I had a friend a while back send me a link to www.usbtypewriter.com, and I thought it was pretty rad. But I didn’t like that there was no monitor attached to it. In some of the photos, they had an iPad tacked at the top, but I don’t have or particularly want an iPad, and I didn’t like that you could see the cord.
Thus an idea was formed. I have an old display from a broken laptop, and I thought, why not make an all in one typewriter monitor set up on my own.
I’ll be ordering the D.I.Y kit from the good folks over at USBtypewriter, and figuring out a way to make a monitor a part of this beast.
The first step was to buy an old typewriter, and I found a beauty. It’s an Underwood No.5 standard model from some time in the 1920’s on eBay, and I snatched it up for $45.86, including shipping.
Once I get it here, I can find out more about my particular model. Right now, I’m in shipping limbo. Then, once I get done drooling over it, I will have to do some minor restoration. There are some parts that have some pitting and surface rust. I’d like to remove those parts and sand them down and then lacquer them so that they have a shiny finish.
Then it’s on to the black enamel finish, which will present its own challenges in terms of buffing out with out removing the ancient gold and blue lettering.
After that, it’s going to be checking to make sure that the key action is mechanically sound and that all of the parts I need to work are functional.
Then comes the fun part of wiring the old girl up and then figuring out if I can make that old monitor work. The monitor I have now is all of a quarter of an inch thick, so I’m going to have to design and fabricate a new case for it and find a way to attach it to the typewriter body.
At this point, it’s only fair to admit that I haven’t successfully soldered anything since high school, which making the circuitry to convert the typewriter into a keyboard requires. And, while I’m handy as all get out and grew up working as an interior remodeler and tinkering on a ’69 Cutlass, I know next to nothing about typewriters. This is going to be a great learning process for me, to say the least.
I’m also excited for the chance to get really design conscious with this project. In the past, I’ve made lamps more or less from scratch and had some fun designing them, but I’m hoping to really get into the nitty-gritty and thinking through all of the different pieces that will go into this project. There’s clearly a lot going with this machine in terms of style. The gold and blue scrollwork on the name plate is gorgeous, and I’d love to carry that through the monitor casing, which will present some challenges in terms of layout.
Once I get paid, I’m going to get the usb typewriter wiring kit on order, and I may even start that before the machine herself gets here.
Keep checking back for more info. This should be a hell of a project.