Image Map Image Map
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16

Thread: Did DEC make any mechanical keyboards?

  1. #1

    Default Did DEC make any mechanical keyboards?

    I have a VaxStation 4000VLC I'm going to be turning into a VMS machine. I do however have a little issue:

    I don't like rubberdome keyboards. Did DEC make any keyboards I can connect to the machine over its RJ connector that have some kind of mechanical switches? I'm just so used to buckling springs, Cherry MX, and alpine switches that using any membrane/rubber dome keyboards really mess up ability to type proper.

    Any advice would be appreciated. In the event of an answer to the negative, anyone who can discuss other options (other than serial access, as I even have a DEC monitor and the whole shebang for it... and I don't want those to be collecting dust.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    5,466
    Blog Entries
    41

    Default

    I've never cared for what my fingers used to interface with a computer but off the top of my head unless it's one of the hard copy terminals or the VT1xx series terminals, you're SOL as the LK201 and its equivalents saw a lot of use.
    That also includes the LK401 and LK421, which is great as it means they aren't hard to find. Take that Deskthority!
    Last edited by NeXT; January 15th, 2018 at 08:21 PM.
    = Excellent space heater

  3. #3

    Default

    You could also find a VT500 series terminal and use the type of keyboard you like if it has a PS/2 connector.

  4. #4

    Default

    I may go with Cruff's suggestion, or I may investigate the DEC keyboard protocol. If it is based off a serial protocol, maybe an adapter can be fashioned?

  5. #5

    Default Mechanical Keyboards

    Quote Originally Posted by cruff View Post
    You could also find a VT500 series terminal and use the type of mechanical keyboard you like if it has a PS/2 connector.
    Can it possess DIY replaceable switches?

  6. #6

    Default

    DEC's keyboards were always middling affairs, the VT100-series used mostly "Stackpole" switches which are linears with "meh" feel, the VT52 "DECScope" family used these as well, AFAIK (well, my '62 does). The VT2xx and up use miserable rubber domes. I don't know what the VT05 used, but good luck even finding one of those, never mind a place to put it. I collect vintage keyboards in particular, and the best DEC 'board I have seen is a rebranded Fujitsu Peerless, which is a decent semi-mechanical design. While their LK201 layout heavily influenced the IBM Enhanced Keyboard (Model M) layout, they never managed to make a good keyboard of their own. That said, I believe WYSE made compatible keyboards that should have Cherry switches in them, mostly Cherry Blacks, but you can swap them for something else if you fancy.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Red_October_7000 View Post
    DEC's keyboards were always middling affairs, the VT100-series used mostly "Stackpole" switches which are linears with "meh" feel, the VT52 "DECScope" family used these as well, AFAIK (well, my '62 does). The VT2xx and up use miserable rubber domes. I don't know what the VT05 used, but good luck even finding one of those, never mind a place to put it. I collect vintage keyboards in particular, and the best DEC 'board I have seen is a rebranded Fujitsu Peerless, which is a decent semi-mechanical design. While their LK201 layout heavily influenced the IBM Enhanced Keyboard (Model M) layout, they never managed to make a good keyboard of their own. That said, I believe WYSE made compatible keyboards that should have Cherry switches in them, mostly Cherry Blacks, but you can swap them for something else if you fancy.
    The later DEC keyboards used a small separate logic board with 2 connectors for flex-PCB-type material which were the actual contact pads under the domes. I would think it would be possible to use any switches you like as long as you mimic the row / column wiring.

    A bit off topic, but in the 70's I worked for a phototypesetting company (CCI, used DG Novas) and they had Lear Siegler make a custom ADM-2 keyboard which used 2 reed switches for each key instead of the standard "foil on the bottom of a foam button" type. The switch side of the PCB had no etch, so it was pretty indestructible - the only thing they needed was an annual disassembly to remove the accumulated cigarette ash and nicotine (blech - 70's).

    When I started my own computer company, I had Microswitch make a perfect "Selectric clone" keyboard (including the mechanical shift lock where either shift key would release it) with the reed switches, although I couldn't get them to do the dead-face PCB at anything approaching a reasonable cost. Here it is:





    The white goop under the shift keys is lubricant, since those keys had a mechanical linkage to the shift lock.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    5,466
    Blog Entries
    41

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Red_October_7000 View Post
    ***
    Do not encourage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Kennedy View Post
    ****
    DO NOT ENCOURAGE.
    = Excellent space heater

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    202

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Raion-Fox View Post
    I have a VaxStation 4000VLC I'm going to be turning into a VMS machine. I do however have a little issue:

    I don't like rubberdome keyboards. Did DEC make any keyboards I can connect to the machine over its RJ connector that have some kind of mechanical switches? I'm just so used to buckling springs, Cherry MX, and alpine switches that using any membrane/rubber dome keyboards really mess up ability to type proper.

    Any advice would be appreciated. In the event of an answer to the negative, anyone who can discuss other options (other than serial access, as I even have a DEC monitor and the whole shebang for it... and I don't want those to be collecting dust.)
    The VT100 to my knowledge used Hi-Tek Mechanical Leaf springs, I am not sure if this is what other’s have called a stackpole design.

    Well worth collecting if you are a keyboard aficionado. You can also find them in the Vt180 word processor.

  10. #10

    Default

    None of my catalogs (late 80s and early 90s era) mention mechanical keyboards.

    Of note is that in my VAXstation 3100 the mouse and keyboard status tested under the serial line controller test item. So DEC may be using some kind of serial protocol for the keyboard. I know you've got a 4000VLC, but I guarantee that the keyboard on my 3100 (an LK201) will work regardless. I'd say it's worth looking into.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •