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geekhack Projects => Making Stuff Together! => Topic started by: RabRhee on Sat, 22 June 2013, 16:48:40

Title: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: RabRhee on Sat, 22 June 2013, 16:48:40
While talking on this post (http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44102.msg909878#msg909878) I came up with an idea for using tiling spacers as a way to make a budget keycap board. I decided to give it a go. Here is the result. It is a bit shaky, but I am sure someone more dedicated than me would spend more time to make one tidier should they wish.

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I started off by buying 300 x 4mm tile spacers for 1.99 (about $3) including postage. I couldn't buy in person so I had to take what I got. Which were 24mm wide plus (+) shapes, 4mm wide arms, and 3mm thick. 4mm is the right size for the keycap cross width, but the 3mm thickness of the tab was much too big, so my first job was to thin one of the sides down. This was the bulk of the job, took me about 90 minutes to do 120 of them, with a Dremel in a workstation and a cross vice.  This picture shows how I set it up and thinned it, then trim off the excess melt.

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I dare say others would find better or faster ways to do this, or simply find tile spacers of a better thickness. This resulted in a fair variety of thickness of the 'tab for the key', but I found it didn't matter too much. The ones I cut to about 1mm thick worked perfectly well, but the thinner ones where the key would slip off were fine too, as all I needed to do was to pinch the tip of the thinned tab with pliers to make it a little wider than 4mm and the key stuck on perfectly. Tabs that were too thin did break off a couple of times while inserting the key, but I had many spares.

Once I got my spacers cut down, I simply drilled 4mm holes in a board I already had spare (The base of a drawer of a desk I scrapped), and pushed the tabs in, leaving the thinned tab sticking out for the keycap.  I set this layout up roughly for ansi TKL, which ties in with the Dvorak set I ordered from WASDkeyboards, but drilling holes in any layout would be pretty easy. I only put in one tab for each of the larger keys, but 2 or 3 would make them hold and look better. The marking out and drilling was pretty fast, maybe an hour or so start to finish. I spaced them 20mm width and 25mm height to give a little space round each row. If you wanted to do one closer together you may have to trim the vertical arms a little.

Heres a few more pics, including one upside down to show that the keys don't fall off (I tweaked about 10 of the tabs that were a bit thin). I started to trim the vertical legs of the spacers so they wouldn't be seen behind the keys, on the Escape and F1-4 to see if I preferred the look, and I think I do. I just used cable snips to trim them. I haven't glued the tabs on because I like the option to pull them out again, and I haven't trimmed the back of them yet but that is simple to do if I want the board back flat. I may paint the board as well, or cover it in a cloth or plastic. Mostly this was a trial to see how viable it was, its a bit rough and I didn't take too much accuracy of the drilling. Still, quite budget for $3, an old board and a few hours messing, and I still have 200 spare tabs for another board.

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Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: SpAmRaY on Sat, 22 June 2013, 17:15:03
Not bad! Glad to see an idea turn into reality.
Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: SeriouSSpotS on Sun, 23 June 2013, 12:50:18
That is pretty cool, nicely done.
Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: RabRhee on Tue, 25 June 2013, 13:47:54
Thanks, heres a small update on it. I covered the board in grey felt (mainly because I had some grey felt), I also added a few extra storage spots and trimmed the vertical bars so they wouldn't be so visible, and hung it on the wall. I think this is about all I will do for now, maybe I will make another board when I waste some cash on another set.

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Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: Thimplum on Tue, 25 June 2013, 19:35:29
Another fine example of why scrappy hacks are great!
Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: taylordcraig on Wed, 03 September 2014, 16:09:48
Hey I'm really curious about this and your pictures are down.
Sorry to necro.
Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: dorkvader on Wed, 03 September 2014, 16:50:20
Hey I'm really curious about this and your pictures are down.
Sorry to necro.

They are hosted on GH. Loading very slowly but still there.

I will rehost for you somewhere if you need, once they're done.
Title: Re: My extremely budget Keycap Board
Post by: RabRhee on Wed, 03 September 2014, 17:15:04
Hey I'm really curious about this and your pictures are down.
Sorry to necro.

They are hosted on GH. Loading very slowly but still there.

I will rehost for you somewhere if you need, once they're done.

I copied the pictures I have into an Imgur album for backup - http://imgur.com/a/1rOyb

It was a very quick test of the tile tabs, I am sure a serious version would look much tidier.