A Retro, Not Steampunk, Media Center

[toddfx] wanted to put his Raspberry Pi to work and set about creating one of the best stereos we’ve ever seen: It’s called the Audio Infuser 4700, and turns a conglomeration of old disused stereo equipment into a functional piece of art.

[toddfx] used a Raspberry Pi to stream music over WiFi, but also wanted to play some classic vinyl. He took apart an old Yamaha YP-D4 turntable. stripped it to the bone, and created a fantastic oak enclosure around it. To this, he added a seven-band graphic EQ, aux jacks (both in and out), and a tiny 5″ CRT from an old portable TV.

Where this build really gets great is the fabrication. The front panels have all their graphics and lettering engraved via a toner-transfer like method using copper sulphate and salt. [todd] got the idea from this thread and we have to say the results are unbelievable.

Even though this awesome device only used for music, [toddfx] used the tiny color CRT to its fullest. Flick one switch, and it’s an oscilloscope-like display. Flick another switch, and it’s the output of the Raspberry Pi loaded up with a few MAME games including Pacman, Asteroids, and Space Invaders.

[toddfx] put up a build page for his Audio Infuser and an awesome video for his project, available below.

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Steampunk theremin goggles


Lots of people build custom steampunk goggles, but most don’t implement any interactivity – they’re just an aesthetic accessory. [Sarah] recently decided to built a pair that, besides looking cool, would engage the wearer in creating sound. She accomplished this by integrating an optical theremin into their design.

To keep the build both affordable and wearable she researched simplified theremins, and eventually settled on creating a basic model that uses only a handful of components and two 555 timers. The main body of the goggles was constructed using mostly random mismatched pieces of metal and leather.  Mounted on the outer edge of each lens, there is a photo sensor and a corresponding slider control. Adjusting the slider alters the level of resistance, therein changing the pitch of the sound. The theremin will produce different pitches and octaves depending on how much light the sensors receive. So, the wearer, or a nearby friend, waves their hands around the wearers head to control it.

The speaker and volume knob are cleverly disguised as the two ‘lenses’. Rotating the volume knob lens adjusts an internal potentiometer that’s held in place by a custom laser etched piece of acrylic. To top it all off, she even designed her own PCB using Eagle.

Check out a video demonstration after the break.

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A steampunk combination sketchbook


[Admiral Aaron Ravensdale], fine craftsman of steampunk wares, just finished up a new project. It’s a sketchbook protected by two layers of security, covered in gilded leather and drenched in the expositions of a [Jules Verne] novel.

The first layer of security for this sketchbook is a combination lock. On the cover are four switches, each with four positions. These are connected to a PICAXE microcontroller which goes to the next stage of the lock once the correct combination is entered.

The book’s security also includes a knock sensor. With a small piezo element hidden under the cover, [Ravensdale] deeds to tap the book with a specific pattern before it opens. The mechanical part is a small hobby servo also mounted to the cover that releases a pair of brass clasps once both locks are opened.

Like all of the [Admiral]’s builds, it’s a fine piece of craftsmanship, equally well suited to take on a holiday with the baron or to the opium dens of Ceylon.

You can check out [Admiral Ravensdale]’s demo of his sketchbook after the break.

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Edwardian laptop from a steampunk master

After receiving a Marconi from [Admiral Aaron Ravensdale] informing us of the completion of an exquisite steampunk laptop, we were simply delighted. [The Admiral]’s computational device, or Uhlian Calculator as is the preferred nomenclature, is a remarkable combination of design and function suitable for any remarkable gentleman bent on the domination of the fast approaching electrical frontier.

[Ravensdale]’s new steampunk laptop is built off his first laptop, an old Toshiba Satellite 1100. Not a speed demon by any means, but the quality of this build is phenomenal. The hinged keyboard tilts up into an ergonomic position when the laptop is opened, reveling a set of six LED jewels for the power, battery, and hard drive lights. To the left and right of the screen, a pair of miniature brass horns contain a set of stereo speakers.

The keyboard is an awesome modification of the stock keyboard very reminiscent of [Admiral Ravensdale]’s previous keyboard steampunkification.

[The Admiral] put up an Instructable going through the many hours he put into this fine piece of craftsmanship. There’s also a video showing the keyboard lifting mechanism and skeleton key power switch available after the break.

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Steampunk wings: bigger, heavier, and steampunkier

This pair of backpack-mounted wings was conceived after seeing the Angel/Archangel character in the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. They measure 14’6″ inches across, but they fold up so that the wearer can actually get around in them. The mechanism is built from MDF, using several layers of gears cut from the material as well as pieces that act as the skeleton for the appendages. This makes them look and work well, but adds a lot of weight as the project comes in at about 25 pounds.

The steampunk wings we saw a few days back were partly inspired by this set. But this pair is more true to the Steampunk concept, relying on pneumatics instead of electricity for motion. A pair of pneumatic rams originally made to cushion the closing of screen doors let the wearer automatically extend the unit. As you can see in the video after the break, this happens quickly and gracefully. They do have to be folded back up by hand, and we’d bet you need a second person to assist with this, but we could be wrong.

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Very impressive steampunk keyboard

After spending more than 250 hours on his project, [Admiral Aaron Ravensdale]’s steampunk keyboard is finally done.

The keyboard mod was designed around a Model M. After removing the keycaps, [The Admrial] upcycled the keys from old Continental typewriters. Because his typewriters only had 47 keys and the Model M needs 104, three typewriters needed to be sourced off of eBay. Polishing the metal rings of the typewriter keys ate up more than 100 hours.

After building a brass frame from 8mm tubing and candle holders, the stained wood inlay was drilled for the keys. Status lights were installed and the PCB was connected. A pair of ‘gaslight’ keyboard lights were fabricated using 3mm tubing and very fitting “Golden White” LEDs.

[Admrial Ravensdale] put up an Instructable walking through the build process of his keyboard. There’s also a German-language PDF build log that shows every picture of every step.

This isn’t [Admrial Ravensdale]’s first Hack A Day feature, but with a build that might one-up the original steampunk keyboard we can’t wait to see what comes out of [The Admiral]’s workshop next.

High voltage plasma lamp is also tasteful steampunk

Instructables user [Admiral Aaron Ravensdale] just finished a high voltage plasma bulb build that makes creative use of off-the-shelf parts. As a self-described steampunk, [Adm. Ravensdale] also earned some cred by included working gears in his build.

The heart of the build is a “flicker flame” candle light bulb. These light bulbs have two flame-shaped plates inside the bulb to act as electrodes. Instead of the Argon that normally fills an incandescent light bulb, the candle bulb is filled with Neon. When excited, Argon gives off a rather unnatural purple glow – not very convincing for a simulated candle and certainly not steampunk. The Neon in the flickering candle bulb gives off a brilliant orange, perfect for simulating a flame and will surely impress the duchess during afternoon tea.

After the right plasma bulb was found, [The Admiral] scavenged the rest of the high voltage electronics from disposable cameras. Attaching three electrodes to a brass gear, the entire mechanism was made to spin using parts from an old clock and a CD drive motor. We’re always impressed with the scavenging abilities of steampunkers – we’d still be waiting for our gears to arrive if we attempted this. Check out the video of this really cool and very inexpensive plasma bulb after the break.

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