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 Post subject: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:42 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
Hey Guys,

I recently sold my laptop (AKA Distraction Machine of Death), and want to build myself a little makeshift digital typewriter. The initial idea was some weird DOS box with an e-ink display but the latter is crazy expensive and for practicality's sake I'd like to be able to install Final Draft on it, sooooo... The conclusion I reached was a tiny barebones PC with no internet and a monitor measuring around 8.5x11 or thereabouts so as to approximate a piece of paper. As lame and gimmicky as it sounds, I'd strongly prefer a black and white/grayscale monitor.

Image

So using Final Draft 8 as the yardstick (I'd go with an earlier version, but for practicality's sake I'd like to have the newer FDX format as well), I need at least a Pentium III, 512MB RAM, Windows XP, and a hard drive of around 4GB.

Can you guys help me source parts for this weirdo build? I'll need peripherals too. Ideally, as analog as possible (clackety keyboard, trackball, whatever), and I don't know if they're even available anymore but a low power, cheap, black and white monitor would be so great I'd flip. Doesn't even have to be backlit. Also a recommendation for an XP release (with my recycled key) that's as lightweight as possible but isn't gonna leave me wondering how the F to get my keyboard to work or something would be greatly appreciated. As a rule for this build, preference is cheaper rather than perfect(-er). I'd rather keep this whole build around ~$100 if possible (don't include price of windows). Recycled/Freecycled/Used parts are totally fine with me if anybody's got a good source for them.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:42 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5817
I think it'd be more conducive to the typewriter feel to use nothing more than a command line interface and a basic text editor, like vim.

I mean, you could probably get a RasPi, set it up without the desktop environment and have it autolaunch vim or nano.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:45 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
Would be cool, but I need Final Draft for work. Unfortunately formatting a screenplay to industry standard on a command line interface isn't something I have the patience for. :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 9:48 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5817
You should just make a breadbox computer like a Commodore 64 then (not that computer exactly, just the formfactor). The display is going to be the most annoying part and probably more trouble than its worth.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:01 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
As I said, I need Final Draft for work - to the best of my knowledge, they don't make a port for a 16-bit OS. :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:13 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5817
I think you missed my analogy, I mean that formfactor, not the computer itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2015 10:21 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
Ah, gotcha. I hadn't given the housing much thought, just trying to source the components first. Though a lovely hand-stained wooden box would be a nice accent to the desk. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:37 am 
Team Member
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:09 pm
Posts: 646
Custom Build:
Cheap processor (Intel celeron or an AMD equivalent), compatible motherboard, 4 gig ram, HDD between 250Gb to 500Gb (or 1 Tb) depending on what you want for storage. If you want small form factor (i.e. small case), then your choices might be limited to processor/motherboard.

Pre-built:
Take a look at Intel NUCs which are small and are very capable.

Montior:
Not really sure about the black/white requirement but you can get small cheap screens that are not glossy and will do the job. Not sure if you want e-ink because of their refresh rate (but I'm thinking of my kindle so I don't know if other e-ink screens work differently).

Keyboard:
I think this is something you should compare well, given your writing requirements. Maybe a ten-key-less mechanical keyboard. You can get professional ones from Das. Might be pricey or you can scour ebay for used ones.

EDIT: didn't notice your budget...that will be tricky. NUCs are out then. I guess XP is fine if you keep it offline.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:16 am 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5817
4GB of RAM for this scenario is also very overkill. 1GB or even 512MB is fine. Ditto with the hard drive size. Do you want this thing doing image editing too? :P


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:11 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
I only allotted 512 RAM and a 4GB Hard Drive for a lightweight windows install and 100MB for Final Draft + Scripts and PDFs. Just need a parts source for these things or actual part recommendations... I.E. a processor that's equivalent to a Pentium 3 but won't draw 400W and isn't the size of a waffle iron.

EDIT: Just noticed you were referring to Philly's post. But yeah, above still stands... Recommendations for low-power, cheapo parts and an enclosure would be awesome.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:00 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:09 pm
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My bad, I only half-read the OP.

