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Thread: New Osborne 1 keyboard replacements

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    New Zealand

    Red face New Osborne 1 keyboard replacements


    The Osborne 1 I am restoring for my collection (side-clip injection mold model) had the common keyboard membrane damage due to having the cable squished between the keys and front panel when the keyboard was closed.
    The membrane was beyond repair in mine.

    I have designed a new keyboard PCB using Cherry MX switches, that will go in place of the metal panel inside the keyboard enclosure that had the membrane and keyswitches on it. The original black metal front panel will remain.

    Osborne 1 Keyboard Replacement.png


    It is the exact same layout, with the same key sizes, so the front metal panel doesn't need to be modified.

    I think Cherry MX Black are the closest equivalent to the old keys, so I will be using those.

    The ALPHA LOCK key is a toggle type. This means I had to source Cherry MX Lock keys. These are out of production and highly sought after and hard to find. They weren't cheap. I bought 5, and will be using 1.

    The original keycaps are not Cherry MX compatible.
    I have found some keycaps which look like they would suit, from Signature Plastics. I have worked with them to design a keyset for this project.
    60 of these keys are ones they have in stock from pre-made keysets. 8 of the keys are custom due to odd text or key sizes. These are top quality double-shot keycaps.
    My keyboard has an ISO type '3' key, which has instead of #. I can get both types. I have seen very different Osborne 1 layouts, which I won't be getting. What the key registers as, depends on the ROM in your Osborne 1.

    Is anyone else interested in a replacement keyboard for Osborne 1? If so, I'll get multiple keycap sets.
    The Cherry MX switches can be bought in many places. I will get mine from NovelKeys.

    If anyone else wants one of these, I can make up a kit for them (easy soldering), or build and test it for them.

    Price for a kit would be $174 USD with just the Cherry MX Lock switch, or $214 with all keyswitches.
    You may be able to save about $20 by sourcing the standard keyswitches yourself locally.

    Price breakdown of that is:
    PCB: $8
    IDC connector: $1
    67 x Cherry MX keyswitches: $40
    Cherry MX Lock keyswitch: $18
    Cherry stabilisers for 8u Space and 2u Return keys: $2
    Custom Osborne 1 keycap set: $145

    Shipping is about $15 globally.

    Just gauging interest to see how many keycap sets I should order. I won't offer the kits for sale until I have mine all built and tested. Anyone with a faulty Osborne 1 keyboard, or is interested in a reliable replacement as spare?
    I doubt I'll get much interest, as this is a very niche thing (number of people who happen to be looking at this forum who think $214 is worth a replacement Osborne 1 keyboard). But if interest is higher than expected, the keycap price will drop a bit.

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  2. #2


    Is this also compatible with the Executive?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    New Zealand


    Quote Originally Posted by Alphasite View Post
    Is this also compatible with the Executive?
    I don't have an Osborne Executive, but based on pics, the keyboard layout and connector look identical to the Osborne 1 version.

    So I'm 95% sure it would be electrically compatible, and 80% sure it would be mechanically.

    Can you show some good pics of your existing keyboard?

    The service manual mentions a "Type A" and "Type B" keyboard, with pictures showing the same connector, but in different locations inside the keyboard. The board itself may be the same. I don't have the technical manual for executive.


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