Restoring&Converting the IBM 4978 Beamship

I recently purchased a working IBM Series/1 system with a 4978 Display Terminal. Due to greater familiarity, the first thing I want to do is to restore the keyboard and convert it to USB in an easily reversible manner, so that I can continue to use it for its original purpose. When I opened the keyboard I was surprised by its plate and pcb, which has a LOT of vacant positions left. The matrix seems to have 22 columns and 8 rows if I counted correctly, which makes it bigger than the usual 16x8 matrix for model F and 23x4 of most other beamsprings. As far as I understand, the CommonSense firmware with the CY8CKIT-059 prototyping kit supports a maximum of 24 rows and 8 columns, so conversion shouldn't be too difficult. Does anyone here know where to get fitting card edge connectors?
I will update this thread as I make progress, so stay tuned!

20180712_194651.jpg
width vs displaywriter

20180712_194706.jpg
height vs displaywriter

20180712_205615.jpg
top case and keycaps removed

20180712_210159.jpg
contamination shield removed

20180713_165932.jpg
bottom of the switches

20180713_165801.jpg
pcb front

20180713_165723.jpg
pcb back
Noobmaen
User avatar

Unread post13 Jul 2018, 17:29

User avatar
X
Noobmaen
 
Posts: 158
Joined: 30 Jul 2017, 14:47
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: FC660M MX Brown, '88 1K HFD vintage brown, IBM6580
Main mouse: Logitech G500
Favorite switch: Beamspring, Vintage MX brown, Cap. BS
DT Pro Member: -
 
Hate, hate, hate. That beamship is just so cool xD .

Good luck with the restoration though :) .
Chyros
User avatar

Unread post13 Jul 2018, 21:52

User avatar
X
Chyros
 
Posts: 4349
Joined: 28 Feb 2015, 22:04
Location: The Netherlands
Main keyboard: whatever I'm reviewing next :p
Main mouse: a cheap Logitech
Favorite switch: Alps SKCM Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
That PCB looks absolutely stunning, so many capsense pads! And the fact that it seems none of those stems have any rust.
Bass
User avatar

Unread post14 Jul 2018, 01:21

User avatar
X
Bass
 
Posts: 186
Joined: 04 Apr 2018, 17:36
Location: United States
Main keyboard: IBM Model F104 "Unsaver"
Main mouse: Logitech G9x
Favorite switch: Beamspring / Capacitive Buckling Spring
DT Pro Member: 0206
 
Would be the extra pads functional? :?
PlacaFromHell
User avatar

Unread post14 Jul 2018, 19:46

User avatar
X
PlacaFromHell
 
Posts: 253
Joined: 23 Apr 2017, 02:31
Location: Argentina
Main keyboard: IBM 3101
Main mouse: Waiting for custom IBM
Favorite switch: Beamspring
DT Pro Member: -
 
Oh, they BETTER BE!

As I mentioned elsewhere, I'd never suggest to drill holes into this unit's case, BUT... if the keyboard were to be used caseless (or with a purpose-built case) and enough replacement switches be procured, this ginormous PCB could be put to full use and get oh so many extra functionality from it. As some of us say, more keys is more goodness. :mrgreen:
depletedvespene
User avatar

Unread post14 Jul 2018, 20:18

User avatar
X
depletedvespene
 
Posts: 1082
Joined: 13 Jul 2017, 21:11
Location: Chile
Main keyboard: IBM Model F122
Main mouse: Logitech G700s
Favorite switch: buckling spring
DT Pro Member: -
 
You can turn it in the most modern beamspring keyboard ever built, with a full ANSI/ISO layout. I'm dying of envy right now.

EDIT: not full layout but who cares numpad.
PlacaFromHell
User avatar

Unread post14 Jul 2018, 22:49

User avatar
X
PlacaFromHell
 
Posts: 253
Joined: 23 Apr 2017, 02:31
Location: Argentina
Main keyboard: IBM 3101
Main mouse: Waiting for custom IBM
Favorite switch: Beamspring
DT Pro Member: -
 
Chyros wrote:Hate, hate, hate. That beamship is just so cool xD .

Good luck with the restoration though :) .

hate-hate-double-hate-loathe-entirely.jpg
JP!
User avatar

Unread post14 Jul 2018, 22:59

User avatar
X
JP!
 
