longwing: (Default)
Back in June, I ran into a few computer problems. Fragmented hard drive? Nope. Bad ram? No, my problem's a bit more unique;

My computer sprang a leak:

We've reached crush depth!

My computer is submersion cooled. Which means that most of the main components are suspended in a vat of non-conductive mineral oil. The oil cools much more efficiently than air, and lets me cool everything with a single radiator and fan. It's quieter, more stable, and a teensy bit screaming fast.

But it means my computer has a circulatory system, with oil as it's life-blood. So you can imagine my reaction when I woke up to a slowly expanding puddle of mineral oil on my desk.

Read more... )
longwing: (Modding)
Projector image.I've finally something to show for all my mucking about with my projector. The image links to a Flickr photo set of the monstrosity in it's current state.

I'm looking for a way to make uploading photos simpler and easier. For now, I'm going to try my hand at flickr. It's not perfect (for example, I still need my webspace to upload a thumbnail) but it's faster than crafting my own photo galleries from scratch.

While I vastly prefer the flexibility of the RAW format, I may also  switch the camera over to JPG. That would drastically reduce the needed steps for uploading project logs.

Sometimes you want to take beautiful photos, but sometimes you just want a snapshot so you can say "Hey! Wires!". It's all hypothetical right now, but I'd like to get some more pictures up. It's so much easier to show what I'm building than it is to describe it through text or voice.
longwing: (Modding)
I finished rewiring the projector yesterday evening. Photos will be forthcoming shortly. I'm very satisfied with the initial burn-in. All my tinkering didn't result in any broken components. Image, brightness, AND focus all came out worlds better than they had before. I'm getting a bright, clear, and sharp image. Corner to corner.

It's still not as bright as the EVO, but it's more than good enough for my purposes.

All-in-all, the result is quite satisfying. There are certainly things I need to correct, some light leakage issues and the such, but it's rare that my tinkering yields such overwhelmingly positive results.

Following some minor tweaks this weekend, the project will go on a one-month hiatus for burn-in. The burn-in period is designed to help find flaws and kinks in the design. Last time I built this thing, I made a number of assumptions that I later had to correct. This time, I'm going to put it through it's paces before I do anything permanent.

In other news, I'm on scene 54 of 67.

aaaaand back to work.
longwing: (Modding)
I caught the tinkering bug again, and decided to undertake a long-overdue project: Revamping my projector. So, here's a shockingly quick-to-make post about what I did. More forthcoming as the project continues. Image automation for the win.

Cut for images )
longwing: (Default)
Quite some time ago, I had an idea about small form factor PCs and Luggables. A Luggable, for reference, is an oversized portable computer. Luggables went the way of the DoDo as computers advanced. These days, laptops are smaller than sheets of paper and the demand for bulkier systems has disappeared. My problem? Tiny laptops cost a tidy fortune.

The thought, from way back when, was to combine oldschool luggability with newer tech. Install a SFF motherboard inside a suitcase, along with an adequate power supply, and then use a "thinclient" (a screen and keyboard with no processing power) to communicate with it. The screen and keyboard could be configured incredibly thin, and then connected to the main unit via a single cable.

Back in the real world, I figured out that I couldn't easily afford high-performance anyways, and I would rather keep a high-end system safely at home. Over time, I've come to understand the insane power demands of modern computers, and the impracticality of packing a PC's power demands into a portable system. The main appeals of such a system were cost, upgradability, and performance. I've learned that upgrades, even for desktops, frequently require a complete replacement of the core components. Finally, due to the nature of niche markets, such a system could easily cost well more than a nice laptop.

The idea sat on a back-burner for many years, until a few pieces of separate, but interconnected news brought it back to the surface: AOpen's release of the MiniPC, Peter Green's Mac Mini Portable project, and MetkuMods Whisky PC.

Anyone see where I'm going with this? A Linux luggable, about the size of a Classic Trek TriCorder, with a thinclient screen and keyboard. I already carry my Creative Nomad holster-style under my coat. With a little patience and modding, I could set myself up with a unique portable computer for only a portion of the usual costs of such a system. And the unmitigated geekchic of making this lunacy even remotely workable cannot possibly be ignored. The thinclient could be made from a Laptop-style Virtually Indestructible Keyboard and a piece of plexi, the screen can be had off of eBay for less than $200 if I'm willing to go with 800x600.

