Alps Appreciation

ntv242ver2

18 Mar 2021, 15:13

My NCR 4950.

Perhaps long over due on my part for documenting this, as I have seen the wiki has not mentioned it: An NCR 4950 with green alps. I bought this from a recycler, so the board was in a sorry state. It still is now i reckon XD. But i did some basic cleaning through out the board and the switches. Switches are not great, I have no intention of restoring them with whatever hottest lube for alps for now, since the primary reason i bought this was because i simply was so attracted by the look of it

Image
Image
Image
Spoiler:
back label
Image
Keycaps are double shot, looks VERY chicony, same profile and thickness and mould marking etc. I really think this is chicony caps
Image
what the hell is with this :; key
Image
August 1987
Image
For the spacebar, the switch is "sharpied" red. And it is as heavy as skcl cream
Image
Front label and chip
Image
Image

motoko

21 Mar 2021, 00:52

Very interesting. Re: heavy spacebar switches, e.g. grays on Zenith boards, why is this done and how does it feel? Does the same thing work well on tactile and clicky boards?

Tahoma

21 Mar 2021, 01:01

Sharp looking keyboard indeed!

ntv242ver2

21 Mar 2021, 11:04

motoko wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 00:52
Very interesting. Re: heavy spacebar switches, e.g. grays on Zenith boards, why is this done and how does it feel? Does the same thing work well on tactile and clicky boards?
Interesting topic really, personally i have only seen it done on boards with SKCL green. I wonder if it was because alps didn't trust the switch would be enough to return the space, which has a heavy keycap on top?

I love that fact that instead of putting a cream there, they cant be arsed and just couloured the slider with red. I have no doubt that this this sharpie :lol:

Haven't seen it on skcm tactile or clicky at all, at least to my recollective memory. Farily common for cherry boards tho, and definitely a thing for model F (except maybe F122). So i guess it is a thing in the pass that people like a heavy space bar and perceive it as better functionally.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

21 Mar 2021, 11:15

Heavy spacebars were a phase. You see that with the XT and AT spacebars on IBM Model Fs for early PCs, which suddenly give way in 1985 to the regular weighting on the Model M. Interestingly, the 4704 Kishsaver keyboards (which I can't seem to find on the DT wiki? My own is dated 1983 but there are older ones) precede this migration, they're all Model Fs, but have the modern lighter spacebar. A weird mix given their tremendously heavy zinc frames! The move to lighter spacebars was already afoot.

I expect the rationale for heavy spacebars was most typists back then were coming over from mechanical typewriters, and were used to a hefty weight from the mechanism. You'd pound the keys—stab it with your fingers!—and your thumbs are the strongest digits of all. Some years in, however, computers were less novel, more people had adapted to them, and lighter keys became desirable.

Eventually, that trend away from mimicking typewriters led to the thin laptop keyboards we know today, which are nothing like that experience.

User avatar
Bjerrk

21 Mar 2021, 11:54

Muirium wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 11:15
Eventually, that trend away from mimicking typewriters led to the thin laptop keyboards we know today, which are nothing like that experience.
But somehow Cherry stuck with the heavy spacebars. Even post-2000 G80's had them - perhaps the new ones still do?

User avatar
Muirium
µ

21 Mar 2021, 12:04

The exception to prove the rule! (I have never understood or endorsed that phrase but it seems oddly appropriate here.)

ntv242ver2

21 Mar 2021, 14:51

Bjerrk wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 11:54
Muirium wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 11:15
Eventually, that trend away from mimicking typewriters led to the thin laptop keyboards we know today, which are nothing like that experience.
But somehow Cherry stuck with the heavy spacebars. Even post-2000 G80's had them - perhaps the new ones still do?
Indeed, still do. I guess they just dont bother really, mind you they still use jump wires in this day and age so....

motoko

21 Mar 2021, 18:04

I see. I actually like the idea of it and might put a heavier spring in my spacebar (Orange) later. Would a Salmon or bamboo Black spring work? (hate taking the spacebar off more than necessary)

ntv242ver2

21 Mar 2021, 18:34

Yes both orange and black are heavier than orange

User avatar
Bjerrk

21 Mar 2021, 20:57

ntv242ver2 wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 18:34
Yes both orange and black are heavier than orange
The mathematical rules of inequalities are being rewritten before my very eyes!

