A500 Mini Keyboard – D’oh! More work needed

Nah, that looks crap.

Well, that’s a wrap for idea 1 – concept was ok enough, but…it’s no-where near good enough for a production run.

After half a dozen trial prints and practice fittings, I’m heading down another path.

The Many faults include

Keys fitting poorly to switches.

Keys not fitting on switches straight

Keys just not fitting onto switches at all

The attached picture sums it up really.

All is not lost however. This is something I had to trial, if it worked, it would have been cheaper and awesome.

I have a few ideas up my sleeve…My next option is right now, considerably more expensive, but has been underway for a few weeks now, I’ll reveal a bit more once the process is done.

On the plus side, the keycaps look great in Amiga Beige! – I’ll work on the darker caps another time.

The PCB layout works great, firmware works, so, really, it’s down to the thing that always was going to be an issue, the switches!

A500 Mini – part 8 – partly working keycaps and a small PCB reveal

First working keyboard keycaps are off the printer!
Only this bit to show as most of the print failed 😛

Well,, 3 prints failed, I’m trying to learn how to use my Photon Mono-X, so far mostly unsuccessfully, these were printed using a known good combination of Photon Mono and Commodore Brown resin 🙂 ….and still it partly failed!!

Next, I have to optimise the design for printing.
I’d added some features to make them work better, but, those features don’t translate to printing very well, D’oh! (That’s called not doing Design For Manufacture!).

Resin printing can be a hard beast to tame, especially when printing 94/98 individual items (98 if I can two keyboard types!!)

This first print is literally an ‘auto supports, Jab a few extras on, hope for the best’ quick test to prove the mechanics.
When the design is finished,
I’ll need to spend a couple of solid DAYS (maybe a weeks worth of evenings) adding thousands of supports MANUALLY to ensure every keycap comes off the print perfect!

That sounds a lot, but printing a single item is different than printing the same item hundreds of times, so it’s really worth the up front investment in time.

And, speaking of time, I’ve just clocked about 600 hours evenings and weekends, on this project now 😛

I’m rather happy otherwise, next week, I should have a full working keybaord to demonstrate 🙂

Another failure
Another failure!

And, the reveal, part 2

It’s here!!!!

A500 Mini II Part 7 – other ‘stuff’

Along the way, I’ve been tweaking some other bits – The Real miniature fake USB Floppy disc is progressing nicely

IT FITS!!

I’m on the second design of the 3D Printed insert, this will hold the USB PCB and also be the interface and guide rails for the floppy.

I’ve also received my memory solution for the discs, it fits superbly! – it can be seen in the badly printed / broken green area. The dimensions are exactly the same as the 3D print i’ve put in

I’ve also purchased some silver brushed effect sticky foil so I can re-create that beloved silver cover….and even have created the label ready to cut out on my dusty KNK ZING vinyl cutter thingy. Hopefully I can make the adhesive sticky enough!

A Floppy fits in the drive!
Tiny

The silver ‘label’

I’ve also started stocking up on Printer resin, ordered a load of sample parts from Aliexpress, test fitted PCB’s…..started on box design, started tweaking firmware, there’s dozens of tasks to do!

A500 Mini II Part 6 – past the half way mark! – keycaps

Quite a lot of progress, but it doesn’t look like a lot of progress.

Firstly, I’ve had to re-do most of the keyboard CAD – I simply didn’t like the ‘blocky’ effect of the wider topped keycaps I’d created – as you can see below they look a lot more square in real life than they did in CAD…

I’ve now clocked well over 200 hours developing this set of keycaps, likley there’s going to be tens more tweaking / optimising!

So, along with the less blocky (more slopey) keys, I’d discovered my workflow in CAD had created tapered keys – the tops when viewed from above look like parallelograms, wheras the original Amiga had more square keys – it was quite a lot of work to alter this – see the parts below by the red arrows – the bottom bit is in towards the middle more than the top bit.

Tops not parallel with bottoms
Tops are parallel with bottoms
Continue reading “A500 Mini II Part 6 – past the half way mark! – keycaps”

A500 Mini Keyboardification Chapter two, part 4 – Moar CAD

Have been tweaking things over and over, I’m now finally ready to…….

3D Print a sample!
And, the complete thing

I think there’s going to be a few people out there actually using this keyboard in anger, so i’ve widened the keyswitch tops a little and added larger fonts to make it easier for someone to fill in some colour if they chose to do so.

