Zenith Z-150 Makeover

In spite of myself, I like the form factor of the Zenith Z-150 series, and the 100-1886 model sports the visually appealing black label. However, the modified XT layout leaves something to be desired, and I prefer USB protocol with a detachable cable. I also dislike the gray modifiers found on the Zenith and many other keyboards from this era -- to me, they always look dirty, even after giving them an ultrasonic bath. Some folks like SKCL green Alps (ping and all), but I enjoy more tactility and a bit of a click that doesn't emanate from the Zenith's chirping speaker.

With these things in mind, I made a few changes to my Z-150:

+ Modded the switches with tops and sliders from SKCM White Alps.
+ Installed an internal Orihalcon-Soarer converter.
+ Installed a micro-USB connector for a detachable cable.
+ Lined the case with "art foam".
+ Remapped keys to a HHKB-style layout.
+ Replaced modifier caps with blank blacks from Matias.
+ Used red Tai Hao caps for my Esc and Fn keys.

z150_ulf1c15.jpg


z150_rt1ca2_15.jpg


z150_uusb1ca25.jpg


I like the look and feel of the transformed board. It sounda great as well. When I can find the time, I will try to make some audio recordings and post them.
Hypersphere
User avatar

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 15:55

User avatar
X
Hypersphere
 
Posts: 3707
Joined: 24 Jun 2013, 23:47
Location: USA
Main keyboard: Silenced & Lubed HHKB (Black)
Main mouse: Logitech G403
Favorite switch: Topre 45/55g Silenced; Various Alps; IBM Model F
DT Pro Member: 0038
 
That looks amazing! I wonder if you can find a half-big-ass Return key replacement in red or black.
madrobby
User avatar

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 19:00

User avatar
X
madrobby
 
Posts: 86
Joined: 07 Aug 2018, 03:18
Location: Bucks County, PA, USA
DT Pro Member: -
 
Wow!! You’ve outdone yourself, my man! This looks absolutely stellar! Very nice work.
//gainsborough
User avatar
ALPSの日常

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 19:27

User avatar
X
//gainsborough
ALPSの日常
 
Posts: 955
Joined: 31 May 2016, 07:26
Location:
Main keyboard: some kind of alps keyboard
Favorite switch: clk: SKCM blue, lin: SKCL cream, tac: SKCM cream
DT Pro Member: 0188
 
Great job! I ruined mine and I'll never shut up about how I ruined it
green-squid
User avatar

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 19:28

User avatar
X
green-squid
 
Posts: 1236
Joined: 07 Oct 2017, 11:19
Location: Hungary
Main keyboard: Lexmark Dell Model M
Main mouse: Lenovo Scrollpoint optical
Favorite switch: Buckling Spring
DT Pro Member: -
 
madrobby wrote:That looks amazing! I wonder if you can find a half-big-ass Return key replacement in red or black.

Thanks! You noticed the gray Return key! ;-)

In a way, I sort of like the oddball Return. In any event, I doubt I could find one ready-made in red or black that would fit.
Hypersphere
User avatar

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 19:29

User avatar
X
Hypersphere
 
Posts: 3707
Joined: 24 Jun 2013, 23:47
Location: USA
Main keyboard: Silenced & Lubed HHKB (Black)
Main mouse: Logitech G403
Favorite switch: Topre 45/55g Silenced; Various Alps; IBM Model F
DT Pro Member: 0038
 
What about NeXT? Not saying it will fit, but possibly?
Hypersphere wrote:
In a way, I sort of like the oddball Return. In any event, I doubt I could find one ready-made in red or black that would fit.
Polecat

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 19:46

X
Polecat
 
Posts: 318
Joined: 14 Aug 2017, 05:04
Location: Bay Area CA
Main keyboard: Monterey K104
Main mouse: Logitech Optical
Favorite switch: Alps Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
Hypersphere wrote:
madrobby wrote:That looks amazing! I wonder if you can find a half-big-ass Return key replacement in red or black.

Thanks! You noticed the gray Return key! ;-)

In a way, I sort of like the oddball Return. In any event, I doubt I could find one ready-made in red or black that would fit.

DON'T change anything, what you have there, is pure PERFECTION in an XT format.

Sometimes the very difference that you might not like in the beginning will grow on you, until it becomes vital to your layout and style.

See nothing wrong at all having a different coloured Enter key, it means you haven't gone all 'gestapo' with trying to separate differing colours, into a single entity.

Keeping them a little different is what makes everything so wonderful and exciting.
Elrick
User avatar

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 23:20

User avatar
X
Elrick
 
Posts: 1483
Joined: 31 Dec 2011, 01:36
Location: Greenmount, AUSTRALIA
Main keyboard: WASD
Main mouse: G400
Favorite switch: BOX Navy Switch, ALPs, Model-M
DT Pro Member: -
 
Dangling the hook!
Polecat wrote:What about NeXT? Not saying it will fit, but possibly?

