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Steampunk radio

27 Oct

For the past couple of days I’ve been working non stop on a steampunk radio. While unpacking some boxes I came across this old handheld radio:

I don’t know how old it is, but it was really beat up. The battery cover was missing and the soldering was really weak. It would cut on and off depending on how you held it. Despite it’s problems I really loved this handheld radio because it let me listen to NPR when I was away from my car radio or my computer. Instead of getting a new one, I decided to fix this one up and steampunkify it.

I opened it up and saw that I needed to change the tuning dial, it just was too modern looking:

So I spent a couple hours designing a new one and trying to scale it right:

My plan was to glue the original radio case back together and then cover it in thin sheets of copper. The problem was that there is no speaker on the handheld radio; the only way to hear sound is via headphones. This left me with a big flat opens space in the center of the device. For a while I thought I would find some fancy symbol and emboss it onto the copper, but then I hit on the not so brilliant idea of rigging up a working steam pressure gauge. (It obviously wasn’t going to be real steam, but I wanted some mechanical needle that actually moved when you turned the device on)

I hit upon the idea of using a battery checker. It had a moving needle that was affected by the current flowing through it. I thought it’d be great to rig one up to the power supply of a radio, that way it would move and tell me how much energy was left in the batteries. Not wanting to destroy my parent’s only battery checker, I drove around town for a few hours trying to find a place that sold the simple mechanical ones for cheap. I finally found one (at radio shack…surprise…) and took it apart.

I then carefully removed the label behind the needle, scanned it, and went about creating a new one much the same way I did the face of the dial.

It was only after I spent hours finding and then altering the battery checker did the inherent problems start showing up. For one, there was no room for it inside the case. I would have to glue it on outside and then extend the case, making the whole thing look like a bloated lowercase “b” from the side. Then, after drilling holes into the case to try and run wires connecting the battery checker to the power supply, I discovered that the needle drew so much power in checking the batteries that the radio would not play. It was either run the needle, or run the radio. To fix this I decided to install a third battery that would power just the needle. But this then brought up the problem of how I would get to the battery to change it once it died, (I’d need a separate door, separate hinge, and a separate lock) and I would need to somehow build a switch to turn it on and off. The whole thing was just way to complicated and bulky for this radio. I might use it for another project, but not this one.

Another idea that ultimately didn’t make the cut was to use some spent 9mm bullet casings as decorate piston covers.

In the meanwhile, when I pulled off a metallic label on the back of the case, it revealed a small window. I decided it would look cool to put some gears in this window behind a bit of clear plastic, like you’re looking into the mechanical workings of the radio.

What to put on the front of the radio kept bugging me, and I finally hit upon the idea of keeping with the needle and pressure gauge, but making it static. A while back I figured out how to use the bottom of a soda can to form a metal ring needed for a steampunk monocle. I figured I’d just do the same thing, cut out a bit of plastic to cover it, and make a new steam pressure gauge and needle to go inside it.

I spent a couple of hours making that gauge. The hardest part was getting the aluminium ground down just right with my rotary tool and the plastic cut perfectly to fit inside without falling out. Another huge problem was designing the gauge. I searched for a long time looking for a straight on picture of an antique steam gauge that I could then transfer to paper. I finally found one, but needed to rename it and redo the numbers.

The next challenge was putting in small strips of copper around the sliders that controlled volume, AM/FM, and power. I couldn’t get the copper perfectly exact, so any little black plastic spots that showed through I painted over with copper paint.

When this was done, I really didn’t like how there were so many breaking lines around the sliders where the individual strips of copper met. I wanted to cover over this with some brass accents. I got some foil, found come corner border clipart on google images, and embossed them into the brass.

My next problem was to cover up the tacky plastic sliders. I spent a couple more hours fiddling around with what to put on top of them. I eventually settled on gluing together some brass eyelets and brass fastener heads.

After that it was pretty much finished!

(The bottom flap there with the hinge opens up to the batteries. I also debated putting some oxidizing solution running down from the exhaust holes up there on the top to add some streaks of green from the steam, but I’m not sure if that will look good.)

Anyways, now I can walk around and listen to NPR with my awesome steampunk radio!

For my next project, clean up the mess that 4 days straight of work created:

Stone earrings and necklaces

16 Oct

The other day while consolidating some boxes I happened across an old rock collection I had as a child. Most of the stones were small and shiny, and instead of throwing them out I figured I could make jewelery out of them. Here are some pieces I put together.

