Had a little play, using some SMT buttons i’m using in another project. These switches aren’t quite correct for this project – I need ‘square’ button-y bits and preferably ones with a small sticky-outy or inny bit that’ll let it capture a keycap straight.
Assuming the A500 Mini is 1/2 scale, like the C64Mini was then it’s looking good for keyboardification.
Half that gives about 235 x 162. take a bit off the 235 for the case thickness bit – gives 225. then height is set roughly by the number of keys ‘down’ and eyeballing the various membranes i’ve found!
However – I don’t know the internal space availability of the A500 yet – so plan going forward for now is to prototype as a 2 part PCB.
One design part of the C64 Mini keyboard kit I never really liked is the standalone Arduino Pro Micro mounted on the rear due to being no space. Adding it to the main PCB was also out of the question as the separate components would have been at least double that of a ‘cheap’ arduino.
I’ll keep a 31 way (ish) connector on the main keyboard part, so it essentially acts like a traditional Amiga Keyboard. I’ll then have a ‘special’ RP2040 based PCB that converts the Amiga matrix into USB for the A500.
I’m currently working on a design assuming I can use the same again. There’s very few switches on the market with a ‘square’ style centre part that can capture keycaps. I have leads on a few others, but plan this time is to find surface mount versions and try to get a batch ‘mass produced’ – i.e. little to no soldering needed for you lot!
Early days yet, it’s been quite hard to ‘get back into the grove’ . here’s hoping I get this finished in 2022!
Very early days yet on this design. A couple of hours of measuring and sketching in Fusion360. Needs some finessing, but the principle is sound.
Given 90% of my printed things are quite short, (keyboards, Mini computer case prototypes and miniature monsters) I can comfortably make a very efficient 90 Degree bed resin drip drainer and keep the cover on!
Got a little hooked on playing Fortnite This past few weeks! who’d have thought that Battle Royale would be fun to play! – just like the old days playing Multi player LAN Doom and Duke Nukem, except even better!
Apolgies for any delays and people waiting on keycaps….
I believe I may have reached the end of life of my original Photon Mono printer. for the past couple of months, i’ve been having more and more print failures, and have had no idea why. I’ve approached the problem analytically to figure out what’s wrong
Where it started –
I had a proper working file that ‘just worked’ – exposure about 35s for the first layers and about 1.8s per other layer
That started failing a bit. some keys were printing incomplete. I increased the exposure slightly and success again.
More fails, this time the first layers were coming off the build plate. I increased the exposure for the first 4 layers and success again.
had many minor creeps of fails, up to now where i’m at around 50s for the first layers exposure and 2.2s per layer.
I figured maybe the temperature in the conservatory is too low – Nope, iterating a bunch of exposures with the printer near the radiator in the living room also had nothing but failures.
So, after a good 15 fails in a row, many caused my me experimenting with extremes, i’ve given up with the photon mono. There’s many things it could be, but I’m thinking it’s feasible that the LCD has finally ‘failed’. I’ve easily gotten 1500 hours of actual print time on the thing – well over 1000 will be just the production keycaps at 6.5 hours each!
The First of the clone army printed!…May need to recycle this one…….
Have picked up yet another 3D printer! – I’ve told the wife that I plan to retire the Photon Mono . This new Printer is the Photon Mono-X which is a little bit bigger
Build Volumes compared – Photon Mono-X in Blue – Plain old Mono in red
The printer should be an enabler for some upcoming projects – And, importantly, the new A500mini which, if staying at 50% scale will have a keyboard a little too large to fit on the mono’s build plate.
With the Mono-X, IF i successfully keyboardify the A500mini, I’ll be able to print at least TWO keyboard keycap sets simultaneously!
These are the first brand new work that i’ve done on the inserts. The previous LED inserts were hacked out of the STL’s the ZX Spectrum Next team released some time ago. Since those early mesh hacks, i’ve learned quite a bit more on Fusion360 (which is entirely free for makers!)
Not much of an update, but i’m slowly picking back up on this again, personally, it’s been quite a tough 2021 , leaving me with little capacity to do fundemental development stuff…On the plus side, i’ve been in ‘something shiny’ mode for quite a while and literally shotgun blasting ‘fun’ ideas for new things, a few of which have been developed further and you’ll read about once they’re better baked.
