Something a little different – V-Bucks

My Son asked could he have some V-Bucks for that ridiculously addictive Fortnite – it’s totally free to play, but to be ‘cool’ you’ve gotta spend real life ££ on skins . As he’s done quite well at school, I’ve decided to reward him with some, but rather than just hand over a string of characters on some paper, I’ve spent a little more time being creative

If you fancy playing with this yourself or editing it – I’ve uploaded the Fusion360 f3d file to Google Drive – Here

And, also the STL files to Prusaprinters – Here

It’s all eyeballed, but seems close enough to the original. It’s quite a simple item to do, the hardest part to figure out is the tapered top of the coin – which is a simple ‘side profile’ then revolve to create the coin. The rest is a circular pattern to create the curved lit up pieces, then a handful of extrudes and fillets

A500 Mini – Quatre

First ‘proper’ spacing test for the SMT switches

First Proper scale PCB layout for the A500 Mini. it mostly looks like it’ll work – BUT, there’s some problems.

I’ve highlighted the problematic switches with white blocks

The Problem – Having switches at 0 degrees or 90 degrees means at some point, due to the staggered keyboard, some will overlap. I’ve spent a few hours optimising the rotation of the switches to reduce the number of overlaps to a minimum, AND, to give all those overlaps a common ‘thing’ that possibly provides one way of easily fixing this.

Zoomed in view

I’ve made it so that Every ‘overlapping’ switch has the bottom left pad causing the overlap. This means, with the right switch type, I can simply cut off this leg for each of the 8 problematic switches and have the keyboard work just fine!

In Most SMT switches this size, there’s 4 legs, but often only 2 are used, (single pole) or sometimes there’s 2 separate switches inside (double pole). provided I use the correct two pins, they should just work fine with 3 legs soldered in. This isn’t exactly an industrially abused keyboard, so 3 legs is plenty of mechanical support.

BUT – I’m unsure if I could ever convince a PCB assembly house to cut a leg off the switches and solder them at a reasonable price, meaning that I may need to solder these 8 manually myself.

There’s a potential other fix also – Rotating the switches at ‘odd’ angles!

If you squint closely, there’s now no overlapping pads on the switches, However, this comes with potential issues

1 – Manufacturing, companies may not want, or be able to put switches on the PCB at arbitary angles like this

2 -Available space within the A500 Mini is currently unknown, which may not give me enough height to be able to do this.

Physically, a 6mm switch, placed at 45 degrees ‘just’ fits within the available 9mm envelope for each 50% scale switch

Rotate that square and you get a circle – which is less than 9mm, which is less than the keycap size!

What this means –

If I rotate the switch, I will not be able to have a recess on the keycaps. On the C64Mini, to keep the keyboard profile height correct, the switches sit about 1.5mm into the keycaps when pressed down. Without this recess, the new keys may need to sit higher than they should. But, this depends on how much space is available underneath the fake keyboard in the mini – it should be possible to add some spacers in to bring the height back down.

The switches sit inside the keycap on the C64Mini keyboard kit

So, The big summary is, Right now, there’s no roadblocks to making this work. a Fully automated production is preferable to bring costs down, so i’ll keep working down that route.

Things to do –

Contact PCB manufacturers to figure out manufacturability

Everything else!

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!!

A500 Mini Keyboardification – Part Deux

Maybe a 2 part kit for the Amiga Mini?

Minor update! – Slowly working on the PCB design for the Amiga Mini – I’m tempted to actually produce a few of these as a Beta run so I can get ahead on the keyboard matrix programming.

I’ve priced up on a BOM to build a minimalist Pi pico so that I can place one directly on the keyboard – and surprise, just like the Arduino Pro Micro device – The sum of the components is more expensive than the price of a full Pi Pico ! BUT, and key point, it’s not all that much more. building Arduinos out of components were typically around DOUBLE the cost. The Pi Pico isn’t!.

However, adding a RP2040 discreet chip to my PCB adds a small level of additional complexity to the board and puts me at risk of parts going out of stock so it’ll be a weigh up when the real Amiga mini is released – If there’s enough space on-board to make a 2 layer board, I may well do this. If not – well, that’s what the TWO circuit boards above are.