Some other progress –

The Floppy Disc insert! – a FULL scale floppy disc fits well

I’ve refined the floppy disc insert thingy – I really think I can make this work – lots of parts on order so i’ll iterate this design over the coming weeks. I’ll do the first prints of the plug in module soon

Alternate View – with the Clamp PCB in black, the A500Mini PCB in green

Speaking of prints….

I knocked up a few of the mini-Floppies. Printed in various orientations to see if it’s even possible to do these. The best print is the angled one..Turns out, it’s going to be tricky as can be seen from the various failures above. Have re-designed a little and will run off some more sample prints soon. The supports on this one will be critical and hopefully not so wasteful as the C64mini keycaps were.

And, almost finally –

Here’s a collection of ‘stuff’ rendered so far. The Keyboard PCB is unfortunatley upside down – due to the way I started modelling stuff, no big deal but makes the renders look odd. The case slopes don’t need to be modelled (at this time) so i’ve just left them flat for now.

There’s loads of parts waiting to arrive in the post, but there’s also loads I can be getting on with, not just on this project, but on numerous others also!

A500 Mini Keyboardification Chapter two, part 3 – PCB’s

I’ve spent a couple of days designing, and and a today, spent nearly a hundred quid at JLCPCB ordering a bunch of prototypes

The first revision of the Keyboard PCB
First ‘space sample’ of the top mounting board.
Floppy Disc Micro SD card holder!
Rear of the floppy discc.

I had to bite the bullet and spend some money as I now need to move on with the Keycap CAD. I have a big concern about the fitting of the printed keycaps onto the smaller switches. I’ve gone with ALPS switches as they used to be a huge brand name back in the day and i’m hoping should provide some consitency.

The prototypes will help also to test and develop the PRK Firmware i’m planning to use.

The ‘Clamp’ adaptor is fairly non-functional. It has a Rasperry Pi Pico footprint onboard and a 40 pin FPC style connector to act as a ‘stand-in’ for the Raspberry pi Pico which is currently on the back of the main PCB.

The whole idea of the ‘clamp board’ is to allow an ‘ease’ of installation – I’ll use some Pogo Pins to sit on the test pads by the 3 USB sockets on the back of the A500 Main board.

The plan is to have a basic matrix keyboard PCB, which connects to the clamp board via the 40 pin FPC.

The clamp then accesses the USB and hopefully it can all be fairly easy to assemble.

I’m also testing the Fake floppy connection with the clamp board – no idea if that’ll work or not, we’ll see.

Now the long-ish wait for Aliexpress to deliver my connectors, pogo pins, and a couple of weeks for the Cheapest post option of JLCPCB to ship the assembled keyboard! – nearly 100 switches and diodes on this one, those can be automated in assembly. I’ll need to hand solder on the rear the FPC connector but those are easy enough!

A500 Mini Keyboardification Chapter two, part 1…The Evisceration and Dimensionality

I received yesterday my A500 Mini! – Haven’t even powered it up yet 😛

My assumption about the 43ish percent scale was about right – and the work i’ve done so far on the PCB pretty much stays the same – which is a relief.

However, till now i’ve been using a full sized Amiga 500 to infer dimensions. I can’t easily do that going forward as the scaling factor for the Amiga is ‘a bit weird’ – I think I can see why it’s been done, but, it’s far far easier to re-start the CAD from new…or at least shift the fusion timeline back to the beginning and see what i can recover 🙂

Much more to do, will update later as there’s also a few ‘gotcha’s i’ve found, and a few ‘woo’ moments also!

Dimensioned to within about 0.3mm

Spmeone should hide my screwdrivers

A500Mini keyboardification – alternate technology

Had a major ‘procrastination’ research binge over this past week, trying to figure out just how I could cheaply and reliably get 3D printed keycaps onto tiny switches.

I’ve found I think two ways that can be successful.

The first – a small tactile switch, with an ‘oval’ or keyed button. The A500mini’s keys are probably just over 7mm square, I can’t use the 6mm switches i’ve previously used as there’s not enough space.

Something like the below could do the job – it has a slightly tapered switching bit in the middle, so I can do push fit keycaps that should grip on. it’s also 5mm on a side, and 3mm on the other, this frees a huge amount of PCB space up, BUT, it’s still quite ‘large’ and the top isn’t tapered as much as i’d like. visually it looks fine, but datasheet suggests it’s straight

There’s also an older, more ‘retro’ type of approach. So, i’ve gone and knocked up a very rough CAD drawing – it’s innacurate, until I get an actual A500Mini in my hands…

and i’ve gone and emailed half a dozen companies to request some MOQ’s. and some pricing!. I’ll fill this in later with more specifics

In other progress – the A500Mini Manual is now available – and, the Keymap is shockingly simple 🙂

So, that means getting firmware working should be a breeze.

