Recreating the Lisp keyboard (10 years later)

User avatar
zrrion

22 Feb 2021, 01:15

those sound so good! very lovely look and sound both

zoo

13 Mar 2021, 19:39

Heard about this through TopClack. The attention to detail is top notch!! Definitely look forward to seeing info regarding the process if you’re able to post it!

glws~

User avatar
lispnick

16 Mar 2021, 14:47

I have finished building the board on Blue Alps. I think this is a nice opportunity to compare the sound of the switches with Matias Clicks in the same case. Here is the result:
There is a slight difference in spacebar stabilization. The Matias board uses a dummy switch—a Matias switch with the contacts and spring removed. This was my initial solution to spacebar stabilization, however, I experienced some issues with material shrinkage during the keycap molding and, as a result, spacebars stabilized this way were sometimes stuck on a keypress. The Alps board uses my rail system. In this case I put a tiny drop of dampening grease on the rails, eliminating the spacebar rattle.

User avatar
Go-Kart

16 Mar 2021, 16:03

lispnick wrote:
21 Feb 2021, 18:03
Hi guys! I have made a quick sound comparison to give you an idea of the difference between my keycaps and the more traditional Alps-mount keycaps. I have used a subset of trapezoidal PBT keycaps that came from the IBM PC Convertible. The demo shows the results on a board that has NeKtar-lubed green alps under the hood.
Music to my ears. What a great sounding board.

zoo

16 Mar 2021, 19:18

lispnick wrote:
16 Mar 2021, 14:47
I have finished building the board on Blue Alps. I think this is a nice opportunity to compare the sound of the switches with Matias Clicks in the same case. Here is the result:
While the Blue Alps are really good, especially the spacebar; I'm surprised by how good the Matias Click switches sound as well (I can barely notice the click, so sounds more like tactiles to me)!

User avatar
TheInverseKey

16 Mar 2021, 20:09

Spoiler:
lispnick wrote:
16 Mar 2021, 14:47
I have finished building the board on Blue Alps. I think this is a nice opportunity to compare the sound of the switches with Matias Clicks in the same case. Here is the result:
There is a slight difference in spacebar stabilization. The Matias board uses a dummy switch—a Matias switch with the contacts and spring removed. This was my initial solution to spacebar stabilization, however, I experienced some issues with material shrinkage during the keycap molding and, as a result, spacebars stabilized this way were sometimes stuck on a keypress. The Alps board uses my rail system. In this case I put a tiny drop of dampening grease on the rails, eliminating the spacebar rattle.

Those SKCM Blues with those caps sounds so deep and buttery. Great job on acoustics and overall design. It sounds amazing and looks great!

User avatar
lispnick

16 Mar 2021, 21:01

zoo wrote:
16 Mar 2021, 19:18
lispnick wrote:
16 Mar 2021, 14:47
I have finished building the board on Blue Alps. I think this is a nice opportunity to compare the sound of the switches with Matias Clicks in the same case. Here is the result:
While the Blue Alps are really good, especially the spacebar; I'm surprised by how good the Matias Click switches sound as well (I can barely notice the click, so sounds more like tactiles to me)!
Yes, the Matiases are much louder and in my opinion sound better in the combination of all-metal case and these thick keycaps.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

16 Mar 2021, 21:11

lispnick, this is one of the most exciting developments I've seen in a very long time. Kudos to you. If we have Deskthority Awards (which we had damn well better this year) you have my vote!

My funds are going toward the elecplus warehouse cleanout, I hope to be able one of your kits in due time.

MMcM

17 Mar 2021, 00:12

Ooh, I'm pretty sure that Blue Alps one is headed this way; very excited.

It remains to be seen whether I remember where are all the function keys are without legends.

User avatar
lispnick

20 Mar 2021, 17:25

XMIT wrote:
16 Mar 2021, 21:11
lispnick, this is one of the most exciting developments I've seen in a very long time. Kudos to you. If we have Deskthority Awards (which we had damn well better this year) you have my vote!

My funds are going toward the elecplus warehouse cleanout, I hope to be able one of your kits in due time.
I am humbled! Of course, none of this would have been possible without many of you guys and the resources on Deskthority. Thanks!

User avatar
lispnick

20 Mar 2021, 17:33

MMcM wrote:
17 Mar 2021, 00:12
Ooh, I'm pretty sure that Blue Alps one is headed this way; very excited.

It remains to be seen whether I remember where are all the function keys are without legends.
This was one of the biggest dilemmas during the development—custom legends on the grey keys.

I have been asked by some of you about the possibility of custom legends. With this technological process, it takes about 3 full days to make the tooling for a single legend, not to mention the fact that the silicone forms have a cure time 24 hours and you need to make at least 4 for a single key. So, clearly, this is not the way to go (I cannot even imagine the price tag for such a job).

