This project was far and away the most fun, most frustrating, most disaster-ridden, and most rewarding thing I've done in my time here on DT. HUGE shout-out to Wingpad, who not only sold me his wang 725 on the cheap, but also helped me troubleshoot non-registering keys, taught me how to use a multimeter, and gave me advice on bridging a broken trace. Also big thanks to mike, matt, e3e, subcat, alh, emdude, elecplus, tobias, and anyone else in the telegram channel who offered great advice and feedback as well as helpful tips along the way to the completion of this board!
I took lots of pictures, so I think I'll tell the story that way, with some intermittent annotations. Enjoy!
...fuck. From here on out, I pulled keycaps with the broken off parts held in one hand - it was annoying as shit. I still can't find my other key-cap puller =(
Sand-blasted!! Apparently all this time I've lived about 3 miles from a sand-blasing/powder-coating shop and I never knew it. The place was....interesting, to say the least. It was basically a metal shack on a pretty shitty road parallel interstate-5 - no waiting room or "customer entrance" or anything - just a shack with a back-door. The owner was really nice, though - and even though I think they basically saved my plates for the last thing they did that day I dropped it off (which was at 9 in the morning), it was super cheap to get 4 plates done.
Then it was on to painting!
primer - waited a day for it to dry, so in the meantime....
it was finally time to harvest the 5140. RIP =(
And yes...I had to pull all those caps with the two broken off pieces of the metal key-cap puller.
starting the painting! I actually painted two plates - you can kind of see the second one to the right in that picture. More to come on that one a bit later this week!
At this point I was a bit unsure about my color choice...I kind of didn't like how the brown switches looked with the copper color...
...but it started to grow on me
I didn't take pictures of the PCB (but trust me, you don't want to see how bad I am at soldering), so at this point I went to go plug it in and give it a test run! The switches feel amazing on this thing, there is doubt about it, but I found out that there were 6 switches that didn't register. Caps lock, pg down, and 7 through 0 on the number row of the alpha-numeric block. Everything else was fine.
Re-soldering caps lock and pg down seemed to work just fine, but I was still having trouble with the number row. So I started asking for advice in telegram chat, and I concluded that I had broken the trace of the PCB somewhere..
Both wingpad and mike had advised me that I should try to bridge the trace with some wire - but I didn't have any spare wire lying around, but then I went full Macguyver. I found an old router that I hadn't used in 6 years in a box in my garage, and it's power cord was very thin and seemed simple. So I cut a section of it out. I don't own wire strippers though, so I had to trial and error my way into finagling my cookware scissors to strip it, which mostly worked. I then found a trace-pad on the same trace as the broken trace-pad, and soldered in a bridge, per wingpad's suggestion. I remember thinking to myself as I was doing it "I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing - if this works I'll be amazed."
..and then it worked!! I actually woke up my 7 month old running around the house screaming "hellllllls yeah!!!!" My wife came out into the living room and just stared at me with this are-you-fucking-serious-right-now face. It was a very exciting moment for me.
Here's what the bridge looks like
Tomorrow I'm going to get some electrical tape to cover the bare copper parts of the wire. I still can't believe I was able to fix it with that. I learned a lot about PCBs with this project, though!
Here she is on my desk:
Overall, the entire project took me about a week to finish. Totally worth it, and I'm very happy with how it turned out.
And of course, a quick typing demonstration..and yes I know my computer fan sounds like a jet >_< I have the beeper turned to a medium volume, but it's a little hard to hear over the sound of the switches.