How to Build a Star Trek: The Next Generation Mechanical Keyboard

Author: Ryan Whitwam ExtremeTechExtremeTech

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired on TV more than 30 years ago, but it’s held up remarkably well. For myself and many other sci-fi fans, the exploits of the Enterprise-D were part of our formative years. I will always love this series, and I also love mechanical keyboards. So, why not combine my loves? That’s how I ended up with this LCARS keyboard. Here’s how I built it. 

The planning

Most of my keyboard projects are inspired by a particular keyboard kit or keyset, and this one is thanks to an official re-release of the Star Trek-themed keyset called DSA Galaxy Class. The colors come from the LCARS interface designed for The Next Generation and subsequently used in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. LCARS was created under the direction of Gene Roddenberry, who wanted the Enterprise-D to look so advanced that its screens would be simple and clean.

DSA Galaxy Class uses the same pastel color palette as the original LCARS screens, as well as the Star Trek “Swiss911” fonts. It also has custom legends from the show like “Eject Core” and “Engage.” This set originally ran several years back without an official Star Trek branding, but designer Ryan Norbauer worked with the Roddenberry Shop to make an officially licensed version for the 30th anniversary. The difference this time is the set comes in a snazzy box and includes novelty caps with Star Trek insignia. For a Star Trek fan, this set is truly drool-worthy.

I wasn’t content to just slap those glorious keycaps on any old board and call it a day. After pre-ordering the caps, I had many months of waiting ahead of me. So, I kept an eye out for new keyboard kits that had the right look — like the CA66 you see in the photos. This is a 65 percent keyboard, which is my preferred layout. More importantly, it has large, rounded bezels that look a bit like the computer consoles on the show.

Choosing the switches was a challenge. All the LCARS computers on the show are touch screens, so I didn’t want a switch that sounded too mechanical. Even non-clicky switches (like my favorite Zealio switches) tend to make a racket, so I used this as an opportunity to try a new-ish Zealio variant called Zilents (67g weight). These tactile switches have small rubber bumpers inside on the slider that dampen the noise of the switch. They feel otherwise just like Zealios.

Making modifications

Set designers got to work on the Enterprise-D in the late 1980s, so it has an…unusual aesthetic. The entire inside of the ship is tan. It’s a very distinctive look, and one not replicated in the later series. You’re also not likely to find a lot of keyboard cases in “Enterprise tan.”

Before: Very much not tan.

The CA66 kit I ordered came with a raw silver aluminum case. I chose this because I knew I would have to change the color anyway. I reached out to Ryan Norbauer, who created a limited edition tan-colored tenkeyless keyboard case to go along with the Galaxy Class keyset. With his assistance, I was able to have a local custom paint shop powder coat the CA66 case. The powder coat has a mild texture to make the board a little more visually interesting, and it’s the perfect Enterprise color.

After: Enterprise tan.

I also employed my middling design skills to create several “GNDN” labels for the board. You’ve probably seen these red labels floating around in the Star Trek universe. GNDN stands for “goes nowhere, does nothing” because they’re just there to make things look science-fiction-y. To replicate the iconic look of these warning labels, I had my creations printed by a few different vendors to test various materials. The most prominent GNDN sticker is on the top bezel of the board, identifying the keyboard as “LCARS TERMINAL 3823.04-1.”

Building and programming

It took several months of planning, research, and waiting to get all the parts, but I was finally ready to build the keyboard in June 2018. The CA66 has the perfect look for this project, but it’s a bit lacking in hardware features. For example, the plate doesn’t support removing switch tops. That makes repair and maintenance harder. I knew I needed to be extra careful in building this one, so I took my time.

The first step is almost always to add stabilizers to the PCB. These wires keep long keys like space and enter level as you press them. Most boards use PCB-mounted stabilizers, and those must be plugged in before you solder any switches. If you forget, you have to disassemble the entire keyboard and start over. Desoldering is also vastly harder than soldering in the first place.

Next, I plugged the switches into the plate and estimated the spacing. Lining the PCB up with the switches is a pain, but only then can you confirm they’re in the right place. I used keycaps to confirm the switches were in the right locations since the PCB supports several different layouts. Then, I locked everything in by soldering the four corner switches and one in the middle. I briefly plugged the PCB into my computer to make sure those switches worked. Everything looked good, so I carried on soldering. This layout has 66 switches, and each of those has two pins. So, that was 132 total solder points. Each one takes just a few seconds — any longer than that and you risk damaging the hardware.

The CA66 connects over USB Type-C, but the shape of the case requires the port to be on a small breakout board that links with the PCB via a ribbon cable. I mistakenly left the mounting screws in the case when it was painted. Luckily, I was able to get all three out without stripping them (that’s why they too are tan). After mounting the plate/PCB inside the case, I plugged in the USB cable and sealed it up.

