Introduction: Geek Bag - 101 Uses for a Dead Keyboard Part 1

About: Aiming to get a Show and tell maker fair going in March 2009. Anyone in UK or willing to travel, please let me know.

OK, there probably aren't actually 101 totally different uses for a dead keyboard but we will see how far we get.

Our local Geek Central - "The Electron Club" ( ) - in Glasgow has provided me with a crate of dead keyboards in preparation for the workshops at the upcoming Scottish maker fair: McMADSAT, so I needed to be ready to use up the pile of parts accumulating on the living room floor.

There are already some excellent ones on Instructables:
1 Keyboard as planter or seed sprouter:
2. Keyboard keys as drawing pins/thumbtacks:
3. Keyboard keys as beads:
4. Keyboard badges and name plates: and
5. Keyboard films as wallets:
6. Coat rack:
7. Keyboard in a bottle decoration:
8. T-shirt modding:
9. Kelendar:

I will obviously be using some of these but of course wont be posting them as my ideas unless the method is altered substantially.

This bag is the first in my own series, but with the above, brings the running total to date to 10

Step 1: What You Need

Obviously you are going to need an old keyboard, which you take to pieces. Undo all visible screws, pull the cable off and cut away any circuitry. Pull all the keys off.

For this bag you need:
the base plate, If you have any choice - choose a very flat, lightweight base plate. Cut away any sticky-out bits on the inside.
some keys
the cable. NOT the curly kind. You need the straight kind, or you will go mad in step 3.
Some fabric or perhaps some soft plastic, bike inner tube or anything like that, as long as it is soft enough to force a sewing needle through.

You will also need some simple tools:
A very large sewing (darning) needle, such as is usually used for wool.
Stanley knife or a saw if the base plate is thick
Drill or soldering iron (for making holes)

Step 2: Cutting

The bag will consist of a front and back, a top and a flap. I cut using a stanley knife and a straight edge. The plastic is quite soft and will break cleanly along a deeply scored line.

The front and back should be the same size and shape. I made mine pretty much square, but you could make the bag any shape at all.
The top is essentially a hinge which should be as wide as you want the bag to be thick.

The flap should be long enough to come about half way down the front.

Smooth off any rough edges and sharp corners with sandpaper.

The strip of fabric should be about 2cms wider than the top you just cut. Hem it or sew it into a tube and turn it inside out so the sewing is on the inside. It should be long enough that it provides the shoulder strap as well as going round the three sides of the bag.

Cut the plug off the cable, keep the plug for later. Drill a hole straight through the middle part.

Step 3: Cable

You are going to sew the bag with the very think coloured wires inside the keyboard's cable.

Now strip the thick insulation (usually grey) off the outside of the cable. I found this insulation was really very thick and had to use the stanley knife to cut it lengthways to get the inner wires out.

Step 4: Holes

Holes can be made by drilling or melting with a soldering iron. Either way, make holes around three sides of the front and back, one of the long sides of the flap and both long sides of the top.

The holes should be about 2 cms apart. Some of the holes are there already because they were screw holes. The holes should be big enough for two thicknesses of the wire you are going to sew with in the next step.

Step 5: Assembly

Sewing, but VERY EASY sewing, like you did at kindergarten. Thread one of the thin coloured wires into your BIG needle.

Take the front piece and start to sew the fabric around the three sides of it that have the holes. Ideally the front should be in the middle of the fabric's length so that you have plenty to make the shoulder strap later.

When you start to sew, do not pull the wire right through - you need to leave a fairly long tail to tie off at the end. Sew under and over until you reach the other side of the front piece, then come back again filling in the gaps until you get back to where you started. Now pull the stitches tight and tie the two ends together in a reef knot (I think this is a square knot in the USA), or any knot you can remember how to do.

Look at each of the pictures and the wee notes I have put. These assume you know nothing at all about sewing. If you do know how to sew, you will realise that there are lots of other ways to do this, any of which is fine.

If you have rubber inner tube instead of fabric for the sidestrip and a hand rivet gun, that might also be another way to fix the side strip to the front and back.

Step 6: Assembly 2

Now you have to do the same type of sewing to fix the top piece to the top edge of the back of the bag and then the flap to the front edge of the top piece.

Step 7: Assembly 3

Make a hole near the lower edge of the flap and thread about 10cms of wire through it. Tie the ends together in an overhand knot. This is the loop for the fastening.

Hold the flap in the shut position to see where the loop comes to and drill two holes in a vertical line near that point.

Thread another 10cms piece of wire through the two holes and then one end through the hole in the cable plug. Tie the ends tightly. This is the toggle for the fastening.

Push the toggle through the loop to keep the flap closed in place.

Decorate the front and flap to your taste. I stuck random keys on this one, but really anything at all could be used: beads, buttons, pictures, paint, magic marker.

Step 8: Finished Bag

My bag is geekiness personified, with keys all over the front. It happens to be just the right size for CDs.

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