The Casing


Added Four New Buttons for Volume Control & Other Stuff

As the title says, I’ve added four radio buttons to the front bezel to control the volume and screen brightness.

I made them in pretty much the same way as the power button. First drilled four holes into the front bezel then located four special function buttons on the motherboard that were originally used for things like launching Internet Explorer (yuk) and Outlook Express (ew) and soldered wires onto their connections on the motherboard.

I then threaded the wires through the holes in the bezel and soldered them to new radio buttons and epoxyed them into the holes. To make them a bit more steampunk I put brass washers over them.

Then it was just a simple matter of remapping those special keys for the functions I wanted for them. The volume control is easily set in the “Keyboard” program in Ubuntu, though I’m not sure how to set the screen brightness buttons yet. There seems to be a few ways to do it but I’ll come back to it in a bit. The volume control was the most important.

EDIT : I just thought, I can actually add alot more functionality to these buttons if I used one of them as a “Function” key. So I would have the to buttons on the right control the volume normally, then when I hold down the button on the far left and one of the volume keys it could control the brightness instead. This leaves one other free button I can add another two functions to. The advantage of this is that although I only have 4 physical buttons, I can use them for six functions instead of just four. Win. The default function of the spare key I’m using to toggle the onscreen keyboard so there is one other function available if I need it.

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January 20th, 2012 by sephiroth

Steampunk Laptop Speakers

Next up was the speakers. In the end I decided to place them on the front of the computer “bezel” under the screen.  This was tricky since there wasn’t much space to work with there so they would protrude slightly, and also the screen it where the computer has to look its best since that is the focus of attention.  If the speakers looked bad then it would spoil the whole effect.

Fortunately, I think they are turning out quite nicely. :)

Cutting holes for the speakers
Cutting holes for the speakers
Installing the speakers
Installing the speakers
Brass grill/mesh over the speakers
Brass grill/mesh over the speakers

Now that looks ok, but if really needed something around the edges.  Unfortunately, it is so small I couldn’t mechanically make a brass border for them so had to resort to etching them.  My first etching was good, but I was lacking the ideal materials.  This time I was prepared and made some copper sulphate by draining some sulphuric acid out of a car battery and running current through it with two cunningly positioned electrodes. The positive electrode extended all the way to the bottom of the sulphuric acid, and the positive electrode was dipped shallowly at the top of the solution.  the reason for this is that as the copper sulphate is formed, it sinks to the bottom of the sulphuric acid because it is denser.  However, if the copper sulphate comes in contact with the negative electrode it breaks down and the copper becomes deposited on the negative electrode.  That is why the negative electrode was only shallowly dipped in the top of the solution.

In the end I had about of pint of saturated copper sulphate solution.

Home Made Copper Sulphate
Home Made Copper Sulphate

Now I had copper sulphate, I could do some serious etching!

First I prepared a sheet of brass to be etched in the shape I want by covering all the parts I don’t want to be etched with an insulator.  First I tried using spray paint but found after a while it started peeling off the brass and so wasn’t suitable. In the end I just used insulation tape.

Didn’t get any pics of the brass with the insulation tape but here it is with the spray paint to give you an idea of how it was covered.

Brass for Etching
Brass for Etching

Then I dunked it in the copper sulphate as the positive electrode, then added another brass negative electrode on the other side of the solution and ran the current through it for an hour or so.

Etching the Brass
Etching the Brass

Afterwards I was left with this.

Brass after etching
Brass after etching

Then with a bit of tidying up.

Tidy etchings
Tidy etchings

And then positioned on the speakers.

Speakers with etched brass border
Speakers with etched brass border
Speakers with etched brass border
Speakers with etched brass border

Still looks a bit rough, but to be honest I quite like the look. :)

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January 17th, 2012 by sephiroth

Updated pics of the casing

Just throwing in a couple of updated pics of the steampunk case for the computer.

Not much left to do. Should be finished by the end of next week so watch this space!

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January 8th, 2012 by sephiroth

Electro Etching Brass – Mobilis In Mobili

I made a brass plaque for the frame of the steampunk computer using a 0.3mm thick sheet of brass and (pretty much) the electro etching tutorial posted on The Steampunk Workshop except I didn’t have any copper sulphate lying around so had to make do with a salt and distilled vinegar solution.

I covered all sides of the brass sheet that I didn’t want etched with electrical tape so that the current was most efficiently used.

The computer’s back story is that it was salvaged from The Nautilus, the submarine from Jules Vernes’ “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”. The etching is of the saying of The Nautilus “Mobilis In Mobili” which I reproduced from this image.

Original Mobilis In Mobili

Original Mobilis In Mobili

This was the best image I could find though it wasn’t good enough to use for the etching so I had to reproduce it using GIMP. I then printed a negative image of it using a laser printer onto some glossy paper and then ironed the image onto the brass, and VERY carefully soaked and rubbed off the paper a little at a time until all that was left was the laser jet ink.

Mobilis In Mobili Negative

Mobilis In Mobili Negative

This is what it looked like before I started etching.

Before Etching

Before Etching

Then I dunked it into a salt and vinegar solution and attached the positive terminal of two 12v lead acid batteries in series (making 24 volts) to the plate I wanted to etch, and then attached the negative terminal to another scrap piece of brass and dunked it into the solution as well. Be very careful the plates don’t touch!

Begin Etching

Begin Etching

I left it like that for two hours, and it didn’t really look like it had done much until I cleaned off the gunk and ink afterwards and was left with this!

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 1

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 1

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 2

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 2

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 3

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 3

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 4

Mobilis In Mobili Brass Etching 4

For my first etching, I’m very pleased with the result! It will make an excellent highlight on the steampunk computer.

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January 6th, 2012 by sephiroth

Beautifying the underside of the lid.

The front of the computer is now looking a bit sexy (more work still needs to be done on it) but I haven’t done anything with the back of the monitor, which looks like a techno nightmare and in no way steampunk!

This needed to be remedied.

Still needs a bit of sanding and some brass thrown at it, but this is still a massive improvement!

A couple of before and after pics :

back of the lcd monitor

Back of the monitor... ugly ugly ugly!

Back of steampunk monitor

Ahhhh... that's better.

Wooden back of the LCD Monitor

Wooden back of the LCD Monitor

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January 5th, 2012 by sephiroth

Steampunking the Case

Began work on steampunking the case. :D

First thing I had to do was whittle down the display case’s lid so that if better fit the LCD touchscreen.

Then whittled a bit more around the front to give it a slope towards the screen, both for aesthetics and for easy of use with the touchscreen.

Then dyed the pine wood to a nice rich mahogany.

And finally added the brass corners.

Coming along nicely. :)

 

Steampunk Computer Case

Steampunk Computer Case

Steampunking the Case

Steampunking the Case

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December 31st, 2011 by sephiroth