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Ole42

Posted Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:38 am

Actually I found an interesting video how to make the prints on keycaps yourself:
https://youtu.be/jNZkzK4l0F8

So making your own keycaps might be time consumpting, but not to hard to do yourself. Many copyshops have printers with dyesub ink, if they offer printing on cups or other materials. So you do not actually might not need to buy the dysub ink and an inkjet printer with piezo printhead to print on dysub transfer paper; you might let print it in a copyshop...

So all you need is blank keycaps in the correct size (esp. the 10 function keys).

Exept for early A2000 (with cherry switches) all original Amiga keycaps are pad printed - the lowest quality of making keycaps (even on the early A2000 the Amiga keys are pad-printed). Laser etched and dye sub are both higher quality, with dye sub even allows multiple colours. They are only topped by double shots (only used on the early A2000 exept for the Amiga keys).

Also you do not need a pcb. Good Cherry Keyboards use a metal plate to hold the switches anyway. Of course you can make such metal plate yourself using an aluminum plate and a Drehmel or Proxon tool, so no need for a PCB for mechanicly hold the switches in place. Maybe it is even enough to 3d-design and print such a plate and support it by some metal. You simply use wires to connect the keys some way as on the original a500 membrane and connect the wires to the existing a500 keyboard controller.

I replaced the membrane of a keyboard by individual switches and free wired them to original controller about 30 years ago. It was not an Amiga and I had more space in hight available, so I was able to simply glued the switches below the original keys, so I neither had to make a holding-plate nor new keycaps.

User avatar
dalek

Posted Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:38 pm

wow that's cool - I don't know that I'd have the patience to get through this process myself but they look great!

It would be great to use with Adam's keyboard: https://github.com/aeberbach/A1200KB

User avatar
Ole42

Posted Fri Feb 19, 2021 2:22 am

Yes, there are many nice solutions for make perfect prints in keycaps (or any other plastic - custom lego's?)

There is only one downside to dye sub: The colour of the dye has to be darker than the keycap, so you can not print on black keycaps. So you can not print the function keys If you choose black ones like in the picture on the GitHub page.

But there is an other technic that should work: Embossing Powder. I recommend a search on yt, but in short you make a stamp with the picture and stamp glycol on the keycap. Than you put embossing powder in it. It sticks to the glycol, so afterwards you use a heatgun, melting the powder to the keycap...

Have not tryed it yet myself, but seems quite promising. As the embossing powder is also plastic, it might even be possible to dysub onto the embossing afterwards using White embossing powder (so for example stamp a white checkmark on a dark keycap and than so the rainbow colouring by dysub). But I am not sure about the melting point of the powder might cause problems. Definitly something to experiment with.

For the keycaps themself some points to take care of:

a) Profile: Most profiles have different shapes on different rows. As the Amiga has exotic sizes normaly not existing on some rows, you need a profile with same shape independend of the row - so DSA-Profile seem mandatory to me.

b) Material: With all the time and work to spend, I recommend using pbt instead cheap ABS. It feels better while typing.

As making a whole set of keycaps means a lot of time and money, I think I might start with replacing the Windows keycaps in one of my existing PC keyboards by blank ones, and dyesub Amiga Checkmark and Boingball on it (for emulated Amigas). If that works out well, I might start making keyboards for my real Amigas. But it will take years, as I have many other projects in the pipe.





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