DEC frontpanel switch replica!

steven at steven at
Wed Mar 15 21:19:08 CDT 2017

> Hi folks,
> this might be quite interesting for the folks that miss front panel
> switch handles!
> As some of you might know I'm currently working (a bit) on a new batch
> of Omnibus USB boards. And I have announced that there will be a kind of
> handle for the boards this time... I went to my neighbour and showed him
> some bits and pieces. He has a nice little workshop for concrete artwork
> ( and spent a lot of time into perfecting
> his moulding skills.
> I gave him a pdp8/e yellow switch handle with broken axle (usual
> problem) to try what can be done.
> Today I came home and he gave me the piece saying that he was unable to
> replicate it. I took it (a bit frustrated) and stated that he has
> somehow ruined the surface... Haha! It was the replica!
> He told me that this was a first "fast" shot including a "rough"
> approximation of the colour.
> I was stunned!
> Here you can see pictures. Even the defects of the original have been
> replicated.
> He told me that it was a bit difficult to get the holes at the side
> right. I think that it would be no problem if they'd be more shallow or
> even gone.
> * His material is less translucent than the original. Won't probably
> change. So a perfectionist could spot the difference.
> * He states that he can hit colors even better! (Think of the special
> colors!!!)
> * The axle stubs would be omitted and made of steel (something I already
> plan for repair of that weakest point)
> * He is able to produce flawless finish (remember: it's a raw prototype!)
> This is not my business. I told him that I'd ask around if there would
> be serious interest. He is not in vintage computing and does not work
> for free. So one piece would probably cost around 5-15 EUR each,
> depending on demand, color etc.
> Please give some feedback!
> Philipp :-)

For a prototype that looks very nice indeed!
I agree that for this level of molding precision the pivot axle would be better
if done as a separate piece and press fitted. Steel would be fine, brass rod would
also be ok and softer to machine. A small jig could be made to cross-drill the
hole accurately. Same for the side holes just using the depression as the centre
Your neighbour has done an excellent job there, well done. He ought to run off a few
different DEC paddle switch designs and flog them on eBay :)


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