Coleco ADAM Keyboard - sliders over rubber domes

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2015, 03:03

Every now and again my saved eBay search for "vintage keyboards" turns up something interesting. Last week I found a Coleco ADAM keyboard. It did not seem so expensive, so intrigued, I picked it up. It arrived today. Gotta love sellers who use way too much packing material. It took five minutes just to get through the tape alone!

The Coleco ADAM was rated by Maximum PC in 2011 as one of the worst computers of all time:
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/featur ... e#slide-13
Some reviewers say that the keyboard was the highlight of the system

At last the box is open:
DSC_3909.jpg
DSC_3909.jpg (120.3 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
The keyboard looks to be in good condition. The seller said it was tested working. I may Retr0bright some of the keys - carefully!
DSC_3911.jpg
DSC_3911.jpg (80.73 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3919.jpg
DSC_3919.jpg (96.46 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3920.jpg
DSC_3920.jpg (144.62 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3921.jpg
DSC_3921.jpg (135.01 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3922.jpg
DSC_3922.jpg (83.55 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
Double shot spherical key caps, and an unrecognized slider. What is this?
DSC_3924.jpg
DSC_3924.jpg (90.33 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
Well, I had to know. 30 screws and an hour later...
DSC_3954.jpg
DSC_3954.jpg (86.55 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3955.jpg
DSC_3955.jpg (81.23 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
DSC_3960.jpg
DSC_3960.jpg (83.97 KiB) Viewed 3359 times
The keyboard does say "Made in Japan" and is from 1983. I wonder if these are Brother or Topre domes?

More and higher quality photos are on the photo album for this keyboard:
https://plus.google.com/photos/10439222 ... 5645246305

jacobolus

10 Mar 2015, 06:28

How far away are those keycaps from being Cherry MX compatible?

Findecanor

10 Mar 2015, 10:44

Cruciform looks bigger and is more into the keycap, where there are also strut that would be in the way. Maybe they would work with the adapters used for the MeC64 keyboard.

I still think the keyboard looks a bit unnecessarily high, though. How does it look next to a Commodore C64C ?

User avatar
Stabilized

10 Mar 2015, 11:10

How does it feel to type on?

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2015, 11:51

jacobolus wrote: How far away are those keycaps from being Cherry MX compatible?
Quite. The Coleco key caps have a cruciform recess that is too large for Cherry MX switches, and buried too deeply into the key cap itself to press the switch mechanism at all without bottoming out. The Coleco sliders are too large to accept Cherry MX keys. I tried!

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2015, 11:53

Stabilized wrote: How does it feel to type on?
Much better than I thought it would. These are a high quality rubber dome. They are not quite as nice as Topre rubber domes but they are nicer than Model M Quiet Touch rubber domes. They are Made in Japan after all. The sliders seriously need some lubrication though, the same as a Cherry slider. I've heard some variant of Krytox works well - any suggestions?

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

10 Mar 2015, 11:58

Awesome XMIT, I love it! Japanese 80`s high quality domes in a compact case.

User avatar
Stabilized

10 Mar 2015, 12:08

XMIT wrote: Much better than I thought it would. These are a high quality rubber dome. They are not quite as nice as Topre rubber domes but they are nicer than Model M Quiet Touch rubber domes. They are Made in Japan after all. The sliders seriously need some lubrication though, the same as a Cherry slider. I've heard some variant of Krytox works well - any suggestions?
You might want to try a light lubricant like 103/104, as they are non viscous and non sticky (unlike something like 106). Either should be easy to get in the US (I think), just use it sparingly on each slider and you should be good :D

Have you checked out what you will need to get it work on a modern computer?

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2015, 12:13

Stabilized wrote: Have you checked out what you will need to get it work on a modern computer?
But of course, this is always my goal. The keyboard uses a weird signaling protocol that is documented elsewhere online. The Google album photos show that this is just a single membrane. Very interesting construction: it is one membrane, folded in half. This one seems like an ideal candidate for a controller replacement.

I have a bunch of keyboards that also need controllers, so, I will begin researching the existing controller options in the next couple of weeks. Given the choice I prefer replacement controllers to reduce latency and avoid any odd key combination or mode quirks. Some purists would prefer converters over controllers. To each their own!

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2015, 16:34

Stabilized wrote: You might want to try a light lubricant like 103/104, as they are non viscous and non sticky (unlike something like 106).
Hmm. I wonder if a mix of Krytox GPL 103 oil and Krytox GPL 205 grease would be better:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRvtLEZJFKM

Granted, I don't have experience with either one. If someone has some spare of either of these that they want to part with please send me a PM.

I do have some "EK MechLube 2" already. I found that to be way too thick, but perhaps applied very thinly it would work better. I'll do some experiments at home.

My new Topre keyboard has lubricated stabilizers. I wonder what they use?

If I were building a key switch I would look into using Delrin (POM) for any stems. It is a self lubricating, kind of oily plastic.

User avatar
Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

11 Mar 2015, 16:15

Vintage topre! Neat.

mr_a500

11 Mar 2015, 18:20

Thanks for posting photos, XMIT. I always wondered about the switches in this.

I remember back in 1984/85, these ADAM computers were super cheap because they failed to sell and stores just wanted them gone. I was tempted to get one, but they seemed obsolete already by that time, so I passed.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

11 Mar 2015, 18:25

mr_a500 wrote: I remember back in 1984/85...
I don't! This keyboard is older than I am! :lol:

lee4hmz

19 Feb 2021, 06:28

I did some looking into this (including buying one of the bare, Archer-branded ADAM keyboard mechanisms that show up on eBay from time to time), and it looks like whoever made the ADAM keyboard also made the TRS-80 Color Computer I keyboard c. 1980. It has the same domes, but uses a dome-over-leaf-spring construction I've never seen before, and seems to be design number FK-5302. (The CoCo keyboards really deserve their own threads, but I don't have one handy and the computers themselves are increasingly rare these days, so imagine what finding just the keyboard is like). Also, the slider on the ADAM keyboard looks like it might fit Futaba MD keycaps, though on the ADAM, the mount is turned 90 degrees. Unfortunately, I don't have any other MD-compatible caps to check with.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I'm pretty sure these keyboards weren't made by Brother or Topre or even Mitsumi like a lot of cheap home-computer keyboards were; I'm thinking they're Futaba-Sejin designs (which would explain the "FK" and "JFK" nomenclature).

M9HM

19 Feb 2021, 08:54


Post Reply

Return to “Gallery”