Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Digital Toaster Project: The Footings

I wanted to get into the computer components here, but I have some pictures I need to take first. Instead you get more goo news.

So I've got this toaster...

...that I've stripped down to the shell. This will be the case for the new computer.

The motherboard is small but we're not building a gaming rig. It will fit on the bottom of the toaster with the jacks sticking out the back. But I can't just screw it to that metal base. It'd short out and fry components and set fire to things and generally be bad. So I want a sheet of the aforementioned goo separating them.

I poured a bunch of acetone into my jar, broke up some packing that came with a computer monitor and started feeding it into the jar. It took a LOT.

Once I had my ooze I positioned a sheet of cardboard where the motherboard would go in the toaster. Then I put in the screws to punch holes in the cardboard marking their location. Then I put the motherboard on top of the cardboard and drove nails through where those screws would go. This led to a piece of cardboard that looks like this.

Instead of decanting off the excess acetone I just ladled up big forkfuls of ooze onto a cookie sheet. Then I used the fork to flatten it out and spread it. Remember, the ooze doesn't pour like you'd want it to.

I ended up with this.

I placed the cardboard over the ooze with the nails and screws marking where I need to make holes later. I left it on top of the stove under the vent hood overnight. The result was unexpected.

I figure that either
a) air got caught in the ooze when being forked out and I missed it. Looking at these pictures I don't think this is the case.
2) it's a gas stove and the pilot lights gently warmed the pan causing the acetone to turn to gas inside the skin that automatically forms around it.
iii) there was air still stuck in it from when I stuffed the Styrofoam in.

Writing this up now I see that the obvious answer is 2. The pictures helps with this conclusion. Don't get me wrong. There was still air in the ooze. It rises out very, very slowly. But I'm not buying that excuse.

See, I took the hardened ooze apart and reintroduced the pieces to acetone. It still melts, but very, very, very slowly. Overnight shows progress but doesn't finish the job. The final product has none of the air bubbles of the straight from Styrofoam batch. This time I did decant off the acetone. When I poured (pour is a poor word for what happened) it back on the cookie sheet and left it on the stove it did the exact same thing. Bubbles in the mix.

So I'm whipping up a fresh batch of ooze today. I'm going to put some of the remaining plaster in a casserole dish and use the cardboard to mark holes in the plaster and hopefully get some nails in those places. Then I'll put the ooze on the hardened plaster. This should allow the plaster to absorb some of the acetone from the bottom and keep the stove from heating the acetone. After several days of hardening I hope to be able to pull out the nails and have something useful.

I know I should be concerned about the fumes, but like I said before...As fast as the ooze forms a skin you really don't get much in the way of purple monsters coming out of the walls. I always knew the parrot was working with the Tzar to badger badger badger badger ham.

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