Nailed it! Commodore 64 mini keycaps.

Good enough to eat!

CAD is final now! The keycaps fit perfectly . They latch on with a push and can be removed!

Continue reading “Nailed it! Commodore 64 mini keycaps.”

Tolerance!

The mechanical, fitty holey type tolerance, not the other type of ‘oh, that’s annoying, but i’ll put up with it’ type….

Here’s the keyswitch fitting into the space bar. zoom in. we’re talking fractions of a millimeter fit, which I can achieve consistently and reliably! there’s about 0.1 mm available on the sides with the latches and about 0.2mm availavle on the longer sides. the extra really being there to allow some grace when placing the keycap on to fit it. less clearance means it’s a royal pain to get the switch located into the hole.

BUT, the keys don’t ‘latch’ into place on the switches. So, to try to address that (if it’s even possible) i’m now adding a small feature

See that bit in Blue!

This is the underside of one of the ‘F’ Keys. That small part in blue is a 0.1mm ridge sat about 0.8mm up from the bottom and 1mm from the top. I’m hoping that will be enough to latch the keys on, AND allow ease of fitting without breaking the keycaps. Everything else is done now, this is the only barrier to releasing. I’ll run off a print tomorrow to see how it works out. I’ll run off further prints with this sticking out even more if i need to

Just one more Tweaketto! Give it to me…C64 keycap sales are soon to be..

Nailed it!

Happy chappy this morning. They finished printing last night, my draining widget worked a treat – I’ll put a quick GIF up soon.

But, forgot about them until a mad panic at close to 1AM remembering I’d left them on the printer. With these, you can’t as the resin in the concave surfaces will part set in the morning and cause an uneven surface.

So, quickly washed them in IPA, regretted it immediately as it was dirty. Did another wash in IPA to clean the resin and straight to the hot water tap and larger bowl with a brush to clean off the bits. I’ll strain out the bowl later.

Final tweak needed now is the amount of grip to the switches themselves, shrinkage is variable at the moment, can’t go too small or keycaps may break when putting on, can’t go too big or they’ll be too wobbly and fall off.

May need to go middle ground and require a tiny blob of something sticky in each keycap, I’ll know soon enough!

Space Bar, The final frontier

The final hurdle for ‘good enough’ for me now is the space bar.

Every key prints lovely, except the largest one……Take a look

Eeeeew, kinda looks like a ….

I’ve gotten all the ‘hard stuff’ over and done with first, or so I thought. Life’s taught me to generally avoid going for the low hanging fruit first, save the easy stuff for later when you need a boost.

Well, no matter what i’ve done (so far) in 12 iterations, have I been able to get a good looking space bar.

Now this has become my sole focus and roadblock for a successful print

Turns out that this is a combination of quite a few variables, I’ll list a few and probably follow up another time with clicky links and research

  • Exposure times are wrong –
    • They could be , I’ve really just gone and shoved stuff in to print and hoped for the best with standard settings. I Have now tweaked up the settings a little bit to 2.2s per layer due to mixing pigment in, and have had no real failures. I’ve also increased the first layers exposure times to 30s, still seeing minor issues there
  • FEP tension is wrong
    • Not really, This is a brand new printer, i’ve had zero catastrophic failures and have been overly cautious monitoring (and catching) early delamination from the print bed issues – Three times now
  • Bad Resin
    • Possibly. I’ve 3 types (all anycubic) and seeing the same on all 3
  • Temperature
    • Possibly, lots of people have been reporting issues in cold climates, I use the printer in the conservatory and it’s sub 10 degrees C in there regularly
    • Low temperatures cause increased viscosity and warpage issues with fine features from the FEP pulling them through the thicker resin
  • MY FAVOURITE
    • Exposure –
      • Too low exposure times on fine edges cause resin to cure, but not as hard as it should. So, when the layer sets on the bed, when it’s pulled off the FEP, it warps as it’s soft. This, I believe is causing the sagging issues i’m seeing on that space bar – it’s printed upside down, so the supports hold the points up, and between the walls sag, like an electric line held between two pylons

My solution……

Probaly waaay too many supports, but this way, each ‘sag’ will be between supports that are just 1mm apart.

I’ve also nearly doubled the wall thickness to about 1.8mm – from 1mm

Blue lines show original thickness, gold shows it doubled

Hopefully now, this is the last step, Colour’s good, CAD is good, Supports are good.

