[Photos] A Honeywell Who Dunnit (1983)

So, I have right here one Micro Switch aka Honeywell Hall Effect keyboard:
Image

The similarity with the Space Cadet Keyboard of legend is quite striking:
Image

The caps are freaking huge:
IMG_1023-.jpg

Seen in their natural environment:
IMG_0954-.jpg

Their tall spherical tops retain the original texture, while the sides are silky smooth:
IMG_0962.JPG


I do quite like the colour scheme. Round 5: tall spherical "Honeywell set", anyone?
IMG_0959-.jpg


The mounts are telltale Honeywell Hall Effect:
IMG_1025-.jpg

Double shot, naturally. In fact the inner shot on these is easily thicker than the whole body of any of my regular keycaps!

The space bar has a plastic stab. This is a key tell that this is a later model Honeywell keyboard. Also note the geometric symbols on the front of some of the keys:
IMG_0963-.jpg

While I love this keyboard, I'm not a fan of its one and only plastic stabiliser. I reassembled the board without this stab, and the space bar works much the same but feels much better. Perhaps it needs lubed. There's not a trace of the stuff anywhere to be seen.

Right, now my fellow caps fetishists are happy, on to the switches. They are this keyboard's super linear stars:
IMG_6900-.jpg

Micro, USA. Accept no substitute. These are easily the smoothest switches I've ever encountered. No mechanical switching mechanism: these are solid state. That's the magic of Hall Effect. The keyboard uses two kinds of Honeywell switch. Straight 4B3E over all its keys but three. 4B3E means angled black stems, normal (78 cn) weight, three pins; the very same model as used in the Space Cadet. The exceptions are Caps Lock and the two extreme top right keys: these are latching, and use 5B3A. There are also a handful of dummy switches with felt tops, which work like Cherry stabilisers, with code 6B1D.

Here's some switch porn for a change:
IMG_6888-.jpg

IMG_6893-.jpg


I do actually have the entire keyboard. I've been showing off the insides so far because they're the good part. The outside is the mystery. Here it is:
IMG_0926-.jpg


Who Dunnit ?? So true. There's not a mention of Honeywell, or anyone, anywhere on the outside. I took to nagging the forum's resident experts to see if they could drop be a lead. Dorkvader nailed it. Here are two Honeywells that are very much indeed like mine:

Honeywell BO1810
Image
The one I'm looking after's chassis looks just like this, only dirtier!

Honeywell BTRM 121C-001
Image
(The eBay seller kibutzblackbear gave me permission to use his pictures with credit. If you fancy this yourself he has one, precisely.)

So there you have it: a Honeywell Hall Effect keyboard whose name I don't know. But what it contains within is quite the linear wonder. Like they say: beauty is about what's on the inside!
Last edited by Muirium on 10 Aug 2013, 22:18, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 16:35

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One thing I can tell from the keyboard is its year. Here's the assumed production date from the PCB:
83.jpg


And its serial number:
Serial A9411.jpg


Naturally, I'm highly interested in getting this great old beast up and working over USB! So consider this a little plea for information! Here's the stuff I know.

First up: the 25 pin cable:
Cable.jpg

DB25.jpg


I have a hunch this could be the pinout, via the ever useful Kbdbabel:
kbd_connector_bullcii.png

But I need to trace the pins. Incidentally: there's a full size (PC style) speaker fitted to the bottom of this keyboard's housing, which could account for the unknown pins.

Here's the underside of the PCB as fitted into the top housing. (I'll take a nice proper sharp picture next time!)
IMG_0939-.jpg

Naturally, there's a huge waste of space in there! As was the style of the time. Perhaps a slender metal housing would make a smart pairing with a USB converter! I can only dream…
Last edited by Muirium on 10 Aug 2013, 22:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 16:36

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Ooh... I need some of those keycaps for my Honeywell keypad. Would you mind awfully if I.... murdered you and stole those keycaps? Or alternatively, I could just steal them without murdering... whichever you prefer.
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 16:50

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I'd like to try the switches, can you send the terminal on a switch try tour around Europe please?

