I'm going to build a wooden case for my Apple-1 build. What do people suggest for dimensions?
I have a motherboard made with a Newton Mike PCB, Newton Mike's Datanetics style keyboard, an ACI, the common Triad transformers, etc. I'm thinking solid wood, probably oak for the right and left sides and probably Masonite for the top, bottom, back and keyboard surround surfaces. I want to allow adequate room to access everything and enough space for cooling.
I also got a lovely Sanyo 9" B&W monitor today which along with the period correct Radio Shack tape recorder I have should complete the look. They aren't the exact models you see in a lot of the old pictures, but they're similar.
Alas, I have no numbers as I haven't built a wooden case for my many Apple-1 yet. Some will go into attache cases, though.
There is a channel on youtube which not only has a video on how he built an Apple-1 clone using one of my famous kits, but also another video how he built a wooden case. Alas, he gives no dimensions / blueprints. And I can't find the channel right now.
Here are some general thoughts on Apple-1 cases:
1. If the case is meant to mimic some example seen with originals, you have no option other than trying to build a similar one. But this may limit the use of daughter cards.
2. If you design your own case, think about which daughter cards you want to use. Not all of them are as small as the ACI. Some daughter cards like the Jukebox or the WiFi card are larger. My floppy disk controller card also will be larger, although not as large as the wire wrapped lab rat you can see elsewhere on Applefritter.
3. Even with the ACI you will run into a problem ... how to route the TAPE IN and TAPE OUT audio cables out of the case ? Some cases I have seen did not spend too much thought on that and so the outcome was awkward when it comes to ACI usability. I think the best solution would be to have enough clearance that the ACI card can be inserted into the slot with the audio cables plugged in. There could be a slot in the case for the cables coming out. With a little bit more clearance of the ACI to the case you could have a pair of RCA jacks on the rear or side of the case and short cables within the case which plug into the ACI.
4. Do not make the case height too small to allow for convection cooling (no noisy fan !)
5. How to allow access / use of the edge connector ?
6. How to safely mount the transformers ? --- this is not much of a problem for stationary Apple-1 but if you want to travel with it, i.e. to a VCF, then the whole thing must be able to sustain high g force bumps without the transformers breaking loose and smashing all the electronics. For the same reason, never order transformers from vendors who have no clue about proper packing of these high density items ... some toss them just into the box and add some styrofoam peanuts for good measure and when the parcel arrives at your doorsteps everything within is smashed, including the transformers. So far Mouser and Digikey had sufficient packing of transformers, though. But other vendors not so much. I could tell you horror stories ...
You can see that designing a case for the Apple-1 which is utilitarian ("Form follows function") is not a trivial endavor. So far I have no solution myself. I will wait until all the work on the floppy disk controller is done and then design a wooden case where it fits.
The 20 pin flat band cables to the drives may come out on the rear through a slot in the case, as seen on the Apple ][.
I am much inclined to use the "direct feed" from a switchmode power supply (RT-50B or such) which helps solving the convection cooling problem and it also will provide enough power on the +12V rail, necessary for the spindle motor and stepper motor of the floppy drive(s)., and it avoids the problem with safely mounting heavy transformers. There is a reason why in vintage electronics equipment, transformers are bolted to a massive chassis made out of heavy duty sheet metal that was pressed into shape with a hydraulic press exterting tons of pressure (no, you can't bend that chassis back into a flat).
The industry typically designs the case and the guts of a product concurrently so changes can be made as necessary on the go. If you have more time to market, design the guts first with a case form factor in mind and then design the case around the guts. But if you design the case first and then try design the guts to fit into the case you most likely will get a lot of nasty surprises and cost overruns. It may not even be possible to fit all the guts into the case and so you have to throw the case away. This is the worst case we all want to avoid.
- Uncle Bernie
I'm not intending to exactly mimick any of the cases I've seen pictures of. But it will generally follow the sort of pattern typical of wood cases of that era. Right now I'm looking at something that is basically 20"x20"x6", with the front beveled down for the keyboard. That's a bit bigger than an Apple II case, but it should leave sufficient room along the right side for mounting the transformers, which will likely be held down to the Masonite base with bolts. There should be sufficient height for the ACI and most cards and enough room for small things attached to the edge card connector, although I've seen very little that uses that except a 1 or 2 slot extender which I think will fit.
I'm not really planning on making more than 1 or 2 of these so costs aren't as big a concern as they might be if I was planning to sell any. As little interest as this thread has gotten so far I don't see a sufficient market to justify that consideration at this time. Anyway, given the materials I plan on using, the cost should be fairly modest. One Oak board (about $25 at Lowe's) and not even a whole 4x8 sheet of Masonite (about $15 at Lowe's) plus a little bit of hardware. So I am thinking I can probably make two of them for about $75. That's probably too much to make any money selling them because most in the hobby aren't willing to pay more than cost of materials for anything. The expectation would probably be to pay around $40 for a complete case. "But that's what it would have cost in 1976"...
