Heavily modded Kinesis Contoured

User avatar
Quartz64

16 Oct 2020, 19:28

This isn't my first modded Kinesis. I've modded 4 of them in a similar way by replacing switches (I'm not a fan of Cherry MX Browns), replacing rubber top row with mechanical switches and handwiring it all to a custom controller running QMK.

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But this one was special. Kinesis Essential KB132PC with typical problems: obsolete controller, yellowed chassis, Cherry Browns, rubber buttons (some of them were failing), hollow sound. The owner carefully listened for my explanation of powerful QMK wonders and flashing process, and finally asked me to preserve the original controller. So I had to install 3 panels with 6 MX switches instead of 2 to match existing 18 rubber buttons.

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That was easier than it sounds. All I had to do is desolder two Molex FPC connectors, put something more suitable instead and find the pinouts of the original membranes. Here they are:

Code: Select all

,--------------------------------------------,
| F8 | F7 | F6 | F5 | F4 | F3 | F2 | F1 | ESC|
|--------------------------------------------|
|  5 |  5 |  5 |  8 |  8 |  8 |  1 |  1 |  1 |
|--------------------------------------------|
|  4 |  3 |  2 |  7 |  6 |  2 | 11 | 10 |  2 |
`--------------------------------------------'

,--------------------------------------------,
| PG | KY | PB | SL | PS | F12| F11| F10| F9 |
|--------------------------------------------|
|  3 |  3 |  5 |  9 |  9 |  9 |  6 |  6 |  6 |
|--------------------------------------------|
|  1 |  2 |  4 | 10 | 11 |  5 |  7 |  8 |  5 |
`--------------------------------------------'
Request number two: add 1 button to each thumbcluster under the "End" and "PgDn", connect them as foot switches. I have designed custom mounting plate with additional switch hole.

Another request was to try and put inside Kensington Orbit trackball. It was a tight fit. I had to cut large pockets in thumbcluster PCBs, and another pocket in the bottom part of the chassis. I acknowledge that placing the mouse buttons just above the trackball isn't optimal, but I had no place left between thumbclusters.

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Final result is quite messy inside and not perfect from outside. Looks like I need to learn 3D modelling to print panels and special mounting brackets.

User avatar
vvp

17 Oct 2020, 20:58

Nice. I still hope to replace the controller on my Kinesis Advantage and maybe some modification to the thumb clusters. I do not mind the rubber buttons that much. It is easier to put the rubber keys into a layer anyway ... and leave their originals in the rubber form as they were.

User avatar
Quartz64

18 Oct 2020, 17:40

My next project is KinBP, fork of KinT controller by Michael Stapelberg. It is smaller (less than 100x100mm) and runs on $3.5 Black Pill STM32F103C8T6 board instead of expensive (>$20) Teensy 2.0++/3.x/4.x boards. Total cost of PCB and components is going to be around $15.

I need about 1 month to receive the samples from JLCPCB and assemble them. Unfortunately, I don't have Advantage or Advantage 2 with original components. I have removed all PCBs from my Kinesis Advantage about year ago and just threw them away. All documentation will be published under CC-BY-SA license as soon as I can make sure that the controller works.

User avatar
vvp

18 Oct 2020, 18:35

It is too late for you but there is some information about kinesis key matrix here:
http://humblehacker.com/blog/20100720/h ... -keyboard/

If I get to modernising my kinesis I'll go with Chris' firmware almost for sure and (less likely) with his hardware as well. That is mostly because I already use it on my custom K84CS.
https://github.com/chrisandreae/keyboard-firmware

Price of the controller is overrated for our small projects which result in only 1 - 10 keyboards modified. Time spent modifying the keyboard overwhelms the controller price.

Rayndalf

22 Oct 2020, 09:49

I wish those models with doubleshots were easier to find. The keywell connectors in the older ones seem to be somewhat unreliable.

Really not sure why anyone would want to keep the original controller. Mine is AT through an active PS/2 convertor and the input lag is slight but present.

User avatar
Quartz64

22 Oct 2020, 11:29

Rayndalf wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 09:49
I wish those models with doubleshots were easier to find.
This one has padprinted keycaps. Doubleshots were used on ever older models: 100, 110, 120 and some of 130s.
Rayndalf wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 09:49
The keywell connectors in the older ones seem to be somewhat unreliable.
That's one of the reasons why I prefer to tear down everything and make a handwiring.

