Miss Betsy's Steampunk Monitor




Introduction: Miss Betsy's Steampunk Monitor

About: You might call me "Jane of all trades, mistress of none"; "all" is definitely an exaggeration but I am interested in lots of "trades" and try to master at least the basic steps so that I understand what the ...

As there is already a Steampunk Mouse and Keyboard the need for a matching monitor arose.
I planned to finish this project in about 3 weeks but 1 problem gave the other and the weeks passed and turned to months....

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Step 1: Plans

If you visit the google library in these days, the librarian will find plenty of articles and depictions of so called "Steampunk Monitors". In my imagination though, I envisioned the creation of a device that could show static but also moving pictures generated by means of computation and modulation of waves generated by my ingenious new invention.... (Any resemblance to devices used in "City of Lost Children" is purely coincidental).

I also wanted to add "loudspeakers" (E. Siemens et al.) to the device to present an even more pleasurable experience.

The device will be able to reproduce sound and static/moving pictures and will be powered by another invention of mine , based on the works of my fellow researchers Nikola Tesla, using hyper-condensed steam applied to a turbine by the same name, Count Alessandro Giuseppe Antonio Anastasio Volta and Michail Osipovich Dolivo-Dobrovolsky, able to produce alternating current in the amount of 110 Volts.

The glass storing containers and part of this generator will be visible atop the base cabinet. Due to an yet undiscovered effect, these jars light up in the rhythm of the reproduced sound. (Not depicted in this Instructable)

Please bear with me, your humble servant will keep you updated on the progress of this Instructable, for you to enjoy and, if you feel inclined, to reproduce.

This way it might have sounded over a 100 years ago but we live in 2010 and have all the tools and amenities of the 21st century.

Tools used: (might not be complete and not everything is absolutely necessary)
Craftsman mini drill with all kinds of attachments
Set of screwdrivers
Set of sandpaper 120 - 600
Hand-me-down drill press
Drill bits
Soldering iron
Assorted pliers (needle nose almost a must)
Metal files
Hack and coping saw
Table or chop saw
Propane torch

Materials used:
19" Dell E197FPf LCD Monitor
1/3" and 1/2" copper pipe and assorted fittings and connectors
1/4" screws and rod
Brass Cap Nuts
LED's ( red and green from a grab bag)
Whatever parts and pieces you might find laying around)

Step 2: Parts

Back to this Instructable. I drew and re-drew a few sketches; the last I showed you.
It is a basic concept, the final appearance will depend on parts and pieces available and how they work out put together.
As I've done already with the keyboard, my coming into age 19" Dell E197FPf LCD Monitor will get a frame of copper pipe, this time 3/4". It needs a solid base which will house the power distribution, amplifiers, control buttons and maybe another pair of speakers (The larger volume of the box hopefully giving a better bass reproduction). - This idea was abandoned at a later stage.

Aside from the monitor, I got a couple of speakers plus amplifier for each, a future speaker housing (floor drain and 4" PVC end cup) and glass knobs for volume control (Probably from some old drawers).
I will have to ask my friend to help me with the base cabinet and cutting the copper pipe, even if it costs me once more a case of beer.

LOL, of course lots of copper pipe fittings.

Step 3: Dissasembly

I found a guide online how to take my Dell monitor apart; I am sure there is one for your specific model. I only had to remove 4 screws from the back and then gently!!! pry the front part from the back. Very useful is a kitchen knife or screwdriver. I wouldn't use the plastic parts for this project, rather spray the metal back matte black which, in my opinion, would go nicely with the gleaming copper and brass parts.

What really gave me some headache was the small control panel on the front. If I would frame the screen with copper pipe, it couldn't stay in this spot. The cables seemed pretty short to leave room for a relocation.

Step 4: Dissasembly 2 and Putting the Monitor Back Together

In order to spray pain the metal panel I needed to go a step further and open the metal housing. The manual said to remove some screws and disconnect the leads for the CCFL's (back-lights) and the ribbon cable from the board to the LCD panel. They wouldn't come loose first and I was really scared to pull any harder. It was hard to get in the little openings but finally I found a little hook and slowly and gently pulled these plugs off. Some more screws to loosen and off came the metal panel. Carefully I placed the LCD panel far away on a towel face down.

