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Re: [cosmacelf] Membership Card: cutting into the Altoids box?

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  • Lee Hart
    ... I used the Front Panel board as a template. I taped it to the Altoids box cover, then drilled little holes where the switches, LEDs, and D-connector go.
    Message 1 of 12 , Nov 13, 2010
      Nick W wrote:
      > I'm ready to build my Membership Card rev 2 now but I'm wondering
      > about how to mount it. Some of the photos I've seen show pretty
      > fancy cutouts on the Altoids box. How do you achieve such nice
      > cuttings on such a delicate tin box?

      I used the Front Panel board as a template. I taped it to the Altoids
      box cover, then drilled little holes where the switches, LEDs, and
      D-connector go. Use a drill bit a little smaller than the pad itself, so
      you don't drill out the plating in the PC board's plated-thru hole.

      Then, I used a step drill (unibit) to enlarge the holes to fit the
      switches and LEDs. This kind of bit will drill clean holes in very thin
      material without leaving a burr. Here's an example:

      http://www.build.com/bosch-sdt1-1-8-1-2-titanium-step-drill/p193701?source=shz_193701&aid=587379970

      Note that the LEDs have two holes (one for each lead), but no hole in
      the center. I just drilled both holes with a 1/8" bit so the holes
      overlapped, giving me one ragged hole in the center. The step drill then
      cleaned this up to produce perfect round holes in the center.

      I cut the D-shaped center part of the D-connector hole with a "nibbler".
      This is a tool where you drill a roughly 5/16" hole that the tool fits
      into. It then "nibbles" little bits of metal sideways to get the desired
      shape. It works really well on thin metal like this.

      http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2289712&CAWELAID=107598244

      > I've been considering just removing the top of the Altoids box and
      > leaving the front panel board exposed. I'm not sure I have the
      > tools or skills needed to cut the holes into the Altoids can.

      I looked into getting the holes cut, or having a proper front panel
      made. But so far, people want idiotic prices. Machinists want to charge
      $100+ an hour, and places like www.frontpanelexpress.com charge more for
      a front panel than for the kit.

      My best idea at the moment was to make a third PC board, which only has
      the holes for the front panel (no copper, or maybe just a solid sheet of
      copper foil) This would cost the same as any other PC board, but would
      have the precision holes and silkscreened legends. But, would people be
      willing to pay for such a board? If I only ordered (say) half a dozen,
      they would cost around $30 each.

      > I have some male/female board header connectors left over from a
      > "Handyboard" project and have been considering using them to stack
      > the two boards but I'm not sure it will still fit inside a closed
      > Altoids box. Has anyone tried this?

      The Molex KK series connectors I supplied with the kits work fine. Were
      you having a problem with them?

      > BTW I decided to buy some ultra low profile sockets for all of the
      > chips. In addition it seemed wise to go with 32K RAM as well. I
      > considered one of those NVRAM's (I have a few extra) but they seemed
      > too tall and I'm always worried that the battery will die "any day
      > now" LOL. Has anyone had luck fitting everything into the Altoids
      > can using ultra low profile sockets? Those individual pin sockets
      > were just too tiny for me.

      I built my first one with the ultra-low profile sockets. It fits in the
      Altoids box, but just barely.

      Then I found the socket pins. They actually lower the profile, making it
      easier to get it in the Altoids tin. But I agree; they are *tiny*! The
      first time I used these, I put the socket pins on the IC pins, then
      placed the IC+pins on the board, then soldered the pins.

      Since then, I found a slightly better way to deal with them. Put a piece
      of soft styrafoam on the table. Put the PC board on top of it. Push the
      socket pins into the holes on the board (and into the foam). Plug the
      IC chip into the socket pins. Now lift the board off the foam, and
      solder the socket pins to the board from the bottom. The IC is now
      "socketed", and can be removed if needed.

      --
      Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
      814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
      Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
      leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
    • Bill Dromgoole
      Less expensive alternate source for the step drill. http://www.harborfreight.com/3-piece-titanium-nitride-coated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-91616.html Bill
      Message 2 of 12 , Nov 14, 2010
        Less expensive alternate source for the step drill.

        http://www.harborfreight.com/3-piece-titanium-nitride-coated-high-speed-steel-step-drills-91616.html

        Bill
        ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Lee Hart" <leeahart@...>
        To: <cosmacelf@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 9:50 PM
        Subject: Re: [cosmacelf] Membership Card: cutting into the Altoids box?


