What Are Your IBM Model F Preferences? (XT vs AT vs 122...)

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Chyros

04 Jul 2019, 15:53

Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 14:11
Wazrach wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 13:25
Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 00:50


I think the AT is a little lighter but to be honest the plastic on the AT is far superior to the plastic used on the XT heres why.

1) The AT plastic is the same plastic used on the Model M (PVC) as this is the case the plastic is much more flexible meaning the AT is much less likely to get cracked and almost impossible to get faded over time.

2) The AT uses PVC plastic that is not painted meaning there is no chance of any paint flaking off or wearing off like it can on XT as that uses painted plastic which dirt really sinks into.

3) This one everyone may not agree with but the Plastic on the AT in my experience is easier to clean than the painted plastic on the Model F XT.

The only disadvantage to the AT's construction is that the bottom case is not made of metal and instead uses plastic with locking tabs along the bottom and screws along the top. Anyways that's just my findings and opinion.
I disagree. I've had about 9 XTs and two ATs. The XT's plastic is much thicker and feels a lot tougher. It sounds dense when knocking on it. The AT and F122 seem to use the same kind of plastic, which is a lot thinner and more susceptible to cracks. I think they used slightly different types of plastic, as one AT shower streaking after cleaning with isopropanol, whereas the other one didn't. Of course, the cases are still prone to scratches and wear - simply scrubbing the case with a scourer was enough to wear away the paint.

It's very obvious that IBM were pinching pennies with the AT Model F, compared to the XT. The F122 is of course much heavier, but the case is still thin and brittle.
The AT uses the same plastic as the Model M it is thinner but not brittle, very flexible and less likely to crack. Where as the XT uses a thicker denser but more brittle plastic which is more likely to crack. Also it is painted meaning once the paint flakes off or wears off you are left with a yellow coloured plastic underneath.

My AT is made from the exact same plastic as my Model M's 1st gen's and 2nd gen's plastic for sure. Also the plastic on my F122 is the same painted plastic as on my XT

So this is how all the keyboards are in my experience

IBM Model M- Thin flexible PVC Plastic

IBM Model F AT- Thin Flexible PVC Plastic

IBM Model F XT- Thick Dense Painted Brittle Plastic

IBM Model F122- Thick Dense Painted Brittle Plastic

Attached below is an example how the Thick dense painted brittle plastic can crack. The keyboard in the picture 1 is an F122 and the keyboard in picture 2 is an XT. The whole seperation between the F keys and the Alpha numeric keys
How do you know your AT is made out of PVC?

Fkazim

04 Jul 2019, 16:11

Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?

User avatar
AJM

04 Jul 2019, 16:32

Wazrach is of course correct. The other cases can't hold a candle to an XT.
And should anybody hit the case with an axe, you can touch the XT up with a bit of paint, while on the other "pure" plastik cases it will never look right again.

User avatar
Chyros

04 Jul 2019, 16:37

Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:11
Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.

Wazrach

04 Jul 2019, 16:53

Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:37
Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:11
Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.
Your AT sounds fantastic. It's unusually deep and thocky.

Fkazim

04 Jul 2019, 17:03

Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:37
Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:11
Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.
Yeah that's true anyways I will take some pictures of my AT's plastic tonight and my XT also. Might help us determine the plastics easier. If you could do the same Chyros we could compare as yours was made in 1986 if i remember correctly from your review on it and mine was made in 1984 so we will really be able to see the variation between the two if there were any changes made over the years. Both mine and your AT were made in the United Kingdom so it would be a completely fair test.

Wazrach

04 Jul 2019, 17:42

Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 17:03
Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:37
Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:11
Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.
Yeah that's true anyways I will take some pictures of my AT's plastic tonight and my XT also. Might help us determine the plastics easier. If you could do the same Chyros we could compare as yours was made in 1986 if i remember correctly from your review on it and mine was made in 1984 so we will really be able to see the variation between the two if there were any changes made over the years. Both mine and your AT were made in the United Kingdom so it would be a completely fair test.
I'm so sad, but... I know that his AT was made in 1989. :I

Fkazim

04 Jul 2019, 18:41

My mistake sorry

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

04 Jul 2019, 19:08

It may not impact it as much as the case does, but one thing to remember is that the FXT, FAT and F122 came with different and varying capacitive feet as well as arguably slight differences in the springs/angles of springs.

