Giant QWERTY Keyboard




Introduction: Giant QWERTY Keyboard

About: Dinosaur Rex's lived in Texas. And that's a great big place In the United States. Still they both seem small, 'cause if I sang about it all, I'd need a Big Song!

An educational tool for preschool and kindergarten age children to learn the alphabet, learn to read and write while playing with a computer. Video (last slide) shows giant QWERTY keyboard in action.

While corporate electronic designers were making computers smaller, I made this keyboard bigger for children to learn.

Skill required to build:

1) Basic wood working skills and basic shop tools

2) Some soldering

3) A lot of cutting with Exacto knife, sharp blades and scissors

4) Volt meter handy to check continuity and shorts


Art board, foam core, fish aquarium filter material, 1 inch brass strips, screws, washers and nuts, surplus phone wire to connect giant keys to PC keyboard, contact cement, paint, wood, wood screws. Old computer and software.

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Step 1: Built Wood Frame to Hold Attach the Material and Begin Assembly

Keyboard is older model where each key has two solder points on back of circuit board to attach/solder wire to cause short and trigger event (letter).

Sand paper letters based on Montessori method of rough/smooth, tactile senses to trace and learn alphabet

Step 2: Design and Assembly Begins

Design and assembly time took 200 hours. Conservative estimate.

Step 3: Exploded View of Each Letter Assembly

Pencil CAD

Step 4: Picture Collage, Painted and Unpainted Versions

Painted version used for trade show booth.

Step 5: Video of Giant QWERTY Keyboard in Action

Original PC used was Kaypro II with 64k of RAM and dual 5 1/4 inch floppies. Shareware named "the animated alphabet" was used on a 386 PC for the video.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago

    You still have a Kaypo II? WOW! I thought I was the only one who had one left. Software and all. Great idea. I am going to use this idea in a special ed class.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea, after my own children out grew it, the keyboard you see in this Instructable was donated to someone with a special needs child...


    5 years ago

    How do you make the keys work?


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Each key has two wires. On the giant QWERTY keyboard: one wire is connected to a small 1" square brass contact on the back of each letter, the other connected too a screw connected to the board behind each key. When the key is depressed the brass plate touches the screw, this causes a short and makes the key work. Each key wire from the giant QWERTY keyboard gets soldered to the corresponding key on the back of the PC keyboard. Each key has two solder points. Polarity does not matter. What makes each key work is a simple short circuit. Touching the two wires together. When I am typing this response to you, I am actually causing a short circuit every time I depress a key. This creates the words I am typing to you. In more contemporary keyboard design, other materials are used to create the short circuit e.g. the wire is embedded in a small rubber lining that gets depressed. That is why Apple keyboards today are so thin and light. However there are still keyboards out there that have solder points on the back of the keyboard when you remove the plastic case. You would use an older design to make this work today.