Laser Keyboard

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

30 Aug 2019, 05:26

I bought this cool Laser keyboard off eBay the other day.

It's different from the other Laser keyboards I've seen before. I didn't recognize the key switch from the listing photos and I still sure exactly what they are.

I took a few photos on my phone. I was too lazy to do a set of proper pictures and now I regret it, because this keyboard turned out to be pretty interesting.

The switches actually feel amazing. They're smooth and evenly tactile across the whole board.

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User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

30 Aug 2019, 17:01

Hi that looks really cool. Is it a contact board then?

Sort of like a topre board but with contacts instead of capacitive?

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Muirium
µ

30 Aug 2019, 17:58

Topre with contacts would be regular rubber dome. Or indeed conductive dome Topre!

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

30 Aug 2019, 19:25

Muirium wrote:
30 Aug 2019, 17:58
Topre with contacts would be regular rubber dome. Or indeed conductive dome Topre!
Conductive, dome, mx-mount, Topre!

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Muirium
µ

30 Aug 2019, 21:20

So where does actuation lie? And how mushy does it feel? Topre's not the only good dome out there, but regular contact domes do tend to degrade much worse than capacitative Topre does.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 04:34

Muirium wrote:
30 Aug 2019, 21:20
So where does actuation lie? And how mushy does it feel? Topre's not the only good dome out there, but regular contact domes do tend to degrade much worse than capacitative Topre does.
:) I'll have to let you know about the actuation once I've put it back together. I got a little carried away and disassembled everything, down to the individual pieces.

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The domes have held up really well over time, it seems. They don't show any sign of deterioration at all. Did I mention I love the feel?!

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 06:37

I'm really fascinated by this keyboard. I took a bunch of pictures, trying to be as detailed as possible. Here goes!

Domes
These are in great shape. They are baby blue in color and are quite interesting looking in real life. As mentioned above, the switches are conductive. You'll see in the PCB photos how the contact works. It's similar to foam and foil (two half circles).

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Sliders
I'm not sure what these are made of but they are very smooth. Helping that is that the inside of the board is pretty dust proof, being completely enclosed. The sliders accept MX caps, though the fit is a little more snug than normal. Only slightly though, nothing really alarming.

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Keys
The keys themselves are nothing particularly special. They appear to be pad printed, but not sure what type of plastic they are. Similar to what I mentioned above, the caps can be mounted on MX switches just fine. I will most likely retrobrite these, but I need to figure out first if it might damage the legends or not.

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Case
The case is also made of thick plastic. I measured with a calipers and it came out to 3.8mm thick. That's quite beefy for a consumer grade plastic keyboard. It's no tank but that's quite alright with me. It has a pleasant texture, bordering on over-the-top.

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PCB
The PCB is very interesting. All across the board are tons of little holes. Some of them are screw holes for mounting to the plate, and the rest are where the switches lock into. The top side of the PCB has lots of yellow paint (?). This appears to be a way of jumping over traces on a single sided PCB. Maybe this is common, I'm not sure. Printed on the board is the VTECH logo. I have not looked into this company at all at this point.

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Cable
I really like the cable for this board. It's quite hefty and is a reasonable length. I forgot to mention above but there is a sticker on the case that says this keyboard is XT compatible. I stupidly did not confirm this before taking it fully apart.

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Hardware
Not much to say here except there are a lot of screws. Brings everything together nice and tight for a good feel/sound.

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User avatar
Darkshado

31 Aug 2019, 07:22

snacksthecat wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 06:37
Printed on the board is the VTECH logo. I have not looked into this company at all at this point.
They're still around: Wikipedia article, company website. Maybe I'm dating myself but I thought they were somewhat of a household name.

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zrrion

31 Aug 2019, 08:00

I have seen other PCBs with a similar kind of PCB jumper to what you see in yellow, although it is not common. I think it might have been cheaper than a double sided PCB, but more expensive than through hole jumpers. The only reason to do it this way is to keep the PCB flat since jumpers would have made the PCB to uneven for the domes to sit properly.

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Muirium
µ

31 Aug 2019, 11:09

Tightly screwed, rigid plastic frame and case + smooooth sliders + decent domes = the recipe for a competent rubber dome board. Not too shabby! Still not a capsense Topre, mind, but sure looks to be a keeper.

The caps are dirty, rather than yellowed. See the dark colour on the sides, down around their base? Yellowing happens higher up, where the light is. Give the buggers a good clean. The grimy, highly textured case will be a challenge. Toothbrushes and tactically applied soapy water take a while but get most of the job done.

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Chyros

31 Aug 2019, 12:01

Darkshado wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 07:22
snacksthecat wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 06:37
Printed on the board is the VTECH logo. I have not looked into this company at all at this point.
They're still around: Wikipedia article, company website. Maybe I'm dating myself but I thought they were somewhat of a household name.
The FCC ID BNX matches VTC too. Appears they are the OEM, then. "VTC conductive dome over PCB"?

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 17:03

Darkshado wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 07:22
snacksthecat wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 06:37
Printed on the board is the VTECH logo. I have not looked into this company at all at this point.
They're still around: Wikipedia article, company website. Maybe I'm dating myself but I thought they were somewhat of a household name.
You're absolutely right. I didn't make the mental connection but in fact, I do remember my family owning Vtech cordless phones growing up. I thought these were the coolest pieces of tech ever. The one I had was actually called the Vtech "i-Phone". I tried to find it online but that phrase appears to be un-googleable now.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 20:28

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Today is cleaning day. I'm starting with the case. The texturing of the plastic really likes to hold onto dirt. I love the feel of it, but it make scrubbing a big pain.

