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E.E.L. Ambiense

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Everything posted by E.E.L. Ambiense

  1. Hahaha, I think it's the exact opposite; my folks haven't seen me in months!
  2. I'm tryin' to make it back, man! Hopefully I can crawl out from under my rock soon enough.
  3. Hahaha, but then again....I still have awful memories of the old Sunbeam Rheobus fan controllers from the early 2000's I used to love using in projects. They had 5mm dual-color LEDs on them that were so bloody bright I wouldn't fault small aircraft if they tried to land on my street!
  4. Haha, yup! Trying to get somewhere on something, but it just doesn't seem to work out every time. Thanks man! Yeah I LOLed as soon as I saw the LEDs. Not really my thing and figured I'd just leave them off anyway so it doesn't bug me too much, but the glaring always-on Windows key is ridiculous. I think they should offer a non-LED model and drop the price even more, haha. They'd sell a poop-ton of them.
  5. Yeah that stuff goes a looooooong way too. I've had that bottle for over 15 yrs, lol. Used to need it for Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pens, but since I don't really use them much at all anymore.... hahah.
  6. Log Completed 9-19-17 Welcome, munkys! It's be a grueling few months what with numerous setbacks with projects, and storms, but an EEL abides I guess. Gotta keep on truckin'. I've been tinkering with some things, and decided I'd distract myself temporarily from the big projects I should already be done with but can't seem to quite get there due to temperatures being unbearable, and lack of desire. I guess a good way of describing trying to push yourself against your will to finish a project you don't want to work on: it's kind of like having a bowel-movement -- you can't force it or you'll be in pain. I was able to snag one of the Team Wolf Zhuque "CIY" 87-key decks really cheap, and decided I'd do something with it to make it my own. Out of box, it's a damn fine piece of keyboard for the price, with a few gripes. Let's get to this! These cheaaaaaap decks come in decent packaging... CIY = Change It Yourself! Basically, you can hot-swap new key switches into the deck without having to disassemble and desolder. Perfect as a switch-tester on the go! Inside the box, they even have a layer of vellum paper to further protect the deck inside from dust, critters, or whatever. Nice. Let's get this deck out on the workbench and take a look at things. I've seen uglier! That logo though.... I can't stand excessive badging, to be honest. I like subtlety when it comes to that kind of thing. That logo has gotta go! Not really a fan of Blues, but I guess they could be worse. These are Gaote Blues. Weird round opening on the switch top instead of the usual rectangular box shape of the stem meeting up with the housing. Doesn't matter; they're gone too, haha. Caps are kinda meh too, but I've seen worse. The Cherry-esque stabilizers (stabs) are interesting though. I like how they snap onto the bar instead of having to fiddle with getting the bar inserted prior and pushing the caps on. This makes more sense in an odd way. I was going to replace them with Cherry stabs, but I may just keep them instead. Kinda cool! All caps pulled, and ready to further breakdown... This key in particular is kind of a pain though.... The Windows key. For some reason, the manufactuer decided the backlighting on it will stay on ALL THE TIME, even if you turn off the backlighting (like I do). I don't get it, lol. Easily fixed though. SMD LEDs; surface-mount diodes. If you're careful with your soldering iron, you can get it off with no damage. One of the things I dislike about this deck is the backlighting. I don't understand why a lot of these manufacturers decide that the 'rainbow' backlighting is acceptable. Just....choose a color. One color. That's it! I don't need a couple rows of red, then blue, then yellow, etc. Ugh, ugly! If I really felt like going through the trouble, I'd just desolder all the SMDs and replace with a single color (such as orange or something), but it's not worth it to me. I just rarely ever even look at it with backlighting. Basically, this is a work-station keyboard. In fact, I'm typing this log using it! After removing all the switches using the CIY removal tool, a few screws through the top plate and some in the bottom held the hold thing together. I'm going to make the permanent wire a removable one too. I don't like permanently-attached cables! PCB is held on to the top plate with a few screws... Remove those, and