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Thursday, October 19, 2023

Karliss’ Sinclair-Like Vinyl-Minimize Steam Deck Keyboard Serves As an Experiment in Flexi-PCB Prototypes

Pseudonymous gamer and keyboard fanatic “Karliss” has designed an uncommon accent for Valve’s moveable Steam Deck console: a “paper-thin” keyboard, designed to squeeze into the official case and powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller.

“[It’s a] paper-thin keyboard that matches within the unique case for [the] Steam Deck,” Karliss explains of the undertaking. “When closed the half with microcontroller board ought to fold and match into the recessed a part of case with out making use of stress to display screen. [It’s] not sensible in any means, principally an experiment for making versatile PCBs utilizing [a] vinyl cutter.”

Valve’s Steam Deck launched in February final 12 months, taking what the corporate had discovered from its Steam Controller {hardware} and Linux-based Steam Machines PCs-cum-consoles and mashing them collectively to create a handheld machine which may play mainstream PC video games from the corporate’s Steam platform on-the-go. Whereas it boasts intelligent touchpads, joysticks, and a touchscreen show, although, it lacks a keyboard for textual content entry — which is the place Karliss’ design is available in.

Whereas useful, although, the keyboard actually serves as a take a look at mattress platform for the speedy prototyping of versatile PCB designs utilizing a vinyl cutter and low-cost supplies: transparency movie, designed for overhead projectors, and copper tape, organized in a film-tape-film-tape-film sandwich completed with labels for every key.

“In principle the glue of copper tape was purported to be considerably conductive. With larger overlapping patches it considerably labored,” Karliss writes, “however with thinner traces it was considerably unreliable. [I] had so as to add small dots of soldering to attach the strips of copper tape collectively extra reliably. Making PCBs utilizing copper tape and vinyl cutter […] virtually works however [is] not very sensible. [The] last consequence was extra strong than I anticipated ([but] nonetheless fragile).”

And the keyboard itself? “[The] typing expertise was terrible (which was considerably anticipated from [a] flat sheet with no tactile suggestions),” Karliss admits — a sense which might be acquainted to readers of a sure age who “loved” the membrane keyboards fitted to the Sinclair ZX80 and ZX81 microcomputers within the Eighties. “[I] was in a position to get ~10 WPM [Words Per Minute] on [the] Monkeytype web page.”

The total undertaking write-up, together with the design recordsdata and directions for attempting it your self, is accessible on Karliss’ Hackaday.io web page.

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