A sleek and minimalist wall-mounted shelf with hidden wireless charger and customizable wooden display
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I'm pretty happy with my prototype so far; it's turned out to be extremely usable and a nice piece of decoration as well. I think I'll look into ways of making it easier to produce next. I'm planning on mocking up some 3d models of the carriage that hold the tablet and see if I can make one on a 3d printer.
I also want to experiment with the interface. It's capable of touch control, but I haven't really taken advantage of that yet. I'm a crappy coder, but hopefully over the next few months I can teach myself enough to add some features, like switching between a clock and a calendar function, or dismissing an alarm. Some kind of google home or alexa integration seems like a logical future goal as well, but I'm gonna take this a one step at a time.
Put it all together and hung it on a stud with a big-ass deck screw. Fun surprise, the touchscreen actually works through the veneer! I'll have to explore the possibilities in future versions. The cable management underneath is kinda a mess, but from unless you go underneath it it's not visible
I finished the concrete slab with a fine grit sand and a light matte clear coat finish. I also put a copper leaf marker on the surface where the charging pad is hidden; it's pretty hard to line it up right without it
I wiped the block with danish oil and finished it with shellac. I put a little color tag thing on the bottom right corner- it started as a way to cover up a little crack in the veneer, but I actually thought it looked pretty good and stretched it halfway around the block
I cut a thin plexiglass panel and attached it behind the front veneer with some clear epoxy. By clamping the surfaces together I was able to stop the front veneer from warping, but I definitely lost some definition and brightness from the display. In a future version I'd like to experiment with other methods of stabilizing the veneer.
I also installed magnets on the inside of the box; these matched opposite polarity magnets on a wooden construction that holds the tablet in the right position against the front panel. This way the display is exactly where I want it, it's easy to remove if I need access to the tablet, and it snaps back in.
I also epoxied some picture hanging hardware into the slots I made on the back of the concrete cast; they're sized to fit a normal screw head so the shelf can hang with a few screws and a wall stud.
The concrete shape I need was tricky to make; it needed to look clean and smooth on top of the shelf, but hollow underneath to accommodate a wireless charger and manage the cables. I used an instant concrete mix called Quikrete, and made a lubricated plywood mold. I suspended a block into the mold to create a cavity, and used wood biscuits to create openings for hanging hardware.
I got the cast out of the mold pretty cleanly, but it cracked in half when I took out the space to make the cavity. There's definitely a way to make an intact cast, but I decided to repair the original with black dyed epoxy. I actually like the marbled look.
I picked up a cheap Qi wireless charger and ripped out the board. A few dots of epoxy fixed it inside the shelf. I couldn't find a standalone circuit to buy, but I sure there are some wholesale options like Alibaba. The one I got charges very fast through about 0.5 cm of concrete; I use an iPhone 8 with a thick plastic case and can get from 20% to full charge in about an hour.
I'm a woodworker primarily, so I decided to start with what I know best. Last summer I built a 4-sided plywood box and fixed some curly maple veneer to the sides. The surface was especially tricky. I tried to stretch the veneer over the front like a drum initially, which worked well at first. The plan is to use a rooted amazon fire tablet to start; I downloaded a magic mirror app to test the concept. The display at maximum brightness shone through clearly, and the only times I couldn't see the letters was in direct sunlight.
After shoving the tablet in and out a few times the veneer cracked, and a couple days later I noticed the wood start to stretch and warp in the humidity.
I'm also not a huge fan of the way you can see the backlight shining through the edges where the text isn't. A dot matrix display would probably better, but I definitely don't have the arduino and programming chops to do that yet.
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I love this idea! I've seen some translucent wood panels that might be better than a veneer, but I'm pretty sure they are expensive (e.g., https://gpidesign.com/resources/translucent-wood-panels). I'm impressed you made the cement shelf as well!
I've also wondered about a projection system, rather than a "through" system, but this would require more space.
I'm looking forward to seeing your progress -- thanks for sharing this!
