Alps Appreciation

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amigastar23

09 Nov 2022, 17:31

morbid42 wrote:
01 Nov 2022, 03:42
Alps, oh my Alps :evilgeek:
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Looking beautiful. I want those :)

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engr

11 Nov 2022, 05:14

As a side note, I have finally found a PS2 to USB converter that works consistently with my Focus boards (AT mode only). It's Trendnet TU-PS2, which is sold in the US by Vetra Systems as p/n VIP-327-PU (it's not listed on their web site but if you email them they will sell it to you).

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engr

14 Nov 2022, 17:34

Does anyone know if Ortek MCK-201 is rare or interesting in any way? I can't find anything about it on the wiki. It looks like MCK-101 without the function keys overlay.

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hellothere

14 Nov 2022, 23:26

As threatened, here's the finished OmniKey 102 with hammered black paint. Yes, I really do need to get some camera classes.
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Here's the mounting plate with switches installed.

The ebay ad I bought this from said that the keyboard was "clean." As far as I can tell, the previous owner tried to clean it with battery acid. There was dirt permanently stuck in the case that NOTHING could remove. Not to mention the other imperfection you probably can see. Whatever it was even ruined the double-shot caps. I've replaced the caps with assorted Focus, OmniKey, and other double-shots. Extra points if you can guess where that mylar Function Key strip came from.

I'm still planning on retr0brighting the feet.

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thefarside

15 Nov 2022, 03:30

Looks great! Are the feet removable? Also, did you tape off the lock light label to keep the paint off? I’m planning to paint a few cases and could use any advice.

What you need now is a label. A gold Omni Key label would contrast nicely :cool:

No clue what the Mylar sheet is from…

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fohat
Elder Messenger

15 Nov 2022, 03:45

thefarside wrote:
15 Nov 2022, 03:30

did you tape off the lock light label to keep the paint off?
Don't blame me if it goes wrong, but I have had good luck removing labels with naptha (old-fashioned cigarette lighter fluid). Work quickly and clean it up immediately because it can damage plastic. With all the extraneous stuff off rehab jobs are much easier, and putting the labels back on is trivial.

Otherwise masking tape and Xacto knife is the old standard.

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Polecat

15 Nov 2022, 04:16

Nice! The Northgates look great in black. I like that you put the Ctrl next to A, the original position for that key before the Model M changed the world.

I've always removed the LED overlays and badges by working a razor blade under the edge and carefully lifting them. They're usually stuck on with contact cement or similar, and it doesn't take much effort to work them loose.

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jsheradin

15 Nov 2022, 18:14

Heat is a great way to remove labels if you have a controllable source. I generally set my heat gun to a bit below the glass transition temp of the case plastic (~90C is safe for ABS). You want to thoroughly heat the sticker and plastic under it, feel the backside of the plastic and keep heating until it's hot (1-2 minutes). At this point the sticker should practically fall off. If your gun isn't temp controllable then you need to be really careful with overheating.

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hellothere

15 Nov 2022, 22:14

I've got feedback! Thanks, folks!

@thefarside: First, I may have mentioned it, but seeing your avatar and name make me think of the comics, which adds a +1 to my happiness level for the day.
The feet have three screws, each, and two plastic mounting pips.
I did tape off the lock lights label with regular masking tape and used an X-Acto knife to trim. I painted another case and used a bunch of smaller pieces of tape and that came out a bit better.
I'll leave the label up to the person who buys it :D.

@fohat: I didn't consider Naphtha. I did try soaking the lock lights label in Goo Gone, which I generally use for labels, but even using a lot and waiting for a while didn't work. I don't know if this was due to whatever "cleaning fluid" was used on the keyboard or if the glue Focus/Northgate used was just that good. The original Function Key strip was too damaged to use, so no help there.

@Polecat, my Focus/Northgate friend: If I was able to take a better picture, you'd see that it looks like a light black with a bit of silver thrown in. I think it looks better than some of the flat black cases out there.
I've only had about 10 to 12 OmniKeys. The really old Omnis, like the Gold Badge and the "No Badge," did use some sort of cement or glue to hold down the F key strip, but whatever it is damages the plastic. I don't know when Northgate stopped using the adhesive, but this one just has the little tab cut-outs for the strip. The non-Northgate strip I used had double-sided tape.
I tried using the X-Acto a little to remove the lock lights strip, but I was starting to gouge it a little.
I put the Ctrl key there primarily because I had more of those and more of the small Caps Lock keys than the reverse :D.

@jsheradin: First, alpaca or llama? Second, my heat gun only has low and high settings -- and that refers to the blowing power, not the heat. It heats up extremely fast. It feels like room temp to 10,000C in about a minute. IIRC, I bought it as a bundle with a big box of shrink tubes, so it wasn't that expensive.

