Trying to find my ultimate project keyboard. Help needed

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green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 16:25

So I am looking to compile this thread so that I will find my ultimate and possibly final project keyboard for conversion. All these PC boards are kind of boring now, and the ones with good/I don't already have switches are too expensive for me.

Criteria:
- Chance of finding it for an ok price (EU)
- Minimum kinda sorta decent switches that you can make working on a Teensy (No foam and foil or Hi-tek stackpole, or unconvertible stuff like Hall Effect that goes for way too much money anyway)
- Cool keycaps
- Workable layout
- Interesting history (what it was used for/where)
- Small enough that it's easy to handwire (cough cough Zenith Failure)
- not Beamspring because it's.. Beamspring (large time and monetary investment to restore, eBay bullshit prices, having to adjust every single switch's data in the programmer that people use, and having to get a brand new PCB in the first place. Gah! It's not worth it for any sane person I think, unless you get it for stupid cheap).

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The keyboards above probably don't meet at least one criteria, but I don't know at this point what I really am looking for. I mean I still like post IBM-PC keyboards, but I have become so picky about those, now that I have a Model F. Any ideas/suggestions? Please leave them in the comments

User avatar
Hypersphere

17 Nov 2018, 17:15

I'd recommend the keyboard from the IBM 5140 convertible computer. The keyboard is small and lightweight with a very workable layout. The keycaps might not be "cool", but they are dye-sub PBT. The switches are great -- SKCM brown Alps. There have been posts of successful conversions of this keyboard. It is also sometimes possible to find sellers willing to sell only the keyboard from these computers -- this brings the price down to a reasonable level, and the shipping costs would be minimal because of the small size and weight of the keyboard.

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green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 17:24

Hypersphere wrote: I'd recommend the keyboard from the IBM 5140 convertible computer. The keyboard is small and lightweight with a very workable layout. The keycaps might not be "cool", but they are dye-sub PBT. The switches are great -- SKCM brown Alps. There have been posts of successful conversions of this keyboard. It is also sometimes possible to find sellers willing to sell only the keyboard from these computers -- this brings the price down to a reasonable level, and the shipping costs would be minimal because of the small size and weight of the keyboard.
I'm very sorry Hypersphere, but that's a no on so many levels. It is not affordable period, and I'd have to destroy a computer to get it.

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Sangdrax

17 Nov 2018, 18:58

Try that Xerox I posted in the Interesting Finds thread. Maxiswitch vintage linear are supremely smooth when cleaned and lubed and are just normal contact switches.

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green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 18:59

Sangdrax wrote: Try that Xerox I posted in the Interesting Finds thread. Maxiswitch vintage linear are supremely smooth when cleaned and lubed and are just normal contact switches.
It's in the USA :(
Shipping sucks.

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Sangdrax

17 Nov 2018, 19:20

Yeah, that's a little tougher. Hope you find something good.

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PlacaFromHell

17 Nov 2018, 19:46

Search under the stones as much as you can, Hungary can't be empty of Camaro-tier keyboards.
What about scrap typewriters? For example two Sharp ZX-400's to make an Alps SKFF keyboard. Think about it, typewriters are everywhere. You can get from them:
-Several types of Alps switches,
-Marquart linear and butterfly,
-Cherry Olympia clears
and a large etc.
Last edited by PlacaFromHell on 18 Nov 2018, 00:00, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Laser
emacs -nw

17 Nov 2018, 19:49

How about replacement PCBs (new PCBs for old keyboards), or custom PCBs? Learn to use KiCad, and make for example a split keyboard PCB for NMB Space Invader switches ... Then upload the files to some cheap store (China or local) - i.e. order the actual PCBs, and profit! :) Plenty of Internet resources for learning KiCad, and also there are some KiCad related keyboard files on the Internet to study and compare.

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green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 19:58

PlacaFromHell wrote: Search under the stones as much as you can, Hungary can't be empty of Camaro-tier keyboards.
What about scrap typewriters? For example two Sharp ZX-400's to make an Alps SKFF keyboard. Think about it, typewriters are everywhere. You can get from them:
-Several types of Alps switches,
-Marquart linear and butterfly,
-Cherry Olympia clears,
and a large etc.
I have only found a single typewriter with mech switches, and it sucked. I haven't found anything worthwile at the flea market for an eternety, I might as well not go.
Yes, hungary IS empty of that stuff, or it gets scrapped.

