Author Topic: Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....  (Read 5749 times)

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Offline Specter_57

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 10:05:21 »
..

It seems that GH was hacked, and so several threads and messages were lost, mine too it seems.

Anyway, I will repost the pics and the source of the boards...as well as referring to commentary from the original thread.

.....

Found these boards at a local recycler after searching due to a prompting from a review by a member, Hoggy, on a KMX-144 board he has.
Hoggy review:  http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:12294
....and since this original posting, found another review of exactly the same board with more pics over on Deskthority.net:  http://deskthority.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=449

The recycler's advert for the boards is dated Jan 12.2012...but had seen the ad several months back, but had no interest in the boards at that time.
Toronto Kijiji.ca advert:  http://toronto.kijiji.ca/c-buy-and-sell-computer-accessories-Devlin-keyboards-W0QQAdIdZ227350497

The recycler company name is "Products Unlimited" :    http://www.productsunlimited.ca/electronic-recycling#!__contact-us

The price of the boards?   $10.00 Cdn each all in price, cable included.
 I picked up 5 of them, and was told that they have at least 20 more of them available.

They have an RJ-6 type connector on the board, same on the cable and a PS/2 connector on the other cable end...6 conductors through wired.
Four of the five boards work....the non-working one may be salvagable..if not then it becomes an experimental board.
All boards work on the PS/2 port directly of course, and through 3 different dollar-store PS/2-to-USB converters I have...directly in USB or through a USB hub.

The physical construction is the same as Hoggy's board, that is individual switches mounted in a black plastic support. the switches mounted/soldered into a circuit board, and a heavy metal backing base plate.

My switches are of a different type than Hoggy's board his being mechanical Cherry, mine being possibly a magnetic type...there is a rubber dome in the keycap itself...not sure what the switch type is...
was speculated that they may be Contronics magnetic or RAFI RS-67...but not sure...there are no switch markings to be seen anywhere, and I am not a switch expert.
My keycaps have a different profile than on Hoggy's board, and the locks LEDs in mine are red instead of blue


Typing on this board is ok, but I notice the switches need to be hit on center, or there is a slight drag on the switch which throws off your pace, but ok generally.
Definitely not a spring type of feel.
My board  has worked flawlessly for almost two days now, not experiencing the LED lockup he unfortunately is on his board.

Overall, although I would prefer spring type Cherry switches...I do like the boards and the colors on mine.....and so I will be keeping them.

Pics of my boards:

Four of my Five: [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39452[/ATTACH]

Closeup: [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39453[/ATTACH]

Uncovered:   [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39454[/ATTACH]

Keyswitch:   [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39455[/ATTACH]

Controller:   [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39456[/ATTACH]

Electronics:   [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39457[/ATTACH]

Hope this thread is of interest and useful to the viewers.....

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Spec57
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/
« Last Edit: Sun, 19 February 2012, 09:24:38 by Specter_57 »

Offline poxeclipse

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 11:19:15 »
Were they clean, or lots of dirt on them ?

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #2 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 11:38:11 »
..

Actually quite clean not much crude on them at all...even the one I opened up is pretty clean inside, except for the flux residue on the circuit board.

The pics are the boards as I got them, not wiped down.

........
Spec57

Offline Ascaii

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« Reply #3 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 11:41:03 »
I am fairly certain these are RAFI industrial switches. The RS 76 switch is available in C (contact) and M (magnetic) variation...is there any marking on the switch?
"Mechanical keyboards are like pokemon:
you start with one, and then you wanna catch em all."

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #4 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 11:56:41 »
Quote from: Ascaii;507356
I am fairly certain these are RAFI industrial switches. The RS 76 switch is available in C (contact) and M (magnetic) variation...is there any marking on the switch?
How would you rank/rate those switches ? Comparing to Cherry, for instance.
« Last Edit: Mon, 06 February 2012, 12:17:43 by poxeclipse »

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #5 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 12:04:48 »
..


The RS-76 switch you mentioned, I looked at the link you posted previously. and they look a lot like what I have.

The keycap contours are exactly the same.
I re-opened my board this morning for a quick look at the switches and there are no visible markings that I can see anywhere.
The dimensions of the switches and the body contour seem to be the same, I have not yet measured them.
Each switch has four (4) contacts, visible on the circuit board photos....and they seem to be grouped in a straight line along one side of the switch.

