Has anyone ever...?

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Riff

09 Apr 2018, 22:18

This video is slightly off topic but do bear with me and have a look then please continue.
I never had a C64... Spectrum 48k all the way here and I don't think there's too many of us on this forum who'd love that particular keyboard. And the Amiga, which was my best ever computing experience, was... well it's too large and clunky to be just a keyboard I think.

But look at that C64. That looks like it could be the bones of a fantastic keyboard. It's got space for lots of additional internal extras, and has a great profile.

So my question is relatively simple: Has anyone ever hacked/modded a C64 to be a great PC keyboard, and if so how? It strikes me that's a highly ambitious project so beyond my current skilz but I'd love to get an overview of what's required, or if it's even doable.

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webwit
Wild Duck

09 Apr 2018, 22:21

We walked the same roads here buddy. ZX Spectrum (I still have my Crash t-shirt), and then the Amiga, the greatest computer ever.

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Blaise170
ALPS キーボード

09 Apr 2018, 22:26

C64 switches are nothing great so it's not something that many people are interested in converting, though I'm sure someone out there has done so. In fact, I'm sure someone has turned it into a full portable PC by throwing a Raspberry Pi or similar inside.

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ScottPaladin

09 Apr 2018, 23:41

It's definitely been done before. But Blaise is right about the switches being nothing special. If you want a project that will get you some stellar results, look for a TRS-80 keyboard, a Zenith ZTX-1 Terminal, or one of the good TI-99/4As. The switches in those are worth the effort.

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zrrion

10 Apr 2018, 06:08

I've seen someone do a mod somewhere where mx switches are added and adapters are used to make the c64 caps work. So you could certainly turn it into a very nice keyboard and still keep full functionality in case you want to do anything with an old c64.

RealityCavesIn

10 Apr 2018, 09:16

Riff wrote: And the Amiga, which was my best ever computing experience
Aah good times. My 500 and my old USRobotics 14.4 modem is also hands down my best computing experience ever.

If you change your mind and wanna build a keyboard on the Amiga there is this project running on Indiegogo right now: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new- ... 00-plus?#/ Maybe you could build (a really expensive) handwired board with the switch of your choice :D

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Riff

10 Apr 2018, 11:02

The Amiga was a great machine, I had a 500+ and then an A1200 with a (wait for it) twenty meg hard drive - that was unheard of in those days. though I don't recall much about the keyboards themselves.

It struck me that the C64 case was a great shape, and would do really good as a nice input device. I like the idea of swapping out the switches for Cherry MX's. Perhaps what it needs is something like that then the guts of a Surface or other similarly low profile PC form factor shoehorned in there so the whole thing becomes a self-contained machine - just like its original intention.

Way beyond my skill capability but a fun idea notwithstanding.

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snuci
Vintage computer guy

10 Apr 2018, 12:55

Riff wrote: It struck me that the C64 case was a great shape, and would do really good as a nice input device. I like the idea of swapping out the switches for Cherry MX's. Perhaps what it needs is something like that then the guts of a Surface or other similarly low profile PC form factor shoehorned in there so the whole thing becomes a self-contained machine - just like its original intention.
Take a look at this video where the C64 was converted to a Commodore 64 ITX PC. Or this video on the C64x barebones case built into a PC with a Commodore C64x Build. I am actually in the process of acquiring a C64x Extreme Edition myself.

A similar Indiegogo campaign I've funded was for a Raadition Apple II case. Not sure what I'll do with it but it's pretty cool too. Here's a quick video review Apple II Themed PC Case!!

On another note, I did buy a C64 Mini so I was considering a Keyrah 2 or a Teensy conversion of a parts C64 I have.
Last edited by snuci on 10 Apr 2018, 14:50, edited 1 time in total.

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depletedvespene

10 Apr 2018, 14:10

Hate to be that guy, but I have to wonder, at what point it becomes better not to gut an old computer(*) and instead do a repro? I remember looking at a thread of someone doing a 60% from scratch, with its design mimicking the C64 (of course, now I can't find it).


(*) If someone even suggested gutting my dear old Atari 800XL to convert it into a USB 60% keyboard, I'd hit him in the head (with a Model M - I don't want the Atari damaged!).

