Author Topic: Windowed key-caps  (Read 6160 times)

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Offline gbohn

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Windowed key-caps
« on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 09:35:42 »
So what do most people do when they buy a set of regular key-caps for a keyboard that uses "windowed" key-caps for the Caps-Lock and Scroll-Lock  keys?

  For example, I put a set of RA 2 key-caps on a Leopold FC200. I could only see a faint glow beneath the key-caps when Caps-Lock was activated. So as a test I set out to see if I could convert some other keys into windowed ones. (I didn't want to risk my RA 2 keys right off the bat...)

  I started with two SP keys from a different white set (black on white), and used my Miter saw to cut a slot. I then used an epoxy glue to make the window. The attached pictures show the result.

  The white on black keys are the ones that came with the keyboard. The Black on white ones are the ones I made. The light shining through is actually brighter than shown in the photo, but the camera flash drowned it out a bit.

  I think the Caps-lock didn't quite come out as perfectly as I wanted, but it looks like this could work if I tried it again.

  But, I don't know how durable these will be etc.

  At any rate, what does everyone else do?

  Thanks;

Offline esoomenona

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 09:39:15 »
Nice! Those actually look pretty darn good.

Offline bardomudo

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 11:45:44 »
I just leave them be. I almost never press Caps Lock or Scroll Lock anyway.

And when I do, I kinda like the discretion of the glow beneath the key.

Offline Vintage

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 11:47:56 »
The only one that I really care about is the caps lock LED. That's why I prefer LEDs on the side.

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Offline SmallFry

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 11:53:13 »
Looks as though it may have been a little cleaner if you had used a smaller type of blade/ filed the cut etc. Very nice nonetheless though! :D

Offline samwisekoi

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 13:18:01 »
I'd considered a small (e.g. 1mm) hole above the LED, but I couldn't figure out how to make the window.

You have very nicely solved that issue.  Good job!

I shall be trying this and will attempt to post the results.

Thanks for sharing!

 - Ron | samwisekoi
I like keyboards and case modding.  Everything about a computer should be silent -- except the KEYBOARD!

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Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 14:26:38 »
> The only one that I really care about is the caps lock LED. That's why I prefer LEDs on the side.

  That's my general preference as well...

> I shall be trying this and ...

  In that case it may be helpful to you to describe what I've learned so far.

  I ended up using blue tape as the outer mold for the glue. This seems to have worked well as far as texture goes. But it's a little tricky if you need to trim some of the glue because you end up with a little different texture where you've trimmed. I found I needed to trim a bit at the corner between the top and side because of the way I had taped it.

  I ended up using a Loctite "5 minute Plastic Epoxy" I got from Home Depot. (Not the 20 minute type I've see elsewhere). This was soft enough to trim after about 90 minutes of setting time (but before it got too hard to easily trim with a utility knife).

  Of course it's also tricky using a 10 inch blade to make the cut in the first place. Probably not the ideal tool for the job, but the best tool I could think of that I had. There's not much room for error though.

  I ended up taping the key (with more blue tape  :) ) to a 'zero clearance' fence I had made. I taped it key bottom side to the fence and then steadied it more with a piece of wood clamped to the table. There's not much room for error though.

> Looks as though it may have been a little cleaner if you had used a smaller type of blade/ filed the cut etc.

  As it was I used the blade I had in the saw (an 84 tooth carbide tipped laminate/non-ferrous blade). The manufacturer claims it has a 0.098 inch kerf, for what it's worth.

  I was mostly trying this as a 'proof of concept' test to see if this was workable. So far I'm mostly pleased with the results.

  Thanks everyone.

  Sadly, it's a bit nerve wracking to cut up a key when you know you'll have to buy a whole new set (as in RA 2) to get a new replacement if something goes wrong   :(  .

Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #7 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 14:36:41 »
> I shall be trying this...

  I just realized you probably meant making a window for a 1 mm hole (not trying the slot technique). 1 mm seems like it might be a bit small. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Offline samwisekoi

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 16:17:30 »
> I shall be trying this...

