Taco completed

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 354

I have finally finished my silent Taco, started almost two years ago! I stopped working on it because my screen was not particularly pleasing, and I moved up to OS X, which was not possible to use on my 256MB flash drive, and I couldn't stomach OS 9 anymore after seeing the light of OS X. So most of the parts went into a box, and it wasn't until a recent convergence of events that I revived the project. First of all, although I moved up to a Sawtooth, my audio card, an Audiomedia III, was stuck in my old 7300, since it was a revision that didn't work in B&W G3s or newer. And my audio software (Sound Designer II) is tied to the Audiomedia card. So every time I wanted to do serious audio work, I needed to drag out the 7300, locate a monitor and keyboard, find space, find a way to get the finished files over to the G4 for CD burning, it was just a huge hassle. In addition, The transport for my Tascam portable DAT was getting flaky enough to give me headaches. But the preamps and converters are still useful, so I could just plug the DAT into the digital input on the Audiomedia card. But the 7300 is both *extremely* loud as well as non-portable.

Enter the silent taco. Perfect for this application, it can both accomodate my sound card, run my software, be extremely quiet, and is highly portable. I substituted a *very* quiet laptop drive (ditched the CF reader and flash drive), and a quiet panaflo fan is on the bottom of the case blowing air up over the processor. It's not solid state like I would have liked, but all in all it's quieter than the transport of the Tascam, and well within limits for on-location recording. Since the Audiomedia III can record from all inputs simultaneously (2 tracks digital, 2 analog), I now have a portable 4 track hard disk recorder!

It's aesthetically challenged, to say the least, but it's probably the most useful thing I've ever tinkered with. I only had a week to build it and put it through some testing before a recording job I had last week, so looks took a backseat. I'm also working on building a mic pre-amp circuit to use a mic with the analog inputs, and an output amp to either speakers or headphones, because the software doesn't want to playback to the Mac's sound-out jack, only through the card.

The whole thing is mounted on the RF shielding from the 7300's case top. The controller is mounted on a portion folded over.


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tmtomh's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 568
Fantastic!

Great job! Laughing out loud

It looks fairly polished to me, considering that Tacos have to have port holes cut in their sides like that.

If you have the rear case bucket of another CC lying around, you can cut more precise port holes to make it look a bit nicer.

That, combined with some black high-density foam fillets to fill in the gaps in the screen aperture, will make it a wonderful project aesthetically as well as functionally.

Congrats!

Matt

eeun's picture
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Joined: Dec 19 2003
Posts: 1891
Hey, that's great! I'd lov

Hey, that's great!

I'd love to see more pictures of its guts when you've got the time...

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Joined: Jan 28 2004
Posts: 15
Nice Job!

That looks like a real nice Taco. I like the idea of a quiet Taco. Since I've upgraded mine to a dual 800mhz, the cooling fans that were needed make it a bit of a wind tunnel. What did you end up using for a power supply? Are you using the same LCD as you initially planned in the old forum?

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 354
Thanks for the comments. The

Thanks for the comments. The PSU and the LCD are the same as when I first started out. I would like to have used a 55W mini-itx PSU that I have on hand (less heat, easier to fit) but the system uses 50-53W pretty steady, and I like having a larger cushion (the Tk is rated up to 80W fanless). The picture doesn't show how off center the screen is, and it really *barely* fits- I had to eat away a fair amount of plastic into the walls of the case, and I need to do more next time I open it up.

The PSU is mounted vertically in the back right corner. The hard drive is mounted on the left at the rear, so I can easily get it in and out to use in another computer. A niche-use computer can't expect to have a new large, quiet laptop drive all to itself!

I think the PCI port problem is best taken care of with a metal back-plate type cover. How it would mount to the side of the case is another story. Can't have screw holes in the side of the case. The ADB and ethernet hole is small and clean enough that I'm not going to worry about it.

My idea for the video cable is to solder video wires directly to the video card, but then if it doesn't work (I'm not an expert solderer) I've cut off my video connector, the other ends of which I've already painstakingly soldered to the pins of the controller card. So we'll see if I ever get around to it.

