Toshiba-branded Alps Bigfoot keyboard with red + clicky Alps switches

Hi,

I'm new here, was only using the DT wiki as useful resource before. Over at Reddit's /r/MK I have been told I have to post my find here:

I recently noticed that this Toshiba PA5101E keyboard (photo gallery) in my keyboard scrap yard^W^Wcollection can't be a rubber dome keyboard because it makes clicky noises (movie, 37 MB).

So I removed a key-cap and found what looks a lot like a red-colored Alps switch to me. Only that there never were any red Alps switches according to the Deskthority wiki. Alps SKCM Orange come close, but mine are clearly red and clearly clicky.

So I wondered if they could be some Alps clones, but the only clones with red stems I found are

  • Matias switches which always seem to have clear switch housings while my keyboard has black housings, and
  • Tai-Hao BSW 045WHN switches which have a red stem and black housing, but the housing looks different, especially with regards to labels and tabs on the side (see below).

Another reason to believe they're original Alps switches are the following facts:


So these switches seem to be red and clicky Alps SKCM switches which so far haven't been documented in the Deskthority wiki and nobody over at Reddit's /r/MK knew of them either.

Anyone here has seen red Alps switches before? Anyone else has a Toshiba-branded Alps Bigfoot keyboard for comparison?

And how should I proceed? Should I just add these findings to the DT wiki? Or should I wait until someone else finds another such keyboard to get some statistical significance?

Here are a few of the pictures from my gallery inlined for convenience:

ImageImage
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(In case you want to see and try out that keyboard in real-life: I intend to bring it to the 5th Swiss Mechanical Keyboard Enthusiasts Meetup today in Zurich. Have to go to bed now so I can be there in time for setting up the location. :-)
XTaran
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 02:56

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XTaran
 
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This could potentially be a sort of White Alps prototype, that's what I and some others at the R/MK discord thinks. The click leaf is similar to white Alps' and it uses a short switchplate. Hella awesome find!
mcmaxmcmc

Unread post08 Dec 2018, 04:07

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A couple quick questions. 1) Have you unsoldered a switch from the PC board and checked the bottom of the lower housing for an Alps logo? 2) Is there a mold number at the bottom of the keycap slot on the slider?
Polecat

Unread post08 Dec 2018, 06:40

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WHAAAAAAAAT


I've always wondered why Alps used so many exotic colours, but not plain red. Well, I guess, now we know xD .
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 06:54

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Awesoooome find :o :o

I would suggest taking as many pics as possible (example: http://www.deskthority.net/wiki/Alps_SKCM_Green ), and desoldering one of the switches and send them to somebody who can make a force graph :)
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 09:18

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mcmaxmcmc wrote:This could potentially be a sort of White Alps prototype, that's what I and some others at the R/MK discord thinks.

Hrm, things which IMHO speak against a prototype theory:

  • German layout, not the probably most common layout (US ANSI) and nothing Japanese either.
  • Not branded as ALPS but as Toshiba.

mcmaxmcmc wrote:Hella awesome find!

Thanks!

Unfortunately I don't know where I got that keyboard from. %-) Chances are high that it was one of the keyboards my father gave me in a bag a few months ago and said "he doesn't need them anymore". So I assume they're from a company where he worked decades ago and in whose electronics dumpster I already found a working (but dirty-sticky) Cherry G80-2100 (which I still have) back then. At least I haven't any better explanation. :-)

Oh, and the springs in these red Alps seem stronger than those in white Alps. We had two vintage white Alps keyboards at the meetup today, too, and compared directly. :-)

And I at least cleaned the case and the key caps, so it's now cleaner than on the first pictures. Nevertheless most people at the meetup noted that the switches still feel sticky. So it's now my "sticky-clicky red Alps keyboard". ;-)
XTaran
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 21:20

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green-squid wrote:I would suggest […] desoldering one of the switches and send them to somebody who can make a force graph :)

Hrm, until now I was strictly against desoldering switches from that keyboard as I don't want to destroy a rare vintage keyboard, but with regards to the force graph, you've got a point there. Then again, I'm currently not aware of anyone in my circle of keyboard enthusiasts who can do a force graph.
XTaran
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 21:23

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This is a super cool find! Always a treat to see new ALPS stuff on here!
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 21:25

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Red Alps?! What the what?! Do I need to adjust the colors on my monitor?

Awesome find. Grats
snacksthecat
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 21:55

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Oh the mystery of Alps switchtypes, how you do continue to deepen.

Excellent find!
ZedTheMan
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Unread post08 Dec 2018, 22:04

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Have you ever tried lemon juice on sunny-side-up eggs with marbled Rye?

It's as good as buckling springs over a capacitive PCB.

Or maybe it's the SKCM to the egg's SKCL.

Either way, try it.
So, from what I heard, this seems like an alternative to white alps... a heavier variant. How tactile is it by the way? (I vote for force curve.)
Last edited by mcmaxmcmc on 10 Dec 2018, 04:55, edited 1 time in total.
mcmaxmcmc

Unread post09 Dec 2018, 11:38

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ZedTheMan wrote:Oh the mystery of Alps switchtypes, how you do continue to deepen.

Excellent find!

Down the Rabbit hole we go, magnificent find :D .
Elrick
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Unread post09 Dec 2018, 12:50

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Some observations...

  • Did you check the inside of the upper case? There may be date codes/part codes/etc on it.
  • That PCB doesn't support an ANSI pipe/backslash key. There's a cutout where the contacts and traces for that would normally go. Also, it appears to have traces/contact points for a full-size left shift, split backspace, and ANSI enter (likely a big-ass enter with the switch in the ANSI spot).
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Unread post09 Dec 2018, 15:00

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Red Alps is an awesome discovery! Can I ask about the keycaps from the board?
Their make and design could help determine a date/place of manufacture.
flowerlandfilms
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Unread post10 Dec 2018, 13:07

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That is pretty insane i have never heard of a board having Red colored alps. Holy moly.
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Unread post10 Dec 2018, 16:22

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That is insane.

I would desolder a switch and see if you can see alps branding on the bottom of the housing. I think they are genuine, the internals look it but hard to tell 100%, if they are alps they are later ones due to the white switch plate.

We need a force curve comparison to white alps!

Just when you think you have reached the bottom of the alps rabbit hole......

Amazing find!

P.S are you sure your dad is not trolling you and he has had the fabric dye and the pan out :P
andrewjoy

Unread post10 Dec 2018, 16:46

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