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………………..

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!

Interesting new kickstarter – Pi on a PCB in a speccy!

Back a few years ago, I ventured into making my first PCB in over 2 decades. it was motherboard to hold a raspberry pi zero, and fit within a zx spectrum case.

it was inspired a little by an article in MAGPI magazine by a Mr P J evans.

I did kind of goof it up a bit, so relegated that to the ‘ideas to do in the future’ drawer

Whilst perusing Kickstarter today, I found this –

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hermitretro/hermit-retro-zx-spectrum-board?ref=thanks-copy

The Hermit Retro ZX Spectrum Board

A custom board for original and reproduction ZX Spectrum cases powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero and the Fuse emulator

So I backed it!

Have a look 🙂

it’s a far more elegant solution than I came up with.

Something Old, Something new. Joystick Upgrade!

Some time ago, I ordered a Joystick from Retroradionics.

In Transparent Black! Has a few nice features, such as Autofire on two buttons, and togglable mode for C64 or Atari for example.

Inside, there’s a PCB that looks quite bare

So, I did gone glitz it up a little.
I figured that a joystick could do with some LED’s, there’s plenty of space inside for big ones!

and, maybe it could have some extra functionality

I started here – Knocking up a schematic – this is maybe rev 20!

So, after knocking up a schematic, I measured up and drew a PCB , well, had a little help from the developer of the joystick who sent me some dimensions of his PCB to get started with!

Always print 1:1 before ordering!
Continue reading “Something Old, Something new. Joystick Upgrade!”

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 – Beta 8 Ordered

Been a busy few weeks here at Bleugh.Biz industries, working ridiculous hours at my day job, keeping kids from murdering each other during the evenings……But, i’ve been getting some good tinkering time in.

Some very good progress has been made! – and this is the board that’ll hopefully, finally, once and forever physically fit perfectly

Some Notable changes

  • Balls! – A revised J15 connection method that’ll provide a simple and very robust connection method
  • Spacings – The holes for the LED inserts have been altered a little to allow easier assembly. It’s still mildly fiddly but easy enough.
  • Fixtures – The J15 are has now two horizontal slices cut into it – this provides a spring mechanism for the balls. it helps to PCB distortion locally without warping all of the board from Next PCB to inserts
  • Holes – The whole board is now held with press fit type connection. The two screws holding the Next PCB are removed and replaced with two new ones. this holds the Blinkenator board to the next PCB and the Next PCB to the case. The two holes for the screws have been changed to 5mm!
  • Positions – The JST style connectors have been re-located and changed from Right angle to Vertical. Now the board’s mounted above the next board there’s plenty of space underneath. The path from the Arduino USB connector is now also free so you can tuck a cable into the board permanently
  • LED’s – Moar Bling! Each insert location now has a LED colour on the main board. No real purpose other than to look great and provide the end users with some assurance that the board is powered up when they do their first tests with a USB cable outside of the Next
  • ESP-01 – CPU_RST has been changed to a JST style connector to make ease of fitting. This whole feature is still highly experimental and may not make it into final production (if it doesn’t work, there’d be no point!)
  • Inserts – There’s now a 0.56mm gap between the jumpers – to fit a 0.6mm wide PCB!. makes a nice snug fit. and easy also to work with – simply trial fit once when you receive your board, that’ll loosen them up. remove and re-fit into the Next
  • Jumpers – Lots of experimental jumpers! GPIO to arduino, TX/RX to arduino, DB+ integration enabling / passthrough…….and some secret sauce also
  • THICKNESS – The board’s back to a phat 1.6mm thick. this provides significant stability to the jumpers that hold the inserts in place. Much easier to repeatedly get them soldered straight when assembling
  • Components – The whole board’s been rationalised for component price – and where possible using @JLCPCB’s BASIC library – that saves quite some amount in production prices as non Basic items incurr an engineering fee per component. Previously 3/4 the components were Extended, now 3/4 are Basic!
  • Silkscreen – Tidied up and made a bit more slick……..

I’m sure there’s a few more changes i’ve missed, but that’s the important stuff.

Where from here……….IF this last board plugs in, fits well, i’ll be sending out to the key Dev team. I can then kick back, relax a little and start again playing with the software side of things, Both Next side and Arduino side!.