you're ready to screw around with the deck some more. Stabs installed on plate. I contemplated removing these and going Cherry, but I think I'm going to keep them. Have to strip these off though for what I'm doing... There's the offending SMD LED. You gotta GO, dude! ...and bye-bye! Moving on, let's start working on that switch-plate and its offending logo. I just attacked it with my mouse-sander, and was careful not to go too deep. Just enough to get rid of the stamped, raised logo. A few minutes later, it's brand-less! I'm ditching the flip-down plastic feet that a majority of keyboards have in favor of some metal standoffs instead. Just have to drill a couple of holes for them. Hahahaha, yeaaaah..... warranty stickers don't warn people like me off -- it attracts us like flies on munky-poo! After drilling holes for standoffs, sanding down, prepping and spray-painting the bottom of the deck orange (I had it left over and had just enough to finish this piece, so why not?), I decided I'd continue with the theme I decided on.... a weathered, lived-in, fallout-shelter kind of thing. I went back to my method I used on my CMC Field Server project.... ...using a small amount of my favorite india ink mixed with rubbing alcohol, and blotted and rubbed on to give it some 'personality' and grime. I also sprayed the top plate with a mixture of dark-grey etching primer and light misting of some black spray-paint, and already began weathering that up as well. I want it to look and feel like it's seen some action. The less-perfect it is, the more perfect it becomes to me! Starting on the weathering for the base frame... a simple paper-towel works great for this initial step. To give it a more personalized touch, I decided I'd add something on the base since it has such a large area! Heh....I said "large area".... Masking off... ...and ready for spray-job. A couple light passes is all it takes. Doesn't have to be blobbed on! I let that set up for a few mins to give it some 'tack'. ...And peel the mask off carefully. Done! I let it cure for about 15 mins or so before attacking it some more. Always sign your work! Tried-n-true trusty 3M Scotchbrite pads work wonders. And done. Ready for the final weathering pass. Unfortunately, those openings there where the plastic flip-down legs used to be are going to show the white internal plastic frame when it's all put back together. I could technically cover those over and hide it all, but it's really not a big deal. I just don't care that much about it. Just a work keyboard! Airbrushed some additional grime and build-up in some areas to give it some more lived-in feel. ..Same on top plate. Need to finish up with that as well... Not too much needed; just 'enough'. I didn't snap pics of it when I did it as I was preoccupied with other things, but I powder-coated matte-clear sealed/top-coated the top and bottom pieces of the deck. It's now permanently weathered and will be really resilient to any further damage. But the best part of a weathered project is, you can beat on it with a hammer and you won't notice much beyond what you've already done to it, haha. I also snipped the stock USB cable and soldered it to a micro-USB Adafruit port and installed it inside the base of the deck. I had to use the rotary tool and needle-files to create a new recessed area on the back of the deck, and I used some epoxy putty to 'soft-install' it. I let it set for a day and cleaned it up a bit more using files, and finally painted over it with black acrylic paint to 'hide' it a bit more. Ultimately, it doesn't matter much as it's on the back side of the deck. I highly suggest reading this individual's guide. A lot of great info there. I did my own little 'spin' on it but that's a great way of doing it! After re-assembling everything, and doing some other additional touch-ups on screws, etc., I was able to begin popping in new switches. I opted for the new Kailh Speed Coppers since I had a bag of them on launch, and they're SMD-compatible. They're interesting switches for sure. I'm more of a linear dude, but these feel really nice. The shorter actuation takes some getting used to, but they're nice. And that's coming from someone who hates Cherry Browns. That's about it for the log. I installed a keycap set that I snagged from overseas. A cheapy, "Carbon-esque" Cherry-profile set that fit theme to me. Nice caps for the price though. Nice and thick. So without further delay, I present the final pics! FINAL PHOTOS