Thanks! I've never heard of those panels before, I'll have to get my hands on some
I don't beat up on a computer that cannot fix my car, mow the lawn, or do brain surgery. All the huff and bother about artificial intelligence and AI and 'oh this' and 'oh that' seems too affected. What we need are useful and comfortable things in our lives. I don't expect my flower vase to talk, or my refrigerator to play chess. Do they do what I expect them to? Are they reliable, safe, effective, and affordable? Do they make my life better? These are the proper judgements.
Why am I saying this? Because I think you should go further and also think about companions, helpmates, assistants, partners, organizers, nurses, medical monitors, physiological monitors, nutrition monitors, safety monitors, emergency communications, activity monitors, notifiers, escalators (in the sense of escalating something that might become critical or important). People build machines and robots, then give them narrow conceptions, limited memory for new experiences, and limited connections and tools to learn more. If I talk to my organizer table when I come and go, I want it to know more than my name and schedule, contacts, current projects. I would like it to follow up on my thousands of topics, on its own, to the best of its ability. At least it would be doing more than a table or shelf. Can your organizer have a name, and a personality? Can it browse the Internet in it own time, and develop its own interests, friends and communities? That is not hard. But you have to learn to have a broader concept of devices that have memories and can become expert on the information they have access to.
Go ask a random sample of fifty people how they would like their electronic gadgets integrated into their furnishings, lives and life procedures. Then go to factories, refineries, warehouses, businesses, laboratories, and all the other places in our lives, and do the same. That is essentially what I have been doing full time for the last 21 years with the Internet Foundation. But I can read the Internet as a whole to find communities, their needs and the communities of people helping them.
I was living in a retirement community for a while. Most of the people were in their 80's and had trouble getting around. There are currently close to 12 million people in the United States over the age of 80, and about 30 million over the age of 70. Increasingly they are isolated and marginalized. They do not get around, so they become even more marginalized. The computers and even phones are hard to use, and often fail. Several people died in their apartments and no one knew. One self-inflicted. Words cannot convey the need. So this is a convenience for you to have electronic connection to the events in your life and the larger communities. I applaud your insight that computers need to be warmer and richer in texture and purpose. These electronic tools and reminders and organizers will help busy people. But there are serious holes in our social networks. And this is a global problem.
So I would not mind having my computer embedded in my wooden table. But I wanted to put a touchscreen in every one of the more than 100 apartements, and network all the apartments in a local area network for the residence to be able to talk to each other, their families, and their support networks and social service networks, hobby and interest networks. Some are quite clear and thoughful, just physically limited and untrained in computers and email and networks and searching. Most of the web pages on the web now are completely unreadable for someone older. I have that problem myself, and contacted Google Chrome to ask for their help to evaluate the extent of the problem, the size of the affected communities, and - in this context - to find out whether there are people endangered by their lack of access to the world.
My first image when I saw your photo, was a memory of a man at the end of our traincar in Japan recently. He did some work for the railway, and he stopped at the end of the car. Turned to face the car. Looked. Then respectfully bowed to everyone before leaving. It affected me greatly for some reason. So a respectful robot near the door, whether disquised as a piece of furniture, or a pet, or a photograph, or some other convenient, familiar and reassuring form, some friendly form. That moved me to write to encourage you to do whatever it is in your heart that is really calling to you to enter this prize contest.
My friend Pat, is in her mid 80's, I can't quite remember just now. I keep bugging her to learn how to find people and groups on the Internet and help them. She has raised a large family on her own, and has much wisdom to offer. She just needs a way to get started. Does she have many lonely days in her apartment? Did she just go through a period when she could not see well? Yes, but her basic nature is optimistic, helpful, caring and thoughful.
If you want help to design computers that fit better into our lives. There are literally millions of people world wide with similar sentiments. They do not have access to the HackaDay prize groups and hardware design networks to go forward. Frankly, there are much better visual designers than you. They just have more experience putting their designs out there. (pardon me I am writing for other people besides just yourself). But you have something unique and warm in what you did already. So I hope you will screw up your courage and your perseverance to do a really great job. If you can take some time to consider people who might really benefit from an well-organized and conscientious presence in their homes, many hundreds of millions of people, it is worth doing - well.
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This is so cool! I love how the display looks. Are you still making this?