Author Topic: Tinkerboy adapters for classic Macintosh keyboards mini-review  (Read 1891 times)

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Offline wmcbrine

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Tinkerboy adapters for classic Macintosh keyboards mini-review
« on: Tue, 07 January 2020, 22:28:59 »
As promised, here's some more info about the adapters I bought from for my classic Macintosh keyboards (and mice). I bought the ADB to USB convertor, as well as the convertors for phone plug keyboards and DE9 mice. Of the last, I'll just say: it works. (I could only find a trackball to test it with, but the mice are somewhere in a closet.)

I didn't realize until I got the tracking info that Tinkerboy was located in the Philippines. It took about three weeks for the adapters to arrive, but there were no issues with the delivery or packaging.

So, here are most of my classic Macintosh keyboards:


(There are a few more in that closet.) L-R, top-to-bottom: Two Apple Desktop Bus keyboards, one Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh keyboard, the Apple Extended Keyboard, and the original M0110. I won't say a lot about these, except that, I first tried the M0110, then the ADBs, and my first impression was that they were sluggish to respond, not to mention stiff, and with a few non-working keys. But that's actually cleared up with usage (it had been many years since I used them). The AEK, on the other hand (also left for years), worked perfectly*, immediately, and it was a thing of great beauty. This is probably my best keyboard. It's massive, though. (* Well, it seemed perfect at first -- see below.)

The TAM keyboard is an unremarkable rubber dome (the others are mechanical), but it did have the virtues of being compact, and having a built-in trackpad, so I've been using it with my Raspberry Pi on a cramped desk. Also, for testing purposes, it was useful that it has a non-locking Caps Lock key, where the others are physically locking.

I tested each keyboard with three modern laptops -- a 2018 MacBook Pro**, a Lenovo Windows 10 machine, and a Dell unit that I'd repurposed as an Ubuntu 19.10 system. (** This needed an additional USB A-to-C dongle, which you can see in the picture.) For the most part, everything just worked, as you'd expect. But there are a few fringe cases and differences, which is the main thing I want to talk about.

Code: [Select]
                   MacBook Pro         Ubuntu (Dell)       Windows (Lenovo)

M0110   Caps Lock      N                  Y(sync)               Y(sync)
        Enter          -                KEY_COMMAND              ^@
        Option         -                KEY_ALT_L             KEY_ALT_L
        Shift      KEY_SHIFT_L          KEY_SHIFT_L           KEY_SHIFT_L

TAM     Caps Lock    Y(ind)               Y(sync)               Y(sync)
        Enter      PADENTER                 ^M                PADENTER
        Option         -                KEY_ALT_L             KEY_ALT_L
        Shift      KEY_SHIFT_L          KEY_SHIFT_L           KEY_SHIFT_L
        Power          -                   Menu                  ^@

AEK     Caps Lock    Y(ind)               Y(sync)               Y(sync)
        Enter      PADENTER                 ^M                PADENTER
        Option         -                KEY_ALT_L             KEY_ALT_*
        Control    KEY_CONTROL_*        KEY_CONTROL_L         KEY_CONTROL_*
        Shift      KEY_SHIFT_*          KEY_SHIFT_*           KEY_SHIFT_*
        Power          -                   Menu                  ^@

The key names here are from the Input Test menu in the testcurs demo program from PDCurses -- not the most advanced keyboard tester, but it works on all three platforms, and I had it handy. (More explanation below.) The ADB keyboards performed similarly to the TAM, apart from having locking Caps Locks.

On the Mac, the M0110's Caps Lock didn't work at all. The ADB-based keyboards worked as I expected, with Caps Lock on the attached and built-in keyboards independently controlling each's state. But with Windows and Linux, both M0110 and ADB keyboards worked in a different way: toggling the Caps Lock on the external keyboard also toggled it on the internal one, and vice versa. (With the locking Caps Locks, they'd have to be returned to the Off state before they'd work again, while the TAM just toggled again immediately, IIRC.)

The M0110's "Enter" (not to be confused with "Return") and "Option" keys didn't seem to register at all on the Mac, and "Enter" wasn't useful on any platform, while both "Option" keys were reported as Left Alt under Windows and Linux. All platforms reported both of the M0110's Shift keys as Left Shift.

"Enter" fared better with the ADB-based keyboards, recognized as the keypad Enter under Mac and Windows, but the same as Return under Linux. "Option" and "Shift" keys on the TAM worked the same as with the M0110. With the AEK (only), the Right-side versions of "Option", "Shift" and "Control" could be distinguished from the Left, except that the Mac still didn't recognize "Option", and Linux just ignored the Right "Option" and "Control" keys.

The Power key on the ADB-based keyboards actually worked, with Linux (only). Specifically, it pulled up a menu with shutdown options (it still needed one more click to shut down, at that point).

I was a bit disappointed that the least-compatible system turned out to be the modern Mac, while Windows worked best overall.

One thing I can't comment on is how the Tinkerboy adapters compare to other ADB/etc.-to-USB adapters, because these are the first adapters I've had for these devices.

Offline jacethesaltsculptor

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Re: Tinkerboy adapters for classic Macintosh keyboards mini-review
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 08 January 2020, 06:28:14 »
THANK you for this sort of writeup!

These are the sort of adapters I REALLY want writeups on before I buy a keyboard, I scoured the internet for even small writeups on old to modern keyboard adapters.

Just the thing I joined Geekhack for.

Unicomp M122 - Unicomp Classic Trackball - IBM Model M13 - IBM Model F122 - IBM Model F Bigfoot - IBM Model F AT - Ducky Shine 3 Yellow

Offline starjack

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Re: Tinkerboy adapters for classic Macintosh keyboards mini-review
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 16 January 2020, 02:54:03 »
 :-[ :-[ :-[ :-[ :-[ :-[ :-[

Offline wmcbrine

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