2017-01-11 (W) Tough Pi-ano

Too many problems arose with the wooden keys. They were difficult to construct and even worse to get a reading. With extensive work and materials, they could undoubtedly become a viable solution but the target audience probably won’t care about enough about the authenticity of long keys as compared to any old button. Clearing out all the trouble with keys and replaceable octaves moved this project forward.

A simple template meant for old-school arcade switches was made. These switches have been used in undocumented projects so they’re familiar. In truth, they are extremely simple to install and operate. Extra switches are stocked since they’re so easy to use. The templates were placed on a nice-looking 1x6x48 piece of lumber.

Octave diagrams on wood

It would have been possible to print the entire keyboard on a single piece of long paper but the cost would have been inconvenient. Instead, each of the four octaves was printed on an 11x17 (functionally an A3 piece of paper) and taped together. The pieces of paper were aligned by holding them to a window to ensure the holes lined up. Each octave was printed with the two adjacent switches so the centers could be aligned when the papers were combined.

Window used in place of lightbox

Clearance from the edge was important to get correct. There would need to be enough room to attach another piece of wood in the front and still have enough room to get the nuts onto the switch. It was only necessary to get the outermost buttons aligned since the template would take care of the rest of the measurements.

Switch clearance from edge

The first and last button in each octave were pinned in place with a thumb tack. The thumb tack was driven in deeply so it would leave a visible mark.

Papers properly pinned in place

All the button positions which weren’t marked with a thumb tack were marked using a scratch awl. Printing the centers of each button was more important than the outline. The outline was mostly a matter of determining clearance during the drafting phase but it was kept intact since it made it clear what was being done.

Scratch awl used to mark hole centers


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Completed projects from year 1.
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Completed projects from year 3.

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2016-12-18 (Su)