This is doable. Pricy, but doable. VoodooPC sells the MiniPC for about $900(but with a payment plan), and the barebones can be purchased for $275. I can't find price-quotes on alternate barebones motherboards, but they're likely to be competitive. When compared to the cost of a comparable laptop, this insanity is seeming increasingly rational. It has to wait (of course) until a bunch of my other projects are finished, but it's still doable. Oh but for an infusion of free cash.
longwing: (Default)
This is my 200th post, given how long I've kept this journal, I find that funny.

What's the Project?
A supercooled computer that runs below ambient temperatures through the use of Dielectric cooling fluid. Cooling is provided by a compressor, and the entire motherboard is kept submerged to prevent condensate from forming. The emphasis in design is on the case, as ideally it could be used with any ATA standard motherboard. At first, it will be run with a "disposable" board, either one laying around or one bought off eBay. Once a significant amount of testing has been done, my main computer gets dunked.

At that point, I will truly be the ultimate dork.

What's the Current Status?
The project is stalled, for a number of reasons. Frustration being high on the list. At this point, the wisest course I can come up with is to start fresh with a new design. The current design requires too much fluid, and doesn't take proper advantage of the compressor's available power. These would be mere nitpicks though, if the current design would only STOP LEAKING. I've repaired the main fluid chamber more times than I'd care to count, every time, it can only go a few hours without dumping fluid on the floor. Next time, I'm not using lexan, or I'm using it in smaller quantities.

I already have Ideas for a redesign, and most of the parts I need to make it work. I've thought about getting the shell professionally machined, but haven't even begun the research into making that work.

What's Holding it Up?
Money is a major limiting factor here, even though most of the pricey parts have already been bought. Raw materials for the new case, along with (possibly) a new compressor, mean that this project will take some saving up.

When Will We Hear More?
Well into next year. I'd like to come back to this project after I'm done with the coat and the projector.
longwing: (Default)
Huge Projector Update behind cut. )
For those who don't want the massively multimedia experience, I'll skip to more immediate news.

Wednesday Night TV: LOST is airing a new episode, ominously titled "Abandoned", which picks up where we left off two weeks ago. My door is open to those who wish to attend, provided I'm able to recognize you.

<hint>This would be a good opportunity for some people to bring their leather coat that I'm supposed to be fixing.</hint>
longwing: (Default)
I'm putting a stop work on all new projects until all old projects are completed. I have too many projects to finish off, and I'm not starting anything else until the old stuff is complete. This may keep me busy for a very long time. In the coming days, I'm going to post updates to my current projects so that any curious people can know what's going on. A number of people often ask me about some project or another, only to find out that it went on hold months ago. I think it's time to remedy this situation.

To kick things off, I'm going to talk about my Projector. Ironically, the one project everyone's tired of hearing about.

What's the Project?
Build a projector from a disassembled LCD. The final device must be quiet, and perform at least as well as a monitor. Preferably, it will also be unobtrusive, either sitting at the back of a room, or sitting at less than chair height.

What's the Current Status?
My new (and hopefully final) lens arrived today. After yet another reconfiguration, I will be able to push the project against the back wall. Hopefully, this latest lens will also resolve a few lingering brightness issues without creating new problems. Once adequate testing is done with the new lens, it will be time to finalize the case design. At this point, there will be some rewiring, and cleaning up of current wiring. The controls will be finalized, the outer shell will be re-built, and the projector will be painted/decorated. I'm hoping to create a kind of Victorian-punk look for the final version, but we'll see if I have the money, the patience, the skill, and the time to pull it off.

What's Holding it Up?
At this point, my biggest obstacles are money and time. I am out of both. As this is a project with no real deadline, I can keep working things out for quite a while, but I'd like to show the finished project off before my funeral. I don't really have any chance to work on it until next week, and I can't afford any new parts until next month. (Probably until next year, November will be tight for me, and December's too expensive to do anything selfish.)

When Will We Hear More?
Once it's against the back wall, I'll post photos of the work thus far. It will be shamefully unpretty, but it will at least give everyone here a sense of how I've been spending too many evenings.
longwing: (Default)
At last, I've returned my projector to functionality. It has spotlighting and focus issues, etc., etc., etc. But it's fully operational and not frying itself. I'll be working on hammering out a little bit more stability before Wednesday, but we will definitely have a big screen for LOST.

The problem? I was biting off more than I could chew, of course. I was trying to redesign the projector and make rapid on the fly changes to the design at the same time. This was a bad plan. So I took a step back, swallowed my pride, and brought out the cardboard and duct tape again. Now it's less pretty, but more working. Working is good. In the end, I care more about function than I do about form.

