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Avengers Helicarrier

August 1st, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Avengers Helicarrier

Model of a Helicarrier vehicle from the Avengers movie. Features rotating turbines and radars, lights and a hanging propulsion system.


Completion date: 31/07/2013
Power: electric (custom 9V battery adapter)
Dimensions: length 80 studs / width 46 studs / height 54 studs
Weight: 1.921 kg
Motors: 1 x PF Medium, 2 x micromotor + 1 x PF Medium, 1 x PF L and 1 x PF XL in the suspension mechanism

I have never planned to build this model – it was, in fact, a side-effect of my other plans. Having seen many of excellent videos by Mahjqa, who is not only a great builder, but also a supreme filmmaker, I’ve felt urge to create a mechanical solution that would allow me to “fly” some models around the room with as much degrees of freedom as possible. I have soon built and tested such a solution, and I have initially planned to build some tiny quadrocopter with rotating propellers to be hung on it. Then it occurred to me that there’s a more interesting variant of a quadrocopter out there: the Avenger’s Helicarrier.

If you are not familar with the Avengers movie, the Helicarrier is basically an aircraft carrier capable of flying on its own. Presented entirely in with CGI, and too unrealistic to exist, the Helicarrier was nevertheless quite impressive, and I decided to give it a try. However, it soon became obvious that the complete model at the intended scale would be much heavier than the solution I have created could handle. Not wanting to abandon the model, I have created a second, separate solution for it – one with less degrees of freedom, but with a much better load capacity.

The solution used in this model consisted of a three-piece mechanism sitting on top of a photo backdrop hanger – a fairly regular photo studio equipment. The pieces were: a bogie on top, bracing the hanger’s bar, a rotator below it, and a winch below the rotator. The bogie, with a PF L motor, was simply driving along the hanger’s bar on four small wheels equipped with solid rubber tires for better grip under load. It also included PF IR receivers and a 8878 battery, and was unstable by itself – it could be rotated around the bar – and it was stabilized by adding the rest of the mechanism, which greatly lowered its center of gravity. The rotator, connecting the bogie and the winch, was simply a large Technic turntable driven by a PF Medium motor. Finally, the winch consisted of a PF XL motor driving two twin winches inside a heavily reinforced frame. There was also another piece of the mechanism between the winch and the actual model, which acted as a stabilizer or balancer. It was connected to the model by four strings sitting on transverse pulleys, and to the winch by another four strings sitting on longitudinal pulleys. The strings were connected two by two, creating two sections below and above the stabilizer. Thus, it was possible to tilt the stabilizer forward or backward, affecting the model but not the winch, or tilt the model left or right without affecting anything. Such a solution helped to balance the model out and to correct its balance when needed, and also allowed to set the connection points for the winch closer, so that the size of the model did not affect the size of the winch.

The actual model was technically simple, with a single PF Medium motor driving four turbines made of the Exo-force parts, two Micromotors rotating radar antennas on top of the command tower in opposite directions, and plenty of LEDs. Due to the somewhat limited internal space – the model was really flat, required strong internal structure and housed plenty of wires – all of these were powered from a single 9V battery using a custom-made adapter, rather than from a standard LEGO power supply. It was a convenient solution, allowing to save plenty of space, but it was not working very well as the battery was evidently dying under all the power consumption. No remote control was present – the model could be simply turned on or off as a whole unit.

For a while, I have been toying with the idea of making the Helicarrier’s wings fold down the way they do in the movie, using small linear actuators, as the wings are easily detachable to make working on the model easier. However, it would be extremely difficult to find enough space for such a mechanism inside, it would severely compromise the structural integrity of the model, and finally – there was really no place to fold the wings into – a problem that could be ignored in the movie as the whole model was CGI.