Early days yet, but first look suggests that the above would be only marginally cheaper (almost not worth it) than putting a discreet pi pico on-board

oh, and of course, these will be fully populated boards! just add keycaps and ‘go’

Resin Printing and cold temperatures don’t mix. Making a heater!

After having a few failures over the past few months, i’ve tried a number of things to increase the print success rate.

The biggest improvement came from temporarily moving the printers out of the cold conservatory and into the much warmer living room.

That’s a bad thing to do on a full time basis as resin fumes ARE toxic .

There’s a whole slew of ways of heating up the printer. People have heated their rooms (expensive). Put the resin printer on a heated printer bed! (genius, and works). They’ve also cobbled together a bunch ‘o bits and made a heater. Probably the most elegant one i’ve seen is by Elegoo!

So, what does a person do when there’s pretty much a slew of commercially available suitable heaters for a 3D printer………

Yep, you go and roll your own!

I worry that the commercial ones may be too powerful I only need to raise the temperature around 10-15 degrees above ambient. Having seen friends use 50watt lamps in vivariums of much larger volume than my printers, I’ve figured a 50 Watt dedicated heater device should be more than enough….


I’m going with a W1209 Temperature control device and sensor

(thankyou to for the inspiration for the product and also this Hackaday Article

a 50 Watt PTC Heater 12V DC

(thankyou to the Elegoo heater thingy for this decision)

and a 60mm Fan

Thank ME for this one – I purchased 5 off 80mm Artic F8 case fans back in March last year for an absolute steal. With the intention of upgrading cooling on the Wanhao D9 and in anticipation of designing a small heater for the resin printers. I can’t find them, so, this pair was about the best deal I could find for quick delivery

This lot cost me about £20 in total – Not bad considering it’ll be twice as ugly as the £10 commercial units, which, at £10 will be delivered in March, which co-incidentally is about the same date that i’ll likley finish assembling this monstosity!, D’oh!

ah well……..

Now, All I need to do is create some sort of 3D printed enclosure to house ’em all, figure out how to route cables and voila, i’ll have a nice ‘thingy’

Note, this lot can be gotten for easily around a tenner total, if your patient. However, It’s cold NOW, so i can’t wait a few months for delivery (when, in the UK it’ll still be cold, just a bit less cold)

Amiga 500 Mini – conceptual

1/2 scale Amiga Keyboard – the keys might just fit!
Schematic with who knows how many errors 😛

Had a little play, using some SMT buttons i’m using in another project. These switches aren’t quite correct for this project – I need ‘square’ button-y bits and preferably ones with a small sticky-outy or inny bit that’ll let it capture a keycap straight.

Assuming the A500 Mini is 1/2 scale, like the C64Mini was then it’s looking good for keyboardification.

This keyboard is about 225mm x 56mm which is about 1/2 the size of the original membrane – I ‘think’ – based losely on numbers from here which says

Full sized Amiga is about 470mm wide by 325 deep.

Half that gives about 235 x 162. take a bit off the 235 for the case thickness bit – gives 225. then height is set roughly by the number of keys ‘down’ and eyeballing the various membranes i’ve found!

However – I don’t know the internal space availability of the A500 yet – so plan going forward for now is to prototype as a 2 part PCB.

One design part of the C64 Mini keyboard kit I never really liked is the standalone Arduino Pro Micro mounted on the rear due to being no space. Adding it to the main PCB was also out of the question as the separate components would have been at least double that of a ‘cheap’ arduino.

I’ll keep a 31 way (ish) connector on the main keyboard part, so it essentially acts like a traditional Amiga Keyboard. I’ll then have a ‘special’ RP2040 based PCB that converts the Amiga matrix into USB for the A500.

Amiga 500 Mini – Keyboardifying

Very early days yet – But, this is the first start for making the Commodore Amiga Mini working keyboard kit! About 1/2 way done on the matrix, then the peripheral components to go.