One way to go is to make a collection of possible double-shot legends for each key and let the user choose the legend during the checkout. After the initial lengthy process of mold making, this can actually work.

Another option I have considered is custom CNC engraved front legends filled with a suitable material. Technically, it just suffices to make a jig for the CNC to hold the keycaps while engraving. Since the engraving would be on the front where you do not touch the key, the filler can be almost anything, including a cheap white wax or any soft material. If anybody has suggestions for a good filler material, let me know.

Third option: Both methods combined.

MMcM

01 Apr 2021, 18:31

Got it out of customs. Here it is with a senior relation.
A620N-364000.jpg
A620N-364000.jpg (546.89 KiB) Viewed 1033 times
It's interesting; there is a bit of scuffing on the L key. Probably not visible in the photo. I'm not bothered by it, but now I'm curious what happens after the key caps get used for a while. What have you found?

micmil

02 Apr 2021, 05:52

Absolutely gorgeous bit of kit. Slightly maddening that I could never justify the expense because this may be the best looking keyboard I've ever seen.

User avatar
lispnick

02 Apr 2021, 19:11

MMcM wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 18:31
Got it out of customs. Here it is with a senior relation.
A620N-364000.jpg

It's interesting; there is a bit of scuffing on the L key. Probably not visible in the photo. I'm not bothered by it, but now I'm curious what happens after the key caps get used for a while. What have you found?
The material has Shore hardness 70D, so it is a bit softer than ABS. It can be scratched but I did not experience that during a standard use (I use mine about a year as the main keyboard).

User avatar
lispnick

03 Apr 2021, 00:50

I have found some of my early prototypes in my attic. Originally I wanted to post these on the first of April but actually these were not meant as a joke. :lol: My very first board, I called it Keymacs Mk. I:

Image

This was my first attempt to create a keyboard with a Symbolics-style layout. I wanted to capture the basic ergonomy of the layout by putting the 2U keys in the top row and a big control key next to the spacebar. The case is 3d-printed on a 120 micron SLS printer with additional surface paint. The keycaps are cherry-compatible custom pad-printed and, obviously, I was limited to what was available on a standard 104-key layout.

Image

One of the remarkable features: The mount plate is free-floating in the case. I guess I just wanted an easy access to the wiring. You can open it as the hood of your favourite car:

Image

Front view:

Image

The keyboard was hand-wired …

Image

… and powered by Teensy++.

Image

Detail of the wiring:

Image

The USB B connector is placed on the rear-left side. The case has been painted by several layers of matte polyurethane paint and hand-brushed during the process.

Image

The connector is glued to the case with a 2-component epoxy and is placed in a fairly complex housing:

Image

The original case was flat but it did not feel right. I added SLS-printed feet later. Here you can see the difference between the painted finish on the top side and the rough printed polyamide on the bottom side of the case.

Image

The bottom side has a lot of cavities to lower the printing cost. I do not believe I did all this in SketchUp. :lol:

Image

The position of the modifier keys is similar to the Symbolics layout, however, I was not satisfied with the short spacebar. Also, I developed a habit of pressing the left control with my thumb which, after its extensive use, lead to some discomfort. It was time to design a new keyboard with the proper layout and a 9U spacebar!

Image

The choice of switches is also amusing: MX greens for the alphanumerical keys and reds for the modifiers. Back then, my experience with switches was limited to my old Cherry MY board, so MX greens and reds were a huge improvement.

Image

It became clear to me that for the next keyboard I need to design my own keycap profile. Also, I ditched SketchUp and learned Fusion 360. This was all done before I got the original Symbolics keyboard in my hands, so I was just, shall we say, creative. This is one of the most crazy profiles (look at the curvature in the spacebar row):

Image

After purchasing some of the classic vintage boards, I decided to build the next keyboard on Alps or their clones. Thus, Keymacs Mk. II was born:

Image

Yes, stepped mount plates, Matias switches, and Costar-style stabilizers!

Image

After realizing that the plates can easily be bent, I reinforced the plates by a 3d-printed polyamide skeleton that is glued to the plates by a generous amount of epoxy:

Image

Detail of the switch assembly mounted on a special soldering stand with M5 bolts:

Image

The idea was to clamp the switch assembly between the top and bottom parts of the case and secure it with M5 bolts in a similar way as in the previous picture. This is a cut of the case showing the top and bottom parts:

Image

Details of the top and bottom parts:

Image

Side view of the case. The feet are hollow to allow access to the M5 bolts.

