How Rare is my Keyboard (CHICONY 5181 with SMK "Monterey")

donbot5000

02 Feb 2020, 16:15

I recently dug a CHICONY kb-5181 from someone's basement on a picking adventure and paid 5 bucks for it thinking it was a membrane Model m clone(I didn't look too hard it was dim lit basement piled with boxes) . At first i wasn't even sure what i had until i got a chance to get home and remove a keycap to see a blue SMK switch! Just based on feel it quickly became my favorite keyboard.
Only thing is i have no idea how common/uncommon it is because all the 5181's i see on ebay use white alps or other switches?
How rare is this thing if at all? I estimate its value is around 50 -75 usd based on current ebay pricing on whiteSMK or blue mx boards.
Is this accurate?
The copyright date on the pbc is 1990 and the plastics date is 89 i think . In case it helps
It DOES NOT have the at/xt switch on the bottom.

EDIT : DOES NOT HAVE ALPS BLUES IT HAS SMK "Monterey" switches !
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chicony5181.jpg
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Last edited by donbot5000 on 05 Feb 2020, 16:35, edited 2 times in total.

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adamcobabe

02 Feb 2020, 16:24

I'm sorry to break it to you, but those are clicky SMK "Monterey" switches, not blue Alps. They are nice switches, though, I really like them. Keyboard is probably worth about ~$50 USD. :)

donbot5000

02 Feb 2020, 16:27

adamcobabe wrote:
02 Feb 2020, 16:24
I'm sorry to break it to you, but those are clicky SMK "Monterey" switches, not blue Alps. They are nice switches, though, I really like them. Keyboard is probably worth about ~$50 USD. :)
AH yes ! i actually read something about that when attempting research ! Still a desirable switch no ?
and Nice i was pretty close in my estimate so the monterey switches arent worth more than the white smk's?

Ill update the topic subject for accuracy !

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adamcobabe

02 Feb 2020, 16:43

Yeah, some people consider them to be one of the better clicky switches. White (clicky) SMK's are nice because they have Cherry-style mounts so work with more modern keycaps. You can buy many of the switch variants NOS from China, so not really rare. Blue ones are harder to find, I think.

wiki/SMK_second_generation

donbot5000

02 Feb 2020, 17:01

Cool Im glad to know more about it. Im looking for the windows key variant of this keyboard since i like it so much . The only isue is the case has some minor flex. Ive also seen white SMKs in the alps mount on ebay.

donbot5000

02 Feb 2020, 17:12

So being that these aren't alps but in fact smk monterey switches is there any special maintenance items i should know about ?

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Chyros

02 Feb 2020, 20:14

donbot5000 wrote:
02 Feb 2020, 17:12
So being that these aren't alps but in fact smk monterey switches is there any special maintenance items i should know about ?
I wouldn't do anything with it. SMKs are an absolute NIGHTMATE to reassemble xD .

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zrrion

02 Feb 2020, 21:23

Yeah, if they are in good condition then you should leave them alone. A dust cover of some kind would be a good idea but otherwise they should be god to go.

donbot5000

05 Feb 2020, 16:34

Thanks for the advice guys! Anything else i should know about this board? Ive really enjoyed using it at work for the past few days.
Ok so i've done some research and finding keycaps for this thing is going to be an absolute adventure.
Im absolutely loving these switches now. My mx brown keyboard i use on my gaming rig feels like rubber domes in comparison.

*shower thoughts below*

I think im actually gonna try to scoop up another one or so (maybe look for the windows key variant) and im considering building a full custom board by harvesting a few poor condition boards and hand wiring to a modern controller then making a custom wood case. this would allow me to have a more standard layout and use currently available alps keycap sets and give me windows key volume controls and maybe even macros. a huge undertaking i look forward to one day starting. im sure i could get a nice heavy lasercut steel plate made and that would probably be a good starting point.

Rauha

05 Feb 2020, 19:04

donbot5000 wrote:
05 Feb 2020, 16:34


I think im actually gonna try to scoop up another one or so (maybe look for the windows key variant) and im considering building a full custom board by harvesting a few poor condition boards and hand wiring to a modern controller then making a custom wood case. this would allow me to have a more standard layout and use currently available alps keycap sets and give me windows key volume controls and maybe even macros. a huge undertaking i look forward to one day starting. im sure i could get a nice heavy lasercut steel plate made and that would probably be a good starting point.
No point in harvesting them used from vintage boards, when there is still new old stock availeable from Aliexpress and Taobao. And its the MX keycapstem variant that is compatible with both MX keycaps and plates. I recently built XD87 board with the clickies and and am currenlty handwiring linear version.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3284542 ... 4c4dmrb45Z
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3276400 ... 5036SlMZph

And linear version:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3284386 ... 4c4dmrb45Z

Propably cheaper from Taobao, but its pain to go through in chinese and cant be bothered right now.

donbot5000

05 Feb 2020, 19:25

Rauha wrote:
05 Feb 2020, 19:04
donbot5000 wrote:
05 Feb 2020, 16:34


I think im actually gonna try to scoop up another one or so (maybe look for the windows key variant) and im considering building a full custom board by harvesting a few poor condition boards and hand wiring to a modern controller then making a custom wood case. this would allow me to have a more standard layout and use currently available alps keycap sets and give me windows key volume controls and maybe even macros. a huge undertaking i look forward to one day starting. im sure i could get a nice heavy lasercut steel plate made and that would probably be a good starting point.
No point in harvesting them used from vintage boards, when there is still new old stock availeable from Aliexpress and Taobao. And its the MX keycapstem variant that is compatible with both MX keycaps and plates. I recently built XD87 board with the clickies and and am currenlty handwiring linear version.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3284542 ... 4c4dmrb45Z
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3276400 ... 5036SlMZph

And linear version:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/3284386 ... 4c4dmrb45Z

Propably cheaper from Taobao, but its pain to go through in chinese and cant be bothered right now.
yeah i saw that but was questioning where or not those feel the same as monterey's ? also another reason i was thinking about harvesting is the plate. i cant find any aftermarket plates that are that have steel and have windows keys and numpad. i know there a few model chicony/focus boards that have blues/white smks with windows keys. Then its just matter of handwriting to modern controller or teensy right? i was thinking about harvesting a logitec 710+ as that would give me a modern controller with a volume knob and macros as well as the option to do backlighting if i wanted. though the mx stems would really open up keycap options

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zrrion

05 Feb 2020, 19:35

Yes they are going to feel the same, they are the same kind of switch. "Monterey" is a I nickname, all the the switches are SMK made.

donbot5000

05 Feb 2020, 20:07

ok just didnt know if the plunger itself bing an mx stem and the fact that the stem material is difference would make difference as ive heard smk whits feel different from the montereys .also didnt know if the manufacturing quality was the same through the years . if its the same then that's definitely the route to go .

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Chyros

05 Feb 2020, 23:59

SMKs are massively underappreciated IMO. Although they're not the same as Alps, they're excellent switches, and good enough to fill their own niche. And on top of that, they can be bought NOS for less money than almost any other switch out there, and are even MX-compatible.

As it happens, I'm pre-testing a Laser keyboard with these in for a future review atm, and I can't wait to cover them. They're just so nice :D .

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Raumfahrer

06 Feb 2020, 15:51

I second this. These switches are just awesome. I got one from Zed awhile ago which have great purple on white doubleshots and I also have a smaller custom one on a VA 68 (sure it’s not 69)

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