Toshiba-branded Alps Bigfoot keyboard with red + clicky Alps switches

User avatar
XTaran

08 Dec 2018, 03:56

Hi,

I'm new here, was only using the DT wiki as useful resource before. Over at Reddit's /r/MK I have been told I have to post my find here:

I recently noticed that this Toshiba PA5101E keyboard (photo gallery) in my keyboard scrap yard^W^Wcollection can't be a rubber dome keyboard because it makes clicky noises (movie, 37 MB).

So I removed a key-cap and found what looks a lot like a red-colored Alps switch to me. Only that there never were any red Alps switches according to the Deskthority wiki. Alps SKCM Orange come close, but mine are clearly red and clearly clicky.

So I wondered if they could be some Alps clones, but the only clones with red stems I found are
  • Matias switches which always seem to have clear switch housings while my keyboard has black housings, and
  • Tai-Hao BSW 045WHN switches which have a red stem and black housing, but the housing looks different, especially with regards to labels and tabs on the side (see below).
Another reason to believe they're original Alps switches are the following facts:
So these switches seem to be red and clicky Alps SKCM switches which so far haven't been documented in the Deskthority wiki and nobody over at Reddit's /r/MK knew of them either.

Anyone here has seen red Alps switches before? Anyone else has a Toshiba-branded Alps Bigfoot keyboard for comparison?

And how should I proceed? Should I just add these findings to the DT wiki? Or should I wait until someone else finds another such keyboard to get some statistical significance?

Here are a few of the pictures from my gallery inlined for convenience:

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(In case you want to see and try out that keyboard in real-life: I intend to bring it to the 5th Swiss Mechanical Keyboard Enthusiasts Meetup today in Zurich. Have to go to bed now so I can be there in time for setting up the location. :-)

mcmaxmcmc

08 Dec 2018, 05:07

This could potentially be a sort of White Alps prototype, that's what I and some others at the R/MK discord thinks. The click leaf is similar to white Alps' and it uses a short switchplate. Hella awesome find!

User avatar
Polecat

08 Dec 2018, 07:40

A couple quick questions. 1) Have you unsoldered a switch from the PC board and checked the bottom of the lower housing for an Alps logo? 2) Is there a mold number at the bottom of the keycap slot on the slider?

User avatar
Chyros

08 Dec 2018, 07:54

WHAAAAAAAAT


I've always wondered why Alps used so many exotic colours, but not plain red. Well, I guess, now we know xD .

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green-squid

08 Dec 2018, 10:18

Awesoooome find :o :o

I would suggest taking as many pics as possible (example: http://www.deskthority.net/wiki/Alps_SKCM_Green ), and desoldering one of the switches and send them to somebody who can make a force graph :)

User avatar
XTaran

08 Dec 2018, 22:20

mcmaxmcmc wrote: This could potentially be a sort of White Alps prototype, that's what I and some others at the R/MK discord thinks.
Hrm, things which IMHO speak against a prototype theory:
  • German layout, not the probably most common layout (US ANSI) and nothing Japanese either.
  • Not branded as ALPS but as Toshiba.
mcmaxmcmc wrote: Hella awesome find!
Thanks!

Unfortunately I don't know where I got that keyboard from. %-) Chances are high that it was one of the keyboards my father gave me in a bag a few months ago and said "he doesn't need them anymore". So I assume they're from a company where he worked decades ago and in whose electronics dumpster I already found a working (but dirty-sticky) Cherry G80-2100 (which I still have) back then. At least I haven't any better explanation. :-)

Oh, and the springs in these red Alps seem stronger than those in white Alps. We had two vintage white Alps keyboards at the meetup today, too, and compared directly. :-)

And I at least cleaned the case and the key caps, so it's now cleaner than on the first pictures. Nevertheless most people at the meetup noted that the switches still feel sticky. So it's now my "sticky-clicky red Alps keyboard". ;-)

User avatar
XTaran

08 Dec 2018, 22:23

green-squid wrote: I would suggest […] desoldering one of the switches and send them to somebody who can make a force graph :)
Hrm, until now I was strictly against desoldering switches from that keyboard as I don't want to destroy a rare vintage keyboard, but with regards to the force graph, you've got a point there. Then again, I'm currently not aware of anyone in my circle of keyboard enthusiasts who can do a force graph.

User avatar
zrrion

08 Dec 2018, 22:25

This is a super cool find! Always a treat to see new ALPS stuff on here!

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

08 Dec 2018, 22:55

Red Alps?! What the what?! Do I need to adjust the colors on my monitor?

Awesome find. Grats

User avatar
ZedTheMan

08 Dec 2018, 23:04

Oh the mystery of Alps switchtypes, how you do continue to deepen.

Excellent find!

mcmaxmcmc

09 Dec 2018, 12:38

So, from what I heard, this seems like an alternative to white alps... a heavier variant. How tactile is it by the way? (I vote for force curve.)
Last edited by mcmaxmcmc on 10 Dec 2018, 05:55, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Elrick

09 Dec 2018, 13:50

ZedTheMan wrote: Oh the mystery of Alps switchtypes, how you do continue to deepen.

Excellent find!
Down the Rabbit hole we go, magnificent find :D .

User avatar
Noodle

09 Dec 2018, 16:00

Some observations...
  • Did you check the inside of the upper case? There may be date codes/part codes/etc on it.
  • That PCB doesn't support an ANSI pipe/backslash key. There's a cutout where the contacts and traces for that would normally go. Also, it appears to have traces/contact points for a full-size left shift, split backspace, and ANSI enter (likely a big-ass enter with the switch in the ANSI spot).

