I came out of the dark ages, and honestly haven’t done much more than build my house (which I’ve yet to document properly on this site). However, for this year’s BrickCon, I decided to change that. A couple of years ago I had an idea for building a large space habitat diorama that was very vertical (or certainly moreso than most MOCs you see in layouts). Stacking space habitat modules seemed like the right approach, so I designed a couple of modules so they would stack. Unfurnished, lonely, and with some ugly yellowing bricks, they sat until just a few weeks ago when they were joined by 28 companions and an additional dozen and a half modified modules to build the space station you see here. First the MOC description.
Space Habitat Adams (one of dozens in space also named in honor of Science Fiction authors) is really jut a neighborhood in space. The bottom level consists of commercial/retail units and station services and is denoted with the medium blue accent color. Atop that level are several levels of similar residential units with the orange accent color. Each residential unit has beds (of the bunk variety), a food replicator, and a desk with computer interface. Chairs and personal care utilities retract into the wall (and are not shown ;). Atop the whole stack of residential modules are the sand green accented modules housing the command center and the spaceport. The command center contains the bulk of the official station personnel in their sand green uniforms. The command center features lots of staff at their workstations, a commander in a raised command chair, and a rotating station where the crew can view the goings on in a holographic representation of the surface of a nearby planet. It also overlooks the inside of the space station. The spaceport contains mostly personal transport vehicles that sit vertically at rest and when being loaded with one person, but then make themselves horizontal for spaceflight. There’s also a spacebus that can travel forwards or backwards (drivers on each side) Atop the spaceport and command center is the start of the dome that encompasses the entire station. Two columns of modules intersect all the others. On the left it’s an lift shaft with lift. On the right there’s a set of public areas including two restaurants, a sculpture museum (each piece of modern art made by one of my kids), an internet cafe type place, and a performance area with a concert in progress by a very well known pop star in the Series 2 minifig community. Finally, in front of the stack of modules is the common ‘outdoor’ area featuring both agricultural and recreational space. The agricultural/park platforms float above the more industrial surface of the guts of the space station (which provide the artificial gravity). Robots move around the station doing minor errands, repairs, and services for the residents.
I had some goals in this mode, the first of which was to have a standard definition for the stackable modules so that others could contribute and eventually build a much much bigger wall of modules. Introducing the Space Habitat Module Open Standard – also known as SHMO. The standard is basically as follows:
- It must be the right height.
- It must be stackable on pieces with the same area.
- There must be 2-4 identically placed holes for pins (2 on each side)
Exact dimensions for SHMO-based modules are available here in this LXF file. (Note, LDD didn’t have all the parts I needed so this covers 80-90% of the model. But all the pieces necessary for standardization are in there and in the right spots.
The modules were designed so that you could see through them to the space background behind. That seems to have worked ok. Lots of windows helped. More would have been even better possibly. I also wanted to light the interiors so people could see them. This experiment didn’t go as well. I bought small cheap LED lights that were battery powered. I didn’t want to mess with wiring, etc. so these seemed perfect. Unfortunately a) they’re a pain to get into the little light boxes I made, so changing them for each day of viewing is work, and b) they don’t give off nearly as much light as I’d hoped, so the benefit of doing all the work to swap them out isn’t really worth it. Back to the drawing board on that one.
Other goals for the MOC included making everything modular. So it’s not just the residential units, but the lift column, and the public space modules (which need a good redesign as they’re too fragile. Even the crop areas and the park are modular in that they’re sectional and just resting on frames beneath them. Surprising bonuses that came out of the MOC are the space bus (I love how functional it is) and the single person transport vehicles. I think those are super chunky adorable. The other fun surprise that came out of this build was the use of the brown cladding from Count Dooku’s ship to make the base of the tree in the park. That feels pretty good. The service robots came out cute too. It took several tries to make them not look like ducks.
If you have interest in building to the SHMO standard, or helping me evolve it, let me know. Thanks to Jeff for helping me with the interiors of the residential units.