(Because a typo is of course too mundane an explanation ... )

ntv242ver2

21 Mar 2021, 21:01

Bjerrk wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 20:57
ntv242ver2 wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 18:34
Yes both orange and black are heavier than orange
The mathematical rules of inequalities are being rewritten before my very eyes!

(Because a typo is of course too mundane an explanation ... )
Oops not the most well thought input from me there haha, but let me just spam another post instead of fixing the other one

User avatar
hellothere

21 Mar 2021, 22:56

I was very close to buying this, but $145 US was a bit too much. It's a Filco FKB-107J. Black Alps.

There's only a single thread on the FKB-107J, so this thing is probably uncommon.

Looks like they were made by SMK. This copper-colored example has ADB ports. If you look at the thread I mentioned, there's an Apple-style start button under the function keys on the non-Filcos, so the ADB doesn't surprise me, but I don't see a "Command" key with an Apple logo or a ⌘. One of the keys might be labeled "command" in Japanese, though.

1U right shift key. Perfect for Chyros :D.
Spoiler:
s-l1600.jpg
s-l1600.jpg (321.03 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (6).jpg
s-l1600 (6).jpg (383.44 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (5).jpg
s-l1600 (5).jpg (258.32 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (4).jpg
s-l1600 (4).jpg (193.25 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (3).jpg
s-l1600 (3).jpg (259.31 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (2).jpg
s-l1600 (2).jpg (310.11 KiB) Viewed 711 times
s-l1600 (1).jpg
s-l1600 (1).jpg (326.35 KiB) Viewed 711 times

ntv242ver2

21 Mar 2021, 23:19

Hey i used to own a blue one with xiang min switches, didn' t know they can come with genuine alps. Cool to know. The case is a bit odd but the plastic and the paint job are really mighty good.

User avatar
Bjerrk

23 Mar 2021, 22:40

motoko wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 18:04
I see. I actually like the idea of it and might put a heavier spring in my spacebar (Orange) later.
I actually quite like it too. Speaking of Cherry and their heavy spacebars, I had desoldered all the switches from an old Cherry board (MX Black) and swapped them for some different ones (Kailh Polia), but in the end I swapped the spacebar spring for a heavier one. Maybe I am heavy-thumbed :P

User avatar
hellothere

26 Mar 2021, 17:18

Bjerrk wrote:
23 Mar 2021, 22:40
motoko wrote:
21 Mar 2021, 18:04
I see. I actually like the idea of it and might put a heavier spring in my spacebar (Orange) later.
I actually quite like it too. Speaking of Cherry and their heavy spacebars, I had desoldered all the switches from an old Cherry board (MX Black) and swapped them for some different ones (Kailh Polia), but in the end I swapped the spacebar spring for a heavier one. Maybe I am heavy-thumbed :P
I have a Kailh box jade KB and I use a box navy for the spacebar. I've also fooled around with a blue Alps for the spacebar on a white Alps KB, so I definitely like the idea of a heavier switch for the spacebar on clicky keyboards. I've never wanted to on tactile or linear, though. I think it's more because a blue Alps/Kailh box navy sounds fantastic in the spacebar.

I'm also going to officially endorse swapping Alps pine white springs with 55cN springs. That makes them feel a lot more like blue Alps.

User avatar
doomsday_device

28 Mar 2021, 18:23

aquarius branded costar csk-2101 (acer clone board?) skcm pine white
still trying to find the background about these. definitely a looker!

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Jan Pospisil

28 Mar 2021, 18:34

That's real nice. ISO too, lovely.

