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]

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)”

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 🙂

Keycaps pictures

A quick post to show the keycaps being sent.

There’s no painting,

The letters are recessed into the keycaps and are very legible.

I’m working out postage costs as right now they’re still large letter in size here in the UK.

I probably won’t ship all of them them ‘on the supports’ as that doubles the weight

To fit them you just clip them onto your key switches

Example of a B Grade Set – note the blemishes on the F Keys
An example of an A Grade set – no obvious blemishes

Painting. I haven’t been able to find an effective way to do that my end. A few suggestions have come in, maybe White clay would work well finished with laquer.

C64 Mini Keyboard kits stock – First emails being sent out

Hi All,

I’ve now packed up 10 kits ready to be shipped and have emailed the first 10 people on the waiting list.

It’s been an expensive couple of months with the bad PCB’s and wrong arduinos, but, payday at the day job was two days ago, so i’ve already ordered enough additional parts to make everyone happy within a few weeks

I’ll work may way up through the waiting list and let you all know when I can finally make general stock available.

C64 upMini Keyboard kit – stock coming shortly

My New PCB’s will be here today! DHL shipping is expensive, but great when you need stuff quickly!

What this means – I should have general stock next week.

Timeline – I’ll get a test board built up this week. if that works, I’ll email out everyone who expressed an interest.

I’ll get everything kitted up through the week (time permitting) so I can get some posted this weekend.

The rest of the weekend will be spent kitting up everything I have so I can start selling again.

Sorry for the delay guys (and gals). Been a perfect storm of wrong components sent, big customs delays, non-functional PCB’s. I thought the ‘march’ timeline was generous and had plenty of padding in for worst case.

For general availability, i’ll be reviewing the price. Most things have gone up by over 20% in general (Brexit, Yaay), some have come down, and i’ve made some optimisations. These projects aren’t a get rich quick scheme for me, they’re just a way for me to get funds together to buy more tools and things to make more projects! It’s pretty much a cost neutral hobby 😛

One final update – Keycaps. I’ve started manufacturing and at the time of typing, I have sent out a few test items to kit owners. I’ll await some feedback before I can hit ‘go’ and make more.

Those are just some of the prints i’ve had to do to get to where I am now. This isn’t representative of the typical resin printing workflow. its generally a bit easier than this, BUT, I had to start from scratch, learning how to do everything, including stuff that hasn’t been done by others. AND I needed the base level print to be ‘perfect’ to avoid the need to paint them. There’s over 80 hours of actual printing time in this picture, on top of that, there’s the cleanup time, CAD time, setup time….these are the ‘successful’ failures, there’s almost as much again that i’ve binned due to total failures, where keycaps were unusuable for anything, not even experiments (as these ones have been used for). fortunatley most of those failures were caught early to avoid too much wasted resin….but when I get only 1 chance in the evenings on some days to quickly iterate, get the printer going, 1 failure can set me back a few days.

Anyways, now i’ve finalised everything……..

I’ve used an entire bottle of resin over the last couple of weeks making test manufacturing prints back to back to tune the process, changing nothing, just print, print, print… By that, I mean, it’s…

  • Print
  • Remove Print, clean up
  • top up resin
  • print
  • Cure cleaned up print
  • repeat until bottle is empty

I’m now at about 70% success rate for good saleable keycaps. the other 20% have minor blotches or surface uniformity issues, so i’ll sell those discounted for those that are interested. I’m still getting about 1 in 1o that can’t be used in any way.

Good enough, and i’m sure i’ll get better as time goes on. Each print takes 6.5 hours – slow, but reliable and a 25uM layer height so about as good as it gets on resin printing for surface finish.

Each print also takes another 30 minutes or so to ‘turn around’ –

  • Remove from bed
  • clean bed
  • set printer up again to print the next item
  • clean print (1 minute soak in IPA, then 5 minutes in ultrasonic bath then another couple of minutes under a warm running tap)
  • Dry Print – This is critical to good finishes. Some are taking up to 3 days, overnight in cardboard boxes near the radiator. I need to do a few checks in that time to ‘dab off’ excess moisture that leeches out of the print. Any moisture left on the tops of the keycaps alters the surface finish.
  • Cure print – this takes time also. I’ve found using UV lights (wash and cure station) warps the keys more often than not. Once the caps are dry, I leave them a couple of days in the conservatory. After that, i’ll blast them for a few minutes under UV light to finish the curing
  • Then it’s pack them up ready for posting!

And, Pack some up, ready for posting I have! I’ve done a mix of ‘on the supports’ and ‘loose in bags’ to see how these things go. I’ve posted a couple to myself via friends overseas to see if they survive!. once I know what i’m doing is working, I’ll make them available for sale!

8 sets of keycaps ready to go, waiting feedback from testers before I can ship!

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – Progress on stock

Hi All,

Quick update –

Arduino’s are still stuck in Limbo. I received 50 incorrect ones a long while back, ordered another 50 and they’ve been stuck somewhere in the UK for a couple of weeks now. I did order 10 locally at about 2x the price I normally pay to work through some of the waiting list, but that exhaused my supply of PCB’s

So, I ordered back at the beginning of February some more PCB’s

They arrived yesterday, and, I quickly soldered one up to test, so I can start ‘kitting up’ the keyboard kits.

I may have discovered an issue with the way that i’m Using EASYEDA, which has recently shown up in an EASYEDA update….it could be a bug, or a behaviour change, but, it’s B0rked my PCB!

This will set back the kit availability a couple of weeks whilst I address it and get new boards made. I know what the issue is, I can re-create it and have a work around to order more PCB’s so it’s no major worry

Here’s the C64 Keybaord matrix that i’m using. I’ve always used number prefixes for the number keys. i.e. if it’s A, I’ve used the PREFIX A, 1, Prefix 1, etc , etc.

Something changed in EASYEDA a couple of months ago which now means that Prefixes with a single digit number now all seem to tie their nets together.

Here’s the resulting PCB – Note, the nets for the centre pins are all the same!

I didn’t spot this in the one that I just had made! and despite the thoroughly heroic efforts of the JLCPCB staff to fix a couple of cockups i’d made , I have to now trash this batch .

Here’s what happens when I select the Net – ALL the numbers light up as they’re all connected!. oops

Ah well, off to learn a little more about EASYEDA, quite an expensive mistake though, but this shows why, when you make changes, testing is important.

You can imagine how amused I was when I discovered that EVERY key worked on my board, except the number keys, which only typed 0 or 9 !

In other news – I purchased one of these

An Ultrasonic Cleaner – Dual Frequency 28KHz and 40KHz. I’ll do another post about it later.

All i can say now is WOW – No need for the wash and cure station now! – this thing superbly and consistently cleans the prints, giving a good surface finish. Prior to this, it was impossible to get a good finish on every key, every time. Now, i’m 4 prints in , and 3 are perfect, 1 is crap due to over-cleaning! I’m dialled in and ready for production

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!

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!

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!

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!

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

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

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!

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”