  7. Update time! Let's get to it. I've been hammering away at this project, and admittedly it's getting away from me. Mostly because I'm bursting with ideas and I'm running out of time, quickly, for me to be able to form these ideas into actual physical creations. I'm trying, though. If I don't get this done in time, which is highly possible, I'm going to push until it is completed. I have to. It's a moral imperative. CPU socket area with CPU. Time to get it prepped for the air-cooler to be attached. Spackled some TIM on it... ...And completed. But that's not all. I'm going to customize the cooler so it fits the feel of things a bit! Some design-work completed as well as some paint work later, and there we have it. Finishing up on assembly! Done. Moving on! Forgot to add the Gizmonic sticker to the other side of the rear fan, haha. It's done now! Now, the next thing I wanted to do to this project was tie it together even more in the MST3K lore. What better way to do that then having ole' Gypsy looking things over inside? Let's get to it! After a few minutes of screwing around with this admittedly scarce limited-edition 'figurine', I finally got her 'eye' removed. Now I can hack away at the solid body... I need it all removed n' stuff. Now, I need to make some room on the back side of her head so I can get at the internals. Drill, drill, drill! That's probably about as good as it will get. Moving on. Non-split loom to recreate her body! Only thing is... she seems a little... I dunno... flaccid. Let's drill out the 'eye' here... I gots an idea. Oh yeah, almost forgot... due to technology moving on, sometimes mods will have to be revisited and be re-modded to make it able to work with newer technology. This is one of those times. :| Because of the backplate mount for the CPU cooler, I've had to go in and do some surgery on the already-completed chassis to make some room for it. Sigh. Marked off. Ready to cut the crap. Drilled to start the holes. Done. Now for some cuts. Rotary tool action, as I don't feel like messing with the jigsaw tonight. Close enough; it'll be hidden anyway by the mobo, so it doesn't have to be perfect. Cleaned up with sanding drum. And some channel-edge to finish it off. Good enough! Back to more fun stuff! The mobo's cooling fans integrated into the sinks are a little plain, so made them a Gizmonic product too! Trying out a different HDD rack that I'll probably end up going with. It looks nice and subtle, and it's short enough. Moving on, I acquired a bag of 10mm LEDs. Basically, I just needed one, but the price for a few more was basically the same, so why not, ya know? LED will be a tight fit, but it's about tailor-made, with some additional work. I took a sanding block to one to shave down the domed end so it's nice and flat. I think it'll work just fine! After my careful drill-out work on the eye, it should fit like a glove. Some careful surgery, here... Bingo! Like a glove. Let's do a quick test. And she lights! ...But, she's still..... limp. Let's make her a little more turgid! Pushing it in, one centimeter at a time.... After about 9 hours or something (or at least it felt like it), I have about 2 miles-worth (or at least it felt like it) of tubing ready to go. Along with some wiring in it too. ...And buttoning her head back up. She's alive! ------------- Thank you to my amazingly patient supporters: ------------- Thanks for watchin'!
  8. Update time! I gotta keep plugging away, even if it's minor stuff. Let's get to it! Continuing with the makeover on the acrylic, I've also made some new hub stickers to fall further down the MST3K hole (does that sound dirty? I think it sounds dirty... what the hell is wrong with me?!). Here they are! Vinyl, and ready for stickering action! With the top fan removed, I can get to the hub... ....and re-stickered! Gotta put the grill, etc. back on it, so I can reinstall where it will reside. The bottom side of the fan isn't going to matter at all really as you won't be able to see it from the bottom anyway, but I'll know it's there so I have to do it! It's kind of like smearing feces on the wall, letting it dry, and then painting over the top of it with some decent eggshell latex paint. ...actually, it's nothing like that. Sorry I said anything. ...What the hell is wrong with me? Ahem. Ready for install. ...And done, with new refreshed frame. Let's do the same for the rear exhaust as well! ...And done! I have lots of stuff planned for this project; I just have to make the dreams a reality. Just need time to concentrate, and execute! Runnin' out of time, and I'm feeling it already, haha. Gotta do it! I'll be back for more as soon as I can. ------------- Thank you to my amazingly patient supporters: ------------- Thanks for watchin'!
