Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How-To: Make Your Very Own Light-Bright Monolith

With the completion of the Complekt Dynasty, after that post and on several occasions I get asked about my "Light-Bright Monolith". So as a treat, and since we didn't have anything else planned for today (oooooh, but just wait till Friday, ladies and gents), I thought I'd throw up my old tutorial from back on on this model. Unfortunately, Matt Ward made this thing a piece of defecation remnants on the tabletop, but it's still a great talking point and something I like to bust out at my LFGS. So without further stalling, how to make your own Monolith (and please pardon my writing/formatting style from back in the day):

The first step was the purchase of replacement parts. This thing is old... I mean ooooooold. Pieces were chipped, scratched and broken. Seeing as this is supposed to be an old relic from another planet that's seen hundreds of thousands or millions of years, some of this wasn't an issue. The only problem I had was the weapon tips being broken, and I didn't want to Green Stuff or replicas of something 4 times.

So I broke down and eBayed 4 new replacements, but not the green bars that are stuck within them. How did I get the bars out you say?
Bam. Time and time again I tell people how important sewing pins are, they have unlimited use in conversions. This one is no exception.

Taking the whole thing apart carefully was quite the process. Taking about 3 hours of my time, and the most tools out of any other process in this conversion, this was not fun.
But as I said, this thing is very old and fragile. And all the hard work paid off in the end.

Next, was the actual idea for the conversion; pimping it out by lighting it up! I owe everything for the cold cathode light (which I purchased .) I was going to go with LED, but CCFL has the benefits of being brighter, cheaper and using less power.

With the light on the way, it was crunch time. With the Monolith in silvery pieces, and my army in black, it's time to ! Yes please.

Some Simple Green. A large tub. An oven heated to 170F. And 2 hours made stripping this thing a breeze:

Next getting light in the right places. The Monolith already has fantastic holes and crannies to get light through, but I wanted more holes... heheheh... First, the Living Metal rule for this thing makes me think the surface should constantly be moving around slowly. The flat, solid, pyramid-like model doesn't really do it for me in this respect. So, on every side of this thing I took very thin cuts in the small crevasses throughout the flat surfaces like so:

This will later look like this:
(My attempt at not giving away the finished product)

Next was carving out some flare where I wanted it using a ball-point carver tip with my dremmel tool:

Now I want to get the green bars out (not that hard of a task using a needle as I showed before). But to get light to shine through them, I needed to carve out the backing very carefully using a wire grinder on my dremmel:

And the circle... thingy on the back:

And the power crystal's hole:

I also wanted light coming up from the center crystal "cover" from behind the crystal. So I cut a rectangle for this light to come through:

And finally, the "hover lights". Warning: You will have carpel tunnel after cutting these out:

Now that we've finished the cutting, and our hands have been dipped in ice water for 45mins, it's time to move on to priming. Of course my outside will be black, but first I want to spray the inside white in order to help the light reflect from inside the Monolith:

Once your CCFL kit arrives, we'll want to carve down the center peg so the light's inverter has someplace to sit:

Next your kit will include very long wires, we need to shorten these. We'll remove the PC power wires for this kit (unless you want your power supply for your Monolith to be a computer tower.) And for now, we'll only shorten the switch's wires. Cut them short, but not too short (which if you place things before you glue them in place you'll see that's kind of hard to do.) After cutting, strip the insulation to about this length:

Next, size, mark and cut a square for the switch (I cut the square wider than the switch so I'd have some light coming from it as well.) And create 2 holes for your screws via a heated sewing needle:
(just like the author of the link above has said, do not use green stuff as it turns out that it's a conductor and can create electrical issues)

Next, wiring. The author of the link I followed connected the switch to the converter, then connected the batter cap (which you can buy from RadioShack.) Doing this caused my battery to heat up like crazy, I wouldn't recommend this. Instead, make a complete ring circuit like so:
(As always, click on the picture to zoom in.)

Once you've insured it works, tape it up so none of your wires touch and cause your inverter to smoke and die (that's a bad thing.) I used white tape to help with the light inside the Monolith, but it's so minimal I wouldn't cry over it if you don't have white electrical tape:

During the wiring process I came up with a fun idea for the portal. With a spare Destroyer arm from , I wanted this arm coming out of the portal with a silhouette of a Warrior behind it. So that's what I did:
Just cut the arm to put the portal in between and make sure the shoulder matches up with the center of the portal.

Finally, let's place and glue the electronics and screw in the switch:
Setting the whole kit diagonally won't block off any light within the Monolith.

Finally, we'll shorten the cathode light's wires ONE. AT. A. TIME. These wires are not color coded, so we can't tell which wires are the positive and negative connections:

And that's it. I haven't finished filling in holes or painting, but here's the rough idea of what it will look like:

I'm debating filling in every gap at the base as it seems to fit in with the slits I put in for the Living Metal. I'm sure with models that aren't almost 10 years old it will all fit back together a lot better, but that's not an advantage I had. All in all, on a first attempt I'm very proud of how it turned out!

And that's it for this flashback. Stay tuned for this Friday, where the staff of STC have something very special in-store for you all!

Later days.


  1. Nice. When i did it i took duct tape (that really shiney metal kind) and lined the inside - both to fill gaps and reflect more light (as i didn't have LEDs at the time) and used those tiny xmas lights you can get for xmas displays. I like the LED much better though.

  2. Nice! I didn't even think of duct tape, that would have made it even brighter! Good call.

  3. Well done! Looks amazing!

  4. Great job, especially the Destroyer arm & body inside.
    Thanks for the info on GS conducting electricity too, good to know.

  5. This is... epic... And very inspiring. Thanks for sharing your insights too! I may do this just for fun and have a change of pace with what I'm currently doing =)

  6. Thanks, everyone! It was a very nice change of pace and definitely worth the time. I bust this thing out to show off whenever I get the chance. If you have any questions, hit me up at sinaura40k(at)gmail(dot)com.