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flowerlandfilms

10 Dec 2018, 14:07

Red Alps is an awesome discovery! Can I ask about the keycaps from the board?
Their make and design could help determine a date/place of manufacture.

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Sup

10 Dec 2018, 17:22

That is pretty insane i have never heard of a board having Red colored alps. Holy moly.

andrewjoy

10 Dec 2018, 17:46

That is insane.

I would desolder a switch and see if you can see alps branding on the bottom of the housing. I think they are genuine, the internals look it but hard to tell 100%, if they are alps they are later ones due to the white switch plate.

We need a force curve comparison to white alps!

Just when you think you have reached the bottom of the alps rabbit hole......

Amazing find!

P.S are you sure your dad is not trolling you and he has had the fabric dye and the pan out :P

User avatar
Polecat

24 Dec 2018, 00:43

No further updates on this? Alps logo on the bottom of the lower housings? Mold numbers on the inside of the sliders? Was it just a hoax then?

Anakey

24 Dec 2018, 09:56

I think it could be that Toshiba commisioned Alps to make red clicky switches for its own products but looks like it was a limited supply run similar to the larger alps brown switches unearthed earelier in the year that appear to have been made just for a single board.

User avatar
JP!

27 Jan 2019, 04:31

Anakey wrote:
24 Dec 2018, 09:56
I think it could be that Toshiba commisioned Alps to make red clicky switches for its own products but looks like it was a limited supply run similar to the larger alps brown switches unearthed earelier in the year that appear to have been made just for a single board.
Why am I now just seeing this? :shock: Also it makes sense that Alps made these switches just for Toshiba. Just like Amber switches that only are found with the Apple IIc or the large brown switches with the TI Business Pro.

User avatar
Polecat

27 Jan 2019, 04:49

JP! wrote:
27 Jan 2019, 04:31

Why am I now just seeing this? :shock: Also it makes sense that Alps made these switches just for Toshiba. Just like Amber switches that only are found with the Apple IIc or the large brown switches with the TI Business Pro.
Some posts or subject lines seemingly vanished during the recent site upgrade, and the categories were reorganized also. It's closer now to what it was before, and probably still getting the bugs out.

In another thread a couple guys said they saw this keyboard in person and typed on it at a meet. That doesn't mean it came that way, and wasn't a swap job on the sliders, but it's sounding increasingly likely that it's real. I'd still like to see the bottom of the lower housings to confirm they have Alps logos, and especially the numbering on the inside of the sliders.

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Sup

27 Jan 2019, 22:09

Why do i think it's just Matias red linear stems with the dampeners removed put into a clicky alps switch? I can't see the picture that well on my bad monitor but it looks like there was a space in the sides of the slider for the dampeners.

I also tested putting a red linear Matias stem into a blue alps it works. It's just a hoax i think and not real at all.

User avatar
stratokaster

27 Jan 2019, 22:19

Sup wrote:
27 Jan 2019, 22:09
Why do i think it's just Matias red linear stems with the dampeners removed put into a clicky alps switch? I can't see the picture that well on my bad monitor but it looks like there was a space in the sides of the slider for the dampeners.

I also tested putting a red linear Matias stem into a blue alps it works. It's just a hoax i think and not real at all.
I don't think it looks similar to Matias sliders.

https://gallery.noone.org/Eigene%20Hard ... CN3371.JPG

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tentator

29 Jan 2019, 17:43

Come on it's not a hoax, I was at the meetup and know the owner.. Really unlikely.. and I examined and typed on that board.. Actually I did not find the switches interesting because unfortunately they where really sticky and dirty, but it might be worth it to desolder them and ultrasonic clean them.. Really nobody else has a similar Toshiba board? :)

Tent:wq
Last edited by tentator on 01 Feb 2019, 18:48, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
JP!

29 Jan 2019, 17:59

tentator wrote:
29 Jan 2019, 17:43
Come on it's not a hoax, I was at the meetup and know the owner.. Really unlikely.. and I examined and typed on that board.. Actually I did not find the switches interesting because unfortunately they where really sticky and dirty, but it might be worth it to desolder them and ultrasonic clean them.. Really nobody else has a similar Toshiba board? :)

Tent:wq
The Alps rabbit hole grows ever deeper. Hopefully more examples of these Toshiba keyboards show up even if it's years down the road.

User avatar
chip chop

30 Jan 2019, 18:33

tentator wrote:
29 Jan 2019, 17:43
Really nobody else has a similar Toshiba board? :)
This is my version, recent find so still a bit dirty... SKCM White :(

Image

User avatar
Dingster

30 Jan 2019, 18:47

chip chop wrote:
30 Jan 2019, 18:33
tentator wrote:
29 Jan 2019, 17:43
Really nobody else has a similar Toshiba board? :)
This is my version, recent find so still a bit dirty... SKCM White :(

Image
Damn thats a sweet looking board.

User avatar
chip chop

30 Jan 2019, 23:26

Cheers i'm quite happy with it, was hopeful of a better switch, however when I retrobrite it i'm considering a switch swap.

Not sure it gets us any further with the Red Slider question though, guess I can open it up for the PCB ID number or chip codes if that helps anybody?

User avatar
Polecat

31 Jan 2019, 05:26

chip chop wrote:
30 Jan 2019, 23:26
Cheers i'm quite happy with it, was hopeful of a better switch, however when I retrobrite it i'm considering a switch swap.

Not sure it gets us any further with the Red Slider question though, guess I can open it up for the PCB ID number or chip codes if that helps anybody?
And what's wrong with (early) white SKCM, besides not having sliders of color? ;)

Nice keyboard. Congrats, and thanks for sharing the photos!

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