  9. *peeks in; sniffs the air a bit; absently picks at the back-end a bit; sniffs the finger; backs out of the room slowly*
  10. *Reaches deep down into the bowels of the project-log subforum and grabs a hold of something dark and dismal, and pulls really hard on it* Update time! Alright, after a relatively-modest 7-8 year break, things are back on track! In all seriousness, things were very weird for a very long time. So many things have changed since this original log started all those years ago, such as the fact that MST3K is officially BACK FROM THE DEAD with a whole new season with a new cast starting soon! I don't want to use the word 'reboot', but it actually kind of applies in this instance. Same as when Mike took over from Joel as host in a sense. But it feels different. I'm beginning to see all the old-school MSTies coming out of the woodwork out there, and it's a great feeling. Anways, with this amazing news and an official drop-date of April 14th, 2017 on Netflix, I figured I'd finally get back to this project and finish it once and for all. You know, because it needs to be done. And...because it's been in the back of my mind for literally years, nagging at me like an incessant child. I have to admit I'm also a Kickstarter backer for bringing the show back, as I'm that much of a rabid fan. I personally owe a lot to this little show; it helped me get through a lot of dark times in my own life, and it still brings a smile to my face to this day. And my 6-year old son LOVES it too, which isn't much of a surprise -- It's in the DNA! Alright, let's stop talking about my precious fluids, and get to the moddin', as that's what we're here for, right? So much time has passed since this log began, and with multiple moves and other occurrences in life, things happen. And just like Lemony Snicket, sometimes those things that happen are unfortunate things. Such as.... a custom window panel that had a lot of time spent on it ended up getting destroyed in a move because of carelessness. Not blaming anyone, but it was because people who helped us move once decided it didn't look important and decided they'd just...kinda toss the panel like a flying disc. (Wow, look at that! Up there! ^ Isn't it weird? Over 7 YEARS, and it's a new pic! And in widescreen now too, because it's a reflection of the times and stuff!) Oy! Where the hell is Crow's head?! Dammit! It kind of sucks, but the metal portion of the panel is entirely salvageable. I just have to remake all the acrylic stuff. Not a major issue, but it still sucks, ya know? Just have to take it all apart again.... ...And give it a good shower and clean it up. A minor setback. Yeck. Look at that.... In the immortal words of Ernest P. Worrell, "ewwwwwwww." After a good shower/scrub-down, it's good as new. Some minor spots I can buff out and will be fine, so that's a load off my mind at least. Moving on! Since it's been a few weeks (read: years) since I began this log, tech has changed a bit. Did you know that? So I've decided to update the paltry USB 2.0 ports up top on the chassis to USB 3.0! Yes, there's a 3.0! Did you know that? Should be an easy retrofit, as most of the hard work has already been done recently (read: 7 yrs ago). ...and done. Just have to do a dry-run fitment on it to verify, but should be fine. Since tech has changed a bit since the last update, only slightly, I've also decided I'd ditch the DVD drive in there for a Blu-Ray Disc drive as well, as that would make my younger brother pretty peachy, ya know? Sheesh, that IS kinda old, isn't it. Let's pull that old thing out and toss it, I guess. Anyone have a 12-gauge? PULL! ...And the new Blu-Ray Disc drive inserted. Easy as pie, as they say. I've also decided I would overhaul the whole look for things a bit and make it more 'whimsical'. Mostly because I have a ton of scrap material I'd just like to use up, and ironically the original color material I used on a lot of the stuff on the original chassis, I do not have more of. Ugh. I don't feel like wasting money on stuff I don't need to get, as I can just change a few things and use stuff up in the process. Win-win! Such as the outside of it. I'm overhauling the acrylic color a bit to reflect a more zany feel. Such as this! Nothin' like showin' some good ole' lovin' for The Gizmonic Institute! I've decided to ditch the stock metal PSU bracket and do something completely custom instead, as well as covering over some areas on the chassis that are 'weird'. With the panels on, it will feel more symmetrical too, if that makes sense. I'm already hard at work on converting over and updating everything else to reflect the feel. Due to an amazing backer, supporter, partner and friend, and coincidentally a mod-god legend, this project also has a completely new set of hardware to go in it. Special thanks to "Overkill Bill" Owen from MNPCTech for making it happen!! :clap: This is a going to be a pretty bloody-fast rig too. I've decided to donate an AMD R9 280X to it as well, in order to give some decent gaming ability to it, along with misc. things like an SSD and HDD for data, etc. Coming up in the near future, I'll be getting some other things done on this project, like this thing: I have a hard date of April 14th, so I Gotta get crackin'! ------------- Thank you to my amazingly patient supporters: ------------- Thanks for watchin'!
