and of course each single one inspired me, if only maybe, with a little detail.
So what is new then you might ask. Probably some choices of materials for some of the parts,
the one or other manufacturing step and the installation of an USB illumination. Maybe you
want to look just at more pictures and find a little detail that you didn't see mentioned
anywhere else and inspires you...
I spent quite some time pondering about the choice of new keys. Old typewriter keys, offered
on eBay are quite expensive and usually only about 40 pieces per set. I would need at least 2
if not more of these. I also couldn't be sure if they were looking the same or at least similar. I went to Jo-Ann's to look at buttons but these were prohibitive expensive; about 3 - 6 dollars for a set of 5 or 6, depending on the make. I was really disappointed and was ready to leave the store when I saw in the last row at the very bottom these grab bags with about 100 buttons in 5 different sizes for $2.60. 5 of these would yield enough large buttons for all the keys I needed but could someone point me to an Instructable to use up 500 of the smaller ones???
Anyway, I was relieved and bought also 1' strip of velvet there.
Do not attempt this if you are not equipped with lots of patience; some of these steps need to be repeated 100 times which can become quite boring and is tedious!
Approximate costs, depending on your choice of materials and level of detail, ~ $ 40-80.
I am really lucky as the previous owner of my house in his late 80ies was a printer and left me a basement full of "stuff" and also some tools. Wherever he is now, I am very thankful!
Please vote by clicking the stars on the right side!
Please check my Steampunk Mouse too. NEW NEW NEW Steampunk Monitor
Table saw (or a friend with one)
Buttons (about 100-110)
Some nice piece of fabric or leather/vinyl
1/2" Copper pipe and fittings
Bic pens or similar
Styrene sheet (1/16", maybe thicker) and profiles
2 LED's + matching resistors (LED calculator)
#6 and 8 brass screws
A good friend who is willing to help and has all the tools you don't have.
Gallons of coffee, tea or your preferred stimulant.
A glass of wine or beer or your preferred relaxant to think things over....
(Pictures were not always taken in the order as they are arranged in the steps)
Step 1: Get a Keyboard
Maybe you take a picture of the keyboard to make sure you know where the particular keys go. (Or just keep the carton it came in for a change ^_- )
On closer inspection I found that all my keys were the same; that is not necessarily true with all keyboards and might make slight changes in making the new keys necessary.
Step 2: Make a Punch / Cutter
Step 3: Cut the Top
On my second attempt I made a cut from the edge towards the stem as kind of stress relief and used several light pushes downward to cut the outer ring off. If you want to stay completely on the save side, cut the outside of the keys with heavy scissors.
Anyway, repeat this about 100 times. Scrape off any plastic from the top and sand it lightly. Make sure you keep these keys as well as all the screws and all the parts you take off save in boxes or jars. I like to use e.g. old pill bottles, empty margarine/soft cheese cups or a glass jar.
Step 4: Spray-painting
This keyboard was very shiny and didn't look very 'steampunkish' at all. I decided to spray-paint it dull (matte) black but in hindsight, a dark green or red would have worked very nice too. Before I could paint, I needed to take the keyboard apart. Several screws needed to be removed (You will find them on the underside and sometimes hidden by a sticker) and using a screwdriver I was able to pop the top from the bottom. I didn't want to get paint in the holes for the keys and was lucky to find little round felt stickers which covered the holes nicely (the previous owner of my house must have bought them in the sixties looking at the envelope they were in) If you can't find such stickers, I guess leaving the keys in the holes would work too.
The paint dries pretty fast and I applied 3 coats in about 2 hours.
Step 5: Making a Wrist Rest
Refer to the directions of the glue. After cutting a piece of velvet slightly larger than the wrist rest, I started in the middle and pushed the fabric out from there. It adhered really good to the edges and I tucked about 1/2" under onto the backside to be held there once I put the keyboard back together.
Step 6: Letters for the Keys
Finally after a long search, I found the font I liked and was going to use. ImperatorSmallCaps by Paul Lloyd, available at: Free Fonts.
After installing the font I typed the letter, number or text in the approximate location. Each on a separate layer; sorry I don't know much about other programs what you can do there.