User avatar
Thorogrimm

28 Mar 2021, 18:37

doomsday_device wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 18:23
aquarius branded costar csk-2101 (acer clone board?) skcm pine white
still trying to find the background about these. definitely a looker!
That's definitely a beaut!

User avatar
Polecat

28 Mar 2021, 21:31

doomsday_device wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 18:23
aquarius branded costar csk-2101 (acer clone board?) skcm pine white
still trying to find the background about these. definitely a looker!
Nice. That's probably a CSK-2102 officially (ISO). I don't know any official background on these, but they do seem related to Multitech/Acer from the same period. At least a couple have been posted here in the past. I have a CSK-2101 in the same industrial gray color, but with U.S. BAE layout. Mine is branded "Infotrac", which was a company that leased data lookup systems for auto parts stores. We had hundreds of them come through the recycler where I worked back in the '90s. Infotrac also used Monterey K104 models in the same color scheme.

User avatar
doomsday_device

28 Mar 2021, 21:46

Polecat wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 21:31
doomsday_device wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 18:23
aquarius branded costar csk-2101 (acer clone board?) skcm pine white
still trying to find the background about these. definitely a looker!
Nice. That's probably a CSK-2102 officially (ISO). I don't know any official background on these, but they do seem related to Multitech/Acer from the same period. At least a couple have been posted here in the past. I have a CSK-2101 in the same industrial gray color, but with U.S. BAE layout. Mine is branded "Infotrac", which was a company that leased data lookup systems for auto parts stores. We had hundreds of them come through the recycler where I worked back in the '90s. Infotrac also used Monterey K104 models in the same color scheme.
thats interesting! also you are right, on the pcb it says csk-2102u ver 1.3.
how are the caps on yours? mine has thin doubleshots, but some are pad printed. not even the region specific keys, it is kinda random. you can see it on the pictures too as the printed caps have much more white legends. especially the mods arent doubleshot which bugs me a bit. some legends on the numpad already starting to wear off and i guess it is almost impossible to find color matching caps for it..
also wow, would love to see one of those black k104.

User avatar
Polecat

28 Mar 2021, 22:11

doomsday_device wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 21:46

thats interesting! also you are right, on the pcb it says csk-2102u ver 1.3.
how are the caps on yours? mine has thin doubleshots, but some are pad printed. not even the region specific keys, it is kinda random. you can see it on the pictures too as the printed caps have much more white legends. especially the mods arent doubleshot which bugs me a bit. some legends on the numpad already starting to wear off and i guess it is almost impossible to find color matching caps for it..
also wow, would love to see one of those black k104.
The caps on mine are all pad printed, and they were already shiny and worn when I got the keyboard twenty-some years ago. They're also badly and unevenly yellowed.<attached>

The Monterey K104 in the attached photos unfortunately isn't mine, but I do have a badly worn one in storage.
Attachments
Infotrac CSK-2101 Industrial Gray
Infotrac CSK-2101 Industrial Gray
IMG_7971.JPG (2.14 MiB) Viewed 445 times
Gray K104_2
Gray K104_2
grayk104_2.jpg (267.94 KiB) Viewed 445 times
Gray K104
Gray K104
grayk104.jpg (243.16 KiB) Viewed 445 times

User avatar
Thorogrimm

28 Mar 2021, 22:22

ntv242ver2 wrote:
18 Mar 2021, 15:13
My NCR 4950.

Perhaps long over due on my part for documenting this, as I have seen the wiki has not mentioned it: An NCR 4950 with green alps. I bought this from a recycler, so the board was in a sorry state. It still is now i reckon XD. But i did some basic cleaning through out the board and the switches. Switches are not great, I have no intention of restoring them with whatever hottest lube for alps for now, since the primary reason i bought this was because i simply was so attracted by the look of it
Mmm, those double shots be looking clean

