Bendix Keyboard/Control Panel from NASA

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

19 Nov 2016, 02:52

I just found this keyboard/control panel about two weeks ago and was able to get it sent to me; arriving today. This is a Bendix keyboard/control panel that was originally purchased from from a surplus auction at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It looks like it's from NASA and it is!

From the military components used internally, it is dated from 1974 and contains a custom Bendix PCB with Clare Pendar S840 model switches. These switches have two sets of contacts. I can only guess that it's for military redundancy.

As you can see, this keyboard needs some restoration. I'll post some pics when I'm done. I think this keyboard is pretty awesome for the history behind it. I'd love to figure out what it was connected to one day. I have done extensive searching through old NASA photos but haven't been able to find anything.

Here are some pics with more to follow when it's cleaned up:
Bendix keyboard - front view.JPG
Bendix keyboard - front view
Bendix keyboard - front view.JPG (345.09 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - profile view.JPG
Bendix keyboard - profile view
Bendix keyboard - profile view.JPG (305.58 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - keyboard profile.JPG
Bendix keyboard - keyboard profile
Bendix keyboard - keyboard profile.JPG (330.56 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - rear view.JPG
Bendix keyboard - rear view
Bendix keyboard - rear view.JPG (239.09 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - military keyboard connector.JPG
Bendix keyboard - military connector
Bendix keyboard - military keyboard connector.JPG (496.83 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - rear label.JPG
Bendix keyboard - rear label
Bendix keyboard - rear label.JPG (590.66 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - bottom panel removed.JPG
Bendix keyboard - bottom panel removed
Bendix keyboard - bottom panel removed.JPG (574.38 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - PCB.JPG
Bendix keyboard - PCB
Bendix keyboard - PCB.JPG (524.95 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - PCB markings.JPG
Bendix keyboard - PCB markings
Bendix keyboard - PCB markings.JPG (511.48 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - components on keyboard PCB from 1973 - 1974.JPG
Bendix keyboard - components on keyboard PCB from 1973 - 1974
Bendix keyboard - components on keyboard PCB from 1973 - 1974.JPG (594.11 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - key switch overhead view.JPG
Bendix keyboard - key switch overhead view
Bendix keyboard - key switch overhead view.JPG (336.46 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - key switch slider.JPG
Bendix keyboard - key switch overhead view
Bendix keyboard - key switch slider.JPG (394.08 KiB) Viewed 1279 times
Bendix keyboard - keyboard mechanism side view.JPG
Bendix keyboard - keyboard mechanism side view
Bendix keyboard - keyboard mechanism side view.JPG (320.87 KiB) Viewed 1279 times

User avatar
Ratfink

19 Nov 2016, 06:30

NASA, eh? Better get it working with modern computers so you can play Kerbal Space Program with it.

Really cool board. I've love to see it after a good cleaning.

User avatar
livingspeedbump
Not what they seem

19 Nov 2016, 16:54

I know you have warehouses full of keyboards :lol: ...

...but this may be my favorite one from you yet, just because of the history. I wonder if you can find out more on exactly what it was used for.

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

19 Nov 2016, 19:05

Thanks for the comments. I'll keep looking to see what I can figure out. I am particularly thrilled about finding this one because the NASA auction happened a long time ago and I asked the seller of another item if they had anything interesting and he mentioned this. It was a total fluke of luck.

I think for this year of posting keyboards, it may be a toss up between this and the MacCharlie keyboard extension which others seem to think is interesting too. The MacCharlie I've had for quite a while but this one came out of nowhere and is a treasure.
Last edited by snuci on 24 Nov 2016, 00:16, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

21 Nov 2016, 16:41

While your MacCharlie is really nice this is historical, very impressive!