And a few other things….all of which are quite finickitey and throw a wobbly at the slightest provocation! – Linux is fun eh!..
I’ll eventually get around to step-by step documenting and linking each step to ensure a good build environment so that others can duplicate what I’m doing
Once it’s all compiled, I drag the .uf2 file over to the pico (after holding bootsel whilst plugging it in) the thing reboots and becomes a keyboard
Ensure the Keymap is correct
Finish the basic keyboard layout, testing all basic keys
Introduce shifted keys
introduce ‘layers’ to ensure special keys are correct
introduce fancy stuff
Where this is going……………..The RP2040 Chip is fairly priced against the 32u4. I’m hoping that I can eventually switch the C64mini keyboard over to a fully SMT ready assembled kit – just add keycaps. And, i’m hoping I can do that for the Amiga Mini!, as much as I love soldering 600+ points, I appreciate some of you out there don’t!
And, I’ve another TOP SECRET project on the go also…It’ll blow yer mind! but, in 2022 that one, it’s a long burn that ‘looks’ finished (i’m holding it in my hands now!, all 2 circuit boards and about 100 3D printed pieces) but, needs quite a bit of work behind the scenes.
Also, Blinkenator, slow going, but I’m really trying, it’s just hard getting over this hurdle where it must be soldered….one last thing to try!
And, final before I go to bed, the C64 mini running the keybaord upgrade kit with pi Pico transplanted brains!
It’s being captured via a HDMI capture dongle and OBS studio so I can use my laptop as a test monitor!
There are only a couple of extremely tricky issues remaining now! they may need macros, and may not even be possible
Note with this firmware – It works perfectly with ENGLISH Language and UK Keyboard layout set in the firmware…
I hope to eventually be able to create more localised keymaps to change behaviour on boot so every language in the mini works well. IF there’s any pressing issues, please contact me, I should now be able to quickly and easily tweak a couple of keys for you.
Also, the Firmware will be part of the QMK Github soon, so you can download and tweak away yourselves!
To Upgrade your Keyboard, I’m finding QMK ToolBox to work brilliantly
Most older fimrwares out there will need to have B held down whilst shorting the reset jumper at the top of the keyboard inside , for whatever reason though t
I’ve found this a little flaky for whatever reason, sometimes mashing down every key whilst hitting reset does the trick
To make that more professional…….I now have configured the Bootmagic Lite.
To Update the firmware after this update, simply fire up QMK TOOLBOX, connect your keyboard to a Laptop. Hit ‘auto flash’, select the MCU (see picture above)…then Hold 1 and short the reset jumper inside the keyboard.
I’m still learning how configure all this, so bear with me, it’ll be slick just like those professional Mechanical Keyboards in no time*
*by ‘no tiime’ I mean potentially months and months as i’m tinkering in my limited spare time to add this extra functionality
and a few other C64 USB firmware’s i’ve found – these may have the bits needed to be able to get mine working much better – But, merging things is currently beyond my skillset – I’ll figure it out eventually
And, this awesome public project! – If you want a ready made USB interface – This looks great. Has some quite complex QMK mapping that i’ve not been able to understand – maybe it can be modded for my PCB!.
C:\1leo\arduino-leonardo-uploader-master\windows>testu Upgrade procedure starting. Missing parameter or file, you should provide the full filename of an existing .hex file you want to use.
C:\1leo\arduino-leonardo-uploader-master\windows>testu C64_default.hex Upgrade procedure starting. Com Port for Arduino device is detected as COM7. Reset Arduino into bootloader Com Port for Arduino bootloader device is detected as COM6.
Starting AVR Downloader/UploaDEr…..
Connecting to programmer: . Found programmer: Id = “CATERIN”; type = S Software Version = 1.0; No Hardware Version given. Programmer supports auto addr increment. Programmer supports buffered memory access with buffersize=128 bytes.
Programmer supports the following devices: Device code: 0x44
avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions
Mixing in an old batch of C64 Brown with the new Elegoo didn’t really work. I had 6 failures in a row – which i’d assumed was the FEP or me doing something silly / bad levelling . The 7th failure punctured the FEP! At that point i’d realised what i’d done (mixing all the stuff together) so, ordered some new Clear resin. I got a perfect print straight away!
