NEW PRINTER!

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!

The reson I purchased this variety of printer – Brand Loyalty! – Cost…For an 8.9″ printer, it was superbly priced @ £389 from Tomtop

The Competing Elegoo Saturn is available at about the same price from Banggood (well, add a little bit more for shipping)

It has been superbly reviewed on various websites, and youtube channels also!

Here’s to a happy 2022 3D printing even morer largerer stuff-err

Small Blinkenator update!

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.

Brain surgery! RP2040 style (32u4 ft Raspberry pi Pico)

That’s a Pi Pico
Partying like it’s nineteen QWERTY nine!!

The interest in the mini keyboard is strong as ever, but – there’s a new kid on the block soon – The Amiga A500 Mini

That Beastie –

To turn this Mini’s ridiculously small keyboard into a ‘toothpicks required to operate’ WORKING keyboard will be tricky as it has a significantly larger number of keys than the C64Mini

Infact, there’s 96 on European Keyboards and 94 on others? ..Either way – it’s More than 81 – which is the maximum you can put on 9×9 Matrix – which exceeds the capacity of the good old 32U4 when used as a keyboard (well, technically, the Pro Micro I use has 20 GPIO available, Allowing for 100 keys IF I go and hack out the two LED’s and solder a bridge)

So…Enter the Fantastic (and new) Ruby Firmware for Keyboards – PRK,

Which can be found here –

https://github.com/picoruby/prk_firmware

and, with a good overview – here on Youtube (in Japanese, but, enable Captions and translate to English, you’ll get the gist of it)

It’s taken me a Solid Month to figure out how to get this far – I’m a relative noob to Linux, cross compilation, Ruby, C, and, generally ‘stuff’ like this –

To be able to compile this, i’ve setup WSL for Windows – which is essentially Ubuntu Linux, running nativley in Windows!

Inception! WSL running Ubuntu whilst i type this blog!

I’ve also had to setup the Raspberry Pi Pico-SDK

Ruby – For Linux – something higher than 2.6

Bundles for Ruby

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

What’s Next………..

  • 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!

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – Newer Firmware!

Loads fixed with this – and it should hopefully be on Github soon also

Google Drive Link Here

The Hex File is above

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

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – The Code and the Schematic!

Hi All – here goes

I’ve submitted a Pull request to the QMK Github to add the Mini !

https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware/pull/14159

And, here’s the firmware in a ZIP file to help

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WVuZMWLF9_7ZtnlxLih7IebWrD0SbX_b/view?usp=sharing

That’s the QMK Code For the Arduino used inside the C64 Mini

How To Compile

Download QMK – I recommend QMK MSYS. Get it installed

There’s plenty of tutorials around

BUt, quick and easy – Unzip the above file to the KEYBOARDS folder

C:\Users\YOURCOMPUTERNAME\qmk_firmware\keyboards\

Then fire up a command prompt (Start, search, CMD, run)

and navigate to the the above folder

then run

qmk compile -kb c64 -km default

You’ll get a c64_default.hex file appear in

C:\Users\YOURCOMPUTERNAME\qmk_firmware\builds\

Now to flash –

Download QMK TOOLBOX

Arduino leonardo’s can be a little tricky to flash hex files to – be persistant – there’s two Tools that help

QMK TOOLBOX – that shows the keyboard enumerating when you plug in

Set it to ‘auto flash’ and you can try pressing / holding b and space (it’s configured as a magickey in QMK) to get the bootoader to kick in and flash the chip

If anyone knows a quicker way – shout!

And, if it helps

Here’s the Schematic

No PCB gerbers are public yet – play away! any suggestions, happy to look at incorporating them

I’ll follow in the future with more insight in how this lot works, and also modifications needed to get it going better… There’s a LOT to it as the Keycodes – https://sta.c64.org/cbm64pet.html

Don’t map to the HID codes used by USB…so, without some super customisation, certain combinations may never be possible

Some useful resources

https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/Keyboard

https://msys.qmk.fm/

https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware

https://github.com/qmk/qmk_toolbox

https://thec64community.online/thread/688/c64-keyboard-mapping

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

https://symlink.dk/projects/c64key/ – Has seemingly sorted out shifting, etc with custom codes. I can’t quite figure it out though

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!.

Flashing .Hex Files – ‘painful’ – a solution

Wow, What a few weeks this has been.

My previous QMK on my small dev laptop worked great. However, moving the directories over to my new laptop (after the kids smashed the old one) – Not working so great

I was now stuck with a handful of ‘blank’ arduinos and no way to update the firmware code, nor any easy way to flash the .hex files to them

Long story short – a friend familiar with programming Arduinos found me this

https://github.com/p1ne/arduino-leonardo-uploader

It didn’t work!….BUT playing aroudn. it at least did pickup something

So….Digging further…I found

https://github.com/p1ne/arduino-leonardo-uploader/issues/5#issuecomment-407583517

I tried the code, didn’t work

Tried again and………Woooo!

