Arduino-Powered Steampunk Steam Gauge


[Murphy's_Lawyer] had some empty space on the wall in his kitchen, so he decided to fill it with a whirring Steampunk gizmo: an Arduino-driven steam gauge.

The build began as an old 10″ Ashcroft pressure gauge sourced from eBay, which [Murphy's_Lawyer] dissected to determine the state of its guts. Finding the gauge’s Bourdon tube intact, he got to work constructing a method of generating motion without the need for actual steam. The solution was to mount a continuous rotation servo between the tube and the case. The servo lacked the strength to flex the tube on its own, so [Murphy's_Lawyer] fashioned a simple lever out of brass to help it along.

The electronics consist of an Arduino Uno and an accompanying homemade PCB. The code for the Uno generates random motion for twirling the servo, and three LEDs built into the face reflect values generated for speed, pause and run time. The final upgrade came in the form of a new dial face, which provides some updated text as well as a cutout square that lets you see the previously obscured gears in action. Check out the video below, then see another Steampunk overhaul: the Edwardian Laptop.

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Copper Electroplating the Cheap and Safe Way

copper plating

[A_Steingrube] has posted a guide to his favorite method of copper electroplating. Plating copper onto other metals is popular with the steampunk crowd, but it does have other uses. Copper plate is often used as a prep step for plating other metals, such as nickel and silver. It also (usually) increases the conductivity of the metal to be plated. [A_Steingrube] is using the copper acetate method of plating. What is somewhat novel about his method is that he chose to make his own electrolyte solution from household chemicals. The copper acetate is created by mixing distilled vinegar and household hydrogen peroxide in a 50/50 ratio. The mixture is heated and then a piece of copper scouring pad is placed in. The scouring pad is partially dissolved, providing copper ions, and turning the solution blue.

The next step is to clean the material to be plated. [A_Steingrube] uses Cameo Aluminum and Stainless cleaner for this, though we think any good degreaser will work. The actual electroplating process consists of connecting a piece of copper to the positive terminal of a 6 volt battery. Copper scouring pad is again used for its high surface area. The material to be plated is connected to the negative side of the battery. He warns to keep the solution and the material being plated in constant motion to avoid heavy “burn spots”, which can flake off after the plating process. The results speak for themselves. As with any bare copper material, the electroplated layer will quickly oxidize if not protected.

A binary clock that uses bulbs


Based on his username, [Horatius.Steam], it’s not a surprise that he calls this project a “SteamPunk” style binary clock. But we think using neon  glow lamps in this binary clock is more of mid-century modern proposition. Either way, the finished look is sure to make it a conversation piece for your home.

He doesn’t give all that much information on the bulbs themselves. They seem to be neon glow lamps along the lines of a Nixie tubes. It sounds like they just need mains power (based on the image annotations for the relay board). The high voltage is switched by that collection of solid state relays. The controller board includes a DCF radio whose antennae is seen just below the controller. This picks up an atomic clock signal from Frankfurt, Germany. We think it’s a nice touch that he included a mechanical relay to simulate a ticking sound. That and the bulbs themselves can be turned off using the two switches in the base of the clock.

This seems like a good time to direct your attention to an artistic take on a Nixie clock.


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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Octopus submarine is something out of [Jules Verne]‘s imagination

Making an octopus on a Reprap or Makerbot isn’t that terribly hard. There were dozens of these octopuses at nearly every Maker Faire booth with a 3D printer. These octopuses have almost become a right of passage for new owners of 3D printers, and serves as a wonderful reference object on par with the Utah teapot and the Stanford bunny.

[Sean Charlesworth] wasn’t happy with any old octopus; no, he had to build a better octopus, and what better way to do as such then to make a steampunk and [Jules Verne]-inspired model submarine?

[Sean]‘s Octopod underwater salvage vehicle was almost entirely printed on a very expensive printer. Save for a few LEDs, electronics, and armature wire, the entire model sub/octopus was printed on an Objet 500 Connex printer.

The Objet is unique among most 3D printers in that it can print objects made of several types of materials. In [Sean]‘s show and tell he showed me how the tentacles were made of a hard plastic material and a bendable rubber material. [Sean] put a piece of wire through the length of each tentacle so he could pose the Octopod in just about any way imaginable.

The hull of the Octopod is an amazing amount of work. The cockpit features miniature controls, an illuminated display for a very tiny pilot, and even moving parts that include a mechanical iris in the recovery bay, a winch that works, and even doors that open and close.

[Sean] put a bunch of glamour shots of the Octopod on his web site along with a few videos of the construction process. You can check those videos alongside my interview 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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Hackaday Links: January 2, 2012

The worst computer keyboard, ever

[Gerardus] found an old BBC Master Compact computer for $15. The only problem is the computer didn’t have a keyboard. It’s not a problem if you can make a keyboard out of an old breadboard. It’s not a Model M, but it works.

Emergency ribbon cable repair

[Thomas] works in a hospital. One night, a piece of equipment went down because of a bad ribbon cable. Doctors were yelling at him to get the equipment up and running so out of frustration, he took stapler to the cable. It held up until a replacement arrived. Check out these pics: one and two.

Nobody remembers Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

Here’s [Alan]‘s gigantic Nautilus art car with a huge mechanical iris. Just watch the video and be amazed. We won’t hazard a guess as to how much money went into all that brass and copper, but we can confirm an Arduino controls the iris. Check out the build page.

Light up street art

[Grissini] put up an instructable for a light box that displays [Bansky] street art. We’d go with some RGB leds and a [Keith Haring] motif, but more power to ya.

A theater wind machine

This wind machine was built by [Willaim] for his High School’s choir concert. It’s basically a concrete form tube with plastic lids taped on and a piece of pipe serving as an axle. The machine makes a wind noise with the help of some nylon pants.