Zenith Z-150 Restoration

User avatar
Go-Kart

10 Oct 2021, 18:29

Ello, ello, ello! A fellow DT member very kindly agreed to let his Z-150 go. This maybe the prettiest keyboard I've ever laid my eyes on ...dare I say, even prettier than my FK-2000 Plus!? As far as I'm concerned, I've already reached "End Game" with my HHKB Type-S, Focus and Apex Pro; for key feel, aesthetics/sound and gaming respectively. However, this could be a serious contender in the majority of those categories if I get it right.
Z-150 Main.jpg
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Z-150 Caps.jpg
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Z-150 badge.jpg
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Z-150 Switches.jpg
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This thread will serve as a point where I can check my thinking with more learned enthusiasts, straight up ask for help and share my experience with anyone else who is lucky enough to get one of these boards but lacks the confidence of dealing with restoring such a thing, like my myself.

So, I've found two or three other Z-150 threads, one quite recent, regarding pin outs and what not which have helped me discern my approach somewhat. I believe this Z-150 is the AT model due to it's badge. However, the PCB more closely resembles an XT PCB from what I can gather, the presence of Greens suggests it's an older model and I am aware that there was some sort of manufacturing overlap with the XT and AT models. I realise that the presence of lock lights would indicate that it's AT but I wish to be sure. Model label: 100-1860, PCB markings: 820-0204, XTAL, TC1-A35S. The original cable is missing, so before considering my next move, is there anyone that can confirm whether this is AT or XT?
Z-150 PCB (1).jpg
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Z-150 PCB (4).jpg
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Z-150 PCB (2).jpg
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Z-150 Guts (3).jpg
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Z-150 Guts (1).jpg
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If it's AT, I'm going to try and keep it as original as possible. The seller very kindly included a spare DIN cable that I was considering soldering on to the board to get this thing up and running but I kinda want a big dong, beige coil impractically sticking out the side, like a Zenith should have! My PC has native PS2 support so finding an original coiled AT cable (or something similar) would be my primary goal. Though, if it speaks XT, I may save myself the hunt and go for an internal Teensy conversion instead.
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Z-150 Cable (1).jpg
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Z-150 Cable (2).jpg
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While I take my time to figure out how to get this talking again, I've begun the cleaning process. These Greens do need the full job. I plan to leave them soldered (apart from the one broken on the Num Pad), clean the bottom housings and plate in situ, and have already bathed the top housings and sliders. After watching a great Twitch stream where a fellow DT member experimented with one of the most recent Alps lubrication techniques, I'm pretty sold on the boiling water/paraffin method. However, there is something that may be simple that I first need help on. After searching the forum and the Wiki, I couldn't spot any tips ...how the bloody hell can you remove SKCL Green top housings when the switches have LEDs in them!? I have the Orihalcon Alps Tool (worth every penny BTW), but the top housings don't seem to budge! Do they just require greater force? Is there a trick to it?
Z-150 LED Switch.jpg
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Z-150 repair.jpg
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Anyway, thanks for reading. Looking forward to getting this beauty back to where it should be! ....and irritating work colleagues with the beeper :mrgreen:
Z-150 Guts (2).jpg
Z-150 Guts (2).jpg (1.84 MiB) Viewed 900 times

User avatar
hellothere

10 Oct 2021, 19:17

I also have a Z150 AT. The XT version has a black Zenith label.

* The LEDs in the switches are soldered to the PCB. You can't remove them without de-soldering the switch AND the LED.

* If you can get the keyboard to work, please, please, PLEASE share whatever wiring you do for a converter or even if you try to convert another cable. The conversion info on DT is mostly for the XT version.

* I think Orihalcon mentions that the opener tool you have -- I've currently got two from him -- works "better" on de-soldered switches. I think that should be, "Only works on de-soldered switches." :D

User avatar
TNT

10 Oct 2021, 21:27

One of my favourite boards (the black badge version is prettier tho :P). Nice condition, no yellowing at all.

For conversion infos, you might want to check this out. The white label Z-150s are kinda inconsistent afaik. Some work fine with just a simple AT to PS2 adapter, some work with Hasu's XT-converter and some don't want to work at all on a system running Windows. I think I read somewhere it had to do with the shape of your pcb. The rounded ones apparently are the troublemakers, so not your version.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

10 Oct 2021, 22:18

Glad you like it. 8-)

I can vouch for this particular keyboard playing nice with my Soarer box, on AT mode. Haven’t had a computer with a native PS/2 port to plug it into for about 20 years.

User avatar
Go-Kart

11 Oct 2021, 13:44

Thanks for all the input, guys! And thanks for the solid clarification on the language, Mu. It's funny, when I was upgrading my PC a few months ago, I decided to not hold back on a motherboard. However, the limiting factor for me was a native PS2 port :lol:

So it sounds like I should try and hunt down a close to original AT cable for this thing. Anyone reading this, please PM if you have something that looks right and is plug and play for this PCB (will post a WTB too).
hellothere wrote:
10 Oct 2021, 19:17
* The LEDs in the switches are soldered to the PCB. You can't remove them without de-soldering the switch AND the LED.
So I can't get into the switch/remove the top housings without desoldering the whole switch and LED?
TNT wrote:
10 Oct 2021, 21:27
One of my favourite boards (the black badge version is prettier tho :P).
I thought I'd agree with you looking at pictures of both but seeing this one in the flesh, I don't know... :mrgreen:

User avatar
TNT

11 Oct 2021, 15:17

Go-Kart wrote:
11 Oct 2021, 13:44


So I can't get into the switch/remove the top housings without desoldering the whole switch and LED?
Top housing just slides over the LED, so the tops should be removable. The side with the LED is a little tricky though. I don't have one of Orihalcon's openers since I always had good results with simple cocktail sticks.

