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newRPL keyboard overlay
03-17-2021, 03:25 AM
Post: #1
newRPL keyboard overlay
I recently discovered newRPL, and before I knew it, I find that I own an HP 39gs, HP 40gs and (most recently) an HP 50g with newRPL installed! I can't explain how this happened, but I'm sure many of you understand how such a thing could happen.

After using newRPL with a handy printed mock-up of the keyboard nearby, I decided to design a keyboard overlay with updated legends to match how newRPL works. I used OpenSCAD to produce an outline with all of the keyboard holes in the right places (or at least pretty close!) I then imported that as a layer in Inkscape to add legends around each key for the left- and right-shifted functions as well as alpha characters. The key tops also have correct labels, too.

In a feat that probably will never be repeated, I somehow convinced my wife that, really, she needed to add a Cricut Maker cutter to her collection of scrapbooking tools. And that it was her idea, at that.

So after printing and cutting about a dozen variations and tweaks, I printed on vinyl and cut some overlays that are installed on my 39gs and 40gs calculators, including keytops. The printing bit happened on a Brother laser printer on a matte finish vinyl material.

Now I'm in sort of a testing phase, to see how durable the printing is, especially on the keycaps. I'm at some sort of "minimum viable product" stage where this is workable and I need to play a bit before continuing any further refinement. It looks like this:
   

The full resolution version rendered at 2400 DPI is available, also linked off a blog post.

I'm interested in feedback on what legends are missing or wrong. I'll make the OpenSCAD and Inkscape source files available after the next round of changes. I may yet still tweak some of the key spacing..
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03-17-2021, 01:11 PM
Post: #2
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Wow! This is extraordinary work!!
I mean the convincing your wife part, the other part only takes skill but proper wife management is truly a hidden art. Bravo!

My suggestions:
a) Some keys have important functionality in the Shift-Hold plane. Perhaps you could prefix the label with the symbols U+21B0 (↰) and U+21B1 (↱) to indicate shift-hold.

b)There's some space around the cursor keys to show their additional functionality (very common use once you know they are there):
* HOME and UPDIR to the UP cursor as left-shift-hold+UP and left-shift+UP respectively.
* Begin/End to the left/right cursors as left-shifted key
* Copy and Paste to left/right cursors as shift-hold
* Cut to down cursor as shift-hold
* UNDO to the left cursor key (no shift, but only valid on the stack, not sure which color you would use here)

c)The On-hold plane has a lot of functionality in newRPL as well, my suggestion is to make the On key label a different color, then add matching colored labels to certain keys with that functionality:
* On+UP/DOWN = Increase/decrease system precision
* On+Space = ENG/SCI/FIX
* On+Numbers = # of significant digits for display
* On+. = Cycle through using dot or comma as decimal/thousand separators.
* On+* and / = Move ENG display exponent by 3 places.
and of course On+plus/minus = contrast (a classic).

These above are just a few keys I use quite often and sometimes I forget which shift-plane they were, so a proper overlay would help.
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03-17-2021, 03:46 PM
Post: #3
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Claudio, thanks for the feedback, and most of all, for all the wonderful work you've invested to create some wonderful software.

These are great suggestions, and I'll play around a bit to see what fits. I was also pondering printing an adhesive reference card/cheetsheet that could stick on the back of the calculator, in the area that's slightly recessed and has the serial number. And what makes sense to put there - perhaps the ON-hold actions which don't happen that frequently?

For the rear label, I think it would take more abuse and would need some sort of clear laminate covering over the printed vinyl I'm using. I'm printing with a laser printer right now, and don't really know how durable that's going to be on the key tops. If I can find some thin enough clear vinyl to laminate over it before cutting it, that might address that concern.

