So I’m sitting around waiting for the typewriter to get shipped to me, and I’ve just been going over the pictures again and again and trying to parse out some of the logistics of this project.
The first and foremost is that after doing some internet research and consulting with some friends, it appears unlikely that I’ll be able to reuse the display I have lying around. It’s all a bit vague to me, but it appears that the pins at the end of laptop displays are anything but standard, and the drivers appear to be different for each laptop. In other words, even if I did find a way to get the wiring from the old laptop’s 3o pin connector to pug into a VGA or USB, it wouldn’t necessarily be fed the data properly.
I think the interesting design aspect here is going to be that most stand alone monitors are much thicker. It looks like I’ll either have to account for that in my design, or I’ll have to take the thing apart quite a bit and try to find someplace to hide all of that wiring.
I’m okay with that because it did have a small scratch in it, but it does mean I’ll have to drop some coin on a new display and instantly void the warranty. This will, however, give me a chance to measure the spaces I have available and make sure my screen fits just the way I want it to.
Secondly, look at this picture long and hard.
Notice the keys. There aren’t enough of them.
First of all, there’s no 1. Apparently, really old typewriters used a capital L as a 1, or some kind of shenanigans like that. The backspace key on this typewriter is at the top right, I want to switch that to the top left, like a newer keyboard, the key way up on the right the one.
But wait, there’s more!
Look to the right of the M. Now look at your keyboard.
There”s also only 1 key next to the l, nothing next to the P, and no dash.
If you like this project and are thinking of trying to replicate, I suggest you take a closer look at this before you start snatching things up on eBay
So, now, what to do?
I’ve already decided I need a 1, and I’ve accounted for it.
One thing that’s going to be really cool, I think, is that I want to use the red button way up on the right as the enter. Push it to the left, and that will be an enter, push it to the right and it’s a CTRL, as I use hot keys all the time.
Obviously, I need a period and a comma. Those have to stay next to the M
And in reporting, I use quotation marks as much as just about any other quotation mark. That will stay next to the l.
This leaves one glaring exception: the question mark.
I suppose I can always go into the special characters menu, but that is a giant pain. My hope, at least for right now, is that I can either
A: differentiate the second shift key and make that the question mark. I can achieve this by use of a reed switch, which is a part of the USBtypewriter DIY kit.
Or B; try and find a way to have Shift+.be a question mark. If I can do that, I can also make Shift+, a hyphen. This would be great because I could also make Shift+6 a colon, because who uses that character anyway?And the Shift+5 a semicolon, because AP style does not really allow reporters to use a percent symbol in copy. That however, seems unlikely, and I may end up getting more familiar with the special characters menul than I’d like. There’s also the obvious fact that I’ll have my proper laptop sitting within a couple of feet, and I’ll likely be able to use that, although it feels like it would defeating the purpose.
This is part of the reason I love these kind of projects. While I’m not thrilled about having fewer keys than I’m used to, it’s fun to try and figure out clever ways around these kinds of problems. I think it will also add an intrinsic value to actually using this machine. I’ll almost have to train anybody else who wants to use it. I’m really excited about the my idea for the enter and control buttons. That’s probably going to also involve the use of reed switches, which I’ll explain more fully when I’m actually putting the thing together.
For now, however, it’s waiting for the darn thing to get here so I can start getting a closer look at all of this.