Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Computer Installation III

After getting the motherboard and power supply in place, the rest of the components just kind of worked themselves out. This is just a test run (since I have to still cut the hole for the volume knob) but I will use some velcro to secure the speakers in place behind the speaker grill and I wired the power button to the pins on the motherboard (temporarily since it will ultimately be installed in the back panel).

This is a shot of the speaker bar in place from the bottom. You can get a good look here at the support for the shelf as well as the computer fan mounted underneath.

This last shot basically shows what the thing will look like from the front (if you can imagine the protective paper on the Plexiglas peeled off and the marquee in place). The speaker grill is installed and matches the vent on the back as well as the chrome colored t-molding and volume knob.

It looks pretty good!

More later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Computer Installation II

After installing the monitor and shelf in place, I made sure to get the computer up and running before putting the rest of the components inside.

After that was finished (and I played around for a while), the next step was making sure the motherboard and power supply fit properly. I placed the motherboard on one side (using PCB feet) and the hard drive on the other (using velcro) and tried installing the vertical shelf.

Unfortunately, my initial attempt didn't work - there wasn't enough room for the power supply and the frontx cables I was planning on using weren't long enough to reach to the back panel with the motherboard ports facing to the right. I ended up having to face the motherboard ports down towards the bottom and move the motherboard off center to the right to make room for the power supply.

I was worried initially that since the ports were facing down and the whole thing was off-center that the fan underneath wouldn't keep things cool but boy was I wrong. After leaving it on for at least 6 hours it was cool as the other side of the pillow in there.

Here is the power supply in place:

More later!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Computer Installation

I made some good progress over the weekend. I decided that the shell was far enough along to start cramming all of the computer parts inside. I built a "shelf" above where the speaker bar will go as a starting point for the installation. The plan was to cut a 120mm hole in the middle and mount a computer fan underneath to push air up through the shell and eventually out the vent on top of the back panel. I also wanted to build a vertical shelf to mount the motherboard and hard drive to which will straddle the fan.

This is the vertical shelf - really simple. It is made up of three MDF panels and I cut a semicircle cut out of the bottom:

The next thing I did was install the monitor in place. I used a few screws to secure it to the frame. Space was VERY tight here and I noticed the MDF pulling apart where the screws are so I added a few extra screws for added support (more than shown in the picture).

Also, before attaching the monitor, I installed the black weatherstripping around the monitor opening. This was tricky and ultimately didn't come out as precise as I wanted it to but it is barely noticeable. If I ever build something like this again I'm definitely going to use 1/4" Plexiglas for the front panel so I can route out the channel for the transducer wedge and everything will sit nice and flush. No big deal but since I'm mostly building this on the fly there are a few things I would do differently next time...

The shelf is secured to two 3/4" dowels I glued to the inside of the shell. The vertical shelf will be positioned directly above the fan so the hard drive and motherboard will remain cool while the jukebox is on. Everything else I cram in there will be based off of the placement of these major components.

More later.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Marquee Thoughts

Check it out... someone over at BYOAC took a stab at the artwork for me and came up with this:

Now I think we are getting somewhere! I really like it but I had a few comments:
  • I'd like the black lines around the dial to be a bit thicker
  • I'm not sure how I feel about the yellow border on the dial
  • I think I want to see the background in a color other than brown
  • I might want to change the font on the numbers a bit (maybe make them bold?)
  • The dial looks a little big - maybe shrink it by 1/2" all the way around?
  • I want to add a personal touch like "Mfg. by 'my name' 2008" or soemthing like I previously mentioned
So he came up with this:

After seeing this version, I had a couple of comments:
  • After seeing the "bold" I think I might like the non-bold version better (but still the smaller dial).
  • I think you can remove the "Mfg. by" font in the middle - it doesn't look quite right.
  • Is there a way to remove the yellow line that separates the background with the dial?
  • Is there a way to use the colors from your first design (the yellow on brown) and the black and gray for the background like in the second design? I like the yellow/orange sunburst look like in the original photo.
So then he came up with this:

Now I'm torn. I'm really close to settling on a "final" design but I don't know if this is lacking something...

  • I still might not like the bold lines and font
  • I might want the yellow a tad brighter
I'm also thinking about making a vector out of the entire thing since the background gets a bit pixelated when you blow it up to the actual size I need. These are some examples of what the vectorized file looks like:

This is great work!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marquee Art (Thoughts)

I am getting very close to having to decide on some artwork for this project. I can't make up my mind at all. I don't even have a name picked out for this thing yet (not that it has to have one) and I only have some vague "I'll know it when I see it" direction as to what I want the finished marquee to look like. I really like the artwork mountain came up with for his jukebox but since I can't settle on a name I really can't use his idea (for a change).