Look what I found...RAFI RS-76 info in PDF (couldn't get it from the site directly):
http://www.meyle.de/pdf/Produktlinien---RAFI-PCB-Keyswitches-RS-76-full-travel-keyswitches-RS-76-full-travel-keyswitches-Overview.pdf

...........
Spec57
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« Last Edit: Mon, 06 February 2012, 12:19:16 by Specter_57 »

Offline Icarium

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« Reply #6 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 13:48:51 »
Never heard of them but I would certainly like to get my hands on some of there switches. If any german user turns up a source please let me know.
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline Ascaii

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« Reply #7 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 14:13:36 »
There is a seller on german ebay that sells industrial numpads from some machine with these switches iirc. Not pc compatible, just a pcb with switches.

Also, XBB owns a fullsize with these switches, he might be able to help. Ill see if I can find the ebay auction and link you.

edit: can't find them on ebay, the seller must have given up selling them and tossed them...no idea. Also, I sold Haata a keypad with rs76 M switches.

Quote from: poxeclipse;507360
How would you rank/rate those switches ? Comparing to Cherry, for instance.



I only had achance to try a numpad of used RS 76 M switches...I liked them, they were a lot smoother and missed that tiny frictiony feeling cherries have. Im assuming the RS 76 C would have that as well, being a contact switch like the MX.
XBB will be able to answer that question better then I, since he has a fullsize with them.
« Last Edit: Mon, 06 February 2012, 14:31:16 by Ascaii »
"Mechanical keyboards are like pokemon:
you start with one, and then you wanna catch em all."

Offline Icarium

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« Reply #8 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 14:30:14 »
Are these still in production?
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline Ascaii

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« Reply #9 on: Mon, 06 February 2012, 14:32:52 »
Yes, though RAFI is specialized on industrial orders and I'm assuming won't do business with individuals. Ive seen the occasional board pop up on ebay, but it does require patience and luck.

Judging by their website I suspect they are planning to shift towards touchscreen technology for future controllers but I bet they will still offer the full travel switches for custom orders (moq???)
"Mechanical keyboards are like pokemon:
you start with one, and then you wanna catch em all."

Offline Specter_57

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 11:19:50 »
..

Hello all interested parties...

Some updated info on the switches in the board....

These switches in my keyboard are very definitely hall-type magnetic switches.

Upon much closer and more careful examination they closely appear to be of a similiar type as the one shown in the Cortronics part of the GH Vintage Switch wiki
http://geekhack.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=34366&d=1323419432..

and not RAFI RS-76 switches, although RAFI switches seem to be quite close in most respects...

The contours and such as seen looking down match what is in the wiki pic: [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39748[/ATTACH]  even though the orange stem in the pic is white on my board.
The metal copper sensor wires are different from RS-76, and the single round hole for an LED in not present in RS-76.

Also, in RS-76 switches, there is a spring, not seen in mine or in the wiki pic.

I do not yet know the manufacturer of my switch; Cortronics seems to manufacture assemblies, not individual switches.  I may be wrong.

The loupe shows me there is a magnet attached to the bottom of the white stem...and so using a letter-opener blade or a paper clip (make sure a magnet attracts it first...), carefully slide it down the stem where the copper wires are...as soon as you bring the blade or clip near, you will see slight movement of the stem and then it will stick and stay stuck until you bring it up and out.

No doubt about it being a magnetic switch.

Guess my board is less common than I thought it was.


...........
Spec57
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/
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 February 2012, 22:41:48 by Specter_57 »

Offline Icarium

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 11:55:00 »
Great, now I want one. >_<
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline ayrsen

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 13:28:05 »
Great find.

Offline DaemonRaccoon

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« Reply #13 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 13:32:44 »
Where's HaaTa when you need him?
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Offline Ascaii

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« Reply #14 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 16:55:37 »
damnit, now I want one too xD
"Mechanical keyboards are like pokemon:
you start with one, and then you wanna catch em all."

Offline dorkvader

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« Reply #15 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 18:42:18 »
Yeah, I definately want one of these.

Offline HaaTa

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« Reply #16 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 20:36:00 »
Yeah, these look exactly like Cortron switches (they have a patent on them, and the controller I believe, the numbers are in one of my many pics of the Xerox keyboard I have).

Yes these are a kind of Hall Effect but not your typical Honeywell style:
Switch Mechanism Patent

In a nutshell, there are 2 pieces of metal (connected to 4 points on the PCB) which have a circular ferrite around them (the disc thing). When the magnet passes in front of them the magnetic field changes causing a voltage reversal which is then detected by the microcontroller. And...oh holy ****, just figured out what switches are in the Univac keyboard Ascaii sent me.

