Author Topic: Alps Appreciation Thread  (Read 1575934 times)

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Offline Acereconkeys

  • Posts: 171
  • Location: West Coast US of A
  • Happiness = life - expectations
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6050 on: Sat, 19 May 2018, 22:32:59 »
What bout the keycaps? Alps blanks?
Acrylic Clueboard | Tex Blue Alps TKL | TMO50 Incoming | QXP Incoming | Realforce RGB | Nyquist

Current obsession: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=94675.0

Offline Delirious

  • Posts: 247
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6051 on: Sat, 19 May 2018, 22:39:53 »
What bout the keycaps? Alps blanks?

The caps are from Apple Extended Keyboard, a friend of mine helped me sandblasted the caps. They're dye subbed after all, he also sandblasted some OG doubleshots for me as well.

Offline waldorf120

  • Posts: 28
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6052 on: Mon, 21 May 2018, 13:01:11 »


Alps artisan alert!  Just saw on mechmarket that Clackeys is selling some Alps artisans based on the Cacodemons from the Doom franchise.  They're $50 for painted ones but only $20 for unpainted and they come in both horizontal and vertical Alps mount!
« Last Edit: Mon, 21 May 2018, 13:02:44 by waldorf120 »

Offline ag36

  • Posts: 177
  • Location: London, UK
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6053 on: Sun, 03 June 2018, 19:44:21 »
Been using aekii keycaps on matias click, the sound and bottoming out feel just so...satisfying. Quiet click with taihao doubleshot abs is quiet good too.
Model M*5, SSK*4, M13 black*1, Model F XT*1, AT*1 F107*1, Unicomp*1, 3278 *1, Leopold FC750R*2, 980M*2 FC980C*1 Filco majestouch 2 TKL*1, Cooler Master MasterKeys S PBT*1, Uniqey Q100*2, Ducky pocket*1, KBD75*2, KBD19X*2, HHKB pro 2*1, Type-S*1 Topre Realforce RGB*1, 108 all 30g*1, numpad*1, 87U*1 Dell AT101W*2, Alps64*2, V80 matias quiet click*2, Quiet liner *1, WYSE ASCII *1

Offline Blaise170

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  • ALPS キーボード
    • XYZ
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6054 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 09:19:02 »
Does anyone know the exact weight (not estimate) of a single Alps switch?
I proxy anything including keyboards (キーボード / 鍵盤), from both Japan (日本) and China (中國). For more information, you may visit my dedicated webpage here: https://www.keyboards.es/proxying.html

View my current and past keyboards here: https://deskthority.net/wiki/User:Blaise170

Offline chyros

  • a.k.a. Thomas
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Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6055 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 09:44:46 »
Does anyone know the exact weight (not estimate) of a single Alps switch?
Which variety? :p I imagine it's different per switch type.
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline Blaise170

  • * Esteemed Elder
  • Posts: 1266
  • Location: Boston, MA
  • ALPS キーボード
    • XYZ
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6056 on: Wed, 06 June 2018, 10:36:29 »
Does anyone know the exact weight (not estimate) of a single Alps switch?
Which variety? :p I imagine it's different per switch type.

Specifically SKCL, but I would imagine SKCM would be nearly identical.
I proxy anything including keyboards (キーボード / 鍵盤), from both Japan (日本) and China (中國). For more information, you may visit my dedicated webpage here: https://www.keyboards.es/proxying.html

View my current and past keyboards here: https://deskthority.net/wiki/User:Blaise170

Offline _ODIN_

  • Posts: 288
  • Location: Europe
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6057 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 17:18:42 »
Hello guys

just a quick question. Which switches does the apple A2S4000 use?

Thanks

Online rich1051414

  • Posts: 351
  • Location: Decaturville, TN
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6058 on: Fri, 15 June 2018, 19:24:06 »
Hello guys

just a quick question. Which switches does the apple A2S4000 use?

