Building a Necron Monolite
We’ve all seen the light-up mods for Monoliths, tanks, and a slew of other wargaming models but probably never attempted it. This could be due to a lack of electrical experience or maybe just because it seems overwhelming. I tried my hand at this some time ago with my first Monolith (seen here) and due to a surprising amount of positive feedback and requests for more detailed instructions (Also, the demand for more Monoliths in a 5th edition Necron army played a part in it… but that’s another story) I’m posting a beginner-friendly illustrated tutorial of how to build one.
This modification is better than most because it uses only ONE light as opposed to a confusing series of LEDs and resisters, and is much, much brighter. To give you an example, a fairly bright LED light puts out about 1000mcd (luminous intensity) … whereas this single tube light puts out about 40,000mcd (give or take 5000mcd). Plus, it’s pretty cheap.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Monolith (and associated modeling supplies you probably already have… clippers, hobby knife, glue, paint, etc.) $55
- 4” CCFL Kit (I got mine here) $5
- 9volt Battery Connectors <$3
- Electrical Tape <$3
So if you’re into the hobby already, you’ll probably end up spending around $10 in additional supplies to make this.
Let’s Get Started!
Since we have limited space to work with inside the Monolith, we’ll have to put the light in diagonally. I’ve tried other setups but found this to work the best. If it’s horizontal the inverter will block the light from either shining out of the portal, or out of the spaces we’ll cut in the bottom of the Monolith (more on this later)… so we’ll put
it in diagonally, with the light as centered as we can get it inside this beast. So first we’ll need to glue the CCFL tube to the side of the inverter. I used wood (PVA) glue for this. It takes a while to cure but is definitely worth it considering how strong it is. (You wouldn’t want anything inside here getting knocked loose after it’s all put together, right?)
Lay down a strip of glue like this:
and lay the tube on top of it.
Make sure that the side with the wire coming out of the tube is on the same side as the plug for the wire on the inverter!
I had trouble with the light wanting to slowly slide off so I weighted it down with the nearest flat thing I could find…
You’ll probably want to let this sit overnight to thoroughly harden. In the mean time, let’s carve up our Monolith so all this glorious light can emanate from within. First stop, ground floor! Let’s cut out those stupid squares on the bottom that nobody’s going to see anyway. This will provide some nice, gaussy ground-effects.
I used a sharp hobby knife to outline where I wanted to cut… Then I retraced those grooves with the line again and again (each time with more pressure) until I was able to poke through and pop the whole piece out. If you can think of a better way to do this, then do it. My hands were killing me after I finished carving these up. Anyway, you’ll need to cut:
The 4 squares on the bottomThe pieces behind the 6 long gauss rods on either side panelThe pieces behind the 8 smaller gauss rods around the top of the model
Bore a hole behind where the circular gauss piece goes Saw the bottom of the area off underneath where the crystal goes.
I did all this, and then glued the 4 sides together… here’s the result:
Now if you’ve built a Monolith before you’re probably wondering why I didn’t put the gauss flux arc turrets in… Well, there’s a way to put them in afterwards, and I’d like to
prime them before the final steps of the assembly so they get a nice even coat. To pop them in afterwards, just lay the bottom piece in, and put the top piece ontop of it, but
don’t line them both up so they’re pointing the same way. Rather, have one pointing one way, and the other about 30-45 degrees off (Like a V shape) and push gently to pop it in place. You can then pinch the edges of the ‘V’ together to line them up.
The glue should probably still be drying… so let’s move on to something else. Along with the CCFL and inverter, you should find a switch on a PCI panel and some molex connectors. We won’t be needing most of this (but hang on to it). Let’s steal the switch and cut off those wires. First, start by unscrewing the switch from the PCI panel.
Give yourself a good amount of slack on the wires (better to cut them too long than too short!) and slice those bad larrys with your hobby knife or some scissors. You can keep the screws if you want to deal with it but I think I’ll just mush some greenstuff around the edges of the switch on the inside of the Monolith
Next you can either trace, or just eyeball the size of your switch hole and scratch it into the bottom panel with your knife like such:
It took a little bit of shaving down to get it just right…
And there she goes…
Don’t glue (or screw, or greenstuff…) this in place just yet! We need to finish our wiring and basecoat this thing first!
