This project presented numerous challenges I've never encountered before. I am a big fan of the iterative design process. I often find a solution that I don't 100% like, but like it enough as a near-term solution. If designed in a modular fashion, it is easy to improve things in the future. Given multiple other time-sensitive priorities I have these days, it was essential I kept things as simple as possible while still striving toward a truly unique & useful device. It is not a simple device, but at its core it is merely a light-weight tool box with some sweet widgets built in.
Speaking of weight, I decided to use light-weight Luan plywood & wood glue to fasten things together. I used square aluminum tubes I up-cycled from an old RV TV antenna. The only hardwood (which was up-cycled from a nice old TV entertainment center) is what frames the screen & the dowel rod handle.
The screen simply swings out from behind the box with the dowel rod handle as its axis. I originally planned to have the screen extend upward via linear actuators, but that plan was scrapped due to time constraints & to help keep overall weight down. The screen has curved wooden pieces that rest against the aluminum tubes to prevent it from falling too far forward. This forward-weight of the screen is what helps ensure the Retrodeck stays properly balanced. That, and the friction of the keyboard tray. There are a pair of kickstands that can be easily deployed if deemed necessary. The door for the storage bin above the woofer on the left side of the box is secured by a spring-loaded latching magnet, which can be found in the cabinetry section of most hardware stores.
The exterior of the box is covered in carpet typically used for pro speaker cabinets. I had not worked with nor affixed such fabric before. It went on with relative ease with some Spray Adhesive. I modified aluminum from the local hardware store for the main faceplate & some accent pieces. I often used a drill press, rotary tool & a metal "nibbler" tool for those. My favorite feature is the pair of MR11 workspace spotlights, which are mounted on some old "room accent lighting" fixtures I realized I had in an old parts bin. They connect to the Retrodeck via right-angle 1/4" phono plugs. It took a while to figure out how to make those right-angle connectors work well.
As for the electronics -- there's a lot packed into this little box! We'll start with the ZK-MT21 2.1 Bluetooth Audio system I got on Amazon. It powers 2x 2" speakers & 1x 4" woofer. I had the speakers on hand -- the woofer was pulled out of a little Samsung passive woofer I got at the thrift store for a few bucks. The audio system receives its power via a LM2596 DC-DC regulator, since it can only handle about 24VDC (Retro Modules supports up to 40VDC by default). That regulator (among others) is down-stream from a XH-M609 low-voltage cut-off module, to help protect expensive batteries from over-discharge. When soldering, bumping music & running the computer, big power tool batteries can be easily drained. I plan to add UPS functionality to the PC module to allow a few minutes for a power supply switch. It can run from a power brick, but the brick needs to reliably supply about 100W. The TS100 soldering iron & the Drok "Buck Power Supply" are both down-stream from a "GERI® Dc-dc 250w Constant Current Boost Step-up Module", which is configured to boost variable supply voltage to 40VDC. This allows for smaller wires throughout the Retrodeck & fewer D-Sub connector contacts for higher-power tools (like the soldering iron or hot glue gun). With this boosted power supply, the TS-100 typically heats from cold to 600F in about 5 seconds. Like the NucBox PC, the 4K screen is a bit of a power hog. I plan to swap out the 12V 3A regulator I'm using with a 10A regulator -- so there's some power left over for the panel-mount 58W USB-C outlets module I'll be adding soon. I pulled the 15" 4K screen from a "IVV" portable monitor & placed...Read more »