Also, these colours are very nice, even better than space cadet for a modern board (hint hint...).

Oh, and I don't want to hear anyone complain about "SHIF T" any more! It's just authentic!
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 17:40

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Trouble is I only have the keyboard, not the terminal, and it's not mine besides! I'll update the post about its cable and my interest in adapting the ancient protocol, because a keyboard like that you don't just leave to gather dust. It feels damn good.

Well spotted Halvar on the "SHIF T". Dodgy kerning is indeed authentic! I'm nagging Matt3o to do a tall spherical group buy with dyesub legends: the kind we can design ourselves and get right. I want Helvetica, he doesn't, and dared me to find Helvetica on authentic period caps. Spoiler: I did! Must dig out the pictures and see what the shift was like on that 1970s HP…

Most keyboards back then had legends like this. But Helvetica is easily more classic, and provably authentic now too.
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 19:48

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After looking closely, the Honeywell BO1810 seems to have the same layout and colourway, but it looks like the capslock has a light.

Also, I would like to announce that this keyboard has the "modern" type switches, and the "thicker" type keycaps. I have a keyboard that's "newer" (from 1993 I think) with thinner 1-unit keys and a different stem design.

You can see the differences in the stem revisions, as the "newer" stem is seen on the underside of the red keycap and the capslock, and the "older (I think?) stem is seen in the other 1x keycaps. The simpler stem is seen in many of the larger keycaps here, but only inthe 1-unit keycaps on that newer kb. More information is needed to see if there was indeed a mould change, and when it might be.
Image showing what I'm talking about (from OP)
Image

I have a spare HE keyboard that I'd love to do a passaround for. I didn't know anyone would be interested. I'm located in the US Though.

Thanks for the tip on the spacebar stabilizers! "vintage" HE switches use a metal bar and huge metal inserts and two dummy switches, but some modern ones have the plastic bar. My PCB supports having two stabilizers with a switch in the middle, I wonder if this one does too. I will likely be converting a portion of one (or several) of these keyboards to USB.

Ok Lunchtime is over. Excellent writeup, muirium! I think this'll finally motivate me to get that IBM CAD peripheral writeup finished.
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 19:57

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Argh! I forgot to mention the discrepencies in caps lock (between the two known Honeywell terminals linked in my post) and the single unit red cap at the top right of the arrow cluster (which both of them have but I do not). Details, details! Always matter.

Well spotted differences in the individual mounts. I must take a second look. Also: the PCB beneath the space bar. Perhaps it's sneaker than I thought.

Dinner curtailed my post, as well. When I'm back I'll add some about bringing this keyboard into the modern age. A project we are both keen on!
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Unread post09 Aug 2013, 20:13

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Great looking keyboard! Excellent color scheme. And nice photography! :-D
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 01:25

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Nice work, Muirium! Now that we know you have some time for this sort of stuff, help us with the wiki ;)
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 02:49

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Thanks. Hopefully we can convince 7bit of the need for tall sphericals in these colours once he shows up. Or maybe he's just waiting for the OMG HUNDREDDS OF KILLABYTES jpegs to download like last time!

As for the wiki, you're thinking what I'm thinking 002. This keyboard wants in. But what's its name? I would have called it unknown Honeywell Terminal Keyboard if one of its users hadn't supplied me with a memorable monicker as a hand written sticker by F1!

This is a bit of a recurring pattern for me. I'm no sleuth. Don't mind taking pictures, though.
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 06:08

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Muirium wrote:Here's some switch porn for a change:
Image

That picture reminds me of this:

Image

...and both are equally mysterious.
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 14:30

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Incognito wrote:
do quite like the colour scheme. Round 5: tall spherical "Honeywell set", anyone?

I'm definitely interested - very nice colours! Gloss SA I presume?

