Datacomp - june 2014

User avatar
Ducky Nordic
Kayvee

15 Jun 2014, 13:30

Hi m8's,

Met with Datacomp in Taipei, an OEM manufacturer (input devices mostly; POS, industrial, consumer) and thought id share some pics and a video with you. They have an alps type switch range they call datacomp switch (xiang min maybe?). Here goes:

Pics:
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Apls type switch with RGB, video:

User avatar
Muirium
µ

15 Jun 2014, 13:38

Intriguing. The DPK62A has a great layout, I wouldn't mind trying one of those! And the Alps mount caps on the white board above it would have lots of takers in the custom keyboard community over here for Matias boards. See if they'll sell you a box load!

User avatar
scottc

15 Jun 2014, 13:44

Those ALPS caps look lasered to me. Hopefully they're producing some better ones too.

Edit: They do mention "double injection" keycaps, but the picture shows Cherry MX mounts. Ho hum.

User avatar
Ducky Nordic
Kayvee

15 Jun 2014, 13:47

scottc wrote:Those ALPS caps look lasered to me. Hopefully they're producing some better ones too.
Ya that white board was pretty basic with lasered caps but apparently they also do doubleshots.

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scottc

15 Jun 2014, 13:54

Nice! I'm with Mu, grab a bucketload for us! ;)

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

15 Jun 2014, 18:15

In January 2013, Joel from Mechanical Keyboards mentioned "new ALPS clones" that he'd seen at Computex (which would have been June 2012). All my attempts to find out anything from Datacomp since then have been in vain.

I since learnt (from a different source) that Datacomp bought the tooling from Forward Electronics and were selling simplified Alps switches. It's hard to tell what I'm looking at from the photos above, but both the blue and red switches are shown with Alps-style tactile leaves, that I've never seen in any clone. What you can clearly see, though, is that they have Alps-shape shells, with the long side tabs and retention wings, so they're not any current stock product that I've ever seen.

The photos above appear to correlate the claim that Datacomp have continued the SKBL/SKBM line in their own factory. I've even got a photo of the moulding machine, but apparently it's all secret ;-) It's not completely secret as I found a website that clearly states that Datacomp make switches; in fact, the keyboard on that website is the same as the one pictured above:

http://demo.kcom.tw/ShowProducts.asp?id=239

I have no idea whose this website is, and they never responded either, so I gave up in the end — every last company is being utterly stubborn and awkward.

User avatar
webwit
Wild Duck

15 Jun 2014, 22:53

Somewhere in my photo archive I've pictures from a Datacomp expo in 2009, where they are showing at least the black variant.

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Daniel Beardsmore

15 Jun 2014, 23:18

Forward didn't stop making switches until 2012, so a switch from 2009 should not be the same product line. Unfortunately I know very little about Datacomp keyboards, and Datacomp aren't exactly forthcoming.

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webwit
Wild Duck

15 Jun 2014, 23:41

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User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

16 Jun 2014, 00:11

Wait, what has Filco got to do with Datacomp? (Plus, that being 2009, are those the 2KRO keyboards, with silver Filco logos?)

Strong Man used to describe their keyboards as having "Strong Man" switches, and thus far there is no evidence to support that any such switch exists. I've seen photos of the "Strong Man" switches in the Tactile Pro 2.0 (I think — it was someone on IRC and the images never got uploaded anywhere) and they're SKBM switches, from the same moulds (completely identical to those on my Tactile Pro 3 except with grey sliders). The other "Strong Man" switches were just Hua-Jie AK series so far as I can tell — they don't look any different from stock AK series switches.

Unfortunately, while even a luddite such as myself only has a "mere" 5 MP camera, so much of the world still clings to tiny little pictures like everyone's still on dial-up, so those new photos are still useless, as I can't make out enough detail. While it's true that they're Alps-shape, I can't get a clear look at the mould numbering to confirm or deny whether they came from the same moulds.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

16 Jun 2014, 00:13

What the? That's most of the same stuff Kayvee saw just now. And this was all 2009? We need to get Mr. Beardsmore embedded in Taiwan…

The sight of those itty bitty Alps mount space bars, my goodness!

