Landing Pad project

As Autumn drew to a close and my season of shows came to an end, the Winter building began and this year, the biggest project I’m working on is a landing pad for my Aerial Intruder re-work; which didn’t sound too hard, but then I decided to make it octagonal… and wanted a SNOT surface… and a design that harks back to the original Blacktron landing plate… Suddenly I realise that there are lots of things there making doing this much more difficult.

The first thing I did was conceive and octagonal frame but when you start angling bricks off at 45 degrees, the studs stop lining up so it was time to do dome geometry. With hinges in between the 45 degree sections, each part became a triangle with a 22.5 degree angle; all I needed to do was create a list of triangles with that angle and increasing adjacent sides and see which one had an opposite closest to a whole number.

Pad WIP1 800

Turns out it’s 29 studs out and 12.01 studs across. In my experience, bricks can take up to about a tenth of a stud in misalignment so one hundredth is as good as it gets. Based on this figure, I built a portion of the frame to make sure it worked. Based on this, I decided that it was going to be big enough for the ship but so big that I should build it to be dismantled for transport; it also looked like the based would need to be 2×2 48-stud base plates so I’m starting to get an idea of how big it will actually be. The next job was to build a full frame that can hold itself together.

Pad WIP3 800

I’m really happy with the size, if a little worried… It’s going to take a lot of bricks to build this thing, but now on to the next problem. If the design on the pad is to reflect the old Blacktron design it needs to be radial so my SNOT surface has to face inwards, not all one way. This creates the problem of making it meet up as it closes towards the centre. It took a few experiments but I eventually found the style and alignment that gave me the best fit.

Pad WIP2 800

This all seemed great but the octagonal frame had left a big octagonal hole in the middle and I needed to think about height: I wanted the platform on legs and a doodle had given me an idea about having a suspended gantry underneath.

Pad WIP4 800

At this point, I did some LDD work, just quick building to get an idea of where things could be. This helped me figure out where the legs would go so that I could fit the gantry underneath. From that, I started building the base, just using 2x4s to create a basic surface (I’ll change it and add details later). The design that I sketched unfortunately required me to put the legs at 45 degrees so I created a template for the foot and built a socket for it to sit loose in.

Pad WIP5 800

Now it’s back to that hole in the middle of the pad. I was doodling in the LDD file and found a design that seemed to work; it turns out that each edge is nine studs and two plates from the exact centre (or close enough) which takes care of four of the sides but when I built back from those edges to create the other ’45 degree’ sides I was left with a notch.

Pad WIP5a 800

I tried to fill the notch asymmetrically but it never looked right, then I realised I could fill it by adding a two-sided roof slope to the end of the pad surface sections; the fit was surprisingly good.

Pad WIP6 800

So now I have a method for a neatly fitting radial octagonal surface. With a draft build nailing down the design, I also know what bricks I’ll need to do it in the final intended colours too. Next up is to figure out how to do the suspended gantry and make the legs properly reach out to take the load as evenly as possible.

You can follow progress of all of my builds as they happen by finding me on either facebook (Luc Byard lego artist) or Flickr (Luc Byard).


Hello, I'm Luc and I've been a Lego builder as long as I can remember. My Lego motto is 'From Imagination to creation' and I'm a hardcore MOCer through and through. That doesn't mean I don't like getting sets though, not only do they look great and give you exciting new bricks to build with but they teach you great techniques that you can use in your own creations. When I'm not working on some overly-complex AFOL model, I'm playing and creating with my daughter, which makes sure that I never lose the fun, and it's this multi-faceted system of creativity and play that makes Lego the toy of all toys for me


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