  11. Damn, I feel like an ass for being so absorbed in other projects that I've neglected replying to my own log posts. Sorry, guys! Thanks, bro! Glad seeing you about man! Thanks, man! Thanks, Jeffrey! It was. I can only imagine what awesomeness you could drum up on a deck project! Absolutely! Honestly, after using Gats, I've realized the quality of the switch consistently feels more smooth and buttery versus actual Cherrys, which their linears tend to feel scratchy like they have sand in them or something. I've typed on practically anything out there, but I prefer linears for day-to-day use. I also prefer a heavier switch, but not too heavy due to longer work or gaming campaigns (such as Cherry Blacks). Gateron just took a nice design and made it work better, and for a cheaper price. As far as longevity is concerned, it's unknown versus genuine Cherrys. But typing on the same deck for 10 years sounds a little boring, haha. Thanks, bro!
  12. Hey Paul, good having you back and kicking. I know you mentioned some of this in PM before, but it's painful to read out in the open as well. Just glad you're still with us! 'Nuff said. Sweet, clean looking rig too. I really like that little chassis. Only thing I've done to them is putting bolt-on windows on them, but they offer with windows now so I rarely see them anymore, lol. Nice little cases though, considering what you can cram in them!
  13. Hey Binge! Welcome! Was awesome having you on and talking mech-deck shop.
  14. Thanks man! Nah; most backlit keycaps are garbage, but there are exceptions to that. I just never came across any backlit grey caps out there, in decent thickness and materials. I'd be fine with ABS backlit caps if I can get them in grey, but not a major market for that, let alone some nice PBT caps. I have a set of white and black PBT backlit caps that don't have a home, but dont know if I'm like how this deck would look with them on it. Haha, in all honesty I rarely look down at the deck much so backlighting is mostly just a thing that 'looks cool' to me. My daily-driver Varmilo 87 deck is backlit and I only turn it on while gaming which is once a week for an hour if I'm lucky. I typed this reply on the Mek-Dek 68! (keycap profile is weird though... I'm so accustomed to my DSA profile caps).
