Individual HP 41 Keyboard Overlays


There are perfectly designed keyboard overlays for new modules like sandmath available at TOS, as pdf-files.
That digital form is fine for use with PC emulators like V41, ok.
But did anyone produce one of these overlays physically?
I mean, did anyone ever contact a printing studio in order to have custom overlays produced at very small quantities?
Also original custom overlays from rare modules like david assembler are very hard to get.
For me the joy of programming my good old 41 would be doubled if I could use my own professionally cut and printed custom overlay, instead of a blank overlay with (more or less) adhesive labels, written on by hand.
Maybe when using today's technology (laser cutting and printing), those custom overlays could be affordable, and probably there are more people interested than just me?


Computer controlled cutting tools are available at crafting stores. It probably wouldn't be too much work to cut templates with one of these. For example, look at what Eric Rechlin has done to create keyboard overlays for the 34s.

One might even be able to make some money at this. For a custom template, you'd send a word file or PDF form to a user. They would fill it in the way they want the overlay to look and send it back. You'd print it on the right material and cut it out.



Well I am definitely very interested. I asked Eric a few times in the past but never caught his attention, unfortunately.

Would be great if more people joined so we could somehow organize a hardcopy printing project, there must be a way to get it done with the modern tools and SW without spending a fortune.


I am in contact with a printing studio for several weeks now. Unfortunately the first prototypes don't look nice. The cutting was done using a laser. Obviously the laser transformed some plastic material into acid, which condensed on the overlay and couldn't be removed completely. The result was that on the contaminated regions the printing color bleached out, the overlay looks patchy.
Now my contact is looking for another material and for another technology. He doesn't know about mechanical cutting (may be too simple ?? :-)), but he talked about cutting by water jet. Sounds cool, doesn't it? :-)

The software they use is Corel Draw. Does anyone know a graphics format that is
1. commonly available, easy to create
2. can easily be imported to Corel Draw, without having to redesign, adjust size, etc. ?

Then David's idea (see above) could be realized.

I already checked that rich-text-format cannot be imported, only plain text. That would prevent users from using different colours, types etc., wouldn't make much sense. So we need a vector graphics format.


So we need a vector graphics format

Not so sure about that. Virtually all "graphics" programs allow you to insert text (of almost arbitrary font, and arbitrary color) into the "image" you are creating. You can then export to a large number of pixel-based graphics formats (i.e. jpeg).

You should also be able to export vector (or pixel) images from almost any program to a pdf file (use a "pdf" printer, if necessary). Once you have a pdf, if you have adobe acrobat (not just the reader), you can export a pdf to a pixel-based graphic.

In other words, you can transfer just about any graphics format to any other graphics format.

What are the file import options for Corel Draw?

According to wikipedia (yeah, I know - the absolute truth on the web, but probably close enough here): "CorelDRAW can open Adobe PDF files: Adobe PageMaker, Microsoft Publisher and Word, and other programs can print documents to PDF using the Adobe PDFWriter printer driver, which CorelDRAW can then open and edit every aspect of the original layout and design. CorelDRAW can also open PowerPoint Presentations and other Microsoft Office formats with little or no problem."


I believe that Eric Rechlin uses Inkscape to produce .svg files to make the wp34s overlays. I'm pretty sure that svg stands for scalable vector graphics. I have no idea regarding compatibility with Corel Draw, but it works pretty well for the wp34s application.

Edited: 8 Oct 2012, 7:21 p.m.


CorelDRAW's import of SVG is pretty bad in older versions and I haven't tested the latest version, but I was unable to import the WP34S file to CorelDRAW and ended up using Inkscape to make my changes.

A vector format is probably what's needed for any kind of cutting system to work - a bitmap format will require too much work to convert to vector.

PDF import isn't too bad in CorelDRAW though common fonts can be a problem - sticking with the base Windows fonts is best if you want interoperability.

Another ok choice is Adobe Illustrator format or windows meta format, though that can't handle some complex operators. CorelDRAW's native format is CDR, and comes in different flavored based on the version.

Unfortunately I'm not sure there is a free or easy similar program that can be used to generate a file that will import well.


It's because I was never able to find a suitable material. Card stock destroys the cutting blade very quickly.



Would it work if sprayed with some protective coating? Having the overlays would really enhance the 41Z, SandMath and other modules tremendously.


No. If anything, that would make it even worse (but it probably would have no effect).


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