Tag: devices

Published by Professor von Explaino

Code, devices

Looking around my site you’ll see some of the applications I’ve toyed with over the years; I’m a web application programmer by trade and I love to tinker. Today walking into the office with a coworker and we were discussion decommissioning a number of applications from a server and I decided we needed to memorialise this. Not just by taking the server out the back and hitting it with an EMP, but an enduring legacy to applications time forgot.

An application graveyard if you will.

We’re going to be approaching this as an free-time team concept, but I’m naturally pitching a Dr Frankenstein-esque reanimation chamber attached to the graveyard in case we need to resurrect old code. Little tesla coils, jacobs ladders (nonfunctional for safety and to prevent zapping the keytombs). Of course, giving the reanimation chamber a USB doc for direct data access would be ridiculous, and thus I will insist on it.

Please add any additions or counter-ideas in the comments below.

This week I received an invitation from the Queensland Steam and Vintage Machinery Society to bring S.T.E.A.M along to see their works at Old Petrie Town’s regular markets. Unfortunately it clashed with some already organised SEQ steampunk events, but I made sure to go to the QSVMS demonstrations and WOW were they spectacular. Along with so many working steam engines, they had fully functional vehicles (two steam rollers with _real steam_, along with others); miniature steam engines running on tables and the markets also hosts a foundry, with sand casting and polishing. It was positively breathtaking seeing these massive machines in action, being able to smell the engines and feel the vibrations; you could even donate some coins to sound the steam whistles (glee!). Bill, who invited me, gave me a fascinating walk through of his two steam rollers – from how he acquired them to what work needed to be done to make them safely functional again, right up to the reasoning behind the name Ida for one of them.

If you’re in SEQ, or you can somehow get to SEQ, and you like steam punk, or working steam engines, or vintage engines or engines in general, you’ve got to see when the Old Petrie Town markets is on. The steam engines were special for this event (I think?) but they have many other engines up there (some of them are too big to be moved even if they wanted to), and the casters are there every Sunday. Sean was unavailable this week, but as soon as I can I’m taking him back there because I’m sure he will get almost as much a kick of it then I will the second time around.


I haven’t felt really inspired for a while, no matter how I tried to force it. This weekend, in amongst birthday parties and the like, I just loaded up a metal tray with equipment I’d been wanting to tinker with and brought it upstairs to keep it close. At the same time I’d been trying to tidy up the PHP code on this site and, in a round about way, it all came together.

There’s a streamlined Gauge generator with more colour options in the works (once the host updates the PHP library to be able to cope with some new bits). Meant I could do a few more things with the Gauge generator.
I took apart a cheap thermometer for the fiftieth time and finally measured what I needed to measure.

So now I’ve finally got the gauge I’ve wanted to wear, inspired by one of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach’s outfits. Hopefully I can incorporate it into a vest the way I want to do it. Still, I think I need to get more circular thermometers to ridicuboost.

Steam-o-meter Mk I

Steam-o-meter Mk I

Finally getting around to working on my iPhone dock. I’ve had this partially envisioned for over a year, but never dedicated the time required to get building/ designing work happening. I’d sketch a few ideas and immediately self-distract with something pointless. I’d stain the plaque walnut and then give it 3 months to dry. But last year with Blender being free and Shapeways being afordable I printed out a Professor von Explaino icon and thought “well this works well”. So I printed out the cog-piece stands and they turned out quite well. Got gold paint and finally started work in earnest. Still, I can never decide, do I want Crystals or Brains as a power source?

Balsa wood, 3d printed gear stubs I made using Blender and printed via Shapeways, a plaque-base from Bunnings, walnut stain, gold spray paint, red velvet, ironing-board heat insulating foam, fancy brass hinges and corner pieces, a lamp piece, plastic tube from a toy fish package, crystal from one of our travels.

It’s been a while but I’m starting to get back into tinkering. Inspired by a friend showing me how his 3D printer worked I downloaded Blender and after HOURS of work (I’m more mathematical than artistic – I think it’d be easier to learn Python and use that to create images than spend all the time I did trying to adjust points by the teeniest amount to look good), came up with a version of my logo that wasn’t too shabby. Lacking a printer myself, I decided to try Shapeways. After 5 submissions, with feedback for the first four times telling me why the designs were rejected (parts not joined correctly, parts being too thin for the material chosen, sensible stuff that needed a human engineer to work out) I finally got a working design that shipped to me and arrived today.  Voilà

I’m quite happy with it. The backing’s a bit thin but I can refine that, and I need to adjust the lip of the test tube so it’s more obvious. It should make a good badge (esp. with the thicker back), and if I get a number of them they’ll be great maker’s logos to go on devices. Now I just need to figure out how to paint them properly, not having any modelling experience myself. Any suggestions?

Inspired by an article on Silver Goggles (“Friendly” Tech) I’m holding a contest. I’d like submissions of the finest FRIENDLY1 personally carried steampunk devices that you wear. A whole swathe of the costumed focus in Steampunk regalia is weapon related2, and I think we need to shift gears3. I know there are a lot of non-weapon/ non-aggressive steampunk accoutrements out there, and I want to shine a reward-laden light on those efforts.


Post a comment with a link to your device, it could be on its own or shown in-situ as part of your outfit.

Contest will be open until the end of May.