3 hours later 3 layers of paint were halfway dry, it was getting evening and I needed my monitor back. In reverse order I put the pieces back together, well, till I encountered another problem. Extending the wires for the little control board. There were 8 wires, 1 red and 7 black, extremely helpful :( I aligned them between to clamps and got a ~15" piece of ribbon cable to extend as extensions. Counting and double checking I soldered the part close to the main board and connected the other close to the little control board temporarily. I will have to rout the cable later through a conduit or something like that. Haven't made my mind up yet.
Back upstairs I hooked the monitor back up to the computer and wonder oh wonder, it was working flawlessly.

Step 5: Building the External Speakers

Browsing through the hardware store I found the right housing for my external speakers. 4" PVC pipe cap and a 4" PVC floor drain. Painted black and the front covered with brass mesh (from the hobby store) should give it the right look. These would be attached later to the frame of the monitor using 1/2" (quote) Copper Pressure Male Adapter, Cup x MIPT (Male NPT Thread) LOL, well, that is the scientific name for it.
I stuffed the container with cotton pads as this gave me a better overall sound.

Next will be the frame for the monitor and fitting the parts to the monitor stand.

Step 6: Assembling the Frame

Just as I did with the keyboard, the frame would be made from cut apart copper pipe. The whole thing seemed straight forward but surprised me with umpteenth little problems. First step, getting the right setting to cut the pipe and connectors to fit the bare frame. After I got that halfway right, I needed to relocate the original control board to a "pod" (piece of 3/4" pipe) in front of the monitor. I made new buttons from cheap LED's pushed through 5mm holes in the pipe. These had to stay in place while I brought the control board in place. It took me several hours till I had the board and the connecting wires in place. Finally I had the monitor back in my study and I was very delighted that it worked :)

Step 7: Control Pod 2

Unfortunately it worked only for a little while :( The switches on the control board are really tiny and unfortunately I lack the accuracy to drill the holes exactly where I needed them so at times the switch was triggered, at other times only when I wiggled around or not at all.
I needed a different solution!
8 wires lead to the control board. After some thinking, measuring and finally trying, I figured there are:
2 common ground
+ for stand-by LED
+ for on LED
+ on-off switch
+ menu switch
+ monitor adjustment (+)
+ brightness (-)
I took a new piece of 3/4" pipe (~6" long) and drilled 6 holes, 2 for the LED's and 4 for new switches (refer to the pictures)
I only can tell you, it was absolutely excruciating to get these, along with the wires, into the tube.
Finally it was done but the whole process took me a couple of weeks filled with frustration.

Step 8: Making a New Monitor Stand

In the beginning I planned on putting a whole cabinet under the monitor but it would have been to bulky and would have raised the monitor another 6 inches so I stuck just to a simple stand made from copper pipes. (And somewhat resembling the original stand)
The whole thing was easy enough with the right fittings, especially after I found a way to connect the new stand with the original mounting plate. I managed this with a 3/4" floor flange screwed to the mounting plate with 1/4" x 3/4" screws with brass cap nuts.
The monitor can be adjusted in height (+/- 2") and angle (~ +/- 10 degree)
Two 1/4" threaded rods with brass cap nut and black thumb screw can be loosened/tightened to adjust the angle of the parts to each other (refer to picture)

Step 9: Enclosure for the Stereo Amplifiers

As I decided to add speakers to my monitor, I needed an enclosure for the amplifiers. I had found a nice piece of smoke colored plexiglass/acryl on the scrapheap of a local sign and display manufacturer.
After drawing up a plan I scored the acryl according to the measurements and had my friend cut it on the tablesaw. A word of CAUTION! Acryl/lexan/plexiglass can A) splinter and send some sharp shards around and B) will melt when it gets to hot. So wear your safety gear, especially goggles! The second problem is not as bad, you can scrape/cut file off the molten acryl and I guess, usually it will be ok.
So back to my enclosure. As carefully and accurate I measured the location of the sound and current inlets as well as the location of the volume knob as it seemed not possible for me to unsolder them from the PCB. Accordingly I drilled holes in the front and back pieces. Of course they didn't fit as it seemed this whole project was jinxed. With some enlargement of the holes and some filing I could put front and back pieces exactly in place. The special glue from Weld On #16 ( http://www.ipscorp.com/assembly/acrylic ) set over night but is very strong. To give it that old time look, I used glass drawer knows for the volume regulator.
Well, that was the last piece of the monitor project.