Oh and I'll send the dude a message seeing if he'll sell me a bunch.
Kiibohd

ALWAYS looking for cool and interesting switches
I take requests for making keyboard converters (i.e. *old keyboard* to USB).

Offline Specter_57

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 08 February 2012, 22:33:37 »
..

Apparantly there is an issue for some members in following back the links in my first post  to the source of the keyboards, so here attached are screen-caps of the original advert and the website contact info.

Devlin KMX-144 Keyboards - Current Toronto-Kijiji advert:   [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39828[/ATTACH]
The pic of the board is absent in the advert, but I had seen previous adverts where there was a pic, and so I knew what they looked like....

and the Website contact info, Products Unlimited:       [ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 39829[/ATTACH]


.......
Also.....due to the website hack episode, some of the emails were wiped out as well as threads...I received 4 or 5 messages from members related to these keyboards just before the event, and I did answer everyone, but if you had messaged me and not got an answer, do message me again.

Thx.

............
Spec57
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/
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 February 2012, 22:54:46 by Specter_57 »

Offline poxeclipse

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 09 February 2012, 08:34:49 »
I got 2 of them, from Vanessa., on Monday. She said they still have a full box, around 20 of them.
They work on Windows, but on Fedora 15 it's weird, I can type but there are delays. It's a driver problem, I guess.
The switches are definitely capacitives, but there is no M or C mark on them. I will clean them this weekend.
The board is very heavy, with a metal plate. First impression is that is not such a nice typing experience, no tactile respond, no click.
The big caps give you a 'bulky' feeling.
Now, keep in mind that my daily boards are a NEC APC-H412 and a Noppoo with Cherry browns.
Will post  more findings.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 February 2012, 08:37:44 by poxeclipse »

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #19 on: Thu, 09 February 2012, 09:16:25 »
..

I agree, the typing on these is not like that of my AT-101ws or Model Ms....and they need to be hit center-on for best results too.  I wish they were proper mechanical switches..
No regrets with my purchase.

I am thinking of possibly in future trying a dome replacement with springs..but I will again need to examine them more closely again and give some thought to the matter.

...

Poxeclipse:

I believe the keys are magnetic, not capacitive.....review my earlier post on what I have discovered and observed.
If you have a strong magnifying glass or loupe, take a close look at the switch...look down the stem....that ceramic-looking piece you will see there will be a magnet...

.............
Spec57
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 February 2012, 09:21:48 by Specter_57 »

Offline dorkvader

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« Reply #20 on: Thu, 09 February 2012, 18:00:57 »
Anyone want to proxy these to the 'states and Germany? I really want one of these (actually, I want them all, but I feel like keeping it to 1 or 2 is best), even before I learned about the possibility of magnetic switches.

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #21 on: Thu, 09 February 2012, 18:16:21 »
Quote from: dorkvader;510517
Anyone want to proxy these to the 'states and Germany? I really want one of these (actually, I want them all, but I feel like keeping it to 1 or 2 is best), even before I learned about the possibility of magnetic switches.
When I was at Product Unlimited, I was thinking about this. The owner told me he got them for free, from a company which moved.
They used them for some industrial applications.
But, I never did it a proxy or a group buy, and I am very busy now. One way is probably to write to Vanessa, and ask for shipping. I think she's willing to do it, she's a nice person.
I told her about requests from Germany, and she acknowledged that she received those requests. I was tempted to ask them to let me see the whole box, thinking that some Cherry switches might be
there, but I was in a hurry at that time.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 February 2012, 19:14:03 by poxeclipse »

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #22 on: Thu, 09 February 2012, 22:18:58 »
..

Ha I was very tempted to purchase more than just the 5 I did buy...but no need to be greedy..

I am glad that someone else was able to get a couple of the boards as well.

And I agree, Vanessa at Prods. Unlimited is a pleasant person, easy to deal with.

Likely be doing more purchases from them in future.

............
Spec57
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« Last Edit: Sat, 11 February 2012, 00:09:16 by Specter_57 »

Offline dorkvader

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« Reply #23 on: Fri, 10 February 2012, 19:29:04 »
Well, Vanessa is happy to ship to the USA! How many should I say I want?

That is: I'm happy to run a GB for people.

Edit: I told her 5, though it may change if there is enough interest here.