  15. Update time! Let's jump into it so I can wrap up this log, shall we? It's been fairly smooth going, aside from some distractions along the way, much like a gambling addict at Vegas. Thankfully I ran out of quarters! I needed to get the legs situation taken care of, but unfortunately I do not have any 'in progress' pics. Basically I just lined up and drilled out some straight holes in conjunction to how the deck itself will sit upon the legs. It worked out fine. Pic of a test-install of the legs prior to stain/seal to make sure it's going to work as well as clear the PCB as it sits just above it. Seems to work fine! I've decided on going with a weathered gray kind of look to it, as that is what my brain initially pictured when I thought about how I'd like it to look. I figured a single-pass on the stain, and a polyurethane seal over that should work just fine. After stain/seal was completed over the holiday break (and giving it ample time to cure) as well as spending some time finishing up the soldering/install of all the switches as well as the LEDs, I started final assembly of everything hoping for the best. This is where the controller will sit in its little 'nest'... Just a couple of teeny-tiny screws to hold it in place, and the frame itself will do the rest... ...Just like this! Shot from the back... Moving on to the next layer up is the layer with the counter-sunk holes to 'tie' it all together. Install with some 'coarse thread' 8-32 countersunk screws to match up with the threaded inserts. If everything was done somewhat correctly, it should go together without issue. ...I hope. Like this. One final test of the LEDs and the switches themselves. I use an awesome little free program called "Switch Hitter". Highly recommended for this kind of thing! For the deck, I've decided I'm going to use some Originative Co Carbon Black "OEM" height keycaps. I love the color but not too keen on the profile, but they will work just fine for the time being. I just love the color really, as it will fit in with the color-scheme I wanted to go with for this project. Would be cool to snag some Varmilo keycaps in gray, or even Cherry-profile gray caps. Who knows. Now, to secure the PCB itself to the standoffs on the base of the deck, I've decided to pre-tap the mount-holes on the switch-plate layer for 4-40, and I'm just going to use set-screws! Zero head profile, so they will fit in between the areas where the switches are really close to each other, and nothing will interfere... ...Such as right here between the Down and Right arrow keys. ...And done. Six of those in total to hold it in place. Probably not necessary at all as the switches themselves hold the PCB to the switch-plate, but still. I want it built like a tank, ya know? Now to handle those pesky stabilized switches. Costar stabs are fairly easy to install, but they can be annoying too. I needed to lube the wire bars where they snap into the plastic stab frame, to reduce/eliminate squeaks, rubbing, and sticking of the key upon press. Thankfully there are only a few switches on a keyboard that take a stabilizer. ...And finishing up on the keycap install after that. The biggest key of all is obviously the spacebar, and very necessary for it to work fairly well. Lube that crap! Sometimes it's difficult to get the wire bar to snap in with fingers, so I'll use some fine-tip tweezers to push it in. ...if I only had a nickel every time I've said that statement! ...And the other side. Finishing up on the keycap install, it's that time to drop on the top wood fascia to cover the mount-holes and to finish the deck off! Granted, it does kind of look cool as it is IMHO. I love using thin double-sided tape for this kind of thing, as it's stronger than hell but it's reversible "just in case". She's all done! Time to get it cleaned up, adjust/fine-tune a few things, and she'll ready for final photos. *snaps finger* Mek-Dek 68 Final Photos Thank you for watching, and hope you enjoyed it! Moving on to the next project shortly, as always. It never ends.
  16. Update time! I've been busy with other commitments, as well as preparing for some new ones to jump on the plate in the near future. Let's get started, shall we? I'm planning on holding this thing together with threaded inserts for the most part, which should give it some stability across the deck (I hope), as well as making it more resilient to abuse (I hope). Guess we'll see! I don't plan on beating it like an angry gorilla with a zookeeper, but I also don't want a limp-wristed POS deck! I mean, who does? Where was I? Oh yeah; threaded inserts. These are the hammer-in-place-and-pray kind. I won't be hammering them all the way in though, due to no space. I do, however, plan on epoxying them in place as well which should make them a little stronger. And a few taps to get it set, much like a veteran porn-actor... ...And done. Lovely. A quick test to see if it clears the next layer of the frame, which it does. Great! And