[Photos] Big Zenith Keyboard Haul

As some of you guys might know, Zenith had a contract with the US air force in the 80's. They supplied them with lots of their computer's and laptops. The contract came out to be 242 million dollars for 90,000 desktop computers. Lots of these desktop computers came with Zenith Z-150's and Z-KB2's. So if you get lucky, some military surplus collectors have some of these from when they were in service.

I happened to come across one of these said army surplus guys. He has tons of old Zenith stuff from the military, but since he has to ship to me, I only bought the keyboards. For how dirty some of these look, only 1 has switches that I would consider to be sub-par. Very happy with my find, as I got these for pennies on the dollar. I plan or restoring and selling most of these, so expect an official sale thread down the line. I was really hoping this guy would have some new old stock stuff, but no such luck :)

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Brett MacK
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Unread post10 May 2018, 22:39

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Wow, so glad you got the haul. That's the dream find right there. Put me down as interested in one of the white label Z-150's (or more) when the time comes for the sale. :)
idlethock

Unread post10 May 2018, 23:03

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idlethock wrote:Wow, so glad you got the haul. That's the dream find right there. Put me down as interested in one of the white label Z-150's (or more) when the time comes for the sale. :)

After finding out about the military contract they had, I have been looking like crazy for somebody with a lot of surplus stuff. My efforts finally paid off :) I will put you down for one for sure, thankfully there are plenty white badge Zeniths.
Brett MacK
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Unread post11 May 2018, 00:18

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You managed to find all four Zenith brothers in one find! xD Nice, GLWS! :)
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Unread post11 May 2018, 00:29

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oof i too am interested in that red/white badge, plz reserve me one :D
FeelgHoodMuzik

Unread post11 May 2018, 00:32

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A pure Zenith dream came true..!
Menuhin

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HHKB Pro 2 black blank // ThinkPad USB Keyboard with TrackPoint (SK-8855)
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Not bad at all!
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Unread post11 May 2018, 02:41

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I proxy anything, including keyboards (キーボード / 鍵盤), from both Japan (日本) and China (中國)!

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any blue alps?
wafflepc

Unread post11 May 2018, 03:57

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I do not believe any zenith boards came with anything other than linear switches. I could be wrong though!
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Unread post11 May 2018, 04:00

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//gainsborough wrote:I do not believe any zenith boards came with anything other than linear switches. I could be wrong though!

couldnt they come with itw magnetic valve? the low profile ones are tactile iirc
samuelcable

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Thats a great find, awesome! And another red label :ugeek:

#dta2018
Slom

Unread post11 May 2018, 05:33

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samuelcable wrote:
//gainsborough wrote:I do not believe any zenith boards came with anything other than linear switches. I could be wrong though!

couldnt they come with itw magnetic valve? the low profile ones are tactile iirc


You are totally right! I forgot about the itw board! I was thinking of only alps switches.
Slom wrote:Thats a great find, awesome! And another red label :ugeek:

#dta2018

That one looks like the 4 that I had - looks like it has the spray on stuff over the switches. No idea why anyone would think that was a good idea.... still an awesome looking board though, even if it can’t be desolder we!
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Unread post11 May 2018, 06:37

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Now that is an impressive haul. So many kinds too.
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Unread post11 May 2018, 10:57

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//gainsborough wrote:That one looks like the 4 that I had - looks like it has the spray on stuff over the switches. No idea why anyone would think that was a good idea.... still an awesome looking board though, even if it can’t be desolder we!

You are right, it has a weird matte coating over the switches and backplate. It doesn't seem to affect the feel of the switches, but it doesn't make any sense to me. My best guess is they did that to make it water resistant?

any blue alps?

No blue alps, but the final count is 2 yellow alps boards, 9 green alps.
Brett MacK
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Unread post11 May 2018, 12:01

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Great find. These boards look like they will clean up nicely.