For your dualie, you might try using quieter fans and monitor your temps to see how much you can undervolt the fans. Also, I know you're pressed for space in there but since Sawtooths can use ATX supplies easily, you might check out the fair number of quiet/silent ATX PSUs that are out there. How many watts does it pull with the duallies? My single 800 pulls something like 70W, and there are mini-itx supplies for up to 200W, and I think those don't need a fan. I'm using a 100W one with my sawtooth and it hasn't needed one. Those are also very small in size.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 180
S'wunderful, S'marvellous! C

S'wunderful, S'marvellous! Congratulations. My Taco is so near and yet so far; silly problems with the LCD display circuitry and connections. I'm deeply envious.

Congratulations. (Did I say that already? Wink )

Stuart

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Stuart Bell,
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 354
Project status reverted back

Project status reverted back to "un-completed"

I spent the day working on this project. I opened it back up and took care of the video connector. I cut it off, soldered each wire to the pins on the video card where the card's connector is soldered to the board. Very fiddly and tedious. I also did a little touch up dremelling so the screen lays closer to the front, and figured out a better way to mount the fan. Got it all back together, powered up, and smoke starts pouring out from the side opening. Turns out the solder connections are lighting up like a Christmas tree. I don't know if it's because they are touching one another or something else. I was very careful about making sure the wires went to the correct pins.

Oh, and I should add, while soldering I burned the pad of my middle finger, which is essential for how I make my living as a musician. Maybe I shouldn't admit how dumb I am to do something like that. I just have to vent what a lousy day it was.

To sum up:
1) machine which worked, is now not useable without further major work.
2) spent most of a day off breaking said computer
3) injured myself in the process

Great way to kick off the new year, eh?

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martakz's picture
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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Smoke and large sparks like y

Smoke and large sparks like you describe sounds like it was caused something with a voltage far in excess of 12V...

Not sure where said voltage came from... LCD invertor?

Most likely you soldered the wires in wrong order... The wires share colours, hense making it impossible to tell which is which.

Possibly next time, desolder the video connector from the board, extend it using wires and simply screw the vid cable into the wired vid-connector...

Either way, your vid card is probally toast - and possibly the LCD controller Sad

It was going so well! Crying

What are you going to do??

You must feel dreadful... I did when I toasted my iMac supply, by placing it a surface I thought was not conductive... (DRRRR). Luckily, am ATX PSU fixed that... In your case, a new vid cable might be all you need to get back to square 1.

P.S - I agree about the finger... I had to do a A'level accessed violin practicle for my music exam with a slash on the pad of my finger...ever tried doing vibrato with a bleeding finger?

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Dr. Webster's picture
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Joined: Dec 19 2003
Posts: 1687
Re: Project status reverted back

dead_elvis wrote:

...I don't know if it's because they are touching one another or something else...

...Oh, and I should add, while soldering I burned the pad of my middle finger...

Heatshrink tubing is great for solving problem #1, and using one of those "third hand" devices to hold what you're soldering is good for problem #2.

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
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I'm sorry to hear that your p

I'm sorry to hear that your project is back in non-working status.. hope your finger gets well soon. Thats a huge bummer!!! Sad

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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 354
Thanks for the comments. I

Thanks for the comments.

I wasn't getting sparks, just a healthy orange glow. I was very careful about the correct wiring. Although there are duplicate colors in a VGA cable, one of each pair always has a white stripe to distinguish it. My suspicion is a short. I neglected to use the shrinkwrap because I made the exposed wire length very short on each end. What I've noticed though is that the soldering iron melts back a length of the plastic covering, exposing too much wire. It's going to be difficult to put a shrink tube on, keep it up out of the way while soldering *and* hoping it doesn't shrink from the heat of the iron which will be very close by. It'll make the whole job even fiddlier (??).

As for the finger burn, that comes not from lack of a third hand but rather from my natural desire to choke up on the iron. Like with a pen or pencil- it's natural that the more detail one is drawing, the closer to the tip one grips. I always feel like the handle on my iron doesn't go far enough up the length.

I took it back apart and discovered that a group of wires melted their insulation into a big clump all the way from the video card back to the LCD controller. So everything came out, and it's back to square one with the video connection. Although I can't test the controller, at least everything else works, I fired it up with an external monitor through the video card and it worked just fine.

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"One day I shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing in my pajamas I have no idea."