Will I have problems with IBM Model F 1503206 on a modern computer?

Hi,
I only recently developed an interest in keyboards after using a mechanical and realizing that my hand pain was caused by typing on a poor spongy rubber dome keyboard. I'm interested in finding an old IBM Model F and will likely buy one of the new Model F keyboards produced by Ellipse.

I found several IBM Model F 1503206 keyboards for sale for $100 USD. This seems like a good price, but will I have trouble getting it to run with new core i7 Linux system?

What type of converter will I need to get it running, if possible, with my modern system. Do I need a Soarer's cable? Or this KE-XTUSB converter https://www.hagstromelectronics.com/ke-...r-shp.html.
Will all of the keys work including arrow keys?

Is there some other way of installing a converter inside the keyboard?

Thanks for helping out the know-nothing new guy..
Waxwood

Unread post28 Oct 2018, 01:13

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Checking IBM part numbers in the wiki, I see you mean an XT. Soarer converter will do the trick. You can remap everything as you please. My own first mech was a Model F XT, it’s a solid pick.
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Unread post28 Oct 2018, 01:48

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I had never seen the converter you link, but I have seen and used the Soarer's Converters that are available for Model F XT keyboards. The ones orihalcon sells are cheaper and plenty of guys here will help you program the layout you'll want to program for it.

See https://deskthority.net/keyboards-f2/examples-of-soarer-converter-configuration-files-please-t8477.html#p390990 for my own F XT remapping and https://deskthority.net/for-sale-f55/all-soarer-s-converters-back-in-stock-10-20-off-until-november-1-t20005.html for orihalcon's sale thread.
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Unread post28 Oct 2018, 11:37

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The Hagstrom converter works, but as the other folks here have advised, there are less expensive methods using the Soarer's converter that also confer the advantage of complete programmability of each and every key.
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Unread post28 Oct 2018, 11:58

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Waxwood wrote:Hi,


Is there some other way of installing a converter inside the keyboard?


Hello,

as others noted , the best way to convert a Model F to usb is to use a Soarers converter (God bless this Guy).

I did embed a Soarer converter in a couple of model F and remapped most of the keys to gain maximum functionality.
You can check how I did it by watching my Youtube video as part of a Model F restoration.
I remind You that the Model F spacebar is rather stiff, You might need to mod it if You plan to use the keyboard as a daily driver.



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Unread post28 Oct 2018, 15:46

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Thanks everyone. Much appreciated.

Sounds like Soarer's converter is definitely the way to go. I'll read into mapping the keys. Will this work for Linux systems as well?

Is it likely that the foam in the Model F will be decomposing? I don't want to buy one and find that I have no way to keep it running. What if the controller board fries? Will it be easy to find someone to fix it? Or find a replacement?

Oh and Lucar mentioned the space bar might need modding because its a bit too stiff. I will certainly be using this keyboard every day exclusively and don't want to wear out my thumbs. I've read again and again that the Model F is unparalleled for a good typing experience. I'd like to get an original Model F and one of the new Model Fs in spite of the rather high price.
Last edited by Waxwood on 29 Oct 2018, 07:47, edited 1 time in total.
Waxwood

Unread post29 Oct 2018, 07:45

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You could check out my Soarer's converter, it's on eBay. I hand make it and it's designed for internal use.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk
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Unread post29 Oct 2018, 07:45

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Hi Xueyao.. I'll check that out too. Where can I find your eBay store?
Waxwood

Unread post29 Oct 2018, 07:55

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Waxwood wrote:Thanks everyone. Much appreciated.

Sounds like Soarer's converter is definitely the way to go. I'll read into mapping the keys. Will this work for Linux systems as well?

Is it likely that the foam in the Model F will be decomposing? I don't want to buy one and find that I have no way to keep it running. What if the controller board fries? Will it be easy to find someone to fix it? Or find a replacement?

Oh and Lucar mentioned the space bar might need modding because its a bit too stiff. I will certainly be using this keyboard every day exclusively and don't want to wear out my thumbs. I've read again and again that the Model F is unparalleled for a good typing experience. I'd like to get an original Model F and one of the new Model Fs in spite of the rather high price.

