Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Power control and savings, automatic shut-off controls....

One of the things we all need to try and do is save some energy... What if you could turn off your lamp, printer, external hard drive, etc, coordinated with shutting off your computer (or TV, or whatever).

New powerstrips and outlets are available that 'sense' you have switched off one piece of gear, and through the smart-strip or smart-outlet, automatically turn off everything else plugged into it.  It has some neat implications.  One of the smart-strips even has extra "always on" outlets, too, in case there is something you don't want to turn off automatically (i.e. cable modem, router, or DVR).

Smart-strip on Amazon
 $34 and has lots of switched and always on outlets, with good surge protection.  Probably the best overall solution with the most possibilities for the home consumer with lots of equipment to control in one place.

Power Minder outlet
$21, cheaper, with USB control, and one switched outlet (use your own cheap powerstrip plugged into the one outlet).  Surge control, too.

NiceMite PowerMiteDD, definitely for the DIY'er, and a circuit board for putting in a project box, etc.  Simple, cheap ($14) and good reviews on the arcade forums.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Arcade build... first weekend, and finished pics.

First real weekend of construction of the arcade, which is powered by a PC and a 50" plasma monitor, with Hyperspin software front-end, and a couple thousand video game and virtual pinball ROMs.  I've been working on the plans and software for over six months, and its great to finally get going on the arcade.  I've had the Tank-stick unit for about two years, in anticipation of this... I ordered it while still on Okinawa back in 2010.

  I got three sheets of 4'x8'x 3/4" birch plywood delivered by Lowe's last weekend, and proceeded to transcribing my custom plans to the wood.  This weekend, I got out the jigsaw, circular saw, and belt sander and got to work getting it all cut out and trial-assembled.

Next week, I'll cut out the speaker holes and ventilation holes at the top of the back panel.  Will be ordering a 1/16" router bit for my router, and getting 30' of black T-molding.  I will begin painting on the primer after all is assembled, glued, screwed and sanded. No screws show, as it's all internal connections, except for the back access panel.
  I also will be designing the marquee and front, side decals.  I'm going with a custom "Tomcat Arcade" theme, featuring, or course, the F-14 Tomcat.  It will be a tribute to the Navy Squadrons who flew the famous dogfighter, and a fun reminder of my own time in the backseat for four years as part of VF-101, "The Grim Reapers" from '97 to '01.  And yes, it will have both the sims of the arcade game and pinball games which have featured the Tomcat through the years.

More next week!

Thread at BYOAC forum:
Tomcat Arcade Forum Post

Design element ideas (added 28 May 2012):

Update:  Jan 2013.

Well the whole setup is assembled, lighting in place, and marquee printed (google "EMKAY Marquee") and installed.
The PC is working great, and the X-Arcade tankstick and Hyperspin controls are all customized (along with the in-game key controls for MAME and Future Pinball).

I bought a small power amp to drive the 4" car speakers mounted below the marquee, and have plenty of power and the "just right" arcade sound.

The 50" plasma is a perfect look... just enough pixelation up close (1280x768) to give it that old-school screen look without having to artificially add scan lines (an option in Hyperspin)

Here's pics of the final product:

Friday, May 11, 2012

iPad wall mounting ideas...

At the top of the heap, a DIY wall mount video HERE on how to install the wall mount from ipadwallbracket.com .  It sells for $100 and can come with home button exposed or hidden, depending on your application.

  The Wallee system... cheap and elegant, and quickly removable. Downside is recharge cable would be exposed.

 Premier Mount: more durable? More security? Needs more pics and tutorials on how this works.

 The PadTab looks inexpensive and easy to use, with a minimalist wall hook-device. Did I say strong, too?

 The iPadFrame looks more like a traditional picture frame, but also has power-dock integrated, as well as the function button. Could be just what I need... wish it was about half that price, though.

  The Ledge is a sleek single CNC-milled aluminum block...still awaiting funding. Could also be carved from a nice piece of cherry or mahogany by a hobbyist, at home.

 The Vidabox iPad Wall Mount is a flush mount unit... looks fantastic.

 The eShop page lists these for about $99. Install instructions are on site, but the included "Charging Solution" needs more details and explanations. Another over-priced minimalist aluminum wall-bracket. $70, Seriously? Oh yeah, it's at the Apple store...

 The Wallport... more for temporarly/semi-permanent holding, not very classy in the looks department (or WAF) Kiosk mounts for public access...and preventing use of the home button. And when I say "kiosk", I mean "ka-ching$$$"

 LXB Wallpad, interesting angle-up approach for viewing while standing. Not a bad look...but something other than stark-white might be nice. Would work well for a billiard room jukebox or streaming music selector. Nano-second later edit: no longer available. Too bad, looked inexpensive and easy to mount. Might be something that can be one-off reproduced in wood and painted to match the wall.

 Dockalot wall mount solution... $200. My used iPad was only $160! ;)