I’ve ordered 2 Litres of clear resin ready to go and have a colour that’s not exact, but close and, importantly , very easy to re-create

Resin8 Earthy Brown, 3 ‘blobs’ of the end of a lollypop stick to 100ml of resin. and Black, 1 blob.

– The Rich brown used previously was too red. I’ll experiment a little with more black when running off the final tests

https://www.resin8.co.uk/opaque-resin-pigment—earthy-brown-7468-p.asp

https://www.resin8.co.uk/opaque-resin-pigment—black-2383-p.asp

Coming soon!, more kits in stock, and Keycaps – March 2021!

Anycubic Photon Print Bed drainer STL – posted to Thingiverse

Whilst developing the Commodore 64 mini keycaps and iterating the prints, it came clear that the caps are little buckets that hold quite a lot of resin.

I’ve been holding the keyboard over the tray to drain all this resin out, and it takes “ages”

So, when you can use CAD and have a few 3D printers , you go and spend time developing a widget to optimise the amount of time holding a build plate at an angle!

And by “spend time”, and “optimise”, I mean, take longer doing in CAD than the total amount of time that would have been spent holding the bed in the first place

I present….

60 degrees! version 1

Total amount of time in CAD, and reworking, maybe 3 hours…

Total amount of time holding a bed to drain, maybe 3 minutes.

Number of beds to hold to recoup time in CAD…60!

So, after 60 prints, I’ll have broken even on the time invested in making the thing!

Here it is in action!

Version 1 wasn’t as optimal, it needed shifting over to the left by about 30mm to give far more clearance on the case for everyone not printing 25mm high keycaps to be able to use.

60 degrees, version 2!

Released on Thingiverse – right here – for free! works a treat.

Is that a space bar in your pocket (sized C64 Mini) ?

Trial run 13 underway with the resin prints. Colour should be pretty close, and Supports fairly optimal.

Trial 12 failed due to insufficient base size on the supports, caught it at 5% so no problem there other than a quick cleanup. I’ll know how it’s gone in about 5 hours!

Also, did a quick tweak on the space bar! I’m printing both new and old to see how they come out

Do animated GIF’s work here?

Did some work on the Blinkenator also, and got sidetracked quite significantly with Fusion360’s parametric sketches. watch those tangent curves and how you constrain them!.

Mwahahahaha! C64 mini keycaps! The final furlong :-)

Has some successes with varying mixes of pigments! Wifey demanded I do a bronze one.

Fine adjustments needed only now and it’ll be a wrap.

….problem is, fine adjustments’ll probably take another 80% of the total :-p

Now, gotta figure out how to get Arduinos quickly as 50 wrong ones just turned up and due to Chinese New Year my expedited (expensive) DHL delivery won’t leave for a couple of weeks, D’oh! Best laid plans….

Well, final furlong for the 3D printing part anyway! Next step, investigating colouring in

Oops! One of these is near, the other is far away!

Keycaps! C64 mini stuff

Doing some sideways progress now.

When planning something, always allow time for ‘unseen’ stuff, or even anticipated issues that probably show up but you hope they don’t.

Is that a banana in your c64 mini or are you just happy to see me?

I’ve had two partially failed prints now, one fully expected and designed deliberately to see just how far I can remove supports or just how many I need to add

And, the one you see above. A large part of the bed failed to adhere so I stopped at 65%, just enough to recover the space bar…should have waited to 70% so I could grab a few of the bottom row also.

I’ve noticed slight warping in all prints but haven’t been that concerned till this failure.

On the plus side though, my new pigment colours arrived !

Yes, it’s reddy. So, it’s not ready.

I now have a grip on how the colours mix and can iterate a little closer to the original brown now! It doesn’t help that I’m red/green colourblind so, matching brown, in the evenings , in the conservatory in non optimal lighting is probably a worst case scenario for me :-p

But, I can get close now and can get the wife to tweak the formula

One thing I’ve noted is that it can get expensive iterating colors in resin prints! I’m mixing 100ml at a time now, to start a new colour I’m dumping the old 100ml into my grey bottle! Can’t wait to see what colour that comes out as.

now, back to the print fails

First – Levelling. Seems my bed has become unlevel a little, so, I’ll need to re-level. This seems to be an excellent tutorial which i’ll follow.

