Hi-Tek were having a laugh

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Daniel Beardsmore

09 Sep 2013, 22:46

002 and I have been doing some digging into the [wiki]NMB Hi-Tek[/wiki] switch over the last few days. Together with a fortuitous topic that sprung up on GH last night, I think Hi-Tek should be vying for the 2013 Ping Award.

To recap:

White: Linear (one or two eyes) or clicky (two eyes); for the space bar, it's marked with a dot
Grey: Tactile (two eyes) or linear (one eye)
Beige: Linear (two eyes) or tactile (one eye)
Neon green: Linear; used for space bars on linear and tactile (!) boards
Black: Clicky
Cyan: Clicky; for spacebars on black keyboards
Blue: Variant of the above
Pink: Tactile; used for lock keys on beige (tactile) keyboards — different colour and shape, but no functional difference that anyone seems to be aware of
White (soap dispenser): no clue what this one is, only that MouseFan posted a picture with no accompanying page

It appears that tactile switches can be confirmed by the narrow separator bar between the two contacts. Clicky switches can be confirmed by the click arm at the back (visible without opening the switch).

Anyone else want to make my day by telling me about a combination that's not covered?

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terrpn

09 Sep 2013, 23:01

i have a grafika by dtk that has the black clicky space invader

do you want a shot of the label

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terrpn

09 Sep 2013, 23:05

any way to tell if a nmb board will have the space invaders vs the white alps like type switches :?

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Jmneuv

09 Sep 2013, 23:07

beautiful the Hi-Tek look.. thanks for wiki

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Daniel Beardsmore

09 Sep 2013, 23:11

Black clicky fits the pattern — I'm curious whether there are more exceptions, and whether the one/two eye always holds true for beige and grey.

By "Alps like" you mean the rubber dome NMB keyboards with the square white sliders? I'm afraid not, no.

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webwit
Wild Duck

09 Sep 2013, 23:17

I have a latching lock black switch on my Symbolics 3620 keyboard. It has zero eyes, it is BLIND! I'll take some pictures tomorrow in the light.

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Daniel Beardsmore

09 Sep 2013, 23:24

webwit wrote:I have a latching lock black switch on my Symbolics 3620 keyboard. It has zero eyes, it is BLIND! I'll take some pictures tomorrow in the light.
Interesting, would be nice to see the mechanism too. I wasn't aware these existed. I've wondered if that's what the pink ones are, but nothing in rzwv's photos suggests a latching mechanism, and I'm completely stumped.
terrpn wrote:i have a grafika by dtk that has the black clicky space invader

do you want a shot of the label
It won't do any harm (I am not actively recording every keyboard type, just the switch types).

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webwit
Wild Duck

09 Sep 2013, 23:30

I have a 3620 rev A, there's also a rev B and C if I remember correctly, where the main visual difference is a couple of keys with built-in LED. Of course, they might use a completely different switch family.

How hard or easy or they to open and reassemble? It's not a throwaway board ;)

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terrpn

09 Sep 2013, 23:34

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:Black clicky fits the pattern — I'm curious whether there are more exceptions, and whether the one/two eye always holds true for beige and grey.

By "Alps like" you mean the rubber dome NMB keyboards with the square white sliders? I'm afraid not, no.
yes...........square white sliders

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Daniel Beardsmore

09 Sep 2013, 23:35

@webwit: The slider just unclips and comes off, I think, but the latching mechanism could be evil, like Mitsumi's bent wire contraption. Seriously awful. As are my photos, but I ain't taking that thing apart again! (I surprised myself in managing to get it working again.) The switches in the Mitsumi AEK II use the same bent wire latch :(

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webwit
Wild Duck

09 Sep 2013, 23:38

This is why you need three of all keyboards. One to use, one to destroy for investigative purposes, and one to put in a box.

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002
Topre Enthusiast

09 Sep 2013, 23:48

If you do decide to remove the slider, be careful when replacing it.
It's pretty easy to bend the contact leaves if the separator bar doesn't go in exactly in the centre.

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Daniel Beardsmore

09 Sep 2013, 23:49

I want the other Apple Keyboard II, the one that might be SMK. #1 and #2 in this photo:

http://imgur.com/a/rVE55#20

(#3 is the Mitsumi one I've got.)

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webwit
Wild Duck

10 Sep 2013, 10:38

Some bad photos (no good light, phone camera) of the black latching key. I seem to have already broken it, because it no longer sticks. Not sure what happened, I only removed the keycap and looked at it.

One center eye, if you will:

Image

Image

Lever at the back (I had to set brightness to full and contrast to minimum to make it more visible):

Image

Image

(Oh god Galaxy S4 zoom x4!)

Image

The lever, between the two "bars", begins pointing to the left bar, you press the switch, and it clicks to the middle (position in photo). I cannot move the lever with my hand now. Press it again, and it moves to the right, but it remains there now if I press it again. Maybe a tiny piece of plastic of the notches on the housing which guide the lever broke off, maybe not, but seems fragile. I can now manually move the lever to the left again, and it produces a tiny click when I do so. When you move the switch down, the lever catches the notching in the housing, and moves position, this should be some kind of circular thing where it ends up at the start position after two presses.

At the other end of the keyboard there is this Mode Lock key with a black switch, but no lever! Linear like the whites, but requires some more force.

Image

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002
Topre Enthusiast

10 Sep 2013, 11:46

Cool!
I wonder why they put the 'eye' where it is on those locking switches. The mechanism reminds me a little of the Alps lock switch, although I'm sure it's a bit different. It's a shame that this switch is in such a rare keyboard, I would love to see it taken apart.