I am having a hard time dealing with the odd semicircle shape. I think I'm going to have to pick a pattern for the background and have something designed over top of it.

Art ideas I have floating around:
  • I like the Rock Band 2 artwork
  • I love Pearl Jam and Radiohead so maybe a very subtle nod to one of them
  • I want it to be colorful but not too bright (muted/earthy tones)
I don't think this thing even has to have a name written on the marquee if I can find a suitable design for the space. In fact, I think I might prefer his route since it would be somewhat unique.

Anyway, after a couple hours of messing around in microsoft paint(!) I came up with this general idea:

The background is from the website and the radio dial is just something I found using a Google Image search. I kind of like it but it definitely needs a lot of work. Ideally I'd like to get a Photoshop expert to make it look more professional (crisper lines) and probably redraw the entire dial with all the numbers (since the pic I snagged isn't a perfect circle by any means). Finally, instead of the random text that you can barely read, I'd like to add a personal touch like maybe "Mfg. by 'my name' © 2008" or something.

It's a start!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Applying Laminate And A HUGE Mistake

Well this isn't good. I ran into my first potentially major problem over the weekend when I laminated the sides and top of the jukebox shell. This was a tricky process and something I've really never done before so I was a bit nervous throughout the process.

The first thing I did was cut the laminate to roughly an inch oversize on all edges. This allowed for a little bit of play when I lined up the laminate with the jukebox shell because once the glue goes on and you join the two surfaces you don't get a second chance. The bond happens instantly and it is permanent.

Next, I applied glue to both surfaces as evenly as I possibly could with a roller. It is important here to cover the entire surface so there are no places in the laminate that will bubble or separate from the jukebox shell.

After waiting about 30 minutes for the glue to dry it was time to bond the laminate to the shell. I decided to leave the laminate face down on the work bench and start on one side of the shell and kind of roll it upside down and around to the other side. I made sure to press as firmly as I could from the inside of the shell as I went around nice and slow. It is important that the entire surfaces of both the laminate and the shell are in contact with one another. After working all the way around, I used a j-roller and applied some pressure working from the top of the curve down the sides to make extra sure everything was tight.

After I finished, I noticed the laminate wanting to separate at the edges so I tipped the thing on its side, put an MDF panel on top and then 2 cinder blocks for pressure. I was really worried so I let it cure overnight (you are supposed to be able to work with the piece 30 minutes after bonding) and when I removed the cinder blocks the laminate remained bonded to the shell - whew! If only this was the huge mistake...

After letting the glue cure overnight, I used my router and a flush bit to trim away the excess laminate that was hanging over the edges. This is where I ran into trouble. There isn't a flat surface to rest the router on as I went around the curve so I had to just "be careful" which I was except for one spot. Check it out:

I shaved off the protective paper and the thin layer of shiny on the Plexiglas - the scrape is about an inch long so I am definitely going to have to try and sand and polish that area and blend it in to the rest of the front panel. It sucks. I was being careful with the router but I guess I tipped it into the piece instead of away from it and I effed it up.

I'm going to have to try and polish out the scuff similar to how I polished the bevel around the Plexiglas opening. I'm fairly confident I can get it looking OK but I'm not as confident that I can get it to look like the scuff mark was never there. There's really nothing I can do but try and fix it. The picture actually makes it look a lot worse because of the flash.

Anyway, after that happened I stayed about 1/16" away from the front panel with the router and then used a file to get the laminate flush with the Plexiglas front - I should have been doing it like that the entire time - I'm so mad at myself.

Anyway, it's looking pretty good otherwise and I really like how the laminate gives it a nice clean finish.

Tonight I'm going to route the slot for the t-molding around the front and back panels and then try to remove the scuff mark using some high grit sandpaper and the Novus polish system.

More later.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Back Panel III

More progress! After getting the 1/8" MDF laminated and rough cut to size I didn't think there was any way that it would turn out nice considering it was chipped and there was glue everywhere. The next step was cutting the panel to its proper size with my router and flush cutting bit.

First, I put some double sided tape around the perimeter of the jukebox shell:

Then, I carefully placed the rough panel on top of the tape making sure that when the overhanging material was removed that there wouldn't be any chip marks showing. The clamps were for added support although they definitely weren't needed - the double stick tape is pretty strong:

Next, I just went around the outside with the router and ended up with the exact shape I wanted! After I had the proper shape, I used a template I had made way back in the beginning of the project for the front panel to cut out the opening for the vent on the top of the back panel (I used double stick tape again). It was easy - the router cuts through the laminate like butter!

You can still see the glob of glue on top that would have to be removed. After that was finished the last thing I did for the night was drill out the hole for the power button in the center of the small semi-circle. I used my step drill bit and widened the hole to 3/4" diameter.