Then i’ll ditch it all and start over as the above is a bit of a mess ;-P

The New mini is coming from at some point in the next few months

I plan to use PRK Firmware now i’ve got it working with the C64Mini

and, Now RP2040 AKA Raspberry Pi Pico Chips are widely available, and ‘cheap’, I’ll be using one as the basis for the Mini

The BIG unknown right now is ‘switches’ – in the C64 Mini I was able to use 5.8mm ‘square’ switches – something like these –

I’m currently working on a design assuming I can use the same again. There’s very few switches on the market with a ‘square’ style centre part that can capture keycaps. I have leads on a few others, but plan this time is to find surface mount versions and try to get a batch ‘mass produced’ – i.e. little to no soldering needed for you lot!

Early days yet, it’s been quite hard to ‘get back into the grove’ . here’s hoping I get this finished in 2022!

Anycubic Photon Mono-X 90 Degree dripper

Very early days yet on this design. A couple of hours of measuring and sketching in Fusion360. Needs some finessing, but the principle is sound.

Given 90% of my printed things are quite short, (keyboards, Mini computer case prototypes and miniature monsters) I can comfortably make a very efficient 90 Degree bed resin drip drainer and keep the cover on!

Most drainers are maybe 20-40 degrees or so!

The new Drainer bracket in Yellow – Sits permanently on the printer
And, the position of the bed when it’s rotated 90 Degrees. The Yellow bracket and the original ‘stick out bed holder’ clamp the bed sideways between then! The ‘curve’ bit stops the bed sliding too much to the right and ‘off’.

Heroquest Cards Holder

Got a little hooked on playing Fortnite This past few weeks! who’d have thought that Battle Royale would be fun to play! – just like the old days playing Multi player LAN Doom and Duke Nukem, except even better!

Have finally stopped procrastinating and becoming a little more creative. A friend in the Facebook group Heroquest Printed Knocked up a full set of Sjeng Heroquest cards for me. This goes well with the Hendar23 Book of quests and provides many more extra cards to make the game a little more interesting!

Complete Box

Success is in sight – keycaps

First print off the Mono-x

I’m having first layer adhesion issues – which is commonly caused by poor levelling on these things

Could also be a number of other issues but I’m confident I can get this resolved next week

The major fault on this one is that the bottom row of keys is all squished going to the right hand side, due to that side not adhering to the build plate correctly.

Have had another print literally just finish – with adjustments and that’s also come off the build plate so I’m really confident that I just need to try re-levelling again!

Delays in keycap printing – and progress


Apolgies for any delays and people waiting on keycaps….

I believe I may have reached the end of life of my original Photon Mono printer. for the past couple of months, i’ve been having more and more print failures, and have had no idea why. I’ve approached the problem analytically to figure out what’s wrong

Where it started –

I had a proper working file that ‘just worked’ – exposure about 35s for the first layers and about 1.8s per other layer

That started failing a bit. some keys were printing incomplete. I increased the exposure slightly and success again.

More fails, this time the first layers were coming off the build plate. I increased the exposure for the first 4 layers and success again.

had many minor creeps of fails, up to now where i’m at around 50s for the first layers exposure and 2.2s per layer.

I figured maybe the temperature in the conservatory is too low – Nope, iterating a bunch of exposures with the printer near the radiator in the living room also had nothing but failures.

So, after a good 15 fails in a row, many caused my me experimenting with extremes, i’ve given up with the photon mono. There’s many things it could be, but I’m thinking it’s feasible that the LCD has finally ‘failed’. I’ve easily gotten 1500 hours of actual print time on the thing – well over 1000 will be just the production keycaps at 6.5 hours each!

So, back to the point of the article. Those things in the picture are a R E R F TEST for my Anycubic Photon Mono-X

I’m dialling it in to start printing the keycaps. First one’s going right now (50% UV power, 3.5 seconds exposure and 45s base layer if you like to know)

IF this keyboard prints – fantastic, I can print two at a time in just 5 hours! i’ll be through the backlog in no time 🙂

Thanks for listening and sorry again for the delays!


A quickie c64 keycap job from a user!

A customer, Kopaszné has done a superb job with his Keycaps. Some acrylic paint and a few hours

The paints he purchased from Lidl are these ones off eBay.

