Incredible Atari 800XL Case Restoration

If you’ve been hanging around Hackaday for a while, you know that a large portion of the stuff we publish goes above and beyond what most people would consider a reasonable level of time and effort. One could argue that’s sort of the point: the easy way out is rarely the most exciting and interesting route you can take. We, and by extension our readers, are drawn to the projects that someone has really put their heart and soul into. If the person who created the thing wasn’t passionate about it, why should we be?

That being said, on occasion, even we are left in awe about the lengths some people will go to. A perfect example of this is the absolutely insane amount of time and effort [Drygol] has put into restoring an Atari 800XL that looked like it was run over by a truck. Through trial, error, and a bunch of polyester resin, he’s recreated whole sections of the Atari’s case that were missing.

To start the process, [Drygol] used metal rods to bridge the areas where the plastic was completely gone. By heating the rods with a torch and pushing them into the Atari’s case, he was able to create a firm base to work from. Additional rods were then soldered to these and bent, recreating the shape of the original case. With the “skeleton” of the repair in palce, the next step was filling it in.

[Drygol] borrowed an intact Atari 800XL case from a friend, and used that to create a mold of the missing sections from his own case. Most of his rear panel was missing, so it took some experimentation to create such a large mold. In the end he used silicone and a custom built tray that the case could sit in vertically, but he does mention that he never quite solved the problem of degassing the silicone. The mold still worked, but bubbles caused imperfections which needed to be filled in manually during the finishing process.

Using his silicone mold and the same tray, he was then able to pour polyester resin over the wire frame. This got him most of the way to rebuilding the case, but there was still plenty of filler and sanding required before the surface finish started to look half-way decent. When he got towards the very end of the finishing process, he used a mold he created of the case surface texture to roughen up the smooth areas left over from the filling process. Add a bit of custom spray paint, and the end result looks absolutely phenomenal considering the condition it was in originally.

We were already impressed by the work he put in during the first stages of the restoration, but this case repair is really on a whole new level. Between this and the incredible instructional videos [Eric Strebel] has been putting out, we’re really gaining a whole new respect for the power of polyester.

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Free formed circuit protected by a brick of crystal clear resin

The look of this crystal clear resin brick is pretty amazing. [Rupert Hirst] decided to encase his amplifier circuit in a block of polyester resin. We just hope he got everything in his circuit right because there’s no way to replace any of those parts now!

He deserves a lot of credit for working out a visually pleasing way to mount each component. There wasn’t any type of substrate used, but a few lower gauge wires were picked as the rails and they add some mounting stability. Before casting, he took the case of each of the three jacks apart and sealed the seams with some of the casting resin to prevent the final pour from filling them up.

Eagle CAD was used to design the mold. He printed it out on some card stock, then used a hobby knife to cut the pieces out and super glue to assemble them. A second layer of super glue was run on each seam to ensure they’re water tight. After the casting was made [Rupert] spent plenty of time sanding, routing, and polishing the brick to achieve this look.

This makes us wonder about heat dissipation. Do you think it will be a problem? Tells us what your opinion by leaving a comment.

Color changing door handles

This color changing door handle was made using a very simple manufacturing process. [Barmak] already had experience working with polyester resins when making passive component filled drawer pulls (he included a couple of pictures at the end of his post). The same process was used here except that instead making it from one solid chunk of clear resin he decided to use alternating layers of dyed resin.

The build begins with a mold made out of MDF. This material has a very smooth surface finish which will help with the final look of the door handle. Threaded rod is inserted through carefully placed holes in the side of the mold — these will serve as the mounting hardware when complete. He then pours thin coats of resin to build up the complete handle.

An RGB LED strip is incorporated in the side of the handle that will go toward the door. It seems like the wires to control the device pass through a hollow spacer surrounding the threaded rod. He makes some mention of using a 555 timer to control the colors, but there’s not much more information than that. Still, the reflected light is a unique feature if you’ve got a place in your home that needs to be spiced up.

Once you’re done, you can use any leftover resin to make your own project boxes.