User avatar
JimDrew
LHC, AZ
Website

Posted Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:13 am

@Intric8, I have a 3D model of a Cherry MX switch adapter for a C64 keycap. I found it online (grabcad or something). I am guessing this is the same one you have a printed part of?

@all, Here are some pics that I sent Eric awhile ago. I did some test prints using my 3D resin printer.
keycaps2.jpg
keycaps3.jpg
keycaps4.jpg
keycaps1.jpg

User avatar
JimDrew
LHC, AZ
Website

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 3:34 pm

Well... six month of tinkering later, I think I have a VERY close representation of the original Commodore keycaps. I have three different manufacturers in Asia that can produce these keycaps. I didn't want to get into a situation where I only had one source. These companies make keyboards (the entire thing), so they have real-world experience with this.

I have a lot of experience with making plastic injected molded parts. It's something that I design for products as part of my day job. My (design) part with this is now done. I have CAD data for the keycap shapes (10 different shapes make up the 66 keycaps), as well as the text data - which I believe to be exact at this point.

I scanned the keycap shapes (numerous times) with a 3D scanner and then imported the data into a couple different mesh programs to clean up the scans. I then created 3D models on top (as an overlay) of the scanned data. This let me make the shapes 100% correctly proportioned. It also lets me scale up/down (in case I want to make a 1/4 scale C64 or something nutty in the future). I did have help from several people sending me renderings, sketches, dimensions, suggestions, etc. I really appreciate the feedback that people have been giving me about this. I have a few hundred hours into this myself now. Who knew that making 10 different shapes and some text data would take this much effort (to make right)?

I am working on a video and pics for the crowd funding campaign that I will be launching. The tooling is a big part of the cost of this project, and I am only doing the campaign because of some info that I received that Phase 5 might actually ship the keycaps (that we all paid for) just because I am doing this. I don't want to be in a situation where I am out a chunk of money personally because Phase 5 decides to ship and then nobody wants to buy my keycaps! I am also still not convinced that keycaps are really in high demand, so it's a bit iffy on the return on investment. This is the safest way for me to proceed. I have a 35 year history in the Commodore community of delivering products, so it's not like you would be backing a stranger.

Let me make this clear... I am not doing ANY of the production process (plastic injection or printing). I don't make keyboards for a living so it makes no sense for me to pretend to be some great keyboard maker. Because I am using a real keyboard manufacturer, the minimum quantity to even make this happen is 1,000 sets (that's 66,000 pieces of plastic). I can do a color change at a minimum of 250 sets. I plan to have only 4 colors initially (black w/white text, clear w/white text, white w/black text, grey w/black text). Any more colors would have to come as campaign stretch goals. For text printing, I have both sets of text done - the bread bin C64 (top and face printed) and the C64C (top only printed). The original bread bin keycaps were made with a "double-shot" mold process which is super expensive, so that is not going to be an option (see picture of the difference). I will have the C64C (single top print) text as the initial option and then the bread bin (top and face print) as a campaign stretch goal, unless people like the C64C top only better? Everything is about numbers at this point, which is why feedback is important and a campaign is a great way to get that.

Because of tooling costs, tariffs, taxes, campaign fees, and credit card processing fees, the price for each set would need to be $34.95 per set just to cover the costs for the minimum 1,000 set run. If for some reason I got to 5,000 sets (the next price break) then the price could come down some (or I could actually make some money on the deal). :) Personally, I don't think we'll reach 1,000 sets but we will see. If the campaign succeeds, the price will go up at that point - so back the campaign for your best price! :) After looking at the Amiga keycap crowd funding campaign today, I was surprised to see how much it raised! With 7 times more C64's out there than Amigas, one would think the C64 keycap interest would be higher!

I did design the keycaps for a two piece mold where the bottom half of the mold (for the plunger) could be replaced with a new one that uses a different type of plunger, like for a Cherry MX type switch. So, if someone decides to make a complete replacement keyboard (like the Mechboard) then it would be easy to make a new bottom mold and have keycaps that could be used without adapters.