I’ve asked him to tell me a bit about the process he used, I’ll update when I know more 🙂

You guys (and gals) continue to impress 🙂 THANKYOU, every picture, message , feedback puts a smile on my face!



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 🙂


The First of the clone army printed!…May need to recycle this one…….

Have picked up yet another 3D printer! – I’ve told the wife that I plan to retire the Photon Mono . This new Printer is the Photon Mono-X which is a little bit bigger

Build Volumes compared – Photon Mono-X in Blue – Plain old Mono in red

The printer should be an enabler for some upcoming projects – And, importantly, the new A500mini which, if staying at 50% scale will have a keyboard a little too large to fit on the mono’s build plate.

With the Mono-X, IF i successfully keyboardify the A500mini, I’ll be able to print at least TWO keyboard keycap sets simultaneously!

The reson I purchased this variety of printer – Brand Loyalty! – Cost…For an 8.9″ printer, it was superbly priced @ £389 from Tomtop

The Competing Elegoo Saturn is available at about the same price from Banggood (well, add a little bit more for shipping)

It has been superbly reviewed on various websites, and youtube channels also!

Here’s to a happy 2022 3D printing even morer largerer stuff-err

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 –

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!

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – Newer Firmware!

Loads fixed with this – and it should hopefully be on Github soon also

Google Drive Link Here

The Hex File is above

There are only a couple of extremely tricky issues remaining now! they may need macros, and may not even be possible

Note with this firmware – It works perfectly with ENGLISH Language and UK Keyboard layout set in the firmware…

I hope to eventually be able to create more localised keymaps to change behaviour on boot so every language in the mini works well. IF there’s any pressing issues, please contact me, I should now be able to quickly and easily tweak a couple of keys for you.

Also, the Firmware will be part of the QMK Github soon, so you can download and tweak away yourselves!

To Upgrade your Keyboard, I’m finding QMK ToolBox to work brilliantly

Most older fimrwares out there will need to have B held down whilst shorting the reset jumper at the top of the keyboard inside , for whatever reason though t

I’ve found this a little flaky for whatever reason, sometimes mashing down every key whilst hitting reset does the trick

To make that more professional…….I now have configured the Bootmagic Lite.

To Update the firmware after this update, simply fire up QMK TOOLBOX, connect your keyboard to a Laptop. Hit ‘auto flash’, select the MCU (see picture above)…then Hold 1 and short the reset jumper inside the keyboard.

I’m still learning how configure all this, so bear with me, it’ll be slick just like those professional Mechanical Keyboards in no time*

*by ‘no tiime’ I mean potentially months and months as i’m tinkering in my limited spare time to add this extra functionality

C64 Mini Keyboard Kit – The Code and the Schematic!

Hi All – here goes

I’ve submitted a Pull request to the QMK Github to add the Mini !

And, here’s the firmware in a ZIP file to help

That’s the QMK Code For the Arduino used inside the C64 Mini

How To Compile

Download QMK – I recommend QMK MSYS. Get it installed

There’s plenty of tutorials around

BUt, quick and easy – Unzip the above file to the KEYBOARDS folder


Then fire up a command prompt (Start, search, CMD, run)

and navigate to the the above folder

then run

qmk compile -kb c64 -km default

You’ll get a c64_default.hex file appear in


Now to flash –


Arduino leonardo’s can be a little tricky to flash hex files to – be persistant – there’s two Tools that help

QMK TOOLBOX – that shows the keyboard enumerating when you plug in

Set it to ‘auto flash’ and you can try pressing / holding b and space (it’s configured as a magickey in QMK) to get the bootoader to kick in and flash the chip

If anyone knows a quicker way – shout!

And, if it helps

Here’s the Schematic

No PCB gerbers are public yet – play away! any suggestions, happy to look at incorporating them

I’ll follow in the future with more insight in how this lot works, and also modifications needed to get it going better… There’s a LOT to it as the Keycodes –

Don’t map to the HID codes used by USB…so, without some super customisation, certain combinations may never be possible

Some useful resources

and a few other C64 USB firmware’s i’ve found – these may have the bits needed to be able to get mine working much better – But, merging things is currently beyond my skillset – I’ll figure it out eventually – Has seemingly sorted out shifting, etc with custom codes. I can’t quite figure it out though

And, this awesome public project! – If you want a ready made USB interface – This looks great. Has some quite complex QMK mapping that i’ve not been able to understand – maybe it can be modded for my PCB!.

