DRAGON - MJ (HOW-TO)

Crew Dragon Spacecraft - Model J (Print and Assembly Instructions)

How to print this model?

Most of the STL files are really straight forward to print. All you need to do is load them into your slicer software (I use Cura), select your desirable settings (e.g. layer height, infill percentage, etc.) and slice the parts. I used 0.4mm nozzle (0.2mm layer height) to print most parts and 0.25mm nozzle (0.1mm layer height to print small parts (e.g. pins, washers, links, etc.)
Please note: I already saved the STL for each part in the orientation I printed them on my FDM printer. Hence, when you load the STL in your slicer software, you don’t need to orientate them again, unless you want to try to print them in a different orientation.

Also, below are 4 particular parts which I want to give you some tips:

Standing Astronaut: print with raft to create a small base for the figure to stand on its own.

Body: Print in the orientation shown below – this will save you a lot of time and material for support structures. You’ll need to trial to find out which support structure works best for your printer to print this part. I use ‘Zig Zag’ and 10% support density.

Nose Cone: Print in the orientation shown below. I suggest in your ‘Support Placement’ option, use ‘Touching Buildplate‘ instead of ‘Everywhere’

Trunk: The entire Trunk can be printed without any support except the areas underneath the fins. Therefore, you can create a ‘huge’ Support Blocker as shown in the picture to avoid any support from being generated on the part BUT leave the fins out because we need support underneath them!

Heat Shield: The Heat Shield on the DRAGON-MJ can be a bit challenging to print as it has a pattern (which represents the tiles) on the bottom face. If you struggle to print this part in 1 piece, please use the 2 pieces design instead – which you can print the top and bottom of the Heat Shield separately with their optimum orientation and minimum support. Once printed, you can either: (1) glue the 2 pieces permanently together or (2) stick some 10mm Dia x 2mm thick magnets in the holes on both pieces if you want them to be separable.

How to assemble this model?

So now you’ve got all your parts printed? – great!, let’s assemble the model!.
I’ll take you through the assembly process step by step but before that, you need to purchase some items:
1) 5mm dia x 3mm thick N42 Neodymium magnets (LINK) (you need at least 24 of these – I strongly recommend N42 grade for strong magnetic force)
2) 10mm dia x 2mm thick N42 Neodymium magnets (LINK) (you need at least 30 of these – I strongly recommend N42 grade for strong magnetic force)
3) Super glue (LINK) (we don’t need to use a lot of glue at all, a few drops is all we need)

STEP 1: Assemble the Hinge, Body and Nose Cone
Part required (refer to the photos below):
3x Link (a)
2x Apin (b)
1x Bpin (c)
2x Cpin (d)
1x Large Washer (e)
1x Small Washer (f)
1x Short Dowel (g)
1x Long Dowel (h)
1x Nose Cone (i)
1x Body (j)

Assembly process:
– Assemble the Hinge
– Connect the Hinge with the Body and Nose Cone
Note: All parts in STEP 1 should be fitted together without any super glue. Some parts are quite small so I suggest you use a pair of tweezers to handle them.

STEP 2: Assemble the EXTERIOR of the Pressurised Crew Module 
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Sub-assembly from STEP 1 (a)
4x Window (b)
1x DracoFrontLeft (c)
1x DracoFrontRight (d)
1x DracoRearLeft (e)
1x DracoRearRight (f)
1x LH Vent (g)
1x RH Vent (h)
1x Entry Hatch (i)
8x Magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) (highlighted in RED)

Assembly process:
– Press fit 6 magnets into their locations on the Body and 2 magnets into their location on the Entry Hatch (use super glue if needed)
– Press fit the Vents, Windows and Draco’s into their locations on the Body (use super glue if needed)
– Assemble the Entry Hatch to the Body.
Note: If you have inserted the magnets correctly at this point, you should now be able to ‘hang’ the Entry Hatch on the Body.

STEP 3: Assemble the INTERIOR of the Pressurised Crew Module 
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Floor (a)
1x Floor Step (b)
2x LH Seat (c)
2x RH Seat (d)
2x LH Footbar (e)
2x RH Footbar (f)
1x LH Seat Support (g)
1x Center Seat Support (h)
1x RH Seat Support (i)
1x Monitor (k)

Assembly process:
– Glue the Seats and Footbars together (ensure that you don’t mix up the LR/LH ones)
– Glue the Floor and Floor Step together
– Slide Seat/Footbar sub-assemblies into Seat Supports (LH, RH & Centre) (Hint: Put some duct tape around the cylindrical section of the Seat Supports to adjust clearance between this and the hole on the Footbar)
– Press fit Monitor into Floor (Hint: use glue if you want this part to be fixed permanently. Alternatively, to make it tightly fitted but still removable, use some duct tape to fine-tune the clearance between this part and its locating hole on the Floor)
– Press fit Seat/Footbar/Seat Support sub-assemblies into Floor (again, use duct tape to adjust clearance if needed)

STEP 4: Assemble the INTERIOR of the Pressurised Crew Module to the Heat Shield
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Heat Shield (a)
1x Interior sub-assembly from STEP 3 (b)
4x SuperDraco (c)
1x Panel (d)
4x Magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) (highlighted in RED)
12x Magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thich) (highlighted in ORANGE)

