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Space Ferrari
Swooshable warp-12 space Ferrari based on Seaman SPb's Flying Cat. On the ground, it doubles as a smoothly spinning top -- and a good one at that!
About this creation
Please feel free to look over the images and skip the verbiage.






Introduction

I'm sure that many here will agree that LEGOŽ has no higher purpose than in the construction of swooshable flying machines. This little jet plane is one of my favorites...



And thanks to a very cool design by favorite builder Seaman SPb, I now have a brand new spinning space Ferrari to swoosh around. I call it a "spinship" for short.





This particular spinship is modeled after the 2156 Ferrari 908W coupe -- a high-performance luxury sports ship in the grand touring tradition. The "W" is for warp.





Starboard instrument pod with US Coast Guard-compliant running lights...







Inside the cockpit...



Yesterday, I took the Ferrari out for a little spin through the inner Zargon system at warp 12 -- except through the curves, of course.







Glad I caught this chicane! The inner planets line up like this only once every 27.3 Earth years.



Whee doggies! This thing can move!

Built-in swooshing handle...





Swooshing sounds being mandatory, AFOLs generally have to do their swooshing when no one else is around -- especially when a bath towel cape is also involved.

But wait, there's more! A 27 cm "swooshie stick" for those hard-to-reach maneuvers...



Just remove the red tip holder, leaving the black 4x4 round brick in place...



Then attach the swooshie stick adapter to the 4x4 round brick and overlying plate.



The 12 studs and 3 Technic ball joints recruited by the adapter make for a sturdy swooshie stick attachment with a single-DOF hinge joint that stays put...



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Spinship top

Back on the ground, the space Ferrari doubles as -- what else? -- a working spinning top! And a pretty good one at that.











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Turntable-based planetary top starter

The spinship has low ground clearance and a lot of inertia by design. Unpracticed hands tend to have trouble with that combination, but it doesn't have to spoil the spinship's play value as a top.

This matching third-generation 4:1 planetary starter lets everyone get in on the fun.



Having had lots of top-twirling practice, I get launch speeds of ~500 RPM and spin times of ~55 sec by hand and ~900 RPM and ~105 sec with the starter.

The starter is a lot more compact than any of my first-generation and second-generation planetary starters based on the bulky "hard plastic wheel with small cleats and flanges" (64712).





Every planetary gear train needs a ring gear or annulus with inward-pointing teeth. This starter takes advantage of the 24-tooth ring gear inside a large Technic turntable.



The sun and 2 planet gears are all reinforced 8-tooth spurs. The resulting backlash would be an issue in many applications, but not in a top starter.



I still like my second-generation starters for their greater torque capacity and smoother operation. But this new one works well enough with the spinship, and you can't beat the color match!

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Design notes

The first time I laid eyes on the Flying Cat by favorite builder Seaman SPb, I knew 2 things: (i) I'd soon be swooshing my own civilian version. (ii) It would double as a working top.



The centerpiece of Seaman's design is of course the long and graceful 9x3x5/3 bubble canopy (47844) with dedicated 10x4x2 windscreen (47843). Finding that I had both the windscreen and a canopy with the red circle and vernier pattern (47844pb01) on hand made my week.



Once I get the necessary 4x4 wedges (43708), I'll do a 2nd spinship with an uppermost tier more like the Flying Cat's -- but still without weapons. (Make love, not war!)

Making working tops out of circular "rings" of 6x6 and 10x10 round corner slopes was already familiar territory...





I've even been known to stack the smaller rings on the larger...



And some of the tops have been kinda spacey...



But I was so top-focused that I never thought to break a ring's inherent 4-fold rotational symmetry with a midline structure as asymmetric as Seaman's canopy and tail section.

The spin axis would have to go right though the canopy to make a top out of this, and that posed 3 major challenges...

∨ Tip assembly: A wobble-free top needs a wiggle-free tip smack on the intended spin axis. And tip rigidity is doubly important in a top as heavy as the spinship. A stiff, well-aligned, low-friction tip assembly was therefore the first order of business.



Problem was, the canopy blocked any through-going central axle that might have provided secure mounts for the stem and tip. That meant a tip assembly plastered studs-up onto the bottom of the raft of plates holding the ring of 10x10 round corner slopes together from below.



Keeping the tip from wiggling in such a heavy top in the absence of any other support took some doing, but this solution works well enough.

∨ Stem assembly: Lack of a through-going central axle also complicated stem design. The spinship needed a stiff stem assembly well aligned with the tip without detracting too much from the flowing lines.



Spaceships generally don't need rollbars, but I'm content with this solution.