Flashing .Hex Files – ‘painful’ – a solution

Wow, What a few weeks this has been.

My previous QMK on my small dev laptop worked great. However, moving the directories over to my new laptop (after the kids smashed the old one) – Not working so great

I was now stuck with a handful of ‘blank’ arduinos and no way to update the firmware code, nor any easy way to flash the .hex files to them

Long story short – a friend familiar with programming Arduinos found me this

It didn’t work!….BUT playing aroudn. it at least did pickup something

So….Digging further…I found

I tried the code, didn’t work

Tried again and………Woooo!

  • C:\1leo\arduino-leonardo-uploader-master\windows>testu
    Upgrade procedure starting.
    Missing parameter or file, you should provide the full filename of an existing .hex file you want to use.
  • C:\1leo\arduino-leonardo-uploader-master\windows>testu C64_default.hex
    Upgrade procedure starting.
    Com Port for Arduino device is detected as COM7.
    Reset Arduino into bootloader
    Com Port for Arduino bootloader device is detected as COM6.
  • Starting AVR Downloader/UploaDEr…..
  • Connecting to programmer: .
    Found programmer: Id = “CATERIN”; type = S
    Software Version = 1.0; No Hardware Version given.
    Programmer supports auto addr increment.
    Programmer supports buffered memory access with buffersize=128 bytes.
  • Programmer supports the following devices:
    Device code: 0x44
  • avrdude: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructions
  • Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.00s
  • avrdude: Device signature = 0x1e9587 (probably m32u4)
    avrdude: reading input file “C64_default.hex”
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex auto detected as Intel Hex
    avrdude: writing flash (22924 bytes):
  • Writing | ################################################## | 100% 2.09s
  • avrdude: 22924 bytes of flash written
    avrdude: verifying flash memory against C64_default.hex:
    avrdude: load data flash data from input file C64_default.hex:
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex auto detected as Intel Hex
    avrdude: input file C64_default.hex contains 22924 bytes
    avrdude: reading on-chip flash data:
  • Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.46s
  • avrdude: verifying …
    avrdude: 22924 bytes of flash verified
  • avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (E:CB, H:D8, L:FF)
  • avrdude done. Thank you.
  • Upgrade done!

So, where i’m at now……

I can actually program up arduinos for Mini keyboard kits!

The printer actually seems to be functioning

I’m back in Business

What’s next though

Figure out QMK, I’ve found a lovely chap who’s helping out a bit to compile my keyboard into the new version of QMK being used….then I can finally start doing some development again!

and, more importantly, get this C64Mini keyboard listed in QMK for you guys to be able to easily play with the firmware….

Errors!, Errors!

Having some fun with the printer this past few weeks. many, many fails

Lightly used, honest

Some possible lessons learned….

1 – Don’t mix Resin brands and pigments in untested combinations

I’d ordered a bunch of ‘expired’ Elegoo translucent green resin, going ridiculously cheap, (like 1/3rd the price it should be) it prints FANTASTICALLY…BUT

….I normally use Anycubic Clear, just because it’s what i started with, and it works.

I also add various pigments from

Mixing in an old batch of C64 Brown with the new Elegoo didn’t really work. I had 6 failures in a row – which i’d assumed was the FEP or me doing something silly / bad levelling . The 7th failure punctured the FEP! At that point i’d realised what i’d done (mixing all the stuff together) so, ordered some new Clear resin. I got a perfect print straight away!

The thing you see above is me, changing the supports (finally) after having issues with the old base layer being too thick and seperating from the build plate. I’d gotten around this by using longer base exposures, but still, had more failures than I’d like.

Hopefully now i’ve new FEP, new resin, and spent a couple of hours doing the supports properly, I’ll get a fresh print tomorrow!

anyone good with QMK?

My next issue – as you can see above…QMK. I spent weeks learning how to, and setting up QMK on my old laptop, which the kids smashed.

