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The Steampunk Console Project

The Steampunk Console Project - an Update... no, really, an Update... sort of.

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The Steampunk Console Project - an Update... no, really, an Update... sort of.

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Forgotten Realms Fringe Division
Yes... yes... I know.

I've actually been meaning to do this since February. And it only took me two full seasons to get around to it!

Not that there really has been that much progress, on the console itself.

Part of the problem has been an unending series of distractions... not the least of which has been having bought the PC game "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion"... a very time-consuming game ( but I really do need something to take what's left of my mind off of those other distractions )!

Another problem has been that the next step is to just get in and tear the whole thing down, again, so that I can finally implement some reinforcements of the pedestal section that will put an end to that annoying wobble wobble every time I so much as touch it. A step which, for some reason, I have found myself being very reluctant to get on with. Possibly because... well, you know... life, the universe, and so on.

And yet another problem has been the fact that this has not exactly been a stand-alone project. Rather, it's something that's deeply inter-related with a number of other goals and projects. Such as rebuilding myself, again, toward following some sort of organized pattern of work-habits ( excluding computer-games, of course... and taking into account an aging process that's currently advancing with an almost dizzying... or is it just me... rapidity! ) that will allow the reorganization of the electronics work-bench which will, in turn, allow me to implement the various designs meant to be installed in the console, itself.

Well, as you know, I could go on and on ( ...though, perhaps more about that, later ), but what would that accomplish?

Instead, let me wrap up this entry by posting a few construction-detail pics of one of the console's accessory components: the glass Railroad-Insulator lamps!

Pictures for now, and I'll try to edit in a few explanatory comments in a day or two.

.... or in a month or two. Or three.

Anyway... Sorry folks. And also, whether due to some sort of forum "crosstalk", or to some people mistakenly assuming that this is a "Harry Potter" chat room... all comments that are not, in some way, relevant to the subject matter, here, will be deleted.

So. Moving on.

To see a larger version of any of the photos, below, simply click on them to be taken to a 640 x 640 pixel version.

The top photo shows all the parts needed for this project.

First and most important, of course, is the insulator. The one shown here is a "Hemingray" No. 8, which measures about 3-5/8" tall by about 2-1/4" wide at the base. The glass is blue with a slightly greenish tinge. Other types can be found in different sizes and shapes, and in many colors. And also in many price ranges, from just a few dollars for ones such as below, to sometimes hundreds for rare colors. Ebay, is a principle source, naturally. But I'd really suggest that you shop around your local antique stores first, just in case there's someone who might be willing to sell you a purple or red glass insulator for a bargain price.

The whole thing is mounted on a wooden base. Here, I've used a 4-inch diameter beaded-trim wood-round, that you can buy at many hobby stores such as Michael's. For this piece, I trimmed about 1/4" off the bottom, so the maximum thickness is 1/2". Looks better, I think, when mounting it all on a larger wooden sub-panel. The piece is red-mahogany stained, and then drilled for mounting the hardware. Six holes for the 1/8" x 2" brass bolts, and one 3/8" center-hole for the threaded tube ( the type used for electric lamp assembly ). The holes are all counter-sunk to accommodate the bolt heads and tubing hardware. Finally, the piece is given a coating of clear satin polyurethane.

The threaded tube is mounted, as shown. The brass bolts are placed, semi-securing them on top with 1/2" long x 3/16" diameter pieces of brass tubing.
The 3 large "brass" flanges, in this case, are made from doorknob trim-plate adapters. These are 3-1/2" O.D., and 2-1/8" I.D., so each needed the inside rim enlarged slightly ( done with a drill-type grinding stone on my drill-press ), to accommodate the insulator. Since the insulator tapers somewhat, toward the top, the bottom flange is trimmed more, and the top flange less or not at all. Holes are drilled, using the wooden base as a template, and the first of these is placed on the bolts over the slips of brass tubing.
Underneath this first flange ( see LED photo below ) I have also placed a rubber gasket to help secure the glass insulator. This is made from a 2-1/4" sink basin gasket, which is shaped to fit by centering and securing the gasket on a threaded shaft, to my drill-press, and then cutting away the rubber with a small spherical-shaped dremel-tool bit with both turning at high-speed. By this method the gasket has it's raised center trimmed to just fit the bottom-inside of the insulator. And it is also channeled slightly, to better accommodate the beaded bottom-edge of the insulator.

Seven LEDs are used here - six 5mm ultra-bright whites plus one 10mm ultra-bright blue, which are wired to be independently controllable.
So nine solder-tabs are secured, with small brass wood-screws, around the center-hole, arranged in groups of three. This allows the white LEDs to be conveniently soldered on in pairs which each have a common negative terminal ( ground ).
The positive terminal for each LED is wired to one conductor of the six-conductor ribbon-cable. The negative common terminals are all wired together. The ribbon cable is fed through the threaded tube and out the bottom. If desired, a six-connector plug may be added at this time.

An additional solder-tab is secured to the wooden base for the terminal to the positive lead of the large blue LED. The LED is positioned above the center-hole, and the negative lead is soldered to the nearest common terminal.
The bare ends of the heavier two-wire cable, shown in the top photo, are fed into the threaded tube, and out the top, where they are soldered to the positive terminal, for the large blue LED, and to the common.

As shown above, the metal flanges are separated from each other by using twelve 3/8" diameter x 1/2" length nylon spacers, found at any hardware store. Each of these has been fitted with a closely cut and polished length of 13/32" diam. brass tubing ( hobby store K&S Engineering #136 Rd Brass Tube ). Six are placed between each flange, and when assembled the nylon spacers should not be showing.
Enough length of the brass bolts should be projecting above the top flange that you can now secure the assembly with six, each, brass washers and cap nuts.
The rounded inside edge of the top flange was created by cutting the bottom out of a 2-1/8" diameter closet-door cup-pull ( yes... also brass ). This top assembly should be shaped to just fit around it's respective part of the insulator with enough of a gap that a 2" diam. rubber o-ring can fit snugly in-between.

Done! ( hopefully )... Now just connect the cables to the appropriate control circuitry of your choice, and off you go! Any questions?
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