Making a Rotary Keyboard #Keyboards

Squidgeefish made an April Fool’s prank for a friend by replacing the number pad on a keyboard with an old rotary telephone dial.

While the easy route out with a fabrication project like this is just to go for cosmetic completeness, I figured that it was imperative that the dial actually work for numeric input – especially since I was planning to remove the number row as well, thus forcing the use of the rotary dial for numeric or symbolic entry.

My rotary dial has two primary pairs of contacts. One goes open when the dial is moved past the 1 position, and the other creates the characteristic pulse train upon release (one pulse per numeric position). While one could use a pin-change interrupt, the timescale is so large that busy-waiting is acceptable. I used a DFRobot Beetle for this since its onboard ATMega32u4 provides native USB HID functionality.

I decided to 3D print a shroud to hide the internals of the dial and make this look a little bit less like Frankenstein’s monster’s keyboard. Oh, and I suppose legends for the special characters are important as well since some people may not have them memorized…

See the complete build post. Via

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