The Modeltrain Nut

Area 53 - a complete send up!

About 6 years ago, the idea of building a 3rd module started to take shape. It had to be something different to the usual landscapes or city scenes. Being a corner module it would also lend itself to blend into two modules on either side.

UFO Mk I - patched by alien technology

The idea of using a flying saucer or UFO appealed to my sense of humor and I started experimenting with various bits and pieces, eventually settling on using some thin card, a ping-pong ball and some silver spray paint. UFO Mk1 looked like something that must have crashed in Rosewell in 1947 so I figured I was on the right track.

Mk2 looked better but still needed that extra something and since no-one could tell me what they looked like, I figured I had free reign. Using a kit I found at a local electronics store, I put together a chase-light using 3mm LED’s and cut open the ping-pong ball to mount them inside. As a complete send-up of Area 51, my own Area 53 was taking shape!

The concept was simple, an open tarmac with a well sign-posted secret bunker with a UFO MK2 hovering in the clouds, lights flashing as in “Close Encounters” and a hive of activity from the army would do the trick.

Ping-Pong ball and cardboard UFO’s

This picture should give you an idea of what my UFO looks like after some panel beating, mods and quite a few beers!

A MK2 UFO with the drinking straw support stuffed with 15 wires to feed the LED’s.

UFO Mk II - with lighting

A simple chase-chase light with LED’s was set up using an electonics kit with a NE555 clock chip and the invasion was on!

The actual module was built to look like part of an air base for the navy but with directions to a top-secret bunker.  The movie Disctrict ( had just been screened so there were several references to “prawns” not being welcome.  In  1:160 scale this proved to be quite a challenge.