Getting commercially available parts to produce a brand new Commodore 64, that has never set foot in a Commodore factory, has been on top of my ‘must have’ list for quite some time. It’s fairly easy to get a brand new C64 motherboard (C64 Reloaded & Ultimate64), a new case (Pixelwizard) and a mechanical keyboard (MechBoard64). However, the keycaps are still causing some issues… Due to the looong wait for the Phase5 Indiegogo campain, quite a few people have tried to come up with alternative solutions to get new keycaps without having to get new moulds made which are silly expensive. A group of dedicated people on lemon64.com (mongooseman, FeralChild & Starglider2/Perifractic among others) have presented different approaches. This post is an overview of what they have come up with so far. I encourage everyone to contribute to the Quest for New Keycaps either here or on Lemon64! We all need new keycaps to get that final (LEGO…) piece of the puzzle…
The BrixKey4 Keycaps
Perifractic has build a fully functional LEGO Commodore 64 called The BrixtyFour. During his experiments, he found that some of the LEGO pieces fit the stems of the original Commodore 64 keycaps. He has therefore taken a completely alternative path and used standard LEGO bricks to create the World’s 1st All New Commodore 64… The keycaps are made from approximately 200 LEGO bricks and plates. The latter have been painstakingly designed and printed with the correct Commodore 64 characters – sweet! The keycaps are called BrixKey4 and can be purchased from Perifractic’s Takeout Store (link). The keycap sets are the world’s first fully commercially available replacement keycaps for the original Commodore 64 and the MechBoard64. The keycaps are sold in two versions: one is designed for the original Commodore 64 (link) and one is for the MechBoard64 mechanical keyboard (link).
Perifractic has made a really cool video on his YouTube channel (Perifractic’s Retro Recipies) of the build. Enjoy almost half an hour with his soothing voice, joyful puns and follow his quest to build the worlds 1st brand spanking new Commodore 64!
Homemade Moulds & Keycap Modding
Mongooseman have tried several approaches. He has experimented with making his own keycap moulds with very impressive results! He also tried removing the keycap socket of a modern day keycap and positioned it correctlyt to the side for mounting. Very creative!
As he has access to a 3D CNC router, he are also in the process of making wooden keycaps…
Modern Day Keycaps and 3D printed Adapters
FeralChild use modern day keycaps that have been custom printed by WASD keyboards. As described here (link) the 1.5u sized keycaps (Function keys, CTRL, SHIFT, RESTORE) cannot be used directly as the female socket of the keycap is centered which causes problems when fitted inside a Commodore 64 case. He is therefore creating a 3D printed adapter that that can ‘skew’ the 1.5u keycaps enough to mount them correctly. There is of course also the size 9u spacebar which is not a standard size… UPDATE: The files can be found on GitHub here (link)
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