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Unified Retrocomputer Keyboard Project

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    Unified Retrocomputer Keyboard Project

    As I have a motherboard, a case, an Apple IIe PSU, disk II interface, disk II drive and a super serial card but no keyboard, I though I would give dfnr2's keyboard project a go and record the process as I go.

    So first off is PCB and keyswitches.

    PCB downloaded and Gerbers uploaded to JCLPCB to produce, 35 for 5 isn't too bad including delivery but means I will have four spares so if anyone wants once then let me know.

    Next is key switches, the recommended futaba ones seem really expensive now but RS components sell genuine Cherry MX1A-11NW switches and are 50p each for the PCB mount version.

    The PCB mount versions will simplify things as I intend not to use the aligner (maybe a mistake, only time will tell) but means I will have to stiffen the PCB, but that's an issue for another day.

    Keycaps and encoder are issues for another post as time goes but apparently lead times on the recommended caps is 18 months !

    To do list
    Order PCB
    Order Key switches
    Order Key caps
    Fit stiffener
    Make encoder
    Last edited by Gary C; November 25, 2021, 04:55 AM.
    Current fleet
    TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

    #2
    Gary I can use one. I need to build a replacement for my Apple II. Put me down for 1 order.

    Comment


      #3
      Originally posted by VERAULT View Post
      Gary I can use one. I need to build a replacement for my Apple II. Put me down for 1 order.
      Ok

      I am in the UK though but postage shouldn't be too much.
      Current fleet
      TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

      Comment


        #4
        I understand.

        Comment


          #5
          Also I have not ordered the aligner. I will report how much of a mistake that might have been when I get the keyboard PCB
          Current fleet
          TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

          Comment


            #6
            yeah.. the aligner seems the better route to go.

            Comment


              #7
              The aligner really helps with the futaba keys and the 3-pin Cherry MX keys, and also helps create a torsion box structure that adds rigidity. On the downside, when using the cherry keys, there's not much room between the PCB and aligner, so you will have a tough time if, for example, you forget to install the stabilizer hardware or connector before soldering in switches. You can get by without an aligner if you make a thick PCB and/or use an alternate method of stiffening, such as mounting to a metal frame or l-brackets.

              I do have an aligner tool that can be used to install futaba or 3-pin cherry keys without installing the aligner plate, if anyone wants to go that route. But the aligner plate is probably cheaper and easier than L-bracket and works fairly well, so I recommend it.
              OSI Forum and Archive at https://osiweb.org

              Unified Retro Keyboard Project on Github

              Comment


                #8
                I should have the PCB in about 2 weeks (took the cheap option), and intend to use some Alu U section pieces I have to stiffen the structure.

                The Cherry MX keys from RS have now slipped back to January 12th for delivery

                I have had a reply from Signature Plastics about ordering, but not had price or dates yet. If I do get to order some keys, does anyone else want a set (I am UK based remember) but I believe it could be a looooong time coming.

                Exciting

                To do list
                Order PCB - Ordered from JCLPCB
                Order Key switches - Cherry MX1A-11NW ordered from RS UK
                Order Key caps - Project XLS file sent to Signature plastics
                Fit stiffener
                Make encoder
                Current fleet
                TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

                Comment


                  #9
                  How Can I order an aligner?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    They need ordering by creating the and uploading the gerber for the aligner from Kicad to the PCB manufacturer.

                    I didn't order one as I wasn't certain it would work as it wasn't showing the holes in the viewer and the keyswitches I have ordered are PCB mount versions with locating pins so 'shouldn't' need aligning as such.

                    But I might look at it once I get the PCB and see how practical it will be to stiffen it sufficiently.

                    I probably should walk through the activities to order the PCB as a record.
                    Current fleet
                    TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Ouch

                      A single set of the keycaps is apparently $900 !!!!

                      Another solution is required.
                      Current fleet
                      TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by Gary C View Post
                        Ouch

                        A single set of the keycaps is apparently $900 !!!!

                        Another solution is required.
                        The prices come town quickly as the quantity goes up. For 5, it is in the neighborhood of $120/set, and for 10, it's around $100/set. The prices have definitely gone up, but not out of reach. The problem is the lead time, which has gone from 3 months pre-pandemic to 18 months currently.
                        OSI Forum and Archive at https://osiweb.org

                        Unified Retro Keyboard Project on Github

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Yes, Multiple orders are the way to go. They quoted me 7 months though so not completely daft.

                          Need a group order
                          Current fleet
                          TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I am wondering if these https://pimpmykeyboard.com/dsa-dolch-keyset-two-shot/ would work

                            Now, they don't have exactly the right key legends for some bits, but as the decoder is going to be custom, then that could cope with the differences. Might be a halfway house.
                            Current fleet
                            TRS80 Model 4 - BBC B - Tatung Einstein - PCW9512 - PET 3032 - C64 - ZX81 - Spectrum 48K - Amiga A500 - Apple II europlus - Apple iMAC G3. Sharp MZ-80K. - IBM 5160 XT - Multibus 286/10 - Micro PDP 11/73 - Rainbow PC100A - MicroVax II - MicroVAX 3100, 3300, VAX 4000 VLC & 4000 Model 96 - AlphaStation 225 Apricot PC - Apple Performa 6200 - Apple Mac IIcx - Osborne 1 - ACT Sirius 1

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I would go with an SA profile set. The DSA keys are lower profile and won't look quite right. Also, you want to make sure that all the keys have the shape profile (row 3), so that the keyboard doesn't look and feel weird if you place a key in a different row from an IBM-style keyboard. Finally, you will need supplement sets with the right size SHIFT, CTRL, ENTER, DEL keys, among others.

                              Once you start adding in the cost of supplement sets, the custom keycaps start to be competitive. I'd go with the custom set, as long as the lead times are acceptable.

                              That said, I think it's a good idea to come up with alternate keyboard mappings for the various physical layouts, using the commonly available IBM-style keycap sets.
                              Last edited by dfnr2; December 6, 2021, 09:36 AM.
                              OSI Forum and Archive at https://osiweb.org

                              Unified Retro Keyboard Project on Github

                              Comment

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