The Soarer's converter will make your Model F work with everything supports a usb keyboard, Linux included.

I did remove the foam of the two Model Fs that I restored and they work perfectly. I did not notice any difference in sound or typing experience.
I remind You that it is quite noisy for an office environment , check it before You buy it.

Can't You find someone in Your neighborhood to test one Model F before spending Your money?

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Unread post29 Oct 2018, 08:31

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So far I've opened and cleaned 2 Model F XTs (two more on the way). That's actually fun - I enjoyed it a lot. Luckily the foam, which sits between two metal plates that hold all the key switches, didn't need replacing (although being not in perfect shape). Because when you have to open that inner assembly, the real work starts and things can go wrong.
Concerning Linux and arrow keys: As standard the right part of the keyboard can be switched between navigation keys and number keys via <NumLock>, which works fine in most cases. Only in Linux I noticed that the keys in navigation mode didn't work as expected (in "vi" for example or in the shell - editing the command line). What solved it for me was, that I reprogrammed the converter/keyboard - replacing the numpad keys with the "pure" navigation keys (= keys from the nav-keys block of an extended/101/102 keyboard). That means I can't switch between navigation and numpad, but that's fine by me - I never used the numeric mode anyway.
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Unread post29 Oct 2018, 11:17

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Thanks everyone for the replies!
Very helpful and encouraging.

I will get an old Model F, and a new one.
The original has a weird keyboard layout, but I honestly don't think it'll cause me many problems. I used one like that in the 80s, and I assume that muscle memory will take over after a week. I do wonder however if the lack of function keys 11 and 12 will be a problem. Also, they keyboard appears to lack a Delete, Insert, and Print Screen. What is the workaround for this?

I don't think the tough space-bar will bother me too much. If it does, I'll read carefully and see how other people bend it to soften it up a bit.

Also, is around $100 USD a normal price for a Model F XT? I've been looking at thrift store and used goods stores here, but I've found nothing yet.

I watched several rebuild videos and read several guides. I'm somewhat concerned about the foam- several guides say the foam is indeed necessary to hold the barrels in place properly. I'll have to download the proper template and figure out where I can buy the appropriate foam here in Canada. Does anyone make and sell pre-cut foams?

After looking at the Soars Converters, while Xueyao's converter looks very nice, for me, the micro USB connection seems too flimsy for a heavy keyboard. I think I'll stick with an external converter which seems far more robust. Does Xueyao build external connectors? I'll check out Orihalcon's converters, but I've not found his store yet.
Waxwood

Unread post30 Oct 2018, 23:05

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Unread post31 Oct 2018, 00:15

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Look here for a template you can use to cut your foam: post213140.html#p213140

As for the exact material, I've had good results with EVA foam sheets from Michael's and a pair of leather or gasket punches, 12 mm and 2 mm, ordered online.
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Unread post31 Oct 2018, 04:08

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Waxwood wrote:Thanks everyone for the replies!
Very helpful and encouraging.

I will get an old Model F, and a new one.
The original has a weird keyboard layout, but I honestly don't think it'll cause me many problems. I used one like that in the 80s, and I assume that muscle memory will take over after a week. I do wonder however if the lack of function keys 11 and 12 will be a problem. Also, they keyboard appears to lack a Delete, Insert, and Print Screen. What is the workaround for this?

I don't think the tough space-bar will bother me too much. If it does, I'll read carefully and see how other people bend it to soften it up a bit.

Also, is around $100 USD a normal price for a Model F XT? I've been looking at thrift store and used goods stores here, but I've found nothing yet.

I watched several rebuild videos and read several guides. I'm somewhat concerned about the foam- several guides say the foam is indeed necessary to hold the barrels in place properly. I'll have to download the proper template and figure out where I can buy the appropriate foam here in Canada. Does anyone make and sell pre-cut foams?

After looking at the Soars Converters, while Xueyao's converter looks very nice, for me, the micro USB connection seems too flimsy for a heavy keyboard. I think I'll stick with an external converter which seems far more robust. Does Xueyao build external connectors? I'll check out Orihalcon's converters, but I've not found his store yet.

