So, you may have noticed my last post was actually written on Underwood. It was geekily exhilarating, but short lived, and let me show you why.

Not going to cut it

I’ll quote Jack Zylkin, the inventor of the USB Typewriter here:

“Underneath every typewriter (at least, every typewriter I’ve seen) is at least one springloaded crossbar that runs underneath all the keys.  When a key is struck, it pushes on this crossbar, and this causes the carriage to advance, the ink roll to move, and so on.”

Well, my typewriter doesn’t work this way. There is a bar that goes across the bottom, but none of the keys actually hit that bar. They don’t come within an 1/8 inch. I tried to pile layers and layers of electrical tape on there, but it wasn’t going to get there.

So that’s when I got impatient, and had the idea to leave the feather contacts that populate Frankencircuit just kind of float under the keys.

And I was able to wrangle them into place and get them more or less stroking. But the problem I did not anticipate was that the bar I placed them on rotated just a tiny bit every time I hit the space bar, and the solders started to crack.

So, after a whirlwind 12 minutes of semi-functional typing, I had to scrap that plan.

So another trip to the hardware store later, I had myself some 3/16 steel rod and some heavy duty epoxy putty.

That should help!

You can see the second black rod I installed.  I had to figure out how to use two hands as four, but I got it stuck in there just where the keystroke ends.

So now, I was able to create the project as Zylkin intended, and here you have it.

Nice n' Neat

Much better

Now you can see that each feather contact is supported and has backing so that it will stay in place. Each contact can be wrapped and even glued into place. This will ensure that the piece should work for a good while.

But for those of you who thought I might be getting some sleep or doing anything fun… or for those of you who worry about the future of Frankencircuit, worry not!


It's still LIVES!

As I find in all handy projects, whether it’s sanding drywall or laying a hardwood floor, you will atone for your sins. Making the feather contacts without care and soldering them in a sloppy manner is going to cost me twice as much time on the flipside.

The good news is that I got most of that done.

The bad news is that I broke two of the reed switches that allow me to hook up things like the shift key, the repurposed number one, and just wait until you see where I hide the question mark and hyphen keys.

The problem is that the little bastards are very difficult to find without ordering them on the internet, and I DON”T WANT TO WAIT. So we’ll have to see what happens there.

Until then… I kind of think I might be done for a couple of days. I can’t really calibrate the machine any better than I did last time because I don’t have a 1, a question mark or or a shift until I get parts.

That being said, I picked up a cheap monitor on Ebay. I thought about buying a new one, but I’m going to void the warranty within 5 minutes of getting it out of the box to fabricate a new casing for it and put in on hinges. So, once that gets in, I’ll have my hands full with the more interesting design aspects of this project. As much fun as the technical end has been, I can’t wait to be working on the phase that doesn’t involve cauterizing-hot irons and burning most of my fingers.

But fear not! I’m sure I’ll find a way to injure myself.