Now, the warping. It’s something that I didn’t really experience much with my standard Filament printer, but now I clearly can see that it’s a common, but surmountable issue with Resin printers.

So, some research

I’ll need to re-design the space bar at least!.

https://www.3dhubs.com/knowledge-base/how-design-parts-sla-3d-printing/

And

https://www.3dhubs.com/knowledge-base/how-design-parts-sla-3d-printing/

I’d put a small re-enforcement bar all along the space bar which seems to have been an error and may well be causing more warping!

I’ll do another post with the re-design!

JLCPCB – A small gushing appraisal

I know i’ve already made one blog post about these guys, but they really do seem to go over and above! why i’m posting again is at the bottom

https://jlcpcb.com/

How I found them….

Me, I’m a early 40’s bloke with a wife, two young kids and a passion for gadgety stuff that’s not really that mainstream. I really don’t get as much time as i’d like for tinkering, but when I do, I tend to be lazy and take the easy route to making things overly complicated 😛

Back 3 years ago, I purchased a lovely reproduction case from Retro Radionics for an old Sinclair Spectrum 48k . It was limited edition, fully chrome. I just had to buy it…..

Continue reading “JLCPCB – A small gushing appraisal”

C64 Mini Keyboard – Rev 4 PCB experiments

This’ll be a while away yet, but the REV4 PCB, has some new, experimental features that will possibly allow some extra functionality when used with stuff other than a C64 mini!

For the purposes of this kit though, the board is a little easier to solder due to slightly larger pads, I’ve also added silk screen ‘dots’ to the rear to show the only two pads you actually need to solder (or possibly one of the two if i’ve gone and goofed up the positioning! ).

I’ve removed the USB HELPER pads, these weren’t actually that useful

The other thing being added are pads that say ‘Joy’ – I’ve no idea if this will work, but my plan is to see if there’s any way to map the C64 Joystick onto the keyboard and then into a PC / MiSTer or other device with a USB socket. I’m putting these unpopulated pads on production boards as, now due to Brexit, it costs a fortune in customs fees and shipping for small orders of prototypes. I mayaswell order 50 boards which are tried and tested, with small mods on. If the mods don’t work, no loss – the boards still function just as sold.

If they work, AND i can develop the firmware, AND the software then it may add useful features for some people! But, my focus right now is getting the mini version perfect and not any extra features that require a lot of time for me to learn how to enable! If they’re ever enabled, i’ll probably spin them into a SMT only board so I can sell a ready assembled version for a little cheaper than the £60 i’m currently selling for

Also on this one, i’ve fixed the C64 header pin ordering to save people having to make an adaptor cable due to me swapping two columns and putting the rows in reverse!, D’oh!.

Anyways, enough waffle – on with the pictures!

C64 mini keyboard kit keycaps – Rev 6 and 7

Couple of successful prints! Rev 6 – just binging in stuff and hoping it works.

Rev 7 – more scientific and better CAD – all letters are now 0.2mm wider and deeper. This tiny tweak shows spectacularly well just how big a difference small changes can make.

Still some more CAD to do but soo close to final now!

Bottom row and space bar is Rev 7. Top 3 rows are Rev 6
Closeup of the better definition.

And, finally, the print itself. I’ve learned that supports are critical here. Lots of them!

There’s actually as much material here in the supports as there is in the keycaps, but if you scrimp a little and try to reduce the amount, check out the top left of the picture below. I lost the return key and a few smaller keys were taken with it.

This was a calculated ‘risk’ by leaving this section to just have the standard auto generated supports, every other area had super dense supports.

There will be a middle ground, which I’m working on as I’d like to offer these cheaply…less resin used = cheaper to make!

Also, note the rest of the supports. THey are SO EASY to remove. When I offer these keycaps for sale, again to reduce cost, I’ll probably leave them as you see here. Makes for more robust packing and if you decide to paint them, you already have them held down on a convenient stand!

Cured and partly disassembled

Sweet like chocolate! (C64 mini key caps)

Well, experiment 1 worked a treat!

I purchased this pigment from Resin8

https://www.resin8.co.uk/opaque-resin-pigment—rich-brown-9247-p.asp

Added a blob – maybe 1-2ml worth off the end of a lollipop stick

Stirred that in with 150ml (well, about 150g by weight as that’s far easier, and it’s close enough) of Anycubic grey resin

And….

