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The Steampunk Console Project

The Steampunk Console Project

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The Steampunk Console Project

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Forgotten Realms Fringe Division
A Steampunk Keyboard for the Steampunk Console Computer?

... and another sneak preview beyond the LJ cut!

Ack! I go into the next room to take a short nap... and already it's the end of August!!! No doubt about it! Something evil is stealing time from me!!
"You got that right!" says a sinister sounding voice, coming from somewhere behind me.

...based upon a true story!


Now! Where was I? ...oh,yes! Damn the sciatic nerve! Full-Speed Ahead! Ouch! Ow! ow ow ouch!... ok... half-speed then...

First, I would like to apologize, to all those who have been kind enough to leave a comment, for my singular lack of exertion in maintaining this journal account. Though I cannot promise that this will change, I will try, at least, to make up for it by being more forthcoming in details in what I do report.

For the rendered image in the previous journal entry... well, it's a twelve-hour render, and I have not made any improvements... but I have uploaded a full-screen image to allow better viewing of details. Just click on the image below to link to a mid-size image. Then click on that image to be taken to a 1280 x 1024 view ( after you click with the little "magnify" cursor ). Eventually, I'm hoping to release the content that produced that image... free to anyone who might want to use it... or parts of it... in their own 3D renderings. One stipulation, though. It will be in Caligari ".scn" format, in remembrance of dear ol' Caligari trueSpace... recently executed by the good folks at Microsoft, for the crime of having fallen below the bottom-line.

... so you will have to have access to a copy of trueSpace 6.6, at least, to open the file ( or an application that can read Caligari files ).

Now, for the console project:

There's no reason why all the panels on this build should be built in exactly the same fashion. Particularly since each panel will serve a seperate range of specific functions. One - power supplies, fixed and variable, single and dual-polarity; two - electro-mechanical ( controls for DC motors, steppers, servos, etc. ); three - electronic prototyping, an array of devices to facilitate the use of the drawer-mounted prototyping boards; four - the synthesizer section ( sound & music modules,and my trusty old ESQ-1 ); five - instrumentation ( digital and analog meters, frequency generators, counters, digital oscilloscope(s) ); aannd... finally... six - the computer...

...which, in the render, you see is not visible. Which is because it will ( if this works out ) likely be the most complex part of the whole machine. Since the computer ( and it's associated network of micro-controllers ) will be the main engine behind this system... why not design it rather like the engine of a... um... "hot-rod". That is, with the engine exposed. Open-frame.

Hence the initial design concept for the computer keyboard:

Of course, this is not the finished keyboard... simply a loose assemblage of the prospective components, until the final details are worked out. Note the use of old-fashioned Gilbert "Erector-Set" pieces. Also shown is one of the two sets of micro lever-switches that will be used to convert the movement of the vintage "Victor" typewriter-keys into PC keyboard matrix signals. And note the gears...

Now, by having the "engine" exposed, I don't mean having the motherboard, drives, power-supply, etc. out in the open, or even visible, for that matter. This is a "Steampunk" computer... and that means... gears. So the computer section may end up looking something like this:

...and, from another angle:

This view shows the semi-finished power-supply section to the left, the WIP electromechanical section centered, and the "fiddling-with-it-till-it's-right" computer section to the right ( likely it will not end up looking exactly like this... but this is the general idea ). The aluminum strips, separating the sections, will be replaced with hardwood and brass... and it's likely that the entire console will be studded with a range of smaller knobs, indicator lights, switches, and bronze-finished embellishments over the surface of each main panel.

The central-column section isn't even at the "fiddling" stage yet... as I'm only just now near readying a jig to help me cut the one-foot diameter acrylic tube into sections. So, for now, there's just a few brass tubes and parts to help me imagine.

Hopefully the final version will look a bit more orderly. And... this is the main thing... the gears must be functional! Steampunk... not Steampunk'd ( ). Since this is meant to be a functional instrumentation console... not a prop.

The objective here, then, is to implement a range of mechanical accessories... mechanical numerical readouts, thumb-wheel switches, event-counters, etc. Perhaps even some of the remarkable designs detailed here:

Tim Robinson's Meccano Computing Machinery web site -

So... opinions? Too cluttered? Too... "Steampunk'd". Too... much?
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