As seen here.

viewtopic.php?t=9715

I actually used XT feet, and caps on my F122 and in my opinion it is slightly better feeling. I am not sure why they were ever different at all.

Wazrach

04 Jul 2019, 19:27

SneakyRobb wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 19:08
It may not impact it as much as the case does, but one thing to remember is that the FXT, FAT and F122 came with different and varying capacitive feet as well as arguably slight differences in the springs/angles of springs.

As seen here.

viewtopic.php?t=9715

I actually used XT feet, and caps on my F122 and in my opinion it is slightly better feeling. I am not sure why they were ever different at all.
The F122 I opened had flippers I had never seen before up until that point - the ones with the rounded corners. Most XTs in the UK seemed to use the square-type flippers, with one of them having a single flipper with angled corners for the spacebar.

Since every Model F feels and sounds different, it's hard to talk about one specific model when it comes to feel and sound. I've had about 9 XTs now, all of them feeling and sounding completely different. The ATs tend to be pingier for some reason, with the first one I owned being quite twangy and the second one having a higher-pitched ping and louder thock. I did not open them to see the flippers.

This XT I am currently typing on (without a case) is quite different to the other XTs. It sounds very high-pitched, clicky and crisp, but also very pingy. I bought the assembly from Redmaus after asking him to find the pingiest one he had in his inventory. It barely has any dirt on it, but has quite a bit of corrosion on the barrel frame, as well as rust on the backplate. The foam has disintegrated, but the key feel hasn't been impacted, strangely. Other XTs with weak foam tend to feel bad after simply removing the keycaps for cleaning. It also has a shiny green backplate and no "shop date" sticker.

It never ceases to amaze me how many slight variations there are between Model F keyboards. How come every single one has a different pitch (ping and thock)? How come some are thockier than others, or clickier?

User avatar
Chyros

04 Jul 2019, 21:41

Well, I had a look, and yes, the plastic seems more flexible than I remembered it to be. It's also not yellowed in the slightest. The texture is also injection-moulded, not painted. And, as Jordan noted, it's from 1989, well into the era where they made the PVC Model M.
Of course, none of this is proof that it's PVC, but it's definitely a possibility :) .
Wazrach wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:53
Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:37
Fkazim wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:11
Well main reason is because the Model M is made of flexible PVC and when I compare the plastic of my AT they both feel and look exactly the same as the plastic on the Model M and also my AT is definitely not painted to give it its texture. I can take some pictures of the plastic on my At later tonight if you would like?
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.
Your AT sounds fantastic. It's unusually deep and thocky.
Is it? xD I mean it's definitely my nicest-sounding Model F, but does it really sound that different from other F ATs? =o

Wazrach

04 Jul 2019, 22:21

Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 21:41
Well, I had a look, and yes, the plastic seems more flexible than I remembered it to be. It's also not yellowed in the slightest. The texture is also injection-moulded, not painted. And, as Jordan noted, it's from 1989, well into the era where they made the PVC Model M.
Of course, none of this is proof that it's PVC, but it's definitely a possibility :) .
Wazrach wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:53
Chyros wrote:
04 Jul 2019, 16:37
Thing is, plastics is a very complicated topic, and it's often quite hard to determine what a certain plastic is. It's hard enough to determine even with keycaps, where there are only three or so polymers in common use. Cases is a whole different kettle of fish ;) . For example, there are Model M cases that yellow, despite how PVC supposedly doesn't yellow, for example.