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

24 Nov 2016, 00:18

The clean up is coming along pretty well so far. I can't take decent pics until the weekend due to no decent light but this is the first time I've done the three step wax method on a keyboard ;)

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

27 Nov 2016, 14:35

Here are some pics of the Bendix NASA Console cleaned up. I haven't found any information yet but it was acquired in a NASA surplus auction sometime between 1984 and 1987.
Bendix NASA Console - console.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - console
Bendix NASA Console - console.JPG (297.63 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - profile.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - profile
Bendix NASA Console - profile.JPG (286.21 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - Bendix emblem.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - Bendix emblem
Bendix NASA Console - Bendix emblem.JPG (202.86 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - rear profile.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - rear profile
Bendix NASA Console - rear profile.JPG (221.9 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - rear.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - rear
Bendix NASA Console - rear.JPG (202.29 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - keycaps removed profile.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - keycaps removed profile
Bendix NASA Console - keycaps removed profile.JPG (322.98 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - key switches.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - key switches
Bendix NASA Console - key switches.JPG (327.5 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism front.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism front
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism front.JPG (351.87 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism rear.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism rear
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism rear.JPG (338.63 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism
Bendix NASA Console - keyboard mechanism.JPG (204.97 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - Miliary ICs.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - Military ICs
Bendix NASA Console - Miliary ICs.JPG (326.19 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - console internals.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - console internals
Bendix NASA Console - console internals.JPG (425.66 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - key caps.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - key caps
Bendix NASA Console - key caps.JPG (212.54 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - profile close-up.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - profile close-up
Bendix NASA Console - profile close-up.JPG (239.42 KiB) Viewed 1102 times
Bendix NASA Console - rear overhead.JPG
Bendix NASA Console - rear overhead
Bendix NASA Console - rear overhead.JPG (239.86 KiB) Viewed 1102 times

User avatar
ohaimark
Kingpin

27 Nov 2016, 15:01

It uses AMD chips.

I assume you used automotive wax on it?

User avatar
livingspeedbump
Not what they seem

27 Nov 2016, 15:14

This looks museum quality all cleaned up. Such an interesting piece of history.

User avatar
ohaimark
Kingpin

27 Nov 2016, 15:23

I just spoke with my stepfather, who trained to be an astronaut and often used equipment from that era, about this edifice.

In his opinion, it's basically an early KVM switch.

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

27 Nov 2016, 15:53

ohaimark wrote: I assume you used automotive wax on it?
Yes, Meguiars' paint cleaner, polish and wax. The paint was so dry that cleaning it with normal cleaners left streaks.
ohaimark wrote: In his opinion, it's basically an early KVM switch.
Yes, technically it would be a "KV" (no M for mouse) but I don't believe it was a keyboard for typing words or commands because there is no Enter key. I think it's a big keypad and monitor controller but there are also millimeter keys which I don't quite understand.

User avatar
ohaimark
Kingpin

27 Nov 2016, 16:25

There actually is an enter key... It's just in an odd location. That may have been intentional, as hitting enter prematurely in a NASA program could have dire consequences.

The millimeter keys are quite confusing given America's obsession with inches. Maybe it stands for something else, even if that is doubtful. Maybe a hardware control for whatever it was attached to?

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

27 Nov 2016, 19:36

ohaimark wrote: The millimeter keys are quite confusing given America's obsession with inches. Maybe it stands for something else, even if that is doubtful. Maybe a hardware control for whatever it was attached to?
I thought that the US military has always been metric or at least for a while now. I am I correct or incorrect?

User avatar
snuci
Vintage computer guy

27 Nov 2016, 21:46

Last thing on this one... the key switches. They are Clare Pendar but it's not 100% certain they are S840 series switches. These have some unique facets to it including dual contacts (perhaps for redundancy?) and gold cross point contacts. Here are some pics:

Switch facing to the left (triangle faces up usually):

Image

These key switches are PCB mounted but the corner switches are enclosed in a cubic stabilizer unit that strengthens the edges from buckling.

Image

Image

Here are the key switch parts including the internal spring

Image

Here you can see the dual set of gold cross point contacts and the pins underneath:

Image

Image

Image

User avatar
ohaimark
Kingpin

27 Nov 2016, 21:54

I think it only started using metric measurements in the 70s. They used SI units in joint military operations before that, but it wasn't the norm.

NASA was actually more stubborn than the US military.

http://www.space.com/3332-nasa-finally-metric.html

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