Author Topic: Skyscraper - 2007  (Read 9813 times)

slipperyskip

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Skyscraper - 2007
« on: August 04, 2014, 06:10:29 AM »
The idea behind this project is to build a digital picture frame that has a built-in PC to give it a little more capability than just a plain off-the-shelf digi-frame.  Of course it will be encased in something different.  Those of you who know my work will guess correctly that it will be made of wood and be retro-styled...something art deco maybe?

Here we go....



Here is the screen I'm using.  It is a 11.3 inch LCD with a 800x600 native resolution.



I bought a new Starvision rooftop-mounted video screen and gutted it.  I chose this screen primarily because the OSD controls are located on the upper portion of the unit instead of mounted next to the screen as most of these are.  Reason: It must have a long cable to reach that far away.  I will use this length to mount the control panel wherever I want to.  I was afraid that controls mounted next to the screen would have a very short cable.



This is the screen's backside.  The black ribbon cable is for the OSD control panel.  The round black cable carries video, audio and power which is 12VDC being that this is an automotive accessory.



The control panel and the wiring harness.  There will be some splicing going on with that harness.  The control panel has, in addition to the OSD controls, an IR receiver for a remote control, a radio transmitter for the audio signal (plays thru the car's stereo), flashy, blinky LEDs and a couple of dome lights with switch.  I'll only be using the OSD controls.



Marked are the mounting tabs that have to go to make way for the wood bezel. Everything that sticks out past the screen's aluminum frame will be cut off.



Here is the steel frame after removing the electronics and screen.  The tabs have been Dremeled off and the sharp edges have been filed.



Some woodwork finally.  Here I have cutout a paper template of the screen.  It is trimmed slightly in order to ensure a small overlap of the wood bezel over the edge of the screen.

The wood strips are made from basswood, my wood of choice for this kind of work.  It is technically a hardwood but it is very mill-able.  It is also widely available here in the States at most every hobby store.  See Midwest Products.

I'm not doing mitered corners. Instead, I'm doing what I call a counter-rotating pinwheel.  The first course, which is the actual bezel face, is not structurally sound.  The second course, shown placed around the frame, will end up overlapping each corner because I reverse direction of the joint alignment.  Additionally, there will be a third course that will add a great deal of structural integrity to each corner.

I'm not doing mitered corners for several reasons.  I find that mitered corners are very fragile and since this project will be either painted or veneered there is no real compelling reason to miter (mitre?).

I cut my wood with a tiny little extra length.  I mill these overages back to spec as part of the finishing process .
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 08:49:32 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2014, 06:13:47 AM »


Glued up and rough sanding completed.



I've added my own tabs to shim up the screen and also help with the alignment of the attached box that is coming



A test fitting.



Planks of basswood are cut and glued up.



The photo frame will have a portrait orientation as opposed to the more common landscape orientation.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 08:52:04 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2014, 06:17:37 AM »


The hieroglyphics drawn on the sides and top are where I have been designing and arranging the decorative elements.  This also helps me to estimate any additional material I may need.

Shown in the foreground are the beginnings of three of these decorative elements.



I cut out and glued up the remainder of the panels, blocks and trim I'll need.  I have included a Universal Size Comparator for reference.  Caffeine-free Diet Coke is the power drink for old computer guys.




I have started to "adhesively apply" the panels and that usually means some exotic clamping scenarios.



Watching glue dry.



Test fitting some panels.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 08:57:42 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2014, 06:21:17 AM »


Some test fittings for the base.



Veneer cheating.  I'm getting a jump start on the veneering job by working around a complex cut.



I'm doing a time lapse photography thingy with this project. This photo came out of that series.



I've started to lay down some veneer.  I find it is impossible to paint in Florida during the summer so I went with the veneer.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 08:59:10 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2014, 06:23:57 AM »




The Hammond Gregory clock was designed in 1931.  It represents the skyscraper-style of the art deco era.  I have always admired the style of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building and I found that the Gregory clock was a great representative of that same style.

