Keyboard Mods

Freshly rebuilt with switches (and some key caps) from an SGI keyboard my Tactile Pro 2 now feels nicer to type on than it ever has.
This weekend I unsoldered all the key switches on two keyboards. One is my Tactile Pro and the other is one of several old SGI Slabs I have stashed. The tactile pro has advantages like a modern layout that matches my Macs and USB rather than PS/2 but the reproduction switches never felt the same as the original alps switches.
After I’d soldered all the old switches onto the Tactile Pro I took advantage of having two sets of key caps to choose from, one of them 2 tone, to fit it with 3 tone key caps. It now feels much the same as the SGI keyboard I use on my work machine but with the extra keys. My work machine runs linux which needs the extra keys less: Macs have had command and option since there have been Macs and linux/unix tend to be the least fussy OS when it comes to keyboard layout.


So a while ago I kickstartered 3Doodler. I got in early and got one of the first 100 released and it arrived last week. So this weekend I have been playing with it and so far I have come up with some weird cocoon lights:


The cocoon lights are UV cold cathode tubes all wrapped up in fluorescent PLA filament. Mostly I used the fluoro blue filament I already had a spool of but there’s some of the white PLA that came in the sample pack with the 3Doodler as that also fluoresces strongly and adds a bit of variety.

Also in that picture is my laser cut fluro-acrylic Mandy Mendel light which I finally got around to attaching a cold cathode to the edge of using the 3Doodler to apply PLA as a sort of more robust hot glue – I like the organic blobby texture it gives it with little bits of fluro PLA peaking out from the top coat of opaque.

Motor controller

Today I have been soldering up the motor controller board I got from kickstarter for my raspberry pi. It all went together and now I have my raspi running off AA batteries and controlling motors from a python script.


My aim is to build a little wifi controlled turtle robot which can stream video from the raspberry pi camera and display messages using the pi-lite LED matrix board I also kickstartered.

I bought myself another camera…

Actually I bought myself a lens. It just happened to come with a camera attached. The lens is a Pentacon 1.8/50 which works very nicely on my NEX5R with an M42 adaptor. I did some test shots on a lunchtime walk from work which are here (yes I am really lucky with how scenic it is near where I work). I really like the narrow depth of field you can get with it and the sharp in the centre soft around the edges look it gives when open all the way up that gives a somewhat dreamlike quality to some of the shots (the horse and rowboat in particular). I suppose technically it’s more “bad in a nice way” than “good” but I like it. It’s also a way better macro lens than the NEX kit 18-55; see the shot of the bluebottle.
Having got the Praktica I am going to put some film through it. In fact I’ve already loaded it with Ilford HP5. I rather fancy doing some black and white the old fashioned way and maybe even having a go at developing (which I have done before but it was 30 years ago).

Reprap T-Shirt

I’ve made myself another T-shirt. Starting with this image:


I loaded it into iDraw then traced around it with a mix of straight lines and bezier curves to produce a stencil which I cut as a mask on my silhouette cameo:


In the end I decided to go with a simple black sillhouete look for this mask though I may still do another version of this t-shirt in future with the same mask painted in several colours.


Next I cut masks of the reprap logo and the words
“Making Friends” in a stencil font. These I painted with fluorescent paints – green for the reprap logo and yellow blue and pink for the letters:


Overall I’m really pleased with the result. There are a couple of rough bits if you look closely but it’s been too long since I painted a t-shirt so that’s just me being out of practice. The mask I made of Mandy Mendle is good enough I can identify it as not just a reprap but my reprap and doing the masks on the silhouette means I can easilly duplicate them any time I want to do another version.

Maker Faire UK

DSC07164Went to Maker Faire UK with Melanie at the weekend. We had a “Team molanie” stand with various projects we’ve been working on including my 3d Printer.
I had a great, if exhausting weekend. I was on the stand talking to people pretty much the entire show although I did find time to have a look around at the other stands and even bend up a bit of neon (well the glass tube for neon – thanks to Sarah Blood for that) and generally met a load of cool and froody people doing neat things. My pictures from the weekend are up here.


I’ve brought in the posts from my old site. That site is still up for the moment but I’ll be changing it for a redirect to this site once this one is more sorted.
This site is still rough around the edges but I put it live in time for Maker Faire in Newcastle next weekend. I should get things a bit more together looking once Maker Faire is out of the way.


Just getting the new site sorted. Live server is up but with no actual contents yet. WordPress is installed and https is set up at least.


I made another thing:

tray for screws and stuff

Partly I needed a little tray to put screws in partly a learning tool for OpenSCAD – it’s a parametric thing so you can change a few variables at the top of the .scad file and have a single column of 10×100 compartments instead. It’s up on thingieverse in case anyone else finds it useful.

CCL brackets

One of the first things I made with Mandy Mendel (oh yeah, I decided she needed a name and that name is “Mandy”) is a set of brackets to mount cold cathode fluorescent tubes on here. They look like this:

Mendel Cold Cathode Lamp Brackets

Mendel Cold Cathode brackets 2

I also put them on Thingieverse in case anyone else fancied strapping lights to their mendel.

The motivation for these was mostly that I’m probe to sitting in the dark working on my internet tan but would still like to be able to watch things printing (a large part of my reason for building a 3D printer is I find them fascinating to watch) but there’s also a bit of bling factor in there – I do just like techie stuff that lights up tastelessly.