  • 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
  • Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s
  • avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e9587 (probably m32u4)
    avrdude: reading input file “C64_default.hex”
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex auto detected as Intel Hex
    avrdude: writing flash (22924 bytes):
  • Writing | ################################################## | 100% 2.09s
  • avrdude: 22924 bytes of flash written
    avrdude: verifying flash memory against C64_default.hex:
    avrdude: load data flash data from input file C64_default.hex:
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex auto detected as Intel Hex
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex contains 22924 bytes
    avrdude: reading on-chip flash data:
  • Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.46s
  • avrdude: verifying …
    avrdude: 22924 bytes of flash verified
  • avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (E:CB, H:D8, L:FF)
  • avrdude done. Thank you.
  • Upgrade done!
    C:\1leo\arduino-leonardo-uploader-master\windows>

So, where i’m at now……

I can actually program up arduinos for Mini keyboard kits!

The printer actually seems to be functioning

I’m back in Business

What’s next though

Figure out QMK, I’ve found a lovely chap who’s helping out a bit to compile my keyboard into the new version of QMK being used….then I can finally start doing some development again!

and, more importantly, get this C64Mini keyboard listed in QMK for you guys to be able to easily play with the firmware….

Errors!, Errors!

Having some fun with the printer this past few weeks. many, many fails

Lightly used, honest

Some possible lessons learned….

1 – Don’t mix Resin brands and pigments in untested combinations

I’d ordered a bunch of ‘expired’ Elegoo translucent green resin, going ridiculously cheap, (like 1/3rd the price it should be) it prints FANTASTICALLY…BUT

….I normally use Anycubic Clear, just because it’s what i started with, and it works.

I also add various pigments from http://resin8.co.uk

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!

anyone good with QMK?

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 😛

Quick trick for supports for resin

Who knows if it’ll work yet, but whilst trying to support a large, flat, thin surface for printing, I found that the slicing software didn’t really seem to ‘get it’

So, I tricked it a little by adding the seeds for supports inside Fusion360

Essentially this is just creating a grid of ‘support tips’ and merging them with the wanted body.

The slicer software sees these tiny sticky-outy bits and has no choice other than to add supports to them

alternatley, they can serve as a grid for you to add some manual ‘heavy duty’ supports and surround with more medium duty ones

This is a large flat lower part of a case.

Angle it by 45 degrees. This makes it short enough to print, and easy to support and add some ‘zits’ on a grid

Closeup of zits on a grid

By adding an easy ‘pattern’ of 0.5mm high by 0.1mm diameter zits, I trick Lychee into supporting those areas.

The End result – Evenly spaced ‘starter’ supports that can be manually supplemented. This ensures that no points of the model will be droopy.

I’ve started with a grid around 10x10mm. no reason why this grid can’t be a bit smaller, just some experimenting needed

A mix of things – and, the Semiconductor shortage and Kits – Running low on arduinos

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]

Always distractions….paddling Pool Pump, solar heating

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……

They work fine – But, the flow rate is quite slow using the 330 Gallon pump that came with our larger, but rodent damaged 12 foot Bestway pool

A few months ago, I purchased a cheap pump from Aliexpress – and after a few hours trying to find and purchase a fiting to hook it to the paddling pool and my Intex solar mats.. I realised I have a 3D printer! (well, many of them actually)..

So, Quickly knocked up this oddity in Fusion

Fits well, one is already attached

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!

Blinkenator – July Edition

Ordered the last design in yellow and it fits!

Just gotta procrastinate about adding components myself or getting a batch assembled…

The fancy pogo pin thingies seem to electrically do the job…..

This’ll be the last attempt at solderless, time’s ticking on and I really should plan to release this by Xmas!

sUPER LeD bLInkENAtor 2000 Jun20 Edition

Got me a little tweakin’ time today –

Step 1, Export a PDF from EASYEDA. Print out paper templates, test roughly for fit and alignment
Step 2 – Export DXF from EASYEDA and IMPORT into Fusion360, Tidy up and extrude. Here i’m trying a 1.6mm thick PCB

Step 3 – PRINT. Draft mode is just fine, 2.5 hours later, i’ll have a ‘PCB’!

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.

Step 4 – Printed
Step 5 – Test fit

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!!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spectrumnext/zx-spectrum-next-issue-2/posts/3224494

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 Stuff –

Sorry for a lack of News of late…….

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

ROUGH IDEA OF CONNECTIVITY, The programminator sits ‘underneath’ the J15

The Plan.

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!

June 2021 Revision of the Blinkenator

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.

That’s a game changer!

