Friday night, 11pm early December. Sergii and I are working on the second prototype of the LINEDOCK 13". It was snowing outside and we just had a pizza delivered. It was a good night.
A few hours in, I asked him what were these white markings on the motherboard for. He explained to me that they were called silk layer, or silk screen. A silk layer indicates the references of each component, making it easy for debugging.
I was intrigued. “So during mass production, these markings are no longer needed?” I asked.
Sergii laughed: “For mass production, you can put whatever you want”.
I grabbed a cold piece of pizza and headed over the next room to call Nancy. We had to make something great out of this. How come such a crucial part of the product had never been exploited? Literally every tech product has a motherboard in it. But until now, the inside of a product was to be functional, not beautiful. Hence most motherboards are lame green. As a first step towards aesthetics, we decided to make ours black.
LINEDOCK second prototype. Each component is referenced in white.
But that was not all. As a hacker myself, I had always been disappointed by what’s inside electronic devices. The most powerful machines, once opened, always reveal the most insubstantial heart. Take watches. Have you ever noticed the beauty of a watch mechanism? Great watches are even more spectacular inside than outside. An engine, once opened, lets you to see the precision of its mechanism, the strength of all the parts in motion.
Electronic devices on the other hand, have a dead plate. Even when powered on, a motherboard, no matter green or black, does absolutely nothing. Of all the technological inventions since the industrial revolution, a motherboard is truly the most disappointing machine to see in action.
So if at first we decided to use the Silk Layer to express ourselves, we soon realised that a static art display wasn’t enough. It should tell a story, it should put a smile on people’s face. It should be alive.
Nancy and I wanted to tell the story of LINEDOCK, how and where it was made, the people who helped us.
So we drew a large world map and fitted some LEDs to create a light show. We then added a small light sensor in the Galapagos Islands to trigger the light show. When opening up the cover, light would hit the sensor and the animation would start.
The end result turned out to be far beyond expectations.
On the other side of the motherboard, we used the space available to express our gratitude to all the people who helped us in this adventure and added a credit section, just like in movies. The electronic components configuration made it impossible to have a long vertical stream of text so the credit section was broken down into seven categories, named after the lyrics of the famous Daft Punk 🤖 hit “Technologic”. As for all the people listed in the credits, we used the first letter of their name and the two first letters of their surname as acronyms. And yeah, the titles of the core team came directly from LoL.
The customisation of the motherboard was the spark that got us revamping every part inside the Linedock to make it beautiful. Just like a watch, the inside of the Linedock required thousands of hours of fine engineering. And just like a watch, on that day, we decided that the core should be just as magnificent as the enclosure. This was never meant to be a feature, we did it for the sheer satisfaction of building something we would be proud of. Some Youtube folks decided otherwise and exposed the inside to the grand public. People seem to like it. A lot. This only encourages us to continue.
Anyway... today we received the latest LINEDOCK 16" motherboard.
A true masterpiece.