Author Topic: Beam Spring 104+SSK+122+62 Reproduction Project! Round 1 now shipping  (Read 41963 times)

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Offline Ellipse

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Today is the public launch of the Brand New Beam Spring Keyboards Project!  For those not familiar, I also coordinate and continue to mail out all of the Brand New Model F Keyboards, a project which has more than $1.6 million in orders so far, and will continue to mail them out before the beam spring project continues. 

To repeat, the new beam springs don't ship and are not a focus until I've sent out the new Model F Keyboards.

This project is based on reservations.  You need to sign up on the interest form to reserve your Beam Spring Keyboard so please sign up if interested.  I expect to offer these keyboards first come, first served based on the timestamp of when you signed up on the interest form! 

Interest form link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdR8ygHtryVYyIl_bbVbNqW9NZgh98COkkf4U7lIhejhZ-Dkw/viewform?usp=sf_link


Details on the features and pricing are below.  This was designed to be announced after the new Model F project ended but there was another project in the works to reproduce the beam spring module exactly (good for the purposes of spare parts for the original keyboards), so I thought it would be a good time to post.

With some down time a while back before orders started going out for the Brand New Model F Keyboards project, the very first beam spring keyboards in probably four decades have been successfully manufactured and assembled.  Injection molded tooling, no 3D printed parts!

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STATUS

* 150 Keyboards completed and in stock now.  The next batch of 150 will be on the next container ship, expected to arrive later this year.  Another batch is also in the works.

*Please note that although the first batch of 150 Brand New Beam Spring Keyboards (a mix of 104 Key and SSK style) keyboards is assembled and in stock, nothing is shipping until I get out the new Model F keyboards (except maybe a "beta tester" sample or two). 

* In no way has the beam spring project caused a delay of the Model F project.  The beam spring project was only completed as the factory was either waiting for stuff before continuing the Model F assembly or finished assembling the Model F parts on hand. 

SUMMARY OF EVERYTHING THIS BUY INCLUDES

*Reproduction IBM 104-Key Full Size and 84-Key SSK style Beam Spring Keyboards, made to the exact original parts specifications with some key (pun intended!) exceptions: 

* New feature:  Uses regular Cherry MX compatible keys.  The keyboard uses your Cherry MX type key sets!  No need to be limited to special IBM sets.  The key module design has been updated to be MX compatible.  See below for the expected double shot Cherry MX style key set offering.

* New ultra-low height capacitive beam spring modules to allow for the most compact Beam Spring keyboard design!  Since we did not need the metal bar for the old style IBM keys in each beam module, I was able to keep the exact IBM design but cut out only the space in the module that did not affect the key press distance.  Key travel distance is the same as IBM; the two critical metal parts in the modules are the same (the fly plate and the rectangular piece of metal it attaches to).  Besides that, the beam modules still are the exact same design and dimensions as the originals, so it is a 100% reproduction in the performance sense, with one improvement:  the two small posts inside the beam module have been enlarged slightly for an even snappier and louder sound when the flipper moves up to hit the inside of the module as the key is pressed.  This means however that they are not drop in replacements for the originals.  In addition, I scrapped the inner foam and contamination shields above the modules; the beam modules friction fit directly to the case tops using a locked/keyed connector (see photos below).  There is some foam below the PCB as a noise shield for the capacitive sensing as well as an aid to help ensure a tight fit of the beam modules against the PCB.  The keyboard will not win any design awards but it is a modern beam spring keyboard which is what counts the most!  The keyboard case uses countersunk Torx style screws.

* Each keyboard is expected to include a small first aid kit of a few spare fully assembled beam modules for future usage. 

* xwhatsit, QMK, and Via compatibility.  Full NKRO.  USB-C connectivity with an externally accessible USB-C port for easy cable removal.  PCB has been designed so that it uses the same open source xwhatsit Model F controllers (16 columns x 8 rows)

* LED lock lights on the 104-key model.  They come with just holes as the factory default so you can see a bit of the LEDs through them, but you can put an overlay that can be purchased from Unicomp to make it look like the Model M keyboards (tan brown overlay or the modern looking black color overlays.

* Layout Customization options:  Two choices only, besides the fact that you can choose your own Cherry MX key set.  As opposed to the vast customizability of the Model F offerings the New Beam Spring Keyboard Project only has two choices:  104 Key ANSI or 84 Key ANSI.  Every keyboard has an aluminum ultra-compact case and black powdercoating.  If interested in ISO please let me know in the interest form but that's not a likely possibility.

* Solenoid possibility.  There is room for a solenoid, though the New Beam Spring Keyboards are too thin to accept the extra beefy custom solenoids offered with the Model F project.  A slightly smaller solenoid is expected to be made available for the beam spring keyboards, closer to the smaller solenoids originally offered by IBM in many of their beam spring keyboards.

