detail' as the floors without lighting are dark enough that the lack of detail would not be noticeable. Additionally (and I knew this going into it) but the 1/2 inch thick smoked acrylic I used for the 'glass' was too thick. Its nice and stable (and heavy!), but if you look close, you can tell its a thick piece of acrylic! But hey, it was cheap and I didn't need to do any cutting!
Total cost? Ironically, the most expensive parts were the Evergreeen styrene strips used to create the concrete columns on the fascia/building. I think I have about $12 there. The smoked acrylic was around $3, LED's and resistors was probably around $8, plus $6.50 for the flashing red LED's from Evan's Designs, another $5 or so for the can of 'camouflage gray' paint used for the concrete, and the sheet of foam core was probably another $5 or so. Bottom line? Maybe around $40 or $50 dollars.
So, the "Godzilla Corporation" finally has their corporate headquarters! Now they can get about their work of urban redevelopment and environmental mitigation (get it? ;-) ) in their fancy new office in downtown Quinntopia! They will soon have neighbors, as I am starting work on another scratch-built high-rise...the Saruman corporation!
CLICK HERE for Part 1!
CLICK HERE for Part 2!