The button looks great and should match the other aluminum accents on the jukebox (speaker grill, t-molding, etc.). Oh, yeah - I was able to remove the glue using my fingers quite easily. I just rubbed it until it came off from the friction. Check it out (don't mind the dust):

Next up for the back panel is cutting the hole for the I/O panel along the bottom which will mirror the speaker grill on the front panel. Then I will install magnets on the inside so the panel will stay in place but remain removable in case I need to get in there for maintenance.

More later!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Back Panel II

Now that I had a good idea of what I want the back panel to look like, it was time to start construction. I picked up the laminate from Home Depot (Formica brand) and was happy to see it rolled up in a tube. It shouldn't be a problem to laminate the curved panel! Check it out:

The first thing I did was trace the back of the jukebox shell on to some 1/8" thick MDF and cut out the rough shape. Then, using the rough shape as a template I traced it out on to the laminate and cut it out. I used my jigsaw and it was a mistake - it chipped the laminate like crazy - I probably should have tried scoring it with a utility knife or using some tin snips or something else. After cutting it out I wasn't sure if I left enough overhang around the edges because it was so badly chipped.

Here are the rough panels I cut (MDF and laminate):

I applied a thin coat of contact cement to the MDF and the back of the laminate panel, waited 30 minutes for the glue to dry and then bonded the two surfaces together.

I actually let this cure over night underneath a 3/4" MDF panel and a cinder block.

You can see how imprecise and rough everything is. I also got some contact cement on the good side of the laminate and I was a little worried about getting it off.

What a mess!!! You can see the chipped laminate, the spilled glue and even the permanent marker I used to trace out the shape! Is this going to work out?

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Back Panel

I've been thinking a lot about the back panel of the jukebox and I was able to make some progress on it last night. The cold weather is almost here which will limit my time out in the garage with the tools. It is not nearly as complicated as the front panel, which is good.

I am incorporating the the following:
  • Power button (Vandal)
  • Ventilation
  • 4 USB ports
  • Power cord for power supply
  • Ethernet port (for going online)
  • Headphone jack
  • Audio out ports (for connecting to home theater)
The trickiest part about this panel is that it has to be removable... or at least I need to be able to access the inside for maintenance. I do not want there to be any visible screws on the back panel so I am thinking about using magnets but we will see about that.

The panel will be made out of 1/8" hardboard and covered with Formica laminate. The back panel cannot be any thicker than this or else I will not be able to add t-molding around the top edge while still allowing for the panel to be removed. The layout will mirror the front panel with the power button going where the volume knob is and the vent being where the marquee is. This should give you an idea of how it will look (not even close to scale):

The holes for the ports on the bottom are going to be cut out of a 1mm thick metal panel in a rectangular shape mirroring the speaker cutout on the front panel. The ports on the motherboard are going to be extended to these holes using some cables from

This is a more detailed layout of the I/O panel:

I will start explaining the construction in the next post.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Speaker Grill

While I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the laminate I ordered I thought I'd try to get a few smaller things out of the way. I cannot make the back panel or finish the shell without the laminate! The first thing up on the list was figuring out how to cover the speaker opening. I didn't take any specific set of speakers into consideration when I designed this thing - I just thought I'd figure it out when I got that far.... well, now it's time to figure it out.

I decided to use some speaker cloth (available at partsexpress) and some perforated aluminum (available at mcmastercarr) to hide the speaker. The aluminum should tie in nicely to the volume knob and the chrome t-molding I will be wrapping the edges of the case with.

The first thing I did was buy some 1/4" square dowels from Home Depot - I wanted 1/8" but this was the smallest they had. I used the dowels to make a frame slightly smaller than the area routed out behind the speaker opening.

I clamped the cut pieces for about an hour until the glue felt like it would hold.

Once that was finished I sprayed it black just to make sure it wouldn't show at all through the speaker cloth and perforated metal.

Next, I cut out a piece of perforated aluminum to cover the frame.

Finally, I cut out a piece of speaker cloth a bit oversized to wrap the frame. This was a bit tough to figure out but maybe I'm slow. I got some white Elmer's Glue and put a bead around the frame. Then I laid the frame on top of the cloth on a flat surface with a piece of saran wrap underneath so the glue wouldn't stick to the table.

After the glue dried I used a razor to remove the excess material around the edges and I ended up with something like this:

The final step is going to be securing everything behind the Plexiglas in the cabinet. I have a bit more to do before I'm ready to permanently install it but here are a few pictures of what it is going to look like:

I am pretty happy with how everything came out. This was kind of a pain to do - I was expecting it to be an hour tops but I had trouble cutting the perforated metal accurately (third time was a charm).

More later.