I also need to not get too clever as the alignment tolerances are probably only about within a mm or so.. I can't crowd the outline of the keys that get cut too closely because of that. I can see what a slippery slope this cutter thing is, just like my 3D printer :-)
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03-17-2021, 04:16 PM
Post: #4
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-17-2021 03:25 AM)lmamakos Wrote:  In a feat that probably will never be repeated, I somehow convinced my wife that, really, she needed to add a Cricut Maker cutter to her collection of scrapbooking tools. And that it was her idea, at that.

There has been a heated discussion on HackADay about how Cricut is screwing their customers.

https://hackaday.com/2021/03/15/cricut-d...ready-own/

10B, 10BII, 12C, 15C, 16C, 18C, 19BII, 20b, 22, 29C, 35, 41CV, 48G, 97
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03-18-2021, 12:09 AM
Post: #5
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-17-2021 04:16 PM)Ren Wrote:  There has been a heated discussion on HackADay about how Cricut is screwing their customers.

https://hackaday.com/2021/03/15/cricut-d...ready-own/

I considered this when I was trying to source a cutting machine. The Cricut seems to be a dominant player in the scrapbooking world and the path to maximum wife happiness. I'd much prefer a machine with open interfaces that I could, in theory, squirt gcode at, but it wasn't practical for this joint use arrangement.

Though, as the thread points out, ultimately it all comes down to stepper motors, servos, and drivers and sensors. I already replaced the motion control board in my Ender 3 with a 32-bit ARM alternative, so presumably something like this could happen again. However, I think I'd like this cutter machine just be an appliance and not another project. For at least as long as necessary..
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03-18-2021, 12:33 AM
Post: #6
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-17-2021 04:16 PM)Ren Wrote:  There has been a heated discussion on HackADay about how Cricut is screwing their customers.
https://hackaday.com/2021/03/15/cricut-d...ready-own/
They just backpedaled, well sort of, read the latest news from their CEO
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03-18-2021, 09:23 PM
Post: #7
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-18-2021 12:33 AM)Sylvain Cote Wrote:  They just backpedaled, well sort of, read the latest news from their CEO

Thanks!
I forwarded the link to Hackaday!

10B, 10BII, 12C, 15C, 16C, 18C, 19BII, 20b, 22, 29C, 35, 41CV, 48G, 97
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03-28-2021, 10:23 PM (This post was last modified: 03-28-2021 10:30 PM by lmamakos.)
Post: #8
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Just an update on the newRPL keypad overlay.

Many mistakes have been made, much has been learned, there has been more progress than retreat. I feel as if I'm getting closer to the end of this process, rather than just further from the beginning of it.

I've incorporated some suggestions in the thread in the overlay. I've also added another label intended to be stuck on the back of the calculator, sized to fit in the shallow recess that has the serial number sticker. This mostly contains the various ON-hold key combinations that may not be used as frequently, but are helpful.

You can see the 5th version of this linked off my blog, as the file is too large to post here. I think that I'm mostly complete with the actual keypad overlay design, though I think I still need to slightly tweak the layout slightly to better center the "M" and "Q" row of keys.

Now what remains is how to best fabricate these.

Up through version 4, I was just printing directly on this "Waterproof Printable Vinyl Sticker Paper for Laser & Inject Printer" product using my Brother HL-L8350CDW color laser printer. This seems to mostly work OK. However I don't think the laser printer toner sticks really well as maybe ink from an inkjet printer would. And I notice that when I run it through the Cricut cutter, the white vinyl shows through near the edges; probably some toner is flaking off during the cutting process.

This product seems to have just about the right degree of adhesion. I was most worried about the small keycap labels, but they don't seem to have shown much propensity to wiggle around while being pressed. Yet, I can still remove those key labels as well as the background overlay without leaving gunky residue behind. (Which is really good since, well, I'm now on version 5 of this..)

What I've been experimenting with now is printing on that vinyl product and then applying a layer of clear vinyl over top of the printed output before running it through the cutter. My goal here is to improve the mechanical robustness and prevent wear of the printed toner, either through repeated finger presses or scratching it.

