Computer Finished

Hooray! Wow, a lot has happened since my last post. When we last spoke I had finished installing the majority of the computer. Since then I've installed the LCD display and created the USB and power ports on the back of the case. First I'll explain the ports on the back.

The USB, firewire, ethernet and all other plugs and ports on the G4 Cube are all mounted on the logic board of the computer. The logic board is located somewhere in the center of the beige case. This created the need to make little extension cords for each port, which would then be mounted on the rear of the beige case. This wasn't such a challenge at first because you can buy such things as USB and firewire extension cables. The power connection on the other hand is a weird proprietary connection which I could not find an extension cable for.

So it's a 4 pin connector. I was poking around www.allelectronics.com looking at multi-pin connectors trying to find a suitable candidate and I ended up going for a 5 pin DIN connection, which is one more pin than I needed, but that fine.

So I wired up the chopped off power cord to a surface mount female DIN connection:

So the small end of that cord plugs into the guts of the computer, and the fat end is mounted on the rear of the beige case.

The next step was to alter the power supply so that it had a male DIN connecter that would plug into the new modification. This was a pretty similar process as the previous step.

I'm probably going to crochet a little white cozy for that bulge where I joined the cables.

The next step was to cut face plates for these new ports and install all of the extensions so that they looked pretty. I don't have any in-process photos of this, but I cut them out of plexiglass with a dremil. and painted them gray. They're mounted from inside of the enclosure with hot glue.

Clearly I have yet to install the firewire and ethernet extensions, but those are on the back burner for now as they aren't vital. The USB extension is simply a store bought male/female or A to B cable. For the audio in/out ports i'm using an iMic USB digital audio adapter simply because the Mac Cube never had on-board audio. Thus I am left with only one spare USB port, which is fine I just use a hub. If I was smart I would have mounted the USB hub inside of the computer so that it just appeared as if it had four ports, but I didn't think of that until it was too late. Maybe I'll do that some day...

Sadly I have not one in-process photo of installing the LCD. I bought it from www.millertech.com. I had tried to use LCDs from old crappy laptops, but I kept running into problems trying to find one that was the right screen size with small enough circuitry around the edges so that it would fit inside of the enclusure. This solution was kindof pricey, but I knew that it was a perfect fit as far as dimensions go, so I couldn't say no. Basicly I hot glued it into place for now, and I will be finishing it off with a more reliable epoxy or caulk. The actual screen size is slightly smaller than the hole left by the old screen, so I created a matte covering the edges.

So, you're probably wondering why the cursor is so big. No, it's not just because it looks awesome, this is actaully rooted in function. The computer isn't fast enough to process the visualization produced by my software in full screen mode, so instead I made the video window very small, and used the "zoom" feature built into Mac OS X to zoom in on the small window so that it apears to be full screen. Thus the awesome huge cursor.

So that's about it! Just a few loose ends to be tied up, but the computer is basicly finished. I say specificly that the computer is finished rather than saying the project is finished because I hope to improve and change the software eventually. Right now I don't have the means to do so because the MAX/MSP/Jitter programming environment is really expensive, but it'll happen eventually. I also want to go on tour at some point. In case you're wondering how I plan on actually using this computer in such a context, here's a video of me & my friend Ali performing at my BFA thesis exhibition last saturday:

I still need a lot of practice... it's hard to stay on the beat sometimes because there's lag time between hitting the key and the note being produced. I mean it's not a noticeable lag, it's just enough to cause me to phase out of synchronization with the drummer.

Here's another good treat, my teacher Andrew Deutsch's son Ben played with the computer for a little bit:

So that's all for now I guess! I'll post when I finish the ethernet and firewire ports. I'll also continue to post any recordings or videos of performances... thanks for reading!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

lol so awesome! #?! on efnet loves it.

May 9, 2007 at 10:05 PM  
Anonymous Zaida said...

People should read this.

November 11, 2008 at 4:43 PM  

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