There is no denying the LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V (set 21309) is a brilliant model. It’s big, beautiful and incredibly well engineered – much like the real thing, I imagine! Even before I started building it, I knew it would be worthy of some extra attention to detail, to really bring it to life. I decided to wire it up with lights and sound using the PFx Brick, so that I could easily activate the engine lights or play iconic sounds from the Apollo missions while it was on display. You can see the results in the video, or read on for more details and photos.
I even built a small launch/display platform for when it is displayed vertically. Not only does it allow me to see the engine glow, but I feel it also finishes off the model nicely. Clearly, in the real world it never just sat directly on the engines. I think it will be awesome when someone builds a custom mobile launch platform for it, and I may even build one myself someday, but until then, this stand is simple, effective and quite sturdy.
Here are building instructions for the stand, if you would like to see how I built mine, or build one for yourself.
If you are interested in the PFx Brick, you can find more information about it at fxbricks.com. We are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to bring it into production, so we would appreciate any support you are willing to give us.
Before starting, the biggest unknown was whether or not all of the electronics components would fit in the rocket itself. I wanted to fit a Power Functions battery box, PFx Brick and XL speaker inside. Luckily, the inner core of the first stage had enough space to snugly fit them all. I did have to remove 3 of the quarter round panels from the inner core, as well as remove one section of internal cross bracing. The model is so well built though, that doing so had very little impact on the overall structural integrity.
Running the wires for the speaker and LEDs proved to be very straight forward. The rocket is designed with an outer ‘skin’ surrounding the internal core, and there is plenty of space between them to accommodate the wiring. Also, all the parts that make up the engines have an axle hole running through their center, which was perfect for running the LEDs to each exhaust port.
So, in the end, it turned out to be quite simple. I was really excited that everything could be contained in the first stage, to maintain the modular nature of the model. I can access the battery box and PFx Brick by removing just a single thin panel on the outer skin, which makes powering it on and configuring it very easy.