User avatar
webwit
Wild Duck

16 Jun 2014, 00:28

Most of the file dates are from 2009, one or two from 2010 and one from 2011 (strongman). But it may be old anyway, I think I visited that url again and saved some pictures. There are some Cherry boards there as well. Datacomp made the bluetooth Filco which was only available in Japan.

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Muirium
µ

16 Jun 2014, 00:48

Now that is an interesting data point! Filco's most appealing, yet forbidden, Majestouch. Was there anything else different about it besides the controller?

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Daniel Beardsmore

16 Jun 2014, 01:09

Muirium wrote:We need to get Mr. Beardsmore embedded in Taiwan…
Depends if they really want someone snooping around and digging up all the dirt ;-) It's not like Datacomp want the West to know about their products, as they resist every attempt to learn more.

As for that Filco — since Costar don't make anything anyway, that's an interesting question. I don't know for sure how much Datacomp manufacture either; they may only handle final assembly.

User avatar
webwit
Wild Duck

16 Jun 2014, 01:20

I think it was a different keyboard inside, but I might remember wrongly. One thing that supports it is that Datacomp never displayed a wired Filco, Rosewill, etc.

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dorkvader

16 Jun 2014, 06:25

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:Wait, what has Filco got to do with Datacomp? (Plus, that being 2009, are those the 2KRO keyboards, with silver Filco logos?)
that is the bluetooth filco. I have one I desoldered for someone. I guess Datacomp OEM'd it.

I can take picturs if you like.

It's the hardest thing I've ever had to desloder. They used some exceedingly bad solder on it. Typical filco excellence otherwise.

I thought the bluetooth filco was more "known" or I'd have posted about it.

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Daniel Beardsmore

16 Jun 2014, 09:27

I knew of it, but I don't recall anyone previously mentioning that it was a Datacomp OEM. It's not covered on the wiki either, and I don't recall ever seeing any photos of the inside showing whether the parts are any different.

The assumption that everyone just "knows" everything makes no sense, and it makes doubly no sense if you assume that something undocumented is just "known".

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Ducky Nordic
Kayvee

16 Jun 2014, 11:11

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:...

Unfortunately, while even a luddite such as myself only has a "mere" 5 MP camera, so much of the world still clings to tiny little pictures like everyone's still on dial-up, so those new photos are still useless, as I can't make out enough detail. While it's true that they're Alps-shape, I can't get a clear look at the mould numbering to confirm or deny whether they came from the same moulds.
I might be able to fish some samples of their switches. Lets see what they say :)

EDIT: Oh and a guy nicknamed iqmore works for Ducky now. If its the same guy then i might be able to fish some other info too

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Daniel Beardsmore

16 Jun 2014, 19:24

Samples are good. Apparently when Forward removed the branding from Alps switches, they left the logo off the top permanently (possibly to help Strong Man brand them as "Strong Man switches"), but changed the logo on the bottom to read "FD". I only have a photo from someone in Japan showing it — I am not aware that anyone has ever desoldered an unbranded Alps simplified switch.

As such, samples would allow us to see what logo if any is present on the bottom.

"FD" photo is here:

http://deskthority.net/wiki/Alps_SKBL/SKBM_series

User avatar
sixty
Gasbag Guru

16 Jun 2014, 23:09

Daniel Beardsmore wrote:Samples are good. Apparently when Forward removed the branding from Alps switches, they left the logo off the top permanently (possibly to help Strong Man brand them as "Strong Man switches"), but changed the logo on the bottom to read "FD". I only have a photo from someone in Japan showing it — I am not aware that anyone has ever desoldered an unbranded Alps simplified switch.

As such, samples would allow us to see what logo if any is present on the bottom.

"FD" photo is here:

http://deskthority.net/wiki/Alps_SKBL/SKBM_series
Do you know anything about the reappearance of the ALPS branded switches in 2010/2011? Back then when Diatec first announced the full-size Filco boards for the Japanese market? They were very clear and proud of the fact that they were using genuine ALPS branded switches, which were obviously long out of production by then.

