C64 mini keyboard kit – keycap butchery success!

Have been promising a long time to do this, so finally took a few hours to butcher another mini!

Some views are excellent
Another great view
And the worst view

As you can see, for the most part, it’s pretty good, but NOT perfect

what I’ve discovered…..

2 part epoxy works best

Each keycap row is a different depth – the top one needs the least glue, row 3 the most

My errors here. I used a hard plastic glue from Bostick. it doesn’t grip well enough on the top of the keyswitches. I glued everything, waited a few hours, half the keycaps didn’t stick

glued the rest, waited, half again didnt’ stick…rinse and repeat about 6 times, adding more glue till finally they all stuck.

The 2 part epoxy stuck fast and hard! – but I used too much.

The repeated adding of more glue caused the multiple key levels you can see in the picture

I’ll try one more time I think!

C64Mini keyboard kits shipped!

First batch of 15 kits shipped!

Postage on most was actually slightly cheaper than last time! But the two heaviest ones were more, the largest one was quite a bit more than anticipated…so it all averaged out ok…

One repeat customer has a couple of freebies, only one assembled this time!

Also my first ever customer finally will have a spare kit and some stuff to practice with 🙂

Next small batch is coming as soon as the 20cm USB cables arrive.

If you want a kit without the short, tidy looking USB cables then shout and I’ll do a small discount 🙂

Amusing story and reversed switches on the C64 mini keyboard kits

Correct orientation of the switches
Correct orientation from the top. (Except the shift lock…oops! That’s why I put extra switches in :-p)

A funny story about multi sourcing components and the importance of testing before shipping!

I used a supplier on Aliexpress to purchase a few thousand switches in a few orders over a few months but their prices went up quite drastically after the last order (doubled!!) they weren’t the cheapest to start with but were reliable and friendly, worth the extra ££

I found another supplier who did a good deal for a full bag of 4000! Ordered them and waited, very quick delivery and friendly also (will buy again!)

I built my first test new keyboard with the new PCB and switches

It didn’t work. Well, actually, it did! Work perfectly…but in reverse :-p …..

If you mashed every key simultaneously then only released the key you want to press….it worked!! Yeah, the supplier sent me 4000 ‘inverted’ switches! My fault for not checking prior to ordering, they ‘look the same’ so ‘must be the same’ was a wrong assumption on my part! (At least they all weren’t the shift lock type!!)

It’s a VERY easy fix though (found after several panicked hours of testing and building Keyboards)…rotate the switch 180 degrees and it’s perfect!

In each kit I’ve included a small errata note and list of basic instructions to help. It’s an annoyance but for you guys it really just means the silk screen doesn’t quite match the switch orientation so just ask first. Look at the pictures and of any doubt, email/messenger/twitter/Reddit me 🙂

C64 Mini Keyboard kits, ready to go :-)

I’ve a small batch of 14 kits assembled and ready to post 🙂

The ‘slightly open’ ones are waiting their 3D printed inserts which are taking about 6.5 hours for 3 right now 🙂

Send me a message if you are reading and would like one.

I have enough parts to make 50 kits all up, except for the USB cables – I’ve lost a large bag of them somewhere so have ordered more 🙂

C64 Mini Keyboard kit – a successful user :-)

By reddit user mfriethm. Looks amazing

I sold the first batch of kits mostly on Reddit

Over the past few weeks they’ve been making their way around the globe and I’ve had a lot of happy reports back

Today, Ive been able to relax finally, the Mould works 🙂

Reddit users fantastic gallery

He’s done an amazing job using a silicone mould!

The workflow – make a mould of your uncut keybaord

Cut the keys out, tidy them up

Place keys in mould

Put glue in keys

Place keyboard on top and use screws to align

Voila!

C64 mini Quick doodle for the USB hub mod

Had someone ask, so here’s a quick and rough explanation

You need to make SIX solder connections

First, lift the centre two pins of USB1 on the mini

Second, cut off the plug and solder four pins from the USB hub cable to the bottom of the USB1 connector pads on the PCB

Third, cut off the mini USB of the longer USB cable and create a bare end. Solder two data wires to the lifted pins on the mini’s USB connecote

This then attaches the USB hub in full to the minis processor

And just uses the physical connector on the mini as an extension of one of the sockets on the hub!

C64 Mini Keyboard – More CAD

The first mediocre print!

It’s taking way too long, but I think I now have the lettering ‘just right’ – at least on the screen.

This was printed a bit too hastily at 0.08mm layer height on an Ender 3 printer. I’d used a brand new roll of untested filament and didn’t bother changing any settings. – it’s dimensionally ‘spot on’..

I’ve purchased a 0.2mm nozzle for my next trial , it’ll take ages but i’m hoping that those fine details on the characters come out a little better.

Why it’s taking so long……..

I’m learning as I go. I’m ‘tracing’ letters i’m finding on the net, creating them as a new sketch along the whole rows. There’s 4 differently angled rows so each needs to be extruded in a different direction to ‘cut’ the key.

This first run matches the C64 keyboard font as close as I can get. I’ll then ‘archive’ this layout for future use and create a second ‘3D print’ version.

This version will forgo the accuracy of the font and make features much wider, more rounded to allow the characters to come out better once 3D printed. The complex ones like ‘run stop’ won’t ever come out great on a standard filament printer, but the letters already come out pretty good…that’s a win for me!

a full keyboard!

The full keyboard is above – and you can see part of one of the adaptors i’m designing to click them onto the keyswitches. each keycap is hollow. that small grey part will sit inside the keycap

Where the time’s being spent…..

And finally – part of what’s taking so long.

Each key/character is taking on average about 1/2 an hour to an hour to design. Lets say 45 minutes.

65 keys to label

That’s a LOT of minutes…and i’m only getting an hour or two every few nights – a good solid weekend ‘free’ would be great and have this sorted.

On top of that labelling (which is now finished) I have to try to make each letter more legible and easier to 3D print. Generally that means ‘bevels’ everywhere – you can see above that i’ve done ‘Run Stop’ and ‘Shift Lock’ but SHIFT is still to do….it’s not as easy either as ‘copy, paste’ the Shift from Shift lock – that’s a different sized font on a different sketch plane.

Just one example of the issues I’m seeing…The Letter B

The Letter B – trying to create a fillet – rounding off the edges

The Letter B above has an issue with the geometry – just by the 0.1 – there’s a part internally up towards the arrow that shouldn’t be there – that’ll could play havoc with a slicer when set to really small layer heights

B – Alternate view

But, the Fillet also creates a zero thickness surface which looks unsightly and will probably cause issues if I don’t correct it now

So, Back to the sketch

Letter B – The Sketch

As you can see, i’ve kept the characters with few (if any) constraints. this way has been easier to freehand and eyeball as I can drag stuff around till it looks right by ‘locking and unlocking’ lines. most constraints used to create right angles, etc have been removed after to help with the process of making it 3D

Anyways, the ‘issue’ with the fillet seems to be around the place where the two control point splines meet – i’ve highlighted one in blue above.

I re-coincide each spline (have found deleting and un-deleting works, as well as hitting coincident )

That change should hopefully roll back up the timeline to allow me to make the fillet work.

To Create the key lettering I the character by 1mm elsewhere in my workspace, then move it to over the key.

Then extrude the face of the character into the key and ‘cut’ ….

this may seem odd, but it’s a really quick and easy way of consistently creating cutouts on a row of keys and making quick changes later.

That didn’t work, so, jump into surface mode – delete the entire inner arc of the B. Re-create the arc as a ‘patch’. Stitch together the lower part of the B. Then stich the whole keycap, then re-apply fillet and…..Voila…..3/4 an hour later, one filleted B…And a learned workflow if the same thing happens on another key!

Note, as-is, the keyboard fonts are a bit innacurate. I’ve sized everything based upon the smallest characters that need to fit – i.e. run stop, etc. The individual letters could be bigger – but any bigger and they’d look too big compared to those……….

Next steps,

DFM – Design for manufacture.

Just because you design a 3x2mm hole, doesn’t mean it’ll print at 3×2. Generally Filament printers do outer perimeters a little larger, inner perimeters a little smaller. The first few tests i’ve done now prove this. so, After a few months of ‘out of the box working’ on my Ender, I’ve finally gotta bite the bullet and calibrate it. The plan is to create an offset in the CAD file so that I still design the holes accurately based on measurement, BUT, can add a accurate ‘calibration figure’ Fudge figure to make them a little larger or smaller as necessary.