With a Soarers converter, provided You know how to program a new layout, You can assign any function or macro to any keyoboard key. In my model F restoration I did set the "scroll lock" key as a function key to activate a second Layer of key functions. I obtain F11 and F12 , as Scroll lock - F1 , Scroll Lock F2 , and so on. If You use it a lot , the PrtSc key can be programmed directly to Print Screen, for example.

As for the micro usb cable connection, since the Model F has no provision to mount a connector on the keyboard case, the soarers is embedded inside the case, so the cable is just routed as the original one using a grommet on the case.

Did You consider an Ibm model M instead ? It's not exactly the same feeling but similar.
It's plenty of already usb converted Model Ms and there is also the Unicomp one.

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Unread post31 Oct 2018, 08:01

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Waxwood wrote:... Also, they keyboard appears to lack a Delete, Insert, and Print Screen.

Are you talking about the Model F X? It's all there:
keys.jpg


Concerning converters: There's a sale by orihalcon going on, right now: for-sale-f55/all-soarer-s-converters-back-in-stock-10-20-off-until-november-1-t20005.html
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Unread post31 Oct 2018, 09:12

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Waxwood wrote:<snip>...

After looking at the Soars Converters, while Xueyao's converter looks very nice, for me, the micro USB connection seems too flimsy for a heavy keyboard. I think I'll stick with an external converter which seems far more robust. Does Xueyao build external connectors? I'll check out Orihalcon's converters, but I've not found his store yet.

When I converted my first keyboard (an IBM XT), I used an internal Teensy flashed with Soarer's Converter and installed a flush-mount USB-B connector. This makes for a very sturdy detachable cable connection. However, since then, I have been using flush-mount micro-USB connectors, even on large heavy keyboards, such as the Northgate 101. I actually prefer mini-USB, but the micro-USB connectors have ideal dimensions, plus they have a short cable that provides strain relief inside the keyboard case.
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Unread post31 Oct 2018, 11:50

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My thanks to everyone for your replies.

Based on everyone's replies, I decided to purchase an old Model F XT board that looks to be in very good condition. I watched Lucar's rebuild video many times- thanks Lucar for taking the time to make that great video.

I'll install an Soarer's Converter inside the board so that I can use a flat USB cable. Having the original coiled cable on my desk would cause too many disturbances on my increasingly-smaller desk surface. I will miss seeing that cool old coiled cable nevertheless.

The old XT layout is a bit weird, but I don't think its going to cause me a lot of problems. I was using an Apple Bluetooth Wireless for a few years before switching to a Cougar Puri... the Apple had several weird quirks about it which didn't really affect my typing. I was happy to get rid of it mainly because I finally came to understand that a mechanical board is far nicer to type on.

What type of process will I need to follow to set up the Soarer's Converter to establish the "scroll lock" as a function key? I'd like to send out a "THANKS" to Soarer for creating the converter...

I'll keep following the forum to learn more about these Model F boards. Everyone's advice and suggestions are appreciated!
Waxwood

Unread post02 Nov 2018, 21:49

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The process is pretty simple. There is a small amount of code that you write (its barely code honestly) to configure your remapped keys and you run the included software to flash the converter with the config. The download for the converter includes some examples and documentation to help you sort it out.
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Unread post03 Nov 2018, 05:12

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Hi, I've begun the first steps in restoring my Model F XT.

I attached Soarer's Converter and tested the board. It seems to work well, but perhaps the left ALT sticks when I press it because occasionally the keyboard will behave strangely by no longer allowing me to type. It seems as if a function key has been activated that prevents typing, but allows selection of menu items.

Once I get the plates apart, maybe I can learn more.

I thought the case of the Model F XT was made of cast zinc? Mine appears to be make of very thick plastic. It feels too warm to be zinc, nor is the case as heavy as it should be if it were metal.
Waxwood

Unread post26 Nov 2018, 07:05

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only the F107 and the other banking boards were made of zinc, but the thick plastic should last for a long time and not yellow so as long as you do not drop it it will last a long time.

Your ALT issue may be due to degraded foam that is probably interefeering with the capacetance of the PCB, once you replace the foam if it has degraded the keys should then function properly again
Anakey

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Thank you very much for your information and let me solve my problem.
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