  I just realized you probably meant making a window for a 1 mm hole (not trying the slot technique). 1 mm seems like it might be a bit small. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I drilled a 1/16" hole (my smallest bit) through the top of a Vortex PBT key, and it is plenty bright.  I've got a piece of clear tape over it for the moment -- soon to be replaced by clear epoxy.  Without the tape it was too bright to look at in daytime.  I hope it with the epoxy it will be visible in daylight and not too bright at night.

Thanks again for this great idea for a mod!

 - Ron | samwisekoi

p.s.  Potato pics below taken in daylight next to a north-facing window.
I like keyboards and case modding.  Everything about a computer should be silent -- except the KEYBOARD!

'85 IBM F-122/Soarer Keyboard |  Leopold FC200 TKL (Browns) + GH36 Keypad (Browns/Greens) | GH-122 (Whites/Greens) with Nuclear Data Green keycaps in a Unicomp case

Offline cytoSiN

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 16:20:30 »
Looks good.  What epoxy are you using?  Looking for something that doesn't STINK!
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Offline Batmann

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Windowed key-caps
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 16:31:00 »
Sam if you paint the inside in black it will completely dim the light
Someone did this nice mod lately

Offline samwisekoi

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 16:50:20 »
Sam if you paint the inside in black it will completely dim the light
Someone did this nice mod lately

Thanks!  I'll do that as soon as I get the epoxy purchased and in place.

Somehow my wife and kids have other priorities for me on Saturday 22-Dec!

 - Ron | samwisekoi
I like keyboards and case modding.  Everything about a computer should be silent -- except the KEYBOARD!

'85 IBM F-122/Soarer Keyboard |  Leopold FC200 TKL (Browns) + GH36 Keypad (Browns/Greens) | GH-122 (Whites/Greens) with Nuclear Data Green keycaps in a Unicomp case

Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #12 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 17:16:09 »
>   I hope it with the epoxy it will be visible in daylight and not too bright at night.

  If it turns out to be too bright, one thing you could try is to roughen up the surface of the glue on the "underneath" side so that it's cloudy instead of clear. That should increase the light diffusion and might be an improvement..

  Another thought is that if you are just filling in a hole, maybe a hot-melt glue (superglue type glue stick) might also work (although I haven't tried it). Of course, that might be tricky to get right on the first shot...

> Thanks again for this great idea for a mod!

  You're welcome!

Offline rowdy

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #13 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 17:59:58 »
That looks really neat - well done! :)

Personally I don't worry about it.  My room is usually in semi-darkness, so any light from caps of scroll lock is easily discernable.
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Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 19:04:51 »
> Looks good.  What epoxy are you using?  Looking for something that doesn't STINK!

  I'm not sure if you're asking "samwisekoi" or me. If you're asking me, I used a Loctite 5 minute "Plastic Epoxy" from Home Depot (the only place I've seen this exact type around here). See the attached image.

  It claims to be "translucent yellow" on the package, but mine seemed fairly light and clear on hardening.

 Odor wise, although I didn't think it was too bad, it still didn't exactly have a "floral bouquet"  :).   I guess stink can be a relative thing, but all the ones I've tried have had some type of noticeable odor (until hardened).

Offline cytoSiN

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 22 December 2012, 20:16:51 »
Thanks gbohn.  I don't care if it stinks while using it, but most of the plastic epoxies I've come across never seem to lose their stink completely.
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Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #16 on: Sun, 23 December 2012, 08:58:05 »
> but most of the plastic epoxies I've come across never seem to lose their stink completely

 Ahhh. I didn't notice any post-curing smell, but I'm not sure how sensitive I am to this compared to others. I did cut through a 1/2 inch cube of some solid 'cured' epoxy once (with a Dremel tool) and it smelled pretty bad.

  At any rate, if the smell is a weaker version of the smell you get before curing, it may be that what you smell is some un-reacted resin or hardner (as opposed to the smell of the reacted glue itself). If it's the actual cured glue itself, I'm guessing you're out of luck.