Now that we know that Diatec/Costar sourced their ALPS switches from Forward, could we assume that maybe for some extra money they dug out the old molds with the original logo again?

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From the Diatec press release in 2010.

I always assumed they had just found a bunch of spare new, old stock switches back then. But now with you having researched all this stuff, I really do wonder if maybe those switches were actually produced in 2010...

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Daniel Beardsmore

17 Jun 2014, 00:16

Now that's really weird. I've never heard of a "genuine" Alps Filco Zero, only "Fukka" and "XM".

The oldest date I can find for the Tactile Pro 2.0 from a quick search is May 2007:

http://www.bronzefinger.com/archives/20 ... ctile.html

The Tactile Pro 2.0 was reported by Matias to have swapped the white simplified Alps switches of the Tactile Pro (1) for grey "Strong Man switches", but we now know that most Tactile Pro (1) keyboards used grey Alps switches (I am not sure I've ever seen a photo of one with white switches). Strong Man's "Strong Man switch" claim with the TP2 was backed up by the switches being unbranded, at least on the top (I've never seen whether they say "FD" on the bottom). We can't prove who made the switches, but they're outwardly identical to those in the Tactile Pro 3, the "Fukka" Filco Zero, and (if you ignore the branding) genuine simplified Alps.

This puts a maximum date for the de-branding as May 2007. The joint venture between Alps and Forward (who I'm taking to have always made the simplified switches, as well as a lot of the complicated switches in the mid 90s, probably the ones with wobbly branding) ended in 2000. I don't know when the Tactile Pro (1) was released, but that date might also help.

Were Costar sourcing old stock switches as much as three years later? It's not inconceivable that some distributors still had batches of unsold switches.

What's more interesting is that the photo shows black Alps switches — I've never seen those in a Costar-made Filco. Now, the nearly identical ABS M1 had those switches:

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1435017
http://www.overclock.net/t/714268/club-abs-m1/150
http://techreport.com/review/16616/abs- ... l-keyboard
http://www.abs.com/Products/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=9

The first page is from July 2009, and all four pages show unbranded switches. Interestingly, ABS themselves used a diagram of a four-tab clone, that looks to have come from either a Xiang Min or Hua-Jie datasheet (they use the same diagram!)

So, those Alps-branded black switches in 2010 are clearly an anomaly. Of course, not everything I get told turns out to be true, so there may be further backtracking.

Sadly, there are far fewer photos of Zero switches, that I can find, but I don't recall ever seen them with Alps branding.

The answer may lie in what's written on the bottom of the switch, i.e. when did "FD" appear, and do all the apparently unbranded switches say "FD" on them? My soldering is sufficiently bad that I don't want to risk damaging my TP3 to get a switch out ;-)

Hak Foo

17 Jun 2014, 07:20

Muirium wrote:Intriguing. The DPK62A has a great layout, I wouldn't mind trying one of those! And the Alps mount caps on the white board above it would have lots of takers in the custom keyboard community over here for Matias boards. See if they'll sell you a box load!
Frankly, if you go to the site discussed in the thread

http://demo.kcom.tw/ShowProducts.asp?id=238

might have even more potential... 1.25x modifiers throughout-- a rarity in Alpsalike boards.

They look good for lasered caps, but they're likely that drill-and-fill type of lasering. The symbols completely wore off my Ducky 1008XM on several caps done that way.

But weirdly, it seems like that model number is also marketed with MX switches

http://www.acesuppliers.com/Supplier_Co ... 46655.html

REVENGE

18 Jun 2014, 11:34

Kinesis/Goldtouch/Genovation? Check.
DS International? Check.
Ancer? Check.

Wow, I want the modern day version of that SMK-104. This wooden case deserves some loving internals.

User avatar
Daniel Beardsmore

26 Dec 2014, 18:18

Prod!

Over six months on — has anyone managed to dig out any higher-resolution photos of anything posted above?

I assume no switch samples were forthcoming either?

User avatar
Muirium
µ

26 Dec 2014, 19:03

Kayvee (Ducky Nordic) hasn't shown up since October, so looking unlikely.

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