The New Command Desk for the Ævil Lair

Industrial Steampunk Desk

 

Upon returning to the mainland after 6 years running away from reality, I found myself with no furniture. Not that I’m complaining. It’s a pretty good feeling to find yourself without physical baggage. You get to start over.. re-invision your world with a fresh eye, and do things the way you wish you had the first time.

I’ve always built my own work benches and desks, but I never really put any thought into them beyond functionality. They served their purpose, but they never really created a cohesive image. Starting out with basically a blank slate, I decided that this time I wanted my work tables to represent a bit more of the feel of the world I lived in in my head.

I googled industrial and steampunk desks for days, and of all the myriad designs out there, I kept coming back to these huge cast-iron machine tables. They were so cool, but very much out of my price-range. The interior design industry has discovered them, and is re-purposing to their hearts content, selling them for thousands. They are really cool, but not five grand cool. Well at least not for someone with my paltry income.

So I decided to build my own.

I reverse-engineered elements from a few different tables that I liked and built a 3D model in Maya. I then took that model into Illustrator and drew up some plans. I took a trip to Lowes to buy some plywood and I was off!

The entire desk is built from one 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ furniture-grade plywood, and one 2’x4′ sheet of 1/2″ ply. The top is a hospital-grade solid core 36″x84″ door. Add yerself a few 3/4″ stainless nuts and threaded rod and bob’s yer uncle.

The legs are sandwiched pieces of ply. I rounded the edges, filled in the corners with bondo and sanded it all smooth. The finish is just that “stone” spray paint from Lowes, covered over with “cast iron” engine enamel. Easy peasy. It really does look like real cast iron. Even without the top, it’s a heavy beast. You could probably park a car on this thing without too much worry. All in all I’m super thrilled with the way it came out!

Cheers!
Mike

Copper Accent Lamp

 

Here’s some shots of a little side-table accent lamp I built. Built out of copper and brass with an oak base. Simple on and off switch and an Edison bulb in it. It’s about 14″ high. It’s always fun to work on projects that don’t take months to complete, and I need a few smaller things that I can sell here and there to fund some larger projects that I have waiting in the wings. They will be signed and numbered.

The bare bulb that I have in it makes it kind of unusable as a desk lamp, but it uses a small candelabra-base socket, so the bulb could be switched out for something smaller that sits up inside the shade so you’re not staring right at the bulb.

I have a couple designs for things like this using different materials that I’m going to knock out here in the upcoming months. Stay tuned!

Cheers!
Mike

SteamAmp II

 

It’s cool to see it in the flesh as compared to my 3D model of it that I posted a few months ago.. I think it looks pretty darned close to the concept!

A few technical details for the nerds; the amp circuit is a hot-rodded version of the S5 Electronics K12G amp. I upgraded all the caps, and replaced the stock output transformers with a nice pair from Edcor. There are 5 inputs, 4 on the back, one on the front, and the volume knob is a stepped attenuator. The amp puts out 8 watts per channel and uses 4 10GV8 triode tubes in push-pull.

The speakers are Tang-Band W4-1879’s and the copper spheres are ported through the bases with a 1×4″ flared port. The enclosures are reinforced inside with epoxy resin-soaked fiberglass matte, and they are very solid. They sound amazingly LARGE for such small drivers! I couldn’t be happier.

This was a really challenging piece, not so much because the construction itself was that difficult, but because here in my new workshop the air has so much salt in it that the copper tarnishes really, really quickly if it’s not coated right away after polishing. I’ve re-finished every piece of this thing twice! It’s now wrapped it in plastic and closed up in a box until I finish the speakers. I’ll unwrap it and get some good professional photos of the whole set together, and then ship it as quickly as I can to get it out of this harsh environment and on to it’s owner in Connecticut!

Cheers!
Mike

The Final, All-Finished DeuxAmp Project!

 

 

Well it’s done.

No more little details, no more what if’s, no more polishing till my fingers bleed! The DeuxAmp project is ready to be jettisoned out into the world.

The system consists of a pre-amp, two mono power amplifiers, and two tower speakers.

The Pre-amp is based upon the amazing SP-14 from Roy Mottram at Vacuum Tube Audio. I had to modify the circuit board a bit to fit my purposes, mainly because I wanted the tubes to be in a radial pattern around the central torroidal transformers on top of the box. His kit has the tube sockets soldered to a PC board, I just chopped off that section of the board and point-to-point wired that half of the circuit. Yeah, that made me a little nervous, but all worked out well, and nothing blew up when I turned it on for the first time! The large volume knob is a vintage knob from an old variac. This was actually the first piece I bought for this part of the project and the rest of the design kind of sprung up around that knob. I wanted it to have a sort of Victor Frankenstein vibe to it.

The Amps themselves are based upon the Dynaco MKIII circuit, and use an upgraded octal driver circuit section from Vacuum Tube Audio. I have never listened to an original, unmodified MKIII, so I have no personal basis for comparison, but I can tell you this, these amps sound fantastic. They crank out 60-watts per channel, which doesn’t sound like a lot these days, but those 60 watts are tube watts, and they certainly pump out the volume.

The speakers are a ported design and are clad in solid walnut and maple. The driver is a Tang-Band W8-1808. At first I was nervous about a single point-source driver, because I’d never heard a speaker with a whizzer cone that sounded for shit, but these things are unbelievable. I get frequencies out out of these speakers that quite honestly shouldn’t be coming from an 8″ driver. It really sounds like there’s a subwoofer in the room, and the highs are crystal clear and not even the slightest bit harsh. The only way I’ve been able to describe it that comes close is that these things breathe – they sound very liquid. The ports on these speakers are unique as well. Originally I was going to just use pre-made plastic ports, but decided it would look cooler if I built my own out of copper. If you scroll down a bit on the blog you will find the build shots from that project.. it was quite a journey.

Final Shots of the Æthereal One Speakers

Here are a series of photos of the newly finished Æthereal One speakers that go along with the DEUXamp system. These were a blast to build, and by blast I mean I lost sleep and grew a few more grey hairs in my beard during the process! And yes, they sound as great as they look! Actually they sound pretty amazing if I do say so myself… I am going to have a very hard time parting with this system when someone decides to take them off my hands.

Cheers!
Mike

The DEUXamp Final Shots

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Here are the final shots of my new steampunk amplifier project… The DEUXamp. A pair of 60-watt mono tube amplifiers, based upon the venerable Dynaco MKIII circuit. These amps use the octal driver circuit upgrade designed by Vacuum Tube Audio, and they sound absolutely fantastic… I highly recommend the upgrade if you are a MKIII owner.

I had originally intended to have brass and copper covers over the transformers, but upon finishing these, I have decided that I really like the contrast of the tubes in front of the black hulking iron behind them! I realize that without those covers they have less of a steampunk aesthetic, but I don’t think I mind that so much. I find that as I travel down this artist’s road, I am constantly changing my ideas of what steampunk means to me; sometimes I think steampunk goes a bit too far into the realm of overly-ornate; Sometimes, less is more.

Who knows though.. I may get a wild hair later on, and decide to build the covers just to satisfy my curiosity, but for the time being I am calling them finished.

Next on the list is the matching speakers, and after those are complete, the pre-amplifier to finish out the set. This has really turned out to be a much larger project than I had intended it to be, but that seems to be the the way these things always go for me.

At any rate.. enjoy the photos!

Cheers!
Mike