CPU Bauble Update – To the Printers!

Well, this is it.

This is probably the week I get to feel my handiwork in Sketchup in my physical hands.  No matter how many times I do this I never quite get over the trepidation – Will the parts fit?  Is the finish suitable?  Will the parts stand up to handling? – With so many materials on Shapeways these days it is impossible to become an expert in them all.

Any word on Pricing?

Now that I’ve uploaded the models and made my creations public, I can safely say that each bauble will cost around £11-15, while 3-packs will see individual baubles down to £9.33-11.67.

Is there anything you’d do different next time?

Almost certainly, I knocked these up quickly to bash them out in time for some exposure before Christmas.

First of all, the quartet of M3 x 12 bolts isn’t really necessary, and I simply went with them because they were familiar territory modelling-wise.  The question is whether or not it is possible to print a reliable clip/hinge mechanism in White, Strong & Flexible.

Second of all, I’d like to be able to mount them to a specially-designed display board when not in use, a feature which is made difficult by the current design.  I suppose I could create a guide-rail system, preferably with the use of 20×20 Aluminium Extruded Profile to accommodate future CPU form factors.

Last of all, let’s have a better selection of finishes.  I can probably implement coloured WSF as soon as I’m happy with the white prints, but polished finishes will require a bit more thought around the fitment of the parts, and the thickness of the hinge in future designs.

Consider these the Mark 1 CPU Baubles, I guess.

Got a favourite?

I’ll be hard-pressed to choose, but if pushed I’m going for the AM2 model (pictured above).  Showcasing the AMD Athlon 64 X2 CPUs which defined my early gaming life?  Check.  CPUs that brought true 64-bit architecture to the masses?  Sweet.  Chunky heatspreader that was easy to model around and permits ample support?  Sketchuptastic!


Introducing the CPU Bauble Collection

A CPU Collection; Socket A, Socket 478, LGA 775, Socket AM2, Socket S1.

What does one do when one has nine redundant CPUs from one’s past computing life, needs to keep them safe, but not shut them away either?  If only there was a holiday that could provide an excuse to show them off…

Ahh yes, Christmas!

The CPUs in question

The chips in the image above are, going left to right, top to bottom:

  1. AMD Athlon XP-M 2500+ (45W), Possibly an upgrade from number 3, chosen because of it’s overclockability and better tolerance to running hot.
  2. AMD Athlon XP-M 1500+ (35W), probably from my very first laptop.
  3. AMD Athlon XP 1700+, Almost certainly my very first CPU.
  4. Intel Pentium 4 “Willamette” 1.6GHz, from a time I tried to flip old CPUs on ebay, which in hindsight was probably doomed from the start.
  5. AMD Sempron 3400+, from a fileserver I got off a friend, and attempted in vain to get working again.
  6. AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, this was from an ancient laptop I bought on the cheap, in order that I could have a machine to take to friend’s houses to play LAN games on, as my current laptop featured a woeful Intel graphics chipset; both machines proved as inadequate as one might expect (even when Minecraft was the game of choice!), so out it went, and a Turion 64 X2 TL-64 of 2.2GHz was promptly substituted in the ancient machine.
  7. Intel Mobile Pentium 4 532, see number 4 for backstory, but it’s interesting to see a chip that I previously believed to be an oxymoron – a Netburst CPU for a laptop.
  8. Intel Pentium E2140, I can’t exactly remember what I got this for, but given that it scores a mere 870 on average in Passmark it was probably for a media server of some kind.
  9. Intel Pentium 4 520, same family as number 7 but with the newer LGA 775 package.

As you might imagine, many of these chips carry sentimental value, but what do you do to protect the pins and dies from damage?  How can you pull this off whilst showing them off the only way that would suffice?

But a few moments in Sketchup later…

I have five designs of baubles!  Four of which currently have 3-packs for those who have job lots of CPUs to play with 😉

The way it works is this:  The CPU slots into the rear unit, which protects the pins/components on the back, with it’s orientation determined by the cutout for the pins (or in the case of Land Grid Array chips, bumps are fitted to orient the installation); next, the front unit slots over the heatspreader (if fitted), and clamps the PCB in place; four M3 x 12 bolts and nuts secure the unit in place for security, with a string looping through the hole in the top for mounting to your Christmas Tree.

You may notice on the Shapeways page that, as of writing this blog post, the listings have the Be the first to try bullet point to the right.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t set items public until I’ve received the models and tested them, and afterwards uploaded the images of the printed products.  I made an exception to get these items on sale before the conclusion of the Christmas period; Don’t get me wrong, I’ve ordered some test prints myself, and I’ll notify you of how the prints go, but my order is expected to arrive on the 30th November, while my order was placed on the 18th.  Thus, if you want these for yourself, I recommend you order no later than December 10th.

Right, you get the idea, now I’ll let you loose on the current selection of baubles.

I know it’s a bit early, but Merry Christmas 🙂