The Steampunkers Pocket Machine - or a Victorian MP3 Player




About: Dan Aetherman, Steampunker, Inventor and Adventurer - Creator of fantastic victorian machines, gadgets and movieprops - Visit me on and on Facebook:

Dear Steampunkers out there, dear followers

I would like to present you this time something steampunky which is based on a small machine we used some years ago, before we got our Smart Phones. During one of my expeditions thrue the junk yards in my town I found three old DELL AXIM Pocket Computers. You know me dudes, I could not let them there...
Because my MP3 player was broken a few weeks ago I had the idea to use one of these DELL AXIM's to listen to my favourite music.

As usual this instructable will be something to inspire you. May it will be difficult to get the same parts - but be creative - in Steampunk everything is possible...

Step 1: The Sandwich Technique

May some of you remember my project called "The SteamPad". This computer was built in a special and easy way - I call it the "Sandwich Technique". You will find this project here:
The idea is to use a wooden front and a wooden back, the device will be between like in a sandwich.
The back is a simple peace of wood, while the front is made with two layers. The thinner one is cutted to fit the screen and the thicker one to fit the device. For the power button I drilled a hole.
After cutting and cleaning I painted the covers and used a nice varnish.

Step 2: Assembling and Finish

To close the "Sandwich" I choosed six old brass spray nozzles, because they fitted exactly the thickness of the device. I drilled a hole thrue the nozzle and used a brass srew to close the "Sandwich. For the power button I just glued a small brass screw onto the button with power glue - that was the easiest way to go and the button is protected from the brass screws, because they are a little bit higher.
Further I mounted an old vacuum tube between the top and the bottom. That looks awesome and it hides the open sides of the "Sandwich"...

Step 3: The Steampunk Pocket PC Theme

By chance I found in the web a great site to create an own theme for the old pocket computers. Here you go:
I used my logo and in a few very simple steps you have an own customized theme....

Step 4: The Docking Station

To present the machine in a eyecatching way and to charge and transfer data I rebuilt the DELL docking station. I used brass, wood and metal to create something really steampunky.....

Step 5: The Conclusion

The upcycling of this old DELL AXIM was a lot of fun and if you use it to listen your favourite music in the train, people are very interested and curious what the hell it is...

So may a nice idea to build your own one - this pocket pc's are easy to find....

Sincerely yours

The Chocolatist




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    17 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 3

    I was given a bag of old mp3 and mp4 players and this would be a great use for them. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Sorry for my very late replay!! Thanks for your interest. Hope I could you give some inspiration. Sincerely The Chocolatist

    Sorry for my very late reply ;-) The measures are 15 x 12 x 3 centimeters. Still OK to put it in a small pocket during travel...


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Its a great looking piece, but it really has more of an e-book feel to it I think.
    The use of the valve might push it a little toward teslapunk, and I'd have put a small disk in it somewhere so it looks like its playing from a physical media. After all, how do you store data with steamtech ? Something for your next piece perhaps.
    The docking station looks perfect though, extra points if that musicbox/gearbox works while its docked ^_-

    2 replies

    Thanks for your inputs. I even use it as an ebook reader, but the screen is quite small for that (but better than on a smart phone). To store data with steamtech I will think about it!


    Ever seen a player piano's innards?
    One thing that might work is a punch-card ribbon, maybe with 8 small spring loaded arms that you can see dip down into the holes as they pass, making it look like your player is reading the music from the ribbon?
    I've seen musicboxes that work on this principle, powered by a manual crank handle, it'd be easy to attach say a mobile phone vibration motor to one of them to have it feed the punch-roll through.
    There are too many non-mechanical steampunk toys around, there need to be more with actual moving and functional parts!
    I'll get off my soap-box now ^_^'


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great , I am really interesting in your antique instructables !

    i would like to have some lamp , i mean that lamp's that have been used instead transistors
    where can i found lamps even trash one ?

    1 reply

    Hi. Thanks for your comment. I think you are writing about vacuum tubes. I usually get them from Ebay. Short time ago I became a lot of tubes from a vacuum tube collector - he didn't use them because it was not possible to identify them anymore. May you can ask an old radio shop...