September 11, 2009

iBook Photo frame Controls

I already had the frame and iBook screen setup and running from my iBook Photo frame project, however it required a keyboard and mouse to really do anything, this is a problem. So I had been planing on trying to add controls at some point, however as usual this was not as easy as I had hoped. The ibook keyboard is connected via a flexible printed circuit, which means that soldering is out of the question and conductive epoxy would cost me money. My next idea was to attach wires under the connectors and use some kind of clamp to keep it connected. So I carefully removed all the keys and extracted the plastic switch membrane but that idea went out the window when upon trying to part the two membrane sides it also ripped a few of the printed circuits... sigh.

So left with a non functioning circuit I finally opted to cut off just the connector ribbon after getting the correct pinout; tracing it reminded me of my ddr pad controller project. Once I had the pinouts I had to think of some way to connect wires to the conductive paint. After a few failed ideas I finally settled on crimping small coper connectors onto the exposed paint. With a magnifying glass and a fine point xacto knife I carefully scrapped off the top layer of thin plastic glued to the thicker back which the circuit wires are printed on. After that I cut a small strip of copper and bent it into a U shape and crimped it on with pliers. I tested the connection with my multimeter after each one. I had to be careful that each connector was only a small strip, as too big and it would not crimp on properly.

Finally I used some extra cat-5 to get the six wires I needed, for the up, down, enter and esc keys to control xbmc, which I had loaded on it after enjoying the xbox version so much. Then I attached the lead wires to slightly larger clips to crimp the smaller ones in. I did not dare solder to the smaller clips because they might melt the plastic, so I figured this would work best. Finally I put it all back together and tested it. Sadly I did not have any buttons to finish up the project with, so I will leave that up for part three in the future. At least now I have a workable way to connect printed circuits to wires, which I bet will come in handy in the future.

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