Thanks
Either Apple hairpin spring or Alps SKCM Orange, afaik.
The older apple IIc's had hairpin spring switches, the later ones had skcm orange.
Siig Minitouch with Orange Alps, Whitefox 60% Zealios 67g, Realforce 87U 55g Topre, LFK SMK/Alps TKL With SMK 2nd Gen Cherry MX mount switches, NEC APC-H412 NEC Blue Ovals, Unicomp Model-M Spacesaver, XMIT Hall Effect, WASD Code Cherry MX Clear, KBDFans75 Lubed Gateron Greens, Azio MGK L80 Kailh Brown, XD84 Pale Blue Box Kailh, NIB Pingmaster TMK Converted, KPrepublic XD96 Blue aluminum case with Jade Box Kailh

Offline kakan

  • Posts: 21
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6059 on: Sat, 16 June 2018, 04:43:28 »
Hello guys

just a quick question. Which switches does the apple A2S4000 use?

Thanks
Either Apple hairpin spring or Alps SKCM Orange, afaik.
The older apple IIc's had hairpin spring switches, the later ones had skcm orange.

Some also had amber SKCM switches.

Offline _ODIN_

  • Posts: 288
  • Location: Europe
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6060 on: Sat, 16 June 2018, 04:45:23 »
Hello guys

just a quick question. Which switches does the apple A2S4000 use?

Thanks
Either Apple hairpin spring or Alps SKCM Orange, afaik.
The older apple IIc's had hairpin spring switches, the later ones had skcm orange.

Some also had amber SKCM switches.
I saw a good offer on my local ebay but I donít know which switches are in it  :mad:

Offline MandrewDavis

  • Posts: 442
  • Location: Fl
  • Chasin' That Neon Rainbow
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6061 on: Thu, 21 June 2018, 17:37:35 »
Some of you may remember the NOS Blue Alps keyboard I found a few years ago.  Orihalcon tried hard to help me with the Soarer's converter but there was nothing but error codes.  I messaged the owner of the only other documented K-430 on the internet and he said that he could only get it to work with a certain Compaq computer but once that died, he gave to a collector. Even though this is simply a unique Chicony 5160 variant with arrow keys, there is some charm to its yellowing and status as a 30-year-old NOS keyboard which made it worth the work.

I would love for everyone to check out the buildlog but here is a preview of the end product - The same pictures are in the Imgur album here.

More



Often regarded among the best keyboard switches ever made, blue Alps were manufactured in the late 1980s by Alps Electric. I started looking for blue Alps switches (about two years ago in the summer of 2016 before prices skyrocketed) and soon found this keyboard on a one-day eBay auction of which, I was the only bidder.




The only record of this mysterious Copam K-430 model on the internet was from a user GH user who got rid of it due to the non-standard protocol. With such little documentation, I wasn't 100 percent sure it actually had blue Alps but took a chance since it was NOS and still in original packaging.




It indeed contained Blue Alps! The keyboard felt great to type on but using my DIN-5 AT/XT Soarer's converter, it yielded nothing but error codes.




After sitting in my closet for almost a year, I decided this yellowed dinosaur was worth teaching myself KiCad in order to design a PCB that supports press-fit TE Connectivity Holtite sockets.  Other benefits include full reprogrammability, native USB compatibility and less stress on the delicate switch legs due to the heat that comes with soldering and de-soldering - should I decide to swap them out




Most modern keyboards follow the widely adopted IBM spacing standard of 0.75Ē or 19.05mm from center-to-center of each (1 unit) key.  The difficult part was determining the spacing from the function keys and numpad area to the middle portion.  Really wanted to get it right the first time.




After bit of measuring, I was able to determine the additional spacing of ~9.5mm amounting to the equivalent separation of 1.5 units or 28.575mm.




'Measuring' where the new lock LEDs should be located to line up with the lock light windows.
(Picture for illustrative purposes)




The 8134-HC-8Px Holtite connector spec-sheet recommends a mounting hole diameter of 2.08mm Ī0.05mm so I had a friend send a prototype PCB to test a few different drill sizes.  I settled on 2.00mm, but in retrospect I should have chosen 2.05mm.