A quick Bodge-up with Microsoft 3D Builder

Why it’s a Game Changer – Simply use Microsoft 3D builder or Tinkercad (or anything really, those two are just superbly easy to use

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!

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 (never ending story edition)

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!

Moar Heroquest!

Painted the secret door tile.

By painted, I mean, found some old brown acrylic paint, mixed a little dried up acrylic white pen with some alcohol ink and Formed a browny grey.

It’s a 5 minute bodge job, but good enough for the trial. Now to decide to keep all the filament prints I’ve made, or, junk ‘em and switch to resin….

Soooo much more detail!

Nerdy Stuff Part Deux – Heroquest

Used to love 90’s board games, and, as shown earlier, I fancy getting into Heroquest again…..But, NOT at the prices it’s fetching on eBay currently.

There’s a LOT of stuff to find out there, and more than enough to be able to fully re-create the whole game yourself.

BUT, as always, some of the things I’ve found, don’t really do it for me, so….My first in probably many…..A better Heroquest ‘Secret Door’ Tile….

Took some creative liberties with the door design, but there’s no way the printed tile can translate properly to 3D space unless someone has a particular wall height in mind….

This is just a merging of two other things found on Thingiverse, it’ll be a while before my organic 3D modelling skills get to the level needed to create the above from scratch

Now up on the Thingiverse – HERE

HOW TO COLOUR YOUR KEYCAPS…and to contact me

Firstly, if you’re interested in a kit, reach out via email

KEYBOARDS AT BLEUGH.BIZ

you can also find me lurking around facebook, reddit, twitter!

Two brands have been successfully used to colour your keycaps

1 – Milliput Epoxy Putty – (Thansk DAN) Available here – amazon.co.uk/dp/B002CNEWAM

2 – Stucco K2 – (Thanks Vinz)
available in Italy.

For you English, This translates to “paste for interiors”….amusing that PASTA=PASTE…no wonder some stuff we ordered a few years ago in venice came a bit squdgy 😛

Use a damp cotton bud or similar type of thing to poke a bit in at a time and not get it everywhere!…leave to dry. clean up, then coat with some type of laquer or conformal coating if you really want!

Add Epoxy, then your mini can look like this

C64 Mini Keyboards – COLOURED LETTERS! (by end users)

Lots of pictures here, But looks like the latest batch of C64 Mini hackers are quite the clever lot. Batch 21 has been arriving around the globe, and look wot some guys gone done!

First email arrived early this morning – Vinz!, You’re a genius…..My jaw dropped!

Some explaination of the pictures…….

In photo 1, I used a ruler with double sided tape to solder switches as straight as possible

in photo 2 I used white putty to color the caps

in photo 3 I cleaned the excess putty

in photos 4 and 5 I painted the caps with matt transparent water-based paint, in this way the filler is protected

in photos 6 and 7 the work is finally done

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboards – COLOURED LETTERS! (by end users)”

Blinkenator – Slow going

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!

I’m a nerd!

Used to play Heroquest back in the day. For some reason of late I’ve been a bit nostalgic about older games.

Well, 2nd hand ones are very expensive, and , I’ve got a 3D printer and access to Thingiverse…..so…

Can you see them!

This is the first ‘fun’ thing I’ve printed, just for me 🙂 it’ll be the start of a large horde…it’s a bit of a rabbit hole this board game stuff.

Also, experimented a little with neon pigments as you may have spotted!

Batch 21 posted! – up to date with ALL orders

Phew, what a mad few weeks.

If you’ve paid for a kit or just keycaps or waiting on spare parts, it’s now posted.

Missed the Saturday run to the post office so sorry about that.

I’ve now a small amount of stock of keycaps and plenty of kits so I can relax a little and have fun printing other stuff for a change! Can you believe that I’ve run at least 6L of resin through the printer …JUST developing and then selling these keycaps, I’ve never printed anything else on it 🙂

Keycap production snapshots-lots of pictures

A quick pictorial ! on the process of creating keycaps.

Step 1, Recycle the IPA. Leave it standing for a few days, it settles, becomes clean! This is a month or two of settling. I now have about 4L left from my original 7.5L…not bad for nearly 10L of resin printed
Step 2. Print and drain! Leave like this for maybe half an hour or so to drain off excess resin.
Step 3. Scrape keyboard off the build plate
Step 4. Throw keyboard into a small bag of IPA
Step 5, throw bag in ultrasonic cleaner! BONUS step….put bottles of coloured resin in for a while to get them mixed well
Step 5a. Drain IPA off into settling container for recycling. Fill Ziplock bag with water and drain to bucket. Repeat again. One clear GPU can run under the tap!
Step 6 – dry and separate the keys! Then leave overnight in a box to dry properly before curing
Step 7 – ensure you agitate the vat well, scraping gently all the pigment off the bottom.
Step 8 – sorting! – visual inspection of each set to grade them A or B. Also, within the same colour mix batch I’m able to potentially make one good set out of two bad ones!