A couple of the stones I had were this really nice glossy black:

I had two other stones, one that was arched like a bow, and another that was like half of an arrow head, so I decided to make a floating necklace out of it to complete the set with the black earrings.

Last but not least, a while back I was toying around with some small gears I found and made this steampunk style necklace:

Gear Mace

10 Jan

So I thought it might be cool to make a mace out of a gear. Sorta steampunk/medieval ish. I’m not sure I’m happy with how this one turned out. I think it needs a little more decoration.

So first I had to find some gears. You might not know it, but gears are a real pain in the ass to find. You would think they’d be everywhere, but most are buried deep inside engines. So, with that in mind I drove all around SC trying to find a junk yard. After 3 hours and 2 failed attempts I found one, but I didn’t have any tools to pull my own parts. So, I drove back home (30 mins away) and went out another day.

After a day of searching I found several gears including this one:

I then attached it to a thick staff that I had painted black. At the very top I spray painted 2 washers gold and got a little mirror flower ornament at Lowes. I put that on there to give it a nice touch.

I then slid on another gear to act as a hand guard, and then screwed on a heavy pommel gear to help and try to balance the thing.

Spring loaded shield

29 Dec

For the longest time I thought the coolest accessory to a cane sword would be a spring loaded shield. The shield would be a small buckler that was collapsible and strapped to your arm. When folded it would just look like some weird rectangular box on your arm, but then when you hit a button, BAM the shield shoots out into position. I could never figure out how I would make this until I picked up a wine opener one day and had an epiphany.

As the wine opener screw went down, the gears flung the arms up. I figure if I attach a spring to this, I can have the wine opener pull the arms of shield open and into place.

To do this, I first had to get a wine opener and remove the rivets holding it together.

I then cut the screw off and ground the nub down. After that I drilled a hole for the spring to fit into.

I then spent forever trying to figure out how to build a housing for the gears, so it would sit on this flat plate of metal that I would then strap to my arms. Eventually I realized that I had the housing the entire time, I just sawed off the part of the wine opener that fit around the lip of the bottle.

Once I figured out how to securely hold the spring down at the other end, I then went about measuring the with and lengths of the blades. I decided to make the shield 10 inches roughly in diameter, so each shield blade was 5 inches.

After I finished the measurements and cut out a piece of cardboard in the correct dimensions, I then transferred the shape on to a plate of 16 gauge steel.

Once I traced out 8 pieces, I carefully cut them out with a reciprocating saw.

After I had those plates cut out I spent 10 minutes filing down the edges so they weren’t razor sharp. I then punched and drilled holes into each of them so they would rotate on an axis.

I then bent the edges of each plate, depending upon what order they would be in from bottom to top. This way as the top most plate flew out first, the  back of it would catch the lip of the next plate down, and pull that plate forward, only to do the same to the preceding plate.

I then attached the top most plate to the wine opener arms with a brass rivet.

I lined some copper on the leading edge of both topmost plates because I was originally planning on cutting out a falcon or eagle shape over the spring, this way the bird would look to be spreading it’s wings as the shield flung open. (Pretty cool huh? ~_^)

Well after seeing the thing put together, I realized just how rough the back edges of the plates look. I am now planing to cover them in brass or copper as well and might make it a bat instead of a falcon.

As I started to do that, I realized just how much of a bitch cutting out each little brass strip would be, so I only did two. After that I cut a little bat face out of copper. I drilled out the eyes so the brass would shine through. I then riveted the mouth to the body and cut little feet at the other end, with holes for the screws.

To see the shield spring into action (~_^) watch this 3 second clip of what happens when I pull the pin.

Ta da!

Now I just need to make the strap to attach it to my arm, and possibly a fingered gauntlet to go along with it.

Copper mask

25 Dec

A project I’m currently working on is creating a copper mask. I’ve cut it up into various pieces to make it easier to form, and so I can rivet it together with brass rivets. I think the dark copper on the light brass will contrast nicely. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

First I wanted to make a concrete positive of my face. To do this I had to create a paper mache mold of my face.

I then filled this mask with concrete:

I then went about fitting the paper and copper to the mask

When I finished cutting out the copper I started to shape the plates with a bit of wood. I eventually had to move into my shed and bring out the hammers. I’ll post more as it progresses.

Pirate monocle

25 Dec

I started out making a pair of steampunk goggles, but I accidentally scratched one lens with a brillo pad, so I decided to adapt it to a monocle. I added some brass rivets, along with a wing of brass on the side, and a leather strap with a buckle. I think it turned out quite nicely. Pirate airship captain monocle: