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Friday, January 6, 2012

Hitch Hiker's Guide Case Mod (AKA "Mostly Harmless") - Part 3

Part 3 - Construction wrap up

Work log 07-26-08

Aaah... it's not POSTing! Don't Panic! There were only a few glitches during
the final stages, most were stupid mistakes, like forgetting to move the Clear
CMOS jumper to it's normal mode position. (Nothing gets the blood pumping like
a failing Power On Self Test [POST] during the last week...) Move that jumper
to the correct position and verify the system board will POST, the video works,
memory is detected, and it should be ready to install in the case.

Component installation includes wedging the motherboard into the case (wow,
was that a tight fit!) Once the system board is in place, wiring up all of the
switches, LEDs, and feeding the cables that cannot be run internally, such as
the combined VGA / USB touch screen wires can proceed. A cable runs from the
big red button to the COM port in the rear; a pair of cheap "sport"
speakers is wedged in beside the fan underneath using some stick-on Velcro.
All exposed cables and some internal ones are concealed with yellow split-loom
tubing, which is dry-brushed to match the case on the external cables. Hard
drives are mounted on the door, and all cables and power connections made to
the components. Installation of the Operating system went well, and all utilities
for the touch screen and Matrix panel seem to be working fine.

The shell's appearance is aged by dry brushing the yellow paint with several
different "dirt" tones.

Internal connections are run from the Guide's touch display (VGA and USB) and
the USB mini keyboard. Wire connections for the power switch to the LED base,
the eject button for the DVD drive, and to the front panel pins for the Hard
Drive and Power LED are made. Power for the VGA display is connected to the
12 volt wire of a Molex drive connection. Split loom tubing hides most of the
loose power cables and should help with air movement inside the case. The small
speakers and bottom case fan can be seen in that oval cut out that was let in
the base panels.

The VGA cable and touchpad USB cable pass out an opening in the rear panel.
External cables are covered with more yellow tubing and dry-brush aged like
the side panels. The Matrix Orbital PLED panel died in the first month of use.
I replaced it with a backup PLED panel, which also died. The current panel is
still a Matrix Orbital panel, but is now LCD, and has been working fine for
several years now.

The USB thumbpad and Matrix Orbital display are connected to a USB connector
left inside the case. An amplifier speaker circuit board was modified so its
on-off button and volume control extend through a rear card slot. (Even though
the video clips are random, they get really annoying when played over and over
during the day. This way they can be turned down or off when not showing off
the case to visitors.) As a late upgrade, the two 40 GB IDE drives were replaced
with two 120GB SATA drives. These are mirrored using the onboard RAID chipset
to provide basic RAID 1 data redundancy.

Presenting the yellow, slab-like, Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy file

A view of the embedded Hitch Hiker's Guide with an appropriate background wallpaper.

The green guy with a glowing red button and text display.

A view of the finished 42 panel.

Screen saver: The default screen saver for the internal display started
with the basic Windows slide-show screen saver; the directory it uses for the
source images contains a selection of Rod Lord illustrations (from the original
BBC video series), screen shots from the on-line BBC version of the HHG adventure
game, and several images that I assembled based on text phrases from the game
or related to the HHG universe. Screen shots from the online game were enlarged
to better fill the 800x600 screen size of the guide-display and combined with
text commentary from the game.

After a bit of searching I found another screen saver utility to install that
includes multimedia support. SourceForge.net has a project by Dave Anderson,
appropriately called Daves AV Screen Saver. It still provides the random display
of my screen shots and images, but also will play several animated video clips
with sound that were extracted from the original HHG Television production.

Just some of the screen captures, videos, and extras that came with the Infocom
game that appear randomly when the system is on.

Play Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy!: As of December 1, 2011, it
appears you can still play the BBC versions of the game. Version 1 was found
at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game_nolan.shtml
and this page includes the link to version 2 at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game_andrew.shtml

The BBC version of the Hitch Hiker adventure game.

The Infocom version of the Hitch Hiker game running in the WinFrotz window.