Attachments
DSCN0308.JPG
NeXT HBAE
DSCN0313.JPG
NeXT HBAE backside
Polecat

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 23:30

X
Polecat
 
Posts: 318
Joined: 14 Aug 2017, 05:04
Location: Bay Area CA
Main keyboard: Monterey K104
Main mouse: Logitech Optical
Favorite switch: Alps Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
I think I read about another Zenith Z-150 restoration quite recently also somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
This is one of those vintage models that still receive love even until today.

Mine has a chopped cable and I think I might need an internal soarer solution as well.
Nice to see yours still rocking and having some TLK!
Menuhin

Unread post02 Dec 2018, 23:39

X
Menuhin
 
Posts: 1022
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 01:05
Location: Berlin, Germany
Main keyboard: HHKB Pro 2 black blank
Main mouse: How to make scroll ring of Expert Mouse smoother?
Favorite switch: Gateron black
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
HHKB Pro 2 black blank // ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint (SK-8855)
[Typing slowly at ~80WPM, in love with Emacs]
Menuhin wrote:I think I read about another Zenith Z-150 restoration quite recently also somewhere, but I couldn't find it.
This is one of those vintage models that still receive love even until today.
On one hand, yeah, you see a lot of Z-150 restoration jobs, but on the other hand, SO MANY of them bite the dust to harvesting as well. Regardless, it's a popular model, I guess!
Chyros
User avatar

Unread post03 Dec 2018, 07:32

User avatar
X
Chyros
 
Posts: 4403
Joined: 28 Feb 2015, 22:04
Location: The Netherlands
Main keyboard: whatever I'm reviewing next :p
Main mouse: a cheap Logitech
Favorite switch: Alps SKCM Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
Thanks to all for your kind words and suggestions!

@Polecat: Thanks for your suggestion to try a reverse-L enter keycap from a NeXT keyboard. It so happens I have one of those boards. Unfortunately, the NeXT cap does not fit the Zenith board. The main issue seems to be the stabilizer post on the horizonal section of the cap.I could remove the post, but this would destabilze the key. I might be able to drill new holes and move the stabilizer receptacle, but this might damage the PCB and I don't want to try detaching the PCB from the plate. In addition, the color doesn't match. The Matias caps are black and the NeXT cap is charcoal gray.

I like the Z-150 100-1886 keyboard. However, all is not well. I am experiencing intermittent issues with chatter on some keys. In addition, sometimes the Right Shift key acts as if it were the Caps Lock.

The chattering is likely due to faulty switches. All the more likely because this was one of my earlier efforts to make hybrid switches, and I probably applied too much of the synthetic oil lube. In future, if I lube at all, I will probably use a dry lube of some kind.

I'd be interested in knowing if anyone here uses a Zenith Z-150 on a regular basis with no problems with the board. Similarly, if you had problems with a Z-150 and solved them, please let us know how you did it.
Hypersphere
User avatar

Unread post03 Dec 2018, 13:42

User avatar
X
Hypersphere
 
Posts: 3707
Joined: 24 Jun 2013, 23:47
Location: USA
Main keyboard: Silenced & Lubed HHKB (Black)
Main mouse: Logitech G403
Favorite switch: Topre 45/55g Silenced; Various Alps; IBM Model F
DT Pro Member: 0038
 
There were several issues discussed on this thread keyboards-f2/xt-zenith-z-150-converter-t12972-60.html not sure if it's the same as yours but either hasu or juryduty's fix seems to work fine as a converter for the black badge.

I have the beige badge thus my option was to wire the pcb to a pro micro directly.
kokokoy
User avatar

Unread post04 Dec 2018, 02:37

User avatar
X
kokokoy
 
Posts: 209
Joined: 23 Jan 2015, 04:22
Location: Singapore
Main keyboard: KIRA EXS
Main mouse: Logitech G304
Favorite switch: Green Alps, Vintage Black
DT Pro Member: 0145
 
@kokokoy: Thanks for the link to the discussion about issues with Zenith Z-150 conversions to USB.

I think that Orihalcon has addressed the problems, so presumably the chattering I am seeing on some keys indicates that the fault resides within the affected switches. When I can find the time and materials, I will try the converter on another Z-150, using no lube or perhaps dry lube.

At the moment, I am working on a Zenith ZFA-138-42. Fingers crossed!
Hypersphere
User avatar

Unread post06 Dec 2018, 13:54

User avatar
X
Hypersphere
 
Posts: 3707
Joined: 24 Jun 2013, 23:47
Location: USA
Main keyboard: Silenced & Lubed HHKB (Black)
Main mouse: Logitech G403
Favorite switch: Topre 45/55g Silenced; Various Alps; IBM Model F
DT Pro Member: 0038
 
fucking beautiful
Pumaeggs

Unread post07 Dec 2018, 15:04

X
Pumaeggs
 
Posts: 27
Joined: 28 Sep 2018, 15:23
Location: United States
Main keyboard: Custom 60% blank keycaps, Vintage MX Blacks(Lubed)
Main mouse: Microsoft Intelimouse optical 5 button (1998)
Favorite switch: Buckling Spring(NC) /Alps integrated rubber dome
DT Pro Member: -
 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DocNoc, Laser, mcmaxmcmc, mustcode, Myoth, nicolas, Noodle and 61 guests