I have had mixed success so far, and more work is needed in this area. First, the application of the clear overlap really improves the visual appearance and readability. I'm certain it will result in wear resistance. The downside is that it is slightly thicker, and I don't know how badly this impairs the user-experience as you bang away on the keys.

My first attempt at this was mostly a fail; the product I used had bad adhesion to the printed vinyl I was sticking it to. My wife tells me that it was probably "repositionable vinyl" - who knew this was a thing? I was mostly selecting based on the thinness of the product. And the cutting pressure was not strong enough; that outer layer got cut, but not deeply enough to cut the printable vinyl below the clear outer layer I applied.

My second attempt is with a different product "VViViD Clear Self-Adhesive Lamination Vinyl Roll for Die-Cutters and Vinyl Plotters" which seems to have promise. It definitely seems stickier, and trying to get it smoothly unrolled and attached is a bit of a juggling act, it seems. On my first try, it mostly got put down OK, but this time the cuting pressure was too high, and a bunch/most of the key labels got knocked loose and dragged around. So something in between... Regardless, I managed to get a few key labels as well as the background overlay and applied to my HP 39gs.

Hopefully just another round of tweaks for me. Then back to something easier, like 3D printing or PCB design and surface mount PCB assembly.
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03-28-2021, 11:15 PM
Post: #9
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
the image could also serve as a skin for the simulation software
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03-28-2021, 11:23 PM
Post: #10
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
If you've got one of these Cricut machines, here's a link to the notorious Cricut Design Space project which in theory ought to allow you to reproduce this yourself. Alternatively, you could start with the PNG file..
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03-28-2021, 11:47 PM
Post: #11
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-28-2021 11:15 PM)compsystems Wrote:  the image could also serve as a skin for the simulation software

If someone want to do this, let me know. I can produce an SVG file that might be more useful, rather than a bitmap. Once I get this settled down, I'll see about releasing the source files that I used to construct this. There is:
  1. An OpenSCAD program that generates the outline, the opening for each key in the overlay, and the keycap itself
  2. An Inkscape file (SVG + a bunch of metadata) which consists of multiple layers that include the imported SVG from OpenSCAD, layers for the LS and RS labels, the alphabetic characters, keytop labels, and the back sticker.

These things are still in flux here. The workflow from start to end is lengthier and more manual than I would like, including dealing with the Cricut Design Space software/cloud service to render to the cutting machine.
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03-29-2021, 01:39 PM
Post: #12
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(03-28-2021 11:47 PM)lmamakos Wrote:  
(03-28-2021 11:15 PM)compsystems Wrote:  the image could also serve as a skin for the simulation software

If someone want to do this, let me know. I can produce an SVG file that might be more useful, rather than a bitmap. Once I get this settled down, I'll see about releasing the source files that I used to construct this. There is:
  1. An OpenSCAD program that generates the outline, the opening for each key in the overlay, and the keycap itself
  2. An Inkscape file (SVG + a bunch of metadata) which consists of multiple layers that include the imported SVG from OpenSCAD, layers for the LS and RS labels, the alphabetic characters, keytop labels, and the back sticker.

These things are still in flux here. The workflow from start to end is lengthier and more manual than I would like, including dealing with the Cricut Design Space software/cloud service to render to the cutting machine.

Once you have a final version, I can take an SVG for Inkscape. newRPL Desktop right now uses a bitmap (picture) of the calculator itself, which doesn't look great when stretched but looks relatively OK on both a PC screen and an Android device. It could very well be replaced with an SVG with better labels than the original picture. It would look sharper, especially on a high dpi phone screen.
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04-12-2021, 02:37 AM
Post: #13
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Nice work on this!

A simple question for you, though...

If I take the simple route to attempt to print this for a calculator that is still en route (via ebay), and my trusty 50g (which is stuck in my office at work), I followed the tips you provided in your V6 blog post that states the size of the bounding box is 110mm tall.