The thing you see above is me, changing the supports (finally) after having issues with the old base layer being too thick and seperating from the build plate. I’d gotten around this by using longer base exposures, but still, had more failures than I’d like.
Hopefully now i’ve new FEP, new resin, and spent a couple of hours doing the supports properly, I’ll get a fresh print tomorrow!
My next issue – as you can see above…QMK. I spent weeks learning how to, and setting up QMK on my old laptop, which the kids smashed.
QMK has moved on a little it seems as now there’s a dedicated QMK MSYS32 installation…BUT, it doesn’t compile my old keyboard layout. if there’s anyone good with QMK out there, give me a shout!. I’ve no doubt I can get things working again to work on the code a little, just pressed for time for the next month or two and, i’m getting the coding itch this past few days 😛
First – A small project being worked on in the background. I’ve been struggling to keep the momentum going on the blinkenator – for a myriad of reasons, so i’ve distracted myself a little with ‘something shiny’ which at last count has nearly 200 items in the BOM, including 70 3D Printed parts!
The picture shows the lower half – revision 4 after being supported and currently on the resin printer! has to be at an angle as it’s just a little bit too tall to print vertically in the Anycubic Photon Mono
Ain’t gonna give any more information until this one’s working and ‘ready’ – just the odd vague teaser here and there
The other thing – The Semiconductor shortage…I’m having to pause briefly the C64 Mini keyboard projects as i’ve run out of Arduinos.
Unfortunatley, they’ve now tripled in Landed price in most places since I started purchasing them!
The switches have gone up 50%,
The Diodes have gone up 100%
That now means, at £30 a basic kit, profit margin’s a little slim..I may need to raise the price to £35 at some point, I just need to make some time to take stock of what parts I have and re-price based upon being able to order more when this lot runs out.
Amusing that it’s the arduinos as i’ve 50 of the wrong type still here – I’m going to try selling them to make some $$ 😛
[edit – as typing this, i’ve found a local seller at old prices!, I just snapped up 10 arduinos at a fiver a pop – will be kitting up over the weekend]
When you buy a 3D printer, sometimes you search for ages to find ‘anything’ to print, just to actually use the printer.
Other times, you spend ages searching for a suitable coupling device to mount a pool pump with a roughly 1/2 inch inner bore and 20mm ish unknown thread to a 31ish mm diameter INTEX style corrugated hose……..
I’ve done both.
I bought some solar pool heating mats to make the small 8 foot paddling pool a little toastier and less ‘my nipples are so stiff , they could cut glass’ cold……
I’ve no idea what the thread is….So decided to set the inner hole just big enough to catch the thread…To screw it on, I use my hot air gun to heat up the inner hole so that it gets soft, then screw on the adaptor. leave it to go cold, then unscrew, add PTFE Tape to the threads, screw it back on and, voila, a nice, waterproof adaptor.
I’ll test the thing soon (it’s warm here)………But, during typing this, I’ve noted that the Bestway pump is 330 Gallons per hour – approximatley 1500 Liters per hour
The Aliexpress pump is about half that, D’oh!….
BUT – where i’m hoping to create an efficiency – the Bestway pump has a filter built in, which quite severely restricts the flow, this pump willl either boost that, or i’ll split the 4 mats into two circuits!
Have spent a few hours fine tuning alignments – with the new ‘underneath’ mounting of the solderless Blinkenator trial, some of the alignment changes.
The J15 Connector shifts away from the edge about 3/4 mm due to the curvature of the next case, which also needs the larger pillar holes to be moved and increased in size a little.
The print fitted almost perfectly, slight misalignment with J15, I’ll probably make the two locating holes a little larger to allow a little play. The 3D print won’t be the exact same dimensions as the manufactured PCB but it’s close enough to see what tweaks are needed.
And, finally an update on the new next is at Kickstarter!!
Have been having a little bit of a creative Block with the Blinkenator. It’s a typical story where ‘something shiny’ has been spotted and has been taking up the small chunks of time I’d normally allocate to this stuff.