The model’s colors were different from those seen in the movie – the original Helicarrier appears to come in varying shades of military grey, with a hint of khaki in the airstrip area. Since some of the pieces I wanted to use are not available in light bluish gray, I decide to tone the model down to a combination of dark bluish gray and black. It would probably look more authentic in light bluish gray though. I have also decided to use the Exo-force turbines which are clearly much thicker than the original Helicarrier’s turbines, but they are one of the very few LEGO pieces that are perfectly round, have the right diameter, and look anything like turbines.

I was happy with how the model turned out, and its propulsion mechanism worked flawlessly. It would most likely allow even to submerge the model in water a little, but I decided it was too risky with all the electric parts inside. I didn’t like the model’s swinging when moving, but it was rather limited, and the winch was working slow, making the model go up/down much slower than it could go forward/backward or rotate. I found it acceptable though, given the fact that the model was much heavier than it looked – it was better to have a slow winch than to risk it coming apart and dropping the whole model.

Finally, there’s a thing about the photos. Some of them are 1,600 px wide rather than 1,200 px – a new size, which I think I will stick to from now on. Also, there are few people who like to claim that my creations are popular mostly thanks to the extensive post-processing of my photos. There is some post-processing, of course, but I have been trying to explain that it’s merely cosmetic, and that being a professional graphic artist I’m actually holding back while working on these photos. Still, some people know better, so this time I though “what the Hell, PHOTOSHOP RAMPAGE!” and thus created the first ten photos. They present what “extensive post-processing” really looks like 🙂

Work in progress photos:

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01.jpg 02.jpg 03.jpg 04.jpg 05.jpg 06.jpg 07.jpg 08.jpg 09.jpg 10.jpg dsc0514.jpg dsc05815.jpg dsc05818.jpg dsc05825.jpg dsc05829.jpg dsc05833.jpg dsc05840.jpg dsc05841.jpg dsc05843.jpg dsc05848.jpg dsc05855.jpg dsc05859.jpg dsc05862.jpg dsc05889.jpg dsc05899.jpg dsc05902.jpg dsc05911.jpg dsc05918.jpg dsc05921.jpg dsc05923.jpg dsc05927.jpg dsc05930.jpg dsc05945.jpg dsc05954.jpg hamster1.jpg hamster2.jpg hamster3.jpg hamster4.jpg hamster5.jpg hamster6.jpg original1.png original2.jpg original3.jpg original4.jpg original5.jpg


Media coverage:

Brick Heroes (French), The Brothers Brick, The Lego Car Blog

Categories: Aircraft Tags: , ,
  1. Sariel
    July 20th, 2015 at 21:38 | #1

    Oh, it’s still waiting in a corner. I have to get around to finishing it.

  2. David
    July 20th, 2015 at 17:48 | #2

    So when are you going to reveal this new system?

  3. Sariel
    May 9th, 2014 at 00:18 | #3

    Yes, I have one idea that I’m about to demonstrate, but it has rather limited load capacity. Few hundred grams at most.

  4. David
    May 8th, 2014 at 23:58 | #4

    Do you have any ideas on how to build your hanging system without the use of PVC pipe and/or the camera equipment you use?
    Thank you.

  5. Iaz
    April 15th, 2014 at 05:26 | #5

    Cool, You should also make the avengers qwinjet. That would be really cool !!!!!!

  6. Luke
    August 6th, 2013 at 10:06 | #6

    Great work! Iron Man on the turbine was a nice touch 😛

  7. August 5th, 2013 at 04:25 | #7

    Sweet. Great job!

  8. Max
    August 2nd, 2013 at 07:58 | #8

    Beautiful really. I would have raised the ramp of the carrier one stud and make it completely studless…

  9. gabry
    August 1st, 2013 at 23:16 | #9

    very nice the “propulsion” system: be careful, your hamsters could gnaw the ropes! XD

  10. gabry
    August 1st, 2013 at 23:07 | #10

    I don’t love superheroes and their universe (ecception made for batman) but it looks very pretty =)

  1. August 2nd, 2013 at 00:00 | #1
  2. August 2nd, 2013 at 00:18 | #2