Programming the CA66 was easy enough. It runs the TMK firmware, which I don’t enjoy as much as newer options like QMK. It’s a little limited, but there’s an online visual editor. That editor, however, is mostly in Chinese. Google Translate is necessary here. The desktop application for flashing a new layout is also in Chinese. Luckily, there are only a few buttons, so I was able to figure it out.

Wrapping up

After adding the Galaxy Class keycaps and GNDN stickers, I’m extremely happy with the Star Trek aesthetic. I think this keyboard would look totally at home on the Enterprise.

I also quite like it as a keyboard, too. This is the first time I’ve been able to use Zilent switches installed in a keyboard. They have the same robust tactile bump from Zealios with the addition of a quieter bottom out. This is a better solution than o-rings, which reduce travel and feel too mushy.

It took a long time to get this project finished, but it was worth it. After I finished this build, the manufacturer announced a new production round for later this year. This time, it’ll include an option for Bluetooth support on the PCB. I might pick up the new PCB to upgrade this keyboard. After all, wireless seems more futuristic, right?

ConciliaWeb, dal 23 luglio la piattaforma per risolvere le controversie tra utenti e operatori

Author: IlSoftware.it

L’Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (AGCOM) ha annunciato che il prossimo 23 luglio verrà lanciato il nuovo portale ConciliaWeb, uno strumento appositamente progettato per dirimere le dispute tra consumatori e operatori di telecomunicazioni (ne avevamo parlato a novembre scorso: ConciliaWeb, nuovo strumento online per risolvere le dispute tra consumatori e operatori).

Entro il prossimo 19 luglio, inoltre, gli operatori dovranno inserire – nelle home page dei rispettivi siti web – un avviso circa la necessità per gli utenti di accedere alla piattaforma ConciliaWeb per la presentazione delle istanze di risoluzione delle controversie.

ConciliaWeb, dal 23 luglio la piattaforma per risolvere le controversie tra utenti e operatori

La piattaforma ConciliaWeb consentirà agli abbonati dei servizi telefonici, di connettività, delle pay-tv e degli altri soggetti che operano nel settore dei servizi digitali di presentare eventuali contestazioni per denunciare comportamenti che violano gli accordi contrattuali.
Anziché rivolgersi ai Corecom di zona, gli utenti potranno provare a risolvere le controversie direttamente online, senza mai spostarsi dal proprio domicilio.
Attraverso smartphone o PC, la gestione della “vertenza” sarà possibile in due differenti modalità: una asincrona, che prevede lo scambio di email e una sincrona, con l’opportunità di organizzare una videoconferenza per mettere le parti a confronto.

La controversa direttiva UE sul copyright è stata rimandata a settembre

Author: Le news di Hardware Upgrade

L’Unione Europea ha rimandato a settembre la direttiva di cui si è molto parlato in questi giorni sul diritto d’autore online. Rispetto al disegno di legge hanno votato a favore solamente 278 membri del Parlamento Europeo, e 318 contro. La direttiva nella sua forma attuale ritorna quindi in discussione prima che venga richiesto il voto il prossimo mese di settembre.

La bozza votata nel corso della giornata del 5 Luglio, nota come Copyright Directive, si poneva l’obiettivo di riformare il diritto d’autore rendendolo più coerente con l’epoca attuale. Sin da subito ha attratto però notevoli critiche principalmente per i due articoli più controversi: l’11 e il 13. Il primo, noto come “link tax” avrebbe costretto le più grosse piattaforme del web a pagare una sorta di licenza agli editori per proporne i contenuti sui propri servizi, mentre il secondo articolo era una sorta di filtro (inteso da molti come censura) per i contenuti pubblicati sulle piattaforme social.

Secondo la legge sarebbe stata cura della stessa piattaforma sincerarsi della validità del contenuto caricato da ogni utente, e se questo avesse violato le leggi sul copyright. I provvedimenti sono stati considerati inammissibili da alcuni membri del Parlamento Europeo, e alcuni di essi hanno proposto la petizione “Save Your Internet” che ha raccolto 700 mila firme in pochissimi giorni. Secondo Julia Reda dell’European Pirate Party si tratta solamente di una battaglia vinta, ed è comunque necessario “continuare la pressione” se si vuole ottenere una vittoria permanente.

Al momento i reali vincitori sembrano essere le grosse multinazionali americane che hanno creato veri e propri colossi attraverso l’uso di contenuti scritti e proposti da altri. È anche vero che Google e Facebook rappresentano una grossa opportunità di guadagno per gli operatori del web, tuttavia le piattaforme leader del mercato avrebbero dovuto investire parecchio sia per rispondere alle novità dell’articolo 11 (quindi pagando gli editori), sia per quanto riguarda quelle dell’articolo 13 (implementando funzionalità apposite tali da permettere il filtraggio dei contenuti).

