Author Topic: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C  (Read 2701 times)

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Offline LazyDog

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[PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« on: Mon, 03 June 2019, 00:12:16 »
It's finally here!

The
Mechanical Keyboard Mod Kit for the AlphaSmart 3000

A very few of you may remember an old thread where I showed off the AlphaSmart 3000 mechanical mod I did. Here's a picture of it at the first New Jersey meetup:

220344-0

This is the first prototype, not the kit I'm selling here

To recap: The AlphaSmart 3000 is one of a line of word processing devices that was popular with schools at the turn of the millennium, and has found new life as a distraction free writing tool la the Astrohaus Freewrite. At the time of this writing, you can get one on eBay for about US$20. This is a mod that replaces the original mini-rubber-dome keyboard with the mechanical switches you know and love. Since the first version I posted about, I've smoothed out some of the bugs, changed the layout, added some features, and am now selling revision C as a kit with everything you need to make a mechanical AlphaSmart other than the switches, the keycaps, soldering tools, and an AlphaSmart 3000.

Features
  • Compatible with PCB-mount MX-style, Alps-style, and Kailh PG1350 Low Profile Choc switches.
  • Split spacebar (because if it wasn't you'd have to try to find a 4.5U spacebar).
  • Both QWERTY and Colemak layouts available! Colemak lacks a caps-lock key, as is the tradition. (The AS3k supports Dvorak already, so you can just get the QWERTY kit and change the setting to Dvorak).
  • Optional DIP switch that disables the On/Off key.

Layouts
The two layouts available are QWERTY and Colemak (keycap sizes in the bottom right corners):
220346-1
QWERTY

220348-2
Colemak

Contents
The kit will include
  • Paper assembly instructions
  • 1 x PCB
  • 2 x Cherry stabilizers for the space keys
  • 1 x 1-position SPST DIP switch
  • 1 x 16-contact flat flex cable
  • 1 x 10-contact flat flex cable
  • 1 x 16-pin FFC connector
  • 1 x 10-pin FFC connector
All components are through-hole

Not included:
  • Keycaps
  • Switches
  • Any tools
  • An actual AlphaSmart 3000

W2C?
Fill out the Google Form here and I'll send you a Paypal invoice within a day or two. The PCBs are being ordered from JLCPCB, and I'm offering a preorder price of US$30 for orders placed before July 1st. After that, the kits will cost US$36. Shipping is free within the United States, and US$5 anywhere else.

Timeline
It's very simple: this is a preorder, meaning that the materials have already been ordered. All that remains is testing the boards and finalizing packaging. The last day to place a preorder is June 30th. All such preorders will be shipped out by the end of July 2nd. It will still be possible to order the kit after June 30th, but these orders will not be eligible for the preorder price noted above. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I have confidence in my ability to stick to this timeline.

If you have any questions, you can PM me here, or email me at jyamine815@gmail.com

Updates
June 13th: After a more serious consideration of production costs and the wider market, I've decided to lower the price. Shipping remains the same.
« Last Edit: Thu, 13 June 2019, 07:53:02 by LazyDog »
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Offline Signature

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 10 June 2019, 03:44:04 »
Approved, please update post with timeline for shipping! GL w GB  :thumb:

Offline LazyDog

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 10 June 2019, 20:43:02 »
Thanks, king. Updated!
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Offline grnidone

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 11 June 2019, 21:21:56 »
I *cannot* wait.  I'm so excited about this!

Offline ShivaYash

  • Posts: 161
  • Location: Berlin, DE
Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 03:26:49 »
I'll be placing an order. This looks great.

Can you post a photograph of the printed caps that will be sent out?

With thanks,
SY
IBM Model M SSK, HHKB Pro 2 BT and Realforce 104U HiPro

Offline swedishpiehole

  • Posts: 62
Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 06:11:47 »
I don't even have an AS3000 (mine is a Neo2) but I'm really tempted to join this anyway.
Could you briefly describe what kind of skills one would need to do this mod, other than basic soldering skills?
« Last Edit: Wed, 12 June 2019, 06:14:20 by swedishpiehole »

Offline LazyDog

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 07:44:06 »
I'll be placing an order. This looks great.

Can you post a photograph of the printed caps that will be sent out?

With thanks,
SY

To be clear, this kit doesn't come with keycaps, nor switches. The layout pictures are just to illustrate what caps you'll need to complete it, and how the key are positioned on the PCB. I'll update with real photos soon, and also make it more clear what is and isn't included.

I don't even have an AS3000 (mine is a Neo2) but I'm really tempted to join this anyway.
Could you briefly describe what kind of skills one would need to do this mod, other than basic soldering skills?

Other than soldering you'd need some knowledge of which switches and keycaps you want to get. Luckily the people on this forum, the subreddit, and Deskthority are quite helpful to anyone who has questions about custom keyboard parts.
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Offline grnidone

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 14:55:08 »
Quote
>Luckily the people on this forum, the subreddit, and Deskthority are quite helpful to anyone who has questions about custom keyboard parts.

OK...I need help.

From what I can figure out, I need one of these (full keycap set)

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1578

and 80 of these: (I counted the keys, but can't remember how many exactly.)

