Foldable mechanical keyboard

Masterchief79

10 Aug 2013, 23:48

Hey guys,
no clue how rare this thing is, no PN or SN on it, one guy on geekhack said he saw something like this before^^ It's a foldable mechanical, I bet you can imagine it's not that easy to build a PCB for that.
It's in good condition, not yellowed, only space really needs oil and the Enter key doesn't work, but I think I can repair it. And luckily, there's still numpad enter. It uses white clicky ALPS (might be clones but I actually don't think so) and nice doubleshot keycaps which is a really neat surprise, thought I get pad printed (keycaps are not removable, glued in or something). 102 key ISO-DE layout with big fat enter and small 1x1 backspace, AltGR is directly beneath RCtrl due to the folding mechanism. It has about 10KRO over PS2. Not easy to say because of the strange way the controller works, seriously.

You can fold it in the middle, therefore there are 2 PCBs, connected with a ribbon cable (cool idea). The mechanism actually works really well. There is a little extra switch in the case (those with the blue wires), which causes the keyboard not to work when it's folded. The button gets pressed by the 2nd PCB when you unfold it. So you can fold the keyboard while it's connected to your PC and it won't give out any signals. It's a simple and very effective idea. IC is above the arrow keys.

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User avatar
Muirium
µ

11 Aug 2013, 00:32

Never thought I'd see something like this! Understandable that the caps are glued, they must get real close and personal when fully folded. At least they went with good ones. Helvetica, too. And better laid out on the caps than Topre does these days.

Really strange concept though. Laudable as an experiment, but how did this ever reach production? Maybe it didn't. No numbers could mean a prototype.

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Aug 2013, 01:43

According to Alps.tw, it's a Hearst Electronic product:

http://kbtalking.cool3c.com/article/15301

I can't find a single thing about this keyboard or the manufacturer anywhere else, which is a pain as I wanted to ask them about the switches it used.

His has ATW Alps clones, which are really annoying in that they break the rule about four-tab clones (same shell, but the internals are based on SMK, not Alps — they're more like an Alps-shaped KPT). This stops me from using "four-tab clone" to describe the common Alps clone design.

I've tried to go all CSI on your photo — all I can tell is that there's some bold writing on the switches. It could be simplified Alps, or it could be a different ATW variant.
Last edited by Daniel Beardsmore on 11 Aug 2013, 02:57, edited 1 time in total.

Findecanor

11 Aug 2013, 01:48

The chord is not detachable?

Masterchief79

11 Aug 2013, 08:17

Thanks for your detective work so far ;)

The chord is detachable, but only on the inside. Look at Daniels link, you can see the 5-pin DIN plug pretty well there.

Will post more when I get home.

Masterchief79

11 Aug 2013, 19:13

There we are - I remember the seller on ebay declared this keyboard "unique". Well, it's not the only one in the world, that's for sure (thanks again for the link Daniel).
I mentioned it has no PN or SN, there is an FCC ID (K5ZFKB01) and a sticker "FKB 02089" on it though.
Feel free to comment or to post more intel^^

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Daniel Beardsmore

11 Aug 2013, 22:14

FCC ID gives me Goldfame Computer Ltd of Hong Kong, with two registered FCC IDs:

K5ZFKB-01, registered 11/03/1993
K5ZFKB-01A, registered 06/01/1995

I don't know where Alps.tw got Hearst Electronic from, but on re-reading his page, he got the model number of "FKB-102B" from the PCB just above the Pause key.

Would be nice to see a close-up of the space bar switch, so that I can identify what it is.

Masterchief79

15 Aug 2013, 00:06

Sorry for the delay, it's kinda hard to take a good photo of the switch here, but I will do it ASAP. Just saying it could take a few more days and I didn't forget this.^^

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Daniel Beardsmore

15 Aug 2013, 00:52

I've got a few days left to live, so you should be OK …

Masterchief79

20 Aug 2013, 22:47

Little update:

Took it apart again today, not sure about the switches yet, they are not labelled "ATW". More photos tomorrow.
Good news though, I got the Enter key repaired, wasn't easy though :D One contact of the switch was broken and there were like 2-3mm missing to the actual soldering point. It was not possible to reach it with the soldering iron oir tin solder, so I had to go wild: I grabbed a drill and enhanced the actual soldering "hole " in diameter, so I could reach the contact. Patched around a bit with enameled wires and got it working again. Thank god these PCBs aren't 8-layered yet xD (I solder on graphics cards and mainboards a lot and let me put it like this, beside tin solder and a soldering iron, a trashcan is your most important tool when dealing with broken conducting paths etc).

Typing on the board right now, it's finally fully functional.

PS: Interesting fact, the whole PCB is completely soldered by hand.

RougeRambo

01 Sep 2014, 21:54

Just to let you know, i just bought one of these :)

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Daniel Beardsmore

01 Sep 2014, 22:57

Masterchief79 wrote: More photos tomorrow.
Looking forwards to seeing the switches in more detail!

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Halvar

02 Sep 2014, 00:18

Congrats! When you don't want it any more, please sell it to Muirium so he doesn't need to type DT forum posts on his iPad screen any more when abroad!

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