QMK has moved on a little it seems as now there’s a dedicated QMK MSYS32 installation…BUT, it doesn’t compile my old keyboard layout. if there’s anyone good with QMK out there, give me a shout!. I’ve no doubt I can get things working again to work on the code a little, just pressed for time for the next month or two and, i’m getting the coding itch this past few days 😛

Quick trick for supports for resin

Who knows if it’ll work yet, but whilst trying to support a large, flat, thin surface for printing, I found that the slicing software didn’t really seem to ‘get it’

So, I tricked it a little by adding the seeds for supports inside Fusion360

Essentially this is just creating a grid of ‘support tips’ and merging them with the wanted body.

The slicer software sees these tiny sticky-outy bits and has no choice other than to add supports to them

alternatley, they can serve as a grid for you to add some manual ‘heavy duty’ supports and surround with more medium duty ones

This is a large flat lower part of a case.

Angle it by 45 degrees. This makes it short enough to print, and easy to support and add some ‘zits’ on a grid

Closeup of zits on a grid

By adding an easy ‘pattern’ of 0.5mm high by 0.1mm diameter zits, I trick Lychee into supporting those areas.

The End result – Evenly spaced ‘starter’ supports that can be manually supplemented. This ensures that no points of the model will be droopy.

I’ve started with a grid around 10x10mm. no reason why this grid can’t be a bit smaller, just some experimenting needed

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]

Always distractions….paddling Pool Pump, solar heating

When you buy a 3D printer, sometimes you search for ages to find ‘anything’ to print, just to actually use the printer.

Other times, you spend ages searching for a suitable coupling device to mount a pool pump with a roughly 1/2 inch inner bore and 20mm ish unknown thread to a 31ish mm diameter INTEX style corrugated hose……..

I’ve done both.

I bought some solar pool heating mats to make the small 8 foot paddling pool a little toastier and less ‘my nipples are so stiff , they could cut glass’ cold……

They work fine – But, the flow rate is quite slow using the 330 Gallon pump that came with our larger, but rodent damaged 12 foot Bestway pool

A few months ago, I purchased a cheap pump from Aliexpress – and after a few hours trying to find and purchase a fiting to hook it to the paddling pool and my Intex solar mats.. I realised I have a 3D printer! (well, many of them actually)..

So, Quickly knocked up this oddity in Fusion

Fits well, one is already attached

I’ve no idea what the thread is….So decided to set the inner hole just big enough to catch the thread…To screw it on, I use my hot air gun to heat up the inner hole so that it gets soft, then screw on the adaptor. leave it to go cold, then unscrew, add PTFE Tape to the threads, screw it back on and, voila, a nice, waterproof adaptor.

I’ll test the thing soon (it’s warm here)………But, during typing this, I’ve noted that the Bestway pump is 330 Gallons per hour – approximatley 1500 Liters per hour

The Aliexpress pump is about half that, D’oh!….

BUT – where i’m hoping to create an efficiency – the Bestway pump has a filter built in, which quite severely restricts the flow, this pump willl either boost that, or i’ll split the 4 mats into two circuits!

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 Jun20 Edition

Got me a little tweakin’ time today –

Step 1, Export a PDF from EASYEDA. Print out paper templates, test roughly for fit and alignment
Step 2 – Export DXF from EASYEDA and IMPORT into Fusion360, Tidy up and extrude. Here i’m trying a 1.6mm thick PCB

Step 3 – PRINT. Draft mode is just fine, 2.5 hours later, i’ll have a ‘PCB’!

Have spent a few hours fine tuning alignments – with the new ‘underneath’ mounting of the solderless Blinkenator trial, some of the alignment changes.

The J15 Connector shifts away from the edge about 3/4 mm due to the curvature of the next case, which also needs the larger pillar holes to be moved and increased in size a little.

Step 4 – Printed
Step 5 – Test fit

The print fitted almost perfectly, slight misalignment with J15, I’ll probably make the two locating holes a little larger to allow a little play. The 3D print won’t be the exact same dimensions as the manufactured PCB but it’s close enough to see what tweaks are needed.

And, finally an update on the new next is at Kickstarter!!

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!