Offline DaemonRaccoon

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« Reply #24 on: Fri, 10 February 2012, 19:31:35 »
I don't need it, but I kind of want one.
122-Key Model F 6110345 1985-03-01 | Model M SSK 1391472 1991-01-22 | Rosewill RK-9000 v1 | KBC Poker X | Filco FKBN87M/PWE2

Offline Icarium

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« Reply #25 on: Fri, 10 February 2012, 19:32:43 »
Need.
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #26 on: Sat, 11 February 2012, 08:14:11 »
I cleaned one yesterday and I'm typing on it now. This is an industrial board, full NKRO. Very hard to type, for me. I prefer soft switches (Cherry browns, Monterey, blue NEC, black Acer), so you can imagine how it is on rubber dome. I'm thinking of replacing the rubber domes with springs, from an old BTC. I think it will make it a great keyboard.
The other problem is the key caps and their profile. They have very high profile, but sit deep in the board, so look like low profile. Especially the space bar is exposed only 1/3, so it is hard to hit.
F and J don't have nibs. Key caps are very thin. Normal UK layout. On the bottom row, there are two blank keys, which are Alt-L and Alt-R.
The extra 40 keys, on the top 2 rows are all Ctl-L, Ctl-R, Alt-L, Alt-R, tested them with xev.
I'm looking for springs now, to replace the rubber domes.
I hope this might help. I'm glad that Vanessa is cooperative.
« Last Edit: Sat, 11 February 2012, 20:06:30 by poxeclipse »

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #27 on: Sat, 11 February 2012, 10:46:33 »
..


Hey,
I got my non-working keyboard working.  


I now have "five-by-five"  :-)

Originally, when powering up the keyboard, all LEDs went on and stayed on...never completed the power-up sequence.

Close examination showed no obvious damaged components, and two socketed chips, the microcontroller and the EPROM....and noticed that the EPROM had some powdery yellowish crud around and bridging two of the pins and the socket holes.

So, pulled out both chips, reseated the microcontroller, cleaned up the crud on the EPROM pins, and from around the socket holes, put a needle into the holes, gave it a spin, reseated the chip.


Cable in, power up through my PS/2 - USB thingy...and here I am typing on the board for this message.

..........
Spec57
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/

Offline dorkvader

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« Reply #28 on: Fri, 17 February 2012, 10:08:59 »
Right, so they quoted me $65 shipping on the keyboards, Anyone who wants one in the US will have to pay ~$22 plus local shipping.

Now I have to figure out payment.

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #29 on: Sun, 19 February 2012, 07:23:13 »
Quote from: ripster;517399
Got any coins for a RipOmeter test?
Not yet, but for sure is more than 80 g.

Offline keyboardlover

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« Reply #30 on: Sun, 19 February 2012, 09:23:07 »

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #31 on: Wed, 29 February 2012, 19:30:03 »
..



Just out of curiousity, did anyone else here who was interested in these boards besides Poxeclipse actually get hold of any?

If so, please give us your thoughts on them.

Also, as to a possible spring mod, that is replacing the rubber dome with a spring....
I have not yet found any suitable springs, but the numbers you need to work with would be:

Inside diameter: 9.5 mm absolute minimum, 10 would be better (spring top,to fit over stem inside the cap)
Outside diameter: 13.5 mm maximum (spring base, to fit over base switch on board))
Height:  Rubber dome is 7 mm high, so I would go with 8 mm...and would suggest a conical type spring, as these have a lower "solid" height when compressed for the length.

Since there seems to be difficulty in the springs, it may come to the point of making my own out of thin gauge music (spring) wire, winding by hand on a suitable wooden mandrel.  Time will tell.

....Maybe I should do a re-write and put this info into a wiki.....

................
Spec57
« Last Edit: Wed, 29 February 2012, 23:20:55 by Specter_57 »

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #32 on: Wed, 29 February 2012, 21:39:27 »
I was thinking to use some BTC springs, which have a large diameter. But it doesn't work, for there is nothing to sit on for them. A picture would be more helpful here. The switch has a big hole under the cap, as Specter's measurement also show. The switches are very nice, of magnetic nature, but the rubber sleeves make the actuation force so big that is very hard to type. My guess is that is over 100g. Replacing the rubber sleeves with springs would lower it to a comfortable level. These keyboards were used to enter just a few commands, probably, and with some effort, so to avoid accidental inputs. The other reason could be the price, the rubber sleeve solution being cheaper than a 'large' spring solution. I'm still looking for some large springs.
« Last Edit: Wed, 29 February 2012, 21:44:30 by poxeclipse »

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #33 on: Sun, 18 March 2012, 14:35:07 »
Hi guys.
I found in the attic a BTC from 1993. I knew I had one, but didn't know its whereabouts. It turned out the springs are large enough to hold strait. I replaced the rubber sleeves with these springs, and now I have a really  nice keyboard. The actuation force is normal, for me, probably around 50 g, it feels almost like MX browns.
The only thing now is the space bar, which is too deep and it's hard for me to hit it. It should be raised, but I don't know how. Maybe replaced with a taller one.  
So, BTC springs are good. Cheers.