The red button uses a micro switch with a common, a normally-open, and a normally-closed connection.

Red Button: I removed the micro switch and installed a bright red LED
in the base to illuminate the button, and then replaced the switch. The switch
contacts are wired to a db-9 connector that is plugged into the rear serial
port so that a +5 volt or -5 volt (relative to ground) is passed to the Carrier
Detect signal pin. I wrote a program in Visual Basic that runs when Windows
starts to monitor the serial port's pin status. When a change is detected (the
button pushed) a text message is sent to the LCD display. A timer function can
also change the message after a delay if no one pushes the button during the
preset time period.

How the program works: When a 25-pin COM port is enabled in a Visual Basic
application, pin 20 (DTR) goes 'low' while pin 4 (RTS) stays 'high'. My program
monitors pin 8 (Carrier Detect) and sends a random text message to the Matrix
Orbital display, which also appears as a COM port in Device Manager. The button
connects three wires to the system's (9-pin) COM port: Common goes to CD (pin
1), Normally-Open goes to DTR (pin 4), and Normally-Closed goes to RTS (pin
7). A simple text file contains a list of phrases that are loaded into memory
when the program starts. One of these phrases is randomly selected an sent to
the USB display on a button-push or timer event. The program is written such
that additional phrases could be added to the text file. If the file does not
exist, it will be created the first time the application runs and the default
list will be saved to the new file. A configuration file also is created, specifying
the COM port assignment for the Matrix Orbital display and the Red Button port.

Phrases displayed on the LCD display are limited to two lines of 20 characters
each. I compiled a list of phrases from the text game along with a few
from the books and made up a few that seemed relevant. Here's the default
Earth: Mostly harmless.President Beeblebrox is a Swell GuyGuaranteed to work normally for life.
What do you
get when you multiply 6 by 9?
I'm Your Plastic
Pal Who's Fun To Be With
010101 010101
010101 010101 010101 010101
The Secret:
Bang the rocks together, guys
You have no
Please relax,
you are perfectly safe..
Another fine
product of Sirius Cybernetic
6 * 9 = 42 (in base 13)Go stick your
head in a pig - SCCMD
The ultimate
answer is 'forty-two'
Mostly HarmlessNUTRIMAT MAIN MEMORY OVERLOADHow many roads
must a man walk down?
The Universe: Avg. Population = 0NUTRIMAT PROCESSOR OVERLOADSense, Common: order part #31-541
Space: really big.WAIT...Checking
Sub-Etha-Net database...
Resistance is useless!
Please do not
press the red button.
a Magrathean Planet?
Please do not
press this button again.
SHIPBOARD COMPUTER ACCESSEDBabel Fish: Small, yellow, leechlike...
It has little
pink and blue flowers.
Happy to be of serviceThe Universe: Monetary Units: none
Out to lunch.
Please Come back in 2 years
Buy Santraginean Mineral WaterG'GUGVUNTS=0
If Life or Death,
go ahead and PANIC.
Please do not
block the tiny robot panel
Petunia Articulation Oh no, not again...
Legendary planets can be dangerousAvoid Vogon
poetry appreciation chairs
Factor = 2^39,745:1 against
You are in Galactic Sector ZZ9 PLURAL ZALook at me,
brain the size of a planet
This is the thanks I get?That was NOT
the autopilot Button!
You should know
I feel very depressed.
This routine
check will take 14.9 years
This SCC product
has a lifetime guarantee
Press for Advanced Tea Substitute
Don't even think about leaving...NUTRIMAT RESERVE MEMORY ACCESSEDThis SCC lifetime guarantee is expired
Is that a babel
fish in your ear?
is just this guy-y'know
Support the
Galactic Anti-Litter Program.
** CRUNCHED... **
Please do not
press this button again.
MegaDodo Publication HHG Model Mark IIPressing the
red button won't help.
Famous&recursive footnote.
Get Joo Janta
peril-sensitive sunglasses
(We were lying
about the exit to port.)
Pleased to meet
you. I'm your computer.
Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal-AVOIDThank you, thank you.Digital Watches are neat.

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