Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

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bwinkel67
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Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby bwinkel67 » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:37 pm

Dear QL Community...my first topic so bear with me.

Though I have found the vDrive to be perfect SD card interface for the QL (say so long to those mechanical microdrives and those disappointed 2nd and 3rd passes that lead to that "bad or changed medium" message) I didn't like it's bulky design. I realize it was done this way to mount into exiting external cases but I was looking for something a bit more streamlined. Maybe have it look more like a miniature floppy drive similar to the SD2IEC that you can get from The Future was 8-bit for the Commodore 64 -- though obviously bigger (I don't own a C64 but keep seeing them pop on on retro sites).

So I did a mod on the vDrive, taking the raised 6-pin socket off the main board and replacing it with a normal one. Note that if you stack two 6-pin sockets you basically get the old configuration back and can still mount it into an original case as was designed (so it's easily reversible if you want to give it a go). I now want to design a case for it in black with the QL theme and textures. Any recommendation of software to use for the modeling? I have access to lots of 3-d printers but haven't designed my own model.

Note that I plan to make the case flippable so that either you can sit it next to the QL or have it up-side-down on top of it (the accompanying ribbon cable is just the right length to do that). So the plan is to have tiny rubber feet (and indention for each) on both sides. In case this is confusing, I've included some pictures.

If I'm successful I want to then design a more QL looking case (again black with QL theme and texture) for the Q68 that I just ordered, one that doesn't have a plate you screw into each side but forms a complete plastic shell around it and the screws either are non-existent or come from underneath and maybe has some writing on the top that says Q68 in the Sinclair font -- dunno yet, need to think about what it should look like. The dimensions aren't right to create a miniature QL since it would look just like a fat compressed system but I might give it a go :-/ Again, thinking of the C64 mini that also came out. So the vDrive case will be my first crack at learning how to do 3-D printed models and that should be pretty straight forward. I know there is a vDrive original QL case design already out there (I have the STL files) and I can look to that for inspiration.

But software help will be appreciated since I've not done this. Is there web-based stuff? Is there freeware software for Windows 7? What have people used that have created QL stuff? If I get them to come out well I will share the model files so anyone can print them if they like.

Here are some pics...the first two are of the vDrive mod and the last shows you how it sits neatly on top of the old microdrives...albeit up-side-down. I may mod it again with cables instead of 6-pin connectors so I can have it right-side-up on top of the microdrives (and up-side-down sitting next to it) -- i.e. put the daughter board on the other side of the main board but right-side-up. Any feedback to help me make up my mind would also be wlecomel as I'm on the fence on what the best configuration would be. I also recommend the vDrive if you haven't gotten it, even if you use the QBIDE interface for solid state drives.

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Chr$
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby Chr$ » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:07 pm

Can I suggest having provision on the Q68 case for a 3.5mm QLNET socket? I don't know exactly where it needs to go yet as I'm about to receive a Q68. I think the ability to 'talk' with a BBQL (etc) is important and probably something that many would want.

As for the vDrive, yes, some kind of non ZX Microdrive case would be good for that. I'm probably going to adapt a 3.5" floppy drive bay to fit a vDrive and a real Microdrive to (for my QL in a PC case).


Collector of original and some new QL related computers, accessories and software even though I don't understand how any of them work.
Original BBQL's: 2x German, 1x UK model (plus quite a bit of other old stuff)
Custom AT cased QL system with Gold Card, Qimi mouse, Hermes and MFM HDD
PC with QXLII card installed
Q68 present, but not setup yet

Other hobbies include writing chick lit on a chiclet.
Derek_Stewart
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby Derek_Stewart » Fri Jan 17, 2020 10:55 pm

Hi,

The Q68 QLNET connection is derived from the internal Q68 expansion port.

I started to fit a male 2 x 12 DIL X 2mm connector to allow simple connection to the Q68 expansion port.

The placement of the Q68 QLNET connectors are proving a little bit hard to incorporate into the Q68 case. Where I have elected to have the QLNET connection on the right hand side rear, looking from the front of the case.

I have s reasonable solution, which has taken some time to devise.

The Q68, could be enhanced with a new case design, some users have said they could do this task. But nothing has been forth comming.

I would do the job, but other work is getting the way, I did a little 3D Cad work with FreeCAD, which is a nice Pararmetric CAD programme with good 3D modelling. But is hard to start for a beginner.

I had an offer for a case design in OpenScad, but not much development there. Again, I started to programme a case, but I had other work to do.

I welcome any ideas on Q68 case design, in one of my former career jobs, I was a Design Draughtsman, so have experience of most major CAD programme.

With regards to vDriveQL, I housed my vDriveQL in a Spectrum Microdrive case. Not really a QL solution, I did look at internal fitting into the QL case, but gave as a lot of custom work needed to fit the vDrive interface into the space where the Microdrives are located.

I would like to see a new vDriveQL vase.


Regards,

Derek
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bwinkel67
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby bwinkel67 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 1:34 am

Thanks for the feedback. I'm installing FreeCad right now so we'll see how it goes.