Posts: 1069
Joined: 01 May 2017, 03:49
Location: United States
Main keyboard: Currently a Model M
Main mouse: Steel Series Sensei
Favorite switch: Beam Spring
DT Pro Member: 0194
 
that's fucking beautiful. how big is it in comparison to a regular Battleship?
mark201200
User avatar

Unread post15 Jul 2018, 00:34

User avatar
X
mark201200
 
Posts: 39
Joined: 08 Jun 2018, 19:50
Location: Italy
Main keyboard: 1988 Model M Battleship
Main mouse: G502
Favorite switch: BOX Navy, Buckling Spring
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
1988 1390881 M122 Battleship | 1988 1391404 Model M | 1995 1395712 Model M2 | M3501 AEKII | M0115 AEK | TADA68 (BOX Navy) | Logitech G710+ (MX Sand Brown)
mark201200 wrote:that's fucking beautiful. how big is it in comparison to a regular Battleship?
I'm also very interested in this.
Chyros
User avatar

Unread post15 Jul 2018, 08:24

User avatar
X
Chyros
 
Posts: 4349
Joined: 28 Feb 2015, 22:04
Location: The Netherlands
Main keyboard: whatever I'm reviewing next :p
Main mouse: a cheap Logitech
Favorite switch: Alps SKCM Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
Just finished restoring my F107 and now I see this. I bet there are only a handful of those in existence anymore of these... WHAT A BEAUTY!
darkcruix
User avatar

Unread post15 Jul 2018, 11:19

User avatar
X
darkcruix
 
Posts: 195
Joined: 16 Jan 2018, 20:38
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: IBM 3278 Beam Spring
Main mouse: Logitech MX Master
Favorite switch: Buckling Spring & Beam Spring
DT Pro Member: 0209
 
Yep, this is the one I think I'd stop collecting for if I were able to find/buy.

For the record, this is not the largest beamspring or the one with the most keys. For that, you'll need to beat 254 keys:
https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyb...key_kanji/
There was some speculation on whether this actually was a beamspring (versus some other switch type like hall effect) or not for quite a while until a guy that worked in the IBM location in Japan where it is displayed was able to pull a cap.

During my hunt, I've spoken to people who claim that there are single vintage computer collectors who have 10 or more complete working Series/1 systems, but won't part with any of them. Then of course, if you Google it, all you find are articles about how the US military STILL USES the Series/1 to control nukes, so I'm sure the US government is in possession of A LOT of these. Even when they are eventually retired, I doubt they are going to show up at military surplus stores or anything, they'll probably be destroyed sadly.

The extra capsense pads are wired into the matrix, so they would be functional with a modern controller, but I'm sure that the original controller ignores them as those without a switch above them would be read as "pressed" constantly.

Since I'm a fan of the Xwhatsit controller myself, after spending a ridiculous amount of money on one of these, I probably wouldn't hesitate to commission a modern PCB redesign with a 16x8 layout for only the capsense pads that are actually being used, though with your wanting to have dual use with the original system, that option is kind of out, though it really wouldn't be that much more work to swap the capsense PCB depending on how often you'll do that.

As far as edge connectors, that's the easy part to find. This will work: https://www.ebay.com/itm/140887820549, but you will have to do a little cutting on the sides to have two of them to have enough space to plug in right next to each other. The other alternative would be to use original edge connectors from other original beamspring controllers that I'm sure other users have no use for once they've converted theirs to USB.

I never realized there were all of those extra capsense pads there AND the holes in the barrel plate for additional switches. Would be really easy to split the spacebar any number of ways, or turn all the 1.5 width keys at the top into single keys for like 30 FN keys in that top left block alone, all without any modifications to the case. I also like how the double width vertical keys each have two stems with capsense pads below each, meaning that you can move those wherever you want. It's too bad it's not ANSI convertible with those extra TWO keys on most rows in the main block. However, I think it is the ONLY beamspring that has a double wide horizontal ANSI style return key. If I were to eventually find one, I probably wouldn't mod the layout at all, but knowing the customization potential is there is just pain awesome.

Amazing find, no doubt about it!
orihalcon

Unread post16 Jul 2018, 05:01

X
orihalcon
 
Posts: 505
Joined: 31 Jul 2014, 00:47
Location: Des Moines / Cedar Falls, IA, USA
Main keyboard: IBM Model F107
DT Pro Member: 0190
 
22x8 won't fly. Max 128 keys. Internally, scancodes are single byte, and the high bit is "pressed/released".
Not that it's hard to fix - just that nobody needed a keyboard with more than 128 keys yet.
DMA

Unread post16 Jul 2018, 05:12

X
DMA
 
Posts: 507
Joined: 23 May 2016, 06:24
Location: Seattle, US
Main keyboard: T420
Main mouse: Trackpoint
Favorite switch: beamspring
DT Pro Member: -
 
Correction: CommonSense now supports up to 255 keys. Max matrix size is 8x24 though - which makes it 192 keys.
Can make 16 rows - but this will require custom hardware because there's not enough pins in QFN case (read "on prototype kit").
DMA

Unread post20 Jul 2018, 04:45

X
DMA
 
Posts: 507
Joined: 23 May 2016, 06:24
Location: Seattle, US
Main keyboard: T420
Main mouse: Trackpoint
Favorite switch: beamspring
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
The bringer of PSoC
I have created an album of some pictures of Series/1 internals on flickr here.
mark201200 wrote:that's fucking beautiful. how big is it in comparison to a regular Battleship?

