The Making of The Machine Age Project
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This is a picture of the original inspiration. This photo is from an ebay listing of a Silvertone Model 6110 radio. I was looking for ideas for my "Popular Science" project when I came across this very interesting design. It stuck in my head.
This is a backside shot of the Silvertone 6110. It is made of Bakelite, which is sort of a primitive plastic. It uses sawdust as filler and has a tendency to be very brittle. Bakelite's best feature is its glossy finish.
The finished frame. I guess about twenty-five hours of labor went into just this piece of the project. It is made of basswood that I bought at a local crafts shop.
The box itself is made of 3/8" basswood plywood while the cooling fins are made of 3/8" square basswood stock. Each opening is hand cut and then custom hand milled to the exact size required. The tool I use most is a hand rasp that has four different working surfaces.
Most of the labor went into finishing the piece so that it would look like aluminum. This involved a lot of sanding in order to remove any trace of wood grain. I went through three cans of professional aluminum paint that actually contained an aluminum paste in it. The cooling fins were glued up using other 3/8" stock as spacers.
The front of the computer was the most time consuming. Each cooling fin was hand milled with the rasp to fit perfectly to the curve of the tube. The 92mm fan hole was cut with a 3 1/2" hole saw. The only power tool I use is a cordless drill.
In this picture you can see where I glued up 3/8" stock in between fins in order to build up the foundation for the control panel. I then hogged out the hole and custom milled the opening. Why put the control panel on the side like this? The original radio had its one and only speaker installed on this side so it was intended to face the audience like this. Good enough for me too.
Shot from the bottom. The insides of the computer are accessed through a panel screwed into the bottom. The Velcro strip to attach the CCFL inverter can also be seen in this picture. I hate Velcro but sometimes it just makes sense, especially when prototyping.
Computer stuff finally! This is a VIA M9000 mainboard with an ituner 70W power supply plugged directly into the ATX socket. The two black matching heat sinks are Micro-cool southbridge coolers. The north and southbridge chips on the VIA board are identical in size and these two classy heat sinks fit and work perfectly.
Vantec copper heat spreader draped over 512MB of Corsair PC2100 DDR memory. The CPU cooler is a Micro-cool active northbridge cooler. The heatsink is 100% copper built with skived fins. The shroud contains a Sunon magnetic levitation fan with a chrome finger guard that I installed inside the shroud.
The mainboard is attached to the 3/8" basswood bottom plate with brass PCB standoffs. Some of the shortie cables are shown in this picture including two 12" PS2 cables, a 12" network cable and an 8 1/2" video cable from Hall Research.
Bringing together two major assemblies.
The frame has its bottom plate attached.
The case fan. I love this fan. It is a 92mm Delta FFB Series unit from Sidewinder Computers. It pushes 72 cubic feet of air per minute without taxing the tiny power supply.
Showing the fan mounted to the case with stainless steel bolts. I use wing nuts for a nostalgic look and just because I like wing nuts. There is a black chrome finger guard installed on both sides of the fan.
Inside shot showing fan mounting. The fan is 38mm thick because it has a fixed fan blade set in addition to the rotating set. The hole to the left of the fan is where the CCFL power cables pass through the bulkhead.
This is the first piece of the I/O panel set. It is an approx. 2 x 3 inch piece of aluminum with panel pass-through jacks. The three female/female jacks are, left to right, USB2.0, Ethernet and Firewire.
Here it is installed in the case.
This is what I call the KVM port. All these plates come from L-Com Connectivity Products. The stock unit has a two PS2 ports and a video port. I added an audio pass-through port and two red LED power lights. The drilled out center hole is where the DC power jack screws into.
Backside shot of KVM port. All these bits and pieces are nickel-plated.
KVM port installed into case. I used slotted (flat-head) screws as much as possible in this project because my research told me that Phillips head screws were not widely used until after WWII.
Close up shot of my screws. The openings on either side are the case air intakes. The air blows straight across the interior of the case from back to front.
The last of the I/O panel set. This is the Control Panel. The two pushbuttons are from a 1930's era radio tester. They are made of cadmium-plated milled brass and have Bakelite buttons. The meters are miniatures made from Bakelite. The left unit measures voltage and the right, milliamps.
Installed control panel. The left pushbutton is the power switch. The right pushbutton is the reset switch. The left meter measures the CMOS battery voltage and the right meter bounces around during hard drive activity.
This is a good interior shot showing how the shortie cables are routed. The cables make a 360-degree loop to span the mainboard and the I/O plates.
This is the top plate. 3/8" basswood plywood made to look like aluminum. The edges of the plate also represent the top-most row of cooling fins.
This picture illustrates how the hard drive unit is attached to the underside of the top plate. This is a 3.5" hard drive with a twin cooling fan/heatsink combo attached. The mounting bracket is a modified bracket from an IBM Netvista case. The twin fans produce a great sound as the identical fans go in and out of synchronization.
Case assembly and top-plate assembly come together.
Top plate installed. The two centerline screws are what attach the hard drive to the underside of the plate. The toggle switch was also salvaged from the test equipment and serves as the switch for the CCFLs.
Another shot of the nearly completed project. The chrome tape applied around the fan port serves to reflect light.
"The Tube." It is actually 6" PVC sewer pipe. I tried my best to give the illusion that the tube has fully embedded into the aluminum case. You can see here that the tube was cut to fit on top of the box. The cuts were done by hand and it was hand milled to a custom fit. The paint is Krylon Fusion.
The picture shows additional chrome tape applied to the inside of "light chamber". The wooden blocks are mounting points for the end cap.
Two 4" green cold cathode fluorescent lights from FrozenCPU.com are attached to the inside of the end cap. The end cap is a baby moon hubcap from an EZ-GO golf cart. I applied a layer of chrome tape to the outside circumference of the cap and created a crinkle effect just under the lip.
Sewer pipe and hub cap coming together.
The mounting was done so that there is a perfectly even gap all the way around the edge of the end cap. The crinkled chrome tape can barely be seen through the gap.
The effect. The green light represents some sort of radiation based power source that might be used in this "futuristic" device.
Backside glamour shot. The fan exhausts into the back of the end cap, which causes the airflow to reverse direction, travel along the upper tube section and exit out the back. The back exhaust port has a filler piece installed to preserve the illusion of the fully embedded tube.
Other side. Plain and unadorned.
A size comparison shot and a plug for Pepsi who I hope is reading.