Indash Retractable Keyboard - in progress
Some of you might know that I've been working on putting a pc in my car with a digital dash. Being short on excess cash (and time), I've had to put the LCD project on hold for a week or two. But I've got so many things half done, I need to get something solid to satisfy my car modding cravings.
Some I start thinking about getting around to the keyboard. This is what I want.
There's so little room there, so I'm thinking about what I can use that will fit.
My first thought is linear actuators. They're easy to use, and sturdy. I could mount the keyboard to it, mount the actuator inside and I'd almost be done.
Few problems. There usually over $100 (again bad week for this) and they're too strong. I don't need 200+ pounds of force trying to launch my keyboard through my dash if it get's hung up.
I start rummaging through old CD-ROMs. Found one mechanism that would have worked perfectly except for size. I cut and trimmed and cut and trimmed and it almost worked. Due to the 3/4 inch height I have to work with, it would have to be almost behind the hvac controls. So know I need about 11-12 inches of straight back. So that's out.
So I decide to make my own actuator from cheap parts. I get some 3/16 rod, some 10-24 threaded rod, nuts, some spacers and some lego parts I had around (I got a ton of the axles and what not for playing with electronics. I think I'm the only person who got their first lego set after the age 30.) The motor was a cheap one I got at Radioshack some time ago.
Here's a pic of most of it. The middle threaded rod (which moves the keyboard) doesn't have the coupling in this pic. It looks like crap because I used hot glue for the test runs. But it works, even when barely glue together :)
The two lego axle holders (or whatever they're called) have two pieces of 3/16 rod epoxed to them. These have #10 spacers on them. These slide back and forth and keep the keyboard level.
There's two other screws holding the lego parts together. The middle rod is 10-24 threaded. I took another spacer and threaded it. This is what the keyboard get's attached to and what actually moves it.
Takes about 2 seconds to extend or retract the keyboard.
So know I'll start threaded the connectors and what not to make the connections permanent. Need to make a motor mount. Then I just have to wire up the brain, trim my radio brackets and hinge the center console and call it a day. I'll probably use a PIC for the controller. Kind of overkill, I know. Not decided on if I'm going to use switches or current detecting to determine end of travel.
I'll post more pics and some vids of it in action when I get more done.