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

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    I finally got the keycaps in!

    Bear in mind that the basic keycap set has to be a good fit for several different machines, and therefore won't be an exact match to the Sol. The Sol-specific add-on keyset matches the basic set. These keys are less glossy than the Sol keys, more of a satin finish. I ordered "deep dish" F and J keys for homing, but once I have them I see that the "deep dish" keycaps are closer to the original key shape. The rest of the keys with the normal SA shape are slightly shallower. But the keys are look and feel great, and are high quality double-shot keys (except for the keys with LED lenses, which had to use dye-sublimation printing since the window uses the double-shot process).

    I added the keycaps on my keyboard, and took some photos:

    kbd_in_operation.jpg led_keys.jpg kbd_fit.jpg

    My lab is washed in LED lighting, so the pics don't capture the LED lights very well, but they do look good, and that's without trying to optimize the LED installation. I think the LEDs will benefit from mounting a little higher off the board and bending them inward at the level of the aligner.

    The fit is overall pretty good. The keyboard I have is one rev behind the latest. The latest rev moves the slots slightly to better position the keyboard within the cutout, and also adds some mounting holes on the right side of the keyboard, to allow mounting the encoder board so it doesn't bump into the main board. I have some of the new revs, but was too eager to try out the keycaps to build a new board up. In fact, I may just keep what I have and do some drilling and filing instead.

    I think the futaba keys are not too far off the feel of the original, and they're cheap, so I used futabas in this build. I believe I have a solution to use the cherry stabilizers for the futaba keys, and will post the stabilizer results soon.

    I did notice some errors, seen in the photo below:

    errors.jpg

    There may be more, but what I noticed is that:

    1) The RETURN key is gray, but should be black. I believe this is a factory mistake, and hopefully they will correct it.
    2) I forgot to order a DEL/_ key. You can see I fitted a RUBOUT key from the basic keyset, but I will probably go ahead and order the DEL key for completeness.
    3) I specified the keyboard decimal character as a period ("."), and it's not centered in the key. That's my fault. I'm not sure if I'm OCD enough to order a replacement, though.

    Anyway, as far replacing the missing keyboard for my "unibody" Sol, I think I'm set. If anyone is interested in building one up, I have quite a number of keysets available.

    Dave

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    Here is the keyboard next to the original:

    comparison.jpg

  3. #33

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    Huzzah! That's wonderful, Dave! I will have to get one for sure, I know not when. I just moved and am still living in a sea of cardboard boxes in a house which needs a HVAC replacement and a bathroom remodel. In other words, I don't see getting my workshop set up for months. Hell - I'd pay double for an assembled unit just to be sure I could use it before I kicked the bucket!

    But it's a great accomplishment and I salute you.
    Bob Stek
    Saver of Lost Sols

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobstek View Post
    Huzzah! That's wonderful, Dave! I will have to get one for sure, I know not when. I just moved and am still living in a sea of cardboard boxes in a house which needs a HVAC replacement and a bathroom remodel. In other words, I don't see getting my workshop set up for months. Hell - I'd pay double for an assembled unit just to be sure I could use it before I kicked the bucket!

    But it's a great accomplishment and I salute you.
    I second that, a fantastic effort, very impressive.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    Thanks!

    I contacted the manufacturer, and they will remake the RETURN key in the dark gray (near black) color. While they are at it, I am also ordering the DEL key and the centered decimal (.) key. I think the lead time will be much shorter this time.

  6. #36

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    Incredible job!

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    For future reference, I have sorted out the stabilizers.


    - For both Cherry MX and Futaba spacebars, use the screw-in PCB mounted stabilizers. The PCB is ready for these at the Spacebar and 2x SHIFT position.

    - For both Cherry MX and Futaba keys, there is no available pre-made 8x stabilizer rod. To make one, start with a stainless steel rod at least 6"/150mm long, but that leave no room at all for error. I suggest at least 8" or 200 mm long. The diameter can be 1.5mm or 1/16 inch. Bend/cut the rod so that it is 133mm long, with a 90 degree bend and an 11mm arm at either end. (see picture.) Measuring is nice, but it's best to eyeball the rod as you work.

    - For the Cherry MX, assemble according to instructions, using the 8x rod you made. The ends of the rod slide through the post and snap into the small detent at the front of the screw-in base. Since the cherry keyboard kits come with 2x stabilzer bars, and since the PCB can accomodate the stabilizers, you can also install the stabilizer for the 2x shift key.

    - For the Futaba keys, the cherry stabilizer posts are too short, so you will have to make your own from 1.5mm plastic sheet material.
    1. Cut two 4mm x 28mm strips, and drill a 1/16" (or 1.5mm) hole close (1-2mm) to one end of each strip. Make sure the holes are about the same distance from the end.
    2. Insert the strips into the spacebar stabilizer slots, using pliers to push as far in as possible, so the holes are the same distance from the spacebar
    3. install the spacebar, and then install the 8x stabilizer bar as for the cherry keys.
    4. I found that the 2x shift key was plenty stable without a stabilizer. But if you want to install it, then follow the same procedure as for the spacebar. You should be able to use the 2x stabilizer bars that came with the cherry MX stabilizer kit.


    futaba_stab_bar_and_posts.jpg futaba_stab_post.jpg futaba-stabilizer-in-place.jpg

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    I tried the following metal rods:

    McMaster-Carr: Tight-Tolerance Easy-to-Machine 303 Stainless Steel Rod
    Ebay: 1.5MM STAINLESS STEEL ROD BAR SHAFT 300MM MODEL MAKER 316 MARINE GRADE ROUND

    It looks like 1/16" TIG welding filler rod would work as well. Here's an example:
    Ebay: ER308L 1/16" x 36" 1-Lb Stainless Steel TIG Welding Filler Rod 1-Lb

    For the 1.5mm material, I recommend a plastic sheet with slippery surfaces. I've tested the following:
    McMaster-Carr: Moisture-Resistant HDPE 4" Wide, 0.05" Thick
    Ebay: US Stock 2pcs 1.5mm x 7.87" x 9.84" Black ABS Styrene Plastic Flat Sheet Plate

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    337

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    Last night I experimented with adding in a wire-bender to the PCB, but I got the most consistent results using a pair of pliers and a couple of guide holes, so I added the guide holes to the Cherry and Futaba PCBs. I also added four aligner posts to the Futaba PCB, to elminate the need to order and cut a plastic sheet. The posts can be broken off, and the top filed to the right thickness. I also included a thickness gauge for the posts, not yet tested, but the keys themselves are the ultimate guide.

    aligner-guide.jpg
    Last edited by dfnr2; June 8th, 2020 at 09:31 AM.

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Silicon Valley
    Posts
    2,277

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    Is there a photo of the final ADM-3 like kb around with the new keytops?

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