Clare-Pendar Keyboard+Switch Teardown+History!

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pyrelink

Clare-Pendar Keyboard+Switch Teardown+History!

Unread post by pyrelink » 11 Mar 2014, 07:22

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As you can see, I have returned. This time I bring you a Clare/Pendar keyboard. I have a bunch more photos for your today, but you can probably tell that I have a sub-optimal setup. I have some pretty terrible lighting in my workshop, and the kitchen has the best light setup. I also am only rocking an 18-200mm Nikkor atm. As a broke student, getting a Macro lens, and a Lightbox, are on my to do list but obviously they aren't cheap. So for now this is the best that I can do. I am also experimenting with Lightroom, before I do my final touchup and watermark in Photoshop. Some of these photos I notice, turned out a bit darker then I like, so I figure it was something I might have done in Lightroom :roll:

Before I show off the keyboard, I have spent a few hours researching the origins of Clare-Pendar, and although confusing, it is quite interesting.

History of Clare-Pendar, DEFINITELY WORTH READING:
Spoiler:
I got this board the same time as I got my Honeywell Microswitch Keyboard, only I was able to keep this board. I posted a basic Imgur Gallery to /r/Mechanicalkeyboards, where I was asked by HaaTa and others to post a more thorough gallery. It wasn't great. Here I will attempt to do a far better job.

So the history of Clare-Pendar is a little confusing, but I believe that I have figured some of it out. Clare-Pendar is a product line (also going by the names: Switchlight, Pendar switchline, Clare Pendar switchline, and General Instruments switchline) made by the Joseph Pollak Corporations, Transportation Electronics Division. Pollak was started back in 1909 in Boston, MA. It supplied the 2 pole connectors to the Ford Motor Company for use in the Model T! This is where I start getting quite confused.

Much later down the line (1988) a company called Stoneridge buys the Pollak Company, and then 4 years later (1992) they buy the General Insturments Transportation Electronics Division. The company Electro-Mech then buys the Switchlight product line from Pollak Transportation Electronics Division (T.E.D.), (owned by Stoneridge) in 1997. On Electro-Mech's website they list "General Instruments switchline" as being a previous name of the Clare-Pendar switch.

Based on a label on my keyboards PCB, my keyboard was made April 6th, 1973. What I cannot figure out, is which of these companies were connected back then, and who was the actual designer and creator of this keyboard? Just as things seemingly made sense, I discovered another couple tidbits that make everything even more confusing. There is a Texas Instruments controller on the PCB of my keyboard. It just so happens that back in 1951, Texas Instruments originally named themselves General Instruments, 12 years after the original General Instruments (they then of course changed to Texas Instruments after they noticed the conflict). What I wonder is if the inclusion of a Texas Instruments controller is again a coincidence or if there is some connection.

Finally I know that Haata has a possible Clare-Pendar Keypad. The only identifier on his keypad is "MEXICO". I know for the most part he believes it to be a Clare-Pendar board, but the "MEXICO" just reassures that possibility. The reason is that both Electro-Mech (the recent acquirer of the Switchlight product line) and the Transportation Electronics Division of General Instruments, were based in Southern California/Texas, and manufactured (with American QA) in Mexico. This again just leads me to wonder, were Pollak (a Boston based company), and General Instruments (created in Horsham, PA) somehow connected way back in the day. Sadly HaaTa's keypad, does not have any date on it.

Lastly, I found a supplier of Clare-Pendar switches going by the name Visualux. They mention that they have been a supplier of Clare-Pendar switches since the late 1980's (Stoneridge bought Pollak in 1988, which leads me to think that they were the creator and manufacturer of the switches, but that still doesn't explain their link to General Instruments), and that the manufacturer of the switches have undergone multiple ownership changes since then.

So please if anyone can dig up any more information or knows anything, I would love to know. The main thing I am confused about is, who originally created the Clare-Pendar line? Was it Pollak's Transportation Electronics Division? Was it General Instruments Transportation Electronics Division? Were the 2 somehow tied back in the day? Were they just combined by Stoneridge? Did Texas Instruments simply supply a controller for the Clare-Pendar Keyboard, or due to the conflicting names were they more involved in the creation/production of the keyboard?
Again I recommend reading the history of Clare-Pendar that I dug up. I found it to be quite interesting... Either way, on to the keyboard!

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There is a blue connector with pins on the opposite end, that attaches to these gold contacts here.
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Here are all of the markings and identifiers I could find on the PCB:

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T.I. P/N 959326 REV E (it appears it was previously stamped with "REV C" but was restamped and then hand changed to "REV E". Then there is handwriting that says "INS." and is underlined, I assume this means "inspected". I mentioned in the history part, that these boards were manufactured in Mexico, but there were Pollak (General Instruments? Texas Instruments? Stoneridge? Electro-Mech?) Quality Assurance people on the floor, who inspect everything. Sounds an awful lot like Razer QA inspecting their Kailh clones :lol:.

EDIT: Also noticed the "T.I." part. Possibly "Texas Instruments"?

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CKJ5 BX 102K

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"OG" circled? (They must have paid Ice-T to sign each and every keyboard... ) "C INC B"

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"Clare-Pendar Code Identification Number 97564" handwritten: "-7345"
"Assembly Number 720731-K1. Serial Number." handwritten: "33439-C"

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"eh" handwritten in cursive

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"Final 81 INSP." Stamped into the PCB.

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"PART NO. 700409-E129" handwritten: "-A"

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"ISSUE 4-6-73" I assume this to be the production date.

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Here is that Texas Instruments chip I mentioned in the history.

So in the History section I mentioned a distributer of Clare-Pendar products, named Visualux. If you take a look at their product catalogue you can find this PDF. It talks about a type of Clare-Pendar Reed switch. This adds to the likely possibility that HaaTa's reed switch keypad, is made by Clare-Pendar. On page 5 of the PDF it also diagrams and talks about a space bar designed for the Reed Switch. Although my switches are not Reed Switches, it shares the same space bar design.

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Sadly I did not think to desolder this switch at the time (I will do so if there is interest), but the Capslock or "SHIFT LOCK" key is a locking key! It is actually quite nice, and smooth.

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Now I have no clue why, but I seem to have completely skipped over taking a nice shot of the tops of these switches in my previous Imgur Gallery, AND this photoshoot! Luckily it isn't that incredible but this should suffice:

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I desoldered a good few switches and the only thing that changed in the identifiers of the switches were the numbers in the very middle. They were all different numbers and didn't seem to have any physical differences. The 5 switch was the space bar switch, if that gives any help to anyone.

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So the switch is a basic Gold Leaf switch. The plunger holds the 2 leaves apart and when the switch is depressed, the contacts touch and form a complete circuit. Just a basic continuity switch. They are obviously linear. The stem is a basic cross mount, but it is not compatible with Cherry MX keycaps, and vice versa.

To measure the actuation force, I broke out my high tech lab gear again.

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The switch actuated with 2.5 oz of weight. 2.5 oz is about 63 grams. We will round this to 65g.

Finally the keycaps:

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They are all double shot, and like I mentioned earlier, they are not Cherry MX compatible, no matter how close they appear.

Full Imgur Gallery Here

So there you have it! This is my Clare-Pendar keyboard and a tear down of the Clare-Pendar switch, and a bit of history thrown in too! These photo guides are a ton of fun to make, but also happen to take 5+ hours (this one, with the research I did, took closer to 10 hours) to make. At the moment I have a good bit of free time, and I have a bunch of more vintage keyboards, and will be going to a computer/HAM fest this weekend. I plan to pick up a bunch of stuff, and I will post what I have and you guys can chose what I teardown next. Darksouls 2 releases later today, a game I have been anticipating for a long time now, so I will be spending a good amount of time there. Basically, my point is that I enjoy making these posts but they take a lot of time, and I have a bunch of keyboards to show, so I am going to try and do as many as I can while I have plenty of spare time. Let me know if there is anything else you would like to know, or see with this keyboard!

I also noticed that this wiki page: [wiki]USw_LXBW01[/wiki] was made based on my original Imgur gallery I posted 5 months ago. I don't know much about who can edit the wiki, or how, or any guidelines surrounding that, but I am pretty sure this post organized and added a lot of information. So if someone else wants to add this to the wiki, or if someone could let me know how I could go about doing that, that would be great. Finally, would anyone be interested in the Osborne 1, Oak Switch Systems, Full Travel Membrane keyboard next?

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

Unread post by matt3o » 11 Mar 2014, 08:46

I totally LOVE those keycaps. Really, that profile is amazing... I want to eat all of them like candies!

if only you'd refrain from adding the watermark...

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 11 Mar 2014, 08:54

matt3o wrote:I totally LOVE those keycaps. Really, that profile is amazing... I want to eat all of them like candies!

if only you'd refrain from adding the watermark...
Is it really that bad? I was told a while ago, that it was a good idea to, but I don't really care if people use my photos.

Besides reuploading all of the originals (which I can do), are there any that are particularly bad?

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

Unread post by matt3o » 11 Mar 2014, 09:03

no, it's not bad.

simply, I believe they are meant to be reference pictures for future generations. They should be pristine.

You shouldn't do it for the glory, but for the cause :) I mean, I don't think you are going to sell these pictures, right?

I'd suggest to use the exif data to save your name/website/email/whatever.

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cookie

Unread post by cookie » 11 Mar 2014, 13:30

Those old switches look like they are gonna melt your tendons :O

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Game Theory
Mr. Despair

Unread post by Game Theory » 11 Mar 2014, 15:31

Another great quality post and an interesting read!

That spacebar stabilizer design looks particular interesting. Could you tell if it worked well?

sgf

Unread post by sgf » 11 Mar 2014, 21:47

Then there is handwriting that says "INS." and is underlined
I think that's just the same "INSP" stamp we see a few pictures later, only half-stamped.

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Daniel Beardsmore

Unread post by Daniel Beardsmore » 11 Mar 2014, 22:48

pyrelink wrote:I also noticed that this wiki page: [wiki]USw_LXBW01[/wiki] was made based on my original Imgur gallery I posted 5 months ago. I don't know much about who can edit the wiki, or how, or any guidelines surrounding that, but I am pretty sure this post organized and added a lot of information. So if someone else wants to add this to the wiki, or if someone could let me know how I could go about doing that, that would be great.
The wiki is open for editing by all forum members.

It wasn't clear at the time whether the switch was Clare-Pendar or not (keyboard manufacturer does not equate to switch manufacturer), so I assigned it an Unidentified Switch code just so that it would have a permanent record — I lacked the time required to research Clare-Pendar.

I don't see any harm in watermarks in forum posts, but watermarks in wiki images are frowned upon.

Wiki help is very sketchy at the moment but you might find something useful here:

http://deskthority.net/wiki/Help:Contents

The biggest guidelines are simply other pages, which also helps with global self-consistency.

mr_a500

Unread post by mr_a500 » 14 Mar 2014, 19:01

pyrelink wrote:Image
How much did you pay for this thing? According to this May 1976 BYTE Magazine, it should be $45. Any more than that and you got ripped off. :P
May76.jpg

mr_a500

Unread post by mr_a500 » 19 Mar 2014, 11:02

Hey, I've found that keyboard again:
June76.jpg
...and look at all those dials! The more dials the better, I say.


Edit: ....and here it is again:
I guess that $45 deal was too good to pass up.
Last edited by mr_a500 on 07 Apr 2014, 22:05, edited 1 time in total.

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Muirium
µ

Unread post by Muirium » 19 Mar 2014, 12:04

With a tiny little monitor like that shrinking the blocky text, the Altair looks almost like a useful computer! Of course, as given away by the papers lying on top, he was really using it as an accessory to his sweet analogue radio rig. Hence the vital dials.