        Then, I used a step drill (unibit) to enlarge the holes to fit the
        switches and LEDs. This kind of bit will drill clean holes in very thin
        material without leaving a burr. Here's an example:

        http://www.build.com/bosch-sdt1-1-8-1-2-titanium-step-drill/p193701?source=shz_193701&aid=587379970

        -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      • thinkpast
        ... Ice expands 4% over the same volume of liquid water, with tremendous force. It can break copper and iron pipes! Of course it shatters glass. So I don t
        Message 3 of 12 , Nov 14, 2010
          --- Ray Sills wrote:
          >
          > One way to work the Altoids tin is to fill it with water, then place
          > it in your freezer. When the water has turned to ice, it can act as
          > a support for the metal, so that you can drill it. Then, let the ice
          > melt when the work is done.

          Ice expands 4% over the same volume of liquid water, with tremendous
          force. It can break copper and iron pipes! Of course it shatters glass. So I don't think in general using ice in this way is a good practice.

          I suggest you cut out a piece of wood (pine is pretty soft) to a rough fit, and tape or rubber-cement it inside the can instead.

          I'll add a "mechanicals" note about these ideas, as a Web link to the Rev B Web page

          http://www.retrotechnology.com/memship/mem_revB.html

          Herb Johnson
        • Mark Graybill
          I used a Whitney No. 5 Jr. hole punch on my Altoids tin. In other instances where I have to drill thin sheet metal, I put a piece of wood on both top and
          Message 4 of 12 , Nov 16, 2010
            I used a Whitney No. 5 Jr. hole punch on my Altoids tin. In other instances where I have to drill thin sheet metal, I put a piece of wood on both top and bottom of any metal thinner than about 22ga. I usually put pilot holes in the top board, and take my time going through the metal. I don't use the drill bit as a punch, so it leaves a clean hole. Unibits work with this, too, if the top board is thin enough (I often have scrap veneer around), and as others have mentioned they leave a hole that doesn't need deburring, like a punched hole.

            My Membership Card just won't fit in the Altoids tin without using a metal stretcher. I need about 1 mm of additional height. I've been fussing with this off an on for some time, hoping inspiration would strike. I think my switches just aren't coming in as close to the board as others are getting them. At first I thought my interconnect was too tall, but looking at the images other have posted I don't think that's the problem any more.

            I've finally found a solution to the problem. I've decided to go to a larger tin. I found one this weekend that'll give some more room while still being a nice small size. It's a Farrah's Harrowgate Toffee tin. It's about 3.5" square. I'm taking advantage of the extra space to put the power source in the tin with the Membership Card, and I'm fixing it up with a sort of steampunk look. I did a mock up of the switch handles tonight and I'm happy with the results so far so I'll be pressing on with this.

            A pic of the switch prototype:
            http://tinyurl.com/memship-sw-proto

            The handle is a bit longer than the final will be, plus the switches will be mounted on a plate inside the can so it won't look as long once installed. The data switches will be on the front of the can, I haven't decided if the control switches will go on the top or one side of the can. The prototype is brass, I've got the parts in copper as well so I'm thinking of using that for the high bit of each nibble. I may also use different color crystals for different switches, though I think all the data switches will use the same color. I'll be mounting the LEDs inside the can as well, and putting crystals over them on the top of the can.

            The new can is not as much deeper than the Altoids tin as it appears in the photo. There is a lip about 3/16" of an inch tall around the bottom edge of the Toffee tin. So I don't have enough space to throw away willy-nilly, but there's definitely enough space to play around a bit, and put in some batteries.

            Mark Graybill
            -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            http://saundby.com/
            Electronics, Books, Video Games, etc.




            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Lee Hart
            ... It is possible; but it just *barely* fits. The switches have to be right tight against the board, the leads on the back sides of the boards trimmed very
            Message 5 of 12 , Nov 17, 2010
              Mark Graybill wrote:
              > My Membership Card just won't fit in the Altoids tin without using a
              > metal stretcher. I need about 1 mm of additional height.

              It is possible; but it just *barely* fits. The switches have to be right
              tight against the board, the leads on the back sides of the boards
              trimmed very short, the plastic body has to be removed from the pin
              headers after soldering, etc. You can't use ordinary IC sockets either;
              they're too tall.

              > I've finally found a solution to the problem. I've decided to go to a
              > larger tin. I found one this weekend that'll give some more room
              > while still being a nice small size. It's a Farrah's Harrowgate
              > Toffee tin. It's about 3.5" square. I'm taking advantage of the extra
              > space to put the power source in the tin with the Membership Card,
              > and I'm fixing it up with a sort of steampunk look. I did a mock up
              > of the switch handles tonight and I'm happy with the results so far
              > so I'll be pressing on with this.
              >
              > A pic of the switch prototype: http://tinyurl.com/memship-sw-proto

              Wow! That's a pretty fancy toggle switch handle! What are you using on
              the LEDs; jeweled pilot light covers?

