ComputerSphere – modding the original base to include a DVD burner

I thought for a change in scenery, I would look at modding the original square base. The square base was an attachment that could be used to support the Videosphere, it wasn’t needed if the Videosphere was hanging. To keep with this idea, I decided to make the base a removable DVDRW drive, with a connection to a standard USB, the base could still be removed and was not essential to the operation.

The original Videosphere base after polishing

I purchased a slot load DVDRW drive from eBay for $50 and a USB slim laptop drive SATA adaptor for around $10.

Slot load DVD burner with USB adaptor

First I glued some wooden pieces to the inside of the base, and this provided me with mounting points.

Glued some wooden pieces for mounting supports

I created some brackets for the DVD drive from some quarter channel aluminium and a hacked older CD drive.

Brackets on the DVD burner for mounting

With the position of the DVDRW drive now know, I cut a slot into the plastic square base with a Dremel.

Rough cut of the slot on the base with a Dremel

Once the slot was large enough it was cleaned up with a file.

The slot on the base neatened up with a file

The DVD burner mounted inside the Videosphere’s base.

Mount the DVD burner into the Videosphere base

The work in progress.

The finished product

Next post I will look at fixing up the USB cable at adding some obligatory lighting to the base.

ComputerSphere – testing the Via Epia M output on the LCD

A quick update.

Before I went through the process of installing the operating system on the computer, I thought I should quickly check the VGA output and make sure everything was normal.

BIOS output of the Via Epia M on the LCD.

Testing the Via Epia M output on the LCD

Secondly, I decided to shorten the VGA cable to a more manageable length.

First splicing the cable.

Splicing the VGA cable

Then rejoining the individual cores with heatshrink.

Rejoining the VGA cable

Finally, a bit of aluminium foil as a crude shield before taping it all up with electrical tape.

A bit of aluminium as a crude shield

ComputerSphere – mounting the VIA Epia M motherboard

A quick post on the progress made to mount the VIA Epia M motherboard inside the Videosphere.

Firstly, the VIA Epia M motherboard, chosen as I had it from a previous project and it was the perfect size, well, it was a little bit too big, but it still did fit nicely.

The VIA Epia M motherboard

Fitted with a single stick of 512mb memory and currently in the process of purchasing a small (capacity wise) solid state disk. The power supply is a tiny module that connects directly to the ATX plug. Everything is on-board which is good.

The VIA Epia M motherboard

I hack an old PC case motherboard try and get left with a square with four mounting screws for the motherboard spacers.

A mounting plate from an old case

This is a photo of the LCD TV’s PCB before covering it with the motherboard mounting plate. I have connected the LCD cable and a power cable, I make a late decision to not use the LCD TV’s tuner, mainly because I left this project so long that we don’t have analogue free-to-air any more, what I will do instead is purchase a digital USB TV tuner dongle.

The LCD TVs PCB with VGA a power attached

Now a photo with mounting plate and VIA Epia M motherboard mounted.

Mounting plate attached with wires for LCD control

The mounted VIA Epia M in the ComputerSphere

Now that I won’t be using the analogue TV tuner, I don’t know what to use the two large knobs for now, one can still be used for volume control with a pot but not sure about the other one.

Next post should see a test run of Windows on the ComputerSphere, but still heaps more to go before finished, including all the connections for the back.

ComputerSphere – converting the knobs to buttons

Before I can mount the motherboard, I needed to return the three knobs back to their original location as I wouldn’t be able to do this with the motherboard in the way.

Originally these knobs were used for volume control, and some form of picture fine tuning.

As we are all in a digital age, I didn’t have anything that I could control with pots, and the two things I do have (channel and volume, both up down buttons) will be controlled with the two main knobs (coming soon). So I came up with a very simple crude method to convert the knobs to more useful push-buttons.

Here is the assembly of the original potentiometers (one black knob missing).

The original Videosphere tuning knobs

Here are the standard red push-button switches that I had lying around.

Three generic red push-button switches

And here is the idea, cut the original black knobs in half and mount the push-button switches underneath.

The concept, the knobs converted to buttons

I create a basic bracket from some folded sheet metal and mount the push-button switches.

The knobs mounted in a sheet-metal bracket

On first test the black knobs were slipping of the head of the push-buttons as there was too little surface area. To solve this I epoxyed some small sheet metal channels to the base, this stopped the knobs slipping off.

Here they are all sitting on the heads of the push-button switches.

The push-buttons with the knobs sitting on top

What is looks like inside when mounted to the Videosphere.

The whole thing mounted inside the Videosphere

And what it looks like from the exterior, looks pretty much the same as it originally did, except we have three useful buttons.

Looks exactly the same viewed from outside

Now what’s going to be connecting to the buttons, well, the LCD TV has seven buttons already, two for volume up and down, two for channel up and down, one for ‘menu’, one for ‘power’ and one for ‘TV/AV’. The three buttons will be used for the later, with the power button of the LCD TV sharing the same button as the computer.

