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The Steampunk Console Project

Space-Time Travels in a Steampunk TARDIS

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February 8th, 2009

Back to Business.



For the moment, the unceasing onslaughts of chaos have receded sufficiently enough so as to allow me to make just a little more progress:



Shown here is one of two just completed panel-illumination lamps. Two down... ten more to go!

UPDATED October 9, 2009: Read moreCollapse )

February 6th, 2009

Potholes on the Road to Nowhere for Now, Here



I've stalled for a bit. A frustrating search for a properly fitting nut, bolt, and washer turned into a weekend project to reorganize my parts drawers... which has decided to stay on for a few more days.

Aarrg! Never let your... hardware get mixed!

But, at least I received these two beautiful gauges which will be placed, with a third, 120 degrees apart around the base of the console's central column:


January 29th, 2009

More on the general order of how, where, when, which, and maybe... eventually... a big side-order of "why?".





Closeup of the paddle-switch/LED panel ( I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to steam-punk-ify this, yet ), shown earlier, to detail the construction plan. Notice, on the underside, that these are connectible via terminal screws. This is the pattern that will be followed throughout , using terminal strips, cable connecters, and pin-type terminal blocks, rather than hard-wiring any of the raw switches, dials, meters, levers, tools and cranks, etc. This is to allow the whole set-up to be as easily re-configurable ( or dis-mantel-able ) as possible.

Also shown is a PIC controlled LED-display and switch sub-panel, sized and shaped for dropping easily into the holes cut in the plexiglass panels.



Ok... Confessions of a Dumpster-Diving Addict, here. I can't help it. To me, an abandoned circuit-board or unpurchased component is like a starving lost puppy... just crying to be put to good use! Consequently, I've collected, and assembled, a lot of stuff... over the years. So here's just a tiny fraction of the DC/DC converter and relay modules, and terminal hardware, and other things, that I could invest into this project.

It's meant to grow... and I've got a lot of lost puppies to feed to it!



...aand, in case you were wondering, there will be a central column, contained by this one-foot diameter plexiglass tube ( well... wood wouldn't do, here... ). And this will house a framework of moving platforms and riggings, to which can be attached DC motors, steppers, optical components, lights, spark-coils, lasers... whatever and whenever.

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January 22nd, 2009

What it will become... eventually.





Though the first section of this rebuild is far from finished, this arrangement of components ( with some of the wood pieces not yet stained and finished )shows the planned layout. The remaining sections will, of course, follow the same steampunk theme, with different layouts according to general function.

Notice it's appearance versus the older plexiglass panels.

mmmmm... Mahogany, Brass, and Bakelite!.... plexipetroplastic, yechh!!!

How It All Began... sort of...

( Sorry about the picture quality, but these were done from scans of a few old and dusty Polaroid camera shots... yes, I've been fiddling with this for that long! )


....a long time ago ( though it seems like only yesterday ), in places not really so far away...


These photos depict the console's original form. The left image shows the framework, built as a skeleton of one-inch aluminum channel-stock. On the right is the semi-finished project, with the original plexiglass panels.

It's functional, at this stage, with built in computer and color VGA monitor. Plus, a power supply and a series of panel drop-in modules providing switches, encoded keypads, LCD displays, digital and analog meters.

Still a long way from what I really wanted to accomplish, though.



These show a little closer detail on the computer, originally a Tyan Trinity AMD K6 motherboard. Now quite obsolete, of course. Oh, well... it's a Type 40... right? I had several I/O expansion boards for this machine, including a homemade 16-channel analog-to-digital converter.

The nice thing about the shape of this thing is accessibility. The innards can be reached from above or below. The bad thing... is that if I have to move, the whole console has to be dismantled. So, it had better be relatively easy to take apart. It is. I've had to tear it down several times by now.



The picture on the left shows the main purpose of this project. A prototyping workstation. The slide-out drawer provides three computer-interfaced prototyping boards, each with a PIO chip, clock and divider circuitry, drivers, and built-in LED's and DIP switches. The console panel, above, expanded the functionality of these boards with a sub-panel of 24 paddle switches and 24 tri-color LED's, plus drop-in keypads, displays, and PIC microcontroller modules.

On the right is the heavy duty power supply which provides 48 volts to a chain of DC/DC converter modules, for powering digital circuitry in the sub-panels.


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January 21st, 2009

Well... I'm back to making slow and torturous progress on this old thing again. And if I have any time or energy left afterwards, I'll post a few details here.



Meter sub-panel for console power-supply section. Water-Jet cut brass kick-plate inset onto a craft-store French-Provincial wood plaque ( www.walnuthollow.com ). Two Weston Type 301 meters, 0-10V and 0-20KV scale. One Allen Model 214-327 fan-type meter, multi-scale. Three control positions, knobs on bronze bushing mounted shafts with shaft couplers for rotary-switches or potentiometers.



Switch sub-panel for console power-supply section. Eight toggle switches, 15A 125V SPDT. Eight Radio Shack 272-710 Neon Lamp assemblies. Brass inset onto 4-inch by 16-inch inkeeper sign.


A few of the new components for upcoming sub-panel projects:


Miscellaneous console items. Top left: trial run assembly of vintage style rotary-switch components. Top right: Antique railroad-type glass insulator elaborated with brass door-knob mounting hardware. Bottom left VINTAGE Weston Type 643 meter, 0-15V, 4-inch diameter. Bottom right: Vintage Marco radio vernier, inset onto a 5-inch wood round.



Miscellaneous console items. Top left: phastron 40-013857 meter, VOM type. Top right: three-of-ten Mossman heavy-duty telephone-type 5PDT center-off switches, PM-4013-Z1P2.
Bottom left: One of seven Vintage Lionel J-38 Morse Code telegraph keys. Bottom right: two antique-radio style tuning knobs.
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