Very happy! Considering this is literally bunging stuff in and seeing what happened.

Still some way to go now to try the other clear resin and white resins, also tweaking the colours

Also have I some distortion issues on these keys but those are under control as there’s a very clear relationship between support structures and distortion/warping and underside finish!

I think I’m on track for a March launch!

Anyone for a Brownie? (C64 Brown!)

Started a print tonight! Version 6 🙂

That colour may not look correct but it’s not intended to be perfect,

I need to iterate this process slowly and scientifically so I can recreate the colour at any time.

Best place to start is from a known working point and changing a single variable at a time to get to where you want to be

Here, I’m starting with the resin I know works – drab grey.

I’m adding an unknown if it works brown pigment just to see what happens!

If that prints, I can try adding black pigment to make it darker brown.

If it doesn’t, I can try using a CMYK mix of colours to make the correct Brown

Once I get that shade, I can try different resin bases to see what gives the best finish! Maybe clear + brown or white +CMYK will do the job!

I’ll be iterating the CAD model and the colouring at the same time!

Hopefully this new CAD model will fix the minor offset issues with the keyboard, shifting all the keys slightly to the right also allowing me to finally reveal a working test fit!

One small thing I picked up when test fitting my first attempt, I’d not perfectly centred the left shift key button and Return buttons on the PCB. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things as hacking your own keycaps doesn’t need perfect alignment on the wider keys, only the 1 wide keys

Where it is annoying though is I can’t correct this error or any keycaps I make now won’t perfectly align on old keyboards! Heh, what’s 1/2mm between friends eh!

All kits posted! (Except for 1 assembled)

If you’ve purchased a kit this past couple of weeks, it’s now been posted.

I’ve only 1 remaining kit to post, but first I have to solder it (Mr L D from Italy, I’ll start it this weekend)

I’m doubling down on keycap development now, hoping to have those ready in time for new stock

Let’s say March 1st to be safe, hopefully a little sooner if parts arrive quicker 🙂

C64 Mini Keyboard Kits – Now awaiting stock

Hi All,

It’s been a rollercoaster few days with the Retro Receipies Youtube video.

I’ve now run out of some components for the C64 Mini keyboard kit. More have been ordered, I’m just waiting on a last few people to send over payment and i’ll pause things for a few weeks until parts arrive.

I’m hoping that the delay also will help some focus to drive the keycap development and a feature change to the PCB

I have to say Thankyou to Perrifractic for reaching out and increasing the profile of this little kit, and that the response has been unexpected. This is a little hobby that I have in my spare time between juggling the bill-paying day job and the wife and kids, it gives me the pocket money to buy more gizmos to help develop these gizmos.

I ordered most of the ‘long lead time’ parts last week, so i’d expect it to now be mid-late february before I can sell more full kits.

Hello!

Just a quick ‘Hi’ to anyone popping in from Retro Recipes!

And, if you’re just browsing here due to something else, go, have a look at Retro Recipes!

Whilst you’re there, go check out my “This Old Tony” style cameo in the video 🙂 ! yes, that’s official, it’s my HOLLYWOOD DEBUT!.

Oh, And it’s a little video about the C64 Mini keyboard kits, and a little reveal!

And, to get in touch, ping an email to KEYBOARDS AT Bleugh.biz

Cheers

Dean

3D printing – UV Curing Resins

Not sure where i’ll be going with this post, but here goes anyway

The CAD work progresses with the C64 mini keyboard keycaps and it’s getting close to the time where I need to be thinking about the end-game, the final product.

I can’t imagine that people will be happy with some watery grey colour, most would prefer at least some semblence to the original breadbin colours!

So, i’ve done some quite considerable googling on the subject

.Also, figured that ‘painted’ stuff used to commonly use the RAL standard to determine a standardised final colour, maybe there’s a RAL colour for commodore keycaps? (there’s one for the case!)

