The Danube Class Runabouts of Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine were introduced to the show when the producers decided the show need some mobility.  The Runabouts, named after major Earth rivers, are kind of cool in some ways—much bigger than a shuttle, much smaller than a starship.  They are big enough to carry the 5-7 people you regularly see on any given episode of Trek (the bridge crew types), and still pack enough firepower (i.e. photon/quantum torpedoes) to join in on the big boy fights.  Of course a Runabout is realistically limited in size, so how long it could survive toe-to-toe with a true starship is really a matter of seconds, not minutes.  Ultimately, the USS Defiant largely displaced the Runabouts.  The Defiant packed starship sized power and weaponry in a package not much bigger than a runabout.  Still, they were for a time the only Feddy ship on Trek, and are still a kind of neat design…


This model was built in the mid 90s, and has lights built into the engines and the nacelles, as well as blinking LEDs for the navigation lights.  The whole system runs on 4.5V (3 AA or C batteries), run through a jack plugged into the base.  The blinking circuit was copied from a Finescale Modeler Magazine article, and utilizes a 555 timer chip.  The main lighting on the kit comes from simple flashlight bulbs (white LEDs weren’t readily available in the mid 90’s).  For the red glowing section on the “wings”, I thinned out the grill with a file until it was near see through, which allows the soft red glow to show through.

The engine nacelles were a real trick.  Prior to building this kit, I had seen an article in FSM (Wiring Ertl’s “Next Generation” USS Enterprise, March 1994) about using mini fluorescent tubes to light nacelles on the Enterprise kit.  There was no way I was going to try this.  So, instead I parked a rearward facing flashlight bulb in the unlit portion of the nacelle and inserted clear sheets of styrene inside the nacelle.  The clear sheets were roughed up and at a angle so they caught the light from the bulb, which gave a decent glow (not perfect—still too bright at the front, but not bad for stone age lighting;).  The tip of the nacelle has a couple red LEDs to round things out.  If I were to do this over, I’d stick with one lighting sytem, LEDs, no bulbs.  Aside from heat and light quality, just wiring the circuits together for 4 flashlight bulbs and 6 LEDs (two blinking) was a bit of a trick.


Runabout Gallery

Various views with and without the occasionally used (actually once, I think) sensor package.











Views with the lights powered up