I'll have a look at my own AT today as well.
Your AT sounds fantastic. It's unusually deep and thocky.
Is it? xD I mean it's definitely my nicest-sounding Model F, but does it really sound that different from other F ATs? =o
I think it's mainly the spacebar that completes it. Keyboard acoustics are weird. My desk is quite hollow, so I've got three extended mousepads stacked on top of each other to help reduce vibrations. The ATs sounded quite muted and disappointing on my desk, but good on a hard table. The XT sounds great on both, but doesn't have the thock of the AT. I would prop the feet up of my AT to make sure the thock could run rampant. :P

Fkazim

04 Jul 2019, 22:52

Here's a comparison of all the different models plastic types hope that helps. As you can probably tell the Model M's and the AT's plastic look pretty much identical both in colour and texture. The XT Texture is much more subtle and more of a cream colour than the white colour like the Model M and the AT. Let me know your thoughts of course other Model F AT's could be made of a different types of plastic but the keyboards I am going by manufacture dates are as follows

IBM Model F X: 1984

IBM Model F AT: 1984

IBM Model M 1st gen square metal badge: 1987

All of the keyboards in the image were made in Greenock scotland United Kingdom.
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sh1

05 Jul 2019, 08:17

Not sure of the year of manufacture, but I'm afraid my AT was still of the painted variety. (I had lightly sanded the original paint, before painting mine black.)

And kind of scary when opening the plastic case...figuring it has the earlier more brittle plastic. (Though I don't know.)

Fkazim

05 Jul 2019, 08:59

sh1 wrote:
05 Jul 2019, 08:17
Not sure of the year of manufacture, but I'm afraid my AT was still of the painted variety. (I had lightly sanded the original paint, before painting mine black.)

And kind of scary when opening the plastic case...figuring it has the earlier more brittle plastic. (Though I don't know.)
That's very interesting your AT might be older than mine. Is your AT American made it could be the UK used non painted plastic and the US used the same painted plastic as on the XT. Do you have a picture of the painted case before you repainted it if so it would be interesting to see that.

Wazrach

07 Aug 2019, 12:07

If anyone has the 122-key terminal keyboards, here's something you can do to really improve the sound - at least in my opinion.

Pad the bottom metal pan with foam (I used 2mm PVC craft foam) and don't screw in the assembly. This brings out the thock quite considerably, but makes it sound dense at the same time. Of course, a thick or firm foam mat replacement will help as well. It is really beneficial to drill holes through clear parts of the assembly and add bolts

I do like the dense, metallic sound of the spacebar before the keyboard has been messed with. Unfortunately, the bottom out sound seems to turn hollow and sharp after a foam replacement. I rectified this by putting 1mm self-adhesive neoprene under the little posts at either side of the spacebar. This does make it feel slightly mushier, but it sounds a lot more pleasant. The thock is cushioned, leaving a deep-sounding upstroke rattle which I really like.

I previously thought I couldn't do anything right, but I think this lovely 4980 Model F sounds wonderful now. It sounds extremely thocky and metallic. Unfortunately it does not ping much. That is something I would like to experiment with more. Maybe I need to replace the 2mm PVC foam with 3mm neoprene. Maybe it would be fun to lube the springs and barrels as well. Not enough documentation on the effects of lubing buckling springs keyboards - would be great to hear from someone who has.

I would absolutely kill for an F107. I'd love to do a similar mod with it and see how it turns out.

User avatar
nelamvr6

07 Aug 2019, 19:09

I have never had the opportunity to try an F122, so I can't comment on how well I like that model. And Kishsavers are absolute unobtanium, unless you're talking about the new reissues that everyone is anxiously waiting for. But I'm not sure that comparing the new reissues with the vintage models would be appropriate for this discussion anyway.

But I do own both a Model F XT and a Model F AT. I have to say that I love them both, but I prefer the XT by a slight margin.

I like the layout on the AT a little better, and the feel and sound of the switches is so close I don't really think that makes a big enough difference to mention.

But the XT is definitely built better, the metal back plate just makes it feel a lot more sturdy. They both weigh a ton, but the XT is simply an absolute unit, hands down the best constructed keyboard I've ever encountered in my admittedly limited experience. Better than the AT, and way better than my Model M.

But I'm also sure I like my XT a bit better since I was luckily able to acquire an NOS keyboard, Still, the AT I got was really clean.

I solved the lack of homing keys by substituting a couple of Model M keys. The legends are slightly different, but not enough to notice unless you look closely. They can be easily obtained from ClickyKeyboards.com, and they are authentic vintage caps, so at least a little better than ones you could get from Unicomp.

