DIY USB Typewriter: What’s Obsolete Is New Again?

Ever wanted to use a typerwriter as a keyboard? Perhaps you miss the old "clickety-click" sound? Yes, those old mechanical typing devices with no “undo” feature have become hot again, reborn as input devices for your PC or tablet. Jack Zylkin of USBTypewriter has posted a complete how-to on Instructables with directions on how to convert a typewriter into a USB keyboard.

Why create an electronic keyboard out of a purely mechanical typewriter? Zylkin writes on his Instructable that:

"There is something very magical about typing on those old-school manual typewriters. The weighty feel of the spring-loaded keys, the motor-car styling, and the beautiful marks they print on the page all make for a rich writing experience that can make writer's block melt away."

The three main electronic components of the USB Typewriter are a sensor board, a USB interface board, and reed switches. The sensor board has metal contacts, which clip under the keys of the typewriter, and sends information to the interface board. Featuring an Arduino chip, the USB interface board controls the sensor board and sends keystrokes over USB to your host computer.

The reed switches triggers the sensor board after detecting keypresses for Shift, Space, and Return (since these keys don’t hit the crossbar). Because of the flexible metal contacts of the sensor board detect most of the keypresses, only a dozen or so wires need to be run under the typerwriter’s chassis.

Sound complicated? Zylkin has for sale typewriter-to-USB conversion kits so that you too can experience the satisfying clunk-clunk-click of using a typewriter without having to print your own circuit boards. Do you think this hack is ridiculous, or are you excited to rip apart a derelict typewriter and try this yourself? Let us know in the comments!

[USBTypewriter and Instructables via Hack a Day]

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