Animated Case Logo

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A window into the Amiga's soul

Purpose:
This device serves two purposes, it provides a way to monitor the state of multiple
parts of the system be it hardware or software, and it gives the machine a very
distinct and innovative visual element making it stand out and easily recognizable
as an Amiga.

While Apple has a lit logo on the cover of their laptop and a glowing power light on
their desktop, this may be the first computer logo which is fully tri-dimensional,
animated and interactive.

Feasibility:
Due to its simplicity the device should be relatively easy to manufacture, increasing
the cost of the case by a few dollars only.



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Overview of the case

Here's an example of what the case could look like with the device installed.

Since the only image known of the X1000 case is the hidden.jpg banner with what appears to be a rounded face cover, on this case I added such a cover with the device located at the center of the curve and the stamped boing ball has been moved to the side panels to avoid having two boing balls on the front.

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Open door policy

Should the rounded cover happen to be a door, depending on its thickness it may require either a recessed cavity to allow the device to come out as far as possible, or a 45 degrees bevel on front of the hole.

In the alternative, the device could be attached to the door itself but it would then require a wire running inside a groove or a flat ribbon.

While case doors allow hiding optical drives and ports, they tend to be impractical so I'm hoping it won't have one :-P

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Size does matter

In these renditions the device isn't set to a precise scale compared to the case, the main goal being to give a fair idea of the result.

It has to be noticeable enough without looking tacky, so on a mid-tower case it's diameter probably shouldn't exceed that of a ping pong ball.

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Up Close

This is what it would look like with its hidden white light on, recreating the standard top left illumination generally used on GUI elements and icons.

The ball can rotate on its vertical axis, its rotation is software-controlled and would typically indicate the CPU load, though its speed could represent any other linear value such as CPU temperature, number of people in some chatroom, or anything the user may fancy.

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Let there be light

The white, red, green, and blue LEDs can be used as status indicators or just for fun visual effects.

At least four functions can be monitored using the base colors, the most likely default configuration being red for incoming network packets, green for outgoing network packets, blue for primary hard disk I/O, and white pulsating to the beat of the audio output or blinking when new system or email messages are waiting

When real-time monitoring of I/O activity isn't desired, it then becomes possible to indicate the status of seven distinct items by also combining the RGB colors into yellow, cyan, pink and white. In that case each active color would flash or glow sequentially.

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Keeping it simple

I've tried to keep the design simple, using as few parts as possible in the hope that it would be easy to engineer and assemble, at an acceptable cost.

Below is a breakdown of the seven main parts making up the device...

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Think inside the box

The device is enclosed inside of a sealed case to protect it from dust. Here it's a box but it could be any shape, it's not meant to be visible anyway.

Some dust-proof vents might need to be added depending on how much heat can collect inside the box on a warm day with all four lights on and the motor running at maximum speed continuously.

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Keeping it clean

The dome keeps the dust out and prevents touching the rotating sphere.

It is fitted from the inside so that its flat rim rests against the inside of the box and seals it.

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Boing!

The boing ball should prefereably have flat faces (16x8) to stay true to the original animation on the Lorraine protoype at CES and to make it's rotation speed more visible from the blinking reflections.

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No strings attached

The boing ball is encased in a clear sphere to give the illusion that it's floating in mid-air and spinning without any physical intervention.

To make the illusion perfect, the ball has to be small enough to be entirely visible through the dome while the outer sphere has to be large enough so that its edges can't be seen when facing the dome.

As the outer sphere will cause light refraction to some degree, the ball will become magnified to some extent and should be sized accordingly.

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It's all clear now

The sphere is connected to the motor via a clear cylinder at its base, keeping the drive shaft hidden from view.

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Turn baby, turn

A small stepper motor is used in order to allow very low rotation speed, otherwise a demultiplication drive would be required, at the expense of simplicity and reliability.
5VDC motors retail for $2.00 ea. so they may cost less than a dollar on the wholesale market.

Depending on the shape of the case and thus where the boing ball would normally be positionned respective to the user, it might be better to locate the motor above the sphere so that the shaft and opening in the cup aren't generally visible, but in that case extra care should be taken to insure that the sphere is secured well enough to the shaft so that it won't fall off if the computer is set down hard.

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Ping Poing

Behind the boing ball sits a white translucent cup.

It acts as a light diffuser and hides all the components inside of the box.

It could be made of the same material as a ping pong ball, that one worked really well in my tests.

It needs a small hole on the top left (not shown), conveniently letting the white LED through while holding it in place, and a cut or hole on the bottom or top for the motor shaft.
(note: on the 3D model I made the U-shaped cut much too large).

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A look behind the scene

Behind the cup, mounted directly on the PCB are either 3 separate red green and blue LEDs or a single multimode LED in the center. On top of the basic seven tints possible by combining the RGB light, a full spectrum of colors might be possible too by combining the three colors at varying levels of intensity.

The white LED which pokes through the cup is hidden from the user's eyes from most angles by the front face around the dome on the box.

The motor and lights would be connected via USB or any available I/O header on the motherboard, and be software-controlled. A device driver in conjunction with an AmigaOS API and possibly some commodity with an ARexx port would provide shared acces to the device so that multiple applications may concurrently provide feedback to the user.

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Technical considerations

To simplify the PCB design all 5 elements could be driven simultaneously by a single byte, using 7 bits out of 8.

For example, bits 0 to 3 would switch the white, red, green and blue LED on when set to 1, and bits 4 to 6 would drive the stepper motor.

The LEDs intensity can be controlled by inserting 0's in the stream, e.g.11101110 would decrease the intensity by 25%.

In the same fashion the motor rotation speed can be finely controlled by feeding it fewer 1's and by using half steps.

Only very basic circuitry is needed on the PCB to make this work. Using a USB connection requires an additional IC, using a parallel port connection would make things much easier but I doubt the X1000 board will have one.

CaseBoing.mpg
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Lights, Camera, and Action!

Here's a short video clip showing the device in action :-)

I was going to make it bigger but it already took hours to render with Blender on my A1-XE and I wanted to produce the entire presentation using nothing but the Amiga...

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Conclusion

Having such a device on the Amiga X1000 would make quite a lasting impression, something the AmigaOne and Sam440 have been lacking as in most cases they ended up looking like any other x86 PC.

I think that the extra effort and cost is worth every penny.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this presentation!