DEC switch handles

Dave McGuire mcguire at
Fri Aug 24 14:01:00 CDT 2007

On Aug 24, 2007, at 2:36 PM, woodelf wrote:
>> Anyway, You will end up spending all of your money on the tooling.
>> Even crappy simple molds are *expensive* - for the standard switch
>> handle (I am guessing you are talking about the paddles on a PDP-8/e
>> and such), I would bet that just the mold would start out at five
>> hundred bucks, from a discount tool and die shop (with a resulting
>> horrid job). For a good professional job, get into four figures.
> <sarcasm> Ok America only DOES BIG BUISNESS today with BIG WAGES </ 
> sarcarm>

   Well, America has big wages if your title begins with "chief" and  
ends with "officer".  Rest in peace, American middle class.

> I would expect since you are making a copy of a exsisting product
> you could have small production run made cheaply. With just a  
> kitchen table
> in my one-room apartment there is no way I could do any of the work
> duplicating handles.
> That is minor point however since nobody seems to have a interest  
> in having
> handles made.

   I have an interest, but only for a handful.  Will is right; the  
molds will be the killer.  I worked on a commercial product a few  
years ago that used a two-part plastic chassis that was about the  
size of a small book.  The two halves were very, very  
weird shapes, and not difficult for mold design.  The "cheap"  
aluminum molds cost us about $10,000 to have made, and the good  
stainless steel ones (last much longer) were to cost about $18,000.

   Molds for small parts such as switch handles will be cheaper, and  
there's a side benefit to their small size: we might be able to  
design one mold that can make several different types of switch  
handles (PDP8/e-PDP11/20 style, PDP11/45-PDP11/70 style, etc) in one  
shot.  DEC didn't use that many different styles of switch handles.

   There's still the front-end-loaded cost of having a mold cut, but  
after that, the community would never again have problems getting  
switch handles.


Dave McGuire
Port Charlotte, FL
Farewell Ophelia, 9/22/1991 - 7/25/2007

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