Xerox Custom Build Plans

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ddrfraser1

13 Apr 2020, 16:05

Hopefully I'll get around to this in the next two months but I thought I'd share my plans and see what you all think. I was inspired by a B.E.A.UTIFUL old keyboard I saw in the good finds thread, the Xerox 860 or x996/7/8 or something. I really can't tell what it's called but anyway, it was an old word processing keyboard as far as I can tell that came with a track pad all the way back in 1981! Aside from this unique feature (which I typically dislike the look of on old Cherry boards but is very well done here) it has a very elegant old design and beautiful colors especially when you can find pictures of it before it has faded.

My plan is to build a modern twist on it as I plan to do with various other old boards such as the Honeywell BO1810 keyboard.

Here's some pictures I stole from an old post of HaaTa's
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In this old add you can see how beautiful it was in its original color.
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My plan is to put an LFK 78 next to a numpad and a windows trackpad from Amazon and then mount them in an aluminum case that I'll get powder coated in white or off white with a black stripe. Not sure yet how I'll do the lettering, some sort of stickers maybe? For keycaps I'll either use row 3 sa or maybe SA Honeywell combined with Maxkey black or stars for a more vintage feel.

As far as wiring, I intend to just hook up each individual component to a USB hub that will mount within the case. Then I'll run a custom cable to the PC. As far as switches, the LFK supports Alps and SMK 2nd gen so this will be a good opportunity for me to use my cherry mount SMKs. The numpad component will be cherry I expect so I'll just do my best to find a switch that isn't too dissimilar to the feel of SMK. Open to suggestions.

I'm hovering between these two layouts. The first, which I prefer, uses the HHKB layout, ish, and is reminiscent of those old keyboards that had basically just a space bar for the bottom row which I always thought was so beautiful and elegant. In this layout, the up arrow key actually becomes the delete key and I just use the numpad as a navv cluster which I always thought was cool anyway.

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In this second layout, I keep the arrow keys and add one more row of F keys. However, I feel like this ruins the aesthetic slightly and looks a bit too modern.

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The only other design changes I might consider would be editing the shortcut texts to more modern useful commands like media keys or other shortcuts. Another possibility is to make the trackpad round like in the original by putting a plastic cup holder ring or something over it. However, I like the idea of getting the full functionality out of the touchpad. I think a square touch pad still strikes a good balance between vintage and new.

Anyway, I'd love to hear what you guys think as well as any ideas or feedback. I have yet to figure out exactly how I am going to mount all this within the case or how I am going to make the plastic (or wooden) sides that will hide where it all joins together. I'll post pictures when it's all done but don't hold your breath. I have to buy the stuff, build the stuff, make mistakes, run into problems I hadn't thought of and my powder coating guy usually has a 1 month backlog. But hey, it's not like I have anything better to do right now.

Slom

13 Apr 2020, 20:16

I like the first layout more :)
I'm not sure about the xerox branding on the black stripe.
And wooden sides sounds really interesting, keep posting your progress.

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ddrfraser1

13 Apr 2020, 22:54

Sure will. What do you mean about the branding. Just don't think it looks good aesthetically?

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

14 Apr 2020, 03:40

I just want to say that I admire your keyboard-layout-editor skills.

WhiskyTangoLima

14 Apr 2020, 08:24

Do you have any pictures of the internals? With the kind of space a board like that must have inside it, you could throw some really neat features in there.

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wadeak78

14 Apr 2020, 10:31

Are you going to have a rectangular trackpad or make it circular somehow?

Either way fantastic project that I look forward to seeing happen!

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ddrfraser1

14 Apr 2020, 17:13

WhiskyTangoLima wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 08:24
Do you have any pictures of the internals? With the kind of space a board like that must have inside it, you could throw some really neat features in there.
Indeed! I plan on making another board one day with just about every feature under the sun: A solenoid, An LCD to work as a calculator for the numpad or to display other info, toggle switches to operate the lock keys, a volume knob, a key lock that when turned triggers a macro function that will enter a password, thus unlocking the computer, perhaps a red led power switch (although I'm not sure what practical purpose it would serve) a usb port, audio and mic ports, a pencil tray and maybe even a track pad. Yeah, It's over kill and by the time I'm done it will look more like the control panel for a nuclear submarine (oh yes,it will have SA Nuclear keycaps. Is there any other choice?) but that's kind of the point isn't it?

As far as pictures, I will post them as I go but I'm still in the planning and materials aquisition/earning the money for it stage. When all is said and done, it will be over $1000. Although I did just purchase a suitable trackpad on eBay for $16 rather than the $70 I was budgeting for.

Slom provided me with very detailed pictures of the original Xerox X995 keyboard in the great finds thread. These have been hugely helpful in the planning process.

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ddrfraser1

14 Apr 2020, 17:15

wadeak78 wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 10:31
Are you going to have a rectangular trackpad or make it circular somehow?

