Love that old switch Max.....also the idea of antique tubes on top with the rainbow LEDS. Both the coal furnace idea and the CRT are good, not sure which I'd prefer. You could have the CRT displaying lissajous figures or maybe spirograph figures (i have a circuit for that somewhere). The CRT is perhaps more versatile but the coal furnace would look cool too....maybe have it flickering away with the meter needle moving in sync??
@David: ...but the coal furnace would look cool too....maybe have it flickering away with the meter needle moving in sync??
I like that idea -- also when you mess with the switch, things could change a bit and then settle down again -- I'm also planning on adding background sound effects associated with changing switches and stuff...
Max..... "And what do you think about the Phrankly Phenomenal Ultra-Macho Prognostication Engine moniker? Would you change the Ultra-Macho portion?"
In view of Karen's comments about the Inamorata Prognostication Engine, maybe you should get her pronoucements on this? Then again, it's not ultra macho to ask for the womenfolk's opinion? So maybe just do it :-)
As a female who first became introduced in engineerig because we had this tiny steam-powered toy factory-and a steampunk fan, I'd have to say this is pretty impressive. But wouldn't a little color be nice??
Well, the box will be antique-looking wood and the panel will be aged (possibly etched) brass -- I'm tending to the pseudo-coal-powered furnace on the right, so thsi will be flickering with reds and oranges and yellows. Also the meter on the left has a black surround, but the "paper" inside (what do you call that -- scale, reticule?) will have different colors (red at one extreme and green at the other ... not sure exactly yet)
@Max, you do realise that the use of more than 2 colours (other than black) will automatically preclude the use of the "Ultra macho" tag. as do primary colours and any whose names relate to fruit or vegetation (so plum, berry and fern are out). You might sneak the red and orange through but I'd be wary of the colours on your meter scale.....
Oh, and sorry, I'm an ex-pom living in an ex-pommy colony, so my "colours" has a U in it.....
BTW, anyone know how to do a "tongue in cheek" emoticon?
I'd never heard of St. Trinian's -- sounds hilarious. I'll have to see if they're available on this side of the Pond. Alistair Sim in drag must be hilarious, and I really liked Joyce Grenfell in The Americanization of Emily (1964), one of Paddy Chayefsky's two (that I know of) brilliant exposés of how news is marketed, the other being Network (1976).
Edit: Crumbs, only available in Region 2. DVD region codes should never have been allowed.
Back when Zimbabwe was Rhodesia, my school's colours(all boys school) were navy blue and plumbago, a grey with a bluish tinge. Plumbago was Cecil John Rhodes' favourite colour- the country being named for him. Better known today for the Rhodes scholarship.
@antedeluvian (and David): " ... Cecil John Rhodes' favourite colour- the country being named for him. Better known today for the Rhodes scholarship."
There were varying opinions on Mr. Rhodes. Here's one from one of my favorite authors:
"Before the middle of July we reached Cape Town, and the end of our African journeyings. And well satisfied; for, towering above us was Table Mountain--a reminder that we had now seen each and all of the great features of South Africa except Mr. Cecil Rhodes. I realize that that is a large exception. I know quite well that whether Mr. Rhodes is the lofty and worshipful patriot and statesman that multitudes believe him to be, or Satan come again, as the rest of the world account him, he is still the most imposing figure in the British empire outside of England. ...
" ... I admire him, I frankly confess it; and when his time comes I shall buy a piece of the rope for a keepsake."
Mark Twain, "Following the Equator," end of Chapter LXIX, commenting on Cecil Rhodes of Rhodesia.
Please remember that Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorn Clemens) was first and foremost a humo(u)rist.
When CJ died Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem that went:
"the immense and brooding spirit still shall,quicken and control. Living he was the land, and dead his soul shall be her soul." Of course Kipling was an arch imperialist himself, as you can tell. I wrote the above from memory, being the second or third poem I had to memorise at school. It was inscribed on a scroll around the picture of Rhodes' head on the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland pound note (now I am really going back, to what is now Zimababwe, Zambia and Malawi). I just looked it up, and it seems I remembered it perfectly- what a waste of brain cells!
Assuming the filament in the tube still works, a low voltage supply with sufficient current would light it up. Add PWM control to the supply, and all sorts of effects are possible. If you keep the brightness down, the filament will last nearly forever.
@bk11: Assuming the filament in the tube still works, a low voltage supply with sufficient current would light it up. Add PWM control to the supply, and all sorts of effects are possible. If you keep the brightness down, the filament will last nearly forever.
Actually, that's a really good point -- I hadn;t thought about lighting the filament -- but even a dim glow would look rather cool (well, hot :-)
PWM might mean extra stress to a filament and thus kill it much faster. best practice would be a linear adjustable rgulator. if it shall be voltage or current conrtolled i can not say right now. for LEDs current conterol is quite the standard.
a permanent drive is fine as it is a steady condition. heating up and cooling down is a little bit extra stress.