Using KiCad's Footprint Editor, a footprint was created for each switch using retooled Alps specification sheets from Matias and widening the drill size.  The footprints for diodes, resistors and LEDs were taken from the default KiCad library.




For the brain of this project, I selected the PJRC Teensy++ 2.0 as it utilizes the AT90USB1286 chip and has more EEPROM and I/O compared to ATmega32U4 in the Teensy 2.0. The extra pins will be able to accommodate a 5 x 21 matrix rather than something like a 9 x 10.




The first step in KiCad was creating the component schematic in Eeschema. Each switch, diode, and resistor is laid out and routed accordingly.  Eeschema is also used for associating the individual component drawings with their corresponding PCB footprints.  The resulting .net file will be imported into Pcbnew.




Importing the .net file from Eeschema will create ratsnest lines that indicate the necessary path of each trace.




In KiCad, custom grid spacing of 19.05mm divided by 8 was used to place each switch and diode footprint. Before I started routing traces, a basic 2D .dxf file was drawn up in AutoCAD then superimposed to double check my switch spacing.




Provisions were also made so the USB cable would be secured, and Bluetooth could be added in the future.  Later, I came across very similar keyboards presumably manufactured by the same Chicony OEM, so additional support was added to accommodate their slightly different bottom rows.




Very happy with how my manually routed traces came out as the automatic tool was a tad messy.  The red traces correspond with the top layer and the green traces correspond with the back layer.
I also knew the Teensy would be removed and reinstalled periodically during testing, so its footprint was modified to use smaller Holtite sockets.




PCBs arrived, the yellow solder mask was chosen since it seemed more fitting for this retrofit project than something like blue or red.




All 89 SMD 1n4148 diodes soldered in and tested with a multimeter to ensure they are all orientated correctly.




Installation of smaller TE Holtite sockets to make the Teensy++ 2.0 hotswappable.




LED SIP sockets soldered in for the lock lights. I chose these since the LED height inside the case can be adjusted by just clipping the legs.




Thankfully there were only three 805 SMD resistors to solder in, I didnít realize they were so small.  Should have chosen a lower resistance than 1k Ohm because the stock LEDs were too dim.




I designed the PCB with the possibly of a detachable cable in mind, but it would have required hacking up the case. It was soldered in anyway and later on in the build, this ended up working out.




Beginning the socket installation with the number pad area, you can see a few lifted pads. This happened less frequently as time went on.




The heat applied from the soldering iron has discolored the area around the solder pads.  They fit very snug and illustrates the main reason why a 2.05mm drill size would have been better choice.




In preparation to desolder the switches, all keycaps were removed.




Adding fresh 63-37 rosin core solder to loosen up what had been sitting for nearly 30 years.




The Japanse-made Engineer solder-sucker is very strong and it's great that the silicon tip can touch the iron directly for better suction.




Desoldering the LEDs




she gone




All the switch legs have been desoldered so that the original PCB can simply be peeled back and separated.




GREAT SUCCESS!




Peeling the PCB back in that manor allows the switches to removed from the rear so the clips aren't damaged.




Test fit.  The original PCB had only one side etched with small pieces of wire used to jump traces. Highlighted are the screw holes I did not notice during the design phase and needed to be drilled out to help secure the plate to the PCB.




The two screw holes were done with a hand drill.  Luckily there were no traces running through those locations.




This took forever.




Pressing in the TE holtite sockets using a soldering iron. I found that using a conical, B-shape tip that is set to around 275ļ C in short periods can help any prevent pads from lifting.




At this point, everything was assembled with the plate screwed to the pcb, switches installed and sockets pressed into place.  The lifted traces were easily fixed by bridging the columns with some wire.




Building the TMK firmware. In these two pictures we are defining the rows, columns, and their corresponding I/O pins on the Teensy.