User avatar
doomsday_device

29 Mar 2021, 22:08

Polecat wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 22:11
doomsday_device wrote:
28 Mar 2021, 21:46

thats interesting! also you are right, on the pcb it says csk-2102u ver 1.3.
how are the caps on yours? mine has thin doubleshots, but some are pad printed. not even the region specific keys, it is kinda random. you can see it on the pictures too as the printed caps have much more white legends. especially the mods arent doubleshot which bugs me a bit. some legends on the numpad already starting to wear off and i guess it is almost impossible to find color matching caps for it..
also wow, would love to see one of those black k104.
The caps on mine are all pad printed, and they were already shiny and worn when I got the keyboard twenty-some years ago. They're also badly and unevenly yellowed.<attached>

The Monterey K104 in the attached photos unfortunately isn't mine, but I do have a badly worn one in storage.
that is super hot. wish i could find such k104 some day. thanks for the insights!

User avatar
Spockmaster

30 Mar 2021, 17:26

Just got this in the mail today! Dell AT101W that was restored by the seller. They top-swapped in near-new pine white Alps for the bamboo blacks, and replaced most of the keycaps with Tai-Hao ABS doubleshots. Its my first Alps board and I freaking love it! One of these days I'll get a blue Alps board, but that will have to wait haha
Attachments
dell bigfoot 1.jpg
dell bigfoot 1.jpg (3.49 MiB) Viewed 348 times

Finners

30 Mar 2021, 18:42

I have also received my first Alps board, an Apple M0115 with orange Alps. The keys feel pretty nice, they feel ever so slightly sticky (without actually jamming or sticking). I say this without having another Alps board to compare to.

Can cleaning them make a big difference or is this a little too risky for someone who is not experienced at all with switch maintenance?

motoko

30 Mar 2021, 20:12

Stickiness implies dirt/dust/grime. If you have a microsonic cleaner, I'd say a light clean is worth it for the top housings and sliders. A very quick cycle will do - 20-30 seconds with distilled water then air dry. For opening all the switches, I'd recommend getting an Alps switch opener tool. I got the one from orihalcon on ebay and it works well enough and I prefer it to toothpicks, though I know some people made similar tools with a little rectangle nub that also grips the slider when extracting the switch, which would be more efficient.

The Apples have the switches quite low / embedded into the case, so you should remove the top case when opening and reassembling the switches. You also need the top case removed to make putting the spacebar back on not a nightmare.

Finners

30 Mar 2021, 20:26

motoko wrote:
30 Mar 2021, 20:12
Stickiness implies dirt/dust/grime. If you have a microsonic cleaner, I'd say a light clean is worth it for the top housings and sliders. A very quick cycle will do - 20-30 seconds with distilled water then air dry. For opening all the switches, I'd recommend getting an Alps switch opener tool. I got the one from orihalcon on ebay and it works well enough and I prefer it to toothpicks, though I know some people made similar tools with a little rectangle nub that also grips the slider when extracting the switch, which would be more efficient.

The Apples have the switches quite low / embedded into the case, so you should remove the top case when opening and reassembling the switches. You also need the top case removed to make putting the spacebar back on not a nightmare.
Thanks motoko, I also have access to an air compressor - would there be alternative method by blowing air through or do the switches really need to be disassembled?

motoko

30 Mar 2021, 20:31

Switches need to be disassembled/reassembled for an effective clean. You would need to clean the board (pcb, case, mounting plate) for dust and dirt with canned air anyways, but stickiness in the switches is down to the internals. Reassembling the switch also means reseating the tactile leaves and springs perfectly, as well as reseating the stabilized keys, so you can bring say a 5/10 feeling switch back to 8 or 9 out of 10. It's not that hard once you have some practice (say by doing 10 switches or so). Get a good keycap puller as well. I like the long wire one.

Chyro has good videos on the procedure on youtube.

Try just doing 1 switch with toothpicks to get the hang of it. Say the Escape key. Also, take photos of the inside once you open the case so you can put it back together again (e.g. the orientation of the ADB ports). The Apples are well designed and quite easy to open/close.

Finners

30 Mar 2021, 20:49

Thanks that’s very helpful information

Post Reply

Return to “Keyboards”