∨ Balance: I was determined to give the spinship a distinct nose and tail, as Seaman did with his Flying Cat. And I was dead-set on this profile...



Getting the dynamic balance needed for smooth spins despite the fore-aft asymmetry was the 3rd major challenge -- and boy, was it a doozy! I'll spare you the details and the cussing.

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Optional: Crater tops -- a favorite genre

LEGOŽ tops based on circular rings of 6x6 (95188) and 10x10 (58846) round corner slopes have long been favorites of mine. Performance is first-rate, and the platform supports many interesting visual design options.

For lack of a better term, I call tops made of rings like these "crater tops" for the bare ring's resemblance to the wall of a Martian or lunar crater.



Ring of dark green 6x6 round corner slopes on a 12x12 base.

If you have any interest in LEGOŽ top-making, I suggest you give crater tops a try.

∨ Crater tops with 12x12 rings: A ring of 6x6 round corner slopes is of course 12x12 studs in outside dimensions. The largest square plate the central opening can accommodate is 4x4. Most of my crater tops with 12x12 rings are plate tops.



The 10x10 octagonal plate (89523) provides a sturdy mount for a 12x12 ring.



Better yet, the plate's central axle hole allows you to join the stem and tip assemblies with a through-going axle. This arrangement generally makes for better aligned and more rigid stems and tips, and that reduces wobble.



A 12x12 crater top makes a great platform for color mixing effects.





And for clutch tops with stems meant to lift off at launch...



The stems on these crater tops are intentionally too short to twirl by hand. The chuck on the wind-up starter at far left works with both of these tops. The top on the left also accepts the DBG dog and centrifugal clutch adapters near the center.



Since the parts are usually pretty cheap and widely available, the designs possible with a 12x12 crater top are limited only by your imagination...



∨ Crater tops with 20x20 rings: A ring of 10x10 round corner slopes is 20x20 studs in outside dimensions, but the largest square plate fitting inside the central opening is only 6x6.



I like the color schemes these large rings support.

Ring of dark tan 10x10 round corner slopes on a 20x20 base...



TLG doesn't make a plate large enough to mount a 20x20 ring securely all by itself -- at least not one with a central axle hole. But you can still make a 20x20 ring into a plate top with a multi-plate foundation. This example retains a central axle hole.



The spinship is unusual in that the superstructure built on the 20x20 ring didn't allow a through-going central axle. Hence, no need for an axle hole in its plate foundation...



Mounting a 20x20 ring on a studless hub and spoke "suspension system" opens up many fun possibilities, but the whole thing will have to be pretty stiff to avoid wobble.



Suspension system attachment points include the axle holes in the 10x10 round corner plates and various tubes on their undersides.

This sturdy suspension system mounts two 20x20 rings base-to-base...



My first 20x20 crater top spaceship, the Blacktron Chamberlain-class Capitulator (right) from late 2015. Note the 4-fold rotational symmetry throughout the structure. Unlike the spinship, this one basically balanced itself.



Mechanical benefits: A typical crater top has many winning mechanical attributes:
  • The "down and out" mass distribution of the ring itself tends to give the top as a whole a lower than average center of mass (CM), a higher than average axial moment of inertia (AMI), a very high AMI per unit mass, and a higher than average AMI/TMI ratio, where TMI is the transverse moment of inertia about the tip. This combination of mass properties allows the top to resist aerodynamic and tip-related braking torques while remaining upright down to very low speeds.
  • The ring's inherent 4-fold rotational symmetry invites the same symmetry in ring attachments, and that guarantees static balance when all parts are fully seated.
  • The rigidity of a well-engineered plate-based crater top effectively eliminates elastic wobble at speed. Crater tops with studless suspension systems are generally less rigid but can still be wobble-free.
Together, these attributes give crater tops exceptionally long, smooth spins.

This low-slung, high-AMI 20x20 crater top is stable down to speeds below 100 RPM. For a LEGOŽ top, that's pretty slow.



