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Blue is the colour

For the futuristic look, Shiuming Lai adds some ice-cool lighting...

Every time I open up my Falcon for a service, I manage to find some way of improving it, no matter how large or small. I've trimmed and re-crimped ribbon cables, split them for lateral flexibility, upgraded capacitors on the power supply and fitted line filters among other things. Most recently, a simple internal cleaning job ended up as a full day's labour with my metal-work tools, making precision heat-sinks for various chips which are running at high specification.

A significant challenge has been keeping these tweaks within the slender confines of the C-LAB MKX case, without obstructing other components, locking myself out of maintenance access or compromising its beautiful appearance. Thus, we come to the subject of this article. Since the majority of my modifications have been purely functional and hidden from view, I sought to make the outside look special, somehow.

By chance I found a nice item in an electronics catalogue, a relatively new development and once considered holy grail of an existing technology: the blue LED. Prototypes were first heard of in the early 1990s, though now they are reliable and affordable enough (even at over 10x the cost of equivalent "normal" LEDs) for general-purpose consumer applications.

My immediate thought was to replace the bog-standard green activity LED in the floppy disk drive, a stylish black version of the excellent Teac FD235-HF (still a highly popular drive today). Blue would look great against the black and gun-metal grey scheme of the MKX, I thought.

Blue LEDs come in one of two types of packaging, water clear or tinted diffuse. The FD-235HF already having a (neutral) diffuse LED window, it's best to choose the clear type with its better focus, because diffusing the light twice drastically reduces its intensity.

Opening the FD-235HF to replace its LED is very straightforward, just one bottom plate held by a few screws to remove. Inside is a common 3mm device, which I substituted with part JA28F from Maplin Electronics. This is an inexpensive 3mm clear package blue LED with maximum forward rating of 3.3V, 50mA. It took about five minutes to change and re-assemble. I'm very pleased with the result.

Blue LED
Some bits of aluminium complete the chill factor.
Shame about the wallpaper.

Formatting a disk image
Formatting a disk has never looked so good.


MyAtari magazine - Feature #4, December 2000

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