Either way fantastic project that I look forward to seeing happen!
I thought of doing a round one by fitting a cup holder ring on top of a regular track pad. However, I'm going to go with rectangular just so I get the full functionality out of it. I think the final product will serve as a nice modern variation on a theme.

Also, I'm having a hard time thinking about how I would cut a perfectly round hole...

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kps

14 Apr 2020, 18:35

ddrfraser1 wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 17:15
Also, I'm having a hard time thinking about how I would cut a perfectly round hole...
Circle cutter (example) or boring head (example), depending on where the power comes from.

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ddrfraser1

14 Apr 2020, 20:23

kps wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 18:35
ddrfraser1 wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 17:15
Also, I'm having a hard time thinking about how I would cut a perfectly round hole...
Circle cutter (example) or boring head (example), depending on where the power comes from.
I guess I could also use a hole saw.

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dcopellino

14 Apr 2020, 21:49

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nobody here is willing to spend two words on the red-haired model despite her Trump hairstyle cut? @xerox they had definitely an overall good taste, after all. :mrgreen:

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ddrfraser1

14 Apr 2020, 22:05

dcopellino wrote:
14 Apr 2020, 21:49
IMG_20200414_214539.png
nobody here is willing to spend two words on the red-haired model despite her Trump hairstyle cut? @xerox they had definitely an overall good taste, after all. :mrgreen:
I prefer IBM's personally
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ddrfraser1

15 Apr 2020, 17:00

First part arrived and by far the cheapest out of everything. USB hub that will tie everything together. It took me a surprisingly long time to find a cheap one with a detachable cable, in this case, micro USB.
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ddrfraser1

20 Apr 2020, 22:22

Got my trackpad in the mail today. $21.25 off eBay which is much less than the $70 I was budgeting for. It's much bigger than I originally thought which is nice. 5 1/4 inches, 13.5 cm wide.
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ddrfraser1

05 May 2020, 16:55

Does anyone know the method they use to print this lettering? It seems ideal for me to replicate the kind of lettering used on the original Xerox.
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DevilZmods

05 May 2020, 19:58

Probably lasering away the black paint
If you plan on using an aluminium strip, you could get something like this done in any makerspace or maybe from someone in the forum

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ddrfraser1

05 May 2020, 21:24

I'm definitely open to suggestions as it's the one part of the build I don't have a game plan for.

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ddrfraser1

09 May 2020, 01:42

This arrived sooner than expected! Unfortunately, it's a little warped. Nothing a bit of bashing with a rubber mallet won't fix. Now to stick some temporary switches and caps on it so I can sketch out a case :D
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ddrfraser1

09 May 2020, 02:13

These are not the final keycaps but just give a good idea of the general look and layout. Stuck them on some box pinks I had laying around but I think I will use zealios for the actual build.
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ddrfraser1

09 May 2020, 19:29

Noice. Now just waiting for my saw blades to arrive.

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Here's a mock up of what it will look like.
The bezels will be narrower on the sides and bigger on the top on the final product.

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ddrfraser1

12 May 2020, 22:36

Making progress.

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As you've probably noticed, I draw and cut everything upside down. I do this for two reasons.
-First, it hides mistakes. The underside will inevitably end up looking rough here and there but the top side will end up looking much neater; less scuffed up.
-Second, when I lay it on the sheet metal break, I bend the metal upwards so I need to see those lines.

Also, I like to cut smaller holes and file them out after. You can always take away material but can't put it back once its gone. However, this means I've got a great deal of hand filing to do. I don't mind as I can be more precise this way but it does take forever. I've ordered a filing attachment for my dremel which is specifically designed for steel so that should speed things up.

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SneakyRobb
THINK

13 May 2020, 02:26

This is awesome

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ddrfraser1

16 May 2020, 21:19

Thanks!

Rough test fit:

Switched to crappy keycaps and switches while I’m in the shop.
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ddrfraser1

16 May 2020, 22:41

Time to bend.

FYI, this sheet metal break is only rated to 16 gauge and I’m using 14 gauge aluminum so I needed to make some heavy mods to this thing including drilling some screw holes thought the steel sandwich plate as clamps wouldn’t hold it in place. Larger sheet metal breaks were absurdly expensive so yeah... There will be imperfections but that’s what the rubber mallet is for.

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ddrfraser1

16 May 2020, 23:20

Holy balls we’ve got a thing.

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SneakyRobb
THINK

16 May 2020, 23:21

God speed! I did some sheet metal bending at trades college but never this thick metal. Impressive and good luck...

you posted just as I was about to post!!!

Seriously good work

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ddrfraser1

27 May 2020, 20:44

I figured it would be cleaner and cooler to just have one pcb. kelvinhall05 agreed to design it for me. Thanks again man!

I'd say he did a pretty sweet job!
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