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 20 Apr 2014, 07:20

mr_a500 wrote:
pyrelink wrote:Image
How much did you pay for this thing? According to this May 1976 BYTE Magazine, it should be $45. Any more than that and you got ripped off. :P
May76.jpg
Hah! Thats awesome. Sadly, in my case it doesn't narrow down, what purpose my granddad actually used it for. He had an Altair 8800 that he built, AND he had a SCELBI, so this board could have belonged to either one.

And felt like I should add that I have removed the watermarks, and posted up the gallery on Flickr... I am far too lazy to re-edit the OP to replace all the HTML links, so I am just going to leave it. I am going to add some info and some of the pics to the Wiki, and anyone can feel free to use them. https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXmN4f6.

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kps

Unread post by kps » 20 Apr 2014, 17:51

From the orange RETURN key, the ASCII control labels, and the BREAK / HERE IS / PAPER ADVANCE cluster, I'm sure this is originally for one of the many variants of the TI Silent 700 terminal.

(The one here is not quite the same as the one in the ad — which is also shown in a small photo at CHM here — those don't have the BREAK key there pushing PAPER ADVANCE out past RETURN.)

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Daniel Beardsmore

Unread post by Daniel Beardsmore » 15 Feb 2015, 17:02

How about this one?

http://www.electronicsurplus.com/unmark ... i-pin-lamp

That's marked simply "ASM. MEXICO" and has a Clare/Pendar look about it. I've mentioned this topic to Mu, who has some Belgian-made Clare switches.

I know nothing about General Instrument, except that they had a keyboard division that made TI-99/4A keyboards (with amber Alps SKCC switches), and their keyboards are marked "GENERAL INSTRUMENT | KEYBOARD DIVISION" and labelled "ASSEM IN MEXICO":

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/222187 ... rt-needed/
Last edited by Daniel Beardsmore on 15 Feb 2015, 17:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Daniel Beardsmore

Unread post by Daniel Beardsmore » 15 Feb 2015, 17:11

Two more:

http://wiki.xkcd.com/irc/Leopard — mentions Clare-Pendar, General Instrument and Mu's C P Clare (I don't know where the source material came from)

A new take on contactless that I've not seen before — inductance sensing with concentric coil springs:

http://www.google.com/patents/US4085394

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

Unread post by seebart » 15 Feb 2015, 17:14

really nice pyrelink, great find! At least in your case we actually know it´s a Clare-Pendar Keyboard+Switch! :D
Finally, would anyone be interested in the Osborne 1, Oak Switch Systems, Full Travel Membrane keyboard next?
you kidding me? Hell yeah! :P

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Daniel Beardsmore

Unread post by Daniel Beardsmore » 15 Feb 2015, 18:55


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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 15 Feb 2015, 20:18

Those are some very interesting links. That switch from electronicsurplus definitely has a Clare Pendar look to it.

Recently we have seen Mr_a500's Harris 8620 with Clare Pendars: http://deskthority.net/photos-f62/harri ... t8764.html

As well ass the possible Clare Pendars in Seebarts board: http://deskthority.net/keyboards-f2/can ... t9048.html

The patent for that contact-less switch is also really interesting. I wonder if those switches were ever produced?

From what I can tell, Clare Pendar derivative switches were pretty popular in late 60s/early-mid 70s keyboards, right along side Micro Switch (as that Keyboard article also mentions). Their linear switches aren't fantastic feeling, but I really love their spacebar design: https://www.google.com/patents/US377163 ... CEIQ6AEwBQ and I would love to know more about them.
Last edited by pyrelink on 18 Feb 2015, 02:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Daniel Beardsmore

Unread post by Daniel Beardsmore » 15 Feb 2015, 22:52

Your second link references a PDF with the part numbers in for Muirium's switches! Thank you.

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 15 Feb 2015, 22:57

http://www.visualux.com/visualux2/clarependar.htm

They seem to be a distributor for Clare Pendar switches. I tried emailing them a while back about buying some, but I never got a response. As they are based in the UK, it might be a bit more advantageous if someone across the Atlantic were to give them a shout!