Turns out that finding 3D printer resin in the colour you want, isn’t easy

Also, turns out that creating your own 3D printer resin colour also, isn’t quite fully tried and tested yet

https://formlabs.com/uk/blog/medical-dyeing-coloring-sla/

a fantastic website –

https://www.3dprintedminiature.com/how-do-i-dye-resin-3d-prints/

and, many, many more websites were found, all with various anecodes, photos and information regarding colourant successes and failures

One colourant kit that kept cropping up – https://monocure3d.com.au/product-category/cmyk-pigment-set/?v=322b26af01d5 The Monocure CMYK kit.

So, it looks like if I want to create my own coloured resin, I’ll have to mix it myself.

So, where to start, and what ‘stuff’ to use to dye it?

Turns out that there’s a distinct terminology that may need to be used to figure out just what the process of colouring resin is.

https://letsresin.com/blogs/articles/epoxy-pigment-guide-what-is-a-pigment-in-resin-art

has an interesting summary.

However, for my purposes of colouring the resin..

If I use a Dye – the colours will likley be a little more ‘washed out’

so, i’ll need to use a Pigment – essentially an insoluble bunch of micro particles that sit in suspension in the resin and create a solid, opaque colour! – AKA Dark brown.

So, off to google to figure out Pigments

There’s pigments for Casting resins, Resins, Acrylics, everything…..Except, a clearly stated pigment that’s suitable for 3D printer resin!

Infact, just what is 3D printer resin? what chemicals

I found this website which goes into some depth about resin types

Also found another website that does resin pigments in a range of RAL colours

BUT, they go on about Polyester, epoxy, and I’ve no idea if those things are compatible with the Anycubic resin i’m using

Another google and, I come up with a chemicals safety sheet for some Anycubic resins –

Listed there is a key component – which ends in “acrylate” and “diacrylate”…

so, looks like it’s an acrylic / acrylate based resin? can’t say i’m a chemistry expert but an Acrylate is a group of chemicals, so i’ll run with that

I need to look for pigments suitable for use in Acrylates!

But, err, is it an Acrylated Epoxy, or an Acrylated polyester, or even something else?

2-hydroxy-1-(4-(4-(2-hydroxy-2-methylpropionyl)benzyl)phenyl)-2-methylpropan-1-one is part of it!

Still clueless

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/22019754#section=Depositor-Supplied-Patent-Identifiers

has some amazing information, including use in photosensitive resins

I’ve found a few websites that suggest urethrane acrylates are the go for UV resins

or, is it Acrylate polymers, or Epoxy Polymers!…….I’m leaning away from epoxy

SO, here goes – a quick google for Acrylate Polymer Pigment

I give up!. I’m just gonna buy a couple of bottles of ‘stuff’ and just see what works, This stuff seems to be recommended, and cheap, it’s brown and dyes resin, what can go wrong!

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 – Scrrew it.

Had to admit, the failure of the Beta 9 got to me a little bit. Took me a couple of days to take stock, stand back and think.

After much thinking, about life, being married, kids and generally having to work hard at a day job, remembering about that one time where that bloke ripped you off, Postulating how things can build up and get to you to the point where you just think that getting screwed and having your balls in a vice would be more preferable………..

You can come to yet another epiphany!….Screw it and put the Balls, in a vice.

I present to you……..The precursor to the release candidate for the production version….Err

Continue reading “Super LED Blinkenator 2000 – Scrrew it.”

The Balls don’t really work :-( [EDIT – Now they do!]

D’oh!, Blinkenator Beta 9 board arrived. Powers up just fine and works ok too

BUT….I Can’t seem to get quite enough clamping force with the balls between the PCB’s to get a reliable I2c connection.

Surprisingly, as the power is closer to the edge of the connector, it powers up reliably, 100% of the time! the I2c is right at the centre where the most flex is, so makes the least contact……

If I really press hard, it works a treat.

Couple of possible options open now

1 – Something very stiff jammed inside and use the case itself to press against the board (I don’t like this)

2 – Some other, softer conductive metal thing

3 – yet another redesign (TM) – I have some ideas, but i’m concerned at the spring forces required to obtain a contact

4- give up on a ‘solderless’ design. – I’m trying hard to not alienate a bunch of people by requiring soldering, but at some point I may need to call it quits. With the new VAT rules kicking in, more parcels are being charged VAT and handling…prototyping has gone up by 25%!

