Descrambling the Descrambler / by Daniel Buckley


When I start a new installation project, I always start with what I know are necessary elements to piece. In the case of the YouTube Descrambler, i knew that it had to be big enough to house lots of tech, including a mac mini, an Arduino micro-controller, and a short throw projector. Because of all of that tech inside, the box had to be designed to create optimal ventilation so as not to damage any of the electronics inside, especially the Mac and projector. I also knew that it had to be fabricated in a way so that it could be controlled by an antique cast-iron coffee grinder that John found at an antique shop. One last thing to consider was that, early on we identified that we very interested in using black acrylic as a way to harken back to the black box my aunt had in her living room to give her all the premium TV channels for free. Unfortunately, within our budget, the black acrylic we wanted only came in sheets up to 24 inches. So we worked within that size for each of the side panels to the cube. 


With all of that insight in mind, I began working in illustrator, to start laying out how I might create interlocking panels for the cube. Once I had narrowed down a size and locations for the ventilation holes, I took my designs and created a model out of one of my favorite materials of all time, cardboard. I knew that the cast-iron wouldn't work well with my cardboard cube, so I hacked a razor scooter apart for its handle and shoved it in the side of the box. You can see the cardboard prototype in the image below. Once we had this prototype, we were able to test loading the equipment inside, and also figure out the correct table height to use with the piece.