For awhile now, I’ve been eying illuminated keyboards with envy. They’re cool, and they make typing in the dark a wee bit easier. With all of winter break to work with, I decided I’d try making my own. With a budget of $0. That’s right. ZERO. Everything I needed I found at home. Here’s my woeful tale.
Fiber Optic Tassel (salvaged from an old toy from the circus years ago)
LED (de-soldered and removed from a light-up pen)
I began by locating a usable keyboard. It just so happens I had an old one lying around, from ~2003. Its design allowed me a little more flexibility around how I would implement my evil plans. The first step was deciding where I would place my LED and fiber optics.
After some hasty planning, I had to prepare the keyboard for surgery. I removed the circuit board with the Num Lock, Caps Lock, etc. indicators and de-soldered the LED for the Scroll Lock. No one uses it anyway. I would use the scroll lock button to turn on my illumination LED instead of the indicator LED.
After disfiguring the plastic slightly, I threading the fiber optics through a slit I made (I folded the tassel end in newspaper to keep the strands together).
The tassel end, I glued down, to keep the under side clean. I had to put a pair of pliers and a hand vacuum on it to keep it from popping up before the glue was dry.
Then came the tedious part. Placing and securing each and every strand of fiber. This took scotch tape, Elmers glue, and more patience than should be spent on something so frivolous.
Some of the keys needed to be reshaped because the fiber optic bundle was too thick. In reality, the uneven edge is hardly noticeable, and it even opens up more gaps for light to shine through.
The de-soldered Scroll Lock Indicator socket needed to be connected with the LED I was using. Wires from an ancient headphone set were sacrificed to make this happen.
The end product: a surprisingly intact keyboard with a little more flair for the useless, that’s even still unique in daylight. And I did achieve my budget of $0.