Introduction: Installing USB Typewriter Kit on Olivetti Typewriters

About: I am an electrical engineer and professional dumpster diver who is currently in the process of moving my family from Philadelphia, PA to Portland, OR.

With the USB Typewriter "Easy Install" Conversion Kit, (available from you can add modern computer connectivity to your favorite typewriter.  This instructable gives some tips for installing the kit on Olivetti brand typewriters.

Step 1: Remove Crossbar

The crossbar in most Olivettis is in a weird place -- underneath the hood of the typewriter above the keyboard.  First, remove the ribbon covers as if you were changing the ribbons.  Then, remove the screws underneath the spacebar that secure the ribbon cover and hood and remove it.

Now, use pliers to unhook the arms that clip onto the left and right of the crossbar (see picture).  Then unhook the retaining clip that secures the crossbar (set the clip aside and don't loose it).  Now remove the crossbar.

NOTE: If your Olivetti does not have a crossbar under the hood, email me, because in your case there is a different (simpler) method of installing the kit.

Step 2: Cut the Support Rod

The crossbar consists of piece of sheet metal with many teeth, welded to a long rod.  The rod will get in the way of where the circuitry is to be installed, so we must remove the section of the rod that is directly above the teeth.  This is done by using a dremel or hacksaw to make four cuts perpendicular to the rod, then popping out the resulting pieces.  The two middle cuts are made directly on weld joints in order to break them.  However, the two outer cuts should not be aimed at weld joints -- they should be made just a little bit inside the weld joints, as indicated in the picture.  Make sure all four cuts all the way through the rod before trying to remove the pieces you cut.  They should pop out very easily with the help of pliers -- if they give you trouble, use a flat-head screwdriver to pry them out gently.

Remember, we are not trying to tear off the entire rod, just the part of the rod that runs across the comb-shaped section.

Step 3: Paint the Crossbar

The other unfortunate thing about converting Olivettis is the weird comb-like shape of the crossbar, which makes it hard to easily wrap tape around it to insulate it.  Therefore I suggest that, instead of insulating the crossbar with tape, you use 2-3 thin coats of spray paint.  Any brand or color will do -- here I used black matte Krylon acrylic paint. I like to use a primer first to make sure the paint does not peel or chip while we are working with it, but that is optional.  Wait at least 48 hours for the paint to cure.

PS -- before painting, make sure you cover up the end pieces that connect the crossbar to the typewriter itself (see second picture).  Either that, or you will have to sand them off later to remove the paint after it is dry.

Step 4: Add a Strip of Tape

After the paint dries, add a strip of tape over the flat area of the crossbar, so that it overlaps about 1/3 of the width of the comb part, too.

Step 5: Glue the Sensor Panel to the Crossbar

Using a modest amount of hot glue, glue the sensor panel to the crossbar so that the contacts line up with the fingers of the comb.

Leave about 1/8 inch is between the edge of the sensor panel and the back of the crossbar (see picture)

Step 6: Cut and Glue the Contacts

Now, cut the flexible metal contacts to length, so that they do not stick out any further than the fingers of the comb. Then, glue each contact down flat with TINY amounts of superglue.  If you accidentally get superglue on one of the contacts, that's OK - you can scratch it off later with a knife blade or with some sharp tweezers.

Step 7: Sand the Keys

Using sandpaper, a nail-file, exacto blade, or a Dremel tool, scratch off the paint on the keys around where they normally  come into contact with the crossbar.

Step 8: Reattach the Crossbar

Now that the Sensor Panel is attached to it, we can put the crossbar back in place and re-attach the various linkage arms that were hooked onto it before we removed it.  Note that there is a hook on the right side that cannot be reattached, because the ribbon cable is in its way (see picture).  Thats OK though, because that arm has a twin on the left side that does the same thing (advancing the ribbon). Therefore, just don't worry about re-attaching that piece.

Remember to put back the retaining clip that you removed in Step 2!

Step 9: Continue Installation

At this point, you have successfully installed the Sensor Panel on your Olivetti! Congratulations, at this point you can switch over to Step 8 of the standard installation instructions and finish up the installation:

Step 10: Step 10: Att