A Japanese Keyboard Adventure

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13 May 2020, 23:38

I picked these up a while ago from the Yahoo auctions, and now that I am finally starting to dig into them I wanted to document my findings.


Firstly an introduction:

The blue Filco is a FKB-107j-AI (when I bought it I was hoping the Al on the end meant the case was aluminum, spoiler alert, it didn't) I'm not great at identifying alps clones, but I think these are alps.tw switches. (feel free to correct me if you think otherwise)

The grey Macway is a TecParts TP-999KB-E using white alps

The beige Mackey is a Sanwa Supply SKB-102MJ using black alps. It appears this one was a display model for a store window or display as it's box's top had been cut off and the pattern of yellowing makes it look like there was a card or something over the nav cluster. The box also lists a price of ¥15800.

The beige Filco is a FKB-109J also using black alps

All of these are "ADB" keyboards, but I have seen some references to some similar looking Filco models being sold as PS/2 compatible. My 'goal' is to see if I can get any of these working over USB with minimal effort.

My first discovery was that, based on the FCC ID, SMK appears to have been the OEM on both the Filcos and the SKB-102. I also found this blog http://rikuntyudady.blog101.fc2.com/blo ... 40608.html that shows a customized SKB with a bunch of custom PCs. so my hopes were high that I might be able to get at least those 3 working.

The my next step was to tear them down and see what I was working with. In this process I discovered I really hate the way that the Filcos and the TP-999 are put together. There are 3 screws across the bottom, and then these little tiny screws on the back side that hold the top cover in place. These little screws can be very finicky. I was able to get the FKB-107 and TP-999 apart but that little screw didn't want to come out of the FKB-109. The SKB on the other hand is seems far better built, but it uses clips to hold the top case on and I can't get the clips out. So, that leaves me at a 50% success of getting these things open so far.

The screw that defeated me Image

Inside the FKB-107 wasn't super eventful. If the FCC ID wasn't enough confirmation of SMK building the board, this should be.
It was also dated 04 06 94. I assume that was a mold production date though, because the numbers were molded in.

The TP-999 as it turns out was hiding mild levels of keyboard gore on the inside. I was surprised how much dust and debris it was hiding on the inside given the relatively clean exterior. After a lighter cleaning then I probably should have given it I could see that the PCB was labeled Datacomp and MAC97B, so I assume that this one won't be a simple conversion.

Since I was getting tired of fussing with the cases on the other two boards I decided to jump right into trying to convert the FKB-107. For this I cut up a PS/2 cable and a s-video cable. At this point cave man brain took over and said red go to red, black go to black, etc. This didn't work and I realized I ad to actually figure out what pin was what wire.

Here's the diagram I came up with

and after some some trial and error this is the what I came up with (PS/2 on the left, s-video on the right)

Surprisingly this actually worked for both of the Filcos, and I figured I should write all this down before I forgot it all. The next steps will be to test all the keys on the FKB-107 and 109 to see if everything works and to try and get the SKB apart to see if SMK put a jumper in there labeled PS/2 that will allow me to switch it to PS/2 output (probably wishful thinking).

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09 Jun 2020, 20:18

I am also on the trail of these mysterious SMK boards with various manufacturer rebrands.
Please let me know if you come across any with transparent caps.

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09 Jun 2020, 20:21

Please post pictures to the wiki if possible with any other information.

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