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I'm looking for a serious, realistic looking scale model of the International Space Station to build at home. Even better, if it would include some electronics.

I'm open to free or commercial products.

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking for any specific electronics? Lighting? $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Apr 18 '14 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes lightning mostly, and some movements can be nice too. $\endgroup$ – ack__ Apr 18 '14 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ This question has promoted me to start working on an Arduino controlled ISS model. Complete with rotating solar arrays etc! If it comes together I'll share the design. $\endgroup$ – ThePlanMan Apr 19 '14 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ On a pedantic note, any model is probably bound to be a little behind the times owing to the progressive manner in which the ISS came together one module at a time. $\endgroup$ – Everyone Nov 19 '14 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ I've edited my answer to include the reissue of the Revell kit. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Dec 3 '14 at 8:20
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There are some plastic model kits as well:

  1. Intermountain Railway had a very nice (and very expensive) ISS model at 1/144 scale, generally regarded to be the best available. It's out of production so it's getting hard to find.
  2. Revell has an 1/144 scale ISS as well. When I wrote this in April of 2014, this kit was out of production and being offered for increasingly silly prices (\$160, when the original price was closer to \$50). As of November 2014, Revell have done a limited-edition reissue of this kit (kit number 04841).
  3. Heller has the ISS in 1/125. You can find kits of just the ISS, or the ISS plus an ESA ATV and an Ariane 5. These are readily available. This kit has one large drawback: it doesn't include the main truss and the 8 large solar arrays.
  4. There are more at smaller scales (Takara 1/700, iirc Herpa does one at a similar scale)

Discussion of ISS models

None of these include electronics, by the way. Are you looking for anything specific? Lighting?

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There is a pretty cool paper model available at AXM Models.

Another cool paper model is available at CSIRO.

I think paper models are pretty cool. For example this paper Ironman model!

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  • $\begingroup$ Was interested in what a "space paper model" entails, can you update your links possibly? Understood this question is old, but I'm going from highest voted to lowest, trying to read the entire SE voted higher than 5 before December :). $\endgroup$ – Magic Octopus Urn Aug 9 '18 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn They are models made out of paper. I am not sure how to clarify that further. Model - a physical representation of an object. Paper - generally celluslose based fabric of many forms. $\endgroup$ – geoffc Aug 9 '18 at 20:27
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I've been looking at the AXM models. I haven't built one yet, but I have been looking carefully at the various modules in the photographs of the finished item, and it looks good to me (I write books about how spacecraft work, for kids).

Obviously not electronic though! But perhaps you could rig up your own lighting?

I've found some on Amazon. Most of them include a Space Shuttle which means they're not 100% accurate any more. EG this one at 1/450 scale.

http://www.amazon.com/Daron-Vision-International-Station-60-Piece/dp/B00ABY8XQ8/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1416409406&sr=1-1&keywords=International+Space+Station

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NASA actually released a set of measurements for a 1:100 ISS model. The detail is basic and the model is “as it was originally designed”, so it differs from the current configuration in places.

The interesting part is the possibility of 3D printing. You could input the measurements into your favourite CAD software, or you could use these ready made files from Thingiverse.com. If you have access to a 3D printer you could just print it, or if not send off to someone like 3DPrintUK or shapeways.

Or, you could resize the file. How about a 1/32 or 1/16 ISS? Plenty of space for motors and would just need a bit of detailing.

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As far as using an Arduino board to control your model I had also planned a similar project involving the data from the nasa website to not only control with servos the station orientation but as you know the solar panels move to face the sun or away based on power requirements. I was looking at the very excellent "open source" program "celeste" which is a standalone program that can use current data from NASA TLE's and correctly give inclination of the station and it's position. Moreover if your Arduino board was wi-fi equipped with a link to the TLE's that nasa publishes monthly you could create an accurate and very convincing station model as it would be in real time telemetry. Add that to a display base of a flat panel monitor of High Resolution running the celeste program showing earth position below and your model/diorama would be unbelievable.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, it sure would be. $\endgroup$ – kim holder Nov 25 '14 at 20:57
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Using LEGO is also an option:


The official models of the ISS for NASA were created by Gamla Model Makers. They provided several 1:100 scale models of the International Space Station for their Headquarter, and Space Centers. They, however, took more than a year to create the model, and they are not cheap.

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