Just a quick update to say I’m still working on it

C64 Mini – Cheap and easy keycap ‘solution’

It’s taking ages to get progress on the 3D printed keycaps, I’m so close, but still have a few months of tweaking until I get it perfect enough to consider it a saleable item. watch this space 🙂

In the interim, I went and purchased a bunch of these

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001616660795.html?spm=a2g0s.9042311.0.0.27424c4dI4vhMo

They’re a “100Pcs A28 Tactile Push Button Switch Cap 6*5.1mm Applies to 5.8*5.8 7*7 8*8 8.5*8.5 Self-Locking Switch Button Cap”

And, judge for yourself……

Old school!

Err.

Well, it’s more comfortable than nothing, and certainly opens up some options for unusual keyboards in the future 😛

yes, it’s not perfect, BUT for £1.68 you can have non painful pokey bits and actually do a reasonable job of typing on basic

or, splash out £3.36 and go for a dual colour like I did 😛

BONUS PRIZE TIME………………..[edit, grabbed by someone! ]

THE first person to order a kit and mention that they want these keycaps, I’ll chuck in a set of grey/black ones as pictured for nothing – I purchased enough to do properly do 2.5 keyboards, or 3 if you don’t mind a mix / match of black and grey!

Note, if you’re ordering your own keycaps off aliexpress, the internal dimension is key here, they fit, you can go a little smaller

the absolute maximum external dimension is 9mm, this leaves about 0.48mm clearance between keycaps.

Woo, Featured on Retro Recepies youtube!

That’s right, A few of you found me from Mr Perri Fractic’s channel on Youtube

The Video, 27 minutes in!, ME!!

There’ll be a little more coming up i’ve been told!

Highly recommend if you like anything slightly retro, give his channel a watch, superb production quality to it, great sense of humour and , generally seems to be a lovely chap that really brings out your inner childhood enthusiams for these weird old gadgets that a lot of us love.

Also, he’s getting close to 100,000 subscribers, so definitely is doing something right

Thanks Mr Fractic!

C64 Mini keycaps, Bleugh’s Log, date 12012021….second print!

This one went well 🙂

Note, the intentional ‘stone effect’ finish 😉

Most people would say this was caused by an over excited person, whom, upon waking early and discovering the complete print decided to not follow the correct drying / washing procedures in order to get it finished quickly!

I, err, disagree…

Either way, I now have a firm grasp of changes needed to the CAD model and also the supports needed in the slicer.

Those changes are fairly substantial, so I expect it’ll be a little while for my next update, happy to document them also if anyone’s interested.

Freshly dried and washed
Perfect size
A quick comparison

Keycaps progress! Still a long way to go….

Hot off the printer!
Somehow I lost the E again

Wow! An exciting day today.

After quite some nervous trepidation, I finally shoved some resin into the printer and achieved my first ever resin print.

And, amazingly, some stuff worked! Significantly more than I’d expected to work actually.

I’ve been quite ‘scared’ of actually starting a print, I‘ve read too much about toxicity and fumes, which aren’t things you want with two young kids.

Well, I spent a couple of hours doing some final reading, and setting up on the dining room table. Levelled the bed, levelled it again. Shoved in the resin and…a Spectacular success for me!

I know the print failed mainly due to poor supports, some text is also too fine. Both were concerns with the cad and the slicer and easily fixed 🙂 there’s probably a dozen other issues I’ve not found yet also (it’s been 30 minutes since I wash and cured them fresh off the printer)

Next step, iterating, optimising . It could be done in a few weeks at print 3, it could be print 10 and take a few months , but now I’m over the first hurdle, onwards and upwards!!

Here’s looking at U

LED’s! More! MORE…next year’s Xmas display.

That’s 1000 WS2811, IP68 LED’s with about 9cm spacing in strings of 50.

Or, roughly enough to cover a 4 meter by 1.5 meter area.

I’ll need maybe 6 of them to cover the house frontage

50mA per LED…6000 LED’s…that’s gonna be 300 Amps at 5V. Sounds a lot but that’s maybe 3KW , fine from a domestic plug here in Blighty.

The plan. A house sized, low resolution TV

C64 Mini Keycaps – Xmas CAD Milestone!

Doesn’t look like much. BUT

They’re all now working! I just need to tweak only 10 keys settings to significantly alter the entire keyboard – those 10 parent keys are copied through the rows

And I can now also alter all keyswitch holes simultaneously by changing two parameters.