When a switch is pressed, this diode matrix will tell the controller of the input location using coordinates of the two electrical signals.




Defining the keymap and function layers using the designated TMK keycodes. For me, the ability to remap each key is the biggest benefit of this retrofit. The ACTION_LAYER_TAP_KEY allows the down arrow key to act normally when tapped, but accesses the function layer when held.




Writing the code for the lock LEDs was the most frustrating part of this entire process. Both the switch matrix and keymap worked flawlessly after flashing the first .hex file though it took many more tries before the LEDs behaved as desired.  Commented out at the bottom is the function written to keep the lock LEDs from turning on while the computer is in sleep mode.




Itís alive! Each component now sits in its rightful place and functions as it should.  I used it as pictured for a few days and boxed it up.  Using a generic black USB cable while I had the hefty original coiled cable sitting around started to bother me.




After a few months, I decided to finish this project up for good. The internal connector was cut off and each wire was soldered to the corresponding wire of the USB cable then heatshrinked.




This project box with a panel mount 5-pin AT/XT socket allows the use of the original connector and passively changes the interface, not the protocol. It usually sits out of sight behind my computer.




There is a plastic trim piece that covered the large hole where original cable connector had to fit through the case.  Its clip broke when I initially took it apart but the mini-USB just happens to keep the piece perfectly in place.




In order to flash the .hex file, there is a reset button on the Teensy that puts it into bootloader mode. What didn't occur to me, was that once the top is screwed on, the button would no longer be accessible.  I wired this switch (that was originally intended for Bluetooth) to the reset pin on the Teensy.




The goal was always to modify this keyboard as little as possible. A discreet hole was made under one of the case feet to access the external reset switch for flashing new keymaps.




The switch feel of Blue Alps can truly be appreciated now that the keyboard is operational. Though, the inability to remap backspace to where the backslash sits on a normal ANSI board is a bummer and I'm not yet sure if I prefer them to SKCM Amber. Regardless, it was very rewarding to see this project through and save a rather unique board which others would have certainly harvested the switches from then discarded. Big thanks to the community members that checked my PCB schematic and I hope you enjoyed the read!
« Last Edit: Thu, 21 June 2018, 22:03:40 by MandrewDavis »
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My Classifieds Thread

Offline romevi

  • Formerly romevi
  • * Exalted Elder
  • Posts: 8095
  • Location: The Windy City
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6062 on: Thu, 21 June 2018, 18:15:15 »
Holy blog post, Nightcrawler.

Offline Acereconkeys

  • Posts: 171
  • Location: West Coast US of A
  • Happiness = life - expectations
Re: Alps Appreciation Thread
« Reply #6063 on: Thu, 21 June 2018, 21:16:57 »
Some of you may remember the NOS Blue Alps keyboard I found a few years ago.  Orihalcon tried hard to help me with the Soarer's converter but there was nothing but error codes.  I messaged the owner of the only other documented K-430 on the internet and he said that he could only get it to work with a certain Compaq computer but once that died, he gave to a collector. Even though this is simply a unique Chicony 5160 variant with arrow keys, there is some charm to its yellowing and status as a 30-year-old NOS keyboard which made it worth the work.

I would love for everyone to check out the buildlog but here is a preview of the end product - The same pictures are in the Imgur album here.

More

Show Image


Often regarded among the best keyboard switches ever made, blue Alps were manufactured in the late 1980s by Alps Electric. I started looking for blue Alps switches (about two years ago in the summer of 2016 before prices skyrocketed) and soon found this keyboard on a one-day eBay auction of which, I was the only bidder.


Show Image


The only record of this mysterious Copam K-430 model on the internet was from a user GH user who got rid of it due to the non-standard protocol. With such little documentation, I wasn't 100 percent sure it actually had blue Alps but took a chance since it was NOS and still in original packaging.


Show Image


It indeed contained Blue Alps! The keyboard felt great to type on but using my DIN-5 AT/XT Soarer's converter, it yielded nothing but error codes.


