Building a replica of the Jupiter ACE has been done before, and the super accurate replication of the original PCB by Grant Searle is probably the best example. The schematics were redrawn later by Bodo Wenzel in ORCAD, and a modified version was made by Isidro Nuñez Blanco De Arenas. Both builds were done 2003-2006 ( which shows if you look at the design of their websites), and things have changed a bit since then. PCB manufacturing is much cheaper now, and it's also easier to create custom plastic parts. Because what's lacking in all these rebuilds is the actual housing, which to me is a huge part of the charm of this machine. And using a 3D printer it cannot be too hard to replicate this.
To my surprise there are also no 3D models available , apart from the 'mini Jupiter ACE', which obviously it too inaccurate to use as a basis for a real housing.
So I started out to do this myself, using my favourite 3D modelling software: 'DesignSpark Mechanical' (DSM). I used Grant's PCB layout, made it into a .png image and imported that into DSM. Since the drawing includes millimetre marks on the edge it was easy to scale it to exactly 100%.
That's a hard one. Getting a custom made rubber key-mat is beyond my financial capacity so that's not an option. I'll try to make them using my 3D printer. The main problem here is to get the text on the keys. I considered printing this on adhesive film and just stick it on top of the key. Then I thought I could also print the keys in white, with the text sticking out. Then if I spray painted them black and sand the top it would reveal the text again.
Looks great in my 3D software !. But how would it turn out in reality ?
Though it's possible to create the exact PCB replica using Grant Searle's PCB foils, that is not what I wanted. I did want to make some minor changes on the EPROM and RAM connections, and use standard mini switches for the keyboard. Also if the PCBs have to be made by a cheap Chinese shop, it's essential to have Gerber files. So, all in all a good incentive to replicate the schematics again, but now in KiCad. For years KiCad has been a bit troublesome to use, but over the last few years it has improved significantly and is now a serious EDA package. It's free, open source and multi-platform so it is becoming the de-facto standard for all open-source hardware projects.