There’s becoming quite a few ‘RP2040’ public circuits available now, so that part’s done and dusted on my PCB, all i’m really waiting for is to get some accurate measurements so I can knock up a prototype!

A500Minier (than 50%)

All along, I’ve been assuming the A500Mini will be the same 50% scale that the C64Mini is

Thanks to https://youtu.be/h552-eR0cGA Retro Recipies

And https://youtu.be/igEpW8QJFQ4 8abit guy

I’ve been able to get an idea of the size of the A500mini

A500Mini

Using the USB socket size to scale, they’re about 13.2mm in real life.

We get about 186mm for the keyboard width.

The real A500 has a keyboard cutout width of about 450mm

186/450 = about 41.3%

So, summary, it’s closer to 40% scale than 50%

And, I gotta figure out a whole new way of keyboardification:-p darn you rascals at Retrogames LTD :-p

A500Mini Keyboardification – Part 6 or 7 I think

Minor update on progress…made the schematic a bit clearer for me to understand, also am doing a dual footprint style setup – where I overlay multiple component footprints incase one becomes hard to get.

I’m also creating two ways of driving the matrix, an on-board RP2040 chip and, if they become hard to get, a seperate daughterboard which can house a Pi Pico

Kinda pausing PCB development until my Amiga 500 Mini device arrives in the post, but i’ll be playing with the PRK firmware next!

More A500 Mini

Working on the Fonts now for the keycaps!

after a good half hour of searching for the Amiga Key font, including various terms like “lop sided font”, “font with one side thicker than the other”, “fonts that look like broadway, “broadway serif” and even google image search for

I finally found the correct font with a quick search for “font used for Amiga key”

https://deskthority.net/wiki/Amiga_key

and, the Font – is Garamond-Bold-Italic

So, now we have the following two keys!

and, extruding that A to create a solid A, then projecting to a sketch, offsetting that sketch and extruding into the key….

we have…The other Amiga Key!

Now to figure out the rest of the keyboard 🙂

A500 Mini Part 6

Another small update! – I think i’ve cracked the basic model of the keyboard.

To get this far has taken dozens of hours of interweb sleuthing and watching youtube videos to watch how the light reflects of genuine amiga keboards to see how i can capture the curves of the keys.

Most keys seem to be a very simple U shaped dip from the edges of the keys! the dip is always the same depth, so the wider the key, the smoother the dip!

Two different keys were the Space bar – this has a slightl raised curve at the top ratther than a ‘dip’

and the Enter key – which has a more complex bowl like dip in, that key probaly took the longest to figure out but the top is essentially is two U shaped dips, one for the top of the key, one for the bottom. I’ll go into more detail in a future post

simple hidden edges image
Nice render on a snowfield to show the curves

For now, this is accurate enough for me to be able to develop the font to embed in the keys! I’ve made the model reasonably parametric so I can change things around a little to match the exact key spacing of the mini once I receive it. At this scale, i’ll have the same 0.5mm clearance between keys as I had on the C64 mini, though I plan to increase it a little more in the final product.

A500 Mini Keyboard Part 5

Small updates – keyboard keycaps progress!

Not much of an update, just a couple of pictures to show i’m still slowly tinkering.

The keys do seem much easier to model as they’re less curvy. there’s only a top ‘dip’ in one plane which is easily extruded into the keys using circles that are varying radius’s to give a 0.9mm ‘dip’ in the top of the key. that dip will be much less prominent when the whole thing is shrunk 50%, but I like to try to be reasonably accurate.

One key from each row complete!

A500 Mini Keyboardification – Part III

Early days – Square keycaps to create a layout grid in EasyEDA

A little more advanced

Little bit of progress now – Thanks to this superb thread – and some other random pictures, I’ve gotten fairly close dimensions to a proper Amiga500. Same old story, Mine’s down my parent’s in Wales and I procrastinate over picking it up , so waste too much time analysing, measuring stuff online! It’s not accurate, but is close enough to get a 50% scale PCB layout done now, and tweak accordingly once the real A500 Mini is released

Incidentally, someone confirmed that square keys are 18mm on a base (thanks Dan) from that single dimension, i’ve been able to recreate most of the keyboard, with only now some uncertainties as to the remaining key sizes.

