Starfleet Badges

As most self-respecting nerds are aware, Star Trek: The Next Generation is being re-released in high-definition Blu-Ray discs, one season at a time.
This show captured my imagination while growing up. I used to watch it with my father, as many young kids did. What I have always enjoyed about Star Trek are the philosophical undertones that came from Gene Roddenberry’s idealistic hopes for the future of humanity.
For the release of each season, two of the best, most memorable episodes from that season in theaters for one night only. I thought to myself that if I’m going to be seen in public going to a Star Trek viewing like this, I may as well look my best for the occasion…

I started by drawing the basic profile of the TNG combadge in illustrator. I used screenshots from the show and pictures on Google to get the shape as accurate as possible.

I then Imported the shape into Autocad Inventor and extruded and shaped the model to look how they appear I the show. Once I had the model finalized, I took an STL file and brought it into Carve 3D software and prepared a tool path for use on our CNC machine using a 1/8th inch round nose bit. The bit is too large for this scale, and so not all the detail seen in the 3D model is in turn translated to the wood model.

The next step was to cut it out then sand it down in preparation for painting. I primed it and used gold metal and silver paint to give it its final appearance. Wood is not ideal for this type of replica because the of the grain, but the result is still pretty good I think.

I tried multiple woods and found the best result with ash. I also tried 3D printing on a Maker Bot but found that the step resolution produced very rough models that were unacceptable. To finish the badges off, they were fitted with a strong rare earth magnet, allowing them to be affixed to clothing.

Faux MacPro for less Dough

The last non-work-related project in which I partook was the building of a Mac to be used as my media server. As much as I would have loved to drop some money on a new MacPro, I am afraid that it would be impractical due to the limitation in hard disk locations as well as the exorbitant cost. Ergo, I made a “MacFaux”

The fake mac is pretty simple these days. Sites like OS X 86 Project & Empire EFI give you information you need on what type of hardware to buy, and software to install. Below is the list of items I acquired for this project.

The Case

I wanted this computer to match my normal computer, a MacPro. I looked around on eBay, and couldn’t find anything too well priced in the broken/stripped MacPros. I did however find an ample supply of reasonably priced Power Macintosh G5s. I thought that this would provide a good counterpart to the MacPro, and as an added bonus, had more room on the interior due to the lack of a second optical drive. The tricky part was getting the new motherboard to mount in the G5 case. I accomplished this by taking a piece of sheet metal and drilled holes that match the case as well as the motherboard.

Part Model Price
Case Power Mac G5 $100.00
Sub Total: $100.00

The Internals

Using the OS X 86 Project as a resource, I got some mac-compatible hardware. It seems that the Gigabyte motherboards are some of the more compatible motherboards out there. Also, I used a PATA DVD drive first since I had it as a spare, however I found that there were less issues using a new SATA DVD Burner I purchased mid-way through the project.

Using this diagram, I enabled the power button, as well as the USB port on the front of the machine by soldering the default harness to some generic PC connectors that go to the motherboard.

Part Model Price
Motherboard Gigabyte EP45T USB3P $139.99
Processor Intel BX80571E5300 (Dual Core 2.6 Ghz) $66.99
Video Card NVidia 9500 GT $69.99
Ram Crucial 2GB DDR2 400 MHz $50.99
HDD Western Digital 500GB Freebie
DVD Burner Samsung SATA DVD Burner 22x 19.99
Fans 2x 6″ Freebie
Power Supply Cooler Master RS750-ACAAE3-US 79.99
Sub Total: $426.94


After getting the computer together, and trying to get a stable install of 10.5 (Leopard), I finally resorted to buying the EFI-X module. All it is is a USB dongle with the appropriate drivers required for booting OS X. It is a little expensive, but after weeks of mucking around with the competition, I felt it was worth the cost.

Part Model Price
EFI-X Module EFI-X v1.01 99.99
Sub Total: $99.99


I wanted a RAID 5 setup for this server, and unfortunately Mac OS does not provide a native software solution, so I got a RAID card from High Point. To mount the hard disks, I needed some sort of HDD rack. Not being able to find one that was suitable, I designed one that can hold 8 HDDs and cut it out on a waterjet. After a couple of bends with a sheet metal break, it was ready to go! I got just 4 drives to start off with, but will expand to either 8 drives, 2TB drives, or both depending on my need as time goes on. Unfortunately, since this project began, hard drive prices have gone down considerably!

Part Model Price
RAID Card Rocket RAID 2313 140.99
Hard Drive Rack $15.30 for the metal
$10 for cutting out
Hard Drives WD 1TB $72.00 (x4)
SATA/Power Extenders $3.00 (x4)
Sub Total: $466.29

The Final Result

Once all was said and done, I got my server all up and running. It may not be as elegant on the inside as a brand new MacPro, however the final cost of a thousand dollars isn’t too shabby (Considering that a new MacPro is $2000 or more dollars!) Having used the final product for a few months now, I am very pleased with the results. It has been stable and fast. Live updating has been working great as well!

Part Model Price
Case Power Mac G5 $100.00
Internals MotherBoard, CPU, Etc. $426.94
RAID Intel BX80571E5300 $466.29
EFI-X EFIX v1.01 $99.99
Total (with tax): $1043.22

Plus, if you aren’t interested in the RAID setup, you can make the the MacFaux for a mere $630!

© 2007-2015 Michael Caldwell