Simon Jansen has been hard at work building a gorgeous case for his homemade 6502 computer. Dubbed the “Orwell,” the computer has been a work in progress for almost two years. The 6502 is the same CPU found in a variety of vintage computers including: the Apple ][, the BBC Micro series, and the Commodore 64 and VIC-20.
After finalizing the hardware for the Orwell, Jansen decided that he needed a case to house it all in. Rather than plop the 6502 computer in a boring plastic box, he chose to handcraft a case out of oak (salvaged from a dresser), sheets of bent steel, and aluminum panels.
Jansen started with a 1:1 cardboard mockup of the case, making sure that the vintage keyboard he had would fit by cutting out a printed photo of it, then using it as a template to cut the steel. Inspired by the Enigma machine, the steel case was painted with black crackle paint (which is common on many WWII-era electronics). With the paint applied, the computer was assembled on the steel base tray and the wooden sides were attached to the top and screwed to the base. For an extra touch of class and character, Jansen even etched and painted a brass badge for the front of the machine!
The full writeup of Jansen’s blog post goes into detail on the tools and processes used when making the case. Some of these are also covered in a recent Skill Builder article, for those of you who’d like to brush up on your sheet metal work!
It’s rare to see such a beautiful and well-documented build, but Jansen seems to deliver them routinely. Some of you may remember Jansen’s work from the Enigma watch we featured earlier this year. If you like the looks of this machine, get ready to spend a while on Jansen’s website, as he has quite a few other projects there as well. Also, check out the video below for a full description of the 6502 computer’s features.