I will first work on the QL vDrive case since it's simpler (i.e. my slimline mod of the vDrive) and it will have a more immediate impact on my work with the QL. Once I get a few versions printed I will share what worked best. When I move on to the Q68 case (have to wait until I get it) I will definitely keep the connector for QLNet in mind and will ping Derek as to best placement for it.

I also had a crazy idea of purchasing an empty QL case and seeing how to fit the Q68 within it. I think there should be enough room and using extenders for all the Q68 ports (even for the SD cards) you could get most QL ports filled. Then print some covers to make the backside panel of the QL conform to those extension of the Q68. Two problems, first, I found top and bottom of case on eBay but the top didn't have a keyboard and the keyboard has such an iconic look. Second, cases are hard to come by so unless someone wanted to gut their existing machine that wouldn't be the best approach. The one small hurdle would be creating the keyboard to ps2 interface but maybe that wouldn't be so hard as I saw someone create a USB one for the QL keyboard in a YouTube video.

As for the fat QL idea...that doesn't look so good (note that the keyboard would be faux) :-/

fat-ql.jpg
fat-ql.jpg (29.05 KiB) Viewed 237 times


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bwinkel67
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby bwinkel67 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 4:51 am

First crack of the bottom of the vDrive case (I ended up using Tinkercad which exports STL files). It would simply have a top that just covers it flush with a few millimeter internal lip to compression fit it shut. Once I have that I will think about adding features and wording to give it that QL feel. I will add 3 to 4 millimeter mounts on the inside to screw the board in with short metal screws.

The front might change as I'm not sure how the daughterboard will interact so the front slot/hole might need to be lower and become wider. I may also want to add a feature on the inside of the front to rest the daughterboard on and give it stability. I'll do it incrementally. I will first need to print this (not until next week when I'm back on campus) and then adjust and refine.

But the process in Tinkercad wasn't bad and I can see myself creating a bigger case for the Q68 pretty quickly, esp once I get all the nitty-gritty details of this down.

Any suggestions or feedback is appreciated...note though that I do want to keep it as small as possible. Plus I want to be able to flip it upside down so that's why I'm keeping it a square shape (or symmetric might be a better word). I don't like that there is so much blank real estate below the front slot/hole so maybe I'll make that bigger to have it look a little better.


vDrive-QL-case2-bottom.png


[EDIT: created the top part]

vDrive-QL-case2-top.png


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Chr$
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby Chr$ » Sat Jan 18, 2020 8:57 am

bwinkel67 wrote:I also had a crazy idea of purchasing an empty QL case and seeing how to fit the Q68 within it.

I have a Raspberry Pi in a QL case. Sourcing the case wasn't easy either and with the USB keyboard device it all worked out quite expensive in the end (even though I was able to use the original k/b membrane)!


Collector of original and some new QL related computers, accessories and software even though I don't understand how any of them work.
Original BBQL's: 2x German, 1x UK model (plus quite a bit of other old stuff)
Custom AT cased QL system with Gold Card, Qimi mouse, Hermes and MFM HDD
PC with QXLII card installed
Q68 present, but not setup yet

Other hobbies include writing chick lit on a chiclet.
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bwinkel67
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby bwinkel67 » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:22 am

Hi Chr$, is this you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnvpVBQ44hQ

Also, I think I finalized my first draft. Shrunk the case a bit more after re-measuring the circuit board and moved the hole for the light to the other side since I had the slot centered wrong (mirroring can be confusing). I will print and fit the board early next week and then add mounting posts to the design to hold it in with screws and maybe a small lip to hold the daughter board. I did add 1 millimeter recessed 5 millimeters wide depressions on both top and bottom of the case to hold rubber feet (I want them pretty low profile).

What's left is to add some design elements...I'm thinking maybe some 1 millimeter recessed grid lines on one side of the case to form a grill ala QL case and perhaps some text, etc...that part may take a bit of time. I will say that Tinkercad is easy to use -- let's hope the STL files will convert to print.

vDrive-QL-case2-bottom.png

vDrive-QL-case2-top.png


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tofro
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby tofro » Sat Jan 18, 2020 9:34 am

You are aware that there is a nicely designed QL Microdrive case at Thingiverse for download?


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Chr$
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby Chr$ » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:47 am

bwinkel67 wrote:Hi Chr$, is this you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnvpVBQ44hQ


No. Mine is just kinda all thrown in with a USB hub stuck on the inside where the expansion port goes (for k/b, mouse etc) and the Pi SD card socket stuck to where a Microdrive cart would be inserted. Power and HDMI connectors are leads that stick a few cm out of the back.


Collector of original and some new QL related computers, accessories and software even though I don't understand how any of them work.
Original BBQL's: 2x German, 1x UK model (plus quite a bit of other old stuff)
Custom AT cased QL system with Gold Card, Qimi mouse, Hermes and MFM HDD
PC with QXLII card installed
Q68 present, but not setup yet

Other hobbies include writing chick lit on a chiclet.
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dex
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Re: Designing 3-D cases: vDrive & Q68

Postby dex » Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:06 pm

tofro wrote:You are aware that there is a nicely designed QL Microdrive case at Thingiverse for download?

Someone told me, that the VDrive does not fit into this "nicely designed" microdrive case.



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