Here is a shot of the original LCD button PCB, I keep the whole thing and mount it inside as it allows me to trouble shoot things. The IR receiver for the remote I thought of keeping, but couldn’t think of anywhere good mount it, plus having already mounted the LCD made it very difficult to drill holes anywhere close to the LCD.

The LCD TV control panel PCB

The following shows the button PCB mounted and buttons wired up, also added the VGA cable.

The original TV LCD control panel PCB mounted and wiring started

ComputerSphere – Installing the LCD electronics and testing

After a very long break, I’ve decided to complete this mod once and for all.

This update is mainly to make sure the LCD is still working after sitting around for a number of years, and confirm I still have all the parts.

Firstly, let’s make sure the LCD is still working.

A quick test of the LCD making sure it is still working

Now we need to create something to mount the various parts, which include LCD circuit board and motherboard. I thought of an easy solution, use the existing CRT mounting holes to create threaded stands that all the components can be suspended from.

I picked up some 65mm threads and matching bolts from the local hardware store, these were threaded into the original plastic bezel holes.

65mm bolts and nuts used as the main mounting supports
Screw the bolts into the existing CRT mounting holes
All bolts screwed in, but need to  remove the bolt heads

A Dremel solves the problem of the original bolt heads in the way.

A Dremel easily solves the removal of bolt heads

Mount all the LCD TV’s hardware on the first metal sheet.
Mount the LCD TVs electronics, insulating certain areas with tape

I give it a test run and notice a strange vertical white line running down the centre of the LCD, I thought some connection must be loose, but all the wiggling and playing around I was not able to resolve it.

Run another LCD test, for some reason there is a strange white line

I will just have to leave it for now and come back to it later.

Next step is working on the buttons and knobs.

The Cool Cube featured in 10 Years of Mini-ITX eBook

To celebrate 10 years of the VIA Mini-ITX motherboard, VIA had released a anniversary eBook titled Small is Beautiful: Ten Years of Mini-ITX, which features one my case modding projects, The Cool Cube.

Head over to viamini-itxebook.com to read about it and many other cool mods.

Ten Years of Mini-ITX eBook

Heat problems with iStar BPN-350SAS 3×5.25″ to 5×3.5″ SATA Trayless Backplane

Recently I posted about the use of an iStar BPN-350SAS in my RAID 6 array, well due to Australia’s extreme summer temperatures I have had a number of drives in the enclosure fail due to overheating.

Whilst I like the design and build of the BPN-350SAS there are some extreme flaws in the cooling design must likely due to implementation costs or interference with the units cosmetics.

Firstly, the 2x 60mm fans do not provide enough airflow; secondly, there are simply not enough paths for the air to flow. If you look inside the unit you will see 5 slits behind the PCB, and that is all there is for hot air exhaust. If you look at the front bezels, beneath the locking key hole plastic are 3 air vents, and this is all there is for the cool air intake.

Now, my solution has improved all off the above by first, removing the 60mm fans and installing 2x 80mm fans, these are connected via a molex connector. You can observe that 2x 80cm fans protrude 20mm on one side so it was necessary to install the protruding fan once the unit was installed into the case. Secondly, additional air holes on the back of the unit and on the top and under side of the unit to allow more air to circulate. I also removed the 5 springs that popped the drives out, but this was more to improve the backplane’s connection with the drives.

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - top air intake holes

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - top air intake holes and 80mm fan

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - botton air intake holes and 80mm fan

iStar BPN-350SAS modified - installation in case with 2 80mm fans

Start of new project, modding a JVC Videosphere into a computer (a Computersphere)

I have had this idea for a while now, most of the parts, have just been too lazy. By starting a thread and posting it should get me motivated.

This project involves modding a JVC Videosphere into a working computer . I shall name it the Computersphere.

It will consist of two parts:
First part
Restoration of a Videosphere into its brand new condition, this will mostly include cleaning and buffing the plastic. I plan to use a 8.4″ colour TV to replace the existing black and white TV. However, all existing knobs and switches will remain and be operational. I have a feeling there is going to be some custom fancy circuitry to convert the analogue dials to digital.

Second part
Once the Videosphere looks and functions brand new, I will insert a VIA EPIA M from a previous modding project. This should be fairly straight forward as there is plenty of room. DVD rom drive in the base, red neons in the base and the top, as there are already ventilation holes.

Picture of the JVC Videosphere
JVC Videosphere
Source: Graham Mancha – Design for Modern Living

Onto the modding…

First pictures of my videosphere (yes, it is already gutted, I was too eager to take it apart)

Videosphere front
Videosphere back
Videosphere top

Now lets look inside
Videosphere inside back half
Videosphere top of the tube
Videosphere front of the tube
Videosphere base/stand

Very dirty inside. I keep everything except for the tube.

Next I plan to sand any deep scratches and buff the plastic shell.