View Full Version : add-on "control sled" for clock radio and more?

2007-12-16, 06:44
Another thought I had as I considered the "Wi-Fi Internet Clock Radio" thread (http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=40983), the old clock radio design with controls below their displays, and possibly dissecting an SB3: how about an add-on "control sled" that would fit under and in front of the SB3? I imagine a "basic" and "premium" design.

The bulk of each model would be in front of the lower portion of the SB3 (the aluminum branding plate). This part would provide a few key buttons from the remote -- Reverse, Pause, Forward, Play, Up/Down/Left/Right, Power, Sleep (and possibly Mute!) -- and a Volume knob (or volume buttons). The top/back of this portion would hold the IR emitter diode. The bottom would exist primarily to fit under the base of the SB3 and provide some means (maybe simple velcro straps) for securing the SB3 to the sled so that the sled+SB3 would feel like one device. The sled should be a little heavy and have good non-skid feet. The sled would probably have some place to insert a pair of AA batteries -- remote control boards are very efficient, so why clutter the device with extra cabling?

The premium model might have a thicker base. It would include tripath amp circuitry (probably extracted from an inexpensive Sonic Impact T-Amp). The base of the sled would include analog RCA "line-in" inputs, a DC power input, a small volume gain control (meant for initial setup), and decent, small speaker binding posts. It would also use batteries for the buttons -- the Sonic Impact amp wants 12v DC, and I'd rather replace a couple AA batteries than bother stepping 12v down to 3v for the buttons (or 3v for the buttons and 5v for the SB3) and risk RFI noise right next to the Squeezebox.

An alternative to a dedicated volume knob would be a "control knob". Add a "control toggle" button that would change the behavior of the knob from VolumeUp/VolumeDown to ArrowUp/ArrowDown. Or go for an old-school analog car radio aesthetic and have two knobs: volume on the left and Up/Down on the right. A control knob could be a nice way of moving through lists, although surely nowhere near as nice as the Transporter's TransNav knob. A latching control toggle button would probably be better than a software-based momentary contact button -- you could have immediate visual indication of the mode, and those who leave their SB3s at a fixed volume level could dedicate the knob to ArrowUp/ArrowDown scrolling.

The premium model would be great for smaller rooms -- either route the speaker wires, or perhaps affix the sled to a small, efficient speaker, and use an RCA "Y" adapter to merge the SB3 analog output into mono. The basic model would be good for general use, especially where the SB3 is within easy reach.

The biggest problem I imagine is making the sled look nice when so much of the clean Fred Bould SB3 design would remain visible. It's one thing to put the VFD inside a homemade case and have it look OK -- is it Sean who has an SB1 inside a case that looks like a Tivoli unit? -- but quite another to match the glossy, curved look of the SB3.

The biggest advantage is that this wouldn't be a hardware mod -- no scrounging for a mod-friendly SB1 or SB2, and no negative impact on the SB3's resale value. Also, you could easily hide the sled during parties to keep curious guests from fiddling with things.

Logitech could hire Fred Bould to design something along these lines that would look right, sell it for maybe $60 for the basic model, $100 for the premium. I'd buy at least one of each.