Next step, latching mechanism in the holes (a small, sticky outy lump) and then figuring out how to print it!

Underside Wireframe view of the Return Key
Wireframe view showing the F Key Geometry

Quick post to thank JLCPCB

JLCPCB have a fairly nice facebook group , and along with their EASYEDA group have done quite a bit to really get hobbyists producing PCB’s

Recently they reached out to me, having read through a lot of the waffle on these here pages and offered a small gesture of thanks for giving them a mention in the past, and, right now also.

so, in return, i’ll write even more about them 🙂 and, how I discovered them!

Back a couple of years ago, when wanting to make my first PCB for couple of decades, I tried KICAD, EAGLE, and a few other ‘free’ software packages. nothing was quite as easy as PROTEUS and , back then , LISA that I used in the mid 90’s in University. I’d resigned myself to a fairly intimidating hill to climb to get back into things…..

Then I found EASYEDA !. I knocked out my first ever PCB – the SpeccyPi, i’ll find it and post about it at some point.

EASYEDA seems to be a tool developed by both JLCPCB and LCSC to help people to purchase their products. i.e. both websites are quite well tied in for a simple ‘design, click, order’ solution. For us hobbyists, it really is a combination of ‘dream come true’ enablers.

Haven’t looked back since. I’m still using EASYEDA, because, like me, it’s quite simple and really works well.

JLCPCB have made almost all of my hobby PCB’s, have done a fantastic job with SMT assembly on my later PCB’s – with their partner site – LCSC , they offer an unmatched value for someone who’s a bit lazy and just wants a ‘1 click’ solution to ordering SMT populated PCB’s.

Really, if you are still using breadboard for your ‘production’ hackery, fire up EASYEDA quickly, bung a few components in, wait a week or two and marvel at your professionally looking PCB inside your widget. it’s shockingly addictive.

if you’re even slightly intimidated by SMT stuff – Fire up the JLCPCB website

do a quick search for resistor

select library type, basic

https://jlcpcb.com/parts/componentSearch?searchTxt=resistor

and see what’s avaialable!

That’s enough gushing!, give them a go!

I’m using them for my C64 mini keyboard kit, the Super LED Blinkenator 2000 and the Djordie’s joystick upgradenator!.

C64 Mini Keyboard – Small bit of Keycap Progress

It’s going to be a while yet, but I’ve finally fixed some long standing issues with the keyboard model i’ve been building in Fusion360

Doesn’t look like much!?

The main issue was a badly created model!. I’ve junked quite a lot and started back prior to when some odd dependencies crept in and really put some roadblocks on scaling things correctly and adding finishing touches.

But, it’s been worth it

That previous picture is the underside of the Keyboard – Those holes in the keys are 2.2 x 2.8 holes. it’s a first run at fitting the key switches into the keycaps. a lot more iteration needed to hollow it out a little and create some form of inbuilt snap-fit with stress relief, but…it’s a start!

The silver / grey keys over on the left are the ‘parent’ keys

If I make an update to the curves or size of a parent key – it rolls out to all the same sized keys in its row

if I need to iterate the hole size for the key switches, I simply change a few parameters for the hole size and it rolls out to all the keys in one go.

I’ve taken so long to develop it parametrically as it’ll now be so much quicker to iterate

Lots of parameters to change!

and, here’s a new render!……..going to spend the next few weeks iterating, and hopefully over Christmas , fire up the resin 3D printer for the first time!

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – Contents

Just realised that it’s not easy to find an image to show what’s in a kit.

Here goes


what you need to add;

  • YOUR OWN KEYCAPS – Freshly butchered
  • plaster of paris / silicon for the mould
  • Solder
  • Glue

What’s In the Kit

  • 1 pre programmed arduino pro micro with headers
  • 70 normal switches
  • 1 locking switch
  • 70 diodes
  • 1 PCB
  • 1 USB hub
  • 1 4 core wire
  • 2 short USB cables one of which you cut the end off if you want, or cut / reuse the USB hub one)
  • 4 Screws (to help align the mould)
  • 1 3D printed plastic mould / jig to create a mould to put your keycaps on straight
  • 2 small pieces of heat shrink tubing

C64 Mini not included, but this is what yours will look like once you’ve assembled the kit

Coming at some point in the future (late 2021 at this rate) – 3D, resin printed Keycaps!