Assembly process:
– Press fit/Glue 4 magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) into the 4 holes on the top face of the ‘Heat Shield’ – ensure that these magnets are fitted correctly so they attract the ones previously fitted on the Body (at STEP 2)
– Glue 12 magnets (6 stacks of 2) into the 6 holes on the ‘Heat Shield’
– Press fit/Glue the 4 SuperDraco’s and Panel into the ‘Heat Shield’
– Finally, glue the INTERIOR sub-assembly (from STEP 3) to the ‘Heat Shield’

STEP 5: Assemble the ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly 
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Soft Capture Ring (a)
6x Linear Actuator (b)
1x Sliding Ring (c)
1x Seal (d)
1x Hard Capture System (e)
1x Top Hatch (f)
1x Roof (g)
1x TopDraco (h)

Assembly process:
– Glue Soft Capture Ring, 6x Linear Actuators and Sliding Ring together to create the ‘Soft Capture System’
– Press fit Top Hatch and Seal into Hard Capture System
– Press fit Hard Capture System into Roof (ensure that the ‘data & power plug’ and ‘data & power socket’ on both sides of the Hard Capture System are pushed all the way into their slots on the Roof)
– Press fit Top Draco into Roof (from underneath) (Fun fact: These thrusters on the top of the spacecraft are used to abort docking with the ISS whilst the SuperDraco engines you assembled at STEP 4 are used for launch abort)
– Slide ‘Soft Capture System’ into Hard Capture System. (There’s a really cool video on YouTube explains how the Docking Mechanism works: LINK)

STEP 6: Assemble the whole Pressurised Crew Section
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly from STEP 5 (a)
1x INTERIOR sub-assembly from STEP 4 (b)
1x EXTERIOR sub-assembly from STEP 2 (c)
1x Nose Ring (d)

Assembly process:
– Cut open the Nose Ring at the marked location
– Assemble the EXTERIOR sub-assembly (STEP 2) to the INTERIOR sub-assembly (STEP 4) – the magnets on these two sub-assemblies should hold them together without having to use any glue
– Press fit Nose Ring and ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly onto the sub-assembly above – no glue should be needed

STEP 7: Assemble the Trunk
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Trunk (a)*
1x Secret Compartment (b)
10x Magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) (highlighted in RED)
18x Magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) (highlighted in ORANGE)
* I printed both halves of the Trunk together on an dual-extrusion printer (Ultimaker S5). If you don’t have a dual-extrusion printer, you can either (1) print the whole Trunk in one colour (use the Trunk (1-piece) STL) and paint half of it with another colour OR (2) print two halves separately in two colours and glue them together. In this case, you’ll have Trunk_Front (a1) and Trunk_Rear (a2)

Assembly process:
– Glue 2 magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) into the 2 holes located on the front side of the Trunk
– Glue 4 magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) into the 4 holes located on the chamfer of the Secret Compartment
– Glue 4 magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) into the 4 holes located on the chamfer inside the Trunk
– Glue 6 magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) into the 6 holes located on top of the Trunk (ensure that these magnets attract the ones previously fitted on the Heat Shield at STEP 4)
– Glue 12 magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) in 6 stacks of 2 into the 6 holes located inside the Secret Compartment (ensure that these magnets attract the ones previously fitted on the Heat Shield at STEP 4 when you put the bottom face of these two parts against each other)

How does the Secret Compartment work?
When the Secret Compartment is fitted into the Trunk, spin the bottom of this part until the 4 magnets located on its chamfer aligned with those located on the chamfer inside the Trunk. The Secret Compartment is now ‘locked’ and its bottom face flushes with the bottom face of the Trunk – making it impossible to open unless you know how!
To ‘unlock’ the Secret Compartment: Use the bottom of the Heat Shield – place the Heat Shield directly on the Secret Compartment (make sure that the bottom faces of these two parts are in contact. Slightly rotate the Heat Shield until you feel the magnets are aligned with those on the Secret Compartment. Now, hold the Heat Shield steadily and pull it away from the Trunk, the Secret Compartment will come out.

STEP 8: Assemble the Trunk to the Pressurised Crew Module
Parts required (refer to the photos below):
1x Trunk from STEP 7 (a)
1x Pressurised Crew Module from STEP 6 (b)
1x The ‘Claw’ (c)
2x Magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) (highlighted in RED)

Assembly process:
– Place the Pressurised Crew Module on the Trunk, the magnets should hold these two Module together concentrically to each other.
– Glue 2 magnets (5mm dia x 3mm thick) to the holes located on the back of the ‘Claw’
– Assemble the ‘Claw’ to the Trunk

And THAT’S ALL DONE! Congratulations, you have just built a super cool spacecraft!

STEP 9: Upgrade your DRAGON-MJ model
You have already completed the DRAGON-MJ model in STEP 8 above. However, if you want to make it even more impressive, why not add these optional upgrades below to your model:
– Standing Astronauts
– Seated Astronauts
– Interior Lighting Module (Click on this LINK to learn how to build one)

Please let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below:

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Doug Thompson
Doug Thompson
6 months ago

Can you get rid of the Feedback button in the bottom left corner as when you print the document it blocks text on every page in that area?

Doug Thompson
Doug Thompson
6 months ago

Awesome model, can’t wait to start printing.

gerard
gerard
8 months ago

Lovely model. 2x Apin (b) don’t seem to work for me but the model is coming together great. many thanks

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