 But if your mix ratio is off I believe you can end up with that component remaining in the resultant glue. (As well as if it's not thoroughly mixed).

 If that's the case, it may be helpful to use one of the types that meters the two components for you.  Like a syringe type dispensing container, or perhaps even better the type that comes with a 'static mix' nozzle that mixes as it dispenses it.

  I also read somewhere that some two-part room temperature curing epoxies may not ever reach 100% reaction at room temperature. Supposedly, raising the temperature above room temperature (> 100 F) for a period of time (say hours) would at least notably decrease the percent of remaining un-reacted resin and hardner. I haven't tried this myself, but it might be worth a shot.

  I also hear that there are UV and heat cured 'one-part' epoxies available. Maybe they would be less objectionable.

  I don't know if that helps you, but good luck anyway.
« Last Edit: Sun, 23 December 2012, 09:52:45 by gbohn »

Offline absyrd

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 23 December 2012, 10:29:30 »
Nice job. Very clean looking, especially when viewed from a normal distance and not a zoomed camera shot.
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Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 04 February 2013, 21:11:27 »
 > I've got a piece of clear tape over it for the moment -- soon to be replaced by clear epoxy.

Samwisekoi, did you ever get around to trying the epoxy on your drilled key-cap? Any pictures?

Offline korrelate

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 08 August 2014, 13:25:53 »
I love this approach. Just came across this thread. What are you using to keep the epoxy flush with the topside of the cap while it's drying? has to be something that won't stick to the epoxy, right?
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Offline Jixr

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 08 August 2014, 16:16:16 »
I'm thinking of giving this a go as well, I'd really like a green caps lock, but cant see it under my cap, put a small hole in the top right of the caps lock, not sure if I'll resin it in or not.

Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 08 August 2014, 16:35:18 »
I love this approach. Just came across this thread. What are you using to keep the epoxy flush with the topside of the cap while it's drying? has to be something that won't stick to the epoxy, right?

  What I used was blue painters masking tape.

  If I remember correctly I took it off after a few hours (when it was significantly hardened but not 24 hour fully cured). It didn't seem to stick too much to the tape. If I timed it right it was in a state that was hard enough to handle and trim, but still soft enough that trimming with an Exacto knife wasn't too difficult.

  The tape (where the sticky side met the epoxy) also left a surface texture in the epoxy that I found pleasing.

  In the time since I first did this, It seems that the locktite 'Plastic Epoxy' has yellowed a little bit more than their Regular 5-minute Instant mix.
 

Offline korrelate

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 11 August 2014, 22:34:23 »
I got to thinking about the yellowing issue and did some searching: I'm going to be checking this out in the near future.

http://alumilite.com/ProdDetail.cfm?Category=Casting%20Resins&Name=Alumilite%20Water%20Clear


Cheers,

K
All keysets ought to have blank "Windows" and "Menu" keys.



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RIP Leopold: You served me well.

Offline gbohn

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 12 August 2014, 19:11:08 »
> I'm going to be checking this out in the near future.

  Looks interesting. Hopefully it would be resistant to yellowing (as well as not yellowish to start).

  But, being sold as a 'casting compound' rather than an adhesive, I would wonder how well it would adhere to the ABS plastic of the key-cap. It will be interesting to see if it sticks well or not.

Offline asassdsd

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 12 August 2014, 20:00:40 »
I really like those rectangular windows too!
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Offline korrelate

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 12 August 2014, 20:42:19 »
yeah... I think i got a bit excited and ran away with the idea before reading enough. turns out that particular compound has a reputation for being very fragile in thin casting applications. still looking.
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Offline microsoft windows

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 14 August 2014, 13:16:16 »
I don't want windowed key caps. I want WINDOWS key caps.
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Offline buzzking00

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Re: Windowed key-caps
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 19 April 2019, 16:34:06 »
I am looking for windowed keycaps, where did you get them?