[Photos] Heathkit UltraPro HD-8999 CW Keyboard

I saw gainsborough's ZTX-11-Z post and I figured you'd want to see it's sister device, the HD-8999. This is a morse code generator that was sold as a kit for ham radio operators. Here's the opening of the manual:

The Heathkit Model HD-8999 UltraPro CW Keyboard takes the work out of sending Morse Code. A customer microprocessor integrated circuit keeps the parts count low and reliability high, and provides many unique features. The keyboard is attractively styled and "human engineered" for maximum convenience and minimum fatigue.

I found this during the last day of a local estate sale. People had snatched the Commodore 64 and Amigas, but left this thing on a shelf. I'm so pleased to have it.

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You can definitely tell this thing came from the same molds as the ZTX. It's an attractive form factor, I must say.

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I love weird legends on keyboards and this one has them in spades. It's from 1983 (at least that's the copywrite date on the manual). Where the ZTX has it's awesome Zenith badge, this has got a little set of LED displays to show you the WPM and buffer status.

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SKCC Greens. The assembly instructions indicate the keyboard module came pre-assembled. The end user was expected to do the internals with a soldering iron though. This was my first exposure to the greens and I went out and bought a Chinese Pingmaster the next week because of them. They keycaps are so awesome but I can't let them go wandering, so they're gonna stick with this board as long as I have it.

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The ports are all weird back here, since you're expected to hook it up to radio gear. I haven't confirmed if the internals are working. Not sure how far down that rabbit hole I'll go.

More pics here:
Spoiler:
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I've noticed that the zenith has what look like ribbon cables, where the Heathkit's got some chunkier ones, that are incidentally easy to slot onto a Pro Micro.

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I've got some plans for this thing, but I'm trying to use as light a touch as possible with the parts. Everything I do has got to be easily reversible.

If the above isn't enough for you, there's an unedited gallery here.
ScottPaladin
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Unread post30 Mar 2018, 19:45

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Great pictures! Awesome of you that you made the conversion reversible! ;)
green-squid
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Unread post30 Mar 2018, 20:50

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green-squid wrote:Great pictures! Awesome of you that you made the conversion reversible! ;)

I just imagine some cranky old ham radio guy yelling at me if I desolder anything on this board. "It was perfectly fine! You keyboard guys are just butchers!"
ScottPaladin
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Unread post30 Mar 2018, 20:55

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duuuude - the colorway for this one is way more awesome! Great find and thanks for sharing!
//gainsborough
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ALPSの日常

Unread post30 Mar 2018, 21:22

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//gainsborough
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As much as I love the Zenith badge, the indicator or whatever that replaces it on this board is so cool.
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Unread post31 Mar 2018, 02:24

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Very cool board.
ScottPaladin wrote:I just imagine some cranky old ham radio guy yelling at me if I desolder anything on this board. "It was perfectly fine! You keyboard guys are just butchers!"

Nah. Anything other than key or a paddle is blasphemy.
--... ...--
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Unread post31 Mar 2018, 11:39

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Hi, would you be willing to share some pictures of how you hooked up the ribbon cables to the Pro Micro? I'll be looking to convert my ZTX soon, and it would save me some time.
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Unread post31 Mar 2018, 17:58

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I'm camping this weekend, but I'll the info when I get back home.
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Unread post31 Mar 2018, 18:27

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ScottPaladin wrote:I'm camping this weekend, but I'll the info when I get back home.

Awesome, thank you
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Unread post31 Mar 2018, 20:39

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I'm working on a more extensive write up, but it's going to take some time to make it parsable to anybody who isn't me. Here's the god-awful version of it right now. Of course, all this assumes that the boards are the same (can't guarantee that, but it's probably a safe bet).

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The USB end of the Pro Micro is facing toward the camera. I didn't realize it was under my big fat thumb when I took the pic. That should show the physical connection. There's a json file for KBFirmware.com here. The full matrix map can be found in there, it's probably easiest to just update the json to KBfirmware and pull the values from there.

Here's a quick labeling of the pinout.

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This was a proof of concept more than anything. There's a big caveat with the way this is hooked up right now; the shift keys are on their own pair of wires (and are wired in parallel so effectively the same key). There's room in the matrix for them, so you can jumper them in. I'll have more info later, but that should save you a few hours already.
ScottPaladin
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Unread post02 Apr 2018, 19:18

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Just saw this now, thank you so much for posting it. That looks very simple, you've saved me a bunch of time. I can't wait to give it a shot!
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Unread post09 Apr 2018, 00:10

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Very nice indeed, great work hope you like the green Alps SKCC.

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seebart
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Unread post17 Apr 2018, 13:26

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Mmmm. Gotta love those green Alps.

The chips on the controller seem to suggest 1985.
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Unread post17 Apr 2018, 13:47

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