Image

If you look closely you can see that the F and J keys have homing bumps, but the legends are just slightly different...

Wazrach

07 Aug 2019, 19:34

nelamvr6 wrote:
07 Aug 2019, 19:09
I have never had the opportunity to try an F122, so I can't comment on how well I like that model.

But I do own both a Model F XT and a Model F AT. I have to say that I love them both, but I prefer the XT by a slight margin.

I like the layout on the AT a little better, and the feel and sound of the switches is so close I don't really think that makes a big enough difference to mention.
The F122 is obviously a lot heavier than the smaller models, but the build quality isn't quite as good as the XT. The case of the XT is much thicker than on the AT or F122, and the XT's steel back panel feels sturdier than the F122's.

It's difficult to talk about sound with Models F, because they all sound different anyway. I've had nearly 10 XTs that all sounded completely different to the last one. The AT does generally sound better than the XT, but something makes me think it's not a factor of the chassis - they do sound very different, even out of the case.

F122s generally feel and sound looser than the smaller Fs because the assembly isn't as "tight". I'd say they're the quietest, stock. The enormous chassis seems to deaden the sound somewhat. I honestly don't mind the slightly looser feel and sound of a stock F122. It's less clicky and less thocky, but I suppose that makes it less annoying.

User avatar
nelamvr6

07 Aug 2019, 19:56

Wazrach wrote:
07 Aug 2019, 19:34
nelamvr6 wrote:
07 Aug 2019, 19:09
I have never had the opportunity to try an F122, so I can't comment on how well I like that model.

But I do own both a Model F XT and a Model F AT. I have to say that I love them both, but I prefer the XT by a slight margin.

I like the layout on the AT a little better, and the feel and sound of the switches is so close I don't really think that makes a big enough difference to mention.
It's less clicky and less thocky, but I suppose that makes it less annoying.
Annoying is a very subjective judgement. I personnaly adore the way the Models F and M sound. But I can understand how others might not share that opinion. Luckily for me all of my buckling spring keyboards are used at home, where there's no one to be annoyed.

When I travel for work, the keyboard I use is a factory silenced topre keyboard, so there's no chance of annoying anyone, no matter how sensitive they may be.

User avatar
karlmartin95

08 Aug 2019, 14:16

And what about the terminal model F's? Like the 4704 keyboards?

Wazrach

08 Aug 2019, 15:10

karlmartin95 wrote:
08 Aug 2019, 14:16
And what about the terminal model F's? Like the 4704 keyboards?
What about them? :P

User avatar
Muirium
µ

09 Aug 2019, 01:01

I’ll just quote myself from 2014:
Muirium wrote:
14 May 2014, 19:48
I'm going to have to go with the Kishsaver as the pick of the bunch. Although mine is currently in a huff, until I conquer the rebellious ribbon cable and get Xwhatsit's controller up and running. I'll be back at that tonight!
The 4704 came up in literally the first reply to this topic! So long ago, Xwhatsit hadn't even tested his Model F controller yet. It worked. The prototype in my Kishsaver is still running gloriously to this day.

User avatar
Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

09 Aug 2019, 05:33

My preference would be the Unsaver! I just got it working tonight. Took way too long for me to get this working but now that I have it together I love it. Now all I need to do is get a solenoid driver board so I can use the peizo buzzer that came with the keyboard.

I also plan to make a USB hub within the board itself and possibly make an aluminum CNC'd case for it.
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User avatar
nelamvr6

09 Aug 2019, 07:42

Redmaus wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 05:33
My preference would be the Unsaver! I just got it working tonight. Took way too long for me to get this working but now that I have it together I love it. Now all I need to do is get a solenoid driver board so I can use the peizo buzzer that came with the keyboard.

I also plan to make a USB hub within the board itself and possibly make an aluminum CNC'd case for it.

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That looks amazing! Really clean!

It's your keyboard, so obviously you can do what your want, but I can't understand why you'd want to put that in a CNC'd case. It looks just absolutely gorgeous as it is!