User avatar
green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 20:02

Laser wrote: How about replacement PCBs (new PCBs for old keyboards), or custom PCBs? Learn to use KiCad, and make for example a split keyboard PCB for NMB Space Invader switches ... Then upload the files to some cheap store (China or local) - i.e. order the actual PCBs, and profit! :) Plenty of Internet resources for learning KiCad, and also there are some KiCad related keyboard files on the Internet to study and compare.
I am not interested in space invaders. I wish I could do PCB design but I'm too much of an ape for that kind if thing.

User avatar
snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

17 Nov 2018, 20:09

Squid, you certainly have selected some unique keyboards. I wish I had your skills of shopping around for cool stuff (but alas, I'm just a plebeian impulse buyer who snatches up things that cross my path; as you'd say :cry: ).

I would agree with Hypersphere about the 5140 keyboard. It would make a very cool project and you could probably pick up the chassis (minus brownie switches) for pretty cheap. It has very nice keycaps and is a usable layout.

The boards from your post are very cool but may not be practical due to layout. If that isn't important to you and the 5140 isn't interesting enough for your tastes, then go for one of those.

User avatar
green-squid

17 Nov 2018, 20:25

snacksthecat wrote: Squid, you certainly have selected some unique keyboards. I wish I had your skills of shopping around for cool stuff (but alas, I'm just a plebeian impulse buyer who snatches up things that cross my path; as you'd say :cry: ).

I would agree with Hypersphere about the 5140 keyboard. It would make a very cool project and you could probably pick up the chassis (minus brownie switches) for pretty cheap. It has very nice keycaps and is a usable layout.

The boards from your post are very cool but may not be practical due to layout. If that isn't important to you and the 5140 isn't interesting enough for your tastes, then go for one of those.
I don't have shopping skills! Keybug and Noobmaen have the shopping skills, they buy/bought up sooooo many good deals from Kleinanzeigen that it's insane. The first board came from there too, courtesty of Noob, it was only like 30 euros, can you believe that, omg.

Anyways, no, the IBM is still not an ultimate board. It would be a chassis only (I can't put in any other good alps switch without spending more money that it's worth. And it's still a destroyed computer. And it's not even that interesting, only for tge Reddit meme switch crowd that butchers them.

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Hypersphere

18 Nov 2018, 00:48

@green-squid: Could you give us some additional guidance on the keyboard features you are seeking?

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green-squid

18 Nov 2018, 12:08

Hypersphere wrote: @green-squid: Could you give us some additional guidance on the keyboard features you are seeking?
I think my list was pretty compelling, but the only flaw is that I'm at the mercy of eBay sellers specifically in the EU who don't know others are selling it for outrageous prices. And all of these boards I am interested in are obscure terminal boards, so that makes it even tougher to get one.
Here's the list again, elaborated on;
- Chance of finding it for a decent price (under $50, which is all I have) in Europe.
- decent switches that you can make working on a Teensy (No foam and foil or Hi-tek stackpole, or unconvertible stuff like Hall Effect that goes for way too much money anyway), even if fthey aren't top ten.
- Cool doubleshot keycaps, neat colors
- Workable layout that I can adapt to a close-to-modern one
- Interesting history (what it was used for/for what computer)
- Small enough that it's easy to handwire (cough cough Zenith Failure, that thing had way too many keys, but beggars can't be choosers, so if I find a board that meets all criteria but this, I'll take it)
- not Beamspring , because they cost thousands of dollars, and often times need quite a lot of work, and I was told by some people thaf they aren't good as daily drivers.

User avatar
Hypersphere

18 Nov 2018, 15:25

@green-squid: Thank you for elaborating somewhat on your list of keyboard criteria.

Some of the features in your list are of course subjective. For example, people might disagree about what constitutes "cool keycaps, neat colors, workable layout, interesting history, decent switches, or small".

You have listed an objective criterion of "under $50", which might be the main limiting factor. As you have observed, it is difficult to find keyboards in that price range on eBay. You will need the luck of Chyros, who seems to acquire sterling keyboards as if they magically appeared at his doorstep. So, perhaps recycling centers or second-hand shops might be your best bet. Alternatively, bargains sometimes appear on eBay. Either way will require some work and patience. Recently, I have seen what I consider interesting keyboards for under $50. These included the "Pingmaster" and a Cortron keyboard. The Pingmaster was on eBay and the Cortron was on a recycler web site.