I would be enormously up for that. Very slight off-white, grey and black and red - my preferred colour scheme right now.
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 17:20

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Yup. With dazzling white for the alphas. All but one of them are still fine and sparkly.

Seeing as SP already has pretty much the font — and the SHIF T — for these, doubleshot SA could be just the ticket.

Anyone got a colourwheel? (Readies himself to hear Matt3o say: just send some caps!)
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 19:44

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Updated with the info I currently have on this keyboard's interface. I'll know more once I trace out the PCB.
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Unread post10 Aug 2013, 22:37

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I just saw a picture in a 1981 BYTE magazine that showed a Honeywell terminal very similar - with similar layout, yet the keys were all white. Maybe they realized that this was boring and later added the grey, black and red keys.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 02:03

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mr_a500 wrote:I just saw a picture in a 1981 BYTE magazine that showed a Honeywell terminal very similar - with similar layout, yet the keys were all white. Maybe they realized that this was boring and later added the grey, black and red keys.

Month/page? Most BYTE issues are available at the Internet Archive.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 02:28

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Oops. It was Sept. 1980 BYTE (not 1981) p. 340.

Honeywell.jpg


It's just an article on terminal dust covers though, so there's no info on the terminal itself.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 13:46

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nathanscribe wrote:
Incognito wrote:
do quite like the colour scheme. Round 5: tall spherical "Honeywell set", anyone?

I'm definitely interested - very nice colours! Gloss SA I presume?

I would be enormously up for that. Very slight off-white, grey and black and red - my preferred colour scheme right now.

I'm a major fan of the SA spherical key caps. Watching this with interest, for potential interface adapters as well as for cap sets!

Beautiful pictures, by the way!
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 14:01

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Thanks! Now that I have an SA set of my own (Space Cadet style Round 4 Sphericals) I shot some comparisons with the Honeywell's:
Image
Not bad for an MX mount reproduction.
Image
More pictures here.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 14:10

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Beautiful keycaps! The first kb looks pretty similar to my kevex terminal kb;
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A condemning Fear strikes down, things they cannot understand. An excuse To cover, up weaknesses that lie within
LIES!
Nice! I like those extra colours, red, green and yellow, used sympathetically. Do all those wires suggest you've tried hooking this one up to a modern machine?

(My obsessive compulsive side is twitching: please turn Z the right way up! There's symmetry to those legends.)
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 20:49

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Hahahah, It's already turned.
The keyboard works via usb (teensy), Soarer is the one who made it possible.
I didn't build a proper case,so using the original case is for the moment the way to go.
This is an old pic(when I used to have my pc on a fruit case :D ),
Image

Bonus video;
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 21:19

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A condemning Fear strikes down, things they cannot understand. An excuse To cover, up weaknesses that lie within
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Sterling work! Especially reusing the original screen. The ultimate trick would be to get the whole computer in there. Easier these days than ever, actually.

But I'm not touching the chips on the Honeywell! They run the Hall effect matrix. Those switches aren't simple on/off like Cherry, Alps etc., but need something more like the capacitative controller in a Topre or an IBM Model F. The whole thing could be reverse engineered I suppose, but converting the protocol is probably easier. Like how I use my Model F with Soarer's converter.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 21:38

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wow, great pictures of great boards....
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 22:39

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Muirium wrote:Especially reusing the original screen

I'm sorry to say that the screen used is a 2nd hand cheap tft :oops:
Original screen needs a lot of work, maybe someday...
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Muirium wrote:Sterling work! Especially reusing the original screen. The ultimate trick would be to get the whole computer in there. Easier these days than ever, actually.

But I'm not touching the chips on the Honeywell! They run the Hall effect matrix. Those switches aren't simple on/off like Cherry, Alps etc., but need something more like the capacitative controller in a Topre or an IBM Model F. The whole thing could be reverse engineered I suppose, but converting the protocol is probably easier. Like how I use my Model F with Soarer's converter.

