In the process of relocating to Texas, our beloved Millennium Falcon Playhouse was destroyed. We were all really bummed out for months, but eventually we started to see a new opportunity emerge. Rebuilding the cockpit, but at a glorious full scale!
Part 1: The Dashboard
We started by finding reference material online. Particularly helpful was this schematic. From it, I was able to line up the top, front, and side views in my 3d modeling software, scale them to actual size, and then explode those pieces into the parts I needed to cut out.
Since I don’t own a CNC, these had to be done the old fashioned way, measuring out each length and angle and then cutting them out of thin MDF board. Once the parts were all cut out, I taped them all together with masking tape and then built an internal frame using 2″x2″ boards.
At this point, my kids were pretty confused. They wanted a Millennium Falcon, not a biplane, and I had a hard time convincing them that we were headed in the right direction.
Next, I spray painted each of the panels and then attached them to the frame using sheetrock screws. Scavenging our old broken Millennium Falcon playhouse of switches and wires, I started installing some of the switches in the area between the seats as well as beginning to apply the telltale pinstripe patterns.
Next came the slow process of building out the many components seen in the Falcon. Particularly helpful at this point was the beautiful 360 degree view of the Force Awakens era Millennium Falcon cockpit on the Star Wars website.
Don’t tell anyone, but designing in 3D is one of my favorite things to do, and for sure I had my work cut out for me. With just the dashboard, there are dozens of components that required my attention and many many hours of printing on my beloved CR-10.
Initially, I used silicone and resin to duplicate a few parts, but for the most part, this ended up being a waste of time, and I eventually went back to printing each piece. I’ve added all the initial 3D printed components here for you to download.
Pinstriping is a tedious but simple process. Taking your time to keep the lines straight is a pain, but it looks amazing when it’s done.
Particularly challenging early on were the multiple large lights. My final solution was to 3d print the lenses in a translucent white filament and then color in the front of the lenses with a marker. I know it sounds janky, but it worked, at least for a temporary solution.
The white and blue illuminated buttons are the primary visual element on the dashboard. These either make our break the look. With the previous playhouses I had built for my kids, I had just used square pieces of plastic or wood, but now I needed something that would both look crisp and also disperse light well.
The solution, 1/8″ thick #2447 acrylic laser cut into 1″x1″ squares. I made a custom order from Delvie’s Plastics and got great customer service and a quick turnaround on the parts.
Since I needed many of the squares tiles to be blue, I used fabric dye and followed the instructions on the package with hope that they’d turn out well. Fortunately, the dye worked perfectly.
For illumination, I decided to go the simplest and easiest route – using strings of Christmas lights secured with hot glue. Behind the tiles, I drilled 7/8″ holes. For the small lights, I drilled small holes and filled the top with a small cylinder of transparent 3d printing.
Honestly, I was nearly giddy with excitement when I got the panels reassembled and plugged in the lights for the first time. Though only half the details were done at this point, the lighting is already giving the console a very finished look.
At this point, my kids began clamoring for me to get some buttons and sounds installed, so I once again scavenged our broken playhouse project for our Adafruit Audio FX board. I powered this and an old computer speaker system (with a subwoofer – everything fit nicely inside the console) with the same switch going to the lights. Then I placed momentary switches in different areas on the console and tied each to a different sound (explosions, guns, takeoff, and the Falcon theme music).
But my favorite part was using a capacitor to trigger a sound when flipping on the lights. It’s a very nice effect.
Initially, I thought I was going to need to install rows of switches, but I eventually decided to go with a screen accurate look by designing the parts and printing them out on the 3d printer. It ended up being a quick and easy way to add a ton of detail.
One of my favorite details of our Millennium Falcon dashboard was inspired by my oldest twin. He suggested that one of all the switches in the mass of switches on the console should do something. I used a switch of his choice to toggle on and off the map-looking interface. The challenge was to make the interface completely disappear when the light is off. To make this work, I stacked a piece of welding mask plastic on top of some transparency paper that I had printed the design onto. When the light is on, the design shines through, but when the light is off, you can only see the welding mask screen.
Using 3D printed handles and some wooden dowels and wheels, I was able to create a rudimentary mechanism for the motion of the light speed controls.
Part 2: Building Platforms
The dashboard sitting on the ground is all fine and good for starters, but things really began to get interesting when we built risers underneath the dashboard to get it to our final height.
But things started to get real once we were finally able to install our front chairs, even if they were magenta.
I removed the base from the chairs, drilled holes through the risers and ran steel tubing down the ground. The hydraulic mechanism on the chairs fits right inside of the tubing, and the chairs are sturdy and secure.
Part 3: Adding the Back Seat
This project is still actively underway. Check back for progress.