Best of luck to you in finding what you are seeking!

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

18 Nov 2018, 19:41

Try at local selling sites, not only in your country. For example, bulgarian selling sites, in those sites people usually don't know anything about what are selling. If you want to avoid Tesla-like keyboards with hall effect switches, search in countries with capitalist influence during the Cold War.
If you don't believe me, I found a beamspring in Argentina, and only for something like 200 USD. I think the entire computer was donated by the government of the United States with many other "useless stuff" to the military dictatorship supported by the Operation Condor during that time. Good things never abound, the most important part in your travel is be patient.

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green-squid

19 Nov 2018, 14:07

lol called it, m0110a was gone, and i found a 1800 on an other site where I cannot make an account because they don't accept my email provider. :x
I mean, why WOULD I be able to get something right? ;)

Jokes aside, hunt is still on for the Ultimate board.

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green-squid

23 Nov 2018, 18:43

Another candidate would be this HP, however, I don't know if it can be converted/handwired. :)

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Sangdrax

23 Nov 2018, 22:34

It's ITW magvalve. DMA is working on a controller replacement solution for those kind of switches right now but nothing is ready yet.

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green-squid

23 Nov 2018, 23:09

Sangdrax wrote: It's ITW magvalve. DMA is working on a controller replacement solution for those kind of switches right now but nothing is ready yet.
Let's hope for the best! :) Hunt is still on then.

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green-squid

26 Nov 2018, 19:39

ULTIMATE BOARD CONTENDER ALERT: IBM Pingmaster. This may be it! But the eBay seller only has 30 left, and shipping alone is $80! I'm now kicking myself that I MISSED Webwit's Pingmaster for a very good price. But at the time I didn't have the money. :( :(

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User avatar
Hypersphere

27 Nov 2018, 23:43

@green-squid: Ahem, I guess you missed my earlier reply in which I suggested the "Pingmaster". In any event, it is a solid, very handsome board at a very reasonable price, and the external Hasu converter is available. Personally, for my own Pingmaster, I would like to install an internal converter, and for the sake of aesthetics, I would like to get additional keycaps to replace the relegendable ones.

wadeak78

29 Nov 2018, 08:20

I'm pretty sure that HP board uses Maxi-Switch vintage linear switches, because I have an HP board with the same style keycaps and mini keys at the top.

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Hypersphere

29 Nov 2018, 22:36

Here are a couple of pics of my Cortron 81 keyboard.

It has lovely keycaps --thick doubleshot sphericals. Note the scooped F and J homing keys. The caps have rectangular receptacles for the switch stems and snap smartly into place. The alphas are a buttery cream color -- as far as I know, this is their intended color. This is an NIB board, and so I don't think that the caps are yellowed from UV exposure. The modifiers are chocolate brown with white legends.

The switches are magnetic pulse and incredibly smooth.

I do not yet know how this keyboard might be converted to USB for use with contemporary computers -- if anyone here has ideas about this, please let me know!
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Last edited by Hypersphere on 01 Dec 2018, 17:20, edited 1 time in total.

Menuhin

29 Nov 2018, 22:44

green-squid wrote: ULTIMATE BOARD CONTENDER ALERT: IBM Pingmaster. This may be it! But the eBay seller only has 30 left, and shipping alone is $80! I'm now kicking myself that I MISSED Webwit's Pingmaster for a very good price. But at the time I didn't have the money. :( :(

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Shipping is expensive to EU...
Plus: do you want to convert a keyboard that has not yet been converted? For this one, people can just buy a converter from Hasu as of today.

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green-squid

30 Nov 2018, 00:11

No, giving up on Pingmaster, too expensive and maybe not even interesting enough, out of the question. Also I wish I had that keyvoard that you have @Hypersphere

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green-squid

04 Dec 2018, 21:59

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Yes!!!!! This is gonna be IT!!
yeah, it's not like any of the ones above, but who am I kidding, what were the chances I was ever going to find anything like that? It's impossible!

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Muirium
µ

04 Dec 2018, 22:40

You scored that M0110? They’re a fun board. Especially that vintage case!

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