I feel the need to limit to a small size might make things difficult. I will have to agree with Latios, low RAM, small HDD, cheap processor/mobo, and it might be doable for under $100.

Instead of think of individual parts, maybe try to find a used PC on craigslist/ebay and shoehorn it into a wooden box. Or better still, find a working laptop with a broken LCD and remove the LCD portion. Hook it up to a monitor, attach a USB keyboard/mouse and you're good to go. It should come preloaded with Windows too.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:18 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
Doesn't HAVE to be tiny, but I don't want some high-power ATX with fans blowing in my room when it's 95 degrees out in March. I guess I just assumed there'd be an abundance of old parts out there in circulation... Some old Pentium 3 equivalent that nobody needs anymore or something. I dunno.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:07 pm 
Smithfield
Smithfield

Joined: Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:37 pm
Posts: 5817
So here are some problems I'm finding with this request.

  • Your budget is too low for any of us to go out and look for something for you. You are going to have to resort to going on your local Craiglist or something.
  • You have to either make your own case or jerry rig something if you want a "seamless" typewriter feel. Otherwise, you'd have to make due with an All-In-One keyboard PC like what they have here: http://www.cybernetman.com/en/all-in-on ... yboard-pc/
  • You're going to have to drop the display requirement unless you really want to work at it. Unless you know how to wire up electronics, finding a VGA compatible monochrome monitor, especially an LCD one, is close to impossible. The best I can show you is http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-4707-E01-9- ... 1880438491 . Apparently there are LCD based "monochrome CRT replacements" like http://www.kme.co.uk/Copy%20of%2029LW09E11UN-1.html , but you're going to have to wire them up directly and I doubt they use a standard signal. If you want e-ink, you can jerry rig a Kindle DX.
  • Clicky keyboards are going to run you at least $50.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 3:43 pm 
Thunderbird
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:40 pm
Posts: 785
MrBlakeney wrote:
I guess I just assumed there'd be an abundance of old parts out there in circulation...

With recycling, a lot of older hardware has been scrapped. With no idea of where you live, you're going to have to be creative. People have mentioned craigslist, and you can also try goodwill stores, garage sales, flea markets, even some mom & pop stores might have something tucked in the back. Ask friends and relatives - grandparents or elderly aunts/uncles potentially. You'll need some patience with this project. I see this as a long-term, slow project rather than one where you can set aside a weekend to get it done.

And I think LatiosXT is right - your budget is too low, and your expectations are too high. I can tell you are really eager to get this thing to work but don't be so rigid that you won't allow the idea to morph into something that you don't necessarily envision right now.

Hope this helps and good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 4:25 pm 
Team Member
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:09 pm
Posts: 646
I think the biggest issue here is you don't want a computer that causes distractions, mainly websurfing. So just get a desktop, but don't get a wifi dongle or plug into your ethernet. Maybe stick the machine in a closet and work out of that...100% zero distractions :D

What OP wants is doable, but he just needs a plan on how to do it


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:03 pm 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
How does this thing seem as a donor? $100 HDMI-capable monitor and a $40 used keyboard and I'm there for $160. http://losangeles.craigslist.org/lac/so ... 45702.html


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 Post subject: Re: Modern Typewriter Build Help
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:31 am 
8086
8086

Joined: Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:52 am
Posts: 10
Well, picked up the Donor PC. $20 Gateway NV55C54u with a busted screen.


Intel® CoreTM i3-370M processor
4GB DDR3 memory
320GB Serial ATA hard drive (5400 rpm)
15.6" LED-LCD high-definition widescreen display (Obviously this doesn't work).
Multiformat DVD±RW/CD-RW drive with double-layer support

Still need a power adapter and a monitor, and perhaps a keyboard that ideally I'd build into the housing. I'm picturing a hardwood enclosure, maybe with some strategically placed vents. Not sure if I want to hack up the casing of the laptop or just remove the display from the hinge up, though.

Will keep you guys apprised. :)


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