Everyone's suggestions on how to remove labels are very helpful, especially because I have more keyboards that need painting. Also, if anyone knows of a place to get a strip with the words Print Screen, etc. on a clear background, that'd also be helpful. I have a lot of Apple keyboards to paint!

I forgot to mention: I have another OmniKey that I've done up with Rust-Oleum granite grey. It's going to take a bit before I can post it, though: I haven't mounted any switches.

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Polecat

16 Nov 2022, 03:04

hellothere wrote:
15 Nov 2022, 22:14

@Polecat, my Focus/Northgate friend: If I was able to take a better picture, you'd see that it looks like a light black with a bit of silver thrown in. I think it looks better than some of the flat black cases out there.
I've only had about 10 to 12 OmniKeys. The really old Omnis, like the Gold Badge and the "No Badge," did use some sort of cement or glue to hold down the F key strip, but whatever it is damages the plastic. I don't know when Northgate stopped using the adhesive, but this one just has the little tab cut-outs for the strip. The non-Northgate strip I used had double-sided tape.
I tried using the X-Acto a little to remove the lock lights strip, but I was starting to gouge it a little.
I put the Ctrl key there primarily because I had more of those and more of the small Caps Lock keys than the reverse :D.
The reason for using a razor blade is that you can work the whole cutting edge under the badge and lift it all the way across. If you try to do it with an X-Acto knife you'll distort and damage the badge and maybe the plastic case also. I've been removing labels and badges this way for decades now, and the only time it hasn't worked was when they used a glue that wouldn't let go. Most of them are just stuck on with contact cement, which comes off very easily, even thirty years later.

Northgate provided the extra Ctrl and CapsLock caps with the models that had a dipswitch to swap those two positions, along with a Northgate-branded keycap puller. It seems like about half of them got swapped, so a lot of people were still using the old layout. Northgate always pushed that in their ads; very few other keyboards had that feature.

I don't care for flat black paint because it always turns shiny where you touch it. I started painting computer and monitor cases back in the '90s after I saw a NeXT box. The best paint I found for that was Rustoleum Barbecue Black, which is a matte finish enamel that won't attack plastics and sticks to anything. It will also take 1100 degrees of heat, in case that giant meteor is a concern. But the hammertone black looks nice, and will hopefully hold up over time.

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hellothere

27 Nov 2022, 19:07

Keyboard: Northgate OmniKey. Same era as the "Gold Label" ones.
Paint: Rust-Oleum primer. Rust-Oleum Granite Grey. Rust-Oleum matte clear enamel finish.
I don't have a pic of the mounting plate, but it was painted with Rust-Oleum filler primer then finished with Behr Hammered Black.
Pics taken on an iPhone SE 2020, outdoors.
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This is one from the lot of 6 OmniKeys that I bought about 2 years ago or so. All of them had significant rust (the reason for filler primer) and, in the case of this one, some rather bad cosmetic damage -- in addition to about an inch of human hair wrapped around the switches. Some of the keycaps were damaged, so while this keyboard has mostly Focus-branded-keyboard double-shot caps, I can't guarantee all of them are from OmniKeys. The switches are, though.

I retr0brighted the caps. Switches were ultrasoniced and boiled. Wax-boil mod. Lock light label was just masked, not removed, for painting.

Keyboard feels much better than I expected.

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TNT

27 Nov 2022, 20:24

Beautiful! You gonna paint those feet too?

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hellothere

27 Nov 2022, 21:51

I've thought about it and I think I won't. If you don't use the feet, that assembly will be right on your desktop and it's almost a guarantee that you'll scrape the paint off pretty quickly.

I don't know how many people actually use the feet on a keyboard and if the the keycap profile makes a difference on whether or not you use feet.

I just noticed that my close-up pic of the keycaps is close enough to see the remaining texture. That's kinda cool.

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Polecat

27 Nov 2022, 22:04

Nice, nice, nice! Has anyone ever found a way to unyellow the overlays? I know Mr. Tibbetts was selling repros, but not for the LED panel, and the big F-key ones were done in sections.

Those feet were also available in black, on some early, metal-base keyboards from Tai Hao and others:

wiki/Tai-Hao_TH-5539

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hellothere

29 Nov 2022, 01:49

Nope on the un-yellowing. I've tried soaking them in retr0bright before and it doesn't do anything. Of course, I do have a few more extra F key strips from the non-Focus machines I mentioned earlier. The reason why I don't want to use those is because the lock light overlay would look kinda odd.

There should be a market for those overlays and badges. If someone runs with this idea, just give me some freebies, OK?

