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Thread: Universal Retro Keyboard project

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by exidyboy View Post
    I'm not a keyboard expert and don't know what "stackpole keys" are. If stackpole is a company they are not the company who made the Sorcerer keyboard which was made by Hi-Tek. There are lots of good photos on deskauthority https://deskthority.net/viewtopic.php?t=18005 by snuci who is also a member here. Deskauthority doesn't list the Sorcerer amongst those machines that had a Hi-Tek keyboard nor state which keys would be directly compatible. There might be variations between models. It would be interesting to know whether keys for other products were made from the same mold and could plug in.
    I have seen the "square column" split on the corners on Sorcerer keyboards but am unaware of the keys either jamming or becoming easy to pull off even when this happens.
    You are right, they are different. I believe that stackpole was actually a copy of the Hi-tek design. I am pretty sure that the Stackpole switches had this problem, but am not sure if the Hi-tek switches shared it.
    Yes it is 9U
    For the best fit, you would have to order a special spacebar. If you can deal with the extra space on either side, then the 8u spacebar already in the "classic" set would work just fine, though.

    The last time I looked into this was last year and at that time Signature had been unable to locate the tooling for the adapter. I went down this rabbit hole because I had obtained a Sorcerer at auction that was missing about 14 keycaps. I was surprised by how affordable it can be to get custom keys made but you would have to very dedicated to do it to repair one machine.
    Definitely an indulgence machine, but if you can find 10-20 others to go in (even over several years) the prices start to become reasonable.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfnr2 View Post
    I think that for the sorcerer, it may be more economical to order a special sorcerer "add-on" keyset with the following:

    qty 1 of 1.5U GEW with the word "GRAPHIC"
    qty 1 of 1.5U GD with the word "TAB"
    qty 2 of 1U GEW with the word "RESET"
    qty 1 of 1U GEW with the word "CLEAR"
    qty 1 of 1U GEW with "RUN" on top and "STOP" on bottom
    qty 1 of 1U GD 0
    qty 1 of 1U GD 1
    qty 1 of 1U GD 2
    qty 1 of 1U GD 3
    qty 1 of 1U GD 4
    qty 1 of 1U GD 5
    qty 1 of 1U GD 6
    qty 1 of 1U GD 7
    qty 1 of 1U GD 8
    qty 1 of 1U GD 9
    qty 1 of 1U GD +
    qty 1 of 1U GD -
    qty 1 of 1U GD times symbol ()
    qty 1 of 1U GD divide symbol ()
    qty 1 of 1U GD decimal point (.)
    qty 1 of 9U GD spacebar
    Signature Plastics responded with a quote for the above keycap set. It would be $73.69/each in qty of 5, $53.93/each in qty of 10, and $37.28/each in qty of 20. Add in the $60 or so for the "classic" set, and if you can find enough other folks who are interested, the total cost is not cheap, but also not outrageous for a high quality accurate reproduction (sans graphics characters) of a a sorcerer keyboard.

    You could also get 90% of the way complete with a less expensive more mass-market numpad keycap set; you can find those in SA profile with dark colors.

    BTW, one way to get the graphics on there, while labor intensive, would be to print wet-transfer decals used by model builders.

    Cheers,

    Dave
    Last edited by dfnr2; May 11th, 2020 at 12:15 PM.

  3. #23
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfnr2 View Post
    Signature Plastics responded with a quote for the above keycap set. It would be $73.69/each in qty of 5, $53.93/each in qty of 10, and $37.28/each in qty of 20. Add in the $60 or so for the "classic" set, and if you can find enough other folks who are interested, the total cost is not cheap, but also not outrageous for a high quality accurate reproduction (sans graphics characters) of a a sorcerer keyboard.

    You could also get 90% of the way complete with a less expensive more mass-market numpad keycap set; you can find those in SA profile with dark colors.

    BTW, one way to get the graphics on there, while labor intensive, would be to print wet-transfer decals used by model builders.

    Cheers,

    Dave
    Would these keycaps have an angled stem like the originals so the top surface is horizontal when the keyboard is mounted in the sloped case of the real machine?

    P1120591_crop.jpg P1120595_crop.jpg P1120596_crop.jpg P1120597_crop.jpg

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by exidyboy View Post
    Would these keycaps have an angled stem like the originals so the top surface is horizontal when the keyboard is mounted in the sloped case of the real machine?
    Unfortunately, no. I inquired, since many keyboards at the time did have angled keycaps. The company I used (Signature Plastics) doesn't offer it.

    One option (used in the Apple II/II+) is to create a 3D-printed angle adapter for the keycaps, but that would be expensive, and would add height.

    I'm considering another option, which is to mount the keys one single-row strips, which would then plug into the main PCB at a slight angle. There would be a number of mechanical challenges, though, including making the whole assembly suitably stiff, and not least making the whole thing reasonably easy to build.

  5. #25

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    I would love to find a place to do low cost custom keys - please post some results from Signature Plastics when you get keys in.

    I found out about keys that allow you to put in a printed label - apparently they call them relegendable key caps. They are neat, but I suppose nothing beats a real key.

  6. #26
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    Default New keycaps are in!

    I finally got the keycaps in. Here's a photo of the keys loaded onto a slightly older version of the PCB. The current version of the PCB has an extra key to the right of the arrow keys at the bottom in case, for example, someone wanted to get rid of the REPEAT key and have an inverted "T" of arrow keys. Also, the cut out part of the bottom of this keyboard is due to my installing the stabilizers after populating the keys. Obviously a newly built keyboard wouldn't need to be mangled that way.

    Obviously, the keyboard can be customized. You can see special keys for the Apple II below. If you install the keycaps in an Apple II configuration, then you can select one of the Apple II keymaps (All Caps, and Upper/Lower) and it will install in an Apple II. If you don't want the power switch or arrow keys, then simply leave them out, etc.




    If anyone has a great idea for a keymap to add to the menu, let me know.

    keycaps_full.jpg

    Dave

  7. #27

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    Did you use Cherry MX switches? When they say they have a 0.157" center post diameter, do you make the PCB hole any larger than 0.157" or is it a snug fit with that?

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by alank2 View Post
    Did you use Cherry MX switches? When they say they have a 0.157" center post diameter, do you make the PCB hole any larger than 0.157" or is it a snug fit with that?
    The keyboards can use Cherry MX or Futaba MD-series switches. The 0.157" is the spec for the hole diameter, and that's what I originally used. The genuine Cherry MX Red keys, and Cherry Clone Brown keys, snapped in snugly but easily. But I found that my Chinese Cherry MX Red clones were a bit too snug. In part, it might be because the edges of the hole got coated in soldermask, reducing the diamater. On the latest rev (not yet pushed to github) I have enlarged the holes to 0.158", but am considering going as big as 0.160" to ensure easy assembly. The aligner PCB ensures proper position of the keys anyway.

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