Right now my Printer is doing slightly oval prints – which should be easy enough to sort out if my D9 Adventures were anything to go by

C64 Mini Keyboard Progress..

Rev 2 PCB’s have arrived – 15 of them!

Now waiting on enough Arduino Pro micros and switches to start making kits up!

Each DIY kit will probably contain the following – i’ll firm up with pictures once i’m done test populating a rev2 board

  • 70 Standard switches
  • 70 Diodes – Through hole (possible SMT option also depending on price)
  • 1 USB Hub
  • 1 PCB – Rev 2 or later
  • 1 USB cable
  • two small pieces of heatshrink tubing
  • a couple of pieces of wire
  • 1 Arduino Pro micro – Pre-programmed with QMK firmware and custom Keymaps
  • Some instructions
  • a set of FDM – Filament printed keyswitches – These probably won’t be ‘perfect’ so i’ll be chucking them in as effective freebies as I won’t be releasing the keycaps as a digital file.

About that last part – I’ve spent countless hours on creating these keycaps, and still have more to go. I’ll eventually release them as a Digital file, but for now, you’ll be able to at least use the freebies to see if new keycaps are for you.

If you wanted a professionally printed set, i’ll be arranging something with a printing bureau somehow… It’s also likely i’ll be able to source reasonably costed SLA resin prints of these…watch this space

And for the money shots…….I’ve finished the top row of key text!

Now I’ve gotten the first row done, the next three should be significantly quicker.

The text is recessed into the key by about 0.4-0.6mm – between 2 and 6 layers of 3D print, not really enough to be clearly felt – but enough to be ‘seen’

After that, there’s the optimisation for printing – Filleting the edges – trialling depths and generally finding out what actually works, looks and feels good

C64 Mini – Keyboard – More CAD…

Had quite a few odd issues with my old f1 key and trying to make a full keyboard from it using the same technique

…The main problem is that I can’t really remember what I did and in what order, and there’s some odd non-parallel lines that really should be – so I’ve started again from scratch

Turns out also that there’s a few types of keyboard out there, the C64-Mini isn’t quite 50% of the keyboard i’ve been referencing

Differences are only minor – BUT it does mean that an exact 50% scale won’t fit

So, Firstly I start with the side profile sketch again.

My revised Side View – I’m ignoring the space bar right now as it’s ‘different’

C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod – Part Deux- More images

Not much of an update, I put a shorter USB cable inside so thought I’d take some pictures of the top of the USB cable wiring…..

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I’ve not installed heatshrink yet on the sticky-outy USB Pins – this WILL be needed to provide strain relief – being truthful, I hadn’t expected it to work first time so didn’t bother 🙂

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Showing the complete wiring –

Joystick USB port -> USB Hub ‘output’

Keyboard -> USB Hub ‘output’

C64Mini Circuit board -> USB Hub ‘input’

There’s two free internal USB sockets now!

C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod

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Spent a few hours this week adding an internal USB Hub, getting ready to start on a basic instruction sheet for the kits

As can be seen – you can’t see it’s modded externally (well, other than the keyboard). Both external USB ports still work and internally there’s a free USB port for a USB Stick 🙂

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard – ‘Invisible’ fitting mod”

C64 Mini Keyboard Part 7 – More CAD -Anatomy of a keycap

C64 Keyboard Caps 5

After couple of weeks of work, I’ve finally cracked surface modelling with Fusion360 (a bit)

Here’s a bit of a step by step in creating your very own f1 Key! This is a very brief summary of what I should have done if starting from scratch, I’ve left out the trials, errors and headbanging……….

Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard Part 7 – More CAD -Anatomy of a keycap”

C64 Mini Keyboard, 1/2 alive and Some CAD

Bit of a change of pace from the electronics, onto the CAD…Here’s a first draft of the first key on the C64 Keyboard – the Left Arrow!

Done at full scale, then at 50% scale

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Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard, 1/2 alive and Some CAD”

C64 Mini Keyboard – Some progress!

