Hi-Profile PBT Dye-sub (the time has come)

Okay, time to talk about the hi-pro in PBT fragrance!

We have the manufacturer. It.Can.Be.Done!

Now. We need a reference set to work on. The natural candidate would be Signature Plastics SA, but... I know we can do better. Another option is Topre hi-pro, but there are some issues with that and could be problematic.

Suggestions? Does anyone of you have a nice vintage hi-pro set we could steal inspiration from?
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:47

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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:48

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Beamspring of course!
Matt3o strikes again!
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:48

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I will let have a free set to whoever sends me a complete set of hi-pro that will be used as reference.

I'll do my best to have the original set returned, but it might take some time.
Last edited by matt3o on 02 Jun 2015, 10:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:51

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I might be able to help you on that. Those grey & blues are mine. I'll want them back of course! Also: beamsprings are all weird layouts, so you'll need to be creative to get all the shapes you require for a Realforce / OMG! HiPro HHKB!!
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:52

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We absolutely need:

1u (all rows)
1.25u
1.50u
1.75u
2u
2.25u
2.75u
6.25u spacebar (or any size spacebar that will be shrinked)
ISO Enter
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 10:55

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Please, don't use HiPro.

At least to me, this is my least favorite of the spherical key cap profiles. The indentations on the top of the key caps are more shaped like a four sided pyramid with a rounded top instead of a true sphere. It feels square-ish.

Signature Plastics SA profile is my preference. These are quite common as Compete, SP's predecessor, made key caps for a wide range of keyboards. Most of the spherical key caps I've encountered in the wild seem to be just like SA, perhaps thicker.

There are a couple of other exciting spherical profiles out there. Keyboards like the IBM 6112884 use a different spherical profile.

matt3o you are in Italy correct? I'll look into what I may be able to loan you.

At last, one step closer to double shot PBT spherical key caps.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:22

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Read the thread, XMIT. We're talking beamspring!


@Matt:

Coverage is the hard part.

You can use that blue and grey set I posted above: it even has something like an ISO Return. (I should get it out to compare it with an MX ISO Return, and see how it sits on an ISO keyboard. Trouble is those larger caps have long metal stabiliser pins on the back so it's guesswork really.)

The only other beamspring caps I have are on a board just like this:

Image

Note how weird the mods are on the bottom row. Beamsprings were really stingy with those (like an AT). They're a neat convex shape though (curving upward, instead of downward like the rest of the caps). Not sure how well that would work out in a modern spherical set, but 002 took some Topre reference pictures the other day so…
002 wrote:Nissho KB106DE
Image

Juki DATUM FK201
Image

Here's another pic of my Nissho KB106DE:
Image

Despite the gently-angled bottom rows, front-facing legend visibility is still pretty good.

Oh yeah, what are thinking re: legends? Anything on the front? (Nice to have but not essential.) Multi colours on top? (Ditto.)
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:28

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Cherry profile! I have only 1u caps unfortunately and I don't know if a sculpted version of these exists, but they are very nice with a nice deep dish.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:33

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Muirium wrote:Read the thread, XMIT. We're talking beamspring!

Yes! Hence my response to matt3o's line in the OP:
matt3o wrote:Now. We need a reference set to work on. The natural candidate would be Signature Plastics SA, but... I know we can do better. Another option is Topre hi-pro, but there are some issues with that and could be problematic.

Beam springs get my vote as well.

Off the top of my head the only different contoured spherical profiles I've come across apart from the three mentioned in my previous post are those on a Canon typewriter, something like this.

Image
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:37

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XMIT wrote:Please, don't use HiPro.

we already ruled that out :)
XMIT wrote:matt3o you are in Italy correct? I'll look into what I may be able to loan you.

that is correct. thanks!
Nuum wrote:Cherry profile! I have only 1u caps unfortunately and I don't know if a sculpted version of these exists, but they are very nice with a nice deep dish.

I'd love to put my hands on those... there's a numpad right now on ebay, but we would need much more than that

just to be clear. we don't need a 100% complete set. the missing keys can be designed. Of course the more reference material we get, the better!
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:40

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There are two full keyboard of these Cherry sphericals on Ebay currently, they are mighty expensive, though. But they are sculpted, not uniform profile!

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Keyboar ... 1513601582
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Keyboar ... 1513661622
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:51

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Cherry profile looks a nice conservative option. In fact it looks so much like SA that I bet SA is a clone of it! Which one came out first?

Image

Beamspring is still my favourite. But I do happen to have Honeywell caps as well. Deeper dished than SA, but not quite as much style to them as IBM's.

Image
photos-f62/a-honeywell-who-dunnit-1983-t6296.html
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 11:59

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What mount are we talking here? MX? Topre? BS?

Anyway, this sounds very promising, and with matt3o behind this I have no doubt it will come to fruition!
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 12:10

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MX to start from!

If you see any nice keyboard on ebay (on any country) just let me know! I'll put in in the R&D budget
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This signature intentionally left blank...
That's the spirit! Beamsprings are a bit few and far between though. Check out Larry Niven's:

Image

That's an ISO Return all right!

Image

Good to see one installed for a change. I need to check out the back of mine to be sure it's the same cap.

Image

What do you think about stepped mods, Matt?
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Muirium wrote:Image

That's an ISO Return all right!

that looks like a pretty standard size ISO return indeed!
Muirium wrote:What do you think about stepped mods, Matt?

stepped ALL THE WAY! Even shift should be stepped if you ask me :)
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 12:18

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Correct answer!

Larry's board is very informative. Both my beamsprings have stubby little shifts (they seem to pre-date ANSI) while his board there has the wider ones we need, with steps.

