First Build Thread Custom Alps TKL


14 Feb 2019, 20:46

So about two weeks ago I was looking around my basement and rediscovered my grandpa's old Mac Plus with the M0110a board and I wondered if I could get it to work with a new computer. Long story short, I ended up ordering Hasu's converter and then the bug bit me. My grandma on my other side of the family had given me an Apple //c which has just been sitting in the basement for years and years and after some research, I discovered that it has the Amber Alps switches. For about the past week or so I have been reading as much as I possibly can about these switches and how I can utilize them on a custom keyboard. My plan is to build a TKL style keyboard that uses the amber switches that I can harvest from the //c and I will fill in the remaining, less used keys with clicky Matias switches (f1,f2,f3... etc) This build may not be as elegant as other builds, but I am a college student so my budget is relatively limited. Here are the parts that I have ordered so far:

Phantom TKL plate: $42
Tai-Hao Keycaps: $50
50x Matias Clicky Switches: $28

I already have a CM Quickfire Rapid that I bought from my brother for $40 and the Amber Alps were free.

All that adds up to about $240 which is quite pricey to me but compared to the price of other custom Alps TKL boards I feel like I'm stealing it. I'm just hoping that the Phantom plate will fit into the CM case but I have a hunch it will. I am also planning to reuse the cherry stabilizers from the CM because the Phantom Plate is only compatible with cherry stabilizers and the Tai-Hao keycaps only accept cherry stabilizers.

This weekend I will be desoldering the amber alps from the //c and I will be sure to post pictures and document everything with this build because there only seems to be a few TKL Alps builds and it was difficult to find helpful information about this. Hopefully I can provide information to others when this is all said and done.

My question is, am I missing any parts? And do you have any tips in general?

Thanks for reading,


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14 Feb 2019, 20:59

No suggestions from me but I am looking forward to your build. Your could easily spend $200 for those amber's so that's a good you have those already.

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14 Feb 2019, 23:39

I look forward to seeing the photos!

Not missing anything by my count. Except maybe a USB cable.

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14 Feb 2019, 23:55

Will you repopulate the IIC with other switches?


15 Feb 2019, 03:03

I most likely will not repopulate the //c because it needs repair, I suspect that it has the same issue that the Mac Plus had with electrolytic capacitors. I most likely would not use it anyways if I'm honest. Several capacitors on the Mac Plus exploded after a while of using it but they were easy to replace. Unfortunately it broke again, I think there is something wrong with the video card on it because it seems to boot up fine, the screen just wont display anything.


15 Feb 2019, 03:05

On a side note, I believe the PCB is going to take a few weeks to get here from LFKeyboards. Has anyone else here had experience with them, and how long it actually takes for them to arrive?

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15 Feb 2019, 04:25

I'll take the //c off your hands for the cost of shipping, always wanted to work on a vintage Apple machine.

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15 Feb 2019, 14:41

I doubt it's worth nothing even without the switches


16 Feb 2019, 02:24

Alright here’s is a picture with all the keycaps off and uncleaned. I am getting a solder sucker and the mail tomorrow and will begin working on it. Also, I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with the rest of the //c but if I decide to let it go I will be in touch. Tonight I will take apart as many switches as I can and begin cleaning everything before I desolder.

Hopefully the picture attaches properly.
DE0A3EA8-13E4-4550-90C3-64859D298278.jpeg (4.69 MiB) Viewed 1217 times


17 Feb 2019, 20:53

After some very tedious work, I was able to get all of the switches removed and cleaned. I chose not to lubricate the switches and just used compressed air to get any dust out and they feel plenty smooth. I don’t think they were used a whole lot to begin with. Here are some pictures of the switches, and the cooler master case that they will be going into eventually. I plan on painting it a semi-gloss gunmetal grey color. Most of the components with the exception of the PCB will be arriving on Tuesday. Hopefully the PCB doesn’t take too long, I’m very anxious to complete the build.
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F958CC7B-9DA7-41CC-86A2-36FC3BC6DFB4.jpeg (3.86 MiB) Viewed 1159 times

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Offtopicthority Instigator

17 Feb 2019, 21:05

Very nice project.

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18 Feb 2019, 01:40

Are you going to use the lock switches on your build? If not, then I'll buy them along with the IIC if you ever want to sell (locking Alps are hard to come by)


21 Feb 2019, 02:17

Ok here is an update, I got the plate and key caps in the mail. The phantom plate holds alps switches in the 1u spots perfectly but they do not lock in in other places. I think that this will be okay because I’m just going to solder the switches directly to the pcb and then everything should fit okay. Another problem with the phantom plate is the lack of a lip at the bottom where the plate rests on the case. I found some zip ties that are the perfect size and I will be epoxying two zip ties back to back to add some rigidity, then epoxying that assmebly to the case where the plate will rest. If anyone has a better solution for this please let me know. BTW I’m willing to sell one locking alps. I haven’t actually tested any of these switches but I’m willing to bet that they one. I’m using one and keeping another as a spare, but the third one I’ll sell. The //c is currently back at my home and I’m at college right now and do not have access to it.


21 Feb 2019, 02:49

Here’s a quick picture of the unfinished product.
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21 Feb 2019, 09:36

Very nice project, looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Amber alps are still on my "to try" list so this one is of particular interest to me :).

Custom boards don't have to break the bank, my favourite came from a £20 Focus board and a £15 junker M0118 I nabbed on ebay.

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22 Feb 2019, 02:08

Try getting a Matias stabilizer kit and cut everything off the existing stabilizer clips except for the part that holds the wire. Then you should be able to use the longer Matias wires and hooks without them hitting the stabilizer clips.

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