* Possibility of offering Double shot keys:  I may order a small batch of them to include as an add-on option - the color schemes may be limited to the pictured color scheme or black/white like the beam spring originals.  Please express your interest in the interest form

* Cost:  Approximately $500 to $600 each for the early birds - about $4 or so per module if you think about it (plus the cost of every other part of the keyboard)!  Rather than the made to order model of the Brand New Model F Project, for this one I have already purchased two batches of 150 keyboards each at a higher expense than expected due to project cost overruns.  Instead of increasing the price for everyone I expect to offer the first 100 keyboards at one price as a reward to the early birds.  Then the next group will be offered at $100 or so higher in pricing, and the final remaining units will be offered $100 more than the last group.

Notes and Disadvantages of Beam Spring Modules

* Many of you have heard of the beam spring keyboards but have never tried one.  They are very different from Model F keyboards in several ways.

* First, the beam spring keys wobble noticeably, just like old fashioned typewriter keys if you've ever typed on one.  However my reproductions wobble much less than the keys in my two original beam spring keyboards as I made the tolerances tighter.  It may take some time to get used to typing on it but not too much stands up to the uniqueness of the IBM Beam Spring typing experience!  MX stabilizers are expected to be included but I've found that the beam mechanism actually works better without stabilizers for the most part - only the space bar needs a stabilizer.  The modules are wide enough to allow an extra wide key, even like the right shift key, to work 100% even pressing it on the edges.  IBM's beam spring keys were kept not too big so they did not require stabilization outside of the space bar, to my knowledge.

* Next, the beam spring modules require more work to maintain, though the keyboard comes fully assembled (besides you having to install the keys themselves).  Documentation and videos will be provided in the future.  The main issue is that the fly plates (the metal parts that connect to the flippers) can easily separate and require opening up the keyboard for repair.  The advantage with the new Beam Spring keyboards is that the keyboard case opens up and you have direct access to the beam modules - just open up the bottom of the keyboard.  For this reason the beam spring keyboards are only for those willing to learn how to repair and maintain these keyboards, not for those who just want a keyboard with 100% uptime.

* Given the smaller case made of aluminum, and the slightly snappier beam modules as described above, the sound is not going to match IBM's 40 year old beam spring keyboards exactly.  Please don't expect that.  These are not exact reproductions of beam spring keyboards, case and all; these are reproductions of the IBM beam spring modules (with some upgrades noted above).  There is far less case, inner foam, and other materials to deaden and dampen the sound of the new Beam Spring Keyboards compared to the originals.

* I want to reiterate again that in no way is this project being prioritized over the new Model F project, for which I am continuing to mail out orders and will continue doing so for the remainder of this year into early next year.  Nothing's happening with the beam springs for now:  the beam spring keyboards are going to sit in their boxes until the Model F keyboards have gone out.  Although the first batch of keyboards are in hand I will note that these specifics are all subject to change and subject to typographical error.
« Last Edit: Mon, 24 April 2023, 17:05:28 by Ellipse »

Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! First Batch In Stock
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 07 August 2021, 02:21:44 »
And here are some various manufacturing photos and parts photos. The first photo shows the very first prototype beam metal parts, with a little extra metal where it shouldn't be! This was fixed of course for the production parts.

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Offline HoffmanMyster

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Approved :thumb:

Note that although some units are in stock, Ellipse has communicated that those are spoken for and this buy is for the remaining units awaiting production. Therefore, this does fit the requirements of the Group Buy subforum.

Offline Ellipse

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Yes confirmed.  In addition to Brand New Beam Spring Keyboards talk and talk about joining the current round of keyboards being produced and assembled at the factory, I'd like this thread to also focus on recommendations for the next round, including additional layouts, a discussion of the proposed double shot key set, and seeking help to contribute open source alternative keyboard case designs for future rounds of this group buy.

Below I have copied my replies to recent discussions that have been going on on the Deskthority thread for this project:

Regarding the fly plates - I did not mean to exaggerate defects of IBM beam spring keyboards, just to discuss the potential and realized pitfalls of the technology itself in terms of expected maintenance and repairability time. I will leave the question of beam spring maintenance frequency to those who use their beamsprings as daily drivers. Beyond when I was setting up my IBM beam spring keyboards after receiving and cleaning them and re-seating a key or two (many years ago I put the "I" key flipped for example - did not notice the difference in the key slope initially!) I had to reattach a number of the fly plates, but I have not had to do anything memorable after occasional testing in the ensuing years since then. They are more likely to fly out when the board is open and I am making adjustments or testing the modules not installed in a keyboard.

Case height is 24mm (not including the parts that stick out on top). Just under 47cm width and about 16.5 cm length.

Regarding the interest form, everyone should please be realistic in what they can spend later this year when considering signing up :) - one person put that they would order 500 keyboards - not likely!

webwit and others - no HHKB or ISO this time, as the keyboards are already produced. There may be another round with these options (and with additional case color options) but not likely for a while, if at all. Definitely nothing before I get the Model F project mailed out. For everyone: if you really want the beam spring and are flexible with using the US ANSI layout I recommend signing up to order it, if that is preferable to not getting a spot in the list. You can also sign up and note "only ISO" if you want to be in on the possible next round.

