Alps Appreciation

dafoomie

30 Sep 2020, 00:48

I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy an Omnikey from Northgate Bob but I'm trying to decide on which one out of three gen 2's to get. There's a 102, a 101 I and a 101 N. I think the N has that weird nav cluster so that wouldn't be my first choice. The N and possibly the I have a plastic rear cover, which sounds uncommon and cool, but I feel like that heavy steel plate is part of the reason you get one and it might not sound or feel quite as nice. But maybe they'd have slightly earlier White Alps? I can't decide.

Maybe I should just ask for the one in the nicest condition?

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Jesseg

30 Sep 2020, 06:13

dafoomie wrote:
30 Sep 2020, 00:48
I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy an Omnikey from Northgate Bob but I'm trying to decide on which one out of three gen 2's to get. There's a 102, a 101 I and a 101 N. I think the N has that weird nav cluster so that wouldn't be my first choice. The N and possibly the I have a plastic rear cover, which sounds uncommon and cool, but I feel like that heavy steel plate is part of the reason you get one and it might not sound or feel quite as nice. But maybe they'd have slightly earlier White Alps? I can't decide.

Maybe I should just ask for the one in the nicest condition?
whatever you do, ask for a photo. I learnt the hard way buying 'very good condition' boards from him. other than that, awesome bloke.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

30 Sep 2020, 15:06

I have never seen an Omnikey without a metal back (but remember that it is powder coated beige and is the same color as the top shell). The only ones that I have kept are 101s because I require a straight-ANSI layout.

dafoomie

30 Sep 2020, 20:39

This was helpful in figuring out the difference between a 101I and a 101N, though I'm going with a 102.

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Polecat

01 Oct 2020, 05:09

The 101-I and 101-N do have plastic bases. Pics attached. I haven't had a plastic base version in my hands so I don't know how it affects the sound and feel, but it appears to snap together at the edges, with a single screw in the middle, so it's probably not as solid as the metal base versions. As far as I know there wasn't an ANSI/metal base 101 until Gen3.

I have a fairly extensive database of Northgate keyboard info, well over 400 examples on record now, so I can help date one, if that would help, if you have the model and serial numbers from the label.
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shallot

01 Oct 2020, 08:13

Yesterday's gamble that paid off: Sharp ZX-510 typewriter with Alps SKFF.

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zrrion

01 Oct 2020, 15:27

Interesting that only the space bar is double action, usually backspace and/or return are also double action for skff typewriters

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JP!

02 Oct 2020, 16:08

Yellow Alps
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dafoomie

03 Oct 2020, 01:15

My Omnikey arrived today. Not perfect by any means, there's a tiny bit of binding but I much prefer them to my bamboo alps that are in nicer condition. Pretty happy with it but it just makes me want a NIB one that much more.
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Polecat

03 Oct 2020, 05:08

Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.

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hellothere

03 Oct 2020, 20:52

A little more appreciation.

I bought a keyboard with Pine White Alps a few weeks ago. I knew the keyboard had some issues and that it wasn't clean.

Challenge accepted.

I desoldered all the switches, ultrasonically cleaned the top housings and sliders, cleaned the bottom housings with compressed air, then lubed the sliders and top housing rails with RO-59 KT. They came out extremely well.

As I'm having some issues with the keyboard, itself, I think I'm going to install the switches in a (non-granite) Silicon Graphics case + controller I have. The case looks mostly like a Dell bigfoot and/or might be the same case, with just a different name stuck on.

Thanks to Chyros for his videos on restoring Alps switches! Thanks to orihalcon for his Alps Switch Opener tool. Both helped me immensely.

dafoomie

04 Oct 2020, 20:01

Polecat wrote:
03 Oct 2020, 05:08
Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.
Was hoping for what you'd call a gen 1.5 but his wasn't working. The chips on the controller have 8924 on them so the dates line up.

Keys with stabilizers seem to be a little stiff, is there a trick to resolving that? Enter would just stick down at first even though the switch was fine and the stabilizer bar wasn't bent, but it has loosened itself up through use over the last couple days.

