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.
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.