Speaking of inconvenient things, I'd like to mask off the stickers on the back and the badge so they don't get wet. Any ideas for how to do this? Masking tape is not waterproof.

ollir

31 Aug 2019, 21:03

So, you have a Laser-branded keyboard with an FCC ID that points to Vtech.

I have a VTech-branded board with an FCC ID that points to Laser.

https://imgur.com/a/Ct5v0VT

The plot thickens :p
Last edited by ollir on 01 Sep 2019, 10:17, edited 1 time in total.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 22:01

ollir wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 21:03
So, you have a Laser-branded keyboard with an FCC ID that points to Vtech.

I have a VTech-branded board with and FCC ID that points to Laser.

https://imgur.com/a/Ct5v0VT

The plot thickens :p
Twist! They're both counterfeits made by a third party!

And now for the most mundane gif I've ever made. I thought it would be more visually interesting. Oh well, the point is: even the domes get cleaned around here!

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User avatar
snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

31 Aug 2019, 22:35

The plate was the only difficult thing to clean. Reason being, it has all these deep, awkwardly sized slots where the sliders go. To clean it I gave it a good scrub down with a long bristled brush and some dish soap. These seems to have done an acceptable job.

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Then it all goes in the drying rack while I crack a beer. I swear, this thing gets used more for keyboards than it does for laundry :)

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User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

31 Aug 2019, 23:08

Spoiler:
snacksthecat wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 22:35
The plate was the only difficult thing to clean. Reason being, it has all these deep, awkwardly sized slots where the sliders go. To clean it I gave it a good scrub down with a long bristled brush and some dish soap. These seems to have done an acceptable job.

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Then it all goes in the drying rack while I crack a beer. I swear, this thing gets used more for keyboards than it does for laundry :)

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Hi its kind of gross and I don't endorse this product, but I have found that products like "Waterpick" can be very useful when you are on your knees leaning over the bathroom tub scrubbing out awkward keyboard areas. Just blast it right in there

Also I greatly enjoy that gif

User avatar
Chyros

01 Sep 2019, 00:39

snacksthecat wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 22:01
ollir wrote:
31 Aug 2019, 21:03
So, you have a Laser-branded keyboard with an FCC ID that points to Vtech.

I have a VTech-branded board with and FCC ID that points to Laser.

https://imgur.com/a/Ct5v0VT

The plot thickens :p
Twist! They're both counterfeits made by a third party!

And now for the most mundane gif I've ever made. I thought it would be more visually interesting. Oh well, the point is: even the domes get cleaned around here!

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Is... is that a sonicator? xD

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Darkshado

01 Sep 2019, 01:19

Yes, yes it is; I have the same model, actually.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

01 Sep 2019, 01:29

Chyros wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 00:39
Is... is that a sonicator? xD
Um, "Sonicare" is a toothbrush. My magnificent machine is a MagnaSonic, Chryos.

I have some nice things, I swear. Just not a nice cleaner.

Edit: just realized you said "Sonicator". Speaking of clones.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

01 Sep 2019, 01:54

I'm pretty sure the sliders are POM so I wasn't sure if lubing them would help or hurt. But I decided to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. All I know is dry lube, so I used the teflon spray along with the bag method. At least I think this is what people are talking about when they mention the bag method. I'm too lazy to actually look it up. In any case, please don't meme me for this gif.

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Then I remounted everything. I wanted to make a cool timelapse gif, but I kept moving the board slightly and I wasn't happy with it. So I tried to apply stabilization to the video. Well apparently I have no idea what I'm doing because it came out bonkers. It rotates the camera, zooms in, out, flip, etc. I decided to take this one step further and add in a few more effect. The end result is a pretty amazing advertisement for this Laser keyboard.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

01 Sep 2019, 02:06

Great photos and great write up. You know how to use a macro lens. Thank you.

Your procedures look very familiar. The tip for using a laundry drying rack for inner assemblies is neat. Here's my tip: use a salad spinner to rinse and dry key caps.

viewtopic.php?p=221302#p221302
keyboard-spinner.jpg
The keyboard spinner, circa 2015.
keyboard-spinner.jpg (125.94 KiB) Viewed 1267 times
PCB rubber dome based boards have a bad rap, but with effort and some diodes, can be made full NKRO.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

01 Sep 2019, 05:19

XMIT wrote:
01 Sep 2019, 02:06
Great photos and great write up. You know how to use a macro lens. Thank you.

Your procedures look very familiar. The tip for using a laundry drying rack for inner assemblies is neat. Here's my tip: use a salad spinner to rinse and dry key caps.
Hey thanks a lot! And thanks for the tip about the salad spinner. I have one sitting in a cabinet somewhere.

I took a few more photos of everything disassembled before putting it all back together.

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Now for a typing demo. My computer is too loud so I'm typing into nothing. Just take it for what it is I guess.
And finally, a taste of what a key press is like. You enter the tactile bump almost immediately. The bump is very round and pronounced. It follows all the way through to the bottom out, which is pretty cushy (hey, it's RD after all). The return is real strong and you get a satisfying "clack" sound. The keyboard feels consistent throughout. I'm still not sure if I'd have been better off not using the teflon spray on the sliders but we'll see how it breaks in over time.

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snacksthecat
✶✶✶✶

01 Sep 2019, 06:43

Interestingly enough, it doesn't want to work with Soarer's converter. I'm not sure if it's the board or my pro-micro, but they aren't playing well together. The back sticker on the case said "XT Compatible". However, I've come to learn (in the keyboard world), that this usually is a guarantee that something's not going to be compatible.

Or it could totally be a problem with my converter. It does have its idiosyncrasies. For instance, it doesn't work with any Model Fs for some reason. Works fine on most other boards though. It's actually the very first converter I ever made. It's a total hot glue abomination.

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Luckily I have one more din connector laying around. I tested the board with Hasu's XT converter and it works like a charm.

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