Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Typewriter Mentor

Last Thursday, my student teacher graduated and I gave him this typewriter as a gift:


Oooh boy, that's a shiny typewriter.


With Marie Kondo whispering in my ear, I stuffed my heart with steel wool and tin foil and made some decisions about my many collections. A few weeks ago I culled the typewriters, keeping the ones that brought me the most joy. Before that, I decided how many slide rules you need to have a collection, but not an obsession. Days before that, I asked myself if I need three of the same Swiss army knives?

The process continues, but I am sure that Joe (my student teacher) will enjoy this typewriter as he begins his journey in teaching.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

New for 1947..the OPTO-ELECTIRC INTERFACE

No, it's not a typewriter. Imagine an alternate past where this might be on your desk:


Pretty cool, huh? I took an old desktop mouse and created a 1940s-inspired Opto-Electric Interface. The body is made from basswood and the buttons, screen and screws are all from the hardware store. The vacuum tubes are dead ones that I save every time I service my old TV. In reality I have a big bag full of dead ones that I needed to do something with. I 3D printed a tube holder that would fit in the insert. The screen is also from the hardware store.

The product tag is a toner transfer onto an old bit of disposable aluminum roasting pan roughed up with some 0000 steel wool.

The electrics were dead simple. Move the switches from the PCB to the external ones. I did mess up the traces while I was removing the old switches. In the end I soldered the switches directly to the appropriate IC pins.

You can still get winkle paint and it is a challenge to use. I imagine on warm days it works quickly without a lot of intervention on my part, but is has been cool. Compounding the trouble, I decided to paint the body it was cold and rainy out so you could just imagine me standing in the garage with a hairdryer trying to get this paint to wrinkle.

The body still needs some weathering and aging, but it's wonderfully large and definitely feels like something old.

This proof-of-concept is the first stage in a larger project for a modern computer that has this aesthetic. It will have dials, switches, and lots of knobs. Fun!