I just dumped the file into MS Word, and edited the properties of the image to make the height 110mm. However, after printing it, I see that the graphic (visible) portion of the image is only 109mm (probably 108.5 to be more precise). Would you recommend just scaling the image in work and running test prints until I get the height of the visible (dark) background to be exactly 110mm high? Or should I be shooting for a different dimension?

I don't have a Cricut (nor do I really want to invest in one), so I was hoping to hand cut the vinyl version once I print it at the right size.

Thanks!
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04-12-2021, 04:35 AM
Post: #14
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Thanks for the kind words! From my measurements, 50g keyboard seems to have the same dimensions as the 39gs/40gs calculators do, so you can maybe use that to confirm the dimensions are working out as expected.

There's a slightly updated version at https://www.transsys.com/images/newRPL/k...00-dpi.png in which I adjusted the spacing of the key rows slightly as well as adjusting the opening of the holes for the keys. I noticed some binding in some rows when I depressed some of the keys, as they rotate towards the top of the case and there was insufficient clearance.

The printed background for the calculator keyboard overlay should be exactly 110mm, so you may need to tweak the scaling slightly to achieve that. The critical dimension is the height to ensure the spacing between the rows is correct.

As you apply the sticky vinyl after you print it, I've found it best to sort start at the bottom, ensuring that there's as little space as possible between the bottom of the keys and holes in the overlay; this is to ensure there's adequate gap at the top of each key to avoid interference when you press the key and it moves slightly forward.

My conclusion is that using a laser printer on the vinyl isn't ideal without some sort of covering to protect the toner. It will flake off if you flex the vinyl, and I get unsightly white edges showing where the cuts are made. I've not tried an inkjet printer, but I suspect that the ink probably adheres to the printable vinyl better.

(Ooops, just noticed I forgot to update the version number on the back sticker... oh well..)
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04-12-2021, 12:45 PM
Post: #15
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(04-12-2021 04:35 AM)lmamakos Wrote:  Thanks for the kind words! From my measurements, 50g keyboard seems to have the same dimensions as the 39gs/40gs calculators do, so you can maybe use that to confirm the dimensions are working out as expected.

There's a slightly updated version at https://www.transsys.com/images/newRPL/k...00-dpi.png in which I adjusted the spacing of the key rows slightly as well as adjusting the opening of the holes for the keys. I noticed some binding in some rows when I depressed some of the keys, as they rotate towards the top of the case and there was insufficient clearance.

The printed background for the calculator keyboard overlay should be exactly 110mm, so you may need to tweak the scaling slightly to achieve that. The critical dimension is the height to ensure the spacing between the rows is correct.

As you apply the sticky vinyl after you print it, I've found it best to sort start at the bottom, ensuring that there's as little space as possible between the bottom of the keys and holes in the overlay; this is to ensure there's adequate gap at the top of each key to avoid interference when you press the key and it moves slightly forward.

My conclusion is that using a laser printer on the vinyl isn't ideal without some sort of covering to protect the toner. It will flake off if you flex the vinyl, and I get unsightly white edges showing where the cuts are made. I've not tried an inkjet printer, but I suspect that the ink probably adheres to the printable vinyl better.

(Ooops, just noticed I forgot to update the version number on the back sticker... oh well..)

Cool - thanks for sharing that updated version! I will probably be printing my first trials in the next day or two, but need to go retrieve my 50g from work to have something to try it on. The 39gs won't be here for a couple more days.

I also will make sure the height dim is exactly 110mm when I start the trials.

Thanks again - looking forward to trying this. I just hope I can do a decent job of trimming these out!
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04-12-2021, 02:16 PM (This post was last modified: 04-12-2021 02:17 PM by spiff72.)
Post: #16
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
One other thing...