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Riff

10 Apr 2018, 15:50

That's true. Probably better to get an old one from a recycling source or something

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chip chop

10 Apr 2018, 16:02

Given you are in the UK maybe give this a look, Tynemouth software do a number of conversion kits for a few old systems..

http://www.tynemouthsoftware.co.uk/Shop

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scottc

10 Apr 2018, 16:16


SpacemanToby

11 Apr 2018, 13:33

That Mec64 looks so cool.
If someone even suggested gutting my dear old Atari 800XL to convert it into a USB 60% keyboard, I'd hit him in the head
I keep going back and forth on this. On the one hand I hate to see old working keyboards get messed up, but on the other hand, I love seeing old tech get new life. Keyboards should be used.

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green-squid

11 Apr 2018, 15:46

depletedvespene wrote: Hate to be that guy, but I have to wonder, at what point it becomes better not to gut an old computer(*) and instead do a repro? I remember looking at a thread of someone doing a 60% from scratch, with its design mimicking the C64 (of course, now I can't find it).


(*) If someone even suggested gutting my dear old Atari 800XL to convert it into a USB 60% keyboard, I'd hit him in the head (with a Model M - I don't want the Atari damaged!).
Preach! If the hardware still works or is repairable, no need to gut it!

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Blaise170
ALPS キーボード

11 Apr 2018, 16:07

Or the best of both worlds, convert your old equipment to USB and then emulate the original OS.

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green-squid

11 Apr 2018, 18:12

Blaise170 wrote: Or the best of both worlds, convert your old equipment to USB and then emulate the original OS.
That's only the best of one world. :|

andrewjoy

11 Apr 2018, 18:23

You could spin your own PCI-e card that runs native code for the system you want to emulate and then pass that though to a VM running on KVM along with a seperate GPU that has svideo out , then you could connect that to a 1084s monitor. Dont forget also a USB controller for the keyboard. Not forgeting that they all have to be in a PCI-e slot in the same IOMMU group , but a seperate IOMMU group than all the devices you want to use for your host.

Your then runnning on native hardware but in a VM on modern hardware !

The best of all 3 of the 2 worlds.

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green-squid

11 Apr 2018, 18:33

What would be very cool would be a keyboard cable splitter, and you could switch between PC keyboard mode and C64 mode with a switch!

samuelcable

11 Apr 2018, 18:36

https://cartel.ltd/projects/cartel74/
I dunno if this is C64 related but this topic reminds me of this project

immortalx

12 Apr 2018, 09:31

It's funny, because a couple of days ago I started designing a full atx PC case/keyboard, and now I'm seeing this sweet Apple II themed case which I wasn't aware of!
My idea is for a desktop replacement, being able to host a full atx board and GPU (i.e. no mini/micro itx, Rasberry Pi, onboard GPU, etc. compromises) and a mech keyboard board, all in one. I was thinking something resembling the shape of an Atari 800, with a fat back and a lid for easy access to its internals.
I'm currently investigating what would be the thinnest height possible, having the PSU at a 90 degrees orientation.

If this design proves to be feasible, I will be making a fiberglass prototype.

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tactica

13 Apr 2018, 08:23

Why not take an ancient notebook or some other random junk that never had a life and butcher that instead of a poor C64 :( It would be cheaper too.

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

13 Apr 2018, 23:51

Have a look at Mini-STX motherboards... always wanted to fit one of those in an amiga 1200 case :) (or C64 for the matter)

zool

14 Apr 2018, 02:15

how about giving mintel term a good keyboard?

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Daniel Beardsmore

14 Apr 2018, 02:43

I recommend a Nan Tan FMA3300 or FMA3500. I saw one at a radio rally years ago, and pulled off a keycap to find the highly rare [wiki]Alps ultra low profile[/wiki] switches. I should have bought the machine, but I didn't want something that bulky, and I didn't write down the model of computer. I just tried to memorise it, and FMA3300 and FMA3500 can both come with an identical-looking keyboard.

Put in a new Cherry keyboard and send me the Alps keyboard ;-)

immortalx

14 Apr 2018, 11:50

Sorry for hijacking the OP's post, but I feel it's relevant so here's the idea I was talking about:
This very rough mockup is able to host a full ATX motherboard, a standard ATX PSU, a GPU with riser, possibly two 3.5 inch HDDs and an additional SSD.
Haven't thought about airflow and tons of other stuff, nor am I the right man to do so, so please suggest if you like that kind of idea and if so, we could open a new thread as an interest check.