Wazrach

09 Aug 2019, 10:55

nelamvr6 wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 07:42
Redmaus wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 05:33
My preference would be the Unsaver! I just got it working tonight. Took way too long for me to get this working but now that I have it together I love it. Now all I need to do is get a solenoid driver board so I can use the peizo buzzer that came with the keyboard.

I also plan to make a USB hub within the board itself and possibly make an aluminum CNC'd case for it.

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That looks amazing! Really clean!

It's your keyboard, so obviously you can do what your want, but I can't understand why you'd want to put that in a CNC'd case. It looks just absolutely gorgeous as it is!
It seems like a really cool idea, but I bet it would cost a shit-tonne.

Wazrach

09 Aug 2019, 11:00

I'm currently trying to mod my 4980 Model F to look like Iggy's black F122 that just_add_coffee restored. I really like the sleek, black case and grey keycaps. In the process of asking Unicomp what they can and can't do. I want grey 3270 terminal keycaps with blue sublegends, with sublegends in the F keys like on other terminal boards. I also asked if I could have more on the 10 keys at the left. :P

Going for a similar layout, with a large ANSI left shift and ISO enter key. I want a 20 key numpad with Chyros' F107 layout mapped to it.

I need to find somewhere that will paint my plastic case for me, but I don't know any places.

Pictures included are Iggy's F122 and the numpad I am trying to replicate.
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Wazrach

09 Aug 2019, 11:01

Redmaus wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 05:33
My preference would be the Unsaver! I just got it working tonight. Took way too long for me to get this working but now that I have it together I love it. Now all I need to do is get a solenoid driver board so I can use the peizo buzzer that came with the keyboard.

I also plan to make a USB hub within the board itself and possibly make an aluminum CNC'd case for it.

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I'm not a huge fan of space-saving keyboards, but you've got to hand it to the Unsaver for looking more elegant than its bigger brother.

User avatar
digital_matthew

09 Aug 2019, 22:13

As the proud owner of an F XT, a 5155, and an F122, the battleship wins out as my favorite. It has the layout I prefer; I need Ctrl and Alt by my left hand as I use those keys extensively for 3ds Max. I also love the function cluster on the left. It's extremely versatile and a great place for macros and hotkeys. Also great are the 24 PF keys at the top. I still haven't mapped them all. I only wish the feel was as snappy as my 5155. That, as well as the enormous footprint, is the only thing I would change about it.

Wazrach

09 Aug 2019, 22:35

digital_matthew wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 22:13
As the proud owner of an F XT, a 5155, and an F122, the battleship wins out as my favorite. It has the layout I prefer; I need Ctrl and Alt by my left hand as I use those keys extensively for 3ds Max. I also love the function cluster on the left. It's extremely versatile and a great place for macros and hotkeys. Also great are the 24 PF keys at the top. I still haven't mapped them all. I only wish the feel was as snappy as my 5155. That, as well as the enormous footprint, is the only thing I would change about it.
Have you changed the foam in your F122? Naturally, the F122 will feel "looser" than the smaller keyboards due to its taller assembly. I suggest disassembling it and cutting a new foam mat for it. It will greatly help to add some bolts to the assembly to keep it tight and crisp. I have tried 2mm PVC "art foam" and 3mm firm neoprene foam. Here's the keyboard with a neoprene foam mat: https://youtu.be/ssYVX0z33Es

Here it is before doing any modifications: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSBpUltuNIY

User avatar
fohat
Elder Messenger

10 Aug 2019, 00:49

digital_matthew wrote:
09 Aug 2019, 22:13

the 24 PF keys at the top.
I kept 2 sets of Function keys, on the left I made the old F9 into F11 (full screen) and the old F10 into Windows.

Above, I use the bottom row as straight F1-F12, and the upper row has, left-to-right, F13=Escape, F14=calculator, F15=NumLock (only to turn NumLock back on again if it gets reset when I have temporarily swapped in another keyboard), F16-F19 not yet assigned, F20=PrintScreen, F21=Pause, F22=Volume Down, F23=Volume Up, and F24=Mute

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