Full disclosure: This is a basically a digital photo frame re-imagined as a Echo Device from the video game Borderlands 2. Also, this is my first Instructable, so bear with me. That being said, let's get started.
The inspiration: My son and I loved playing this game and I wanted to bring something from the game into the "real" world. The design of this item was appealing to me, it's retro military styling that has been hacked. The version I ended up with it somewhat different that the original, but I'm okay with that, you might want to go all the way and copy it completely.
Step 1: The Plans
Here is a basic front view and side view line drawing of the device. you can use the pdf or if you have Adobe Illustrator I have supplied a CS3 version. There are two different sizes, one was the original size and the other is the modified size that I made in order to fit the digital screen that I had. You might notice that the drawing does not match the final device, this is because as the project progressed, changes were made. This happens to me a lot.
Step 2: Tools and Materials
Here is a list of tools and materials you might need:
1. Power Tools
Hot glue gun
2. Hand Tools
Digital photo frame ( I used a 8in Panadigital with video and sound playback)
3/4in. MDF (medium density fiberboard)
1.5in DIA. PVC pipe
1/8in x1.5in x 2ft. aluminum bar
Small pan head Phillips screws
Insulated wire (I used salvaged phone wire)
Speaker (pulled out of a Fart Machine)
Magnifier lens and Db meter (pulled out of a Sony Hi-8 professional video camera)
Switches (1-Heavy Duty toggle DPDT, 1-panel toggle SPDT, 3 push button momentary, 1 push button on/off, 1 SPST lever toggle )
9 volt battery
Titebond wood glue
Sandpaper (100 grit - 220 grit)
Matte Black spray paint
Camo-green spray paint
Solder and Flux
Step 3: In the Beginning . . .
The first step is to take apart your photo frame and remove the flat panel screen. Be careful when you do this as the wires that hold the panel to the circuit board very thin. There should be a connector that you can release in order to separate the panel. After this, you remove the rest of the board and start taking measurements to adjust you plans accordingly.
Print the outline of your device from the plans, you might have to do it in two pieces and tape it together. Cut out with your X-acto knife the outline, you can use this to trace on the 3/4in MDF. You'll need to use 2 pieces. I cut the a basic rectangle shape and then added the details with glue or epoxy, you might choose to cut the complete outline shape.
Once you have the basic shape cut out you can start to figure out how to fit all the switches and buttons that go into the Device. This will vary based on how you want to customize it. I tried to match the function buttons of the photo frame to the design of the Echo Device. I also added a larger speaker.
Mark the ares that need cutting and remove those areas with whatever tool is best for the job. I used a combination of drilling, chiseling, bandsaw, hand saw and routing. It's helpful to wear a mask and eye protection while doing this, you'll thank me later.
After the 2 main pieces are cut glue and clamp them overnight. You can clean up the glue squeeze out with a moist paper towel or chip it off later. You might want to pin it together before you glue it with a couple of dowels. This will keep it from slipping while clamps are being tightened.
Step 4: The Button Bar
You'll notice that the Device has a button bar that also acts like a footer to stabilize it in the standing position.
This is a little tricky to make, so I gave it it's own step.
Start by gluing 2 pieces of 3/4in MDF together, You can figure out the size from the plans. After the the glue dries, cut the angle on the table saw or whatever sharp rotating cutting device you have. I had a small gap in mine so I filled it with Bondo (if you're not familiar with Bondo, it's a 2 part epoxy used as an auto body filler and is readily available.) Do this outside as it stinks to high heaven!
After the Bondo dries, sand it smooth with sand paper and a block.
Mark the areas where the switches will go. You'll be removing a lot of material now so be careful, MDF is tricky to work with at this scale as it doesn't have a lot strength for small objects.
I used a drill to remove most of the material, then a chisel to clean it up.
After a few applications of filler, sand it smooth and paint it.
After the paint is dry you can glue it to the main body.
Step 5: Battery Pack
The battery pack is cut from a length of 1.5in. PVC pipe fitted with wood plug on either end fitted with a copper plate. I wired a 9 volt batter clip to the switch. The idea was for the 9v battery to be able to run the Device when not plug into the wall, which it did for 30 seconds. SO, now it's just decorative. If any of you have a solution to this, please let me know.
Step 6: Painting
A word or two about painting. The more you put into it the better.
1. Prep! Go over the Device, fill and sand any blemish and joint you don't want to be there with epoxy and sandpaper, then do it again and again. It might take a few times.
2. Prime it! I like a sandable primer, something I can take a smoothing sandpaper sheet to. I also might do this a couple of times.
3. Paint it outside. Dude, the stuff stinks and its bad for you to breathe. Do your lungs a favor, wear a dual filter mask too. If you're into detailing, I recommend getting some good brushes and an assortment of acrylic paints.
4. Sealers. I chose not to seal it as I wanted a basic military paint job look, but you could spray it with a coat of matte sealer to keep it nice.
Step 7: Wire It Up!
This is kind of the fun part, if you like a confusing mass of wires and itty-bitty solder connections.
I haven't supplied a wiring diagram as yours will most likely be different and it would probably make my head explode. It is pretty basic though, so you should have no trouble.
The new speaker is held in with hot glue and I rerouted the power jack to the back of the Device. My first intention was to make is both battery operated and AC powered. I soon found that this was a mistake as there was too much power draw and not enough space for more batteries. I was able to wire the power to the Db meter so that lights up when the power goes on and the speakers play fairly well.
The Db meter and switches were held in with small panels which were painted black and then screwed into the Device with phillips pan head screws. I recommend pre-drilling these. I also recommend wire connectors with crimpable ends, it makes putting it together so much easier.
Step 8: It's a Wrap!
So, in conclusion, it worked pretty well. All the buttons worked, if you pressed the power switch, it turned on, if you press a nav buttons they worked too. I think I could have taken it a little farther though, like maybe cracked the screen or added a decal, but I'm happy with it. Happy making.