the next layer.... And the next layer.... Looks great. Now I have to take care of all the other threaded inserts.... Ugh. All done. Next layer up clears everything fine. Hand-threading in the countersunk bolts to tie it together... Lovely. Moving on! The dreaded but necessary Costar-style stabilizers. Gives me the shivers, lol. Actually, they're fine. They can just be a little annoying with the clip-in wire stabilizer, but it's the only choice I have for this kind of project as I cannot use Cherry stabs on this due to the plate being a bit larger than stock. Normally, any of these stabs will only mount on a 1.5mm metal plate, due to little clipping tabs on them, but these are going on 6mm acrylic.... Like this! You can see the little clipping tabs won't allow it to actually snap in. So I have a plan that I think will work out fine... Meet the Costar stab's frame. I'm going to sand off the little clips so I can just glue the frames/stabs in place. Easy-peasy? Now they drop in just fine. ...And the rest of them on a dry-run. I'm going to need to drop the glue right in here, and quickly get the stabs into place, and hope for the best. Gluing up... All glued and ready for stabs. Unfortunately I kind of screwed up at this point. I meant to sand the whole thing down to give it a frosted kind of feel to it but neglected to do so before this step, so I had to carefully tackle this after the glued stabs were set. And on top of that, I actually needed to modify the stabs themselves because a dry-run on a stabilized switch and keycap resulted in a sticking key. Only option I had was to actually sand out the inside of the stab's frame to make more room... Luckily I had my trusty needle-file set... And after a quick bath to get rid of the dust and yucky crud, it looks like it'll work! Next step is, to actually solder a switch in place so I can do a full test of the stabilizer and verify its working status. Let's go with the left shift key, shall we? Heatin' up the iron! ...And stab inserted with keycap mounted. Here's goes nothin'! Please work.... ...Engage switch.... ...And it releases fine! Works great. It will of course require a full lubing when the whole deck is completed, but shouldn't be a problem at all. ....heh.... I said "full lubing"! Alright, until next update. Thanks for wasting some more of your time!
  17. Thanks man! I've been run over with other things going on lately so I haven't been back to this, but all shall come to pass, like a kidney-stone, or swallowing pennies.
  18. Thanks man! I'm looking forward to it. Hahaha! Thanks bro. Yes sir on the padding; taken care of. That would suck trying to type something and a brown widow crawls out though.
  19. Log Completed 12-31-16 Welcome, munkys! It's been a little while since I've done any projects (last one being LilyPC), and I've been diligently plugging away at the poorly-kept secret project as well as being 'side-tracked' by a new gaming/humor YT channel called "FidnaL4D2?". Hopefully I can finish up a lot of the long-dormant logs that are stinking up my area of the forum here like rotting carrion in the warm, summer FL sun. I'll let that one hang in the air (pun intended) so you can just....think about the mental-image. Moving on. I've decided to distract myself a bit and try to do a homemade mechanical-keyboard deck. Instead of the typical full-deck I'm more of a TKL (tenkeyless) kind of user, but I've decided I'd try to make something a little smaller than that as well. There's a modestly-priced mini mech-deck you can pick up called the Magicforce 68, which comes with Kailh mechanical switches (another MX clone) on it from factory. Not my first choice, to be honest. I'm more of Gateron switch user, so I've decided to pick up just the bare PCB for the keyboard relatively cheap so I can solder on my own switches choice along with my own LED backlight color choice. And to make it even more interesting, I'm making my own custom frame/shell for it. I've decided on wood and acrylic; maple and trans-gray to be specific, with a gray-stain on the wood with clear poly to seal it. Let's get started, shall we? Sexy Gateron reds; linear switches. Generally I tend to use Blacks (or yellows; same weight), but figured I'd try out something a bit lighter this time and see how I feel. A nice bag of 2x3x4mm white LEDs for the switches to light things up. ...And some Costar-style plate-mount stabilizers (or stabs for short). I will have to modify these to work with what I plan to do though. This is what the stock Magicforce 68 deck normally looks like, for comparison: Eh... it's okay I guess. To each their own. The caps are atrocious IMHO, but I didn't even get those with my bare PCB. I plan on giving it more personality specific to my own aesthete's tastes. Spending some time taking care of some design work (and coffee drinking) along with accurate measurements, I've come up with a completely new shell to replace the stock one. I'm not a major fan of the floating keys