The doubleshot keys are expected to only be available in US and a few extra UK ISO keys (the latter for futureproofing and to allow more sets to be sold) so they will include more than 103 keys most likely - everyone would get all the keys. Nothing's finalized yet. The MOQ requires all sets to have the exact same keys.

Regarding the case design alternatives I would be happy to receive open source submissions for more stylish additional case offerings as future upgrades (I'll send to the factory for some quotations), however none would be factory installed options. The current design reflects the goal of making a Brand New beam spring keyboard with the smallest feasible footprint. The goal is to get these shipped as they are and then to allow additional stuff to be offered in the future, including case designs ranging from Model M style and modern mechanical keyboard style all the way to original beam spring keyboard case styles. Personally I'd like to see the 3278 A01 style cases with the momentary push buttons (I looked into this, but the ones of similar size are too deep to fit in the current case's interior dimensions). Also the 3101, 3277, 3278 and others are good to consider if anyone's up for making the cad files.

Another benefit to the extra big case would be the additional sound deadening offered. As there's nearly no deadening material or pounds of extra case, and the tolerances are far tighter, the new beam springs do reverberate noticeably more, like the Model F, as opposed to the dead sound of my original beam springs with nearly zero reverberation sound.

zrrion if you'd like to facilitate the ability to easily create plates and PCBs for various layouts as you mentioned, that would be great but I don't know if the demand for beam springs in various additional layouts would warrant the effort.

nickg SSK style num pads should be possible with the QMK and Via firmware but others would have to chime in on this. And again as noted above, the feel and sound are close to but still different from the original beam spring keyboards in the ways I mentioned. If you are looking for the 100% same experience you will not find it without turning to an original keyboard.

Regarding floating case designs, the goal was to minimize the additional parts of the original beam spring keyboards so the cost would not be even higher, which is why there is no additional interior top or bottom plate. I could imagine this keyboard itself becoming a drop in "inner assembly" for a larger case, maybe like an original IBM style case if someone wanted to mod their keyboard after it is delivered.

ZyBeR as noted in my initial post stabilizers are included but not needed or recommended outside of the space bar. Given the height of the beam modules it is impossible to mount the stabs on the PCB, which is why they are plate mounted.

A general question - for 122 layouts do people prefer the grouped together function keys at top or would it be better to space apart the F1-F4 (and 4 keys above it), F5-F8, etc. as it is done on a Model M? Would an interesting 122 layout be Model M 103 plus 4 keys on top of each function key and of course 10 keys on the left side unchanged?

mmm if you see photos of disassembled beam modules, the original switch had a metal insert which attached the white part of the beam module to the key. I'd guess that if they made it shorter, the white part would not have been long enough to hold the metal part by friction fit. But I have no idea. Maybe someone could ask the inventor **** Harris on his thread?

Yes the sound is noticeably different without all the extra material serving as significant dampening. I'll be posting some "Beam Spring QC secrets" videos later showing how you might even be able to tune the sound of each switch based on how sharp you want the clickiness, to some degree. By default the factory tuned them not to be overly snappy so that they are more like the originals, but I tuned my own new beam spring to be extra snappy. In other words the factory toned them to have less high frequency/high pitch sound but I expect that the end user can change this. The more snappiness, the more reverberant sound.

Pete the pictured caps are not spherical but they are doubleshot. I hope to make them available for purchase but they won't be a required purchase to get the keyboard. Each product line has its own serial number. A question to everyone - do people care about the serial labels? Every minute counts when shipping out hundreds of boards! I like the serial labels though.

lachmoewe yes but I hope to offer additional layouts myself with input from what people are looking for. PRIPARA_PLAYER regarding JIS and other one-off or super low demand offerings I don't know how feasible it will be for the CNC milling adjustment charges - I'd have to talk with the factory.

Thanks for the feedback tiltowait. For beam module flyplate attachment I use a scrap space bar wire from the Model F project, cut off at one end. Maybe one of these should be included with each keyboard. If you have a photo of the IBM one please share it. I've just seen them note and illustrate in the manual that a paper clip is best.

Redmaus as noted in my original post much of the Model F project timeline was spent waiting on the various factories involved as opposed to constant action, so there was much down time / spare bandwidth for both me and the factories involved. In no way is the beam project delaying the Model F project which remains the priority.

Regarding the wait list, more than half the 300 spots are currently taken, just a few days after the project was announced (though some attrition is to be expected, allowing for a wait list and a possible future round). This was completely unexpected. I may have to change the "100 keyboards at each price" initial goal because more than 100 keyboards have been reserved so quickly. I'll have to do some math on figuring out a more blended pricing so as not to reward someone managing to notice the thread and sign up a few hours before someone else - that was not the intention.

shampoo beam springs are louder than Model F's so I would not recommend them if Model F is the limit to the permissible noise in a given room.

goofy9x I believe the doubleshots are PBT but not confirmed.

