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]

Blinkenator – July Edition

Ordered the last design in yellow and it fits!

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

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

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

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 Stuff –

Sorry for a lack of News of late…….

Have been having a little bit of a creative Block with the Blinkenator. It’s a typical story where ‘something shiny’ has been spotted and has been taking up the small chunks of time I’d normally allocate to this stuff.

I’m awaiting on those Pogo pins to test the next revision…….But, have also seriously re-thought the programminator / tester device…….And, we have what you see above

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

The Plan.

40 Pin Raspberry Pi connector will allow some ‘playing’ around with the ESP device, and programming of the Arduino. I’ll need to figure out exactly how to write the software to do it- but, there’s dozens of tutorials out there so i’m confident.

Programming could also be done via a standard 6 or 10 pin ICSP device (that can be bought for a few quid off Ebay) directly on the blinkenator itself, or via the 9 pin connector at the bottom – which breaks out to the Programminator.

The Programminator also utilises the J15 connector of the Blinkenator – This should be a great way of testing the new Pogo pins connections as my Specnext J15 is fairly well shot

There’s 2 new holes – 57mm spaced (same as a Raspberry Pi!) which can sit standoffs which match the positioning on the programminator (rasperry pi footprint)

Took quite a while to get this far – now at least you should be able to see the LED’s doing their stuff whilst connected to a Pi and a test board!

June 2021 Revision of the Blinkenator

I’m very close now to getting this new board done as a BETA….next step is to print out, test fit and tweak

In other Interesting news, JLCPCB ‘s NEW version of EasyEDA exports OBJ files! I’ve literally just discovered that you can EXPORT a 3D model of your PCB.

That’s a game changer!

A quick Bodge-up with Microsoft 3D Builder

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

Assemble your bits – whack ‘print’ and, send to a 3D printer. Or put into your favourite slicer program and do the same – I’ll have a little bit more of a play tomorrow – it’s 11PM now. Now, to use the Resin printer or the Filament one 🙂

Oh, as for the ‘something shiny’ that’s come along…..Checking the logs in Fusion360, I started back on the 8th February. Since then I’ve easily spent 200+ hours editing, tweaking, Learning. I made the first 3D print last week. There will be many more prints till it’s ‘final’ .

There’ll be a few versions of electronics inside, Basic version will likley be some type of Raspberry Pi – Compute Module , A design is well underway. I’m also possibly thinking of dabbling in FPGA, though a 6 layer double sided PCB is a bit daunting, I’m designing one anyway after gaining a big bit of help from someone who’s already familiar with FPGA’s

I’m being vague as I really don’t know where this one’s going. I’ll need to show this publicly, once it’s done and then see what occurs. I’ll need a new, larger resin printer for sure if it takes off though, it uses the entire build volume of my Anycubic Photon Mono printing off the two larger pieces at an angle!

Super LED Blinkenator 2000 (never ending story edition)

I’m still trying to make this darn thing solderless….and, I have possibly a lead, which ain’t cheap…but will allow me to offer two versions.

Those gold things are pogo pins. But, slightly less common ones with a 1.2mm diameter pin part. This should sit quite nicely into the Next’s 1mm holes in J15…..except in my excitement, I forgot about that darn keyboard connector!

Using these requires yet another redesign, but a relatively minor one that only needs the connector stuff soldered on the reverse of the PCB…

On the plus side, this could make end user fitting of the inserts a little easier 🙂

As for ‘expensive’ – those pogo pins are around £1 each and at least 6 will be needed, more if the wifi relocation is used!

Moar Heroquest!

Painted the secret door tile.

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

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

Soooo much more detail!

Nerdy Stuff Part Deux – Heroquest

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

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

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

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

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

Now up on the Thingiverse – HERE

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 🙂

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

BETA 12….ALMOST IDENTICAL TO BETA 11

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

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

The Clampinator

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

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

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

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

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

Another Member – The Programminator

Glorified serial to USB convertor

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

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

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

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

Blinkenator – Beta 11

Have had quite a few ‘spare’ hours to tinker these past few weeks. Finally have gotten over a little bit of a hill and put some development time back into the SUPER LED BLINKENATOR 2000

Thanks to some fellow hardware developers for keeping me sane!.

The changes to this board – Mainly switching from a soldered on Arduino Pro Micro to using a discreet Atmega328p chip which is commonly found in the Arduino Pro Mini

My previous choice of Micro was mainly driven by attempting economies of scale and using the same one for the C64 Mini keyboard kit as this. Also, a desire to allow people to ‘program up’ their own Blinkenator board – The Atmega32u4 is a bit of an overkill for a handful of LED’s though. Importantly also, prices of arduinos have risen quite a bit since Brexit . Changing to a chip saves easily 60% in hardware costs over the soldered on Arduino, it also saves a handful of minutes in soldering!

It does introduce a little more complexity – I now need to figure out how to ICSP – In Circuit Serial Programmin works as i’ll need to burn an Arduino bootloader to each one.

I’ll also need to develop (or modify) a Programmer to allow a more day-day use of the device over UART to USB

Next step, port the Blinkenator to the 328p, test, if it works, Order Beta11

Oh, the Ball clamps are working superbly, just gotta be careful of feature creep on that clampinator board now!

oh, probably will look at swapping the JST connector footprints to SMT – would be nice if I can have just the

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

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.