Put me down for a white Z-150 when you get around to selling them.
tron
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Unread post11 May 2018, 13:35

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//gainsborough wrote:
samuelcable wrote:
//gainsborough wrote:I do not believe any zenith boards came with anything other than linear switches. I could be wrong though!

couldnt they come with itw magnetic valve? the low profile ones are tactile iirc


You are totally right! I forgot about the itw board! I was thinking of only alps switches.
Slom wrote:Thats a great find, awesome! And another red label :ugeek:

#dta2018

That one looks like the 4 that I had - looks like it has the spray on stuff over the switches. No idea why anyone would think that was a good idea.... still an awesome looking board though, even if it can’t be desolder we!

Well, if he finds a white label somewhere :roll:, he could just switch the PCBs.
Slom

Unread post11 May 2018, 15:36

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Slom wrote:Well, if he finds a white label somewhere :roll:, he could just switch the PCBs.

Oh definitely! That's actually what I planned on doing with mine as well! The white label that ends up recieving the red label's PCB though will have the issue of not being able to remove the switches. To be honest though, even if you can't remove the switches it still makes for a great board for collectors! Why would you want to take the SKCL greens out of a z150 anyway?! Looking at you, green-squid :lol:


If only he could find a white label z150 somewhere.....
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Unread post11 May 2018, 16:40

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samuelcable wrote:
//gainsborough wrote:I do not believe any zenith boards came with anything other than linear switches. I could be wrong though!

couldnt they come with itw magnetic valve? the low profile ones are tactile iirc
AND Mitsumi miniature ;) .
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Unread post11 May 2018, 17:37

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That one with the red badge is sexy ...gimme gimme
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Unread post11 May 2018, 22:17

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Ir0n wrote:That one with the red badge is sexy ...gimme gimme

If I were you, I wouldn't want the red-badged one as the switches in those are melted to the mounting plate. They were part of Tempest.
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xxhellfirexx wrote:
Ir0n wrote:That one with the red badge is sexy ...gimme gimme

If I were you, I wouldn't want the red-badged one as the switches in those are melted to the mounting plate. They were part of Tempest.

:( ...I was blinded by good looks...

I really do need to get around to buying an ALPS keyboard though.. I might just go see if I can find more info on these zenith boards later when I get home.
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Unread post11 May 2018, 22:41

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Historically I have never been too enthralled with linear switches, but I have heard so many great things about these boards and their switches. Definitely interested in trying one someday.
Bass

Unread post12 May 2018, 02:07

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Alright so the restoration process starts today. The keyboards that people have dibs on already with be restored first. I am debating what to do with the red badge board. I think the plan is to swap the case and caps to the insides of a white badge one that the case is damaged. Let me know what you guys think. It's either that or I keep it original.

The people to claim boards first, will get the best condition ones!

Claimed boards

idlethock - 1x White badge Z-150
tron - 1x 1x White badge Z-150
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Unread post12 May 2018, 16:29

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Brett MacK wrote:Alright so the restoration process starts today. The keyboards that people have dibs on already with be restored first. I am debating what to do with the red badge board. I think the plan is to swap the case and caps to the insides of a white badge one that the case is damaged. Let me know what you guys think. It's either that or I keep it original.

That's what I would do as well :) (Or more precisely, that or the innards of a black label are what I *will* put into mine, once I come around to it).

The preservationist in me has to add that you should make sure to keep the original PCB around. That way you can easily restore it to its original state.
Slom

Unread post12 May 2018, 16:39

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If the switches in the green Alps ZKB-2 are in decent condition, would like that one.

Thanks
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Unread post12 May 2018, 17:26

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Alright after cleaning up the first board, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is under everyone of the packing labels is 30 year old adhesive stuck to every key. This stuff seemed to be impossible to get off at first glance.

The good news is found a way to get it off. I first scrub each key with some sticker lifter solution (the safe to plastics kind), then 30ish minutes in the ultra sonic cleaner with some cleaning solution. Soak 2-3 days and it will finally come off. For whatever reason the adhesive on the keys takes a very long time to fully break down and come off. Because of this, none of the keys should have any permanent damage from the stuff, but it will reduce the turn around rate on me restoring these boards. Just be a little bit patient if you are interested.

On another note, I decided that I will keep one board. That board with be the red badge Zenith with the white label pcb/switches swapped in. I am sorry to anyone that was interested in buying that one.
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Unread post15 May 2018, 01:57

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