Sorry to ask for a change, but how difficult would it be to add a blanked out key label for the other keys that just have the white blanks? I was just thinking it might be less confusing for a newb to newRPL to cover the functions of those keys. Having a dark label to stick on those keys might be helpful.

Specifically, the G through L keys on the left side next to the arrows. I don't think this is as important for the top row of keys, but covering up the STO> button will be important to me since that key moved.

Thanks again!
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04-12-2021, 03:35 PM
Post: #17
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(04-12-2021 02:16 PM)spiff72 Wrote:  One other thing...

Sorry to ask for a change, but how difficult would it be to add a blanked out key label for the other keys that just have the white blanks? I was just thinking it might be less confusing for a newb to newRPL to cover the functions of those keys. Having a dark label to stick on those keys might be helpful.

Specifically, the G through L keys on the left side next to the arrows. I don't think this is as important for the top row of keys, but covering up the STO> button will be important to me since that key moved.

Thanks again!

Sure, that's doable. I'll include that in the next version; it may be a few days or longer before I can get to it.
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04-12-2021, 03:37 PM
Post: #18
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(04-12-2021 03:35 PM)lmamakos Wrote:  
(04-12-2021 02:16 PM)spiff72 Wrote:  One other thing...

Sorry to ask for a change, but how difficult would it be to add a blanked out key label for the other keys that just have the white blanks? I was just thinking it might be less confusing for a newb to newRPL to cover the functions of those keys. Having a dark label to stick on those keys might be helpful.

Specifically, the G through L keys on the left side next to the arrows. I don't think this is as important for the top row of keys, but covering up the STO> button will be important to me since that key moved.

Thanks again!

No problem. I can work with what is already there for the big overlay in my printing trials. I can just reprint a new one to get just the button covers!

Thanks!
Sure, that's doable. I'll include that in the next version; it may be a few days or longer before I can get to it.
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04-13-2021, 02:08 PM
Post: #19
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
(04-12-2021 03:37 PM)spiff72 Wrote:  
(04-12-2021 03:35 PM)lmamakos Wrote:  No problem. I can work with what is already there for the big overlay in my printing trials. I can just reprint a new one to get just the button covers!

Thanks!
Sure, that's doable. I'll include that in the next version; it may be a few days or longer before I can get to it.

Great! Would you mind sharing the inkscape file for the v7 version? I would like to take a peek at that too...
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04-14-2021, 02:55 AM
Post: #20
RE: newRPL keyboard overlay
Just an update to my previous comment - I downloaded Inkscape and did some experimenting with the SVG file you posted for V6. Awesome work there! I have never used the program before and I was able to figure out how to manipulate the various text and other objects without much of a learning curve.

I initially tried taking your PNG files and adjusting the color sliders available in my Mac's Preview app, and got some slight improvements. After that I decided to make an attempt at working with your native Inkscape (v6) file.

Since I will probably end up putting this on my HP50, I changed the background to a darker (near black) color, and fiddled around with the color of the RS text to try to get good contrast with the black background (I actually think the color I ended up using was very close to your RS color). I printed it on plain paper as a test, and it turned out pretty well. I had a hard time reading the RS text on the template with the default color of the background. This may have been an issue with my inkjet printer, as the photos on your blog show a bit more contrast than mine.

I am attaching a photo of the printouts side by side. Counterclockwise from the top left are:
Your original PNG, PNG color edit #1, the new inkscape edit, and PNG color edit #3. I noticed that something I did messed up the RS and LS arrows (the corners got funky), but I have fixed that since printing the first test.

As mentioned before, if you can upload the newer SVG file I would love to get that one to take advantage of the latest row and cutout tweaks you made. I think if I can get that, I could create the blanked out keytop covers on my own.

Thanks again for your work on this! I got so busy playing with the template that I haven't bothered trying to flash my 50g yet (which I have now retrieved from my office). If the ebay seller ever bothers to ship the 39gs I ordered from them, I would have another calc to try out too! Grrrr...


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