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facetsesame
Mad Dasher

Unread post by facetsesame » 15 Feb 2015, 23:11

pyrelink wrote: http://www.visualux.com/visualux2/clarependar.htm

They seem to be a distributor for Clare Pendar switches. I tried emailing them a while back about buying some, but I never got a response. As they are based in the UK, it might be a bit more advantageous if someone across the Atlantic were to give them a shout!
I was having a look at that earlier. As the PDF was last modified in 2003, I'm not sure how much hope there is, but I'm up for giving them a call. What exactly are you interested in buying? I might be persuaded to join you!

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 15 Feb 2015, 23:16

Honestly, I would be up for buying a nice sample size of what ever they still have in stock. Specifically their keyswitches, a spacebar assembly, and maybe some keycaps. Seeing as their phone line might not even still be connected, I will take what I can get, but please let us know if you do happen to give them a call!

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facetsesame
Mad Dasher

Unread post by facetsesame » 15 Feb 2015, 23:40

The Companies House record shows Visualux Ltd are still trading, and their website references LED lighting products, so I'm convinced they're still there. Whether the Clare Pendar keyswitches are is another matter.

http://www.visualux.com/clare_pendar.html states "can be supplied individually or as part of a complete keyboard assembly."! Should I get looking at cases again? ;)

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Muirium
µ

Unread post by Muirium » 16 Feb 2015, 02:00

Here's the big boys:

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http://deskthority.net/photos-f62/topic9926.html

Anyone know when Clare and Pendar hooked up?

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 16 Feb 2015, 04:40

facetsesame wrote: The Companies House record shows Visualux Ltd are still trading, and their website references LED lighting products, so I'm convinced they're still there. Whether the Clare Pendar keyswitches are is another matter.

http://www.visualux.com/clare_pendar.html states "can be supplied individually or as part of a complete keyboard assembly."! Should I get looking at cases again? ;)
Now I am imagining a Clare Pendar keyboard in a Hammond case with real lightbulb illumination. :lol:

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seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

Unread post by seebart » 16 Feb 2015, 13:28

pyrelink wrote: Now I am imagining a Clare Pendar keyboard in a Hammond case with real lightbulb illumination. :lol:
that sounds like "old school modding" to me. ;)

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facetsesame
Mad Dasher

Unread post by facetsesame » 16 Feb 2015, 21:42

Haha, you never know! Was too busy to call today, but tomorrow is looking better. I won't forget, promise!

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facetsesame
Mad Dasher

Unread post by facetsesame » 27 Feb 2015, 01:36

I phoned Visualux this morning.

They don't hold stock of any Clare/Pendar keyswitches but can still order them from the manufacturer on demand.
MOQs would have to be met, though the manufacturer is flexible in offering small quantities providing setup costs are met.

The high profile SF series are obsolete as of 2012. Sadly this means no centrally incandescent illuminated switches.
The low profile SFL series switches are still available to order though. This may include stepped stems and incandescents.
The double shot moulded keytops are believed to still be orderable too.

I will write up a list of potentially orderable items and will post an IC on the Marketplace for specific bits and quantities.
The data from this could then be submitted to Visualux next week for confirmation of MOQs from the manufacturer.
That'll be "tomorrow" now as it's gone half midnight and I need to go to bed!

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Muirium
µ

Unread post by Muirium » 27 Feb 2015, 01:41

Hmm. Who's looking for a new project around here right now with a whole new switch & cap family?

Hint: probably not me. I've got M84s, Mitsumis, and potentially those high profile SF Clare switches all lined up already!

Oh, right, we're probably talking about just a few switches and caps? That word MOQ had me on another train of thought.

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pyrelink

Unread post by pyrelink » 27 Feb 2015, 01:45

This is pretty awesome. I would love to know what kind of keycap ability to have. At least the ones on my board, are some of my favorite vintage caps. Depending on cost, stock, and outside interest, I might be in for a good amount. Even if it takes a while to get around to, it might lead to a fun project!

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