Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Monday, November 23, 2020

On the Road to Armies on Parade - Part 2 - Onward and Upward!

In the first entry of this series on my 2020 Armies on Parade, I went through the basic set up of the lower level (mines) and the middle level (underhive). In this entry, I'll go through the next steps on both levels, including installing the permanent lighting in the mine level and starting work on the ceiling lights on the underhive level. As I've gone along, I've tried some different ways of wiring up the LEDs, though they're all parallel circuits. I'll include full circuit diagrams in a future entry.

Ceiling grid sitting on the top (surface) layer board

I wanted something industrial looking for the ceiling of the underhive level, but I didn't want to break up the sheer number of Games Workshop terrain kits it would take to get that many ceiling tiles, so I improvised. I found some aquarium dividers that looked pretty much the part, and assembled three square feet of them in an "L" pattern as one quadrant would be taken up by the superstructure (basically two large walls). The whole set cost me about $11 and it hit it with some Krylon red-brown spray primer (same color I used on the ceiling board (which forms the base of the surface level).

One of the two underhive walls roughed out - more details to add, though!

With the ceiling generally set, next came working up the walls that would help support that gigantic piece of plywood. I started with thin craft plywood and covered it in styrene. The styrene was held in place with superglue, with other styrene bits added to start adding some details. The photo above shows the rough wall with just only a few styrene strips and a couple of I-beams added. Additional details are on the way!

Chip LEDs for the Underhive ceiling

As this is a multilayer board, integrated lighting is very important so you can actually see the miniatures on each of the level. After all, it's the Army that's "on Parade" - the board is merely the parade grounds! I'd purchased a variety of LEDs in anticipation of this particular build. Unfortunately some of my "big ideas" didn't happen this time around, so I'll have those ready for next time around. Since I had a nice grid for the ceiling of the Underhive, I decided to go with some square LED and light fixtures on that level. I'd picked up some square chip LEDs from a local surplus store, but they came bare, so I had to wire them up myself - which involved figuring out which of the four leads I needed to use for this particular build.

They work! I'm gonna need a lot more wire...

Once I figured out which were the positive and negative leads, I decided to try and wire all of these up with terminal blocks rather than in a simple parallel system like I used on the mine level lighting. I knew I wouldn't have a lot of extra space underneath the Underhive ceiling grid, so I opted to use more wire length and get all of them back to a central location I also added resistors to each of them as I'd be using 9V batteries to power this monstrosity and if I hadn't added the resistor, too much current would pour through the LED and would burn it out.

Mine level wiring permanently attached!

The lights for the mine level are also permanently affixed to the board now as well. The lights are wired in parallel, but with a single positive and negative lead heading down to the battery area. I bought these LEDs with the wiring and resistors pre-installed, which save a lot of time! That being said, my soldering has improved dramatically as I've gone through this project.

Terminal blocks for the mine level effects

I decided to install a few extra effects in the mine level, but went with the terminal block set-up like I ended up using on the Underhive level. There's only a total of four leads for the lower level effects, so I only needed one block of four. You can even see one of the nice splices I made on one of the red leads above. I've graduated from using colored electrical tape to the thermal shrink tubing which provides a far more professional and neat final product... which will dutifully be buried behind walls so you'll never see it!

It works - and there's a rock face starting to take shape!

In the photo above you can see the mine level starting to take shape, along with various tools and other implements of destruction, errr, construction. I'm using Heki Rock "Foil" for most of the cliff face. I picked mine up from Scenic Express, which is where I've traditionally gotten a lot of my basing supplies from static grass to tufts. 

Things are starting to take shape, but I've got a very long way to go. Next time I'll show some of the details of the surface level since I had to start building that in conjunction with the ceiling for the Underhive level. 


  1. Great stuff, looking forward to the completed piece


    1. Thanks - stay tuned, additional parts are dropping every day this week!