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Want a keyboard for your tablet? Concern about the e-wastes? Why not grow your tablet keyboard with 100% disposable material, mycelium and mushrooms!

Step 1: You Will Need:

1. Some mycelium material

It's a mixture of mycelium and agricultural waste (like corn stalks or husks). I bought from Ecovative's "Grow It Yourself" Material. You could use alternative materials.

2. Mold

Use a waste keyboard as a mold to grow the mycelium, or make a mold by yourself.

I made a keyboard mold for my 9.4" x 6.6" iPad. If you are interested in this, follow me to the next step.

Step 2: Make the Keyboard Mold

1. When using a waste keyboard or other e-wastes as the mold, make sure to cut the inner walls and support structure as much as possible. They might block the mycelium growth.

2. To make a keyboard mold for 9.4" x 6.6" iPad,

  • Measure the virtual keyboard dimensions, including each key size and margins, and draw it in illustrator. Make a hole in the center of each key for inserting mushrooms in the future. Welcome to download my Illustrator file below.
  • Laser cut 1/16" or 1/8" thickness acrylics. It's better to use clear acrylic because we could see the mycelium growing inside.
  • Tape the acrylic pieces together. Don't use acrylic cement to glue them, or it will be very difficult to release the mold later.

Step 3: Clean the Mold and Let the Mycelium Grow

  • CLEAN the mold with 70% isopropyl alcohol! Sanitation prevents contamination.
  • Then press mycelium materials into the mold, and tape it.
  • Put the mold in a self-contained enclosure without direct air flow. I used a ziplock with small holes. Ecovative said "The mycelium grows best around room temperature (70 to 76 F)".
  • Wait for 2 weeks. Patience.

Note: If you bought Ecovative's dry material, before this step, you need to add water to rehydrate the material. Their instruction below.

Step 4: Dry the Mycelium

When the lovely mycelium mostly turned white, it's time to dry it and make it no longer alive. I know it's a little sad.

  • Open the ziplock, let it passively air dry for a day to remove the moisture.
  • Put it in an oven at 200F for 45min.

I repeated this drying cycle 3 times to make sure my mycelium fully deactivated.

Step 5: Mold Release

Carefully remove taps and open the mold. I glued acrylics together, it gave me a hard time to release the mold...

When finishing the mold release, enjoy your beautiful mycelium model.

Step 6: Add Mushrooms

Now insert your favorite mushrooms into the hole on each key. I used beech mushrooms because it has long stem and small cap. Have fun to type "hello world".

I tested with different kinds of mushrooms. They worked well on Nexus 5, iPhone and iPad touchscreen.

Tips: Make the surface of the mushrooms as wet as possible so that it give good conductivity.

<p>So cool! I love this. Did you see the architect building structures with fungus?</p>
<p>This takes 'mold release' to a whole new level. Batty but brilliant!</p>
<p>Very interesting.</p>

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