Offline Ellipse

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As an update I have posted the monthly update on the project web site blog.  It summarizes the goings-on of the project and my posts made after the prior update.

The most recent post is for the new Model F project, and the post before that (both on the same page) is the update for the Brand New Beam Spring Project launch being discussed on this thread.

https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/blog/

I expect to continue mailing out keyboards for the rest of this year into early next year, after which the Beam Spring Keyboards will be the focus.

Offline Kavik

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Very cool. I will be following this thread!
Maybe they're waiting for gasmasks and latex to get sexy again.

The world has become a weird place.

Offline Havattack

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I wish the beam springs were coming in a case more similar to Model F, that low-profile thing is hideous. I might try to get one anyway.

Offline thechemtrailkid

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Yeah I would really love a case similar to the Model F's

Offline ItIsWritten

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I too think the case design kind of defeats the purpose of this.

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Offline StrangPrisoner

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Another vote in agreement with a beefier Model F style case ;D

Offline Puddsy

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would kill for an HHKB model M but i see above you said it's unlikely this time

beamspring revival project is genius and i'm excited to see how it turns out
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Offline Vizir

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I'd be in for a case redesign too. :)

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Offline pr0ximity

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At the very least I'm in for some replacement parts, if you can swing a high-profile case and angle I'd consider a board. Especially if a 60% could be done.
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Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 01 September 2021, 13:01:00 »
Yes there is also discussion of new case and layout options over on DT for the next round. 

As noted there, if anyone wants to contribute open source case designs please do post them here and on the DT thread!

Offline diazel

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 02 September 2021, 11:59:12 »
Ugh, just when I thought I had completed my collection. Thanks, Joe.


Offline Havattack

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 02 September 2021, 15:04:43 »
would kill for an HHKB model M but i see above you said it's unlikely this time

beamspring revival project is genius and i'm excited to see how it turns out

And i would commit some war crimes for a beamspring HHKB with some model M bezels.

Offline Wintermute1974

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 03 September 2021, 05:57:39 »
For all the people holding back waiting for an ISO or an HHKB or some other layout, you could buy this keyboard to harvest the switches.
Building a custom capacitive PCB would be the main challenge.

Offline Puddsy

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 03 September 2021, 10:29:24 »
For all the people holding back waiting for an ISO or an HHKB or some other layout, you could buy this keyboard to harvest the switches.
Building a custom capacitive PCB would be the main challenge.

there are a number of challenges preventing me from doing that

but id settle for a high profile case TKL

also joe, have you thought about making a version with included solenoid for maximum noise? maybe i missed it above
QFR | MJ2 TKL | "Bulgogiboard" (Keycon 104) | ctrl.alt x GON 60% | TGR Alice | Mira SE #29 | Mira SE #34 | Revo One | z | Keycult No. 1 | AIS65 | First CW87 prototype | Mech27v1 | Camp C225 | Duck Orion V1 | LZ CLS sxh | Geon Frog TKL | Hiney TKL One | Geon Glare TKL



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Offline Wintermute1974

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 05 September 2021, 09:20:26 »
have you thought about making a version with included solenoid for maximum noise? maybe i missed it above
There is a paragraph in the original post. Here it is:

Solenoid possibility.  There is room for a solenoid, though the New Beam Spring Keyboards are too thin to accept the extra beefy custom solenoids offered with the Model F project.  A slightly smaller solenoid is expected to be made available for the beam spring keyboards, closer to the smaller solenoids originally offered by IBM in many of their beam spring keyboards.

Offline Scriba

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 16 September 2021, 04:09:08 »
you have my attention

Offline audax989

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 29 September 2021, 21:10:42 »
I am watching this closely.

Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #21 on: Sat, 13 November 2021, 13:07:06 »
Any beam module puller suggestions?



I am trying to find recommendations for a tool that can separate the super glued beam washers in bulk, so that the springs can be replaced with different weight springs.  The plan is to offer a heavier weight spring and a normal weight (normal force) spring with the new beam keyboards, and to have a tool available that can help folks switch between springs or potentially repair beam modules in the future.

Currently I remove the module, flip it upside down, grip below the washer with a flat metal wire stripper tool, and gently tap the tool with a hammer a few times.  Takes a few seconds but it involves needing to take out and later put back all the modules.

Ideally the tool would grip the two sides of the washer, and it would have a gun-type grip that would push in the center (the white beam part shown in the first post).  I've seen some twist ones (shown below) but that seems like it might take a bit longer to use for each module.

Similar products I've looked at include gear pullers, battery terminal pullers, wiper arm pullers, gear pullers, etc.

The washer is 1/2 inch and the white beam module part below it is about 3/8 inch, so the puller spread should account for that.

Possibilities:
https://www.amazon.com/OTUAYAUTO-Battery-Terminal-Wiper-Puller/dp/B076PY8785/
https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Battery+Terminal+puller

Offline Ellipse

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As an update I am looking to wrap up the Brand New Model F backlog in the months after the current container shipment arrives (it is leaving the port at the end of this month and should arrive to me in March).  The schedule for this year is that after the backlog is done (around mid-year), the Brand New Beam Spring keyboards first round will go out, and then we still have the final round later this year for the F62/F77. After that will be the slightly more costly beam spring keyboard round with the case redesign and increased sound dampening).

