Author Topic: Ordered a Unicomp Emulator 122-key, need mod ideas  (Read 2045 times)

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Offline tchuladdiass

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Ordered a Unicomp Emulator 122-key, need mod ideas
« on: Mon, 06 August 2012, 14:21:02 »
Ok, so I finally went ahead and ordered a 122-key keyboard from Unicomp.  I thought they would be able to put a horizontal enter key, but they said no (it would be an engineering change).  So I will find out when it comes in tomorrow if it has the pad above the Enter key (where a backslash/pipe key would normally be) hooked up; if it does I will have to bolt-mod it so that I can move the hammer (pivot plate) and put a horizontal Enter on it.  That is assuming I can't get used to the vertical Enter.  Will see.

But the main thing I was considering is what to do with the extra buttons.  I have ordered a Teensy so that I can convert from PS/2 to USB, and am planning on remapping some of the keys at the same time.  First, would be to put the editing keys (pgup/pgdown/home/end, etc) in the normal order.  Then I was going to turn the key in the middle of the cursor keys (labeled "Home") into a macro key.  The idea is when you hold down the key for a few seconds, it would activate macro programming mode.  Then hit one of the extended Fn keys, followed by a sequence of keys you want it to produce, followed by the macro key again.  In order to provide feedback on what mode the macro functionality is in (normal, programming, on/off, etc) I was going to add a tri-color LED under the key to provide a feedback glow around it.

Other than the macro functionality, I was wondering what else I should try programming in the Teensy?  Alternative keyboard layouts?  Maybe adding a mechanical relay so that I can add even more audible click noise whenever pressing a key?  Or something like a pager vibrator motor to give that authentic Selectric movement when typing?  Also, what other functions should I map the additional keys to?  (I'm using Linux as my main OS).  There are several Compiz effects I could map, and possibly application shortcuts (browser, terminal, email, etc).  Maybe even add in an LCD display window giving access to built in keyboard apps (calculator, phone dialer, etc).  Any suggestions welcome, even if is a suggestion that I'm a bit crazy.

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Ordered a Unicomp Emulator 122-key, need mod ideas
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 08 August 2012, 09:03:41 »
If you ever get a Model F terminal, you can swap barrels and springs to achieve a more ANSI-like layout with (relative) ease.

The Model M has a one-piece barrel-plate assembly, but it may be possible to move things around after a dis-assembly, which would necessitate a subsequent bolt-mod. Somebody else chime in here, I know that some of you must have tried it or done it.

I have never tried it myself, since all my Ms have been ANSI and I would not want to change that.

2 sets of function keys make me happy, and also 2 "Escape" buttons. 

I set the center cursor to be another "Down" so that I can more easily move back to a normal "inverted-T" layout.
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 August 2012, 09:06:06 by fohat.digs »
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Offline tchuladdiass

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Re: Ordered a Unicomp Emulator 122-key, need mod ideas
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 08 August 2012, 22:07:36 »
I've already bolt-modded my other Model M (to fix a cleaning accident), my main issue was that it took a while for a few of the keys to settle in (and I've still got to put a few more screws in, the right side of the keyboard is a bit hollow / loose sounding).  Also added some extra pivot plates (hammers) to the keypad area (and replaced the long 0, +, and Enter keys with smaller buttons), in order to get access to the unused pads under those keys.  Got some usable extra key codes out of that mod.

I just got the 122-key in last night, and verified that the contact pads are hooked up so that all I would need to do is move the one hammer around, then I could put in the horizontal enter.  Meanwhile, I tried it out and found I can hit the vertical enter reliably enough, but I'm also hitting the top of the enter when I mean to hit backslash or vertical bar (not good).  I just hate to pop apart the rivets on a brand new keyboard though.

As for the key remapping, I've settled on a couple things.  I'll go ahead and add windows keys to it on the left (where Unicomp's PC/5250 has them).  I've also mapped out the scan codes for most of the other keys -- only missing a break key functionality apparently.  I also got my Teensy in the mail today, so I'll be playing around with the dev kit and sample keyboard code over the weekend.  I think I'm going to add a laptop-style Fn key -- one that would be invisible to the PC upstream, but would modify the scancode from another key.  That way I can define all the scancodes used by the media & application quick-launch keys.  And maybe have a separate AltGraph style or Mode Switch key (instead of sealing the functionality of a regular key for that)

Now for off-the-wall mods, how about hitting a key that turns the 10-key pad into a simple calculator?  Activating it would make the 10-key dead to the PC, but instead would store any calculation results in a buffer that can be fed to the PC using another key combination?  That would require some sort of LCD module for feedback though (well not absolutely necessary, but would help).

The other mod (which may get me kicked out of the office) is to hook up a solenoid inside the keyboard with a dead weight attached to it.  The idea is that it would make a thud sound (and rattle the keyboard slightly) on each key press to simulate a Selectric typewriter.  All I'm looking for now is a source for the right type of solenoid (that can be driven off USB power), and hopefully someone to tell me that I'm bat**** insane for even thinking of such a modification.  (yes, I need help, badly).