(I am backdating several of these posts relating to the Warp Core project to be approximate to when they would've been written if I had this blog at the time. I'd like to lay out the journey from the beginning rather than summarizing it into a short paragraph or two of this-all-happened-before-the-blog.)
It was the week of July 4th and I had it off from work. I was struck by a notion that it would be pretty cool to build a warp core. I had 5 days open so it seemed like a perfect time for a little extended-weekend project. I started by doing some Google searching for similar builds and, to my surprise, found none. The closest that I could find to anyone building their own warp core was a 3D printed model the size of a desk lamp. It was tied to a server rendering farm's CPU state so that was cool but it was still small. This was awesome, I could be the first.
I started doing napkin sketches to lay out my plan and figured that with my dad's help we could knock it out in three days. Boy was I wrong.
I wanted the core to be as realistic as possible even though I don't have the means to fabricate metal or plastic on that scale. I also wanted it to do something rather than just sit there idle. I decided on having the dilithium chamber act as a storage location for my various electronics I have strewn about against a wall including my home server, NAS, battery backup, home automation server, switches, etc. From this vision and after some napkin sketches I set about modelling up my idea in Solidworks to flesh it out a bit.
I shared these drawings (can be found on project page) with my dad and we decided to start with the core region and to use MDF wood as the material. My dad has plenty of tools and experience with woodworking so we definitely had the means, but it would take a lot of wood. The core itself has five rings on each side of the center with thicknesses of a few inches. In order to make these rings they would each take multiple sheets of MDF sandwiched together.
We laid out some rough numbers, acquired the MDF, and set about cutting large circles from the sheets. We ended up burning through a couple of routers and found out the MDF is extremely messy. Wood dust got everywhere. At this time my expectations were slightly divorced from reality as far as the level of precision we'd be able to achieve using the tools and materials we had. I fell victim to the common engineering pitfall of setting my tolerances so that they worked on my model but were unrealistic. Suffice to say that the cutting process was very slow going and it took a bit before I started to loosen up on perfectionism just a bit.
It was after a few days of this dust-covered, slow-moving, cutting process when we had only cut maybe three quarters of the needed sheets that I started to realize that this was a much larger undertaking than I had initially thought...