Image

A view from the other side:

Image

Case top viewed from the inside:

Image

The pockets were designed to hold hex M5 bolts:

Image

More details …

Image

Case bottom viewed from the inside:

Image

Hollow feet:

Image

I have made a set of keycaps printed on a 60 micron SLS printer:

Image

One benefit of printing the keycaps is that it is easy to make stabilizers an integral part of the keycaps.

Image

I have experimented with other materials. These were I believe resin-printed:

Image

This is an initial model of the stepped plate with keycaps mounted …

Image

… and a spray-painted variant:

Image

I planned to individually brush and paint each key and later make the legend somehow. I made a few samples …

Image

… and the process was interrupted by acquiring my first original Symbolics keyboard. I am afraid that Mk II. will never be finished and remains in a box in my attic. :lol:

Hak Foo

03 Apr 2021, 03:46

TBH, that Mark 1 case looks great. IThe contrast between the plate and plastic frame is classy, and it owns the big bezel.

CaptPickguard

14 Apr 2021, 01:19

This is full-on insanity! We'll see how my judgement is in a few weeks. :P

User avatar
Go-Kart

14 Apr 2021, 08:47

This is all damn cool. I wish I had the toys and the knowledge to have a go myself. The one thing I guarantee I will never have is the time 😄

Bravo, sir!

runninghack

15 Apr 2021, 20:24

I learnt Lisp (Scheme and Common Lisp) many years ago. Thought it was not beneficial to my current work, I really enjoyed the time I learn it. I've always been invested in the Lisp machine keyboards since then.

runninghack

15 Apr 2021, 20:26

Image

also want to share this pic here about the custom legends.
The caps in the pic were laser engraved and filled with resin-like materials.

Rayndalf

16 Apr 2021, 01:41

That curved plate is genius (and gloriously overengineered).

How did you model the plate step + curve in Fusion360? I tried something similar and I really just eyeballed it after a point.

User avatar
lispnick

19 Apr 2021, 00:42

runninghack wrote:
15 Apr 2021, 20:26
Image

also want to share this pic here about the custom legends.
The caps in the pic were laser engraved and filled with resin-like materials.
Interesting! Do you know the exact depth of the engraving?

User avatar
lispnick

19 Apr 2021, 01:11

Rayndalf wrote:
16 Apr 2021, 01:41
That curved plate is genius (and gloriously overengineered).

How did you model the plate step + curve in Fusion360? I tried something similar and I really just eyeballed it after a point.
I started with making this model:

Image

I put the angle between two consecutive rows as a constraint (I think it was 5º). The step is always perpendicular to the lower row. In order to make the case, I just interpolated the steps with a spline, made an offset on both sides and added some overhang in the front and the rear.

runninghack

19 Apr 2021, 03:33

lispnick wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 00:42
runninghack wrote:
15 Apr 2021, 20:26
Image

also want to share this pic here about the custom legends.
The caps in the pic were laser engraved and filled with resin-like materials.
Interesting! Do you know the exact depth of the engraving?
Just asked the manufacturer about it. They said the depth is around 0.5mm.

runninghack

19 Apr 2021, 03:51

The stepped mount plate is a great idea. I wonder why you want to use the 3d-printed skeleton though. Right now most of the custom keyboard designers and users lean to use soft plates (PC plate/half plate) and mounting methods enable soft bottom out (gasket/PORON+leaf-spring).
Your solution by its nature is superior than all of the existing approaches as the plates (and the PCBs if there are six PCBs I assume) are totally separated.
Of course it's a matter of preference and some people like sturdy plates. Just want to bring it up as no one has discussed it so far.

Rayndalf

19 Apr 2021, 07:01

runninghack wrote:
19 Apr 2021, 03:51
The stepped mount plate is a great idea. I wonder why you want to use the 3d-printed skeleton though. Right now most of the custom keyboard designers and users lean to use soft plates (PC plate/half plate) and mounting methods enable soft bottom out (gasket/PORON+leaf-spring).
Your solution by its nature is superior than all of the existing approaches as the plates (and the PCBs if there are six PCBs I assume) are totally separated.
Of course it's a matter of preference and some people like sturdy plates. Just want to bring it up as no one has discussed it so far.
Handwiring + individual plates for each row would be extremely flexible, especially if each plate "strip" was mounted to the upperside of the case with gaskets.

The curve/ stepping also makes monoprofile keycaps comfortably contoured (similar to buckling spring boards with a curved backplate).

Lots of innovations here.

User avatar
lispnick

04 May 2021, 16:14

I took one of the keycaps and split it on my band saw to give you an idea how it looks inside:

Image

Two parts separated …

Image

… and a detail:

Image

User avatar
Muirium
µ

04 May 2021, 16:44

Mmm… tasty!

User avatar
Go-Kart

04 May 2021, 18:19

That looks ...substantial.

Post Reply

Return to “Keyboards”