USB Typewriter "Easy Install" Kit

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Picture of USB Typewriter
A while ago, I designed a DIY kit that let folks dig up their old typewriters and put them to use as USB computer keyboards or as iPad docks. Even though that kit worked great, the hardest part by far was the soldering. Many people wanted to know if there was a way to put together the kit without doing any soldering at all.

So this summer I designed an "Easy Install" version of the USB Typewriter kit, which now involves absolutely no soldering or special tools and is just plain easier to install all around. This guide explains the installation process for my new kit, which is now available for sale at . I'm interested in making this kit as easy as possible to install, and making the instructions extremely clear, so if you see room for improvement please leave your comments and suggestions below. 

I have designed different versions of the kit to fit each of the major brands of manual typewriters, dating from the early 1920s through the late 1960s. I have made kits and instruction manuals available for each of the following brands of typewriter:

For a pictorial guide to which typewriters are and are not compatible, consult this handy compatibility chart.
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jolshefsky1 year ago
I was thinking, "okay, this is kind of neat, but I like my old typewriter to be a typewriter." I like to use it especially if I have writer's block because (although I installed a ribbon with correction tape instead of red) it's hard to go back, making it impossible to edit-while-writing. It also has no mytimewastebook or any such nonsense.

But then I realized that one use — for me at least — is that if I write something on the typewriter, I usually have to transcribe it manually since OCR has a tough time with the cloth-ribbon letters. With this, I can make an instant backup, at least getting all the text entered.

A Bluetooth version would be cool, but perhaps even better (more generic) is something to make a USB keyboard Bluetooth (a box with a rechargeable that acts as a Bluetooth keyboard but requires a USB keyboard to get its input.)
I would love a guide to make a bluetooth keyboard that could be linked up with the Galaxy S3 :-D please please please provide... ;-)

best regards
Elkongen (=the electrical king)
roddyaleixo5 months ago
How can I assign a magnetic switch to the return carriage? The instructables say it's much more difficult to do so, but are there any instructions to this at all? I'd rather try it than assign a dummy key to work as "Enter".
imrational6 months ago
Received my order from you, but I must have ordered incorrectly. I got Corona kits, and I have Smith Coronas Classic 12s. Will the Corona EZ kits work? I emailed you, but didn't see a response, so thought I'd try here.
jackzylkin (author)  imrational6 months ago
Yes, the Corona kits will work just the same on Smith Coronas. Thanks for asking, and enjoy your kit.
jackzylkin (author)  imrational6 months ago
Yes, the Corona kits will work just the same on Smith Coronas. Thanks for asking, and enjoy your kit.
gregp19621 year ago
What if I plug it in and there is no beep?
jackzylkin (author)  gregp19626 months ago

Was this problem resolved for you? I sent new circuit boards to a number of customers that had received a bad batch that did not beep.

sooty148 months ago
Yeah I am having the same problem. There is no beep. Is there a solution to this?!
rronald1 year ago
really impressive. Is it possible we can further convert it into a printer ? store file in USB typewriter module and print out on typewriter ?... raspberry pi can be used .
ChinaMike1 year ago
I thought about doing this years ago, it is nice to see someone else went to the trouble to do it. I had a secretary model--forgot the brand. It came in a slim case and from what I understood, it was used primarily by sports writers and journalists on the go. I loved using it, because I am old enough (52) that I started on a manual in 7th or 8th grade, then moved on to electric in high school.
The manual typewriters were/are more corporeal and I like the deeper finger movement; it just seems "righter for a writer".
I believe that this type of re-invention might find its way into the work place of people who do a lot of data entry and/or people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. CTS never existed in the days of early electric typewriters because you still had to thunk the keys a bit.
I know my wrists/hands benefit more from a manual style typewriter. Maybe you re-invented the future!
poofrabbit1 year ago
Hey congratulations on being a finalist in the hack it contest! Good luck to you!
J-Five1 year ago
happy2bmom1 year ago
Cute as a novelty, but wouldn't work real good for everyday use as there are many essential keys missing.
jackzylkin (author)  happy2bmom1 year ago
Thanks for the feedback, but actually, the additional 3 buttons on the control panel allow you to access many additional functions, such as Ctrl, Alt, F1-F12, Arrow keys, and so on.
All of a sudden I like it even more than I already did! :)
Well done!
J-Ri1 year ago
Nice! Ever think about a USB typewriter that prints to paper as you type on a regular keyboard? You could type on a typewriter, have it go through a computer and typed on a different machine!
randofo1 year ago
Wow. Cool kit. I did this years ago with a lot of switches and patience. It was a royal pain in the neck.
"'Royal' pain in the neck" I see what you did there.
He's shifty that way.
srutkowski1 year ago
That looks a lot easier than the board I built back in 1980 to interface an IBM Selectric to a TRS-80. Sure beat paying $1300 for a Radio Scrap line printer and another $300 for an Expansion Interface.

I still have my original schematic.
WOW! Thats what I call technical extacy!

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