Rotary Dial Number Pad Is The Perfect Prank For Retro-Phone Enthusiast

We’re not sure about the rest of you, but to us, a keyboard without a number pad all the way over to the right just seems kind of — naked? We might not be accountants, but there’s something comforting about having the keypad right there, ready for those few occasions when you need to enter numbers more rapidly than would be possible with the row of number keys along the top of the keyboard.

What we are sure about, though, is that rapid numeric keying is not what this rotary dial numpad keyboard is all about. In fact, it’s actually an April Fool’s prank [Squidgeefish] played on a retro-phone-obsessed coworker, and it worked out pretty well. Starting with an old telephone dial from what must be an exceptionally well-stocked parts bin, [Squidgeefish] first worked out the electrical aspects of interfacing the dial with a cheapo mechanical keyboard. It turns out that there’s a lot of contact bounce in those old dials, leading to some software hacks to keep the Arduino happy.

There was also a little hackery needed to stuff a USB hub into the keyboard, as well as literal hacking of the keyboard’s PCB. A 3D printed enclosure allows the rotary dial to nestle into the place where the regular numpad would be, and it looks pretty good. We also like forcing the issue by replacing the entire row of number keys with a single massive prank key.

While this was all for fun, there are a couple of cool tips here, like chucking a bit of printer filament in a Dremel tool to stir-weld parts together. And even though we’ve seen that parametric keycap generator before, it is pretty cool to see it in action.

This Big, Bright Seven-Segment Display Is 3D-Printable

Seven-segment LED displays have been around forever, it seems, and the design is pretty optimized by now. Off-the-shelf units are readily available in all sorts of sizes and colors, but if you want a really big display, you might have to roll your own. Scaling up the size doesn’t necessarily mean you have to scale up the complexity, though, if this light-pipeless jumbo seven-segment LED display is any indication.

It’s clear that [Fran Blanche] has a thing for collecting and building oddball numeric displays, like this cathode ray tube Nixie knockoff or her Apollo DSKY electroluminescent display. Her plus-size seven-segment display is far less complicated than either of┬áthose, and that’s by design; [Fran] wanted something that was 3D-printable as a single part, rather than an assembly with light pipes and diffusers. To that end, the display is just a pair of X-shaped dividers stacked on top of each other behind the display’s face. They dividers form six triangular compartments and a diamond shaped one, with each compartment opening into a segment-shaped window. One LED goes in each triangular compartment, while the double-sized diamond space gets two. That’s it — the LEDs light up the inside of each compartment to turn on the appropriate segments. Watch it in action below.

The display still needs some tweaking, but it’s big and bright and has a large acceptance angle. What’s more, it’s scalable — imagine a display the size of a sheet of plywood using LED light bulbs. We’re looking forward to [Fran]’s improvements and her next display project, which appears to use hot glue as a light pipe.

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