Why I’ve created this CAD – to use as a template to create a PCB!

Project the ‘keyboard’ bodies into a fresh sketch

It makes creating a ‘clean’ Sketch really easy. Just project the switch bases onto a fresh sketch, Export that sketch as a DXF….then import DXF into EasyEDA..

Voila, a 100% sized Amiga keyboard outline imported into EasyEDA

Of course, I’ll need to scale this lot down 50% to ensure things’ll fit in the Mini!

In some good news, I may not need to fully design the CAD for the Amiga Keycaps as someone in the scene has reached out and offered their CAD designs. Best case, I can simply modify their designs. Worst case, I can use their designs to measure the curves and ‘simply’ recreate in Fusion360. Either way, it means it’ll be a LOT quicker than the C64 Mini’s keycap development

Finally, onto the PCB design – I’ve already replaced the horrendous keyboard matrix schematic with one more resembling the genuine Amiga’s. Unlike the C64 Mini one, this one won’t be fully compatible with an actual Amiga due to there being some periphery circuitry to convert the matrix into a serial format for the motherboard to receive. BUT, keeping the same matrix – for everything other than the ‘standalone’ modifier keys should help some people to do ‘other stuff’ with this.

As for Software – PRK has had some great updates of late. I’ll be figuring that out soon enough

Oh, and I noticed that some of my previous assumptions about the 32u4 being used in the Mini were incorrect – It’s a bit bigger than I’d realised. it has 26 GPIO (kind of) when used in the raw chip form!…I thought it was 20 (D’oh!) that means you can (in theory) have a matrix with 144 switches AND a couple of pins left over for LED’s!!

HOW TO PROGRAM THE C64 Mini Keyboard HEX INTO A FRESH ARDUINO

Download QMK TOOLBOX

Download the HEX FILE

Select the Downloaded HEX file from wherever you saved it

Select Auto Flash

Connect the USB arduino to your comupter

Short RST and GND on the arduino

Then, your arduino gets programmed! – Easy 🙂

Small Blinkenator update!

These are the first brand new work that i’ve done on the inserts. The previous LED inserts were hacked out of the STL’s the ZX Spectrum Next team released some time ago. Since those early mesh hacks, i’ve learned quite a bit more on Fusion360 (which is entirely free for makers!)

Not much of an update, but i’m slowly picking back up on this again, personally, it’s been quite a tough 2021 , leaving me with little capacity to do fundemental development stuff…On the plus side, i’ve been in ‘something shiny’ mode for quite a while and literally shotgun blasting ‘fun’ ideas for new things, a few of which have been developed further and you’ll read about once they’re better baked.

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

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

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

That Beastie –

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

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

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

Which can be found here –

https://github.com/picoruby/prk_firmware

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

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

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

Inception! WSL running Ubuntu whilst i type this blog!

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

Ruby – For Linux – something higher than 2.6

Bundles for Ruby

And a few other things….all of which are quite finickitey and throw a wobbly at the slightest provocation! – Linux is fun eh!..

I’ll eventually get around to step-by step documenting and linking each step to ensure a good build environment so that others can duplicate what I’m doing

Once it’s all compiled, I drag the .uf2 file over to the pico (after holding bootsel whilst plugging it in) the thing reboots and becomes a keyboard

What’s Next………..

  • Ensure the Keymap is correct
  • Finish the basic keyboard layout, testing all basic keys
  • Introduce shifted keys
  • introduce ‘layers’ to ensure special keys are correct
  • introduce fancy stuff

Where this is going……………..The RP2040 Chip is fairly priced against the 32u4. I’m hoping that I can eventually switch the C64mini keyboard over to a fully SMT ready assembled kit – just add keycaps. And, i’m hoping I can do that for the Amiga Mini!, as much as I love soldering 600+ points, I appreciate some of you out there don’t!

And, I’ve another TOP SECRET project on the go also…It’ll blow yer mind! but, in 2022 that one, it’s a long burn that ‘looks’ finished (i’m holding it in my hands now!, all 2 circuit boards and about 100 3D printed pieces) but, needs quite a bit of work behind the scenes.

Also, Blinkenator, slow going, but I’m really trying, it’s just hard getting over this hurdle where it must be soldered….one last thing to try!

And, final before I go to bed, the C64 mini running the keybaord upgrade kit with pi Pico transplanted brains!

It’s being captured via a HDMI capture dongle and OBS studio so I can use my laptop as a test monitor!

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.