Step 10: The Finished Monitor

There it is my friends. I only can tell you, it looks awesome on my desk, along with the keyboard and the mouse.

A word of caution at the end of this Instructable!
Never splatter hot solder on your screen!

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    30 Discussions


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Could imagine it to be a nice conversation starter in your coffee-shop. Nicely done.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Dude....this has to be one of the coolest projects & inspirations ever. Seriously, my favorite movie. Almost nobody I know has seen it or even heard of it. Rad project.

    I am a woodworker and I am building a steampunk style computer system out of a 1920's treadle sewing machine cabinet. I want the monitor (steampunk style like yours) to rise up out of a socket in the back when the treadle is pumped then it will turn portrait or landscape as this monitor does that. I am not a mechanical engineer so not sure how to get it to do this. I am looking for someone who might be able to help me work out the gears or sliders needed. I think I can mount the monitor via the back panel and use drawer slides to get it to slide up and down, its the mechanics of getting the treadle to somehow gear up the monitor into place that I am not sure how to proceed.. ANYONE who has some ideas please let me know, I have a blog on this project on my woodworking site www.thisoldworkshop.com just look for the blogs on the menu and you can find me there.. Daniel Carter.. send me a message if you have some ideas. I am working on stripping the old finish and rebuilding the cabinet at the moment but will kick into the mechanical parts very soon. Any help will be appreciated and credit given in the blog. THANK YOU


    8 years ago on Step 10

    And to think you had to use this monitor all the while you were modifying it!
    That's like overhauling your hot rod every night and driving it during the day.


    8 years ago on Step 9

    I see you kept the amplifiers as they were. Now you have to regulate the volume of left and right separately.
    Maybe that's the way you wanted it to be, so you can easily regulate the balance of the sound.
    But I would have taken off the pot's and put one stereo pot of the same value in the case and connect the regulators each with one amplifier.
    That way you would have had only one knob for volume control.
    The same goes for the inputs. You could have combined them into one stereo input.
    The two leds for the power can stay and be used as an indicator that the amps are connected to the power supply.
    The power connections could also have been combined if your power supply is strong enough for both amps together.

    But I guess you wanted to keep it as simple as possible to connect. ;)

    Imagine some steam comming out of the copper tubes and you have one steaming computer. I wonder what your computer case looks like. :D

    Win Guy
    Win Guy

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Aw, man! I had the same idea a couple of weeks ago - about making a full computer set out of Steampunk. If you don't mind, I'd very much like to follow suit...
    Win Guy


    9 years ago on Step 8

    That is some of the little detail that I bet most people would have missed. Heck I've read over this a least a dozen times and never noticed it!

    Deus Tempestas
    Deus Tempestas

    9 years ago on Step 10

    Yes lets see your CPU case! With all that brass tubes we know you will use, it should be water cooled! :)


    9 years ago on Step 5

    For an even better sound, you might try sealing the space around the speaker on the vent. With a small speaker like that, best sound (IMO, of course) is achieved when the speaker is mounted into a sealed, foam/absorbant filled container.


    9 years ago on Step 10

    Your designs are so elegant, and your instructables are wonderfully readable and clear. Thank you!


    9 years ago on Step 7

    Next time, saw the pipe in half lengthwise, install the components, then drill a couple more holes and bolt the pieces together, or solder an end cap on the right half of one piece and on the left half of the other piece, at which point you can simply slip the two halves into the end caps.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 7

    Thanks for the solution Warlock. And this would work for all kinds of problems, as well, huh? Betsy I am simply salivating over your instructables!


    9 years ago on Step 10

    frustrating but well worth it! This is a work of art!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome, where did the wallpaper come from?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Try to google "steampunk wallpaper" or so, I think that's how I found it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Kewl, kewl, kewl. Good work. We just need some gears rather than buttons to control the settings. I imagine a series of tubes.;)