Offline Ellipse

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Currently we are up to more than 900 reservations for the beam project! The cutoff point for the first round will all depend on how many folks choose the first round vs. the second round.

As a reminder the beam reservations Google Form is for the project in general not just for the first round - everyone needs to sign up if they prefer the second round too.

When we get closer I expect to put up some videos of the sound and operations to help folks decide. The advantage of the first round is not having to wait a year - having everything in stock, plus the full sound quality (extra reverberant and snappy) while the advantage of the second round will be more dampened sound quality like the original, as well as the redesigned more expensive case. Another consideration - the second round is expected to cost a bit more than the first given it has the extra case and because prices have gone up for a lot of manufactured goods over the past year, so it is likely that these won't be able to be manufactured at the same cost.

Offline pr0ximity

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 01 February 2022, 22:35:46 »
Very cool to hear how things are progressing. This is really one of the most impressive projects Iíve seen in my time here, kudos to all the work you put into resurrecting this tech!
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Offline Ellipse

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Attached is the first draft of a proposed second round case (also in standard CAD STP file format for everyone interested in offering open source case design options).

This design is a compromise design with elements from various IBM beam spring cases:  it combines the top curved area and near-exact overall length dimension and left and right side bezel thickness of the 3278, the gentler slope below the keys of the 3101 and 66-key cases, a shorter profile 40mm case height given the reduced beam module height, and the interior folded sheet metal bottom plate style of the Displaywriter (to eliminate the need for additional die cast molds for the bottom case parts).  Also the bottom case plate is recessed from view.  Edges are rounded.

Not shown are the holes (for screws, bumpers, etc. - countersunk screws for the 2mm thick bottom case plate).  Also not done in this file - proper LED cutouts, exact measurements of the cutouts and case height in the keys area, to sufficiently recess various profiles of MX keys into the case. 

Elements not modeled in this file - most of the beam module itself (only the main piece is modeled), the 2mm thick foam planned to go on top of the beam module and below the top inner assembly, the capacitive PCB, foam or rubber PCB underlay, plastic mylar barrier between top inner assembly and capacitive PCB.  I believe that the current dimensions also allow for an additional 2mm compressed foam below the inner assembly, for added sound dampening.

While the original cases were tilted significantly, to allow for fully customizable keyboard angling through bumpers the case will remain neutral.  This also helps keep shipping and packaging costs as low as is feasible. 

The file also includes the expected holes and beam module CAD files with the expectation that folks can order modules to make their own cases and layouts, though this would be much lower priority as the goal is to get enough cases and full keyboards ordered to keep the price feasible enough to proceed with ordering the molds.  The modules are by far the most costly part of the keyboard so the overall costs for making your own keyboard will not be lower than the full keyboard cost in my estimate - I haven't finalized the cost of individual modules, though each first round beam spring keyboard does include a mini first aid kit of several spare modules as mentioned in the original post.  The top inner assembly beam module holes are slightly larger than they were for the first round of the beam spring project, so as to allow for more wiggle room and more isolation between the plate and beam modules (with the goal of dampening the sound).

Draft case dimensions are LxWxH 495x248x40mm.  There would also be a TKL version of the case without the right side block (and maybe with or without the LED indicators - not sure yet).

As noted before, the stabilizer insert cutouts are kind of vestigial at this time, with the exception of the space bar stabilizer which is required.  I have found the non-space bar stabilizers prevent proper operation of the MX keys with the beam modules.  They are all included with each first round beam spring keyboard though, in case anyone can use them.
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* Beam assembly - 104 v2.zip (282.08 kB - downloaded 88 times.)
« Last Edit: Fri, 11 March 2022, 01:43:54 by Ellipse »

Offline Ellipse

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These are all nice case designs being posted on the DT thread - keep them coming both here and there! Eventually we probably have to narrow them down to a few main options and maybe several more low quantity CNC milled ones where each case may cost several hundred dollars extra due to tooling, only paid by those interested in the specific design.

The two main decisions are which layouts to offer and in which cases to offer them.

So far in terms of layouts, I have seen the most amount of interest in 122, 104, TKL, 60%, and Split Ergonomic. Within the 104 and TKL there is discussion of different bottom row options that include 1.25U or 1.5U keys. ISO is definitely a top layout request. HHKB style had some small amount of interest. Given the individual modules are the largest cost outside of the case and tooling, the 122 may have extra cost while a 60% might be offered at a lower cost relative to the 104.

In terms of cases there are options for a blended version of the original beam spring cases in one group and more modern looking cases in another group.

