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#589 Tydirium Strobe

Figuring out the navigation light strobe frequency of the Lambda-class shuttle “Tydirium” and building a freeform circuit sculpture to demonstrate the effects (running an ATtiny85 on 3V).


Here’s a quick demo..



I’ve recently discovered the ModelGeek podcast and started bingeing the back catalog. In ModelGeek’s Podcast Episode 1; Who the Heck Are the ModelGeeks, What Do They Build and Why? one of the hosts (Andrew Frill) talks about wanting to put the navigation lights on a Star Wars Shuttle Tydirium AMT/ERTL model (at around 0:48:40).

How would one do that? And what is the correct blinking sequence anyway? Good questions that got me thinking … and heading off down a rabbit hole..


What is the Navigation Strobe Pattern?


My searches turned up quite a bit of information about Lambda-class Shuttles, but nothing definitive on the running lights sequence.

So I went back to source and checked out one of the clearest scenes: Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Shuttle Tydirium Approaches Endor.

I ended up chopping the clip up and adding a time sync:


My conclusions:

  • the basic pattern is “Fl W 1.7s” - white flash every 1.7 seconds. On-time is approximately 0.2 seconds
  • however the pattern is often broken as the scene cuts away. I write this off as 20th century editing quirks!

Demonstration Circuit

There are many possible circuit designs. The first two that come to mind are:

The 555 timer approach is a nice “hardware only” solution, but it can be a bit of a pain to get the timing just right. So for this demonstration, I’ll use a microcontroller.

I only need 1 GPIO pin, and would ideally like to run off a 3V coin cell (CR2032), so I’ve picked an ATtiny85 in DIP8 package. Nice and easy!

The sketch TydiriumStrobe.ino is about as simple as it gets - toggle the GPIO with the appropriate delays. I programmed the ATtiny85 to run at 1MHz with internal clock, with the code uploaded using an Arduino Uno running ArduinoISP. See LEAP#070 for more info on programming the ATtiny85.


Very simple circuit, running at 3V on a CR2023 coin cell. The 3mm bright white LEDs I’m using have a nominal forward voltage of 2.7V, so a 75Ω current limiting resistor will keep current around 4mA. I’ve rounded up to 100Ω resistors.



Testing on a breadboard:

Breadboard Build

Circuit Sculpture

Watching LEDs flash on a breadboard is a bit boring, so my evening turned into a bit of a zen wire bending session. The design is ad-hoc and judged by eye, but I think turned out to ba a reasonable representation of a Lambda-class Shuttle in only a few components and wire off-cuts!


Credits and References

About LEAP#589 ArduinoATmelLEDCircuit SculptureFreeform
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This page is a web-friendly rendering of my project notes shared in the LEAP GitHub repository.

LEAP is just my personal collection of projects. Two main themes have emerged in recent years, sometimes combined:

  • electronics - usually involving an Arduino or other microprocessor in one way or another. Some are full-blown projects, while many are trivial breadboard experiments, intended to learn and explore something interesting
  • scale modelling - I caught the bug after deciding to build a Harrier during covid to demonstrate an electronic jet engine simulation. Let the fun begin..
To be honest, I haven't quite figured out if these two interests belong in the same GitHub repo or not. But for now - they are all here!

Projects are often inspired by things found wild on the net, or ideas from the many great electronics and scale modelling podcasts and YouTube channels. Feel free to borrow liberally, and if you spot any issues do let me know (or send a PR!). See the individual projects for credits where due.