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.

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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Personal flight from the steam age

From a small-sized backpack these wings slowly grow to full size in a Steampunk costume that hearkens back to DaVinci flight designs.

The mechanism that unfolds the wings was fashioned from parts of a baby gate and an old back massager. The massager features a pair of orbs that are meant to move slowly up and down your back. This is what accounts for the slow unfurling of the wings. After a bit of prototyping with Popsicle sticks [Dannok] and his daughter figured out the best arrangement for the pivoting skeleton. From there, the slats from the baby-gate were used to build the frame, then covered with fabric to finish the wing element for this Halloween costume.

A 12 volt gel battery powers the device, which is activated with a brass pull-chain meant for a light fixture. Once full extended, as seen above, the wingspan is eight feet. Don’t miss the pair of videos we’ve embedded after the break which show the workings of the device.

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Altoid tin etching tutorial

Eminent steampunker [Jake Von Slatt] wrote a small article on etching candy tins for The Steampunk Bible, but the limited space available in the book didn’t allow for a full exposition. To make amends for his incomplete tutorial, he posted this walk through to compliment the Bible’s article.

The process is very similar to the many tutorials we’ve seen on home-etching PCBs using the toner transfer method. Removing the paint from the Altoid tin, creating a mask, printing it on the Sunday circulars, and taking an iron to the tin is old hat for home fabbers.

Unlike PCB manufacturing, [Mr. Von Slatt] doesn’t bother with Ferric Chloride or other nasty chemicals – he does everything with electrolysis. After adding a few tablespoons of table salt to a bucket of water, [Jake] takes a DC power supply and connects the positive lead to the lid and the negative lead to the base. a bit of electrical tape around the corners of the lid keeps the metal from getting too thin.

A nice Copper finish can be applied to a finished tin by swabbing on a solution of Copper Sulfate – a common ingredient in “Root Kill” products. Of course that’s not a necessary step; you can easily enjoy and elegant Altoid tin bare metal.

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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