Offline Ellipse

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Question for all the coders (cross posted from the Model F project thread as it applies to both projects):

Is anyone up for helping move the Model F QMK/Via/Vial project to the new Raspberry Pi RP2040 chip over the coming weeks?  Recently the ATMEGA chips have become nearly impossible to find in quantity due to the chip shortage, which means it's probably time to switch over to the RP2040 for the capacitive keyboard controllers.  After it is up and running I would like to secure the RP2040 chips soon before they may run out too, so that the final round and beam spring second round will not be delayed. 

It seems like QMK support is in progress but not yet completed for the RP2040, and there are other projects like KMK which seem to work with the RP2040.  The question is, is it better to go with KMK?  How stable is it?  It may take a while for QMK RP2040 support to be ready.  Some recent related links:
https://golem.hu/guide/kmk-firmware/
https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/sr65kd/custom_tkl_keyboard_pcb_i_have_been_designing_if/
https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware/pull/14877
https://github.com/KarlK90/qmk_firmware/tree/feature/raspberry-pi-rp2040-support
https://github.com/KarlK90/qmk_firmware/blob/feature/raspberry-pi-rp2040-support/docs/compatible_microcontrollers.md
https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware/issues/11649
https://github.com/pimoroni/pmk-circuitpython
https://www.reddit.com/r/olkb/comments/l1yr3j/qmk_support_for_the_pico/
https://github.com/vladantrhlik/VT-40
https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/q7yeo0/custom_40_powered_by_kmk_firmware/
https://github.com/KMKfw/kmk_firmware

What would it take to get the Model F firmware working on the RP2040 chip?  Would the xwhatsit wcass controller require an updated design for the RP2040 to work?

Offline Rezkian

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What are the chances of a 65% version of this down the line? And if so, how many months/years as a ballpark guess? :-[

Offline Ellipse

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Yes I expect 60% and SSK style beam spring keyboards as part of the next round or 3rd round (?) but not sure.  The next round should start in a couple months after I finish going through the backlog of the current container shipment.
« Last Edit: Mon, 23 May 2022, 21:00:59 by Ellipse »

Offline Ellipse

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When folks note their interest in a 122 key keyboard, is their specific interest in the exact historical 122-key terminal models with the 24 bunched-together function keys, 5-key cursor design, etc. 

Or is it primarily a request for the ability to have more keys than on a standard ~104 key keyboard?  12 extra keys on the top and 10 extra keys on the left side for function keys/custom keys, etc.

Personally I would like a 122 key beam spring keyboard that resembles the Model M 101-key layout but with the extra 12 keys above the 12 function keys, 10 keys on the left which I can use for custom keys (Explorer, media playback, start menu, etc.), the keys between Ctrl and Alt of course, and 3 keys above the Insert/Home/Page Up keys for Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause/Break.  I'm not sure if this updated layout would have too much interest.

Offline Ellipse

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Measurement help requested - original beam spring cases:

For folks who have beam spring keyboards other than the 3278 can you provide measurements or drawings (a photo of a handwritten drawing would be fine) of the side profiles and size of the bezels around the top, bottom, left, and right of the keys?  I ask because I only own the 3278 models.

I'd like to get the proportions right in the proposed designs.

I'd request the radius of the curves (one can approximate by measuring a straight line cross section of the curved part of the case), the side profile heights at various points, and the overall length.

Since IBM appears to have designed in inches and fractions of an inch please provide the measurements as such if possible.

If easier to provide the numbers that is fine, or if easier to draw something not to scale and mark the distances that would be good too.
« Last Edit: Fri, 27 May 2022, 14:13:32 by Ellipse »

Offline Ellipse

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Here are some updated photos of the draft beam spring 104 style design.  The overall case design is unchanged for the time being.

I would certainly appreciate any of the side profile measurements on the various beam spring cases other than the 3278 which I own.  The goal is to have some cases inspired by the profiles and designs of various IBM cases, assuming the mold exterior parts can somehow be combined to keep costs reasonable (then it would just require different mold cores).

My first IBM style design posted a couple months ago was a combination of some IBM cases but I'm thinking maybe I should just do one case for each main variety (5251, 3278, 3101, maybe the 66 key beam spring?). 

Of course of we go with a mold instead of CNC milled, the bent tabs for the top case would be removed and you would not see them.  The top and bottom case would be assembled with posts on the inside of the top case.

Below are some details on the beam case design, to be more in line with the originals.

Top case (now at an angle as requested)
.....Top inner assembly ("TIA")
..........Inner foam
..........Beam Module
..........PCB
..........Foam or rubber sheet below the entire PCB
.....Bottom inner assembly ("BIA")
Bottom case

Notes on the PCB:  the PCB is secured to the top+bottom inner assembly in a different way from round 1.  The PCB touches the area where the top+bottom inner assembly are screwed together.  To avoid issues, because the metal inner assembly cannot touch the PCB, on the top side, there is a small mylar strip glued or taped to the top inner assembly as you would see with the original IBM beam spring keyboards.  On the bottom side of the PCB, the large foam mat has some holes in it for the screws so that the PCB does not contact the metal parts.  The PCB and foam pieces are not shown in the photos (you can see a gap where the PCB would go, in between TIA and BIA.