Show Image


After sitting in my closet for almost a year, I decided this yellowed dinosaur was worth teaching myself KiCad in order to design a PCB that supports press-fit TE Connectivity Holtite sockets.  Other benefits include full reprogrammability, native USB compatibility and less stress on the delicate switch legs due to the heat that comes with soldering and de-soldering - should I decide to swap them out


Show Image


Most modern keyboards follow the widely adopted IBM spacing standard of 0.75Ē or 19.05mm from center-to-center of each (1 unit) key.  The difficult part was determining the spacing from the function keys and numpad area to the middle portion.  Really wanted to get it right the first time.


Show Image


After bit of measuring, I was able to determine the additional spacing of ~9.5mm amounting to the equivalent separation of 1.5 units or 28.575mm.


Show Image


'Measuring' where the new lock LEDs should be located to line up with the lock light windows.
(Picture for illustrative purposes)


Show Image


The 8134-HC-8Px Holtite connector spec-sheet recommends a mounting hole diameter of 2.08mm Ī0.05mm so I had a friend send a prototype PCB to test a few different drill sizes.  I settled on 2.00mm, but in retrospect I should have chosen 2.05mm.


Show Image


Using KiCad's Footprint Editor, a footprint was created for each switch using retooled Alps specification sheets from Matias and widening the drill size.  The footprints for diodes, resistors and LEDs were taken from the default KiCad library.


Show Image


For the brain of this project, I selected the PJRC Teensy++ 2.0 as it utilizes the AT90USB1286 chip and has more EEPROM and I/O compared to ATmega32U4 in the Teensy 2.0. The extra pins will be able to accommodate a 5 x 21 matrix rather than something like a 9 x 10.


Show Image


The first step in KiCad was creating the component schematic in Eeschema. Each switch, diode, and resistor is laid out and routed accordingly.  Eeschema is also used for associating the individual component drawings with their corresponding PCB footprints.  The resulting .net file will be imported into Pcbnew.


Show Image


Importing the .net file from Eeschema will create ratsnest lines that indicate the necessary path of each trace.


Show Image


In KiCad, custom grid spacing of 19.05mm divided by 8 was used to place each switch and diode footprint. Before I started routing traces, a basic 2D .dxf file was drawn up in AutoCAD then superimposed to double check my switch spacing.


Show Image


Provisions were also made so the USB cable would be secured, and Bluetooth could be added in the future.  Later, I came across very similar keyboards presumably manufactured by the same Chicony OEM, so additional support was added to accommodate their slightly different bottom rows.


Show Image


Very happy with how my manually routed traces came out as the automatic tool was a tad messy.  The red traces correspond with the top layer and the green traces correspond with the back layer.
I also knew the Teensy would be removed and reinstalled periodically during testing, so its footprint was modified to use smaller Holtite sockets.


Show Image


PCBs arrived, the yellow solder mask was chosen since it seemed more fitting for this retrofit project than something like blue or red.


Show Image


All 89 SMD 1n4148 diodes soldered in and tested with a multimeter to ensure they are all orientated correctly.


Show Image


Installation of smaller TE Holtite sockets to make the Teensy++ 2.0 hotswappable.


Show Image


LED SIP sockets soldered in for the lock lights. I chose these since the LED height inside the case can be adjusted by just clipping the legs.


Show Image


Thankfully there were only three 805 SMD resistors to solder in, I didnít realize they were so small.  Should have chosen a lower resistance than 1k Ohm because the stock LEDs were too dim.


Show Image


I designed the PCB with the possibly of a detachable cable in mind, but it would have required hacking up the case. It was soldered in anyway and later on in the build, this ended up working out.


Show Image


Pressing in the TE holtite sockets using a soldering iron. I found that using a conical, B-shape tip that is set to around 275ļ C in short periods can help any prevent pads from lifting.


Show Image


Beginning the socket installation with the number pad area, you can see a few lifted pads. This happened less frequently as time went on.


