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The Christmas tree effect
Called "Skye" because you look up
to see it, Skye0ne is a rather frivolous attempt to make use of a pair
of old VGA monitors which were stacked under my carport and probably
would have ended up in landfill otherwise. I was going to cut off and
re-used the VGA cables from them but I just happened to quip to Dr.
Panda one day that they'd look good mounted in the ceiling and used
Dr. Panda thought that was just
crazy so next thing I know he's got a plan and their destiny was sealed.
Dr. Panda invoked his mystical
Psychoboys Power and in but a split second had figured
out all the intermediary steps required to make it happen. He expertly
removed the outer shell of these monitors and mounted the picture tubes
directly into my ceiling. To do that he first had to re-enforce and
repair the ceiling to cope. He also made major modifications to the
roof cavity while he was at it. Removing the entire barge board and
building in new support. He did an amazing job of this 70 year old building.
He all but re-built it from the inside out while he was at it.
We hunted high and low for materials to make
a suitable defusing frame. We needed something to disguise the fact
that they were just computer monitors. What we eventually came up with
was this quasi-gold plated grilling which was for use on fluorescent
lamp fixtures. Why gold? I don't know but when Dr. Panda finished framing
it all, it ended up looking like something out of Saddam's bathroom.
I took over from there designing the electronics
to interface an old P90 computer to the pair of monitors. I also designed
a power control system and other sundry electronics which allow the
monitors to be switched off and on by remote control. When all that
was done, Dr. Panda installed it and connected it up.
Finially the project was topped off by a superb
small linux distro called De
Li Linux (Desktop Lite) and the most excellent SGV
graphic display program by Russell Marks. Who also kindly
helped us modify the code slightly to accomodate in-flight control of
brightness and gamma. And I can't leave it there without mentioning
the great help of George El Hadhad for compiling and
Resolution is not an issue here. Even 640 X
480 is overkill. Nor is colour depth an issue. 8 bit colour works just
fine. Everything about this project is either old, recycled or re-used.
All of this stuff would have quite literally, ended up in land fill.
The monitors aren't meant to be viewed as displays.
In fact they're not really meant to be viewed at all. They are designed
to be colourful down-lights scattering a slight bit of colour and shape
around the room. Anyone can have a romantic evening by candle light
but that's just not crazy enough for us. It's pretty hard to get a purple
flame out of a candle without a bit of liquid oxygen. The monitors display
a succession of graphics such as JPEGs or an Animated GIF file. Looping
continuously and providing quasi-random colour and shapes. It reflects
off the shiny gold plated grill and scatters. It looks very different
from every angle.
Once again my cameras let me down.
The Web cam can't see much at all and neither it not the still camera
can catch the plasma effect which is only visible from an angle. But
I'm working on trying to capture a small amount of video for this because
it really does look like a Christmas tree on steroids.
Photo 1 shows a long shot of
the lab with MWOWM in the distance. Showing the over-all length of the
grill/frame and it's positioning on the ceiling. And yes. That IS a
Photo 2 shows a close up of
one of the monitors which are mounted out near the extremes of the frame.
Photo 3 trys to show the Christmas-tree-effect.
The device that starts in the upper right hand corner and extends across
the ceiling is the SkyeOne panel. The red is the reflection of the many
red-lights in the studio. In reality it looks better than this because
it's moving and winking all the time. And getting the exposure right
isn't easy from this angle. I'll try and capture some video and do a
time laps sequence at a later date.
Photo 4 is a close up of one
of the grill, light ports. Not a bad shot of some of the plasma-like
patterns generated and reflectedout by the grill.
Photo 5 is a view from the
con. What you see looking up from the chair that I'm currently sitting
in. The other light is a 50watt down-light so you can see the monitor
is quite bright.
Next, the Bookshelf project including the above mentioned display.
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