PCBs arrived, mechanical assembly in progress

A project log for 1:3 Scale VT100 with working keyboard

I've made many retrocomputer miniatures but this is the most complex.

trevor-flowersTrevor Flowers 05/20/2024 at 01:061 Comment

The prototype boards from PCBWay arrived and they look exactly as I spec'ed them. The components that their engineer helped choose look like they'll nicely work as expected, too. I really appreciate that they sponsored this first order.

I've refined the mechanical assembly of the 1:3 scale keyboard switches quite a bit, trying out various materials and tolerances to find a great feel when pressing a key.

One new material I'm working with is polymer clay. The curing temperature of polymer clay is lower than the melting point of PLA so it's possible to print molds and bake the clay in the molds. This is helpful because some of the parts for these switches are tiny, not much bigger than a couple of grains of sticky rice together, so they would be hard to remove from molds if they clay was still soft.

Polymer clay can also be shaped after it is hard using machine tools like small milling machines and lathes. I have watchmakers tools including a mill and lathe so I can cut and turn precision features on molded and baked parts.

If you've ever touched some of the polymer clay art from artists on Etsy or other platforms then you know it can be good to touch, feeling nicer than 3D prints and warmer than metal.


svofski wrote 05/20/2024 at 08:11 point

I'm really curious to see this thing, and not necessarily only when it's completed ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no