Rebranded Northgate, how common was this?

xicanoink

02 May 2019, 18:09

So a lucky Ebay buy and I got this Northgate Omnikey 102. It's white Alps switches, some of the caps are typical doubleshot Northgate keys and the others are just simple Alps style caps that have specific instrument command labels.
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The rebrand is Brookhaven Instrument Corporation.
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Are these common? Were there several companies that got their own Northgates specifically tailored to their industry? What others are out there?

Keyboard is in great shape and the white alps feel awesome!
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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

02 May 2019, 18:39

Neat! Rebranded boards are always really interesting to me.

I've had two rebranded omnikeys in my time in the hobby:

1) Praxis branded omnikey 101 (I regret selling this one)
Spoiler:
Image
2) TietoEnator branded avant stellar (a resto project later down the road)
Spoiler:
Image

xicanoink

02 May 2019, 18:54

Wow, TIL! Thanks. Dig those blue keys.

Wazrach

02 May 2019, 19:45

//gainsborough wrote:
02 May 2019, 18:39
Neat! Rebranded boards are always really interesting to me.

I've had two rebranded omnikeys in my time in the hobby:

1) Praxis branded omnikey 101 (I regret selling this one)
Spoiler:
Image
2) TietoEnator branded avant stellar (a resto project later down the road)
Spoiler:
Image
Why do you regret selling the Praxis one?

I have a regular NG 102 on the way. :) Hoping the switches feel good. I think I will swap out the spacebar switch for a single Blue Alps switch to replicate that delicious thunk of the gold badge version.

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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

02 May 2019, 19:57

Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 19:45
Why do you regret selling the Praxis one?

I have a regular NG 102 on the way. :) Hoping the switches feel good. I think I will swap out the spacebar switch for a single Blue Alps switch to replicate that delicious thunk of the gold badge version.
Because it was unique =( I forget who I sold it to but I'm sure they are enjoying it! I restored it with NOS SKCM whites!

BTW that thunk isn't unique to blue alps! I have a gold label 102 with white alps that has that same sound! I would say if, when you get it, it already sounds nice then there's no need to switch it! I also think blue alps are slightly lighter than white alps, so you'd have a lighter spacebar if you switched.

Wazrach

02 May 2019, 21:46

//gainsborough wrote:
02 May 2019, 19:57
Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 19:45
Why do you regret selling the Praxis one?

I have a regular NG 102 on the way. :) Hoping the switches feel good. I think I will swap out the spacebar switch for a single Blue Alps switch to replicate that delicious thunk of the gold badge version.
Because it was unique =( I forget who I sold it to but I'm sure they are enjoying it! I restored it with NOS SKCM whites!

BTW that thunk isn't unique to blue alps! I have a gold label 102 with white alps that has that same sound! I would say if, when you get it, it already sounds nice then there's no need to switch it! I also think blue alps are slightly lighter than white alps, so you'd have a lighter spacebar if you switched.
I wouldn't mind the lighter spacebar. I've just noticed that Chyros' Blue Alps Omnikey has an amazing spacebar, but the White Alps Ultra doesn't sound that good. To me, the spacebar is the most important part of the keyboard's sound. What would you say is the cause for the "thicker" sound, even with the gold badge Omnikey that has White Alps? Is it a lack of landing pads in the earlier models or something?

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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

02 May 2019, 22:13

I do know that the older omnikeys are top mounted plates rather than bottom - maybe that he something to do with it?

Wazrach

02 May 2019, 23:01

//gainsborough wrote:
02 May 2019, 22:13
I do know that the older omnikeys are top mounted plates rather than bottom - maybe that he something to do with it?
What about the badge? Is it possible to remove the not-as-nice blue on grey badge and replace it with a custom one? I had a badge made for my F122 which I don't have yet, but I am really impressed with it. Not like I can upload a picture, because there's always an error...

AbstraktDesignLab

02 May 2019, 23:26

From what I know, northgates were very commonly resold with 386 machines under different names.

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//gainsborough
ALPSの日常

02 May 2019, 23:32

Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 23:01
What about the badge? Is it possible to remove the not-as-nice blue on grey badge and replace it with a custom one?
You can! Even the gold label badges are just stickers. You just need to get underneath them to remove them. I've thought about making a silver badge for omnikey 101s to compliment the gold badges on 102s.

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Polecat

03 May 2019, 06:05

Thanks for sharing this! I have a rebranded Gen2 Northgate labelled "Cutting Edge", with Mac-style legends. There were also some unbranded Gen1 102 models that were sold with no label on top, and no Northgate ID label on the back. In fact one just sold on ebay. The inspection numbers on those don't fall into the usual Northgate scheme. I don't know the story on these, but I've seen several over the years, and I own one myself. And one is documented to have come that way by the original owner.

I'm curious if yours has a normal Northgate label on the bottom? That would tell us if it was bought as a Northgate and rebranded, or if it was specially built that way by the manufacturer. The TietoEnator versions were also custom built, and have their own serial number scheme. My Cutting Edge has a normal Northgate label on the bottom, so it was probably rebranded after it was sold.

I don't think we really know who built Northgate's keyboards, but it has been suggested that the "Quality Inspected by F.E." (as many are labelled) may stand for Focus Electronics. There are other similarities to Focus boards also.

xicanoink

03 May 2019, 15:29

Oh yeah, sorry. The back is normal Northgate.
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Polecat

04 May 2019, 05:36

xicanoink wrote:
03 May 2019, 15:29
Oh yeah, sorry. The back is normal Northgate.
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Yep, standard Gen3 Northgate label and serial number. Probably bought from Northgate and rebranded/recapped like my Cutting Edge and //gainsborough's Praxis rather than being ordered directly from the manufacturer (Focus Electronics?) like the unbranded Gen1s and the TietoEnator.