Then I went back, edited the layer and nudged the letter in the exact position, likely the center of the circle. This took about 3 evenings of working in Photoshop.
Last step was to find some nice texture and the right color. I decided on an old parchment look, even if you don't see very much of it.
Some keys would be reversed, black on yellow.
After I was satisfied with the result, I copied the image to 1 layer, cut it up in 4" x 6" pieces and sent them to Walgreen's to be developed there. That would look much better than printing them out, costs just 18 cents a piece and I could pick them up 2 hours later.
The pic of the whole layout is the full size png file for those who are interested. Be aware, it is 4.6Mb !!!
Step 7: New Keys
With a heavy heart I decided to use the 7/16" punch and leave a small margin around the 'sticker'. In my opinion it still would look better than cutting them with scissors.
After punching all my letters and numbers out, I glued them to the inside of the button with 1 layer of cheap clear nail polish. Use your own or ask your wife if you can borrow hers. ^_- I covered my 'stickers' with 3 more layers allowing enough drying time in between. In hindsight though, I would use clear water soluble polyacryl; it has a lower viscosity (is 'runnier') and the chance of getting air bubbles is less.
Step 8: Attaching the Tops
Step 9: Rectangular Keys
Then I marked the exact size of the buttons on the styrene and cut it with scissors. Anyway, I found this neat profile at the hobby shop and made the edge of the buttons with it. Use special styrene glue. These look quite right with the round buttons. Slightly sand the corners to round them and on to the spray both to apply a couple layers of metal silver.
Finally cut the printout and glue the pieces in. With this, the basic keyboard is done. At this point you might want to try every key if it works properly. If it has a tendency to jam, remove the key gently from the keyboard and inspect the stem. Maybe you marred it after all and there is a burr left; remove it with an X-Acto. Or a piece of dirt is stuck to the stem. Also check the hole. Use a little bit of graphite dust, cross your fingers and put the key back in. Good luck my friend!
The rest is more or less left to your fantasy.
Step 10: Making the Keyboard Frame
Back home I cut off 2 pieces, about 4" longer than the sides of the keyboard. Cut one end on each of these at an exact 45 degree angle and hold these pieces against the right and left side of the keyboard; hold it there with a rubber band or tape and measure from the outside of one cut corner to the other. This is the length of the third piece. Mark it on another cut copper tube and try to get 2 more precise 45 degree angles.
Deburr the edges with files and emerald paper. Now find a method to hold 2 pieces at 90 degrees together. I used bricks and checked with a square. With a propane torch I soldered the pieces together. (I probably should have used some reinforcement)
An alternative method would be using copper L's cut open, but I know I would have needed gazillions of cutting wheels for my Craftsman mini tool :(
If any metal workers read this, I would love to hear any better methods of doing this. Thank you in advance because I know, I will do my monitor in the same manner.
Step 11: Finish the Frame
First of all, cut the left and right side of the frame to exact the same length, about 1" longer than the side of the keyboard.
This done, I used a copper T in the manner depicted. One end holds the raiser securely after I pinched it slightly, the other holds the connecting rod. The 'bottom part' is secured with a #8 screw. the whole thing tightened together by a 1/4" threaded rod and brass nuts.
To get the connecting rod fairly close to the keyboard I had to file a notch in the 3rd leg of the T.
Step 12: Keyboard Illumination
Some brainstorming over a glass of $5 wine (can something good come from that???) and I had an idea how to accomplish this.
As you can see, I attached an arm to the connecting pipe which contains 2 bright LED's (13.000 mcd) hooked up to the 5V supply of the key board. (LED calculator)
In hindsight I would attach a street 45 degree fitting directly to the T (it would fold nicer)
Step 13: Illumination With LED's
One end was closed with hot glue plus a nut of a compression fitting and an orphaned green LED I had gotten in a grab bag. The other end was bored open to 5mm or rather 7/32" to house the LED. (be careful, this material is very brittle )
I filled the empty pen with hair gel. (Idea borrowed from Hair-Gel-LED-Light)
Step 14: Wiring the LED
Step 15: USB Cord
Plug the keyboard in and make sure the LED's are lighting up. Then you can put everything back together.