That 1.75u Shift on the right, delicious! I want that on my HHKB, stat! Or my MX custom 60% in the meantime.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 12:34

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There's some serious business going on here! I love the Beamspring caps, they are great - imagine those could be PBT would be even better! I would downvote stepped mods though, I just don't like the look, but it is more the look than the feel or ergonomics.
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To be honest, I'd want both stepped and unstepped.

I use unstepped on my Kishsaver despite its own mods being stepped, because it doesn't feel as good on a small board, apparently. Unstepped is a bit boring, but more natural for almost everyone who doesn't already type on vintage boards!

If we had to go with one: tough call. But I suspect if both mod types were offered in a GB, unstepped would walk all over stepped in sales.
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I would choose stepped as well. But I can't imagine a world here where unstepped wouldn't trounce stepped in sales. Especially in the "non-DT" marketplaces.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 13:18

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oooooh-aaaaaah

Image
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ISO might be tricky with that one…

Another of the things I like about Beamspring: the mono colour palette that's fairly PBT dyesub friendly. Especially with white alphas. And then those secondary legends. Triple shot or dyesub? Answer: APL!
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pyrelink wrote:I would choose stepped as well. But I can't imagine a world here where unstepped wouldn't trounce stepped in sales. Especially in the "non-DT" marketplaces.

Easy - give 'em stepped and stepped only! You didn't mention the comparative scale of the total scales :mrgreen:
Muirium wrote:Cherry profile looks a nice conservative option. In fact it looks so much like SA that I bet SA is a clone of it! Which one came out first?

I think the Cherry sphericals have a smaller key face. I had what I think were some (they're with Beardsmore now), I don't have a side by side comparison unfortunately.

For what it's worth, before their recent-ish re-branding GMK were advertising MX compatible "M8" profile caps in the three heights rather like the caps for the ancient B series keyboards. There wasn't a full list of available keys but I share the suspicion that they didn't develop them beyond the one-for-all row approach as shown in the old catalogues on the wiki. I don't know which specific caps were available.
Last edited by facetsesame on 02 Jun 2015, 20:14, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 19:57

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The two Cherry boards linked above do have sculpted profile spherical Cherry keycaps!
Muirium wrote:Cherry profile looks a nice conservative option. In fact it looks so much like SA that I bet SA is a clone of it! Which one came out first?
[...]

Cherry profile is quite different from SA, it has a deeper dish, a smaller top surface and more rounded edges. Unfortunately I only have a photo of the underside, I'll take some better comparison photos, when I find the time.
Image
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Nuum wrote:The two Cherry boards linked above do have sculpted profile spherical Cherry keycaps!

Sorry Nuum! :oops: I'll amend my post.
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I prefer non-stepped. It annoys me to no end that there is not a non-stepped Caps Lock key replacement on the Model M. I really prefer to minimize finger movement and do use Caps Lock as Ctrl.

I guess I can just fill in the step with some Bondo but that would look hideous!
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Beamspring's similarly curvier and "toothier" (like typing on molars!) than SA, which is quite a flat and boring profile when put beside these oldies. In fact, here's a bunch of pictures I just shot.

Unleash The Beamspringening!

IMG_9606.JPG


Loads more for the curious:
Spoiler:
Dark grey and blue: Round 4 SPH, SA profile by Signature Plastics.
Light grey and blue: Beamspring / Selectrics by IBM. (I don't know the origin of these guys. They were stored in a box. In any case they fit on my Beamsprings quite the thing.)

IMG_9607.JPG

The spacebar: SPH! Nice match.

You can see how similarly sized these caps are in plan view. Same spacing on Beamspring and MX then?

IMG_9609.JPG

Hopefully the lighting in these pictures (it's Scottish summer, what do you expect?) shows the depth of the two rival spherical profiles. IBM is way deeper than SP. It's especially obvious on the F & J obviously, but also the taller rows front and back.

IMG_9611.JPG

Check out the visibly smaller top surface on the tallest row in the next few shots:

IMG_9612.JPG

I find this feels much nicer, even more spherical, than SA or DSA. All regular single unit beamspring caps have a smaller top than SA, as their sides curve in just a little more on all four sides. You just see it more in the tallest rows.

IMG_9617.JPG

IMG_9613.JPG

Round 4 SPH blue really is a very good match for this particular set. My Beamspring boards aren't in this colourway at all, but it's a nice one.

IMG_9618.JPG

These also are not traditional Beamspring mods. Those are usually convex on the bottom row. I've no idea where these guys would have been.

IMG_9619.JPG

IMG_9620.JPG

IMG_9623.JPG

IMG_9624.JPG

IMG_9625.JPG

IMG_9626.JPG

And last but not least: the ISO Return shaped "Left Zero" key.

IMG_9629.JPG

Here it is right next to its SA counterpart. Or is it DCS? Whatever 7bit supplied with SPH!

IMG_9634.JPG

IMG_9635.JPG

Jackpot?

I need to pull the caps from my German 3276 to show what I'm on about with the mods. It also has a real matching spacebar that I'd like to compare against SA's. But you get the idea. I reckon we've got some nice candidates right here!
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 21:21

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Hm. It would be helpful if you had a way of measuring the radius of the spherical indentation at the top of the keys for the sake of comparison. When I get a moment (ha!) I'd like to take a look at the various Sperry keyboards and what not for a good comparison of spherical key caps.
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Unread post02 Jun 2015, 21:38

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If anyone knows a way, that doesn't involve purchasing specialist gear, tell me. These caps are likely going to Matteo and then on to China for a good probing anyway.

You should definitely give your shed a rummage for the good ones, XMIT! I've only a handful of different spherical families here. The Honeywell has got some nice ones, if not quite as good as beamspring. And I've got most of a numpad's worth of Cherry's vintage low profile sphericals that look just like DSA was cloned from them.
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