Finally a proper case for the Vortex ViBE

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22 Jun 2019, 20:47

The layout of the Vortex ViBE is pretty much perfect for me. After starting with a MX brown version, I changed to silent reds and in the end I took the first board and replaced the MX browns with lubed Healios.
The only thing missing now was a proper case. I've never been a fan of the "caseless" floating designs, but had to accept it, because there is not really an alternative with that key layout.

After seeing photos of the Apple M0110A keyboard and doing some guessing, I tought the opening might be just the right size for the ViBE and I got one on eBay.

The gaps on the top and bottom are perfect. On the sides it's a very tight fit. To prevent the keycaps in the corners hitting the case you could:
- make the rounded corners of the case square
- modify the corner keycaps
- What I did was, that I just used a round file from below and widened the corners in a slanted way - invisible from the top (hard to describe; I should have made a photo :roll: )

Removing the separator was a bit "intimidating", but with a saw, file and sandpaper (150, 400, 2000) it turned out perfectly. (after retro-brighting practically invisible)

After removal of the separator, but before retro-brighting:
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Then you need a nearly 3 mm thick piece of board (the top side was originally white, so I put matt black film onto it to prevent any white stuff peeking out from underneath later):
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- 6 small holes for the case screws
- a cut-out for the cable on the top
- 2 bigger holes in the upper half, where the case of the ViBE gets fixed - using the screw holes for the feet. I had to take/make longer screws than the originals that are used for the feet, though. (These holes should be bigger than the diameter of the screws, so you can adjust the position of the keyboard later. That also means you need washers on the underside, which again increases the needed length of the screws.)
- the biggest holes towards the bottom are not really necessary - for some reason I only didn't want to take the lower rubber feet of the ViBE - so they end up in those holes.

USB extension cable fixed with some rubber at the cases exit. Angled micro usb adapter and a few sheets of rubber-cork (of which I bought far too much - for making replacement feet for Model F XTs) to reduce the hollowness:
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Assembled - apart from the top case. (In the end I added very thin metal washers to the holes for the case screws, because my board was a tiny bit too thin, which put a bit of stress onto the case, when I tightened the screws. Especially noticeable in the middle of the horizontal gaps, where the case then bends towards the keys. )
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(The marbled look comes from my first retro-bright attempt using the original 8-bit-guy method. But in the end I liked it so much, that I didn't try to "fix" it.)
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And my favourite beauty shot (again):
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22 Jun 2019, 22:55

Dude, that's the most beautyful keyboard I have ever seen. For some reason both yellowing and marbling look so good on the M110's. I have one in his original state and I love it, but because of the layout rarely goes out of the plastic bag.

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23 Jun 2019, 01:11

Excellent work! How about a typing demo video, so we see how it handles under usage? (and how do healios sound inside that case, too)

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23 Jun 2019, 11:55

Thanks a lot.

Concerning typing demo: I tried that already, but - just as with den Model F XT videos, I did some time ago - it sounds very, very reverberating. No matter, if I use my photo-camera or an iPhone. That doesn't do it justice.
(Maybe I'll try a different setup ....)

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23 Jun 2019, 13:56

New try in terms of video production :D - with camera (=microphone) directly above the keyboard:

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Gotta start somewhere

23 Jun 2019, 17:00

That is really cool. Except I think the marbled look just looks like smudges on the case, but to each their own.

Stuff like this makes me glad I kept a lot of the vintage cases I had from desoldering projects.

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23 Jun 2019, 18:15

Andy that is sick man !

Really nice work !

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23 Jun 2019, 22:10


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23 Jun 2019, 23:47

Never considered Vortex keyboards until now. Impressive result.

I am wondering if there are any other magic combos like this.

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24 Jun 2019, 18:49

The /dev/tty Triumph keycaps are the real stars here. Well done!

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27 Jun 2019, 18:41

that's a nice looking board you've got there.


27 Jun 2019, 18:55


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27 Jun 2019, 21:26

It's always gratifying to see a fortuitous repurposing of vintage parts. Nice work.

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28 Jun 2019, 07:13

So very cool!

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28 Jun 2019, 14:49

That was a very nice idea. It's sound is awesome. On marbling I would really like to see the case properly retro brightened instead, but for each one its own taste.

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02 Jul 2019, 06:42

Wow, I just saw this on the header, absolutely beautiful!

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30 Jul 2019, 07:39

Beautiful... but a huge shame. Mac 128k/512k/Plus keyboards are expensive enough as it is, I'd rather not be paying $300 for one of them in a few year's time when everybody has cannibalized their cases :(

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30 Jul 2019, 10:29

I'm quite sure nobody will pay $300 for a yellowed M0110A keyboard with EXTREMELY scratchy and binding Mitsumi switches and missing/wrong keycaps. ;)

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16 Sep 2019, 19:22

I tried using the developer creme twice, and both times it marbled even when using plastic wrap and keeping it moist. I'd never recommend it. Just leaving the case out in the sun will brighten it, but it can take several days of exposure. It also avoids making the plastics more brittle. Otherwise, just submerging it in hydrogen peroxide (even deluded) and leaving in the sun or under UV will make for a very quick and even brightening.

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