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Thread: Any interest in a SOL-20 keyboard replacement?

  1. #21
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    I have interest for a Kaypro replacement. My Kaypro keyboard doesn’t work. I tried putting new foam but it did not work.

  2. #22
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    Dec 2011
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    Dallas, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by atod View Post
    I have interest for a Kaypro replacement. My Kaypro keyboard doesn’t work. I tried putting new foam but it did not work.

    I have included a 4-pin serial connector on the ASCII encoder board. To use a serial interface compatible with the Kaypro would be a matter of swapping the parallel out function with a serial-out function in the hardware layer. Adding DIP-switch selectable serial-vs-parallel is on the list of things to do, but I haven't yet done that.

    However, the keyboards I have so far are not an exact mechanical replacement for the Kaypro. The kaypro seems to have some funny shaped keys, like a 10u spacebar, L-shaped Enter key, and wide 0 key on the keypad. The Kaypro seems to use a selectric-style layout, which means you could buy a PC-104 compatible set of Cherry MX keycaps to approximate the kaypro layout, and it would not be hard to extend the "classic" layout for the Kaypro, to get something very close. Or, just use the SOL-20 layout, which has plenty of keys that can be mapped to produce the proper codes for the Kaypro.

    What kind of data does the computer send to the keyboard on the serial port?

  3. #23
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    Dec 2011
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    I've made progress on the firmware front, and the ASCII interface is pretty much ready for the SOL-20 keyboard. I just received the new interface PCB with the SOL-20 connector, but won't be able to build it until this weekend.

    There have also been some setbacks. The minor setback is a somewhat bonehead mistake. I created the keyboard PCB and aligners with the wrong distance between the numeric pad and the main keyboard section. I received those PCBs and aligners today. Luckily, the outlay for those boards didn't break the bank, but it means another week before I can try to build up a test keyboard.

    mismatch.jpg

    The greater and more grim setback is that the keycaps are manufactured in Washington state, which has been hit hard by the epidemic and is under lockdown. I don't expect to see those keycaps until after the epidemic is somewhat under control and the lockdowns start to ease up. I would not want anyone to take even a tiny chance on keeping production running for something like this. I wish all the folks in WA (and NY, Italy, Spain, and everywhere else in the world for that matter) good health and safety.

    In the meanwhile, if anyone just likes keyboards and wants to build up an almost-Sol 20 keyboard, let me know and I'll sent you a PCB set for the cost of shipping. The Interface PCB will work and can be used with the corrected keyboard PCB, as well as with the OSI/Apple/ADM keyboard on Github. For that matter, it can be made to work with any keyboard matrix you have lying around, such as the surplus keyboard matrices sold by Radio Shack.

    If you have a cheap source of cherry or futaba keys (such as the $4 for 20 futaba keys from Electronic Surplus), it would be a nice and inexpensive way to try out a preview of the SOL-20 keyboard and provide feedback, and also a way to burn some hours during the worldwide lockdowns. Even without the proper SOL-20 keys at the moment, it should be possible to fit this keyboard with a standard set of PC Cherry-MX keycaps, like the ones Al Kossow posted about here, or other keys. I would be happy to work with anyone on modifying the keymap as needed.

    The pics below show the PCBs and aligners, and the alignment between the mounted keyboard and interface PCBs with the SOL-20 connector exposed.

    Dave

    kbd+interface.jpg pcb+aligners.jpg
    Last edited by dfnr2; March 30th, 2020 at 02:09 PM.

  4. #24
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    I got some new PCB's that I thought might be close enough to do a test build. I used the Futaba switches.
    One change from the original revision is that I moved the mounting tabs from the PCB to the aligner. This allows the PCB to drop down below the mounting brackets so the keycaps will be at an appropriate height. The cherry keys can be lifted to the right height using spacers.

    kbd.jpg

    As a result, the triple-decker PCB stack of aligner/keyboard PCB/controller is about 6mm too thick to fit properly. This means that the controller won't clip directly onto the keyboard, but will mount further toward the back and will connect with a ribbon cable. On the next PCB revs, I will adjust mounting holes on the PCB to reposition the controller, and will add some additional mounting holes to the controller to make it more adaptable.

    A test fit of the keyboard in the SOL indicates that I need to move the mounting slots toward the front by 0.1", but otherwise the fit is good.

    fit.jpg

    The controller board I have been using for development doesn't have the SOL connector, so I tried out the keymap in my Replica 1. The keymap appears to be working, for the most part, including the ALL CAPS, SHIFT LOCK, and LOCAL switches and LEDs. There are a couple of glitches I still need to iron out.

    The newest versions of the controller (in ATMega328P and ATMega2560 flavors) have the SOL connectors. I built up a 2560 version, but haven't yet had a chance to do the port (which should mostly consist of simplifying the routines from the 328P).

    controller.jpg

    The keyboard+aligner "sandwich" is fairly rigid, so additional stiffeners may not be needed, but I've included holes for spacers or stiffeners along the top and bottom just in case anyone wants to use them. I am also waiting to get some wire I've ordered to evaluate various stabilizer configurations. The stabilizers will simply work for the Cherry keys, but might need some modification for the Futaba keys.

    In the meanwhile, it seems that I may have the keycaps in hand sometime in May.

  5. #25

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    Progress marches on! Thanks for the update.

    Personally I am looking forward to the day when someone makes a complete Sol MB replacement the size of a playing card with a 3D printed case - but with genuine oiled walnut side panels of course!
    Bob Stek
    Saver of Lost Sols

  6. #26
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    The keyboard is pretty much fully working now, except that I'm still waiting for keycaps.

    There's one functional deviation from the original. The Sol keyboard produces a reset when UPPERCASE+REPEAT are pressed at the same time. The firmware is kept simple by avoiding any hard-coding of key codes or behaviors. The code uses keymaps to map the matrix to codes or functions, and there is a separate keymap for each modifier (plain, shift, caps, ctrl). I


    In order to avoid hard-coding a special function for the Sol, and also to avoid adding an extra map just for the UPPERCASE+REPEAT combination, I'd like to remap this function to CTRL+REPEAT. Do any Sol enthusiasts have sufficiently strong feelings about this?

  7. #27

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    Sounds fine to me (unless there is a groundswell of support for CTRL-ALT-DEL - lol!)
    Bob Stek
    Saver of Lost Sols

  8. #28
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    Dec 2011
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    Dallas, TX
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    The keyboard is working with my SOL-20. The behavior is faithful, with the above exception of CTRL+REPEAT for reset, instead of ALL_CAPS+REPEAT. This keyboard is configured for autorepeat (in addition to the REPEAT key), which is the other known deviation from the original. However, the autorepeat can be enabled or disabled using a DIP switch. To use this keyboard with the SOL-20, a DIP switch will also need to be set for negative Strobe.

    Still waiting for the keycaps with fingers crossed. . .

  9. #29
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    Dec 2011
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  10. #30

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    Looking really good!

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