This custom computer case is my tribute to the skyscraper design and more specifically, the Hammond Gregory.

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2014, 06:27:48 AM »


I finished laying-up most of the veneer on this side.  The face plate and remaining far side should take another 20-25 hours...maybe?



I have finished all the veneer work except the front face plate. 



Here is a photo of my handheld mitre box and it's latest results.  It is called the Easy Cutter and it is made by Midwest Products.  It has a razor-sharp blade that makes insanely accurate and clean angle cuts.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:00:23 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2014, 06:28:46 AM »


I'm shifting gears for a while in this project to concentrate on the hardware side.  This photo shows a rough layout of equipment in order to measure the back panel dimensions.  The width is set in stone but the height is still "adjustable".

The mini-ITX board's I/O panel will be facing straight down and the 60mm fan will at the top.  You can see my pencil marks where I'm going to cut the 3/16" sheet of Birch plywood.

The actual mini-ITX board I'll be using is fanless.  I might not need the 60mm fan but I have to make sure there is room for it.

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2014, 06:30:07 AM »


I cut out the plywood back panel, installed brass motherboard standoffs and fit the motherboard. 

I will be using this computer as a "stand alone" digital picture frame (with wireless network connectivity) so I won't need access to the I/O ports except for maintenance, etc.  However, it could be used as a regular desktop computer because the gap created in the lower back of the unit (that allows for cooling air to enter) would allow cables to pass thru.

Something like this.....



The power switch and power jack will be installed onto the back panel for easy access.

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2014, 06:33:07 AM »


Here is my frame-up of the I/O shield.  The key here is the use of countervailing, asynchronous mini-clamps. :lol:

I'm currently struggling to come up with some idea to add something "shiny" to this project.  It has too much wood, in my opinion, that needs to be broken up with some contrast.

Anyway...the latest pics:




« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:01:32 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2014, 06:34:07 AM »


Finished the face plate veneer.  Mitre work is always an adventure.  I then sanded the project down with 220 grit sandpaper.

Since mahogany is photoreactive, I'm going to set the frame outside in the Florida sun for a while.  It should darken up nicely as most things do here. :hehe: It will really darken when I later apply the clear lacquer finish.

The mahogany I'm using is from the same batch I used on the Decomatic.  Since I'm finishing it in the same manner it should look much like these corner pieces:


slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2014, 06:36:53 AM »
I placed the case outside today for about 4 hours.  This is the result:



Compare it to the picture above (same camera settings) and you can see the effect the sun has on mahogany.  Mahogany will naturally get darker over time, I'm just speeding things up a little.

Some panels are lighter than others.  What I'll do is mask off darker panels in order to get the lighter ones to "catch up".



Sun bathing on my deck.  I have to rotate it now and then to get an even coverage.



Here is a photo after the first coat of clear lacquer.  The interior has also gotten a first coat of pewter gray paint.  The back panel is being sprayed with an industrial aluminum paint that actually contains real aluminum paste.

It is hard (for me) to photograph mahogany.  It reflects light in a very unusual way.  I equate it to trying to take a picture of a hologram.  The color matches fairly close in this photo although the rest of the lighting is a disaster.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:04:00 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2014, 06:37:38 AM »


Attached the I/O plate support to the backplate and painted it with aluminum paint.



Assembled the motherboard, 60mm Vantec Stealth fan, power switch, and power jack onto the the backplate.  This is not the motherboard I'll be using.  I should be receiving it in the post soon.



Displaying the backplate as it will be shown to the public.  That is a Bulgin switch.  This entire assembly is self-contained and can operate independently from the case.

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2014, 06:39:05 AM »


I installed brass screw inserts into each corner and secured the backpanel with knurled thumb screws.  The exposed holes are the back of the motherboard standoffs and I'll have to dress those up somehow. 