Regarding the feet, I could probably dye them black or grey. I've never tried dying anything. </me: Inserts very obscure Hell Girl quote.>

If someone has the flip-out feet parts, not the whole assembly, or a decent 3D printer, I'd like to buy some. I have another OmniKey that doesn't have them.

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Polecat

29 Nov 2022, 02:46

The LED overlays come off easily with a razor blade, as I mentioned before. I've removed and reinstalled at least half a dozen of those in the past few years. But yes, it would be nice to find a source for those as well as the F-key strips and the OmniKey badges. I know I can get the gold metal ones made up by a dash plaque shop, but I don't know about the plastic ones.

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flowerlandfilms

29 Nov 2022, 06:00

Finally got my hands around a big Wang!
Terrific condition.
I'm gonna do some hi res scans of the Word Perfect shortcut strips which I removed for aesthetic reasons.
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Muirium
µ

29 Nov 2022, 22:30

flowerlandfilms wrote:
29 Nov 2022, 06:00
Finally got my hands around a big Wang!
Lucky you! :lol:

As far as Wangs go, that’s aye pretty.

I’m typing on newly acquired blue Alps just now, so I’m fair giddy too. ;)

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TNT

29 Nov 2022, 23:24

Pretty decent Wang you got there! And with the best Alps Switches inside ;)

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engr

18 Jan 2023, 16:21

I am posting this here in case anyone ever runs into this problem and starts looking for a solution.
My Avant Prime suddenly started having an issue with left Shift (and only left Shift) key acting as if it was stuck. For some reason, this issue was not apparent in text editors but was showing up on a Windows login screen and later in key tester, which was making it hard to troubleshoot. All the usual troubleshooting steps, including messing with sticky key settings in Windows, did not help.
What ended up working is the factory reset procedure outlined in the manual: hold Esc key down while turning on the computer (or, if you are using a PS/2 to USB adapter, holding the Esc key while plugging the USB adapter into the USB port). Lock lights flashed, the keyboard reset itself, and the left Shift is not giving any more issues.

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darkcruix

19 Jan 2023, 11:59

Just received a bunch of NOS Blue Alps. I have only compared them quickly with my heavily used but cleaned Blue Alps and the difference is there. To get a real world idea of how much this difference manifests I will solder them into a PCB and will also put the used switches into it for comparison. Will report back, once I have tested it more in depth.
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fohat
Elder Messenger

19 Jan 2023, 15:14

darkcruix wrote:
19 Jan 2023, 11:59

Just received a bunch of NOS Blue Alps.
We drool with jealousy.

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Muirium
µ

19 Jan 2023, 18:59

NOT OVER THE NOS ALPS, YOU MANIAC! :D

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darkcruix

25 Jan 2023, 13:44

Just received a bunch of NOS White Alps. I couldn't find any Orange Alps so far, so if anybody has seen any NOS Orange, please let me know.
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engr

25 Jan 2023, 18:40

darkcruix wrote:
25 Jan 2023, 13:44
I couldn't find any Orange Alps so far, so if anybody has seen any NOS Orange, please let me know.
Keepmeup has them on his web site. Icarium was selling a jar of orange Alps in his thread, I don't know if they are gone yet. Orihalcon sells separate switches on eBay, I don't know how many he has.

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KeebMeUp

25 Jan 2023, 19:59

engr wrote:
25 Jan 2023, 18:40
darkcruix wrote:
25 Jan 2023, 13:44
I couldn't find any Orange Alps so far, so if anybody has seen any NOS Orange, please let me know.
Keepmeup has them on his web site. Icarium was selling a jar of orange Alps in his thread, I don't know if they are gone yet. Orihalcon sells separate switches on eBay, I don't know how many he has.
thanks for the shoutout. unfortunately I don't have any NOS oranges up for sale, those are pretty hard to come by. I do have some oranges and salmons for sale but they are not NOS. I also have some very clean M0115's with oranges that I haven't listed yet. If interested, feel free to reach out.

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TNT

25 Jan 2023, 21:48

engr wrote:
25 Jan 2023, 18:40
darkcruix wrote:
25 Jan 2023, 13:44
I couldn't find any Orange Alps so far, so if anybody has seen any NOS Orange, please let me know.
Keepmeup has them on his web site. Icarium was selling a jar of orange Alps in his thread, I don't know if they are gone yet. Orihalcon sells separate switches on eBay, I don't know how many he has.
I bought Icarium's oranges a while ago, so they're gone, unfortunately.

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Chyros

Yesterday, 00:00

Just a general warning; always be mistrustful of desoldered Alps switches. You have no idea where they actually came from. Anyone can claim what they want about their condition and you have no way of knowing how much of it is true. Personally I only trust Alps switches Alps switches that have never been soldered. That's the only way you know they're truly NOS.

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