              --
              Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
              814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
              Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
              leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
            • Mark Graybill
              ... I managed to get everything but the switches to a decent height. As it was, I was considering nibbling out a rectangle for the switches and just let them
              Message 6 of 12 , Nov 18, 2010
                On Nov 17, 2010, at 9:03 PM, Lee Hart wrote:
                > Mark Graybill wrote:
                > > My Membership Card just won't fit in the Altoids tin without using a
                > > metal stretcher. I need about 1 mm of additional height.
                >
                > It is possible; but it just *barely* fits. The switches have to be right
                > tight against the board, the leads on the back sides of the boards
                > trimmed very short, the plastic body has to be removed from the pin
                > headers after soldering, etc. You can't use ordinary IC sockets either;
                > they're too tall.
                >
                I managed to get everything but the switches to a decent height. As it was, I was considering nibbling out a rectangle for the switches and just let them stick out of the top of the box. That would have worked, but I knew my students would call me on claiming that it fit _inside_ the Altoids tin if I did that. :)
                >
                > > I've finally found a solution to the problem. I've decided to go to a
                > > larger tin. I found one this weekend that'll give some more room
                > > while still being a nice small size. It's a Farrah's Harrowgate
                > > Toffee tin. It's about 3.5" square. I'm taking advantage of the extra
                > > space to put the power source in the tin with the Membership Card,
                > > and I'm fixing it up with a sort of steampunk look. I did a mock up
                > > of the switch handles tonight and I'm happy with the results so far
                > > so I'll be pressing on with this.
                > >
                > > A pic of the switch prototype: http://tinyurl.com/memship-sw-proto
                >
                > Wow! That's a pretty fancy toggle switch handle! What are you using on
                > the LEDs; jeweled pilot light covers?
                >
                I've got some more crystals that I picked up when I got the ones that are on the handle (I made the other 10 handles tonight). I picked them up at a Ben Franklin craft store. I'll be supporting the LED crystals on a wire against the underside of the top of the box, with each one sitting in a hole over an LED. I was going to use some orange LEDs I have that glow with a color like a tube's heater, and some amber crystals, but it's hard to see them in full light. So I'll be using red crystals over red LEDs for now. I may try again with the amber LEDs with a lighter crystal later. I like the look of the crystal beads better than the jeweled light covers. The crystals have a really high index of refraction and a good surface polish, so they really "look the part" in person.

                Now that I've got 11 switch handles, I'll be making up the strip to hold the switches and punching holes in the tin for the handles to pass through. The switches I'm using now are standard C&K 7101 type, since they won't be supported directly by the PCB.

                I'm also fussing with an electromagnetic bell for audio output. I wasn't able to find a solenoid or electromagnet sized right for this tin in my parts box, so I'm winding my own. I've got a little nickel bell, and I'll have to fab up a striker. The bell on Hollerith's tabulator was the inspiration for adding that.

                I *think* I'll still have room for everything. ;) If necessary I'll let the bell itself sit outside the tin with the striker coming out through the side of the box next to it. Normally I'd have it strike from inside the bell, but if I put the bell outside the tin I'll probably put the striker out where its movement can be seen. I haven't decided which output to drive the bell off of yet, since I haven't actually played with the Membership Card to learn what it uses and doesn't yet. Any suggestions?

                Since I brought up my students, I thought I might mention that I got a new Osborne 1 and took it into the school with me all week. It raised quite a stir. I used it in my classes as well, showing off the floppy disks, how it booted, loads software, and so on. The kids were all fascinated. When they asked if there were any games for it, I showed them Trek and Zork. Since then, several of the students found Zork online and have played it, in some cases for many hours over the weekend. This week all my middle school students were begging me to bring more "old computers" to class.

                One of my high school students told his dad about the Osborne, his dad told him there's a broken Kaypro in the attic. Now they're going to start a father-son project to get it working again because the son wants to have it for his own.

                They really get into the technology when they can see it work, and see how it works, rather than just have it as a sort of television set.

                -Mark

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Lee Hart
                ... Sounds like it will really be fantastic! I hope you ll post pictures of the end results. On the solenoid for the bell: How about one of those little pager
                Message 7 of 12 , Nov 18, 2010
                  >> Wow! That's a pretty fancy toggle switch handle! What are you using
                  >> on the LEDs; jeweled pilot light covers?