About the honeywell, most of the ones I've seen should have 4KRO (they oftentimes use the redundant output pin for a second matrix). I don't necessarily think that converting the protocol is the best choice, though it certainly is better for some cases.

I know a little bit about how to read a model F or beamspring keyboard matrix, and the honeywell ones are quite different.

See, since the switch outputs 5V directly, it simplifies things somewhat, you no longer have to send some voltage down the line, and look for continuity. With diodes, it should be quite simple to uses a teensy or other microcontroller to manage one of these.

In fact, I believe it has already been done on a burroughs keyboard I heard about somewhere. Of course, HaaTa's numberpad works on a teensy (with a 16*1 "matrix" for NKRO: clearly, diodes and a different matrix are necessary for larger keyboards)
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Unread post14 Sep 2013, 02:22

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Intriguing!

I've honestly no idea how Hall Effect switches differ from capacitative ones when considered as black box components. The only thing I assumed was that they are more complex than contact switches like MX and Alps, and that therefore the keyboard's insides were best left alone to do the job it was designed for.

But you're saying it's possible to build a new matrix? Diodes and all?

This keyboard isn't mine so I can't pull it apart and get to grips with the switches as discrete components. And 4 KRO is probably still fine for me in practice, and certainly for demonstrating such a board to a museum audience. But I'm thoroughly tantalised to hear what you know about how these things work that I do not. I should have known that crafty HaaTa didn't just reuse an existing controller…
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Unread post14 Sep 2013, 11:56

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The scanning logic does look substantially the same as the Space Cadet.

The MCU looks like a soldered 8048 instead of a socketed 8748, so that's pretty much the same, too.

If it were socketed, or you were willing to desolder the MCU, I bet driving the demux directly would work. But let's assume that's not an option.

For reference, something close to the original MCS-48 program that MIT received from MicroSwitch can be found at http://home.comcast.net/~mmcm/kbd/moon_kbd.ucode.txt. At first glance, it does not look like that's what's running here, though.

The photo of the PCB is pretty fuzzy. But it looks like Vcc goes to pins 1,2,3 of the DB25. So I also suspect that the pinout given in this post doesn't match. First step would be to use a multimeter to trace Vcc and GND on the connector. And then, of course, double check before applying any power.

The address lines A-D for the mux look to be going to P2<0:3>, which is why I don't think this is the same program. The DB parallel output of the MCU looks to go to pins 14-21 of the DB25, so that's where I'd look for the scan code or perhaps ASCII char when you press a key. There's probably some strobe signal, which might just transition when there's a key ready. And it's possible that there's some enable signal. If so, it'll be another of the GPIOs, of which only a few aren't accounted for.

And you can see where the speaker signal goes, apparently without anything other than that jumper.
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I'll reshoot the PCB so you can have a clearer look. My electrical skills aren't amazing though. For instance, what voltage do you think this runs off? (I won't be applying anything without advice!)

What do you reckon the likely rollover of this board is? I've heard 4KRO before, which is okay, if not stellar. Just so long as it's >2KRO! I know even that can be useful on a well planned matrix (Model Ms come to mind) but can be a pain on those that aren't (certain other Model Ms!).
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Unread post16 Feb 2015, 01:07

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> For instance, what voltage do you think this runs off?

This is usually 5V for 1980s hardware. A good strategy is:
- find largest IC on board, usually a microcontroller
- find its datasheet, look for V_cc = 5V.
- find that pin.
- trace that pin away from the microcontroller through the PCB. You'll either hit an output pin or a linear regulator.
- ???
- Profit.

Though, this is not always the rule. Some take 3.3V, and some take 12V. My Televideo Model 950 keyboard is an example. I was surprised to find 12V being regulated down through a 7405 to 5V in "Model 970 Terminal Theory of Operation" :
http://textfiles.com/bitsavers/pdf/tele ... ration.pdf

I still need to confirm in person.

After seeing that, though - I'll always be more careful, but not surprised.

"Measure twice, cut once."
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