look (even if my daily driver is a Varmilo 87), so I wanted something with the more 'recessed keys' kind of look. I decided to approach the shell's design utilizing what is referred to as the 'sandwich technique', in which you build up layers of flat material to create 3D structure instead of having two pieces that snap together like any typical keyboard's shell would. What I pictured in my head is a simple, logical shell layering that would allow clearance of the PCB, the keyboard's USB controller, and the switches themselves. Everything will be tied together with recessed screws, threaded inserts, and the top trim will be held on simply with double-sided tape as it's merely for looks. What I'm picturing is a white-glowing frame through the acrylic layer, as well as around the keys themselves (although I probably won't be using backlit caps). PCB is clean and easy to read, unlike many domestic car manuals, or stereo instructions. Here's the game-plan. Breakdown of the layers are all based on measurement requirements for the switch-to-PCB distance as well as spacing to allow custom feet to 'tilt' the deck up a bit as I like my decks with a tilt for typing purposes. Layering goes: Base (6mm wood) Frame (6mm) wood) Switch plate (6mm acrylic) Tie-down frame (3mm acrylic) Top trim (3mm wood) Normally you would use a 1.5mm metal plate for the switches (distanced enough from the PCB; I think it's usually around 2mm or so, but not sure) to allow use of stabilizers, but I didn't have that option here by going completely-custom, however 6mm acrylic will probably be plenty strong. Thankfully the PCB is very sparse so the plate can literally sit against the PCB without issue. The stock USB control-board's wiring was so short due to the stock frame's plug location being on one end, but with the new frame I wanted the USB connector to be in the middle-back, so I had to de-solder and re-solder new, longer wires crimped and reusing the original PCB connector. This is the layer the controller will reside at on the frame... This is how the controller will sit on its layer of the frame... ...And the switch plate layer surrounding the controller. A shot from the back side... Here are some sequential shots of how the deck will build up... Bottom layer with PCB sitting... USB controller layer... Switch plate layer... Frame-tie layer... And finally, the top fascia trim. On the base, I needed to begin by counter-sinking the holes which will allow me to install screws that really short standoffs will screw on to on the inside of the base, which will allow the PCB itself to sit on top of allowing screws from the top to sandwich it in place. Just like that. Doesn't have to be perfect, and it certainly won't be. It's the bottom anyway, heh heh. A short screw pushed through... ...And a thin, nylon washer on it, followed by the standoff. ...And done. After that, I needed to 'mill' out a recessed area to allow clearance of the dip-switches and USB connector itself on the PCB, as the goal was to make the overall height of the completed deck as svelt as possible. I just used some rotary-tool attachments and worked the wood down enough and cleaned it out for a test-run with the PCB. Again, it doesn't need to be perfect as it will be on the inside bottom hidden by the PCB anyway. ...And cleaned up a bit with some sanding. Seems like it'll work fine. Moving on. For the feet, I didn't want to just use some simple, off-the-shelf stereo equipment feet or even a set of the awesome milled keyboard feet I've seen resellers peddling. Not that any of those are bad; quite the contrary. I simply wanted something that fit the aesthetic of the overall mech-deck, so DIY it is. I designed the deck so it would tilt up a bit to angle the deck to an approx. point where I tend to like a keyboard to be angled at. By accomplishing this I designed the feet so they will be a wedge shape to meet the angle of the keyboard itself as it sits on the desk. Here's what I mean. The new feet. I wanted four of them spread across so it would make the deck stable and strong on the desk. I don't beat the hell out of keyboards; at least, not anymore. But I do prefer them to be strong and stable. I mean, who doesn't? Here's how the feet will meet up with the base. Two screws for each foot spread evenly across the base. It will require me to countersink the screws as well so it will clear the PCB, as there is very little room for error in there. ...And angled shot showing how it will (hopefully) work. ...And an extreme side shot showing it in action. I considered adding rubber bushings or something on them as well as the bottom front of the deck, but I use one of those total-desk mats anyway so no real need for it. Hopefully the finished deck will be heavy enough that it won't skate around though. Guess I'll see, and fix the issue when I get there. Alrighty, until the next update, thanks for wasting your time reading this schlop!
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