I’ll eventually also need to consider switching over the whole board to SMT, or as much as possible. I’m not that daunted by this as there’s quite a number of ways this can be achieved, including just putting the 32U4 straight on-board, or considering changing the micro type entirely. After all, the main reason i’m using a 32u4 is that it’s cheap, Arduino compatible, has USB built in. All those things give a great ‘dev board’ capability that people can use to simply plug in and tweak!

Another C64 Mini keyboard kit success

A very talented Hans Liss from the Facebook group – TheC64 Mini has make a perfect assembled kit.

Drool over the photos below

Note the extras like the hacked up USB hub to make it slimline

The Extra UART connector that he’s added, and the nigh on perfect Keybaord keycap butchery!

Hans also helped by pointing out a few errors i’ve made with the original firmware sent out with the kits. I spent a couple of weeks figuring out how to fix it and have a new HEX file for those that want it.

There’s still some ‘not quite exactly commodore’ quirkery happening – which i’m working on, but i’ll bet that 99% of you won’t be able to figure it out. I’ve only found out due to Hans’s extensive knowledge of the C64 inner workings and also me, downloading the original user manual for the Commodore 64.

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – New Firmware available

New Firmware upgrade available

It’s been an intense and frustrating few months trying to figure out QMK in spare time here and there – today, something ‘clicked’ and…..I’ve made a new keymap.

Please email me – KEYBOARD AT BLEUGH DOT BIZ for a new HEX file. also happy to help you flashing the thing with the Arduino IDE (it’s quite easy!)

Why I developed a new keymap

A couple of users have reported that the key mapping is a little wrong when plugged into the mini.

By ‘key mapping’ it means, when you press a key, or combination of keys, you don’t get the character that’s shown on the keycap.

Most people will know this if they’ve ever used a US keyboard on a UK computer or vice versa, that Shift and 2 gets annoying after a while when you’re trying for the @ sign!

So, I’ve dun fixed those minor niggles that people observed….AND, i’ve gone and added quite a bit more!

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – New Firmware available”

Anycubic Photon Mono Teardown 3

Only some thoughts on this one –

The PCB inside the Mono looks to be a custom PCB.

However, it’s widely known that Anycubic uses Chitu Systems drivers and panels

When I cracked open the Mono – I found really only 3 chips of significance…

An ANLOGIC FPGA – EF2L45LG144B –

and

GD32F307 Arm Cortex M4 controller

Having a nose around ChiTu’s website found this little device – The ChiTu L M1

https://home.cbd-3d.com/hardware/controller-board/chitu-l-m18-9-4k-monochrome/

Link to User Manual –

Have a look at page 12 / 73 and what do you spot ? – Item 8 – an ANOLOGIC EL2F Series FPGA Chip!!

AND….an STM32F407ZET6

Cortex®-M4 32-bit RISC core operating at a frequency of up to 168 MHz.

Sound familiar?

GD32F307 Arm Cortex M4 controller – Cortex®-M4 Core @ 120 MHz

What this means? – No idea 😛

BUT, what this could mean…

1- The Anycubic Photon Mono board is possibly capable of using a 4K LCD

also, i’ve spotted that Chitu systems sells an ESP8266 module specifically for their boards – it could be that Anycubic plans on selling their own, or just goofed up with the polarity of the header on the board!

And, finally, after all the above, that i’m going to publish anyway, i’ve also spotted

https://shop.cbd-3d.com/product/chitu-l-k1-controller-board-with-32bit-tmc2209-for-lcd-msla-3d-printer/

Which looks practically identical, also has the FPGA and the ARM board and is only 2k!, D’oh!

TheC64 mini Keybaord kit – a successful first build by a user

Batches 4 and 5 have started arriving! Here’s some pictures from a happy user who only received it a couple of days ago 🙂

Great soldering job 🙂

Good soldering job on the rear too.
Great use of the heat shrink to tidy the invisible mod up!

Anycubic Photon Mono Teardown – Part 1

A first look at the guts

I got myself a Resin Printer!

So, Naturally, before printing with it, I attack it with a screwdriver – or hex driver in this case……..

Here’s the first tear-down and initial dismantling of the brand new Anycubic Monochrome Resin Printer

Here’s the light source

And, some more photos..

Continue reading “Anycubic Photon Mono Teardown – Part 1”