After the end of May, I’ll decide who wins.4

The winner will receive a copy of The Art of Steampunk: Revised Second Edition – either via Amazon’s gift-sending contraption or I’ll buy it and post it.5

  1. Friendly is more than just not-a-weapon. It’s something that’s welcoming, or encourages engagement []
  2. Hands up all those who own a modified Nerf™ Maverick, or know people who have that as a key part of their outfit []
  3. Yes, yes, you knew that was coming, well done []
  4. I may ask others for their votes, I may put up a short list, but at the end of the contest I will be the source of arbitration. Bwahaha. []
  5. Hopefully the winner will be in an Amazon servicing area – otherwise shipping from Australia is going to be pants. []

Recently the Steampunks of Brisbane were interviewed by Michael Lund of the Courier Mail regarding, well, Steampunk. Entitled “Letting off steam“, the article paints quite a good picture of the Steampunk subculture’s life in the city and has a number of stop-off points to find out more. One of them is this very site, so to further your Steampunkian education I’ve collated as much as I can of my Steampunk-related bookmarks into this post. There may be a test.

Inspiration – blogs

The people who inspire me when I look into steampunk, who are well worth a follow; also individual articles on steampunk that are a good read.

Inspiration – books and comics

Steampunk was coined as a genre around the 1980s, but works that support the steampunk ideal were around well before that. Many of the works by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells can be found for free, legal download from eBook repositories.

  • Arcadia Snips and the Steamwork Consortium » IN WHICH A STREET REQUIRES CLEANING: A book that was released a chapter a Monday. Now fully up for download.
  • Steampunk Magazine – free to download!
  • Steampunk tales for your iPhone: Exciting this, the President of Steampulp Publishing contacted us directly to promote this eMagazine for the iPhone. Billed as the “Penny Dreadful for your iPhone”, it’s now up to issue 9 as of Apr 2011.
  • League of Extra-ordinary Gentlemen: A little more adult than most people expect from a comic book (the Invisible Man introduction was quite confronting, as if the acquisition of Quartermain wasn’t enough), regardless of your opinion of the movie this does delve into a distopian vision of steampunk.
  • Gail Carriger: Parasol Protectorate series. Werewolves, vampires, parasols and Victorian England. Gail’s take on a supernatural steampunk includes a new breed of supernatural rather than just co-opting the well known, parascience also makes a grand entrance. Book four is due 2011. Gail also has a specific page on her site with her views on steampunk.
  • H.G. Wells at Project Gutenberg: The First Men in the Moon, The Island of Dr Moreau, The Time Machine. More ubiquitous speculative fiction that has mirrored modern advancements. Well, we haven’t revealed the time machine yet due to patenting issues.
  • The Difference Engine: Written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, it’s described as a prime example of the steampunk sub-genre. Modern-esque devices wrapped in Industrial Revolution technology, hackers (clackers in this parlance) trying to break into the mass produced difference engines. It is a complete alternate history sparking off from our own but with parallels of events/ technology.
  • Jules Verne at Project Gutenberg: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, Paris in the 20th Century. These books were written before the turn of the 20th century and predicted submarines, rocket ships, air-conditioning – many modern technologies. The overarching technology aesthetic remained Victorian in style, a driving force behind modern Steampunk.
  • Girl Genius Online Comics!: By Phil and Kaja Foglio, the comics follow Agatha Heterodyne through an alternate Europe where “the industrial revolution became an all-out war”. Dirigibles, utterly bonkers science, constructs and clanks. Most of ROSEA swear by their goggles that their store is marvelous – not just because most of ROSEA got their goggles originally from said store.

Inspiration – movies and television

  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Almost nothing like the comic, but that’s why these are movie adaptions rather than direct clones. The Nautilus is tres steamy. And you cannot go wrong with dirigibles. Well, not without trying hard.
  • The Time Machine: Say what you will about movies not following plots, but that is one delicious looking time machine. Watch the DVD extras for more shots of it.
  • Baron Munchausen: While quite a bit earlier than the generally accepted steampunk era (being the reign of Queen Victoria), the clockwork bird, hot air balloon and musical instrument of the Grand Turk have airs of the technology. And I’m quite taken by the whole tall tales factor.
  • Doctor Who, “The Next Doctor” 2008 Christmas Special: The Doctor has generally had an aura of steampunk – fixing his own technology (occasionally using the ancient technique of percussive maintenance) – but this time the Cybermen get involved. Steam will out, after all.
  • Doctor Who, “The Girl in the Fireplace”: Clockwork bad guys, Madame de Pompadour. The Doctor rides a horse. Delightful.

Inspiration – devicery

This section presents a number of sites with steampunk examples, advice, and items for purchase.

Inspiration – fashion & cosplay

Inspiration – art and writing

Inspiration – games and applications

Most of the games and applications will be based on my own experience and platforms (OS X, PS3, Wii, Win), but I’m always open to suggestions.

Inspiration – music

  • Mr B. – Gentleman Rhymer: For those who like diction with their rap addiction.
  • Professor Elemental: He even has a song called “Steam Powered” specifically about steampunk. His “Cup of Brown Joy” song all about tea was the first truly steampunk song I heard.
  • Abney Park: I lose my license if I don’t mention these guys. We’ve submitted some videos to their “Help make our music video” thing; wish us luck!
  • Clockwork Quartet: Not only are their topics Victorian steampunkian, but they have Steampunk characters and their first two songs are about clockwork and science – with the talent to include clock-ticks and scientific note-taking as musical instruments.
  • Sunday Driver: World music, with Indian overtones but steampunk sentiments.
  • The Clockwork Dolls: Instrumental music with feeling. As they say, great soundtrack to happenings.

Inspiration – shops

Places to buy the Steampunked, the Steampunkable and the Steampunking

Participation – groups and events

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