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)
Technically, it's old news, but I never posted it. Does something count as old news when you don't say anything about it? Anyways, Coat update... With picture! Behind cut. )
longwing: (Default)
I'm going to break the silence a bit by adding an echo to your Friends Page. That's right, it's time to talk about projectors, the one project we've all heard enough of for now. That includes me. I've heard enough about projectors, so trust me, I feel your pain.

Through the grace of America's yard sale eBay, I was able to acquire some new parts for the system. I'm going to stay a little tight lipped until I can post new photographs. The changes are for the better, and for once, my rebuilding didn't destroy the entire invention in the process. The image is a lot sharper than it used to be, but the changes brought back an old monster from the past: Heat. I've been fighting the overheating of this contraption from the first moment I turned on my Overhead Projector. Thus far, it's been kept at bay by a set of three 120mm fans. Now it looks like I'll have to add a fourth. The bright side, and the only thing keeping me from pulling out all my hair right now, is that the change will actually make the system quieter.

If I play my design out properly, I should be able to drop all the fans down to about 7 volts, or possibly even lower. This should replace the current "Jet engine" sounds with a low rush of air, audible only when you're concentrating on it.

Rather threadbare reporting for now, mostly because I've got nothing interesting to report. We'll see if I can't make myself more talkative in the next couple of days.
longwing: (Default)
The continuing epic of my homebrew projector... erm... continues?

After an extremely aggravating list of screw-ups, I got to feel mildly smart last night. The second OHP I purchased a while back happened to have a really good ballast integrated into the unit, and in a matter of a few hours I was able to completely repair the damage with no further costs.

'Course, I burned out all my bulbs in the process. I'm now down to my last bulb, and it's an untested brand with an unknown operating life.

This leaves me at a decision point with little info to go on. This ballast accepts ENX bulbs, but runs them at a lower voltage then they're designed for. That means longer life, but also less light. The bulb it's currently running is an Apollo custom, which looks really nice, but is a total unknown when it comes to cost and runtime. I'll need to price and source replacements, and decide whether it's really worth it to keep running old OHP ballasts.

The Alternative:
The "right" way to build a light source, according to most of the DIY forums, is to use a Metal Halide bulb and appropriate ballast. Problem with this plan? Price. The ballast costs between $50 and $100, and the bulbs cost $50 a pop. They produce really good picture for your trouble, and each bulb lasts 10,000 hours, but the startup cost isn't to be scoffed at.

If I can keep this system running in it's current config until sometime next year, then I'll start looking into replacing the light source.

%$*%^#!

Nov. 30th, 2005 04:35 pm
longwing: (Mad)
Wednesday, and that means LOST is on tonight. Though it's fairly unlikely to be on my projector, as I've managed to break yet another part of that pile of junk. Sometime last night, I managed to convert my current bulb ballast into an arc-welder, frying the contacts of every bulb it touches within a matter of minutes. I have a spare ballast, and one spare bulb, so I'm going to try and cobble together a working system before 9, but heavy modding and a bit of cussing will probably be involved.

With the breaking of this part, only the LCD and the focusing lens are from the initial incarnation of this project. I'd already ordered a new focusing lens in the hopes of setting up the projector as a long-throw device, leaving only the LCD. By the time I'm done, I'll probably replace that as well. I will have literally purchased every part in this rig twice.

On the one hand, I've learned a lot about optics and projection. On the other hand, all I ever wanted was a big screen (is that so wrong?). It's still cheaper than purchasing a commercial system, and I completely control the configuration. I can upgrade and maintain this device from here till judgment day, while many commercial solutions get relegated to the junk heap.

But at this point, I'm ready to trade all of that for a screen that works without trouble for at least one month.

Anyway. LOST, either on a big screen or a small one, my place, 9pm. 15 minute moment of silence at 7pm if you're interested in that as well.
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)
What's the Project?
A full length leather Coat, based loosely on the first trenchcoat I ever wore. The Idea is to make it highly refined, with a lot of the innovations that conventional tailoring have brought to the table (and that I consequently tend to ignore). Hiding the stitching, adding functional pockets, designing it so that it can be "thrown on" in a few seconds, etc. Being constructed from deep brown reptile print leather, I'm planning to put in an extremely deep back split to give the whole thing a very Draconic feel.

What's the Current Status?
Most of the basic construction is finished. The buttons and button holes are done, etc. There are only a few things left to do: Pockets, finishing the cuffs, attaching the collar, and finishing the split/bottom hem. I also need to glue the stitches (an important step in waterproofing and finishing a good leather garment). Finally, I need to integrate the near-finished lining. I may be hitting up [livejournal.com profile] katilyna for help on that.

What's Holding it Up?
Several things, but mostly time. I have two extremely high priority jobs taking up all my time right now. (Being paid for them, and I can really use the money.) Once those are done, the coat becomes my prime project again.

The lack of a workspace cannot then be ignored. My dining room table is a mess, my workshop is a warzone, and I have nowhere left to get this thing finished. Once projects one and two are done, I clean, then I sew.

When Will We Hear More?
Next week? That may be asking too much, but we'll see how far I can get. I'd love to wear it to Nations on Monday, but that may simply be too early a date. Once I'm at least working on it again, I promise pictures. I know, I'm always promising pictures.
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.

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