I plan to launch the campaign in December. I hope you will support it!
Attachments
breadbin_vs_C64C_3.jpg
Bread bin keycap on the left, C64C keycap on the right

setup_prescan.jpg
3D scanner setup

scan.jpg
Scanning a keycap 42 minutes per scan, 25 scans per keycap, 10 different keycaps - yep! lots of time required!

row1.JPG
Dozens of hours of clean up and 3D modeling to create the final keycap. Repeat that 9 more times!


User avatar
intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
Website

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 4:13 pm

All I want for Christmas is my 2 front ... keys! =)

Jim - this looks amazing!!
I hope you will support it!
You must be joking. It'll be a tidal wave!

User avatar
Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:40 pm

Awesome news, Jim. I will be down for at least 3 sets and for sure one of the clears as my clear case bought new has been waiting for my Phase5 keys to make it complete. Awesome!

User avatar
blindguy

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:21 pm

I will take at least two sets!! Very exciting project!!

edit:
I"m breadbin only so we better stretch that goal!
Would the c64c ones fit on a C-128?

User avatar
foam

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:52 pm

Had to sign up after hearing about this project. If you were going to replace all the keys on any C64 with a new and you were only going to make one set of shapes (and that's sensible) then I'm with everyone else's thoughts on the breadbin vs C64c key shape. Very few people are running breadbin cases not that it has anything to do with keycaps really. You are right it's old school but it's also not as good in reliability/typing comfort and for most of the European market, which is most of the market in general, they had a lot of C64c's, you can see by sales on ebay that the majority of machines out in circulation are C64c's too.

For usability the case and the keycaps are better on the C64c. But the printing on the keys should be top and front like the breadbin and 250466 version of the C64c which is the dream machine for most people. I know you've already scanned the breadbin keys so it would be OK if you proceeded with those in various colours but I think the C64c shape is preferable, maybe the hybrid would be an option too depending a wide spread poll result (do it on facebook in the c64/128 group).

Anyway great project and I will put in for at least 4 sets.

User avatar
cyanpixie

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:58 pm

Yup, subbed to this as well! Probably 3 sets as well :D

User avatar
JimDrew
LHC, AZ
Website

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:30 pm

The keycaps themselves for the C64 and C64C are really identical except for the C64 being the double-shot version and the C64C being the single shot version. So, just the underside, not the actual outer shape, is what is different between the two. The keycaps are interchangeable between machines. Only the text is different. I basically made a hybrid because I made the plunger similar to the bread bin version instead of the C64C version. The reason is that I believe the plastic is a bit too thin around the plunger with the single-shot version. If you look at the plunger (comes out of the keyboard base), you can see "tangs" that stick out of each side of it. These lock into the keycap, but only the double-shot version. The double-shot version is made by having an inner layer that is inserted into an outer shell. The inner layer has a recess for those tangs so the keycap can in fact "lock" into place. The single-shot version, used with the C64C does not have the lock because you can't really tool for that. The keycap just presses in place and stays there because of tight tolerance. If the plastic is too thin it can crack, and I have seen this with some of the single-shot keycaps. So, I made the plunger receptacle built up more like the original version.

User avatar
JimDrew
LHC, AZ
Website

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:40 pm

blindguy wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:21 pm
Would the c64c ones fit on a C-128?
That's a good question. I have never pulled a keycap to take a look. I will have to dig out my C128 and take a peek.

User avatar
JimDrew
LHC, AZ
Website

Posted Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:48 pm

By the way, I have had zero luck trying to get in touch with anyone at C= Holdings, who supposedly owns the rights to the Commodore trademarks. I also tried reaching out to "Commodore Business Machines" in the U.K., but it seems that they only have rights to use the name and do not own it.

I think what to do with the Commodore key will be debated all the way up until the time the keycaps are pad printed. Some have suggested use C= or leaving it blank. I would prefer to have the actual logo if possible.





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