My Pingmaster SKCC keycaps woes!

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02 Aug 2018, 20:45

After seeing Chyrosan demo the IBM 4704 a couple of weeks ago, I wiped the drool off my beard and tried to score one on ebay. Unfortunately, they were long gone given the video was made years ago, but it was worth a try. I did score the legendary Pingmaster, a similar keyboard featuring the ALPS green SKCC switches. They are still available on eBay if anyone is interested.

Unfortunately, the layout sucks. I prefer the ANSI layout or at least the AT one. It would also be nice if it spoke better English.
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As serendipity would have it, I passed over a Sears Communicator II typewriter at a thrift store a few days before. Nice keys and decent feel, but didn’t see a need for it. I wondered if it may by chance use the same SKCC switches. I frantically drove back to the thrift store.

I pulled out one of the keys when I got there and to my surprise, it appeared to use the same cruciform switch, but white instead of green! The keycaps were thick and heavy and amplified strokes, but the switches lacked the hollow and pingy sound of the green SKCC. I purchased the keyboard at the full price, but could have had it for 50% off if I didn’t pass it over. Shucks!
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Popping out the keys from the Pingmaster was so difficult, it took several tries and left stress marks on my cheap plastic puller. I fashioned a double loop using a wire as a puller. The typewriter keycaps came off easily with minimal fuss.
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Sigh… The keycaps fit the SKCC green, but it was horribly misaligned. Interestingly, its stem orientation varies depending on the keycap's location, whereas on the other keyboard it's uniform.
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Upon closer inspection, the Communicator II wasn’t an ALPS SKCC after all. It’s actually a type 2 or 1 Mitsumi ALPS clone. Well, so much for "compatibility." I must say it fooled me once, so shame on it!
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What a bummer! It would have been an orgasmic experience to have the chocolatey, nugaty sears keycaps to complement the creamy crunchiness of the 4704 SKCC switches. Yum!!! Man, this is like being cock blocked in a violent and vicious manner. Any suggestions out there for things to try other than finding a TRS-80 model 4?

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02 Aug 2018, 23:15

I know nothing about the keyboard or the typewriter, but could you swap the switches?

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chip chop

02 Aug 2018, 23:33

You are on the right track with Typewirters, I got a old Canon AP200x the other day thats has SKCC Greens with double shots. Spacebar would be a problem but it might work OK for the Alpha's. You have to check each Canon AP though, as they come in whole variety of switches. Please excuse the filth.


03 Aug 2018, 02:24

Dude tell me about it. I was so disappointed when I saw that mitsumi caps sit crooked on skcc. The two switches even fit in the same plate. I have a mitsumi typewriter conversion and I was super excited that I could just trade out the switches.

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03 Aug 2018, 04:11

SKCC caps in that profile are pretty difficult to come by. Some early apple and trs-80 stuff has compatible caps although they aren't the same profile. Other than that early 80s Zenith or Heath computers tend to have SKCC in that profile (and are pretty cool boards in their own right.) Your best would honestly be to start a WTB thread.

Also to note there is a metal key puller that comes with the pingmaster if you get them nib and it is a very nice key puller too.


03 Aug 2018, 04:35

Zrrion is correct. I have a Zenith Ztx-1 terminal that has the same profile. Another cheapish skcc keyboard is the Texas Instruments T99 4a computer. But again, it won't be the same cap profile.


03 Aug 2018, 07:06

SpacemanToby wrote: Zrrion is correct. I have a Zenith Ztx-1 terminal that has the same profile. Another cheapish skcc keyboard is the Texas Instruments T99 4a computer. But again, it won't be the same cap profile.
Not all TI99/4a keyboards use compatible switches! Many use Stackpole switches. Also confirmed to be compatible are the caps from Hewlett/Packard 264x terminal keyboards and certain Televideo keyboards (800 series?) -I know very little about mine, I snagged it off e-Bay for short bucks partly because it was without markings save a badge "TS-804". Nothing internal or external to the board suggested that this was the manufacture. I have found photographs of a similar board with a "Televideo" badge on it, similar enough to make me certain that it is a Televideo board. Large, grey case, lovely black keycaps with grey secondary keys. Switches are white with odd markings, two-digit numbers (49, 51...), a letter (A, S, V) and something that looks like a backwards "3"/Cyrillic "З" in Italics, a stylized "E", perhaps. Seem to have been installed with no clear up/down orientation. Cross mount on a centrally-located vertically rectagonal pillar. Numbers are not weightings as they vary across the equally-weighted typing keys. Single locking keyswitch is black, marked L in upper righthand corner.

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