Author Topic: Profit through Modification  (Read 6871 times)

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Offline sealcouch

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Profit through Modification
« on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 10:39:08 »
Despite how the cheesy title sounds like some bad business book,

what are some mods that can be performed on keyboards to make them worth a bit more cash to the geek hack and non-geekhack people alike?

I've been wanting to do away with one of my model m keyboards and I would like a bit more cash than the typical 30 dollar price tag from eBay.

Any ideas?

Offline hoggy

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« Reply #1 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 14:04:48 »
So you're looking for either
  1) a mod that increases the value of the keyboard enough to make it worthwhile to sell.
  2) a mod that you can provide as a service.

Ideas -
1) Convert cherry keyboards to use browns\blues instead of blacks.
2) Cut off the numpad to make keyboards more ergonomic (target audience (not GH) probably won't have considered mechanical keyboards so cheaper keytronic boards might be ideal)
3) Provide advice about a suitable keyboard - but most people believe that keyboards are just commodities and no advice will be necessary.  Could get sued if advice isn't any good.
4) Programming keyboards/keypads.  Most companies will expect their overworked IT team will do this.
5) Add pointing devices to the board.

Idea 1 might work well for Geekhack members - I've got a board wih plate mounted switches that I'd pay to have modded to use blues.

Ideas 2 and 5 might work on ebay.  Would be interested to see what you could come up with.

Hope it helps.
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Offline kishy

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« Reply #2 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 14:07:39 »
Assemble and install USB controllers for Model M keyboards including terminal variants.

I think issues about licensing may come about if you attempt to "sell" the "USB controllers" but I think selling a "USB converted keyboard" is a bit of a different deal.
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Offline gr1m

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« Reply #3 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 14:07:42 »
I can think of colored keycaps. You can charge a customization fee. I'd pay more than the normal $30 for a Model M that I can customize (by telling you to color the WASD cluster or whatnot). You can have pictures of sample customizations, like a gamer with the WASD cluster, or maybe a programmer with some essential keys colored (not much of a programmer so I don't know what keys those should be :p).

Offline hoggy

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« Reply #4 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 14:23:23 »
Run a service that quietens noisy keyboards.  Owners of clicky boards don't want to stop using them at work, but their colleagues probably would love them to swap.  Quietening them would be an ideal solution.  

More likely to make money selling finished boards on ebay...
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Offline Findecanor

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« Reply #5 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 16:03:01 »
I was thinking in the same lines as some other people here, but not out to make a profit. Just to make a custom board for a friend at work as a birthday present. She has been talking about getting a legend-less keyboard like the Das.
Take a clicky mechanical keyboard, dye the keys and the case black, and mod it to be (more) silent. But do it properly.

Perhaps for the Geekhack crowd, you could put together a "Noise Killer Kit", with all the necessary materials sorted and cut to size, etc.

Quote from: hoggy;204578
2) Cut off the numpad to make keyboards more ergonomic (target audience (not GH) probably won't have considered mechanical keyboards so cheaper keytronic boards might be ideal)
Unfortunately, cheap keytronics have the controller under the keyboard LEDs right above the num pad ...
« Last Edit: Tue, 20 July 2010, 16:09:45 by Findecanor »
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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #6 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 16:11:01 »
Quote from: hoggy;204590
Run a service that quietens noisy keyboards.  ...


yea that was going to be my suggestion as well.  I've actually had gh'ers offer to pay me to put silicon grease on their buckling springs. (I talked them into doing it themselves, lol). I'm not sure how much to charge for something like that tho that would make it worth my while. It really is a bit labor intensive. On the other hand, if you find a way to do it efficiently, and if there's enough of a market, why not.

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

using: ms 7000/Das 3

Offline d4rkst4r

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« Reply #7 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 16:26:45 »
Steampunk it. Big profit. Big labor, too.
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Offline microsoft windows

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« Reply #8 on: Tue, 20 July 2010, 20:53:15 »
I'd use keyboards at a job and make a lot more money than any steampunking.
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Profit through Modification
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 21 July 2010, 17:26:14 »
Completely programmable over USB mod (this means replacing the original controller for pretty much all boards). With hardware switches to choose between at least 4 layouts.

Good luck making money off that, but the dvorak/colemak crowd might like a decent board (doesn't even need to be mechanical, though that probably helps) that can be switched around without modifying the OS.
Current collection: HHKB Pro 2 black on black, HHKB Pro 2 white/grey blank, [strike]Dell AT101W[/strike] (sold to SirClickAlot), 1992 Model M, Key Tronic Ergoforce KT 2001, BTC 5100 C. Dead boards: MS Natural Elite, MS Natural 4000.

Offline didjamatic

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« Reply #10 on: Wed, 21 July 2010, 17:36:50 »
Swap all switches and guts from a PC AT Model F into it so it has the Model M layout but PC AT feel and capacitance.  I'll give you top $$$ for that.

Back to reality...

Do an incredible cleaning job so it sparkles inside and out, repair any rivets and issues you find.  Basically trading your labor for money from someone who doesn't have time or interest in scrubbing 30 years of food and pubes out of an old keyboard.

