Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment

Downloads

Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE
  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool

  • NEXUS

    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • CLOUD PLATFORM
  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • COMPONENT MANAGEMENT
  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PRODUCT EXTENSIONS
  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • EMBEDDED
  • TASKING

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • TRAININGS
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • ONLINE VIEWER
  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use

    ALTIUMLIVE

    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Downloads

    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Steaming Hot Steampunk

    Clive Maxfield
    |  December 26, 2019

    Bruce Rosenbaum astride the Hendrick's Gin Grand Garnisher (Image source: ModVic.com)

    There is an ever-increasing interest in steampunk these days, and a lot of people dabble in various flavors of this genre, but it's rare that you run across someone who makes a living creating steampunk artifacts.

    Before we proceed, perhaps we should take a step back and remind ourselves that steampunk started out as a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.

    As we read on the Wikipedia: "Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retrofuturistic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art."

    The Wikipedia entry goes on to say that, "Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical 'steampunk' style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk."

    In fact, steampunk pops up in the most unlikely places. For example, there's the noble art of Steampunk Tea Dueling whose purpose is, "to allow ladies and gentlemen to resolve their petty differences in a genteel manner." Seriously, Tea Dueling is a thing, as seen in this instructional video, which is intended to, "inform steampunks both young and old, on the ancient and highly respected art of the Tea Duel."

     

    The official sanctioned body for Tea Dueling in the United States is the American Tea Dueling Society (ATDS), which is an affiliate of Tea Dueling's governing body, The Honourable Association of Tea Duellists. The ATDS introduced this sport at AnachroCon 2012, but it's been going on in England and Australia for tens of thousands of years (well, it seems that way). As an aside, I just visited the AnachroCon site to discover the exciting news that "Teapot Racing" is returning to the 2020 conference, but we digress... 

    If you are interested in learning more about Tea Dueling etiquette, you can't do much better than perusing the rules and regulations on the Unlacing the Victorians website. If you wish to take part yourself, you can purchase special equipment for the task, such as this vegan-friendly faux suede Steampunk Tea Dueling Holster that includes a genuine Royal Albert tea set in the form of a cup, saucer, and cake plate (I've seen some in real leather, and some that include a teaspoon also).

    I personally love the steampunk aesthetic -- especially the combination of brass and wood. In fact, I've created several projects in this style myself, such as my Victorian Audio Spectrum analyzer, my Awesome Audio-Reactive Artifact, my Cunning Countdown Timer (whose task it will be to count the years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds remaining to the commencement of my 100th Birthday celebrations -- May 2059, mark the date), and my Inamorata Prognostication Engine (don’t ask).

    The Inamorata Prognostication Engine
    The Inamorata Prognostication Engine (Image source: Max Maxfield)

    As I noted earlier, it's rare that you run across someone who makes a living creating steampunk artifacts -- they are few and far between -- but when you do find a person of this ilk, it's always a treat. One of my personal heroes is Bruce Rosenbaum, who has been dubbed "Steampunk Guru" by The Wall Street Journal and "Steampunk Evangelist" by WIRED magazine.


    Steampunk evangelist and guru, Bruce Rosenbaum (Image source: ModVic.com)

    In 2007, Bruce and his wife Melanie formed the steampunk art and design company, ModVic, whose goal is to repurpose and infuse modern technology, gadgets, and everything cool into period pieces, relevant antiques, and salvage objects.

    Not so long ago, Bruce and Melanie purchased an 1876 Victorian Church in Palmer, Massachusetts. They converted this building into their home, gallery, and workshop space. The Rosenbaum’s church conversion project is featured in the Netflix original docuseries Amazing Interiors (Episode 8: Steampunk Wonderland).

    If you take the time to visit the ModVic website, you will discover a treasure trove of projects, but be careful because it's not uncommon for visitors to catch the steampunk bug and become enamored with thoughts of constructing their own steampunk creations.

    I love all of Bruce and Melanie's constructions, from their 'Pneuman' Pneumatic Tube Escape Room Truthsayer (a pneumatic vacuum system that delivers coded "truth telling" messages to escape room participants before their adventure), to their Beer Dispensing Aquarium Tank (which fuses steampunk, history, sculpture, and beer tap technology to create an iconic beer dispensing ‘fermentation’ aquarium tank), to their Time Traveling Victorian Photo Phone Booth (I so want one of these at my house).

    Everyone has their own favorite. For myself, I have to opt for the Hendrick's Gin Grand Garnisher, which is an enormous  rolling, cucumber slicing device that -- as seen in this video -- is garnishing cocktails across America.

     

     

    This has to be the world’s largest and most complicated cucumber slicing, drink garnishing machine. In addition to an 1800's steam engine, this masterpiece relies on an elaborate system of pneumatic tubing, interlocking gears, and rotating blades to slice up to 18 cucumbers per hour. It can also achieve road speeds of 25 mph thanks to a hybrid powertrain that combines a large diesel motor with a well-dressed gentleman pedaling a large wheeled bicycle.

    Although I would love a Time Travelling Victorian Photo Phone Booth, if push came to shove, I would gladly accept a recreation of the Hendrick's Gin Grand Garnisher. How about you? Are you tempted to try your hand at creating a steampunk artifact? If so, would you care to share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of us?

    About Author

    About Author

    Clive "Max" Maxfield received his BSc in Control Engineering in 1980 from Sheffield Hallam University, England and began his career as a designer of central processing units (CPUs) for mainframe computers. Over the years, Max has designed everything from silicon chips to circuit boards and from brainwave amplifiers to steampunk Prognostication Engines (don't ask). He has also been at the forefront of Electronic Design Automation (EDA) for more than 30 years.

    Well-known throughout the embedded, electronics, semiconductor, and EDA industries, Max has presented papers at numerous technical conferences around the world, including North and South America, Europe, India, China, Korea, and Taiwan. He has given keynote presentations at the PCB West conference in the USA and the FPGA Forum in Norway. He's also been invited to give guest lectures at several universities in the US and at Oslo University in Norway. In 2001, Max "shared the stage" at a conference in Hawaii with former Speaker of the House, "Newt" Gingrich.

    Max is the author of a number of books, including Designus Maximus Unleashed (banned in Alabama), Bebop to the Boolean Boogie (An Unconventional Guide to Electronics), EDA: Where Electronics Begins, FPGAs: Instant Access, and How Computers Do Math.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home