Alps Appreciation

dafoomie

30 Sep 2020, 00:48

I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy an Omnikey from Northgate Bob but I'm trying to decide on which one out of three gen 2's to get. There's a 102, a 101 I and a 101 N. I think the N has that weird nav cluster so that wouldn't be my first choice. The N and possibly the I have a plastic rear cover, which sounds uncommon and cool, but I feel like that heavy steel plate is part of the reason you get one and it might not sound or feel quite as nice. But maybe they'd have slightly earlier White Alps? I can't decide.

Maybe I should just ask for the one in the nicest condition?

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Jesseg

30 Sep 2020, 06:13

dafoomie wrote:
30 Sep 2020, 00:48
I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy an Omnikey from Northgate Bob but I'm trying to decide on which one out of three gen 2's to get. There's a 102, a 101 I and a 101 N. I think the N has that weird nav cluster so that wouldn't be my first choice. The N and possibly the I have a plastic rear cover, which sounds uncommon and cool, but I feel like that heavy steel plate is part of the reason you get one and it might not sound or feel quite as nice. But maybe they'd have slightly earlier White Alps? I can't decide.

Maybe I should just ask for the one in the nicest condition?
whatever you do, ask for a photo. I learnt the hard way buying 'very good condition' boards from him. other than that, awesome bloke.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

30 Sep 2020, 15:06

I have never seen an Omnikey without a metal back (but remember that it is powder coated beige and is the same color as the top shell). The only ones that I have kept are 101s because I require a straight-ANSI layout.

dafoomie

30 Sep 2020, 20:39

This was helpful in figuring out the difference between a 101I and a 101N, though I'm going with a 102.

Image

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Polecat

01 Oct 2020, 05:09

The 101-I and 101-N do have plastic bases. Pics attached. I haven't had a plastic base version in my hands so I don't know how it affects the sound and feel, but it appears to snap together at the edges, with a single screw in the middle, so it's probably not as solid as the metal base versions. As far as I know there wasn't an ANSI/metal base 101 until Gen3.

I have a fairly extensive database of Northgate keyboard info, well over 400 examples on record now, so I can help date one, if that would help, if you have the model and serial numbers from the label.
Attachments
101-nbottom.jpg
101-nbottom.jpg (122.7 KiB) Viewed 579 times
101-iplasticbase.jpg
101-iplasticbase.jpg (429.57 KiB) Viewed 579 times

shallot

01 Oct 2020, 08:13

Yesterday's gamble that paid off: Sharp ZX-510 typewriter with Alps SKFF.

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Image

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zrrion

01 Oct 2020, 15:27

Interesting that only the space bar is double action, usually backspace and/or return are also double action for skff typewriters

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JP!

02 Oct 2020, 16:08

Yellow Alps
9B45A794-80A2-4D13-A862-8FDAE8D850CC.jpeg
9B45A794-80A2-4D13-A862-8FDAE8D850CC.jpeg (389.08 KiB) Viewed 444 times

dafoomie

03 Oct 2020, 01:15

My Omnikey arrived today. Not perfect by any means, there's a tiny bit of binding but I much prefer them to my bamboo alps that are in nicer condition. Pretty happy with it but it just makes me want a NIB one that much more.
Attachments
20201002_182034.jpg
20201002_182034.jpg (3.67 MiB) Viewed 383 times
20201002_182215.jpg
20201002_182215.jpg (3.65 MiB) Viewed 383 times
20201002_184857.jpg
20201002_184857.jpg (3.91 MiB) Viewed 383 times

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Polecat

03 Oct 2020, 05:08

Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.

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hellothere

03 Oct 2020, 20:52

A little more appreciation.

I bought a keyboard with Pine White Alps a few weeks ago. I knew the keyboard had some issues and that it wasn't clean.

Challenge accepted.

I desoldered all the switches, ultrasonically cleaned the top housings and sliders, cleaned the bottom housings with compressed air, then lubed the sliders and top housing rails with RO-59 KT. They came out extremely well.

As I'm having some issues with the keyboard, itself, I think I'm going to install the switches in a (non-granite) Silicon Graphics case + controller I have. The case looks mostly like a Dell bigfoot and/or might be the same case, with just a different name stuck on.

Thanks to Chyros for his videos on restoring Alps switches! Thanks to orihalcon for his Alps Switch Opener tool. Both helped me immensely.

dafoomie

04 Oct 2020, 20:01

Polecat wrote:
03 Oct 2020, 05:08
Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.
Was hoping for what you'd call a gen 1.5 but his wasn't working. The chips on the controller have 8924 on them so the dates line up.

Keys with stabilizers seem to be a little stiff, is there a trick to resolving that? Enter would just stick down at first even though the switch was fine and the stabilizer bar wasn't bent, but it has loosened itself up through use over the last couple days.

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Polecat

06 Oct 2020, 04:38

dafoomie wrote:
04 Oct 2020, 20:01
Polecat wrote:
03 Oct 2020, 05:08
Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.
Was hoping for what you'd call a gen 1.5 but his wasn't working. The chips on the controller have 8924 on them so the dates line up.

Keys with stabilizers seem to be a little stiff, is there a trick to resolving that? Enter would just stick down at first even though the switch was fine and the stabilizer bar wasn't bent, but it has loosened itself up through use over the last couple days.
Sounds like you need a bit of lube on the stabilizers. Little bit goes a long way, and anything that doesn't dry will attract dirt and dust. I used a tiny bit of Vaseline on the stabilizers on one of my boards a while back. I wouldn't use it on switches, but the stabilizers are exposed and easily cleaned and Vaseline is inert and won't attack the plastic like some lubes.

Thanks for the confirmation on the date. I'm still trying to make sense of the later Gen2 numbers.

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