Rayndalf

22 Oct 2020, 11:50

Quartz64 wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 11:29
Rayndalf wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 09:49
I wish those models with doubleshots were easier to find.
This one has padprinted keycaps. Doubleshots were used on ever older models: 100, 110, 120 and some of 130s.
Rayndalf wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 09:49
The keywell connectors in the older ones seem to be somewhat unreliable.
That's one of the reasons why I prefer to tear down everything and make a handwiring.
The absence of the arrows on the backspace and enter key must have fooled me (the A in alt definitely isn't the wyse font). I guess those are older pad printed keycaps. I have a model 110 and a model 130 with doubleshot keys (the 130 is marked "Demo 001" and looks like it got shipped around a bit but the keycaps are in good condition, the 110 is heavily used and needs a cleaning or new switches). I ended up buying a very clean Advantage MPC/USB (KB500) just for the new keywell PCBs (Kinesis charges more for parts than they used to). I really wish one of the replacement controllers supported the old keywell PCBs (I guess I could soldered leads to the traces and get that part working but I'm not sure if the columns and rows work the same). I guess I should try it though.

User avatar
Quartz64

22 Oct 2020, 12:20

I have got a Model 110 also. It had a huge PCB which took up half of the case and combined thumbclusters and controller components. I've tried to use some leftover Amoeba PCBs for this build among with similar smaller versions, but that turned to be completely unnecessary (it was easier to go with handwiring).

User avatar
Quartz64

22 Oct 2020, 12:30

P.S. I haven't published the design of my semi-handwiring conversion kit (thumcluster PCBs and switch mounting plates, controller PCB), but I'm going to do it once I check the second revision (removed Arduino Micro footprint, fixed silkscreen legends, unified reversible thumbcluster PCB design, etc.). I'm working on another Kinesis and need about 2 weeks to complete the mod and test everything.

User avatar
vvp

22 Oct 2020, 15:46

Did keywell schematic change between different Kinesis models?
I thought the it did not change.
I have model KB510USB.
Edit: It has ABS pad printed keycaps.

Rayndalf

22 Oct 2020, 19:25

Quartz64 wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 12:30
P.S. I haven't published the design of my semi-handwiring conversion kit (thumcluster PCBs and switch mounting plates, controller PCB), but I'm going to do it once I check the second revision (removed Arduino Micro footprint, fixed silkscreen legends, unified reversible thumbcluster PCB design, etc.). I'm working on another Kinesis and need about 2 weeks to complete the mod and test everything.
That's a clean build, those thumbcluster and handwire compatible controller PCBs could be pretty useful. Is handwiring really easier than converting the original flexible PCBs (or creating a new keywell PCB)?

I know every Maltron keyboard was/is handwired, so it might actually be easiest.
vvp wrote:
22 Oct 2020, 15:46
Did keywell schematic change between different Kinesis models?
I thought the it did not change.
I have model KB510USB.
Edit: It has ABS pad printed keycaps.
The keywell PCBs have changed a few times. The model 110 is pretty unique all around. I think the Model 130 is consistent with the rest of the standard AT connector models. All USB Advantages used the same PCB until the Advantage 3 if I recall correctly. I believe only very early (pre 110) models have a slightly different physical layout.

User avatar
vvp

23 Oct 2020, 00:25

If you already have a PCB designed then using it is easier.
Otherwise it is easier to hand wire. It took me 1.7 hour to hand wire keyboard switches on this:
viewtopic.php?p=347675#p347675
That is half of a keyboard. And it was 3.45 hours the for whole keyboard.
Last edited by vvp on 23 Oct 2020, 15:21, edited 1 time in total.

cakeanalytics

23 Oct 2020, 01:40

Very neat project!
Would be even better if you can get a scroll wheel between the mouse buttons, but I can see you don't have much space to work with here.

Rayndalf

23 Oct 2020, 05:42

Model 130 vs. KB133PC "Classic" vs. KB500-USB-blk "Advantage MPC/USB"
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Rayndalf

23 Oct 2020, 06:37

The Model 130 and Classic (KB133) keywells are interchangeable and the Classic and MPC/USB (KB500) main controllers are almost identical. All I need are some jumper wires and the Model 130 or Classic keywells can be wired to a replacement controller like the Kint or Stapelburg.

Why didn't I check before I bought a MPC/USB :?

Rayndalf

23 Oct 2020, 06:51

If anyone was wondering the Model 110 is absolute madness in comparison.
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User avatar
vvp

23 Oct 2020, 12:02

@Rayndalf:
There seem to be small differences all over the Advantage models. Interesting that my model KB510USB (label name Advantage MPC/USB as well) is different from yours KB500USB. Well it is probably only the way how the key wells are connected. Controller HW looks the same.
KB510USB
KB510USB
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Rayndalf

24 Oct 2020, 12:59

Interesting, it uses the same connectors for the keywells as my Classic. Just an extra set of holes and the connectors used in these models could directly connect to a new controller (the older connectors used in my Model 130 fit the same keywells but also fit onto the replacement controllers). This whole thing really is strange.

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