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USBTypewriter - new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence. (usbtypewriter.com)
113 points by cskau on Sept 23, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

This is a cool hack, but what I really want is a hardware calculator keypad that interfaces with the iphone. There are some great calculator apps but it's just not usable at speed without physical keys. You could do a nice case with the keypad on the inside and the phone in landscape.

You can buy USB keyboards with just the numeric keypad. That sounds like what you want.

(I assume that some models also include the ()-=+ keys for completeness)

Does the iPhone have an host USB port? I don't think it does.

There are bluetooth numberpads, though, those should work. Something like this: http://store.apple.com/us/product/H0321VC/A (just found it, never used)

From what I gather, the iPhone does have a host USB port (assuming you have the Camera Connection Kit to provide the connector), but it is not enabled in iOS.

iOS on the iPad is said to have USB keyboard support. I don't have the necessary hardware to back that up though.

You can plug a variety of USB gear to the "camera connection kit" on iPad and it just works, from USB headsets (audio + mic) to keyboards.

Is that something you would pay for? Physical interfaces and keys are something of an obsession of mine (I don't use any keyboards that don't have Cherry MX switches, for example).

Yep - I'd definitely pay for a stylish hardware icalc keypad over a whole calculator. Im studying mech engineering. So it needs to be more than just a numeric keyboard - a scientific calc layout with brackets, exponents, logs and trig functions at a minimum. I guess the ultimate would be e-ink keys that you could relabel, but it wouldn't be too bad to use the screen for rarely used functions and just have a sensible set nicely laid out in hardware.

It sounds like someone needs to introduce you to computer algebra systems. I recommend Mathematica, Maple, or Matlib.

Slightly different issue. Entering equations quickly and accurately is very hard with a virtual keyboard. I'd like to use my phone rather than a calculator in situations when i dont have a full pc handy. I've used Maple extensively and it's a great tool. But I'm not looking for a pc replacement, I'm looking for a calculator replacement. The app side could certainly work like Maple or Mathmatica.

So you are willing to carry around a full mechanical keyboard to attach to your phone and type complex equations, but you can't carry around a netbook or something for that purpose?

I have to say, I'm a little baffled. Phones are for phoning. Computers are for computing.

Smart phones are computers that are capable of phoning too. Netbooks and laptops aren't ideal for entering a lot of numbers either because they don't have a numeric keypad. Calculator keyboards are laid out better for working with equations.

Let me put it another way - do you think calculators are completely redundant?

I'd like to get a device the other way around - a daisy-wheel printer with simple parts and a serial or USB interface.

It should be easy to adapt any modern (must put spaces between these two words) typewriter. After all, they are all nothing more than very small computers with a daisy-wheel printer built in.

I've been looking for this for nearly a decade with no luck. Around 2007 I found a daisywheel typewriter with a floppy drive, but the carriage was broken.

If you find something, let me know!

Love the carriage return. Love the music in the video. Love the whole project.

Quaintly antique machinery and DIY — this is probably going to be a hit with the steampunk community.

The music is the reason why I can't watch it. Germany's music industry apparently had YouTube block the video.. Pity.

Dragging this offtopic a bit, but is there any reason why YouTube couldn't add an upload flag of 'audio optional' so that in situations like this, it just muted the audio stream in the specified regions?

Then, if someone owns the copyright to the soundtrack, they file a complaint against only that, and the video remains up. Or, they can file against the whole thing, and have it completely blocked (assuming sufficient rights).

I have, on very rare occasions, seen videos on Youtube muted for copyright issues on the audio. I don't how they choose to do that over taking down the entire video, nor if they still do it, though.

http://mashable.com/2009/01/14/youtube-mutes-videos/ for a random (and old) reference.

Since the audio and video streams are muxed into a single file, and the copyright "check" is done based on location this would mean YouTube encoding every video twice (and for each resolution), effectively doubling YouTube's storage requirements.... most people will then re-upload their video in a non-infringing manor anyway, so it would be quite wasteful.