It's slightly less wide and slightly deeper, the key density is pretty good for beamspring standards:
Image20180715_153044 by Alexander Unverzagt, auf Flickr
Image20180715_153134 by Alexander Unverzagt, auf Flickr
DMA wrote:Correction: CommonSense now supports up to 255 keys. Max matrix size is 8x24 though - which makes it 192 keys.
Can make 16 rows - but this will require custom hardware because there's not enough pins in QFN case (read "on prototype kit").

That's great news, thanks a lot for implementing this change!
Noobmaen
User avatar

Unread post21 Jul 2018, 16:59

User avatar
X
Noobmaen
 
Posts: 158
Joined: 30 Jul 2017, 14:47
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: FC660M MX Brown, '88 1K HFD vintage brown, IBM6580
Main mouse: Logitech G500
Favorite switch: Beamspring, Vintage MX brown, Cap. BS
DT Pro Member: -
 
Oh wow. I didn't think it would be as wide as it is. It really IS battleship-sized! Oo
Chyros
User avatar

Unread post22 Jul 2018, 08:35

User avatar
X
Chyros
 
Posts: 4349
Joined: 28 Feb 2015, 22:04
Location: The Netherlands
Main keyboard: whatever I'm reviewing next :p
Main mouse: a cheap Logitech
Favorite switch: Alps SKCM Blue
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
This looks like the biggest privately owned beamspring right now. ITS AMAZING AND I WANT IT

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk
xueyao

Unread post22 Jul 2018, 08:37

X
xueyao
 
Posts: 103
Joined: 06 May 2017, 04:35
Location: Singapore
Main keyboard: IBM Model F122 XT Beamspring 3727
Main mouse: Logitech MX Master
Favorite switch: Buckling Spring
DT Pro Member: -
 
Honestly man - you have to document every step of your work on it here. I am so jealous :)
darkcruix
User avatar

Unread post22 Jul 2018, 08:40

User avatar
X
darkcruix
 
Posts: 195
Joined: 16 Jan 2018, 20:38
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: IBM 3278 Beam Spring
Main mouse: Logitech MX Master
Favorite switch: Buckling Spring & Beam Spring
DT Pro Member: 0209
 
orihalcon wrote:During my hunt, I've spoken to people who claim that there are single vintage computer collectors who have 10 or more complete working Series/1 systems, but won't part with any of them. Then of course, if you Google it, all you find are articles about how the US military STILL USES the Series/1 to control nukes, so I'm sure the US government is in possession of A LOT of these. Even when they are eventually retired, I doubt they are going to show up at military surplus stores or anything, they'll probably be destroyed sadly.

There are collectors with 10 complete Series/1 systems :o ? I am pretty sure they are worth at least $10k a piece conservatively, I have even seen some sources claim they are worth as much as $100k. And having enough space to store that many of them would be quite impressive at any price.

I actually work at a government laboratory where we have some old computer equipment still in use. Sadly I think you are right about the likely fate of these since my employer did say most old computer equipment gets destroyed. Occasionally a few things occasionally get sold in auctions, but usually these items are nothing special. It's a shame they are this rare since old pictures of the Series/1 give me the impression that they were once quite abundant:
Image
Bass
User avatar

Unread post22 Jul 2018, 10:31

User avatar
X
Bass
 
Posts: 186
Joined: 04 Apr 2018, 17:36
Location: United States
Main keyboard: IBM Model F104 "Unsaver"
Main mouse: Logitech G9x
Favorite switch: Beamspring / Capacitive Buckling Spring
DT Pro Member: 0206
 
Well, Jay Leno’s other garage is full of mainframes.
Muirium
User avatar
µ

Unread post22 Jul 2018, 13:06

User avatar
X
Muirium
µ
 
Posts: 22976
Joined: 03 Feb 2013, 10:11
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Main keyboard: HHKB Type-S with Bluetooth by Hasu
Main mouse: Apple Magic Mouse
Favorite switch: Gotta Try 'Em All
DT Pro Member: -
 
 
Quick update on the state of the restoration; case and keycaps are fully cleaned, metal stem inserts are pulled from the switches (luckily without any breakage!) and they were fully disassembled. Today the 2nd batch of housings is being ultrasonically cleaned, unfortunaly the foam is in worse condition than I thought initially, so that will need replacing too.
Noobmaen
User avatar

Unread post01 Sep 2018, 18:28

User avatar
X
Noobmaen
 
Posts: 158
Joined: 30 Jul 2017, 14:47
Location: Germany
Main keyboard: FC660M MX Brown, '88 1K HFD vintage brown, IBM6580
Main mouse: Logitech G500
Favorite switch: Beamspring, Vintage MX brown, Cap. BS
DT Pro Member: -
 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: vvp and 52 guests