My Tricked Out Neo… In Progress

So far, customizing my new Neo has been both more fun than I had anticipated and also more effort. It’s also been pretty scary at times, but once you get a feel for how the guts connect together and how simple the setup really is, it’s not so frightening.

My first hurdle was actually finding a screwdriver to get the darn thing open. I had to borrow a special one from my brother-in-law, then another special screwdriver for the teeny-tiny screws holding the circuit boards and LCD screen in. Apologies for the lack of pic–I was too frightened to remember that I wanted to do this. Ditto for taking the keyboard out and disconnecting it from the circuit board. It’s actually quite easy to do, but there’s something very scary about messing around with that little plastic ribbon. And it didn’t help that my brother-in-law kept telling me, in a very calm way, to NOT touch the blue part (apparently that’s where the information gets transmitted… or something).

All the electronic stuff is safely bagged and tucked in a box, ready and waiting for me to return it to its cozy plastic home. Then we started the fun part–painting!

I prefer to think of it as "Barbie" pink rather than "Pepto" pink

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world

Here we have the top half, which I did in a bubble gum-y pink from Plastikote. Oddly enough, the spray paint did have a weirdly sweet, candy-type scent. It took a bunch of layers to get a solid pink color on top of the hunter green, but the results are very nice. And there’s something very satisfying about looking down at it and saying, “Haha, you were green but now you’re light pink. Mwahaha!”


This is the bottom half, a nice chocolate brown from Krylon. This was definitely easier to manage than the pink, though I prefer the Plastikote’s smooth finish. I found that the Krylon has a bit of grit to it, a little bit of a sandy texture. But I did like the very subtle sparkle that the chocolate brown gave the formerly-green plastic. It provides a nice contrast to the relative smoothness of Plastikote’s pink.

Ah, the keyboard. It’s the both the bane of my existence and a labor of love. To get them to a more suitable white color, I used Krylon again. I thought that its white just seemed a bit more creamy and less stark than the one from Plastikote. Surprisingly, it covered the keys very well and very quickly.

Now that the keys were a nice white color, it was time to add the markings. I achieved this by getting printable transparency paper (the kind with the adhesive backing) and printing out all of my necessary letters and symbols. I have to say that getting everything looking nice and size-appropriate was a real pain in the tuckus, but checking out the chocolate brown Georgia letters (one of my favorite fonts) on top of those creamy keys made all the cutting and pressing worth the effort. The letters look a little more black than brown in the pic, unfortunately.

And so there we have it. Everything’s been topped with a matte finish clear coat and is drying in the garage. I’m hoping to finish it all up tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll pop the keyboard into the plasic casing and then replace the keys, or vice versa. Either way, I think I’m making pretty good progress on my Neapolitan-inspired Neo.

Neo-politan… Get it?

<insert laughter here>

Edit: The new Neo is painted!!! Check it out here


6 Responses

  1. Hi,

    What paint did you use? I’ve been trying to source paint in the UK (without knowing much about it) and having trouble finding a decent range of colours.

    Is this:—4181

    the plastikote stuff you used? It says not suitable for vinyl so I wasn’t sure if it would work.


  2. Hmmm. I think that this:—4427/pccode—6751

    …is what I used, only it’s labelled “Plastikote Odds ‘n’ Ends Fast Dry Enamel” instead of just “Fast Dry Enamel.” Maybe the first is just an American expression?

    The shade I used was the Hot Pink (color 115-s) which is actually much brighter and more likeable than the swatch on the website would lead you to believe.

    The Plastikote worked just fine on my Neo. After all, basically you’re just spray painting a bunch of plastic stuff, which is really what Plastikote was designed for. I know that most people (at least those on the Flickr pool) used vinyl dye, but I’m not sure whether that stuff is supposed to be paint that dyes vinyl or paint (which is made of vinyl) that dyes other stuff.

    Basically, any paint that’s formulated specifically for plastic should work nicely. What kinds colors are you thinking about?

  3. Not sure what colours yet – I’m going down to my local Homebase tomorrow to look at paints. Maybe turquoise 🙂

    I also have to work out how to open the case. My Allen keys seem to be the wrong size…

  4. I had the same problem! I’m not sure what kinds of Allens I used–I borrowed them from my brother in law, who does scale models and has all these handy little tools around.

    You probably know this already, but you’re most likely going to need two sizes of Allens. The screws that hold the electric goodies in place are these teeny tiny buggers.

    Best of luck on your mod! When you’re done, stop by and let me know how it worked out.

  5. Have now solved the screwdriver problem. It seems that a star-headed T7 and T10 do the trick. Then I took the back off, looked at the electronics inside and felt terrified. So have stopped for the moment. I can see the bits to unscrew but was very scared of breaking something, and wasn’t sure how to disconnect the keyboard from the main thing. Removed one key, just to see how it worked. I did get it back on again, but it was fiddly. So now… I’m back where I started 🙂

  6. Indeed, the electronic guts are pretty frightening. I mean, it’s all green and circuit-y. And that keyboard. Don’t even get me started on how freaked out I was.

    The way it (and later, the LCD screen) disconnects is by carefully loosening the little plastic bit that holds the keyboard ribbon to the main circuit board. If you look closely, there are two little “arms” that can be used to push/pull the plastic part where the keyboard ribbon connects. We used tweezers to get this open, but then we just used our fingers to reattach it when we were done. Basically, this little plastic part just serves as a brace holding the ribbon and the circuit board together. Once the little plastic part is loosened (don’t worry, it doesn’t actually come out) then you can take out the keyboard ribbon. Just be careful not to touch the electric-blue stuff at the end–I wore rubber gloves to feel extra safe.

    And then there’s the trouble with actually getting the keyboard out of the case in the first place, since it’s rather firmly stuck inside. I just pushed on it gently, trying to find a good angle, and then it just sort of popped out with very little pressure. I think you just have to find that “magic spot.”

    So then, once everything was out of the way, I bagged everything up and started painting the plastic shells.

    Hope this helps!

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