I don't expect you to try (I wouldn't, on that keyboard anyway), but complete disassembly of the Hi-Tek switch isn't too difficult. I managed to do it with two and was able to reassemble them pretty easily. If you get the chance this weekend, it would be good to get some clearer pics of the locking arm setup.

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Daniel Beardsmore

10 Sep 2013, 22:19

It's unlikely you'd break it, but they're fiddly.

It's basically the same design as Alps, SMK, and Mitsumi and Futaba, with a special looped track. The only other switch I know with that style of lever is Futaba lock, but that has the pivot in the slider, and the track in the shell, which is unusual; the others put the track in the slider.

The other style of latch that I've come across is that of a toothed wheel, used by Omron (more like a bar) and Cherry. Based on the patent, the M6/M7 Lock uses the same wheel design as the MX Lock. OTOH I don't know what vintage Alps switches used, as I've never seen one take apart. You can infer from this that the mechanism is wholly internal:

http://kbtalking.cool3c.com/article/29717

(It's not like Alps.tw to pass up such an opportunity :)

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HaaTa
Master Kiibohd Hunter

10 Sep 2013, 22:44

I have one of the lock switches, should I take it apart? And in one, I mean a lot 8-)

Image

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Daniel Beardsmore

10 Sep 2013, 23:08

Why not. How many of these keyboards do you have, exactly?

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HaaTa
Master Kiibohd Hunter

10 Sep 2013, 23:14

These are the keyboards I'm using for the The Alps Kiibohd project. Approximately 120 of them (don't have a formal count :P).

I have an experimentation board sitting on my desk that I can desolder.

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Daniel Beardsmore

10 Sep 2013, 23:59

ohhh, that's what you meant by boxes of Alps keyboards …

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webwit
Wild Duck

11 Sep 2013, 00:55

Admit it, you just jizzed in your pants at the thought of 120 Alps keyboards and the secrets they hold.

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Sep 2013, 01:36

There's little left I want to know about Alps right now, or that I imagine there is to know, barring getting the actual part numbers and product family names, and that won't happen. If you meant clones, I suspect they were mostly Himake/Hua-Jie. Proof of SMK making Monterey, and Focus, Ortek, ELSA etc buying Himake, may never come. (Monterey are the only company who have cited their clone vendor as Himake, which is how I learnt about them.) YH-B is an annoying mystery as presumably this is also a current product, but the company who's selling them won't respond at all. (Granted, the switches stink.)

NMB Hi-Tek looks just about wrapped up (though I forgot to actually reference this page for the latching action variant — maybe once you've uploaded some photos to the wiki), barring the soap dispenser version and possibly a few more rare variations.

I still want to know who PED were, though:
keybbc3b.jpg
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(The manufacturer name of PED comes from a contemporary catalogue.)

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czarek

11 Sep 2013, 11:40

Check this out. Yellow linears (slightly lighter than white linears). Purple linear, it feels like yellow ones on a yellow based board, and feels like a white one on a board with mostly whites.
purple_yellow.jpg
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Also grey linear for space bar.
The board with white linears has a green linear space :D
grey.jpg
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Those space invaders are so far my favourite linear switches, and definitely one of the top favourite switches of all times.
I love the short travel, high activation point, decent weight and superb smoothness which can easily rival Topre or BS.
Last edited by czarek on 11 Sep 2013, 11:43, edited 1 time in total.

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002
Topre Enthusiast

11 Sep 2013, 11:43

Haha...poor Daniel
They look really cool actually. What keyboard is this?

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Sep 2013, 22:58

It doesn't match the Commodore keyboards on the wiki. The purple key is caps lock. You can see clearly that there is an LED in it — this finally explains the tapered planform. Space for an LED was the most obvious answer all along, except that the primary example of this (rzwv's tactile RT-101+) has an LED cluster, so they must have changed their mind at some stage and left the switches as they are. I could see the holes where the LEDs should go, but it wasn't clear whether they were intended for LEDs or not.

Interestingly, webwit's latching switch has no LED capacity.

I feel hesitant to report yellow as a slightly lighter grey/beige, without having an adequate sample.

(I did believe that there were one or two more colours to come, but I no longer remembered what they were. I would not be surprised if there are still more, e.g. some similarly lurid shades of tactile and clicky switch!)

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Sep 2013, 22:59

PS that space bar switch looks white to me. White with a coloured dot is quite normal. Grey switches are quite distinctly grey.

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Daniel Beardsmore

03 Oct 2013, 01:37

Wait, have we actually run out of colours?

Nope! Here are some more:

http://sandy55.fc2web.com/keyboard/rt-101+.html

Powder blue: another clicky switch

Also, we appear to have white for clicky with LED support.

Wheee.

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Daniel Beardsmore

19 Oct 2014, 02:10

Just for completeness, the Gundam version:
Gundam.jpg
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This appears to be the original design, as (d'oh!) that is the design shown in the patent!

Not only that, but at least one keyboard it comes from doesn't say NMB on the PCB, suggesting that the keyboards went into production before NMB got involved:

http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=331 ... msg1450817

We don't know for certain as I've failed to get any confirmation about Hi-Tek Corporation's fate.

Also, within the last year, not a single other variant found — could we have got them all now?

jacobolus

19 Oct 2014, 05:42

terrpn wrote: any way to tell if a nmb board will have the space invaders vs the white alps like type switches :?
In case anyone was still curious about this: the keycaps are different shapes. I’m not sure if the membrane switches are dyesubs either.

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klikkyklik

19 Oct 2014, 12:06

I noticed in your list that you indicate blacks as clicky. I have an RT-101+ board with Hi-Tek blacks that are not clicky. They are tactile and fairly stiff.
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Sorry for the hair...
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arche4.jpg (232.77 KiB) Viewed 1995 times

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