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Polecat

06 Oct 2020, 04:38

dafoomie wrote:
04 Oct 2020, 20:01
Polecat wrote:
03 Oct 2020, 05:08
Congratulations, that's a very nice Northgate! And a very early Gen2 model. The earliest Gen2 I have on record is 89/06 (June 1989). The paper labels I believe were put on by Northgate after the keyboards were received from the manufacturer, so these aren't manufacturing dates. This early Gen2 numbering began around May or June, and ended around January 1990, with the numbers being sequential, so this is probably the 13,309th Gen2 Northgate with an assigned serial number (*not* the 13,309th one built!). The numbers ran up to over 60,000 by January. At that point the serial number format was changed. New style labels appear to have been applied by the manufacturer at that point, with small paper labels with dates or batch/internal numbers added by Northgate.The Gen2 models ran through mid-1991 or so.
Was hoping for what you'd call a gen 1.5 but his wasn't working. The chips on the controller have 8924 on them so the dates line up.

Keys with stabilizers seem to be a little stiff, is there a trick to resolving that? Enter would just stick down at first even though the switch was fine and the stabilizer bar wasn't bent, but it has loosened itself up through use over the last couple days.
Sounds like you need a bit of lube on the stabilizers. Little bit goes a long way, and anything that doesn't dry will attract dirt and dust. I used a tiny bit of Vaseline on the stabilizers on one of my boards a while back. I wouldn't use it on switches, but the stabilizers are exposed and easily cleaned and Vaseline is inert and won't attack the plastic like some lubes.

Thanks for the confirmation on the date. I'm still trying to make sense of the later Gen2 numbers.

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ppCircle

07 Nov 2020, 19:03

My converted ansi AEK with orange alps

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ntv242ver2

10 Nov 2020, 12:28

Hi folks,

Found something pretty fun so i thought i would share.

When cleaning a m0116 i found this pretty interesting switch in the place of the power button

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Now i don't have that much experience like veterans in DT so i don't know what this is, but i have had about 7-8 m0116 and this is the first time i have seen this. I presume that this is alps attempt to cope with a taller than regular cap at the time. Later on they just scrape this idea and put a regular switch there horizontally as we commonly see in m0116 and AEK and AEK II

Some vid of me pressing on the switch
https://i.imgur.com/00alMr1.mp4

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hellothere

11 Nov 2020, 19:08

I happen to have an m0116 with orange Alps about three feet from me. There's an orange Alps switch for the power button and it's popped up, like all the others. I think you probably have a compressed or broken spring in that switch. Or no spring at all.

Orange Alps are some nice switches ...

EDIT: I promise I'll wake up sometime today. The switch on my keeb is in the same orientation as yours, i.e. rotated 90 degrees.
Last edited by hellothere on 11 Nov 2020, 19:22, edited 1 time in total.

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hellothere

11 Nov 2020, 19:11

Just saw your edit. I'll add, maybe a spring replaced with something chopped down?

ntv242ver2

12 Nov 2020, 01:23

You are not the first one to mistaken this as a broken switch :) it is not a broken switch. That is just how it is. Hence why i take many pictures from diff angles so people can compare and contrast. The housing is very very different

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ppCircle

15 Nov 2020, 01:15

So my black FK-3002

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hellothere

15 Nov 2020, 02:41

ntv242ver2 wrote:
12 Nov 2020, 01:23
You are not the first one to mistaken this as a broken switch :) it is not a broken switch. That is just how it is. Hence why i take many pictures from diff angles so people can compare and contrast. The housing is very very different
Yup. Housing very different. Sorry that I didn't notice that before. I also didn't notice that it has two "hash bars" instead of four.

It's neat. I'd love to desolder and see if there's an actual Alps stamp on it. It looks a little like the SKCL compact switches, but they use a non-standard mount and the "north" and "south" sides of the switch are different thicknesses. It doesn't look like it's a one-off custom.