I have also sanded the case back down to wood because I wasn't happy with the quality of the finish. I'll probably do this several times until I'm satisfied with the result.



I finished hand painting the bottom and interior a pewter gray colour.  I left the frame closest to the screen unfinished.  The screen is mounted very close to or even touching the case along this surface.

I think this shot illustrates why the style is called skyscraper.  Each of the sides looks like half of a skyscraper silhouette.  In fact, if you chopped out the center section and spliced them together you would get a mini (upside down) Empire State-like building.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:05:25 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2014, 06:41:17 AM »


There's no sense in hiding the buttons.  I just won't label them.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:08:05 AM by slipperyskip »

slipperyskip

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Re: Skyscraper - 2007
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2014, 06:42:43 AM »
A couple of pics of a before and after actually represents about 60 hours of my life.  Since I'm sitting around waiting for the post I decided to do a mini-tutorial on how I veneer.  This is not the fastest way to do it.  It is probably not the absolutely correct way to do it.  It is the way I do it and I have had success with this method in the past.



Some of the tools and materials I'll be using.  I'll be applying mahogany veneer to two planes of the basswood plank.  One short side and one long side.  There is an interaction between the two sides that I want to illustrate.



I do the short side first.  The reason for this has to do with the exposure of the seam.  Since the long side will be seen by the public more than the short side I "hide" the seam on the short side.  This will become clearer later.

I pick out a scrap piece of mahogany that has at least 1-2mm of overhang all around the edges.  In this pic I have to cut one side with my hand mitre.  It is important to leave enough material around the edges to help deal with "creeping" while clamping the piece.  Don't leave too much overhang because it takes more effort to trim and it is just wasteful.



I use Elmer's Carpenter glue applied to each surface using my finger.  I feel I have more control over the application doing it this way.  DON'T use too much glue and DON'T get glue on the viewable surface because that will affect the finish.

I use mini-clamps and a scrap piece of wood to clamp the veneer down.  I check the overhangs after clamping to see if the veneer creeped over.  The glue allows me some time to make minor adjustments.  Using a scrap piece of wood is important to properly distribute the clamping pressure across the piece.

Wait a minimum of three hours.



Sighting down the edge to illustrate my overhang.
 


My tool of choice for knocking down the overhang.....emory boards.  For purposes of maintaining my manly manhood I call them "sandpaper on a stick". :hehe:  My wife keeps me well supplied because she knows I'll raid her stash if she doesn't.



Using the long side as a guide I'm able to sand the overhang down flush with the adjacent surface.  Some power tool might be able to do this quicker but it can't be this accurate or clean.  Using the touch of my finger I can determine if it is "done".



Normally, all four short edges are done first before the long plane is done.  I'm skipping these steps to keep this thing short.

Here is a photo showing me measuring and marking the length.  Notice that I now have an overhang coming across the newly finished edge.



Since this is wider than my hand mitre can handle I have to make this cut "old school".  First I score the line with a razor knife.



The razor knife would suffice for a "with grain" cut but since this is an across grain cut I'm going to use my Exacto hobby saw.  I don't cut all the way through but just enough to snap off the piece.  Dangerous but fun.





Creeping becomes a bigger problem with larger pieces using larger clamps.  I've been known to apply the veneer in the wrong place in anticipation that the clamping creep will bring it to the correct position.  These types of clamps don't bring their force perfectly perpendicular to the surface.  They have a tendency to creep away from the handle.  I need better clamps...and more of them.  Can't have too many clamps an old carpenter once told me.

Wait three hours......



Here is the resulting overhang.  Time to get busy with the emory boards....errr....sandpaper on a stick.



Results.  The seam sits on the side away from view.



Final shot of finished edge. The edge is sharp and straight.

I cut a total of 49 pieces of veneer for this project and dressed up 82 seams.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 09:12:12 AM by slipperyskip »