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Specifications (spinship only)

Overall dimensions:160x124 mm (DxH) with stem assembly, 160x56 without
Mass:184 g with stem assembly, 176 g without
Launch speed by hand:~500 RPM
Spin time by hand:~50 sec
Launch speed with starter:~900 RPM
Spin time with starter:~105 sec
Topple speed:~200 RPM
Modified LEGOŽ parts:Tip cut from 4L antenna
Non-LEGOŽ parts:None
Credits:Original MOC inspired by the Flying Cat MOC by favorite builder Seaman SPb
See also:Swooshable jet plane, Asteroid crater top, Blacktron Chamberlain-class Capitulator, clutch tops, first-generation planetary top starters

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Comments

 I like it 
  May 7, 2018
Yup!
 I made it 
  May 6, 2018
Quoting Oliver Becker Great one, my friend! :) REDding up in space... ;)
Thanks, Oliver! I think David Roberts would have approved.
 I like it 
  May 6, 2018
Great one, my friend! :) REDding up in space... ;)
 I made it 
  April 28, 2018
Quoting General Gunn ~ I wanna make one of these! I think I have most of the parts. :D
Thanks! Looking forward to seeing what you do with it.
 I like it 
  April 28, 2018
I wanna make one of these! I think I have most of the parts. :D
 I made it 
  April 19, 2018
Quoting Nick Barrett Enzo would love it!
Thanks, Nick! I'd like to think so. It's fun to imagine Ferrari surviving the demise of the automobile.
 I like it 
  April 18, 2018
Enzo would love it!
 I made it 
  April 14, 2018
Quoting J Raab Poor dizzy space guy. Great top as always.
Thanks! Don't know what happened to my first 2 replies.
 I made it 
  April 14, 2018
Quoting Sam Sanister I read the whole thing twice. Also, the front-back asymmetry probably had something to do with the balancing problem. How about the slight difference in the angles on the canopy as opposed to the back slope pieces? Would that have any noticeable effect on the aerodynamics?
Had to think about the aerodynamic question. Kinda doubt that the slight front-back profile asymmetry had much of an effect on the total aerodynamic braking torque, in either direction or magnitude. And though I can conceive of interactions between a high-amplitude unbalance wobble and the air flows around the top, guessing that the wobble-related mechanical losses would far exceed any aerodynamic losses due directly to the wobble.
 I made it 
  April 13, 2018
Quoting Tom Remy Ha ha! That swooshie stick is priceless! Nice tribute to poor Seaman, Jeremy!
Thanks, Tom! I clearly need more practice with the swooshie stick. Most of the swooshes I did with it in the video look pretty implausible as flight paths.
Jeremy McCreary
Patrick Boyle
  April 12, 2018
Ha! That's a wonderful and surprising twist on Seaman's design! It looks good in color too. Thank you for doing such a detailed write up on the topic, I would never have even considered LEGO tops such as these. What is it that you used for the tip? Just a tiny bearing? Edit: Oh, I see where you say. It's a cut antenna tip.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Ha ha! That swooshie stick is priceless! Nice tribute to poor Seaman, Jeremy!
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Sam Sanister I read the whole thing twice. Also, the front-back asymmetry probably had something to do with the balancing problem. How about the slight difference in the angles on the canopy as opposed to the back slope pieces? Would that have any noticeable effect on the aerodynamics?
You're a glutton for punishment, Sam! All good questions. Should have made clearer that the front-back asymmetry was most of the balancing problem. But other sources of unbalance had to be reckoned with as well.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
I read the whole thing twice. Also, the front-back asymmetry probably had something to do with the balancing problem. How about the slight difference in the angles on the canopy as opposed to the back slope pieces? Would that have any noticeable effect on the aerodynamics?
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Master Shifu Leo J Nifty spinning spaceship and cool collection of tops!
Thank you, Master! I know you made some wonderful tops for at least one of Yuri Fassio's top contests some years back. I'd love some company in the top-making biz if you're still interested.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Nifty spinning spaceship and cool collection of tops!
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Henrik Jensen Great use of Seaman Spb`s Flying Cat, your dedication to the spinner topic clearly shines through every section of this post, fantastic!
Thanks, Henrik! Every time I think I've done all I can with LEGO tops, I find a new and exiting (to me, anyway) direction. Like this top. Would never have undertaken a top with this kind of asymmetry without Seaman's inspiration. Also get ideas from vintage non-LEGO tops. Tops have been around for at least 5,500 years, and countless designs have been put forth over the centuries. Many of the finger tops are executable in LEGO.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Great use of Seaman Spb`s Flying Cat, your dedication to the spinner topic clearly shines through every section of this post, fantastic!
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Kurt's MOCs Great work! I love the design and I feel for the poor pilot's lunch! Is there a reason why an angled plate is missing on the bottom? I may have missed the description in your explanation.