Show Image


The heat applied from the soldering iron has discolored the area around the solder pads.  They fit very snug and illustrates the main reason why a 2.05mm drill size would have been better choice.


Show Image


In preparation to desolder the switches, all keycaps were removed.


Show Image


Adding fresh 63-37 rosin core solder to loosen up what had been sitting for nearly 30 years.


Show Image


The Japanse-made Engineer solder-sucker is very strong and it's great that the silicon tip can touch the iron directly for better suction.


Show Image


Desoldering the LEDs


Show Image


she gone


Show Image


All the switch legs have been desoldered so that the original PCB can simply be peeled back and separated.


Show Image


GREAT SUCCESS!


Show Image


Peeling the PCB back in that manor allows the switches to removed from the rear so the clips aren't damaged.


Show Image


Test fit.  The original PCB had only one side etched with small pieces of wire used to jump traces. Highlighted are the screw holes I did not notice during the design phase and needed to be drilled out to help secure the plate to the PCB.


Show Image


The two screw holes were done with a hand drill.  Luckily there were no traces running through those locations.


Show Image


This took forever.


Show Image


At this point, everything was assembled with the plate screwed in and socket installation finished.  The lifted traces were easily fixed by bridging the columns with some wire.


Show Image


Building the TMK firmware. In these two pictures we are defining the rows, columns, and their corresponding I/O pins on the Teensy.


Show Image


When a switch is pressed, this diode matrix will tell the controller of the input location using coordinates of the two electrical signals.


Show Image


Defining the keymap and function layers using the designated TMK keycodes. For me, the ability to remap each key is the biggest benefit of this retrofit. The ACTION_LAYER_TAP_KEY allows the down arrow key to act normally when tapped, but accesses the function layer when held.


Show Image


Writing the code for the lock LEDs was the most frustrating part of this entire process. Both the switch matrix and keymap worked flawlessly after flashing the first .hex file though it took many more tries before the LEDs behaved as desired.  Commented out at the bottom is the function written to keep the lock LEDs from turning on while the computer is in sleep mode.


Show Image


Itís alive! Each component now sits in its rightful place and functions as it should.  I used it as pictured for a few days and boxed it up.  Using a generic black USB cable while I had the hefty original coiled cable sitting around started to bother me.


Show Image


After a few months, I decided to finish this project up for good. The internal connector was cut off and each wire was soldered to the corresponding wire of the USB cable then heatshrinked.


Show Image


This project box with a panel mount 5-pin AT/XT socket allows the use of the original connector and passively changes the interface, not the protocol. It usually sits out of sight behind my computer.


Show Image


There is a plastic trim piece that covered the large hole where original cable connector had to fit through the case.  Its clip broke when I initially took it apart but the mini-USB just happens to keep the piece perfectly in place.


Show Image


In order to flash the .hex file, there is a reset button on the Teensy that puts it into bootloader mode. What didn't occur to me, was that once the top is screwed on, the button would no longer be accessible.  I wired this switch (that was originally intended for Bluetooth) to the reset pin on the Teensy.


Show Image


The goal was always to modify this keyboard as little as possible. A discreet hole was made under one of the case feet to access the external reset switch for flashing new keymaps.


Show Image


The switch feel of Blue Alps can truly be appreciated now that the keyboard is operational. Though, the inability to remap backspace to where the backslash sits on a normal ANSI board is a bummer and I'm not yet sure if I prefer them to SKCM Amber. Regardless, it was very rewarding to see this project through and save a rather unique board which others would have certainly harvested the switches from then discarded. Big thanks to the community members that checked my PCB schematic and I hope you enjoyed the read!

What an absolutely beautiful board. Great layout and it's awesome you chose to keep it all together instead of tearing the switches out.

Nice job!
Acrylic Clueboard | Tex Blue Alps TKL | TMO50 Incoming | QXP Incoming | Realforce RGB | Nyquist

Current obsession: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=94675.0