The Omnikey keyboards were originally sold as part of a computer system, but Northgate started offering them separately as demand increased. They could be bought by mail order or through local computer stores. Originally there was only the 102 model, but several different versions were introduced as they became more popular.

I've been compiling a database of Northgate keyboards (also Focus, Monterey, and a few others) in hopes of documenting all the different versions, after finding surprisingly little about them online. And it's always neat to see something new.

Wazrach

08 May 2019, 21:10

Well, I'm pleased to say that she sounds beautiful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4QPnuNcngHQ

Ronald558

01 Jun 2019, 09:01

Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 23:01
vidmate
//gainsborough wrote:
02 May 2019, 22:13
I do know that the older omnikeys are top mounted plates rather than bottom - maybe that he something to do with it?
What about the badge? Is it possible to remove the not-as-nice blue on grey badge and replace it with a custom one? I had a badge made for my F122 which I don't have yet, but I am really impressed with it. Not like I can upload a picture, because there's always an error...
You just need to get underneath them to remove them. I've thought about making a silver badge for omnikey 101s to compliment the gold badges on 102s.

Ernest44

10 Jul 2019, 08:58

Ronald558 wrote:
01 Jun 2019, 09:01
Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 23:01
9apps
//gainsborough wrote:
02 May 2019, 22:13
I do know that the older omnikeys are top mounted plates rather than bottom - maybe that he something to do with it?
What about the badge? Is it possible to remove the not-as-nice blue on grey badge and replace it with a custom one? I had a badge made for my F122 which I don't have yet, but I am really impressed with it. Not like I can upload a picture, because there's always an error...
You just need to get underneath them to remove them. I've thought about making a silver badge for omnikey 101s to compliment the gold badges on 102s.
There were also some unbranded Gen1 102 models that were sold with no label on top, and no Northgate ID label on the back. In fact one just sold on ebay. The inspection numbers on those don't fall into the usual Northgate scheme. I don't know the story on these, but I've seen several over the years, and I own one myself. And one is documented to have come that way by the original owner.

I'm curious if yours has a normal Northgate label on the bottom? That would tell us if it was bought as a Northgate and rebranded, or if it was specially built that way by the manufacturer. The TietoEnator versions were also custom built, and have their own serial number scheme.

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Chyros

10 Jul 2019, 09:03

Ernest44 wrote:
10 Jul 2019, 08:58
Ronald558 wrote:
01 Jun 2019, 09:01
Wazrach wrote:
02 May 2019, 23:01
9apps

What about the badge? Is it possible to remove the not-as-nice blue on grey badge and replace it with a custom one? I had a badge made for my F122 which I don't have yet, but I am really impressed with it. Not like I can upload a picture, because there's always an error...
You just need to get underneath them to remove them. I've thought about making a silver badge for omnikey 101s to compliment the gold badges on 102s.
There were also some unbranded Gen1 102 models that were sold with no label on top, and no Northgate ID label on the back. In fact one just sold on ebay. The inspection numbers on those don't fall into the usual Northgate scheme. I don't know the story on these, but I've seen several over the years, and I own one myself. And one is documented to have come that way by the original owner.

I'm curious if yours has a normal Northgate label on the bottom? That would tell us if it was bought as a Northgate and rebranded, or if it was specially built that way by the manufacturer. The TietoEnator versions were also custom built, and have their own serial number scheme.
Is there any Focus branding or Focus-style QC stickers on the inside?

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Polecat

13 Jul 2019, 21:55

Chyros wrote:
10 Jul 2019, 09:03

Is there any Focus branding or Focus-style QC stickers on the inside?
It looks like Ernest44's reply didn't come though. Please try again, Ernest44!

Chyros, here are a few photos from my unbranded 102. No Focus ID anywhere. There are no QC or other stickers on the PC board. On the bottom cover there's the warranty/QC label with the serial (or inspection) number and a small white and green label with what is probably a date code. Any idea what "SD" might stand for? Note that the serial number is not in the same format as Northgate 102 models. I have three of these in my database, all with similar serial numbers.
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warranty sticker
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small paper label "SD"?
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PC board legends
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Chyros

13 Jul 2019, 23:03

Interesting; no, I don't know what SD is, but the serial number is Focus-style, and F.E. also seems to be connected to them. It's difficult to place these exactly in the timeline with certainty, but considering it's kinda midway through changing from Focus-style to Northgate-style, I'd say it's a pretty early one.

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Polecat

14 Jul 2019, 00:51

It has white SKCM switches, as do the other two on my list that are unbranded with the seven digit number beginning with "1". All the other Gen1 Omnikeys on my list have an eight digit number with "8" as the first digit, with one exception. The exception is my July 1988 label date 102 with a 102xxxxx number (eight digits) and blue SKCM switches, which happens to be the earliest 102 I have on record. I'm guessing that the "102" in its number is the model, just like the early Focus boards which had a "555" or "727" (etc.) there. That is not the case on the above example, as the other two unbranded ones on the list are 100xxxx and 102xxxx.

I'm guessing these unbranded ones were made for another computer company, or possibly to be sold through retail outlets under a different name.

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