The new TIA has slightly larger holes in the TIA, so that the modules will not fit into place.  This will make assembly less secure - the beam modules will not be securely installed in place in the TIA; instead they will only be secure when the inner assembly is completed.  Before then, the beam modules can be easily moved out of place.  The reason for this is to reduce the contact between TIA and the beam module, in order to reduce the sound (that is why a foam is added).  The foam allows a reduction in the noise of the mechanism.  The goal is to eliminate the ringing sound when typing.  This part was not in the previous beam design.  The colors shown are all false colors designed to maximize visibility/contrast of the various parts.  I expect the TIA to be black and BIA to be the same IBM gold type finish.

Screws:  Case screws will be hex countersunk/flat top, 6-32, 1/2".  Inner assembly screws will be standard + Phillips, the same used with the F62/F77.  The TIA has holes and the BIA has threaded holes.  The threaded holes are not shown in the photos. 

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Offline Ellipse

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We are about 4-8 weeks away from me mailing out the remaining Model F keyboards in the backlog!  A little over 500 keyboards plus many non-keyboard orders.

Here are the first photos of the prototype beam case and the top and bottom inner assembly plates.  They will be making a full prototype with these parts before we proceed.  As noted before this is just a test to make sure everything will fit together and work together.  The design is likely to change (an angle to the case was added but not for this sample, etc.) and I'm not sure yet if I'm making molds for a few beam cases so you can pick a 3278 style beam spring for yourself or a 3101, etc.  Each case style will also have different layout options ideally so there may be a 104 style and a less wide SSK style case.

These are just powdercoated smooth black for the tests as opposed to the bumpy original style texture expected on the finished products.

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Offline turangaleela

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Filled out the IC last night. I want one of these very, very badly hnnnnng

Offline 1391401

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Is there a way to confirm if we submitted the IC?  I'm an idiot and forgot if I did and I want this.
People I've given money to from this webform who never respond to me and have not shipped me anything: ctrlalt.io 1 2, Team Readline Reputable alternatives to GH group buys: http://pimpmykeyboard.com, https://www.massdrop.com,

Offline Ellipse

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Yep feel free to message me with your email address but if you submitted it please assume it went through rather than check with me - Google forms has been completely reliable in my experience.

Offline Ellipse

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And here is the sample beam case populated with beam modules.  As noted before this is likely not the final design as I expect to go with separate cases, one based on each of the most well-known beam case designs (3278, 3101, 66-key, etc.) if feasible.

The first two photos show the keyboard installed without the new top inner foam that goes between the top of the beam modules and below the top inner assembly plate.  This was more like my first beam round design. 

The third photo shows the new prototype foam installed inside the top inner assembly.  The purpose of the foam is to reduce the reverberation sound and make it sound closer to the originals.

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Offline parityerror

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Two things...

[1] The work you've done here is amazing! I am super excited about this project

[2] You had asked a question previously about 122 layouts... is that still a consideration?  If not, would your beam spring modules be contact-compatible with vintage Model F capacitive PCBs in a custom build?

Offline Ellipse

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Yes confirmed about the beam 122, which will likely have close to 128 keys (104/105 keys for standard ANSI/ISO + 12 F13-F24 keys + 10 keys for the left side block); 128 is the maximum allowed on a 16x8 matrix. I am open to someone submitting an updated controller design to allow for an additional optional column - maybe Rico's new RP2040-based controller will allow for this - though it might be tricky with maintaining backwards compatibility (maybe a solder pad to switch it from being an extra column to being a ground column?). Compromises will possibly be needed for those wanting to order custom layout 122-style beam spring keyboards, especially if they want additional keys like splitting the backspace, etc.

Offline Ellipse

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As noted before, the beam spring project is designed to reproduce the performance and functionality (weighting, travel distance, module specifications) of the originals but with some updates (shortened the two plastic parts of the beam module without altering the travel distance); the sound is not going to be similar to the originals for the first production run because of the design changes (no added foam above the modules, no rubber below, no thick case, etc.).  The modules themselves sound close in my opinion but the goal of the project is not an exact sound reproduction. 

Here's a sound comparison of an original module and a new module - this is just one module of each so it will likely not represent what each module will sound like, and it especially does not represent what the installed keyboard sounds like (more test videos with the full keyboard will be made later).

Nope there will be no plastic cases.  I'm hoping the beam modules will be interchangeable but I have not yet received the new beam case sample to confirm this.  All the cases will be powdercoated aluminum or steel (sorry no more extra heavy zinc!).

« Last Edit: Sun, 21 August 2022, 21:23:13 by Ellipse »

Offline diazel

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Super stoked but trying to remind myself to be patient.  :p


Offline Ellipse

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The new beam spring sample keyboard arrived and I started evaluating it today.  It is way too heavy, at 13.55 lbs!  The sample case was made of extra thick welded steel - the production cases will of course be more sensibly normal thickness material (steel or aluminum).  I don't want to add $50 in increased shipping costs to an already costly keyboard! 