                  Mark Graybill wrote:
                  > I've got some more crystals that I picked up when I got the ones that
                  > are on the handle... from a Ben Franklin craft store.
                  > I'm also fussing with an electromagnetic bell for audio output.
                  > Any suggestions?

                  Sounds like it will really be fantastic! I hope you'll post pictures of
                  the end results.

                  On the solenoid for the bell: How about one of those little pager
                  motors? They are very small and cheap, and have an off-center weight on
                  the shaft that makes them vibrate so it could "ring the bell".

                  Another thought. How about adding a little gearmotor with a crank? If
                  the supercap is replaced with a little rechargeable 3v lithium coin
                  cell, you can spin the crank to "wind up" the computer (charge the cell).

                  I got some Nixie tubes from Dido, and have some old lever switches from
                  a telephone keyboard. I'm thinking of making a retro Elf with them.
                  Since they only display 0-9, I'm trying to decide how best to display hex.

                  - display bytes in decimal (00-FF = 000-255)
                  - display in octal (00-FF = 000-177)
                  - do something special for hex digits like
                  show A-F as a flashing 0-5,
                  or with the decimal point lit,

                  > I got a new Osborne 1 and took it into the school with me all week. It
                  > raised quite a stir... The kids were
                  > all fascinated... Trek and Zork... This week all my middle school students were begging me to
                  > bring more "old computers" to class...
                  > They really get into the technology when they can see it work, and
                  > see how it works, rather than just have it as a sort of television
                  > set.

                  That's wonderful to hear! The one aspect of "steampunk" I find
                  interesting is the inspiration to investigate older technologies. PS:
                  Have your kids google "Girl Genius" -- it's a free online steampunk-like
                  comic book (Adventure - Romance - Mad Science)!

                  On new vs. old computers: The big difference is that most modern
                  computers are just a "conduit" to connect you to someone else's "stuff"
                  to make them do anything. Their games, their web pages, etc. Out of the
                  gigabytes of data, how much of that is yours?

                  It's like looking at pictures of what other people have built with Legos
                  instead of making something yourself.
                  --
                  Lee A. Hart | Ring the bells that still can ring
                  814 8th Ave N | Forget the perfect offering
                  Sartell MN 56377 | There is a crack in everything
                  leeahart earthlink.net | That's how the light gets in -- Leonard Cohen
                • Mark Graybill
                  ... Definitely. Practically the whole point of the project is showing it off once it s done. ;) ... I was thinking about that as a possibility. The idea I had
                  Message 8 of 12 , Nov 18, 2010
                    On Nov 18, 2010, at 7:20 AM, Lee Hart wrote:

                    > Sounds like it will really be fantastic! I hope you'll post pictures of
                    > the end results.

                    Definitely. Practically the whole point of the project is showing it off once it's done. ;)
                    >
                    > On the solenoid for the bell: How about one of those little pager
                    > motors? They are very small and cheap, and have an off-center weight on
                    > the shaft that makes them vibrate so it could "ring the bell".

                    I was thinking about that as a possibility. The idea I had was using a one-shot to drive the motor for a fixed period of time for each positive transition on the control line. I'm going to try my home-made electromagnet first. If it turns into too much trouble, then I'll probably fall back to the pager motor.

                    >
                    > Another thought. How about adding a little gearmotor with a crank? If
                    > the supercap is replaced with a little rechargeable 3v lithium coin
                    > cell, you can spin the crank to "wind up" the computer (charge the cell).

                    Using wind-up energy is something I'd love to do. There were a number of compact wind-up power sources available back in the Y2K days, I wish I'd stockpiled a few back when they were easy to come by (right _after_ Y2K.) I was also looking at having a Stirling engine driving a motor as an external power source.

                    For now, I'm going to start with batteries, but I'm watching out for opportunities to upgrade to something with more flavor once I've got all else in hand. Either that or attach a Volta pile to the side of the tin. ;)

                    >
                    > I got some Nixie tubes from Dido, and have some old lever switches from
                    > a telephone keyboard. I'm thinking of making a retro Elf with them.
                    > Since they only display 0-9, I'm trying to decide how best to display hex.
                    >
                    > - display bytes in decimal (00-FF = 000-255)
                    > - display in octal (00-FF = 000-177)
                    > - do something special for hex digits like
                    > show A-F as a flashing 0-5,
                    > or with the decimal point lit,

                    Octal seems appropriate, especially with the octogon house craze that started in the 1850s. I've got a design on paper for a duodecimal computer system as well, but that won't work with standard nixie tubes either. For my duodecimal computer, I was thinking of faking a tube display with EL wire and smoked test tubes since I wasn't happy with any of the blinking displays I could get for dek and el.

                    -Mark
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