I dusted off this old thing and I’m debating whether to give it another go

Last year, I stumbled across Jake Von-Slatt’s Steampunk Keyboard  http://steampunkworkshop.com/keyboard.shtml

I wondered if this was as easy as it looked – of course it wasn’t.  I struggled to find the IBM ‘M’ series clickety-clack keyboard so a kind donation from Mr. Buglass of the York Astronomy Society was substituted.  The important thing with the keyboard you use, is that it has individual micro switches under every key.  Modern keyboards are not individually switched, they just have a membrane affair – not really suited to this type of project.

I photocopied the keyboard at full size and used that as a template, laid it over a large sheet of green leather (from a sofa shop sample book) and knocked out the individual holes with a 9mm belt punch.

I removed the case first of course (having carefully mapped out which button was which).  I spent about £200 on 4 full sets of various vintage keys and made my own inserts for the keys that didn’t exist on the typewriters of the time (Page up, Pause/break etc.).

In the end, I was defeated by my inability to a)  Stop the keys sticking in the down position and b) set the keys level with a decent enough adhesive.  Von-Slatt says to use gunge gun silicone but it didn’t work for me – maybe they have better stuff over there.

I also didn’t think I could cut the brass carefully enough for the frame – I abandoned it for cost reasons.

The keys ended up recycled in lots of my jewellery so at least I got most of my money back…..not sure if I want to try again, I’ve learned so much more since but involves another big capital investment in vintage keys..

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