I’m awaiting on those Pogo pins to test the next revision…….But, have also seriously re-thought the programminator / tester device…….And, we have what you see above
40 Pin Raspberry Pi connector will allow some ‘playing’ around with the ESP device, and programming of the Arduino. I’ll need to figure out exactly how to write the software to do it- but, there’s dozens of tutorials out there so i’m confident.
Programming could also be done via a standard 6 or 10 pin ICSP device (that can be bought for a few quid off Ebay) directly on the blinkenator itself, or via the 9 pin connector at the bottom – which breaks out to the Programminator.
The Programminator also utilises the J15 connector of the Blinkenator – This should be a great way of testing the new Pogo pins connections as my Specnext J15 is fairly well shot
There’s 2 new holes – 57mm spaced (same as a Raspberry Pi!) which can sit standoffs which match the positioning on the programminator (rasperry pi footprint)
Took quite a while to get this far – now at least you should be able to see the LED’s doing their stuff whilst connected to a Pi and a test board!
I’m very close now to getting this new board done as a BETA….next step is to print out, test fit and tweak
In other Interesting news, JLCPCB ‘s NEW version of EasyEDA exports OBJ files! I’ve literally just discovered that you can EXPORT a 3D model of your PCB.
Assemble your bits – whack ‘print’ and, send to a 3D printer. Or put into your favourite slicer program and do the same – I’ll have a little bit more of a play tomorrow – it’s 11PM now. Now, to use the Resin printer or the Filament one 🙂
Oh, as for the ‘something shiny’ that’s come along…..Checking the logs in Fusion360, I started back on the 8th February. Since then I’ve easily spent 200+ hours editing, tweaking, Learning. I made the first 3D print last week. There will be many more prints till it’s ‘final’ .
There’ll be a few versions of electronics inside, Basic version will likley be some type of Raspberry Pi – Compute Module , A design is well underway. I’m also possibly thinking of dabbling in FPGA, though a 6 layer double sided PCB is a bit daunting, I’m designing one anyway after gaining a big bit of help from someone who’s already familiar with FPGA’s
I’m being vague as I really don’t know where this one’s going. I’ll need to show this publicly, once it’s done and then see what occurs. I’ll need a new, larger resin printer for sure if it takes off though, it uses the entire build volume of my Anycubic Photon Mono printing off the two larger pieces at an angle!
I’m still trying to make this darn thing solderless….and, I have possibly a lead, which ain’t cheap…but will allow me to offer two versions.
Those gold things are pogo pins. But, slightly less common ones with a 1.2mm diameter pin part. This should sit quite nicely into the Next’s 1mm holes in J15…..except in my excitement, I forgot about that darn keyboard connector!
Using these requires yet another redesign, but a relatively minor one that only needs the connector stuff soldered on the reverse of the PCB…
On the plus side, this could make end user fitting of the inserts a little easier 🙂
As for ‘expensive’ – those pogo pins are around £1 each and at least 6 will be needed, more if the wifi relocation is used!
Just a quick photo of me holding my Next up against a snowy scene!
And aaaaanother Beta!. Doing significantly more testing this time round
Still not quite over the roadblock for the solderless BETA, but have kinda proven that the ‘programminator’ idea doesn’t really work as well as hoped. BUT, i have proven that a simple 9 pin JST-PH connector – 1.27mm pitch will work – also known as a molex picoblade style.
Going forward, this will be the way someone programs up the Blinkenator. I’ll have another board – possibly included with every blinkenator to convert this to a standard USBASP style header, unsure yet, depends on just how easy I can make the 6 pin header up on the top right to access. would be nice if people can program it up with their case closed….we’ll see
I’m hoping to double down on the blinkenator over the coming weeks, still quite a bit to finalise with the code and the LED inserts!….fun fun.
and, yes, my small digression with the 90’s miniatures is actually a disguised learning excercise. My LED inserts have some fantastically small detail. i’m now learning how to use supports properly….which will dramatically speed up development time on 3D printed inserts. and, also provide a proper path / workflow to being able to get them injection moulded….IF the budget and interest allows. My early experiments however suggest, I may just about be able to achieve an injection moulding style ‘gloss’ finish with 3D printing….keep tuned in!