Offline diazel

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13.55! That's a big girl. I understand your point about the added shipping but at the same time the reason i type on my F77 rather than my F122 is that hefty zinc.

What's your goal weight?

Offline Ellipse

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Not sure, but if it's die cast then it will be whatever the weight of the aluminum case will be.  The sample case top weighs 4.45 lbs.  Maybe with aluminum that can go down to 1.8 pounds.  And the bottom plate may go down a bit in weight with the switch to aluminum.  My guess is it will still weigh 9-10 pounds or so, not counting all the packaging, cable and keys. 
« Last Edit: Fri, 09 September 2022, 13:09:29 by Ellipse »

Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #45 on: Wed, 14 September 2022, 17:32:54 »
Thanks to photos of IBM beam spring case measurements provided by Chyros I have completed two case styles - please see the renderings below. One style is the 3278 style and the other is a combination of the styles of the 3101, 3727, 4978, 5251, and 6580 Displaywriter - for simplicity I think it should be referred to as the non-3278 style.

Both cases are the same overall dimensions. There are two non-3278 style cases, one designed for welding and the other designed for die casting. The colors are altered in order to show the various parts more clearly - for example the cases will all be a uniform color and it will be available in the same colors and textured finish as the F style cases most likely.

I'm hoping to wrap up the Model F backlog this month.

Offline Ellipse

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The fourth container shipment arrived this week.

The second half of the round 1 batch with the factory repaired beam springs arrived. I will be replacing the other 150 or so keyboards' springs that arrived a while back, before the spring issue was discovered. Of course if anyone wants to skip the line and replace the springs themselves that will also be an option (I expect to post a video).

Offline Dra9on

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Things are moving on this again!
« Last Edit: Wed, 26 October 2022, 03:34:23 by Dra9on »

Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #48 on: Wed, 02 November 2022, 11:20:12 »
For round 2 I'm thinking Beam 104, SSK, 122, and 62 (60% F62 layout style) to start with, based on interest levels received so far.  ISO and ANSI models, and with HHKB style split right shift as a beam 62 exclusive option.

We are close to opening up orders for beam round 1 - I am 99% through the backlog and have mailed over 3990 new Model F keyboards so far out of about 4040 ordered.

Offline Ellipse

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Re: Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! Shipping after the New Model F KB's
« Reply #49 on: Sat, 05 November 2022, 00:08:51 »
Sharing an important update here as it relates to the beam spring project:

Major project updates:

The 4000th new Model F keyboard shipped this week!  4036 keyboards have shipped in total.

Backlog is done:  I have completely caught up with the backlog!  All outstanding orders comprising the backlog have shipped, not counting 27 orders on hold due to various reasons:  17 orders-partially paid, 3-waiting for them to reply, and 7-other reasons that prevent me from shipping the order). 

All F62/F77 keyboards and accessories are in stock, with the exception of 1.75 stepped keys which will be sublimated this month (I ordered blank keys from Unicomp and mailed them to the factory doing the sublimation).  This "all in stock" is a major change in the project, as opposed to the previous "made to order" nature of the project.  I'm hoping that all current and future orders can ship in 1-2 weeks, and likely sooner, but don't hold me to this as anything could happen.

Over the coming week I hope to prepare a beam spring video / higher quality sound test and create the product pages and maybe take some additional photos, so please look out for an email if you signed the beam spring interest form posted earlier (and reposted in the past week or so).  The in-stock beam spring keyboards will be reserved and quantity limited with priority to those who signed up the earliest.  Those who signed up will also have the option to order the second round beam spring keyboard, whose design is now finalized into the modified 3101 style.  Some time after, orders will open up to those who did not sign the interest form.

Recently I located a nice PBT double shot MX set with the key tops partially sunken, similar but not a match to the IBM originals.  I believe these to be one of the closest matches out there.  I hope to receive these beam spring key set samples later this month and then I will post photos and likely order them.  The molds are already produced but the color scheme for the project has not been produced - they are custom making the key colors for this project.  The PBT double shot key set options will be:
(1) all black color keys with white legends, or
(2) black modifier keys with white legends and all other keys will be white with black legends

While the factory does not have double shot molds for the international language keys, they do offer ISO Enter, short left shift, and a few dozen additional keys beyond the standard 104, which I expect to offer as well, so the tradeoff of using a modified ISO layout with some "incorrect" keys may be worth it to some international layout users to be able to use these new keys.  (As a note, the factory whose double shot sample keys were pictured in the beam spring product photos has not been responsive so I have been looking at these other factories).

To keep things simple and to help cover the costs of these custom made keys which have a high minimum order quantity, the round 1 keyboard cost will include $10 (US) and $15 (international) for separate shipping of the round 1 key sets, whether you order a set or not.  No more trying to collect separate payments and holding off on orders like years ago for early Model F orders - everything in stock will be shipping out to everyone without waiting for keys to arrive.