You'd do better finding old Northgates that are yellowed and whitening them via the retr0brite process.  That could gain you $100+ on some models.  Here's an extremely rare Northgate 102 Metal Gold Label that if whitened would command big bucks.  Note it has white switches which aren't as desirable as Blue, but it's still a metal logo Northgate and some of these with Blue switches will go for $300-500 range.
« Last Edit: Wed, 21 July 2010, 17:43:59 by didjamatic »
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Offline hoggy

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« Reply #11 on: Thu, 22 July 2010, 02:12:10 »
Quote from: Superfluous Parentheses;204968
Completely programmable over USB mod (this means replacing the original controller for pretty much all boards). With hardware switches to choose between at least 4 layouts.

Good luck making money off that, but the dvorak/colemak crowd might like a decent board (doesn't even need to be mechanical, though that probably helps) that can be switched around without modifying the OS.


Sort of thing that I'll pay for.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline Jim66

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« Reply #12 on: Fri, 23 July 2010, 16:58:03 »
Quote from: gr1m;204580
I can think of colored keycaps. You can charge a customization fee. I'd pay more than the normal $30 for a Model M that I can customize (by telling you to color the WASD cluster or whatnot). You can have pictures of sample customizations, like a gamer with the WASD cluster, or maybe a programmer with some essential keys colored (not much of a programmer so I don't know what keys those should be :p).


+1, this is going to be the cheapest solution that more people are going to buy into.

Jim.

Offline LarsMarkelson

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« Reply #13 on: Fri, 23 July 2010, 17:58:53 »
Cherry Red space saving keyboards that you can buy in the US with a nice US layout! Only Red I can get is $150 off a person in Hong Kong on ebay, and its full not Tenkeyless and the layout is not great for US.

My ideal right now in my mind would be a Majestouch Tenkeyless Cherry Red, as I like the layout of those boards. This could be done by taking the Tactile Touch Cherry Brown version and swapping in Black stems. Probably would be a lot of work as it'd require soldering but I'd pay $200-250 for it.

Offline Konrad

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« Reply #14 on: Fri, 13 August 2010, 08:35:24 »
Quote from: kishy
Assemble and install USB controllers ... I think issues about licensing may come about if you attempt to "sell" the "USB controllers" but I think selling a "USB converted keyboard" is a bit of a different deal.
An easy solution is to simply install a USB hub (sans plastic casing) into the keyboard chassis, with it's own "pass through" USB cable.  The keyboard cable and USB cable could be sheathed together as a single unit, splitting apart a few inches before reaching the host PC (allowing a little leeway to connect to crowded I/O panels).  No additional electronics signaling (or legal) difficulties are encountered; the keyboard and USB hub are essentially discrete appliances that just happen to share the same chassis.
 
A similar pass-through approach can be used with 3.5mm audio (headphone, mic) jacks.
 
Many gaming keyboards marketed today use this approach.
Many also feature gold-plated connectors.  Although people tend to think this is a good thing (especially with audio), it really isn't, and the gold-plating is mostly just a marketing gimmick.  This is because virtually every USB host or device is tin-plated, most PC-integrated audio ports are also tin-plated.  Tin- and gold-plated connectors should never be mixed, since the mismatch promotes a type of rapid corrosion called "fretting" which eventually impedes reliable electrical signaling.
 
Quote from: gr1m
I can think of colored keycaps. You can charge a customization fee ...
+1 more, this is an excellent idea.
 
Most people (outside GH) think all keyboards are much the same and wonder why anyone would ever need the expensive ones.  Perhaps they might pay more for a Microsoft or Logitech keyboard simply because of a vague notion that the brand somehow offers better compatibility and reliability.
 
When they think of customization at all, they'll think about the cosmetic sorts of things they see on niche-market keyboards.  Stuff like backlighting, custom surfaces which match their mousepad/decor, and custom keycaps in different colours.  Some would prefer to dispense with the Windows logos (often replacing them with Tux or something neutral like "Command").  Some want different colour schemes on the Function keys, Backspace, Numpad, WASD cluster, or whatever.
 
A look at higher-end (or at least higher-cost) keyboards shows that eye-candy is big.  Even the most elite keyboard enthusiast will be drawn temporarily into considering some inferior keyboard simply because it has attractive backlighting or LEDs.
 
Quote from: didjamatic
You'd do better finding old Northgates that are yellowed and whitening them ...
Again, sadly, most people would probably wonder why you'd pay to restore and repair a broken old keyboard when it would cost less to buy a newer model.  This is still a great idea, but I think it would only appeal to keyboard veterans and GH-minded people.
 
A mod that involves keyswitches or controllers could be lucrative, but I suspect it would probably be more of a commission sort of thing than a mainstay.

Offline pex

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« Reply #15 on: Fri, 13 August 2010, 10:01:39 »
Back before everyone (including me) knew better, when I was feeling out the idea of adding diodes to my Model M for NKRO, I thought if I could get that to work on the various formulations of Model Ms, and other similar keyboards, I might get into the hobby-business of blessing keyboards with rollover.  So, if you have some magic wand to wave that gives keyboards their wildest dream, that could be a way to improve value.
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Offline keyboardlover

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« Reply #16 on: Fri, 13 August 2010, 23:18:08 »
Dell AT101Ws are very popular but not the nicest to type on...swap the switches with something a bit nicer? Like montereys from a chicony board?