I was imagining something more along the lines of a server-side filter that stripped the audio chunks out of the stream as it sent, although I have no idea if such a thing is practical.

They've already re-encoded their entire library once (for WebM support), so in theory they are capable of it. The storage requirements might be a killer though.

I suspect it's technically possible, but maybe the potential revenue from the effort wouldn't make economic sense.

They could just mute it in Flash. Yeah, you can still extract it, but that's illegal anyway.

I still use a typewriter. It's quicker to just bang out an address on an envelope than it is to load the sticky labels into the printer, open the word processor, type the address, then print it.

but this does seem expensive.

Why can't you just write it on the envelope? It's simpler and cheaper.

Perhaps his penmanship is not the best? I've known several people that have had crippling arthritis, making them unable to hand-write legibly.

If I ever miss typewriters I just pull out my Model M keyboard, play on it a bit and then put it away.

I just threw mine away, after basement flooding from Hurricane Irene. But it was time anyway. To hook it up I needed too many adapters:

big keyboard connector --> small keyboard connector --> USB

I just did it yesterday - 20 minutes and I was tired.

Looks to be a very interesting idea. In fact, I do want one. Buuuuut, I'd have to wonder with those prices for the full models and DIY kits if he is not overcharging by several hundred dollars. True, you're buying a piece of tech for its look and feel more than functionality, but as a guy who's actually bought, played with, and used old style typewriter, $700 is a bit much for anyone.

Could any enthusiasts (I consider myself an amateur) weigh in?

Looks like for your money you get a typewriter (presumably refurbished), a display and the electronics. As you noted, he sells a DIY kit if you want to provide your own screen and typewriter (with an estimated assembly/install time of 6-7 hours for an experienced person.

Actually sounds like a fair price to me. But perhaps you are used to getting your electronics assembled overseas on a massive scale by (essentially) slave labour.

Display? No. Those are iPads in the Etsy store. The typewriters are essentially USB keyboards. For $600-$800 you get an old typewriter and an pre-wired-up Arduino board. You're paying for the integration of this http://www.etsy.com/listing/62642931/diy-usb-typewriter-conv... into the typewriter.

My mistake, thank you.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/82254797/usb-typewriter-computer... I own this exact typewriter. I bought it a few years ago for $20. Now, if you have the money to spend, perhaps for a gift, and you don't feel confident that you can find a good typewriter and assemble it yourself, $700 might be worth it to you.

The schematics and source code are both available from the look of it.


Now if this was done for a keypunch we could create hard copies of our code too!

Ooooh! Cute overpriced retro vintage hipster bait!

More power to you for selling these things for $500! Ha!

You can buy a kit, for $30^H^H79. Looks like the attention of the project made him change his mind about cost...

Cache[0] for those of us getting database connection errors.

[0]: https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http:/...

I may be in the minority that actually might purchase one of these.

I still use a typewriter for all my prose (currently an Olivetti) for the one dumb reason that it's the only way I've found to stop myself from editing my writing as I write it.

I'd been contemplating picking up a refurbished Selectric (as just the hum that emits after turning it on brings back wonderful memories), but this would have the added benefit of also making a digital copy (which I do at some point want for editing).

video is blocked in germany :(

This seems to be a nice project todo in your spare time. Buying it? No thanks, I don't see how this will benefit me. Selling these for 500$+ ? You must be joking.

Nice hack, probably inspired by the movie Brazil.

Forget typewriters. I want a Bluetooth IBM model M keyboard for my iPad.

You probably want to start here: http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/cus101usenon.html (or with one of there other models)

Mechanical Keyboard Guide (with several models and styles): http://www.overclock.net/keyboards/491752-mechanical-keyboar...

Wow, a bunch of switches that work like a bunch of switches. Groundbreaking!! If there are 101 keys, there must be like 102 wires involved in this project! Call NASA! Hire this guy!

No wires, just many reed switches. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reed_switch

Not a windows key to be seen :)

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