You've definitely got some good ideas that will look cool, but....I don't know, it almost seems like it's getting too complicated. I mean, wasn't the original idea that the "masculine" version would be incredibly simple? Love that switch, though!
@ChrisJ555: wasn't the original idea that the "masculine" version would be incredibly simple?
You've caught me on the horns of a dilemma (and it's damned uncomfortable, let me tell you). Well, the controls on the man part will certainly be simple -- that wonderful switch that doesn't actually do anything (except maybe trigger a "ripple in the force" and a few appropriate sound effects).
I've decided NOT to use the big tube in my office (it's just too amazing in its transport frame), but I do want to have some tubes on top flickering away with interesting light effects -- I'm going to perform some experiments this weekend -- watch for a follow-up column early next week...
Try hooking up a high frequency, high voltage, low current power supply to one of the pins of the tube and see if you can make plasma lightning appear in the tube. Might work if there's just enough of the right gasses left in the tube. That would be way cool.
You might be able to achieve some interesting "lightning" effects on a slightly smaller scale if you can get one of those airport-runway style Xenon flashtubes, such as this one currently on ebay ( though not for much longer ):
Your results may vary according to your HV source... but I've got one of these hooked up to one of those timer-ic driven ignition coil circuits... and it seems a nice way to add a bit of Frankensteinian sparkiness to a project!
It's a fair bit older than the ebay one... probably was old when I bought it some twenty-five years ago... and it's housed in a metal-reinforced glass tube. Gives a nice and relatively quiet little electrical display, still... and no noxious nitrous smell of a hot open air J-L spark.
@ Max: "Not a bad idea, although I'm more of a low-voltage man... I did find anther really interesting -- low cost -- tube there -- I can get the coil glowing -- and I'm just about to try lighting it from underneath with NeoPixels -- I'm just waiting for the hot glue holding the NeoPixels on the tube to cool down."
I can relate on that account. Once built a solid-state relay board for my first Commodore 64... for switching some 115VAC lights... and then got a little careless with a screw-driver. Would hate to think what 10KV+ would do to a string of Arduinos. Less smoke, I imagine... but probably more shock!
Still... for lighting and such-like effects, there's just something about such displays that LEDs can't touch.
Then some nixies, maybe? Or perhaps one or two of those "magic-eye" tubes? Or somehow a mix of LEDs and those small neon-bulbs for the "furnace"?
What ever happened to the small circular multi-colored sound activated display device you had in your office a while back? I think it would fit right in.
As for the male part of the project- in my opinion it should be nothing more than a battery, single pole toggle switch, and an LED in a clear acrylic enclosure, and it should be referred to simply as "The box". Alternatively it could be called "Part A".
@Rcurl: What ever happened to the small circular multi-colored sound activated display device you had in your office a while back? I think it would fit right in.
Ah -- that plasma display thing -- I'd forgotten all about that -- it's on the shelves behind me somewhere (burried under layers of other stuff) -- but just wait till you see what I picked up thsi morning from Mock Electronics -- I'm writing a blog as we speak...
@Douglass: You might be able to achieve some interesting "lightning" effects on a slightly smaller scale if you can get one of those airport-runway style Xenon flashtubes...
Not a bad idea, although I'm more o a low-vltage man. I went down to Mock Electronics on Friday on the way into work (only 2 weeks before they close down) -- they have one huge tube left that made we dool -- but it's out pof my range -- I put a much lower offer in if no one else asks for it.
In the meantime I did find anther really interesting -- low cost -- tube there -- I can get the coil glowing -- and I'm just about to try lighting it from underneath with NeoPixels -- I'm just waiting for the hot glue holding the NeoPixels on the tube to cool down.
those switch might not be safe nowadays for what it was used once.
using it in a >100V setup it can be a dangerous part. todays safety rules reflect more than 100 years of experience with electricity. where once open metal was okay its not okay as of today. and please note that even such a device sees material degradation like increased risk of breakage or increased conductivity.
best practice is using such a device only with low voltages. you might know the limits for DC and AC that are allowed to be exposed to even human tampering such as in audio plugs, chargers and electric model train tracks. its the "toy's voltage" level.
have fun with your toy project and abstain from high voltage where ever possible.
Does Max still keep tabs on his ancient musings? If so, he mey be interested in the material below to use instead of glass or (cringe) plastic for various windows and ports, especially if he goes for the "coal-fire" look. It's VERY Victorian/Steampunk: Mica!
Of course, getting the very best quality means there are no decorative imperfections. Where can you find a more NATURAL-looking supply?
January 2016 Cartoon Caption ContestBob's punishment for missing his deadline was to be tied to his chair tantalizingly close to a disconnected cable, with one hand superglued to his desk and another to his chin, while the pages from his wall calendar were slowly torn away.122 comments