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #34 on: Sat, 24 March 2012, 11:51:10 »
I measured the actuation force for these Devlin keyboards. I used Canadian coins.
After mod:
           it is around 35g: 9 nickel * 3.95g = 35.55 g
Before mod:
           I have to add 4 quarter * 4.40 g = 17.60 g, and 1 toonie * 7.30g = 7.30 g. Total 60.45g.

In previous messages, I've guessed to be more than 80g, but I was using only MX blues at that time.
So, Devlin feels like MX blacks, but after replacing the rubber sleeves with springs from a BTC, it is softer than MX blues.
I don't know how Topre feels, so can't compare.
Very nice feeling now, but no click. I'm using it now almost every day.

PS. The spacebar is OK now, the spring was not sitting properly, and is now easy to type.
There is no click, but still there is a sound, I would call it a 'mattress' sound, this comes to my mind. It's coming from the springs, compressed and released.
« Last Edit: Sat, 24 March 2012, 12:21:07 by poxeclipse »

Offline poxeclipse

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« Reply #35 on: Wed, 28 March 2012, 17:48:28 »
Specter, are you using it ?
I'm using it every day, at home, giving up the Coolermaster with blues. It is very nice to type on now. I'll replace the sleeves on the other one with springs, and I'll take it at work.
At work I'm using a NEC APC-H412 now.

Offline Specter_57

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« Reply #36 on: Sun, 01 April 2012, 10:06:06 »
..

PoxEclipse.

Glad you found the BTC board springs work, and thank you for reporting your findings here for the rest of us to know, ha and to inspire others to attempt the mod.  Am currently back to my AT-101W for the time being.

  Me, still looking for a source of springs...ha it isn't as easy as going to your local hardware store and buying a box of them, and searching online is not much better, almost a custom thing it seems...or I wil have to try winding my own...that is getting some serious thought.

I am not at all surprised that this board works well with springs replacing the rubber domes; and the design fortunately allows this modification....a bonus certainly.

I still like this keyboard, and I have been using it continuously up to about a week ago to give it a workout, but have gone back to my Dell AT101W for now.

I will eventually do the spring mod but that is not a high-priority project.

Interesting aside...the one board I mentioned as having been dead and brought back to life, the problem may not have been the crud I found inside, but the ENTER key would sometimes stick and/or repeat.  Nothing physically binding it that I could see...problem solved was to put a second rubber dome from a crap plastic board into the existing one, ie cup in a cup.
Very little actuation force change.

And, it appears that this board is programmable (yes, the manufacturer says it is customizeable...) both the CPU and UV-EPROM are socketed; the EPROM likely holds the key assignments.
There exist drop-in pin equivilant Flash ROMs and EEPROMs for this device.  No in-board on-the-fly programming, but should not be difficult to dump and analyse the EPROM....and the microcontroller could likely be programmed to bit-bang USB instead of PS/2.
Sighhh...another project for another day....
..........

DorkVader...did you eventually get some of these boards delivered to you?  If so. your thoughts on them...?

........

Also, reviewed my original thread, and the ProdUnlim advert, it is still active, dated mid-March, so it seems that there are still some of these keyboards available.

...........
Spec57
« Last Edit: Sun, 01 April 2012, 10:40:01 by Specter_57 »

Offline dorkvader

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #37 on: Sun, 01 April 2012, 14:31:11 »
No, I ended up not geting them, though I still very well might.

Offline poxeclipse

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Devlin KMX-144 find - thread reload....
« Reply #38 on: Sun, 01 April 2012, 15:05:11 »
This keyboard has very good switches, NKRO, but was targeting industrial users. Between those and us, normal (typist, gamer) users, there is a gap. We can feel the quality. I'm still thinking what to do next, for this is a very nice, and rare, keyboard. I'm not an expert, but it has lot of potential. I'm switching now between the CoolerMaster Quick Fire with MX blues, for which I changed the keycaps and modifiers to Wyse60, and Devlin. As addictive as they are, the MX blues didn't stop me to go back to Devlin. The build is outstanding, but you expect a different interface.