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=650

Is that correct?
-Heather




Offline grnidone

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 14:56:44 »
Also, this is more expensive than I thought, but I AM STILL SO EXCITED TO DO THIS!!


Offline switchnollie

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 15:37:22 »
That's wild, the future really is now :cool:

Offline LazyDog

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 12 June 2019, 19:58:12 »
Quote
>Luckily the people on this forum, the subreddit, and Deskthority are quite helpful to anyone who has questions about custom keyboard parts.

OK...I need help.

From what I can figure out, I need one of these (full keycap set)

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=1578

and 80 of these: (I counted the keys, but can't remember how many exactly.)

https://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=650

Is that correct?
-Heather

Unfortunately that keycap set won't work very well because the profile (the shape of the keys) is "sculpted," meaning that keys in different rows are different shapes, so if you mix the rows some of the keys would stick up more than others, making it hard to fit the set on a layout other than the kind it was made for. You may find one that works, or find a way to combine multiple sets, but it would take planning. More likely you'd want a set with a "uniform" profile, where all the keys are the same shape. Examples of uniform profiles include DSA, XDA, G20, and TEX.

Also you'll need 81 switches, not 80.

Probably the cheapest place to get printed, uniform-profile keycaps would be a Chinese web store like KBDfans or KPRepublic, or else on the secondhand market on this forum or reddit.com/r/mechmarket. You can get considerably better deal than that on switches though. Cherry, even though they're the most well known switch manufacturer, are also one of the most expensive, and similar -- some would say better -- quality "MX-style" switches can be found for much cheaper. Companies to look for include Gateron and Kailh. For example, if you want a good substitute for Cherry MX blues, which are loud and clicky, KBDFans sells 90 Gateron blues for $18.

Edit: Actually it appears that that KBDFans link doesn't specify whether the switches are plate- or PCB-mounted, which is a problem because even though maybe cutting a plate would be possible and I'm thinking I'll try to design one, this kit doesn't come with one, and requires PCB-mounted switches, KBDFans does sell those switches on their AliExpress storefront for a little more, but they're specifically "5-pin," meaning PCB mount.) Also SwitchTop is based in the US and they have gaterons for pretty cheap as well.

If anyone has any other recommendations, say so.
« Last Edit: Sat, 15 June 2019, 16:10:33 by LazyDog »
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Offline ShivaYash

  • Posts: 161
  • Location: Berlin, DE
Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 13 June 2019, 04:09:24 »
Thanks, as a total novice when it comes to modding, a kit would be handy. Also I have a Neo2 - could a PCB be produced for this? Also getting an AlphaSmart 3000 wouldn't be a great hardship.

So total cost would be calculated on your PCB, switches + keycaps + AlphaSmart3000, right?

I'll be placing an order. This looks great.

Can you post a photograph of the printed caps that will be sent out?

With thanks,
SY

To be clear, this kit doesn't come with keycaps, nor switches. The layout pictures are just to illustrate what caps you'll need to complete it, and how the key are positioned on the PCB. I'll update with real photos soon, and also make it more clear what is and isn't included.

I don't even have an AS3000 (mine is a Neo2) but I'm really tempted to join this anyway.
Could you briefly describe what kind of skills one would need to do this mod, other than basic soldering skills?

Other than soldering you'd need some knowledge of which switches and keycaps you want to get. Luckily the people on this forum, the subreddit, and Deskthority are quite helpful to anyone who has questions about custom keyboard parts.
IBM Model M SSK, HHKB Pro 2 BT and Realforce 104U HiPro

Offline Neodeus

  • Posts: 34
  • Location: PA, USA
Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 13 June 2019, 08:15:08 »
Can this be used as a keyboard on a computer, or can you just use the built in work processor?

Offline LazyDog

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  • Posts: 32
Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 13 June 2019, 12:29:54 »
Neodus, it can be used as a normal keyboard if you have a usb A to B cable. Additionally the AS3k has a "send" feature that can send a file you typed in it letter by letter as keystrokes (as demonstrated in this charming overview), which was a pretty good way to future proof it.

ShivaYash, yes that's correct. Stabilizers are included in the kit. It may be possible to make something similar for other models, but I don't currently have plans to.
« Last Edit: Thu, 13 June 2019, 20:46:18 by LazyDog »
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Offline Amitari

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 20 June 2019, 06:33:49 »
Would it be a good idea to solder this together as my first project, or should I try something else before I take that risk?

Offline LazyDog

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Re: [PO] Mechanical AlphaSmart 3000 Mod Kit C
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 21 June 2019, 00:27:38 »
Would it be a good idea to solder this together as my first project, or should I try something else before I take that risk?

I don't think it would be a bad idea to pick up a practice kit of some kind, simply because they're cheap, and often have fewer things to solder (at minimum this kit will come out to something like 180 contacts to solder), but if you have even a little experience, and you follow some basic guidelines, this shouldn't be too difficult for you. I think I mentioned this, but everything is thru-hole, no surface mount. Some of the contacts are close together, but if you're using thin leaded solder and a clean iron and you have a steady hand, you shouldn't have trouble getting the right amount in the right places. One crash course I really like because I think it gives good information in an understandable way is Soldering is Easy.
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