Many thanks, Kurt! No, you didn't miss anything in the write-up. I skirted the issue, because I'm still mystified as to why had to I to do that to get the top into static balance. But since you asked.... Plan A for balancing was to observe strict mirror symmetry across the centerline plane (CP) throughout the build. That =should= have forced all residual static and couple unbalance onto the CP, and I assumed as much as I struggled to get rid of the top's rather nasty unbalance wobble. In desperation, I suspended the top on a make-shift static balance test stand and was astounded by the result. I fully expected the top to be nose-heavy at first, but was sure that the heavy azimuth would be at 0° to the CP. Instead, it was ~15° to port. Tore the whole thing apart looking for extra parts, missing parts, Megablocks, spiders lurking inside the bricks -- you name it. But =never= found a visible mirror symmetry violation. Thankfully, the asymmetry you noticed in the black underplating fixed this totally unexpected static unbalance without introducing too much couple unbalance. Reluctantly, can only conclude that at least one internal part left of the cockpit/tail section must have significantly more mass than its ostensible mirror-image. And having successfully balanced well over 800 LEGO tops now, that would be a first. Achieving couple balance along the CP turned out to be its own saga.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Daniel H. This is so awesome! I love it! Great work!
Very kind, Daniel!
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Didier B Interesting reproduction of Seaman aircraft design*! It seems to spin quite well. Cheers, Didier. (*) But I prefer the colors he choose.
Thanks, Didier! Agree that Seaman's colors work very well with the Flying Cat.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Mark B. I love this new top and recognized the inspiration for it immediately. Very nice stuff here. One of these days I'm going to try building a top starter myself.
Very kind, Mark! I'd love some company in the LEGO top-making biz, and I know you'd come up with some beauties. Lots of fun coming up with new ways to start tops, too.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Clayton Marchetti I really liked that ship too. That poor test pilot is going to lose his lunch ha ha ha. The planet tops look cool too.
Thanks, Clayton! I really enjoy those planet tops, too, though some will only stay up at speeds I can barely reach by hand. If those hemispheres were more widely available on BrickLink, I'd have many more planet tops. As for the pilot, I explained my lack of sympathy in the reply to J Raab.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Zach Sweigart Very creative! Lots of technical ideas at play here.
Thank, Zach! LEGO tops turn out to be a lot more complicated than they look from an engineering standpoint. Though I'm no artist, I consider them a form of kinetic art.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Nils O. I see you've been busy, Jeremy! :-)) There are a lot of cool new tops. My favourite is definitely the Ferrari. Great job! :-))
Many thanks, Nils! Totally agree -- the Ferrari is one of my all-time favorite tops, thanks to Seaman. Many of the "crater tops" in the last section are 2-3 years old now, but I continue to come back to this versatile high-performance genre.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
This is so awesome! I love it! Great work!
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Great work! I love the design and I feel for the poor pilot's lunch! Is there a reason why an angled plate is missing on the bottom? I may have missed the description in your explanation.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Interesting reproduction of Seaman aircraft design*! It seems to spin quite well. Cheers, Didier. (*) But I prefer the colors he choose.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
I love this new top and recognized the inspiration for it immediately. Very nice stuff here. One of these days I'm going to try building a top starter myself.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
I really liked that ship too. That poor test pilot is going to lose his lunch ha ha ha. The planet tops look cool too.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Very creative! Lots of technical ideas at play here.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
I see you've been busy, Jeremy! :-)) There are a lot of cool new tops. My favourite is definitely the Ferrari. Great job! :-))
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Poor dizzy space guy. Great top as always.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Gabor Pauler Thats why pilots are tested how easily they can be nauseated...
Yes, and they're trained to put the spinship into a hard 85° banked turn at warp 6.7 as soon as they throw up. That drives the gunk to bottom of the cockpit, where the onboard tribbles (usually a crew of 3) can gobble it right up. Yum!
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Thats why pilots are tested how easily they can be nauseated...
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Seaman SPb Great realization, Jeremy! Thank you for making a flying saucer in real life! Very bright and beautiful work turned out!
Delighted that you like it, Seaman! That canopy you picked for the Flying Cat really pops.
 I made it 
  April 12, 2018
Quoting Patrick Boyle Ha! That's a wonderful and surprising twist on Seaman's design! It looks good in color too. Thank you for doing such a detailed write up on the topic, I would never have even considered LEGO tops such as these. What is it that you used for the tip? Just a tiny bearing? Edit: Oh, I see where you say. It's a cut antenna tip.
Many thanks, Patrick! Of all the tip solutions I've tried, the cut antenna tip gives the longest and smoothest spins with the least travel. Purists will be happy to hear that a Technic ball usually works well, too, and is the tip of choice when you =want= travel -- say, in a battle top.
 I like it 
  April 12, 2018
Great realization, Jeremy! Thank you for making a flying saucer in real life! Very bright and beautiful work turned out!
 
By Jeremy McCreary
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