Mozilla, ad esempio, ha accolto la novità come una “grande notizia” per i cittadini europei: “Il Parlamento Europeo ha sentito oggi la voce dei cittadini europei e ha votato contro alcune proposte che avrebbero sferrato una mazzata alla open internet europea. Il futuro di una internet aperta e della creatività in Europa dipende da questo”. I sostenitori delle nuove direttive sostengono che il rifiuto delle stesse potrebbe rafforzare il potere dei colossi USA, danneggiando gli affari di artisti e creativi sul web: “link tax” e “upload filter” sarebbero infatti strumenti per offrire ai detentori di diritti d’autore di guadagnare soldi con l’esposizione delle proprie opere sul web.

Dall’altra parte però c’è anche chi sostiene che il rifiuto del disegno di legge, così com’è nella sua forma attuale, possa offrire benefici su ambo le parti. Questo perché le discussioni verranno effettuate all’interno di futuri incontri a porte aperte fra gli organi legislativi europei e gli stati membri, dando così una possibilità in più ai cittadini di farsi sentire all’interno di una proposta di legge che potrebbe radicalmente cambiare il volto del web in Europa. Il dibattito fino al prossimo mese di settembre quindi sarà aperto, con l’obiettivo di soddisfare tutte le parti in gioco.

Lian Li PC-011 Air, case per il massimo raffreddamento

Author: Vittorio Pipia Tom's Hardware

Lian Li ha annunciato il nuovo case PC-011 Air, basato sul PC-011 Dynamic di cui vi avevamo già parlato in questo articolo. La nuova versione si differenzia per la capacità di offrire una migliore gestione dei flussi d’aria in modo da garantire il migliore raffreddamento possibile, in ambito workstation.

Il PC-011 Air permette di installare fino a tre radiatori da 360 mm ciascuno, consentendo così agli amanti del raffreddamento a liquido di studiare dei sistemi ad hoc che possano tenere a bada le temperature di tutti i componenti. La gestione del flusso d’aria si affida alla possibilità di montare fino a un massimo di 12 ventole da 120 mm più ulteriori due da 80 mm nella parte posteriore.

X3bAwykfyNZxYUKk

Tutte le griglie di ventilazione sono inoltre protette da appositi filtri antipolvere, in modo da permettere una facile manutenzione.

Leggi anche: Guida all’acquisto del case per PC

Piccole modifiche anche per quanto riguarda il layout interno. Non solo una gestione dei cavi semplificata, ma anche maggiore spazio dedicato all’archiviazione, potendo installare fino a un massimo di 6 SSD da 2,5 pollici e tre hard disk da 3,5 pollici. È garantita la compatibilità con schede madre fino al formato E-ATX.

9yUlkypLY1211jWB

Il pannello frontale è dotato di una USB 3.1 di tipo C e due porte USB 3.0 di tipo A, oltre agli ingressi per microfono e cuffia.

rXxBKi6ebmVpfp4i

Il PC-011 Air sarà disponibile in due versioni, una standard che includerà due ventole da 120 mm di tipo PWM, mentre una seconda versione RGB includerà anche tre ventole Lian Li BORA Lite RGB.

I prezzi sono rispettivamente di 129 dollari per la versione normale e di 149 dollari per la versione RGB.


Tom’s Consiglia

Cerchi un dissipatore potente per calmare i bollenti spiriti del tuo processore? Il be quiet! Silent Loop 360 è il compromesso giusto tra prestazioni e prezzo.

How to Build a Star Trek: The Next Generation Mechanical Keyboard

Author: Ryan Whitwam ExtremeTechExtremeTech

This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page. Terms of use.

Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired on TV more than 30 years ago, but it’s held up remarkably well. For myself and many other sci-fi fans, the exploits of the Enterprise-D were part of our formative years. I will always love this series, and I also love mechanical keyboards. So, why not combine my loves? That’s how I ended up with this LCARS keyboard. Here’s how I built it. 

The planning

Most of my keyboard projects are inspired by a particular keyboard kit or keyset, and this one is thanks to an official re-release of the Star Trek-themed keyset called DSA Galaxy Class. The colors come from the LCARS interface designed for The Next Generation and subsequently used in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. LCARS was created under the direction of Gene Roddenberry, who wanted the Enterprise-D to look so advanced that its screens would be simple and clean.

DSA Galaxy Class uses the same pastel color palette as the original LCARS screens, as well as the Star Trek “Swiss911” fonts. It also has custom legends from the show like “Eject Core” and “Engage.” This set originally ran several years back without an official Star Trek branding, but designer Ryan Norbauer worked with the Roddenberry Shop to make an officially licensed version for the 30th anniversary. The difference this time is the set comes in a snazzy box and includes novelty caps with Star Trek insignia. For a Star Trek fan, this set is truly drool-worthy.

