Picture of Miss Betsy's Steampunk Keyboard
The steampunk fever finally got to me and I had to build my version of a steampunk keyboard. By now, you can find quite some pictures and "How-To's" about steampunk keyboards out there
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

Tools used:
Drill press
Emerald paper
Assorted screwdrivers
Soldering iron
Propane torch
Different Glues
Pipe cutter
Hack/metal saw
Table saw (or a friend with one)

1 keyboard
Buttons (about 100-110)
Some nice piece of fabric or leather/vinyl
Spray paint
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)
on/off switch
#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)
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andy.knote8 months ago

I know I am late to the party- But nice job. Great Instructable with good photos and excellent job with the step-by-step. Nice Work!

Baughb1 year ago

I might have tried to make a jig to hold buttons and the stems aligned on center while gluing. Maybe some layered cardboard?

imrational1 year ago
As a typewriter collector I sincerely thank you for not destroying a typewriter for your project. It looks great!
fretted2 years ago
Simply Awesome !
Machine3 years ago
That keyboard is stunning.

When will someone steampunk a PC? That would be nice to go with that beautiful keyboard.
There are many steampunk PCs. Google Steampunk PC or visit the forums at Brass Goggles.
steel water pipe nipple with ID nearer to what you want cut square and sharpened with a file while spinning it with a drill motor makes a good makeshift paper punch
darcham3 years ago
If I remember correctly, we used a hair dryer in arts & crafts (40 years ago) to remove bubbles. The same technique works great with epoxy.
I am enjoying this instructive very much and may see what I can find at the Goodwill for parts...
JasonMyers4 years ago
McAfee said it was dangerous to download GIMP. Really? I want a free, safe Photoshop, and not Paint.NET! I need a more sophisticated program. Any suggestions?
To the Author: BEAUtiFUL keyboard!

To JasonMyers:
Try AVG Free Edition, it's got so many more accurate signatures than the "pay for your continued fear" commerical programs. Last time I got the GIMP it was fine and I checked it with a few different anti-vir programs.

AVG Free Edition has gives ALOT of false positives.
My suggestion is: Don't listen to McAfee :)
For the wiring of the led light you could have used the copper tube to guide the wire to the side and there make a hole in the side of the keyboard, which is covered by the copper tubes anyway.
That would keep the wires out of sight and less 'vulnerable'.
It would also make it possible to place the on/off switch of the leds in the keyboard case.
btw, you really should have used a metal toggle switch. One that has this red and silver plate with the on/off text. Much sexier than a slider... ;)

Nice keyboard anyway.
cincymikeb4 years ago
I would try an abrasive blade like for masonry
The black ones with no teeth,
I am pretty sure they make the same type for metal .
Mojo_JoJo5 years ago
Very interesting project, great work !!!
Here's a suggestion for the steam gauge, use a voltmeter that looks like a steam gauge but hook it to the hard disk activity LED indicator. This way everytime there is HDD activity the steam gauge would show some movement. You could add more gauges for temperature and fan speed as well.
MissBetsy (author)  Mojo_JoJo5 years ago
Great idea, thx and in one way or the other I plan on using it for the upcoming computer case mod. Hmmmm, now where would I find out how to hook it up to measure temperature and fan speed.... LOL
jackg MissBetsy4 years ago
temperature=thermistor coupled to VOM, charted to F temp

fan speed=amps of the fan converted to scaled speed chart

great looking KB
wow, functionality, what a novel concept (lol). great idea! i might just do that.
Caerigna4 years ago
Another cool addition to the led-gel lights would be to have the light fade away or seem to be radioactive. I think this could be produced with the use of another instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Glow-in-the-Dark-Hair-Gel/#step1 . Only question would be if the light still diffuses through it as well as it did through clear gel.
Love it! Reminds me a bit of Datamancer's, but he used typewriter keys instead of your ingenuous method! I very neat way to make it for those of use you sadly do not have old typewriter to cannibalize!
Zanaji4 years ago
I've been looking for a way to illuminate a mini keyboard, and now I'm just going to have to steampunk it too. Thank you for the inspiration!
Very nice job, young lady.
WarZombie4 years ago
I would love to try this out, my only problem however is I'm pretty sure the keyboard would no longer function as a gaming keyboard, haha.
Just having some small problems getting the picture you put up of the keys you made to turn into pictures so I can print them out. Any advice on how to make it into a .jpeg or other image file? Other than that, this 'ible is awesome. Very steampunkish.
how big where the buttons? (actual buttons and diameter inside of rim)
leevon3164 years ago
Great stuff! Well done! :)
cliff0424 years ago
Clap,Clap,Clap ( Standing ovation crowd noises) that is fricking sweet.
Rowen275 years ago
I swear they are using this board or one very like it (Minus the light) as a prop on Warehouse 13 this season...
hey Rowen27, I may be wrong but I think that keyboard was made by Richard "Doc" Nagy from Datamancer.net. Like I said I may be wrong but you should check out his absolutly beautiful creations anyway.
entirely possible, I was only able to get a glimpse of it from time to time, and my DVR doesn't do frame by frame *Doh!*
akossoy4 years ago
Really nice instructable! Nice touches with the copper pipes and typewriter "type" buttons. I'm definetely gonna try this!
dagenius5 years ago
If I had the patience to do this I would probably pour some resin into the buttons, so that the stickers don't get ruined.
sorry for the trouble i was able to download file after all thanks manuel
Hello and great work! ! I have tried to download the key pdf with no luck. I do realize you had mentioned the temp / exe file but it acts like the file is not on the server thanks manel
In terms of cutting the copper pipe, my first suggestion would be to use a band saw instead of a table saw. Cutting smaller diameter things on a table saw, especially metal things, can be dangerous, and in terms of using metal, could be bad for the saw blade at the very least. Clearly it worked. but band saws are pretty much built to do this kind of operation.
why not use a pipe cutter? Cheap, easy and no noise or sparks.
abqjohn sway5 years ago
'cause a pipe cutter wouldn't do the cut they needed; it can cut pipe to length, but not in half, length-wise... Re-examine the shots in steps 10, 11, & 12, and you should be able to see how they cut the pipe in half, along its' length, to frame the keyboard.
sway abqjohn5 years ago
Ahh I see it now. Thanks
Questor5 years ago
just a thought,but have you thought of "filling' the keys to the rim with a clear plastic or nail polish maybe 'dome' them It might make for a longer life of the lettering and may add to the look
Fretka5 years ago
I love this 'ible. I admire that you were willing to take a brand new keyboard and punk it out ! Great inspiration and fabulously well done !! saved to my favorites to try very soon !
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