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Console Design Process

Started by systemsonic14, Apr 23, 2017, 07:20 am

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How do you go about designing a TARDIS Console? Do you design it at all? I am looking to build a console rather like the 9th/10th console but with the shape more like the current console. Any ideas?

Cardinal Hordriss

With my console I first picked an overall look to emulate, such as you've already done, in my case it was the 4th Doctor's console though it has since evolved into more a mix of styles.

I then made an inventory of components I already had/could make and sketched out some plans of the panels to see how far that would take me. I already had quiye a bit from my previous foam core board console.

Next I started looking on ebay for other switches, buttons and knobs to see what was available. I also used ebay for the plastic to make the time column and rotor.

Above all I'd say keep your eyes peeled, the time rotor I currently have in place is made entirely out of found bits, my handbrake is a ball and socket from a desktop clamp with the handle of a screwdriver fitted to it.

Good luck with it.
I speak to you from the final days of Gallifrey. I am the past you have forgotten. You are the future I will not live to see...


Apr 23, 2017, 10:45 am #2 Last Edit: Apr 23, 2017, 10:48 am by Scarfwearer
In terms of how to actually construct the frame, I'd recommend looking through the build diaries - particularly of consoles that are like the one you want to build. There are lots of great ideas there.
There are no hard-and-fast rules, but you might want to think about making it dismantle-able so you can get it through narrow doorways.

You could start with the prop database entry for the 9th/10th console, which lists everything we have about it that's been appropriately tagged, including the various build diaries people have done:


Quote from: Scarfwearer on Apr 23, 2017, 10:45 am
you might want to think about making it dismantle-able so you can get it through narrow doorways.

That's a really good idea and one that I hadn't thought of myself!
Thank you both for your help. I will start a build diary on my console when the plans are underway.


Apr 23, 2017, 03:46 pm #4 Last Edit: Apr 23, 2017, 08:48 pm by The14thDr
That's a great question systemsonic14! With my console I bought all of my switches long before I drew up any designs, then sketched out the plans for all of the panels; This helped me to keep costs down as it stopped my design from becoming too ambitious, as I had a list of available switches and knew how many of each I had to work with. (Having said this, my console has undergone a huge number of changes since her original form - so much so that many of the panels are barely recognisable :P)

For the levers I just looked at photos of all the different props from the series (and a few custom builds on the internet) to decide which I liked and which would look cool on my own console (boat/aeroplane throttles are also a good source of inspiration - as well as spaceship controls, both from real-life rockets and sci-fi vehicles; particularly the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars ;))

Lastly, I agree with everything that Cardinal Hordriss has said above (but particularly his final point); keep your eyes peeled for anything - and I mean anything - that could be used/modified for your console build. I've said many times before that I'm constantly looking at pieces of junk and wondering "what prop or TARDIS control could I make with that?"

Looking forward to seeing your build diary - and welcome to the Forum! :)

Kind regards, The14thDr :D
"Would you like a jelly baby?"


Isn't the English language and differing perspectives wonderful?!  The question means something a little different to each person.  My 2 cents: 

1) General style:  For me, that would be a classic series hexagon on a column.  Although if I ever have the time, space, money, and an excuse to build one, mine will use more design cues from a car cockpit than the mint green/silver/white/or steampunk wood of the classic series. 
2) Time rotor/column:  What do you want?  What is practical?  I kind of like the clockwork/vacuum tube look of the 1963 time rotor.  A classic build would be a rotor instead of the post-1996 column.  And a large diameter--21-22".  But plastic columns that big are not cheap and the mechanics to make the rotor reciprocate (and rotate for the 1960s one) will take some engineering.  Finally, there's power.  If you've got the classic time rotor, then your power has to come from below.  So you either need an electrical outlet in the middle of your floor, a raised floor so you can hide a cord, or just run one as unobtrusively as you can, like they did in the early episodes. 
3) Controls and I/O devices:  Mine will probably have a fair number of keyboards and monitors for the simple reason that I've got a fair number of old but functional laptops that I can put into the build.  Add to that things like old corded telephones, and odds and ends like plasma disks, ViewMasters, Etch-A-Sketches, Battleship! games and of course lights, speakers, and switches, and you're set.  Which brings us to...
4) Panel allocation.  You've got 6 panels.  Is there a rhyme and reason to them?  The current console has things broken down by a mechanical interface, a telepathic interface, etc.  The other way is:  Navigation, helm, sensors, communication, life support/climate control, defenses (or some other combination). 
5) Oh, and finally, how much space, money, skill, etc, do you have to devote to a build? 

That's my thought process.
"My dear Litefoot, I've got a lantern and a pair of waders, and possibly the most fearsome piece of hand artillery in all England. What could possibly go wrong?"
-The Doctor.


Quote from: The14thDr on Apr 23, 2017, 03:46 pm
I've said many times before that I'm constantly looking at pieces of junk and wondering "what prop or TARDIS control could I make with that?"

I've recently been doing the same thing, going to charity shops and scouring eBay. I came across a really good website that I realised had been mentioned here before called 'Bob's Bits' and I plan on paying them a visit some time soon.

Another question here, how do you go about making/finding good levers on a budget? I want something that will be solid, yet inexpensive for my console build.


Apr 24, 2017, 07:09 am #7 Last Edit: Apr 24, 2017, 07:14 am by galacticprobe
Quote from: systemsonic14 on Apr 24, 2017, 06:47 am
I came across a really good website that I realised had been mentioned here before called 'Bob's Bits' and I plan on paying them a visit some time soon.

I hope you mean that you're actually going to walk into their store for a rummage. They're not the greatest at replying to e-mails. I've sent several asking about some of the pieces they've got for sale (not just for hire) and the shipping cost, and I've never received a reply. After the 5th e-mail I gave up. (And I'd given them over a week between e-mails - sometimes over two weeks because things slipped my mind - so it wasn't like I was nagging them. But that's a long time to ignore a potential customer.)

And it's not just me. I've e-mailed with Justin (primrodo) asking him how he managed to get his parts for his Michael Pickwoad console build from them, and he said he had to get a friend that lived near Bob's Bits to stop in and look for the items on his list because they weren't replying to his e-mails either.

Bob's Bits has some really great things - some with very reasonable prices - but I get the feeling that unless you actually walk into their store, they concern themselves only with the large businesses like film and TV industry production companies and ignore e-mails from individuals.

So, good luck.

"What's wrong with being childish?! I like being childish." -3rd Doctor, "Terror of the Autons"


Apr 24, 2017, 03:07 pm #8 Last Edit: Jul 04, 2019, 02:18 am by warmcanofcoke
Just a quick update if anyone is interested.
This morning I was looking around the internet for morse controls and plane throttles and the like, when I came across this:


It's a boat throttle and I thought it would go perfectly for a demat lever... at such a good price too!
I'll have to do some saving, however, because I just spent a small fortune on a ton of switches and buttons... most of which are still yet to come.
I just thought I'd tell everyone as I thought it was a really good find.