I wasn’t content to just slap those glorious keycaps on any old board and call it a day. After pre-ordering the caps, I had many months of waiting ahead of me. So, I kept an eye out for new keyboard kits that had the right look — like the CA66 you see in the photos. This is a 65 percent keyboard, which is my preferred layout. More importantly, it has large, rounded bezels that look a bit like the computer consoles on the show.

Choosing the switches was a challenge. All the LCARS computers on the show are touch screens, so I didn’t want a switch that sounded too mechanical. Even non-clicky switches (like my favorite Zealio switches) tend to make a racket, so I used this as an opportunity to try a new-ish Zealio variant called Zilents (67g weight). These tactile switches have small rubber bumpers inside on the slider that dampen the noise of the switch. They feel otherwise just like Zealios.

Making modifications

Set designers got to work on the Enterprise-D in the late 1980s, so it has an…unusual aesthetic. The entire inside of the ship is tan. It’s a very distinctive look, and one not replicated in the later series. You’re also not likely to find a lot of keyboard cases in “Enterprise tan.”

Before: Very much not tan.

The CA66 kit I ordered came with a raw silver aluminum case. I chose this because I knew I would have to change the color anyway. I reached out to Ryan Norbauer, who created a limited edition tan-colored tenkeyless keyboard case to go along with the Galaxy Class keyset. With his assistance, I was able to have a local custom paint shop powder coat the CA66 case. The powder coat has a mild texture to make the board a little more visually interesting, and it’s the perfect Enterprise color.

After: Enterprise tan.

I also employed my middling design skills to create several “GNDN” labels for the board. You’ve probably seen these red labels floating around in the Star Trek universe. GNDN stands for “goes nowhere, does nothing” because they’re just there to make things look science-fiction-y. To replicate the iconic look of these warning labels, I had my creations printed by a few different vendors to test various materials. The most prominent GNDN sticker is on the top bezel of the board, identifying the keyboard as “LCARS TERMINAL 3823.04-1.”

Building and programming

It took several months of planning, research, and waiting to get all the parts, but I was finally ready to build the keyboard in June 2018. The CA66 has the perfect look for this project, but it’s a bit lacking in hardware features. For example, the plate doesn’t support removing switch tops. That makes repair and maintenance harder. I knew I needed to be extra careful in building this one, so I took my time.

The first step is almost always to add stabilizers to the PCB. These wires keep long keys like space and enter level as you press them. Most boards use PCB-mounted stabilizers, and those must be plugged in before you solder any switches. If you forget, you have to disassemble the entire keyboard and start over. Desoldering is also vastly harder than soldering in the first place.

Next, I plugged the switches into the plate and estimated the spacing. Lining the PCB up with the switches is a pain, but only then can you confirm they’re in the right place. I used keycaps to confirm the switches were in the right locations since the PCB supports several different layouts. Then, I locked everything in by soldering the four corner switches and one in the middle. I briefly plugged the PCB into my computer to make sure those switches worked. Everything looked good, so I carried on soldering. This layout has 66 switches, and each of those has two pins. So, that was 132 total solder points. Each one takes just a few seconds — any longer than that and you risk damaging the hardware.

The CA66 connects over USB Type-C, but the shape of the case requires the port to be on a small breakout board that links with the PCB via a ribbon cable. I mistakenly left the mounting screws in the case when it was painted. Luckily, I was able to get all three out without stripping them (that’s why they too are tan). After mounting the plate/PCB inside the case, I plugged in the USB cable and sealed it up.

Programming the CA66 was easy enough. It runs the TMK firmware, which I don’t enjoy as much as newer options like QMK. It’s a little limited, but there’s an online visual editor. That editor, however, is mostly in Chinese. Google Translate is necessary here. The desktop application for flashing a new layout is also in Chinese. Luckily, there are only a few buttons, so I was able to figure it out.

Wrapping up

After adding the Galaxy Class keycaps and GNDN stickers, I’m extremely happy with the Star Trek aesthetic. I think this keyboard would look totally at home on the Enterprise.

I also quite like it as a keyboard, too. This is the first time I’ve been able to use Zilent switches installed in a keyboard. They have the same robust tactile bump from Zealios with the addition of a quieter bottom out. This is a better solution than o-rings, which reduce travel and feel too mushy.

It took a long time to get this project finished, but it was worth it. After I finished this build, the manufacturer announced a new production round for later this year. This time, it’ll include an option for Bluetooth support on the PCB. I might pick up the new PCB to upgrade this keyboard. After all, wireless seems more futuristic, right?