User avatar
Palatino

11 Oct 2021, 23:12

Nice nice nice! Congratulations. I keep zooming in on that first picture and I can’t see a single blemish (except what I take to be an Irn-Bru stain on the cable ;) )

I’ve been after a Zenith for a while; I let a couple go by on eBay because of either condition or price, but I don’t know quite what I’m waiting for: NIB for no money? This one has ended up in good hands: I’m happy to live this one vicariously through your updates. Don’t worry about my turning green with envy: I do have a set of my own, albeit for putting ink to paper.
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Lanrefni

12 Oct 2021, 02:06

Go-Kart wrote:
11 Oct 2021, 13:44
Thanks for all the input, guys! And thanks for the solid clarification on the language, Mu. It's funny, when I was upgrading my PC a few months ago, I decided to not hold back on a motherboard. However, the limiting factor for me was a native PS2 port :lol:

So it sounds like I should try and hunt down a close to original AT cable for this thing. Anyone reading this, please PM if you have something that looks right and is plug and play for this PCB (will post a WTB too).
hellothere wrote:
10 Oct 2021, 19:17
* The LEDs in the switches are soldered to the PCB. You can't remove them without de-soldering the switch AND the LED.
So I can't get into the switch/remove the top housings without desoldering the whole switch and LED?
TNT wrote:
10 Oct 2021, 21:27
One of my favourite boards (the black badge version is prettier tho :P).
I thought I'd agree with you looking at pictures of both but seeing this one in the flesh, I don't know... :mrgreen:
When I picked my X570 motherboard a native PS/2 port was a big factor in my choice,I have 2 boards that use it and didn't feel like making an adapter.

User avatar
hellothere

12 Oct 2021, 17:07

hellothere wrote:
10 Oct 2021, 19:17
* The LEDs in the switches are soldered to the PCB. You can't remove them without de-soldering the switch AND the LED.
Go-Kart wrote: So I can't get into the switch/remove the top housings without desoldering the whole switch and LED?
Well, unless you're somewhat masochistic. De-soldering and re-soldering 4 pins is going to be easier, based on my massive experience of one Z-150 that has green Alps :D.

TNT, one of the reasons that both Go-Kart and I have a problem is because we have cut keyboard cables and the pinouts listed are for the cable end, not the keyboard end. That being said, I hadn't, until this thread, seen anyone say that there are some XT versions of the Z-150 with the white badge.

I will eventually try to wire up a TMK and play with the wiring, but it's not my top priority.

Please note that the TMK stuff is now at https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=103648.0. The stuff at https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=94649.0 is no longer supported. Hasu also mentions ...
Hasu wrote:The firmware supports ATmega32u4, ATmega32u2, AT90USB1286 by default, Teensy2/2++ or Pro Micro can be used ... Pro Micro is not recommended unless you are already familiar or have skill and time enough.

User avatar
hellothere

12 Oct 2021, 17:13

You can also take a look at viewtopic.php?t=12972

User avatar
Go-Kart

16 Oct 2021, 14:09

Thanks all for the input.

Palatino, you never no, if I get this knocked into shape by the time the next U.K. meet occurs, this may be the board I bring to show off :roll:

User avatar
hellothere

17 Oct 2021, 04:13

Brain dump time.

I read a couple of pages that say that the XT versions of the Z-150 have rounded corners on the PCB. Mine has. Go-Kart, yours doesn't. I also have a different part number for the PCB, 1 (might be "L" or "I," but I can Google the part number if I start with 1) 2KC564B. Mine also has the old style Alps logo. Yours has the block caps. So, I can't tell what protocol your Z-150 speaks. I also have double-shot caps, which are supposed to be newer.

* I found a service manual for the Z-150. It's here (PDF). ​Keyboard stuff starts at page 40.
* There's a user's guide here (PDF).
* It may have been posted elsewhere, but here's a Zenith Z-150 Personal Computer Desktop System pamphlet (black label; PDF). If you Google "www.1000bit.it/ad/bro/zenith," you'll find some more ads (don't add the comma, but do add the quotation marks).
* The micro controller in my Z-150 is a 40 pin NEC D8049HC. A full pin diagram is listed online.
* The "secondary" controller on my Z-150 is a 14 pin Texas Instruments sn74ls125an. The part's even still available.

User avatar
Go-Kart

18 Oct 2021, 05:37

hellothere wrote:
17 Oct 2021, 04:13
Brain dump time.

I read a couple of pages that say that the XT versions of the Z-150 have rounded corners on the PCB. Mine has. Go-Kart, yours doesn't. I also have a different part number for the PCB, 1 (might be "L" or "I," but I can Google the part number if I start with 1) 2KC564B. Mine also has the old style Alps logo. Yours has the block caps. So, I can't tell what protocol your Z-150 speaks. I also have double-shot caps, which are supposed to be newer.

* I found a service manual for the Z-150. It's here (PDF). ​Keyboard stuff starts at page 40.
* There's a user's guide here (PDF).
* It may have been posted elsewhere, but here's a Zenith Z-150 Personal Computer Desktop System pamphlet (black label; PDF). If you Google "www.1000bit.it/ad/bro/zenith," you'll find some more ads (don't add the comma, but do add the quotation marks).
* The micro controller in my Z-150 is a 40 pin NEC D8049HC. A full pin diagram is listed online.
* The "secondary" controller on my Z-150 is a 14 pin Texas Instruments sn74ls125an. The part's even still available.
A brilliant brain dump! I haven't had time to touch the Zenith after my initial post but this is great stuff. Hoping to attack this soon!

User avatar
hellothere

23 Oct 2021, 00:39

Howdy. I mentioned in my build thread that I did get my Zenith to do some basic stuff. You might want to try to get yours wired up!

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