The Endgame Keyboard

This is not a case

This is not what I’m trying to do, but I’m glad I did it.

First prototype of a case. Any case.

My general idea is to make some really awesome cases. This isn’t one of those. It’s much to big, unbalanced and downright ugly. But it will make for a great prototype. There’s plenty of space inside to accommodate for electronics, batteries, alterations and mistakes. Above all it’s something to touch, feel and see.

And I’ve done my best! That’s some serious (s)crapwood, that is! Made to precision specs by hand. A slow and time tested process for master carpenters in their quiet, airy and light workshops. Think handsaws and box planes. I’m actually rather pleased. But anyway… This is nothing like the cases I’m designing and hope to bring into production eventually.

General idea

I’ve made more than one case in Fusion 360, but this one just uses some of the inner measurements of those designs. The rest is done by feel. The angle of the case is fixed, and the over sized frame is for holding electronics. It’s made from layers of 4 mm plywood.

I know the switches on a PCB (eventually) will need a case that’s 8 mm deep, but to fit my soldering, a micro controller board and a battery I made the inside 12 mm deep. With the bottom it’s 16 mm high before I even lay a frame around the keycaps. That adds 8 more millimetres to the design with a total of 24 mm!

That’s one third more than I hope to make the final version, but for now…

What have I learned

  • You can’t work with too small tolerances
  • Design has to be simple and straightforward
  • Wood shrinks and expands, allow for some play
  • This will take some time, more than I think

O, and by the way

This is not a workshop…

The first success

A parcel arrived at my doorstep today, containing the switch plates. And let’s hope everything about this project turns out as well as this. I ordered two plates from a sheet metal company, and they delivered four. For two plates the order was rather pricey, but I guess this makes it half the price? And I’m definitely going to have a use for four plates. I guess I wont get that good a price again, but if I were to order some quantity, the price per unit would naturally go down. I think I might have found my switch plate supplier.

Matias and Alps switches in their switch plate variant

I’m not sure why I got two extra plates, maybe somebody misunderstood and made two plates of booth kinds. But here’s the best thing of all: they work. Measures are perfect. I can press a switch in place and it sits snugly, even if I pull off an attached keycap off.

So. I think these are enough for mock-ups. I can test out if all the supports I’ve designed for are really necessary, and in the right place? Hopefully my next post will show a proper build, I think it’s about time.

The plan right now is to simply make a wooden frame that fits one plate. An open bottom will make it easy to solder everything in place. This will, firstly, let me get a feel for the layout and the switches. Second: I’ll get a hands on opportunity to develop the switch matrix, witch together with the control unit shall give me the first clues as to how my PCB will be constructed.

By the way…

Leading Edge DC-2014

I now have the privilege to blog on a Leading Edge keyboard. The blue Alps switches are terrific. Along with a minimalistic word processor (Wordgrinder) that runs in the terminal, I have a down played, retro writing environment.

I shall make a post about the restoration and modification, even though it might be a bit off topic. This is not an Endgame keyboard, unless you want a few keys scattered about, and a couple of them missing, like F11 and F12.

A waiting game

I’m still waiting for some of the parts needed to make my first few prototypes. I need a couple of switch plates, they should be ready for delivery in week 9 (of 2019). I also need a couple of control boards, some cable and a few diodes (now that I write that, I realize I need more diodes than I’ve ordered…). Except for the switch plates (and 70-odd diodes) everything is in the mail.

First project

My first project will be to make a Soarer’s Converter for my Leading Edge DC-2014. I don’t want to brake that up for parts until I know if it works. I wont be using it, but if it works I’ll probably sell it on.

For a Soarer’s I will need a Teensy, and that is in the mail, I should be good to go in a couple of days. I will also try to post a YouTube video of that build, setting up some good lighting in the meantime.