I’ve missed out a few pictures, but this covers the basics. Using a timer, it’s around half hour all-up per keyboard. Sometimes a little more if a print fails!

A failure!

Tried to make a ‘GOLD’ keyboard but need to research a little on how to keep the particles suspended. This one failed due to too much gold. It all sunk to the bottom causing layers to become underexposed and ultimately sticking to the FEP

This was supposed to be clear!

Also tried to make a crystal clear keyboard…unfortunately I topped up the vat with a tiny bit of the gold mix from a poorly labelled bottle I use f or mixing (I didn’t write any label!) I’ll give these away with a kit to the first person that asks 🙂

F Keys!

Quite late into development, I’d realised that the F keys were supposed to be a different colour. So, I add two sets of F keys to kits. Some early ones went out without the extras. Happy to send some out if you shout.

Batch 20 posting tomorrow!

Thankyou everyone for your support! Sold quite a few more kits with keycaps than expected so frantically printing away more!

If you’ve paid for a kit or just keycaps, they’re all packed and ready to go! Should take between 3 days and 3 weeks depending on where you are on the planet!

Doesn’t look much but that’s A good couple of days of Labour and a two solid working week’s worth of printing time!!

I’ll hopefully be getting more time to update on other things soon 🙂

C64 Mini keyboard kits! Some stock!

Have finally received the switches. Couldn’t find my multimeter so quickly tested the orientation was correct with a battery and LED.

Have now bagged them and have enough kits ready to fulfil those on the waiting list.

I’ll email everyone tonight and wait a week before I make kits fully available

Thanks for your patience everyone!

Quick test

Bit of Monday Commodore Bling!

Switches will be here in a day or two!, i’ll email everyone about kits shortly.

Purchased some ‘old gold’ pigment from https://www.resin8.co.uk/ and tried it with the keycaps for something different. Came out ‘ok’ – nice and gold on the top, but lacking in gold on the sides. I suspect the particles weren’t being agitated sufficiently and sank to the bottom.

I’ll try again soon with a higher concentration of pigment and see how that goes before considering offering these as a product!

Kits coming soon – Tracking number updated!

Was just about to order another 4000 switches and take the hit…Decided to check the tracking number and FINALLY, after a month in Limbo, the switches have been released from Liege, the infamously slow sorting centre in Brussels.

SO, should be here next week and i can Finally get sending kits out!

Sorry again about the delays, I’ve now bought excessive stock so, should be able to turn around things quite quickly.

also built up a little stock of the keycaps which can be included in the kits at no additional postage cost

Kits, soon…delays in receiving components

I’ve now shipped 1/2 the back orders but as always, ‘stuff’ happens.

I should have received another 4000 switches here a month ago.

They’ve been stuck somewhere , now for 3 weeks! As soon as they arrive, I’ll be shipping more kits out!

In better news, I’ve gotten through a few liters of resin, so have started printing keycaps again!

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 – Beta …Err, lost count!

BETA 12….ALMOST IDENTICAL TO BETA 11

Beta 11 had a minor cock-up in that i’d missed off the 3v3 line. I’ve also taken the oportunity to shift things around a bit, re-align stuff and generally do a lot of really picky small stuff that generally makes me feel a bit better. Except that upside down C22 that i’ve just spotted, D’oh!

Also, I now introduce 2 more members of the Super LED Blinkenator 2000 family

The Clampinator

This one, you’ve kind of met before. It’s a small ‘clamp’ PCB, but it now splits into two parts. One ‘spacer / shim’ sits in-between the Clampy larger bit, the other, is the clampy larger bit.

When installed, it’ll look a little something like this…..

Blue is the Next PCB. Red is the tiny thin break-off ‘spacer’. Black is the Blinkenator.

The Red ‘shim’ part stops the yellow clamping PCB from getting too close to the Blinkenator when the screws and nuts are tightened.

That combination of PCB’s, copper balls, nuts & bolts provides a robust electrical contact to J15 – Without needing to solder. Yes, it’s a little fiddly – I’ll make some instructions.

Another Member – The Programminator

Glorified serial to USB convertor

Now i’ve switched over to a SMT atmega chip, it needs programming. I’ve bought some of the important signals out to a PCI EXpress connector to make for me, at Bleugh.Biz headquarters to quickly program the on-board arduino and test some basic features.

I thinkn REV 2 of this board could be useful for general tinkering also, so i’ll probably do a limited run to sell if people really want them. I’ll send out a handful of REV1 of this board to the BETA testers, IF BETA12 works.

And, finally – a quick overview of the new layout and routing. I’m now confident enough in the design to use a copper pour for a much more professional finish!