Maybe you've found a new entry for the Alps lore. Maybe you could name the switch!

ntv242ver2

15 Nov 2020, 14:17

dear PP,

Stahp hoarding all the cool focus in our continent!!

The Eu people.

JK, congrats on the black focus, it is dope my friend.
hellothere wrote:
15 Nov 2020, 02:41

Yup. Housing very different. Sorry that I didn't notice that before. I also didn't notice that it has two "hash bars" instead of four.

It's neat. I'd love to desolder and see if there's an actual Alps stamp on it. It looks a little like the SKCL compact switches, but they use a non-standard mount and the "north" and "south" sides of the switch are different thicknesses. It doesn't look like it's a one-off custom.

Maybe you've found a new entry for the Alps lore. Maybe you could name the switch!
Aha I like that, but seriously need some approval from the community first lol. And I will not be desoldering this switch, since i have agreed to give it to one of my dear friends in Germany, he appreciate orange alps much more than I do. I am a linear kind of dude. I would like this board to be completely unmoded coming to his hands. To desolder this and make further inspection, I will leave it up to him. Once it gets to him then I will ask him to do so.

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mcmaxmcmc

16 Nov 2020, 02:15

Sorry to ruin your discovery there @hellothere and @ntv242ver2, but that's just a cover Alps used for the very tall Apple keycaps. They clip in to a standard Alps switch, in this case an SKCM Orange.

Still, though, it's a rather uncommon piece to find, so it's a neat find nonetheless. :)

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hellothere

16 Nov 2020, 02:47

mcmaxmcmc wrote:
16 Nov 2020, 02:15
Sorry to ruin your discovery there @hellothere and @ntv242ver2, but that's just a cover Alps used for the very tall Apple keycaps. They clip in to a standard Alps switch, in this case an SKCM Orange.

Still, though, it's a rather uncommon piece to find, so it's a neat find nonetheless. :)
So, if you took off this "cover," it's a standard Alps switch underneath?

ntv242ver2

16 Nov 2020, 10:13

mcmaxmcmc wrote:
16 Nov 2020, 02:15
Sorry to ruin your discovery there @hellothere and @ntv242ver2, but that's just a cover Alps used for the very tall Apple keycaps. They clip in to a standard Alps switch, in this case an SKCM Orange.

Still, though, it's a rather uncommon piece to find, so it's a neat find nonetheless. :)
no worries, TIL XD

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mcmaxmcmc

16 Nov 2020, 19:08

hellothere wrote:
16 Nov 2020, 02:47
mcmaxmcmc wrote:
16 Nov 2020, 02:15
Sorry to ruin your discovery there @hellothere and @ntv242ver2, but that's just a cover Alps used for the very tall Apple keycaps. They clip in to a standard Alps switch, in this case an SKCM Orange.

Still, though, it's a rather uncommon piece to find, so it's a neat find nonetheless. :)
So, if you took off this "cover," it's a standard Alps switch underneath?
Yep, standard.

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TNT

24 Nov 2020, 17:12

After cleaning, retrobrighting and converting, this is my Zenith Z-150 black label (green ALPS). Caps are dye sublimed PBT and the non standard german caps are doubleshot ABS with secondary lettering in front. The legends and caps look slighty different on those. Love this board so far, but I still have to get used to linear switches :D
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Sorry for the mediocre image quality, my phone camera isn't the best :/

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Chyros

26 Nov 2020, 10:31

Very nice, love the badged converter box too :D .

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TNT

27 Nov 2020, 10:02

Chyros wrote:
26 Nov 2020, 10:31
Very nice, love the badged converter box too :D .
Thanks! That's actually just a lapel pin like the ones you wear on your jacket. It's not even glued in place or anything, I just drilled small holes and used the original pin base to clamp it in place :lol:

I couldn't find one with the old style logo sadly, but if I ever need to convert a different board, I can just exchange the badge and am good to go :P

Jokes aside, if I actually wanted to use the teensy for a different board, would I have to exchange the DIN-socket? I had to solder in those pull-up resistors to make it work, do they somehow interfere with other "normal" XT keyboards?

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