Here's another thing: The above design is with a full size keyboard but I was thinking that it could possibly have a big cutout with different snap-in covers in the keyboard area, for a full keyboard, a TKL, or other forms.
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matt3o
-[°_°]-

14 Apr 2018, 12:37

I was thinking more something like this

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... ga_600.jpg

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Elrick

14 Apr 2018, 13:09

immortalx wrote: Here's another thing: The above design is with a full size keyboard but I was thinking that it could possibly have a big cutout with different snap-in covers in the keyboard area, for a full keyboard, a TKL, or other forms.
I'd buy it instantly without haste.

WE need something like this, all in one PC with a filthy brilliant, FULL-sized Keyboard for MEN.

The above case must have an X470 motherboard with a current 2700X cpu. That alone makes it something serious for any user.

Just make sure to add lots of air vents to allow natural heat dissipation and of course easy access to the internals without needing to undo dozens of screws or bolts.

Findecanor

14 Apr 2018, 16:38

immortalx wrote: Sorry for hijacking the OP's post, but I feel it's relevant so here's the idea I was talking about:
This very rough mockup is able to host a full ATX motherboard, a standard ATX PSU, a GPU with riser, possibly two 3.5 inch HDDs and an additional SSD.
Haven't thought about airflow and tons of other stuff, nor am I the right man to do so, so please suggest if you like that kind of idea and if so, we could open a new thread as an interest check.
Keyboard or not, I would like to see a PC case with a somewhat modular backplate where in which builders could fit either a GPU on an angled riser (like Silverstone FTZ01, FD Node 202 etc.) or use half-height expansion cards.
AIrflow in those mITX cases with angled GPU riser is usually from the top by the CPU fan and out through the back and right side ... or with a all-in-one water-cooler with radiator and fans in place of the GPU.
If you are going to support putting a monitor on top, you would need to reinforce the top case.

I also think that you should lower the front edge of the keyboard, to be more like the C64C and Amiga 500/600/1200 and less like the Apple II and C64. A lower keyboard is a more ergonomic keyboard.

Also, put ports on the back and on the left, not on the right ... and not under the keyboard (like the Apple II and Atari ST... :roll: ) The right side would be for removable media to slot into the machine. Otherwise they would be in the way for the mouse. Most headphones have the wire coming out of the left cup, so the right place for the headphone jack would be on the left so as not to be in the way. (although some argue that it should be in the front so as to go between the hands...)
(These port issues are gripes I sometimes have with laptops ...)

BTW, I have been toying with the idea of like the MeC64 but for the Amiga: a replacement keyboard with Cherry MX switches but which would fit also in the A500 and in keyboard cases made for Mitsumi innards. Also with optional two DSUB DE-9 in and USB out.
Last edited by Findecanor on 14 Apr 2018, 18:40, edited 1 time in total.

immortalx

14 Apr 2018, 17:15

matt3o wrote: I was thinking more something like this

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... ga_600.jpg
As much as I loved my (now gone unfortunately) 500 and 1200, I always liked the compact, almost square design of the 600.
If you could squeeze in there all the components I'd buy it in an instant, but I feel you must be talking about a small form factor design?

Whatever is your thought, I'd put my money on you without question and I'd be ultra happy if you possibly want to handle this project!

immortalx

14 Apr 2018, 17:22

Elrick wrote:
immortalx wrote: Here's another thing: The above design is with a full size keyboard but I was thinking that it could possibly have a big cutout with different snap-in covers in the keyboard area, for a full keyboard, a TKL, or other forms.
I'd buy it instantly without haste.

WE need something like this, all in one PC with a filthy brilliant, FULL-sized Keyboard for MEN.

The above case must have an X470 motherboard with a current 2700X cpu. That alone makes it something serious for any user.

Just make sure to add lots of air vents to allow natural heat dissipation and of course easy access to the internals without needing to undo dozens of screws or bolts.
And I thought that full size keyboard people are a distinct species! That's why I proposed the idea of a snap-in cover, so that everybody is pleased. Well maybe not everyone, since an ultra compact layout would look odd with all the blank space right and left.
As for access to the internals, I was thinking some kind of lid like the one in this render, but also about the ability to pull the whole plastic cover off of the bottom plate.

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