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 A pair of pneumatic rams originally made to cushion the closing of screen doors let the wearer automatically extend the unit.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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Impressive steampunk keyboard

This amazing steam punk keyboard was sent in to the tip line, and while it’s not necessarily a ‘hack’ in the purest sense, the level of quality in the build is incredible.

Each key was crafted from brass tubing that was later filled with a wooden dowel and covered with the key cap label. While there’s no mention of how the key caps were made, we do especially like the abstract Windows Key label. After the PCB for the keyboard matrix was enclosed in a bit of plywood, the hand tooled leather was applied to the front. The name plaque that was hand engraved with a modified screwdriver is especially nice.

The build is based around the amazing Das Keyboard with Cherry Blue switches, one of the only keyboards currently being manufactured that comes close to the feel of the One True Keyboard. While it’s not a keyboard built from scratch, it’s still one of the best steampunk builds we’ve seen, most likely because not a single gear was glued to the project.

If you don’t have a Steampunk Smartphone…

Steampunk Smartphone

[Richard] has been working on the concept of “incorporating more feeling into our digital objects”. His design is still just a concept but hopefully someone will take up the idea because we think the results would be amazing. The attention to detail in the design is impressive, the Rotary Mechanical Smartphone as he is calling it contains a generic smartphone maintaining all the features such as the touch screen, but also including a set of interchangeable rotary dials on the back. There is the true rotary dial just like an old phone and a push button dial, for complete integration of the old and new technologies.

Once the design was complete, Richard built himself a proof of concept model to show off his work. The shell was 3D printed and copper plated to get the desired steampunk finish. The rotary dials are made from brass plate and hand finished. [Richard] has put in a lot of effort getting the finish right with electroplating, painting, and sanding. The final results are nothing short of impressive. Check out his site for some very nice photos and build details.

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