Or...swap switches on old minitouches with montereys (like the GHSS).

Offline Konrad

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« Reply #17 on: Sat, 14 August 2010, 05:44:28 »
Any hardware is compatible with enough effort.
 
Chassis parts can be modified, reshaped, entirely replaced with new molded or cast parts.  Entire sets of key switches and caps can be refitted, or remachined from scratch.  Electronics can be wired and programmed to suit any spec.  An entire keyboard can be made packing gold PCB traces and a dedicated MCU on each key, diamond contact switches, gold-plated carbon-fiber casing if the customer desires ...
 
Of course extra effort = extra time, extra parts, and extra money.  How much will people be willing to pay before it's "not worth it"?

Offline KillerBee

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« Reply #18 on: Sat, 14 August 2010, 07:15:14 »
I guess this is what lead him to do the doo-doo board
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Offline sealcouch

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« Reply #19 on: Sat, 14 August 2010, 23:59:30 »
Actually, it came after the doo doo board when I noticed that it didn't bring in much more money. Haha.

Offline KillerBee

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« Reply #20 on: Sun, 15 August 2010, 03:20:18 »
Quote from: sealcouch;212741
Actually, it came after the doo doo board when I noticed that it didn't bring in much more money. Haha.



so you are saying I am cheap for not going for the BIN price?
IBM Model M 1386304 Nov. 1985

Offline sealcouch

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« Reply #21 on: Mon, 16 August 2010, 18:46:45 »
Nah, I'm saying I set it to high.

I tend to do that. but I've gotten lucky a few times. ;)

Offline Eclairz

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« Reply #22 on: Tue, 17 August 2010, 07:58:36 »
Bluetooth/Wireless Mod
Colour Keycaps Mod
Split Keyboard Mod
HHKB Pro 2 Mod
Spring adjustment Mod
Keycap Mod
LED Light Mod (key caps or just the caps lock light)
Macro Mod
Full NKRO Mod
Heavier weight Mod
Chasis Reduction Mod
Docking Station Mod
Laptop Mod (Cherry ML in laptops FTW)
Stickier feet Mod
Keyswitch Mod

So many mods so little time, just changing all my keys from blue cherries to brown cherries between two keyboards take 2 hours already for me
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Offline CeeSA

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« Reply #23 on: Mon, 11 October 2010, 06:52:29 »
i would pay for a controller to connect Thinkpad (T60, T61...) keyboards to PS/2 and/or USB.
perhaps with a small case?

i dont like ultranav because i hate the touchpad and the needed space for it

Offline sealcouch

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« Reply #24 on: Tue, 12 October 2010, 00:40:21 »
Quote from: Eclairz;213423
Bluetooth/Wireless Mod
Colour Keycaps Mod
Split Keyboard Mod
HHKB Pro 2 Mod
Spring adjustment Mod
Keycap Mod
LED Light Mod (key caps or just the caps lock light)
Macro Mod
Full NKRO Mod
Heavier weight Mod
Chasis Reduction Mod
Docking Station Mod
Laptop Mod (Cherry ML in laptops FTW)
Stickier feet Mod
Keyswitch Mod

So many mods so little time, just changing all my keys from blue cherries to brown cherries between two keyboards take 2 hours already for me


...Cherries in a laptop
*squirt*

Offline waffleboi9

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« Reply #25 on: Mon, 08 November 2010, 23:03:17 »
Unfortunately, the very nature of modding a keyboard is to destroy it's "collectability" because it will no longer be a mint original. Furthermore, most of the worthwhile mods are so time consuming that it will be difficult to profit off them until you get the economy of scale working for you.

For example, I'd love to pay someone to bolt mod my model m's. For someone who's good at it and has their process locked down, they can probably do it in 1-2 hours and produce really clean product. How many dollars per hour is that service worth? $30? Would I be willing to pay an extra $60 for a bolt modded keyboard, when stock model m's sell for about $30-40 on ebay? So would I rather pay someone to bolt mod one keyboard, or buy two extra keyboards? Plus, then you take into account the cost of me shipping the board to you and you shipping it back... Sorry dude, but it just doesn't make economical sense.

My advice, do the mods you love because you love the keyboards. When you sell them, they WILL fetch a higher price from the people who appreciate these mods, but I doubt the margins will be high enough to be a real business. :/

Offline Pylon

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« Reply #26 on: Tue, 09 November 2010, 14:44:04 »
I've been thinking about getting a Gateway Anykey and swapping Cherry Blues into it...the keycaps are compatible.

Offline Daniel Beaver

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« Reply #27 on: Tue, 09 November 2010, 16:27:29 »
Or just be like me and sell bolt-modded Model Ms for way less than they're worth, purely because I like tinkering. It helps to have a bottomless pit of Model Ms.

Speaking of selling bolt modding services... I'm working on my 8th bolt modded board right now, and feel that I have the process pretty well figured out. If anyone wants one done right, shoot a PM my way.

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