In many ways, it's vastly improved over the previous iteration. The screen is fully visible, both vertically and horizontally (until now, some of both had been cut off). The image is several times sharper than it used to be, and the focus is much better (although the corners are still slightly blurry). The biggest issue is spotlighting (the center of the image is brighter than the edges) although that may be due to the age of the abused "test bulb" that we've been flicking on and off again during construction. Even if the bulb survives till Wednesday, I'm putting in a fresh one for LOST.

Right now, I'm running a "burn in" test to make sure that the new cooling system can handle the heat we're throwing at it. If the LCD remains unharmed, then I'll know that no major changes need to be made before Wednesday. I could go crazy trying to solve the few remaining issues, particularly the spotlighting, but I'm not really inclined to fiddle with focal lengths when a new lens is on the way. I ordered another Fresnel on Saturday, and if all goes well with its configuration, I'll be able to push the projector against the rear wall. Until it gets here though, I'm taking a break and playing some oldschool FF7.
longwing: (Default)
LOST:
I'm getting LOST again on Wednesday, and the series is really getting interesting. The door is open to anyone I can recognize, and anyone they bring with them. There's popcorn, chips, soda (now with root beer in two different variates!), and of course, company. The show starts at 9, but people are free to join me anytime.

Projector status:
I've ordered the new lenses, and they shipped yesterday. It will be 50/50 as to weather they arrive on time to be used. I'll be checking for them Wednesday afternoon. If they don't show up in time, then I'll start some serious brightness tweaking by 8, and hopefully make those night scenes a bit more tolerable. Worst case, this will be the last of the old lenses, as by next week the problem WILL be fixed.

Mirrormask:
My weekend wound up WAY too busy to catch Mirrormask. There's only one Theater in DC which is showing it anyways. I'd like to see it either this week after work, or this weekend. I'll be pitching the concept of a work outing to see the film tomorrow. Either way, I'd like to hear from folks about the possibility of an outing.
longwing: (Default)
Jedi!

On a more somber note:
News on the LOST gathering. I managed to damage my projector last night while trying to set it up for LOST, so I'll need to run out and buy a part today. The gathering is still on, but be ready for some oddities as I play techy and entertainer at the same time.

The gather "starts" between 7 and 8. 8 is the clipshow to catch everyone up on what happened in season 1. Show up anytime. Sugar free soda provided, bring your favorite beverage if you'd prefer something else. Popcorn provided too.
longwing: (Mad)
I've been thinking about mobility a lot lately, about the costs, expenses, and advantages of owning an on-road vehicle. It's a tough thing to counterbalance the freedoms of ownership with the inexpense of public transport. Over time, I have evolved a set of sensibilities about my ideal vehicle. For your sanity, I've tossed them behind an LJ cut. )

In an ideal world, I'd find myself with the perfect blend of style and common sense. Alas, it does not exist. Instead, I leave you with some links, a kind of candy shop of the feet-forward Anime-style motorcycling world.

Suzuki G-Strider- This is the bike I want. Of course, as my personal favorite, it will never see production. It's a two year old concept bike, and while these things have a tendency to come back later as production models, it's pretty clear that this will never see the light of day. I could definitely do without the luxury features of this bike, but the frame and seating position are ideal.

Kaneda's Motorcycle Concept- I've slowly fallen in love with Kaneda's bike, and I'm not the only one. Others have taken quite a bit of time to compile links and information on the motorcycles of Akira's world.

The T-Rex- I love this design, a perfect compromise between a car and a motorcycle... Now if only it didn't cost both my arms and most of my left leg.

Honda Griffon- Now this is more like it. Highway cruising speeds, variable auto transmission, ABS... and it's only a concept bike.

Roue Autonome Motrice- I'm just full of concept bikes today aren't I? Another 2003 concept which will never see the light of day. A pity, as this darn thing is so terribly Anime it hurts.

Suzuki Burgman 650- Finally, something practical. Highway cruse speeds, variable transmission, ABS, feet forward. Not that bad looking, but compared to some of the other designs I've listed, it's just not that great.

Honda Big Ruckus- It's got plenty of features, and the best price of the lot... but it looks like ass. DAMN YOU HIGH LORDS OF ANIME! DAMN YOU! In desperate need of modding, but if I could cross breed this with one of the Akira kits, I might just have a winner.

Knowing my criterion, if anyone would like to suggest additional links or avenues of research,I'd be very grateful.

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