A while back, one of the members of this site, Sherlock, posted a really nice wooden case design. Here's the link.
Thanks for the link. It gives me a lot of ideas. I want my case to be that basic shape, but not have the board orriented like that, so those dimensions won't work for me.
Nice, but a lot more elaborate than what I have in mind. What I'm planning will be a lot more like an Apple II case with a top lid that lifts off. Not like the Byte Shop case where the whole top is on hinges.
After a little more looking, I think the depth of my case can be less, probably more like the 18" of an Apple II. Width of 20" is around 5" wider than an Apple II, but not much wider than for example an IBM PC/XT.
Not at all. A friend of mine from Moscow not so long ago also made a hull, though from ordinary plywood which he bought at Lerya Marlen. If it helps you, I can ask him to send me the dimensions.
Thanks for posting that. I'm planning on having the motherboard in horizontally rather than vertically so I don't thnk those dimensions will help me much. I think I pretty much have it figured out at this point. I'm going for 20" wide by 18" deep by 6" tall at the rear and about 2-1/2" at the front. I'm going to make the top lid open kind of like an Apple II. If I feel really ambitious I might even make the top lid out of plexiglass or something.
One of the reasons I'm planning on using a lot of Masonite is it is hard and strong but thinner than most plywood. It's also easier to work with cutting with a scroll for cutting out things like the keyboard because it isn't so splintery.
I needed a quick Apple-1 demo machine as a display and I literally made the case from soft pine scraps in about an hour and it worked great. Mine was Raspberry Pi based and not on real hardware, but venting was a concern as it was to run for 8-10 hours as a display item. Like the video referenced above, I had a 1/4" vent slot in the base at the front to draw air in. I also left a 3/4" gap at the back so the 3/16 plywood "baseplate" did not extend all the way to the back of the case. This gap also made a great place to exit the composite video and "extension cord" style power. Also left about a 1/16 gap at the back of the top plate, which just sat on top the side pieces. After a few hours you could feel warm air rising from this 1/16th inch gap. Had I kept it I would have stapled some cloth inside as a dust barrier. I made the sides out of 1 x 4 x 3/4 pine, but would sugest 1x6 for more vent space given your transformers etc. I wanted mine wide enough to hold the VM4509 and a tape recorder. A scrap of base molding turned upside down made a nice front. On 92 hours notice, I thought it turned out okay.
Masonite isn't really a "hard wood" per-se... "Masonite" is actually a Trademark brand name, and there are other companies that make similar products. It's a composite board made from wood fiber/pulp impregnated with binding agent and then pressed and baked. It's hard but not 100% wood and I don't even know exactly what specie(s) of wood they use, nor do I know what the binding agent/glue is. It could be made where you are, provided proper wood pulp grows there, which it almost surely does.
I plan to use Oak for the sides. The large flat surfaces I want thin wood, and true hardwoods when that thin can be brittle due to grain plus they usually have to be laminated somehow to make a piece large enough for say, the 20"x18" bottom I'm planning, like plywood or paneling. Masonite comes in a nice uniform 4'x8' sheet.
I do like the look of that. What I have in mind will hopefully be somewhat similar.
I've been waffling on design issues for a case... I think I have decided to switch orrientation of the board to that used in the Byte Shop cases. However, I am still planning to go with a top lid that opens rather than the entire top being lift off or hinged like the Byte Shop case. I'm thinking about making the top lid out of acrylic (plexiglass) so the motherboard can be seen. I'm still probably going to use Oak for the sides and Masonite for the bottom and the angled surface the keyboard mounts to and probably the back panel too.
Looking forward to your finished product. Masonite is great stuff, we used to finish skateboard ramps with it until Skatelite came around. Durable, flexible, and good surface.
Did mine with solid pine base and sides with pine ply for the top, front and back
Then a generous application of oak stain (not quite finished here as I cut out the slot for the Apple ][ keyboard)
Basically, its about the same size as an A2 but with the keyboard a little further back (for a wrist rest)
I bought the materials for my case last week but I've been so slammed with work that I haven't had time to do anything with it yet.
I really like that case. Do you have a link to the source?
Edit: Ah, it's @vernman. I am not surprised :-) Beautiful work.
I found this picture here on this great forum, in the Apple II thread. It's just a picture, no drawings or anything, but it's pretty clear. Written by vernman.