Now that the glue between your CCFL and inverter has dried, we can do some more modding. You’ll probably notice that the white wires going from your light to inverter are long.
Too long, these things are going to bunch up inside of your Monolith and probably block some of the light. We don’t want this. Let’s shorten them. This light (and everything else we’re working with here) has 2 wires: A positive (+), and a negative (-). Positive wires are typically red whereas negative wires are typically black. This CCFL has neither. Since we don’t know which is + and which is -, ONLY CUT ONE AT A TIME!!!
I left about 1-2 inches of wire on either side and threw away the rest. We’ll want to reconnect these wires, but how? We need the metal wire inside the rubber sheathing on the 2 ends to meet once again. We’ll have to cut the sheathing off. Electronics stores sell wire strippers but why pay for it? You can just as easily take some sharp scissors, open them to a V shape, put the wire down into the V (leave about 1cm or a half an inch of the wire sticking out), and VERY GENTLY squeeze the wire with the scissors while rotating the wire to slice the sheath a little bit, then bite on the end, and pull. VIOLA! a stripped wire!
You’ll take the 2 metal wire ends, twist them together, then wrap some electrical tape around the bare metal area to re-insulate them, and prevent the metal sections of your positive and negative wires from touching. This kind of touching is bad. It will result in sparks. Bad Sparks. Sparks that could burn out your inverter, light, battery, house, neighbors house, you get the idea. Don’t touch your positives and negatives together. After you re-conntect one wire, move on to the other. It will probably end up looking like this:
Remember the stuff we cut off from the end of the switch? We need some of it. There should be a small white connector which fits nicely into the other side of your inverter. We need that plug, and 1-2 inches of wire along with it. You’ll need to strip these wires (Again, about 1cm or 1/2 inch), the wires attached to the switch, and the wires on your 9volt battery connector (I find that out-of-the-bag they don’t give enough of a lead, so I took a little bit more sheathing off.
After you do this, you’ll want to take the ends of your 3 red wires (Battery wire, switch wire, and inverter wire) and twist them all together.
Then do the same for your 2 black and 1 yellow wires (I’m not sure why that one is yellow…) and you should have something that looks like this:
Wrap both of these bundles in electrical tape, attach a 9v battery, and you should have a fully functional light you can turn on and off by the switch!
This battery only has about 1/2 charge left in it. Yours will be much brighter.
The battery was getting incredibly hot regardless of the switch position. If I let it sit for a minute with the battery plugged in, and the switch off, it felt like the battery was going to burst into flames. It took a while to figure this one out but I came to the realization that GREEN STUFF IS A CONDUCTOR! Be careful with this stuff (especially around the switch) when attempting to follow this tutorial. It might be a better idea to just screw the switch into the plastic of the model.
I used green stuff to hold the switch in place on the inside of my Monolith (pics to come) and I guess it connected the + and – leads. The switch worked fine… it still turned the lights on and off… but the battery was scorching and running out of juice incredibly fast. If you attempt to follow this tutorial, make sure to test your connections by leaving the battery connected with the switch in the off position for about 5 minutes. If you can feel a noticeable heat coming from your battery, pull everything apart and start over. And BE CAREFUL WITH THAT GREEN STUFF!
Now that we have all our wiring taken care of, lets prime this sucker! I primed the inside white (kind of hard to see with the flash…) and the outside black…
I primed the inside white because I want the light to bounce off the inner surfaces of the Monolith and appear even brighter! I suppose if you were motivated enough you could pick up some of that chrome spray paint and really go nuts.
After you’ve got it all primed, lay down some PVA glue here
and put the inverter on top at this angle
You’ll want to make sure that the wires aren’t plugged in as this could cause the inverter to pivot on the glue and set incorrectly.
After the glue cures, you’ll want to connect your wire to the inverter, and make sure your switch is secured… However, DO NOT DO THIS:
See where the green stuff touches the circuit board on the switch? This caused a short for me could have eventually burned out my battery or house. GREEN STUFF IS A CONDUCTOR. be warned.
After you take care of all your wiring, glue to bottom section of the Monolith onto the top, paint it up however you like, insert your battery via one of the holes in the bottom like this
And tuck it up inside, resting on the ‘floor’ against one of the inner walls like this
Enjoy an 85% increase in the fear factor of your Monolith. (Warning: May cause loosening of bowels in opponents.)