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Grump's Wave

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Grump    0

I am so sorry for taking so long to update this project. The only thing I can say is that I do have a life away from the keyboard.

Speaking of which...

Are any of you like me? I just can't seem to find the perfect keyboard. It's gotta feel right and it's gotta look cool and it definitely has to type with no spelling or punctuation errors.

Okay, I guess we can't have everything. ;) I have a box full of keyboards though. A couple of Microsoft, including the first ergonomic one they came out with, an IBM, a couple of Memorex, a cheap ViewSonic, a couple no-name oldies without the infamous Windows keys. I've tried them all.

A few months ago, I splurged on the fan-dancy DiNovo, by Logitech. I loved how the key pad was separate from the keyboard -- I hardly ever use them keys anyway. It was sleek, stylish and very comfortable. I prefer a bit more noise from the keys when I hit them, but it was pretty nice. After a couple of months though, the damn lettering started disappearing.

Well, this project I've been workin' on has some styling features I would like to repeat in the peripherals on my desk. If anyone has seen my "Functional Design" mod, you'll know I am particular about the total system mod. So, I looked around for a keyboard that would be fitting of "The Grump Case".

A few weeks ago, I decided I had to change the color of the LED fans on the side panel of my case. I went to one of my favorite online mod shops, Performance PCs to order some fans -- they have excellent and quick service -- and stumbled on this:


It's called a True-Touch, by Manhattan -- a cordless keyboard with no keypad. It has a bunch of Internet buttons and multi-media buttons, all of which I'll prob'ly never use, but it's a nice lookin' board. I think the problem with havin' a decent job is sometimes blowin' money on crap I only use once. I think this is NOT one a those. Look at the potential:


The shot of the case is purposely dark so's you can't see just how cool it looks. Hey, this is about the keyboard. But I do want you to see why I think the keyboard is especially suited for this project:

gc344tn.jpg and gc939tn.jpg

The shape of the keyboard blends perfectly well with the free-form air-brush style yellow fogging accents (it's not air-brushing - I did it with a regular rattle can). When I first saw the keyboard on the Performance PCs site, I envisioned the thing in matching school bus yellow paint.

One of the problems with putting things on my work table is, they just seem to fall apart, ready to mod...


This thing comes with an attached trackball -- a tiny little thing. I'm havin' a hard time using it -- and I'm a die-hard trackball user too. But it's so dang small...


The best thing about disassembling this keyboard (as opposed to a couple others I've ripped into) is every screw is the same size and the keys are self-contained in a unit that just clips on -- and pops off with a flick of the screwdriver...


The whole thing was in pieces in a manner of minutes. The control PCBs were all attached and the battery leads were hard-wired to the base. I just had to flip it all over and remove the silicone rubber buttons -- the trackball's clicking buttons, on the left side of the board, are plastic. Even a board as simple as this should have a documented disassembly so you can put it all back together with no trouble. I took LOTS of pictures...


Keep all loose parts in a container so you don't lose them. It'd be just your luck the screw you lost couldn't be found at your local hardware store to save your life. It's the modding rule: Bag it and tag it...


The rubber buttons are a medium gray, but I don't have any gray on my machine. I do have black though and there just wasn't much of a selection of vinyl dye at any of the stores where I live. So, it's outside to spray the dye on the buttons. But to keep them from being blown off the table when I hit them with the spray can, a little double-faced tape works wonders. This stuff has a thick foam core that I used in other mods, so it's what I used here...



A couple light coats of vinyl dye does a very nice job...


While that is drying, I can concentrate on preparing the rest of the board for paint. If you are going to do your own keyboard and have decided to go with vinyl dye insteada paint, you don't need to do any sanding (unless you have rough spots you want to smooth up - sanding won't hurt, it's just not necessary). I am using the same Dupli-Color enamel paint -- school bus yellow -- that I have used on all the accents and inside of my project case. The first step is sanding...


Since the battery compartment is hard-wired to the PCBs and I don't like doing any soldering I don't have to, I had to bag and tape up the works to keep the dust and paint from contaminating them...


There's no real reason to paint the inside of the battery compartment and maybe there's a good reason NOT to: The door might not fit or it will forever stick when I leave it on for a long time. So, I opted to tape it off and the feet and anything else that didn't need painting...



Painting a keyboard is just like painting anything else. Don't skimp on the prep or the procedures that will ensure a successful paint job. After sanding, I cleaned the whole thing with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol to take all the greasy fingerprints off. Paint will adhere much better to a clean surface. Do several coats for good coverage, first light, then heavier...





Hmmm, the picture above looks like the board is damaged, but I assure you it isn't. The paint job turned out pretty good and the sanding and finishing I will have to do is minimal. However, the picture is a mystery to me. Looks like I drop-kicked it across the yard.

Some of you more observant souls are prob'ly wonderin' how I'm gonna deal with the little graphics that indicated what each button was for. I tried to mask them somehow, in hopes that I could retain them and have an interesting look as well, but it looked pretty crappy. To tell you the truth, I just don't care because I have had several boards with similar buttons and have never ever used them. I do know what a couple of the buttons are and I may figure out the rest in time, but I'm gonna live without the graphics until I can find a good decal or transfer that won't look bad.

The paint needs a couple days of drying before I can handle it. I also need to wait at least 5 days if I want to color sand, which I do. Color sanding will remove the fine particles of dust that settled on it while painting and take out any orange peel look in the finish. It will give me a smooth, glossy look that will be suitable for the project I hope this becomes.

I was gonna wait five full days to color sand the keyboard -- the recommended curing time is 5 days -- but I left the parts out in the hot sun for several days so's the paint would bake in real good.

It must have helped. I was able to sand the surface without the paint balling up -- it's happened to me before and it's a messy disappointment. I used 4 flavors of sandpaper: 600 grit (just on the areas that had dust particles and roughage), 1000 grit to take out the orange peel look, 1500 to take out the scratches of the 1000 and 2500 grit to make it smooth as a baby's butt.



I know there's a couple of you eagle-eyes out there just wonderin' if I painted the transmitter...


Of course I did. It's all in the details. And I am kinda anal about the details -- and authenticity. If you wanna make it look like it came like that, you gotta have the tags too...


I am very pleased with how it turned out. Well worth the effort. I guess I spent an hour or so preparing it, including the masking and sanding. Painting took a full can of spray and about 50 minutes total, including the 10 minute wait between coats (I did 4 coats).

Color sanding is more time consuming. I spent most of the evening at my kitchen sink with the sandpaper and at my work table with the finishing compound. That's about 2 and a half hours and another 15 minutes reassembling.

Still at my work table, but it looks like this now:


Here's a before and after:


It may look like the keys are different colors, but it's only the lighting difference between the 2 pictures.

Keep in mind this is a very simple mod. It's just paint. I didn't do anything extraordinary. But it's touches like this that make a modding project stand out.

So, I hope you like it so far. I know it's not a color many would choose, but it's a good match for my case and I am married to the color scheme I chose. See you in the next installment.


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Wacft    0

nice job grump. you just answered one of my bigest concerns with modding. how to get dust out of your freshly painted object? thats a big help.

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Guest Mindless Moron   
Guest Mindless Moron

i have to say at first i thought the orange was a terrible idea, but my god have you pulled it off, what a great mod, do the monitor aswell!

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