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help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 18:32
by doomsday_device
hey guys,
i recently bought this unknown cream alps keyboard (maybe dampened creams, idk really) from tentator (huge thanks to you!!)

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it blew me away. never had any keyboard with vintage alps. the prestine mint condition, the absolutely beautiful sound and crisp typing feel. i immediately fell in love.

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(apple font on led cover?)

so heres the problem: i cant figure out how to get this thing to work. theres no brand, no useful serialnumbers. and the more i try to figure out what it is, the more weird it gets (atleast for me).

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12V 150mA?

it has two ps2 inputs, one on each side. both of them with a keyboard symbol (i guess its that).
so my young innocent heart believed i could get it to work only by connecting it via the proper cable.

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(tried both sides)

cable fits in perfectly - good thing! started my machine (i should mention its a modern windows pc, but with native ps2 input), keyboard starts to beep (it has some kind of inbuild speaker), lights flashing and that was it.
lights stuck in a weird order, beep is gone. no signals will be transmitted to my computer. it will do that on every reboot of the machine.

i figured maybe its the wrong protocol and i opened her up. maybe im lucky and i could find some kind of switch or jumper. nothing.

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controller is a philips 80c51bh-3, tried to find some useful infos but turns out these things can process a lot of stuff so idk.

i dont have any ideas and as you can see im really a newbie in terms of this stuff.

if you have any ideas please let me know. thank you so much in advance.

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 18:46
by andrewjoy
Many modern PCs dont have real PS/2 ports, they are just on the USB bus.

Try it through a known good PS/2 to USB converter. You need an active converter, search for " blue cube" PS/2 to USB or lindy also make some good ones.

This is the famous "blue cube" many do not bother with it anymore as they use expensive converters to reprogram etc but its an old workhorse and usually does the job on troublesome keyboards if they are in fact PS/2

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Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 18:50
by doomsday_device
i have a cheap ps2-usb converter but that didnt worked either. if theres really difference i will try another. thank you.

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 18:53
by andrewjoy
doomsday_device wrote:
11 Sep 2019, 18:50
i have a cheap ps2-usb converter but that didnt worked either. if theres really difference i will try another. thank you.
is it an "active" converter?

Passive ones ( the little green or purple plugs that go on the end of the cable) wont work as they are just a passive pin adaptor .

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 18:59
by Myoth
The keyboard uses SKCM Ivory switches, SKCM Cream are not dampened.

The p/n is oddly similar to the ones present on the SGI Bigfoot series, as seen here : wiki/SGI_Bigfoot_series which is why I'll take a wild guess, and say that it uses the SGI protocol, which is why it doesn't work on your computer

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 19:57
by doomsday_device
Myoth wrote:
11 Sep 2019, 18:59
The keyboard uses SKCM Ivory switches, SKCM Cream are not dampened.

The p/n is oddly similar to the ones present on the SGI Bigfoot series, as seen here : wiki/SGI_Bigfoot_series which is why I'll take a wild guess, and say that it uses the SGI protocol, which is why it doesn't work on your computer
thats the info i needed i guess! pretty sure its one of them. any chance to adapt it easily?

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 21:22
by Donnelly20
Too bad, i would of bought that ive got an older model also made in ireland. Their plant is an hour from where i live. Mine is Din But i use DIN->PS2->USB. Good luck with the board. I took my leaf springs out though and click modded them. Here is a picture of mine :D
After-2.JPG
After-2.JPG (1.93 MiB) Viewed 628 times

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 21:59
by Lbibass
Okay, that's not a ps/2 keyboard.

See that SGI copyright? That means its an SGI protocol, which means…


You're screwed unless you can find the documentation on the protocol and program your own converter.

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 11 Sep 2019, 23:44
by Donnelly20
Lbibass wrote:
11 Sep 2019, 21:59
Okay, that's not a ps/2 keyboard.

See that SGI copyright? That means its an SGI protocol, which means…


You're screwed unless you can find the documentation on the protocol and program your own converter.
Too Bad its a really nice board wish i had saw it in time to buy it altought its not qwerty but ive caps from my board if i did get it.

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 12 Sep 2019, 18:27
by abrahamstechnology
One of BlindAssassin's AT101 PCBs might work for this.

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 15 Sep 2019, 22:07
by Rauha
You could also figure out the keyboard matrix with multimeter, make firmware for the matrix and then hook it up to a Teensy++ 2.0 (or any similar controller with enough I/O for full keyboard sized matrix) .

Re: help me to get an unknown vintage alps keyboard to work!

Posted: 17 Sep 2019, 03:40
by MMcM
The SGI connector (unverified) is in kbdbabel: consistent in being a mini-DIN-6, needing 12V, and having a pass-through for the mouse (hence the two ports on the keyboard).

drakware sells a converter in the other direction, so the protocol is probably known (if it isn't just RS-232, say). See also here.