Not much really – Shift Lock keys just arrived off the slow boat. The pinouts are confirmed, I’m going to hit ‘go’ to manufacture after another quick check on the PCB

Also, from a bit of researching, i’m not so sure the Diodes are needed.

I may have to make two batches of board, one with, one without

 

C64Mini Keyboard – PCB Layout Success

C64Mini - Final PCB Revision Maybe

After a loooong weekend and sneaking in a few hours – Success with the keyboard layout dimensions!

There’s few tweaks here and there remaining to align things perfectly and also to add some nice Silk Screen artwork

And, how I got there!

Continue reading “C64Mini Keyboard – PCB Layout Success”

C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics Part II – OOPS

After spending a while lining up the buttons and generally making the PCB layout a bit tidy, I figured I’d print a 1:1 and see just how well it aligns….

 

Oops…

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Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics Part II – OOPS”

C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics

Thru Hole Keyboard PCB - First spin
Looking a LOT better!

After a few days, I’ve now got something workable – The switches being Thru-hole allow ease of routing on both the top and the bottom layers. I’ve named each switch and diode with the keyboard’s actual Symbol to make placing them on the PCB much easier. you’re seeing the results of a few days work (maybe about 4 hours all up) of starting from scratch on the design.

Next step will be aligning the PCB layout and spacing with the plastic buttons

I’ve done what I can based upon rough assumptions above – the top row of switches for example – its row of buttons ‘just’ fits within my calipers – so it’s about 151mm wide

Whipping out the calipers again……. Continue reading “C64 Mini Keyboard mod – More Electronics”

C64 Mini Keyboard Mod – The Electronics

As mentioned before, there’s loads of ‘keyboard matrix’ tutorials out there, so, i’m going to not bother with any of those yet and work backwards a bit.

IF i’m making a micro C64 Keyboard for a mini C64, I mayaswell make the thing backwards compatible so that it could be used on a real C64…

The C64 Matrix…………(image pinched from THIS PAGE) 

C64_Keyboard_Schematics_PNG

 

This it’s quite quick to knock this up in EasyEDA

The Shift Lock key looks  a bit ‘odd’ as it just parallels up with the shift key.

I’ve thrown in some Debounce diodes also – because all the top mechanical keyboards have it, so why can’t I (no idea if this is a good idea yet, but easily removed before I get a PCB finalised) I’m not too worried about the Arduino bits yet – i’ll bolt on the decoding circuitry later – this is still just an excercise to see if it’s possible!

C64 PCB Matrix

This isn’t the first version – The pic shows the newest footprint before I figured out the issue below

After creating my own custom SMT switch footprint / component and arranging the parts on the board – I hit a few snags – Have a look at the layout below…. you’ll see that the SMT legs just stick too far out

Easy enough, rotate every other switch so some are ‘up / down’ , some are ‘left / right’ with the pads.

That does fit – just, BUT, i’m going to have to cut a leg off 5 or more switches to stop them mechanically fouling and electrically shorting!……D’oh!, Possibly back to the drawing board with the switch choice?

C64 PCB Matrix - SMT BAD VERSION

The diodes i’ve chosen (for now) are a larger SOD123 package, about 2.6 x 1.5mm or so…one of the larger packages and I just happen to have a few in the shed (somewhere!)

The row of connectors on the right is just a generic 2.54mm space 20 way header. This’ll probably not be populated in my ‘final’ version that sits inside the Mini, BUT, i’ll leave the pads on the PCB so it could be turned into a genuine working C64 Keyboard 🙂

C64Mini – Keyboard Mod

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The Bottom Side of the C64 Mini Keyboard

There’s Plenty of Volume – But what switches can be used to put inside the keyboard?

I’m not too worried about the electronics  side right now, there’s plenty of Arduino keyboard emulator tutorials out there.

 

Continue reading “C64Mini – Keyboard Mod”

C64Mini – Quiet but still Tinkering…Keyboard Mod

Some time back I purchased a Lovely little Commodore Retro item – A C64 Mini

 

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Borrowed off the Retro Games website – The C64 Mini

 

It’s a TINY C64…….With a non-functional, cosmetic appearances only keyboard 😦

Lets fix that…………….

Continue reading “C64Mini – Quiet but still Tinkering…Keyboard Mod”