Author Topic: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!  (Read 2039 times)

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Offline Mzen

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Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 15:50:55 »
Hello everyone! I have just jumped into the unknown mechanical keyboard world a couple of days ago and I've been anxious to get myself one of them, I have been using chicklets for far too long...

Among countless brands, Filco's, Ducky's and the like, I looked up info on the classic IBM Model M (I actually had one variant of it when I was a child, my first keyboard... I would love to get a time machine and steal it from my puny 5 year old hands), which gave me the idea to grab a flashlight and dive into my girlfriend's house attic, where her father throws out all kinds of random tech stuff that are he doesn't use anymore.

To my amazement, I found this beauty, a Chicony KB-5182 (ISO, DE layout):

122755-0
122757-1
122759-2

It looks pretty dirty and has a few scratches here and there, but in general looks to be in great shape for such a mistreated piece of tech. Seems like it sports Cherry MX Blacks, I tried googling some info on it but only found stuff about the ANSI KB-5181 model which is a bit "mysterious" about what kind of switches it uses, some Chicony keyboards have "fake" and "real" MX Blues, I would love to find out some more info about this particular model I found.

Other than that, my main question about it concerns my confusion on "convert to USB" options, I would love to give this keyboard a spin, but how to? Do I need adaptors from DIN-5 port to PS/2 to USB, and if so which ones can perform the task? Thanks in advance for anyone who helps me out with this.

122761-3

And to end my first post and probably reveal my complete noobness on this subject, what is this thingy for? 

122763-4

Kind regards from Germany  :thumb:

Offline fohat.digs

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 15:59:21 »
Good find!

In those early days where "XT" style and "AT" style computers were in use, the keyboard had to speak differently to each.

"AT" is the same as PS/2 even though the plug is larger.

A good cleaning should turn that into a very nice piece that you could still use today.

Personally, I do not like black Cherry switches because I need feedback, but my son, a gamer, loves them.
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Offline Waateva

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 16:04:20 »
From the pictures you took they appear to be genuine MX (vintage?) blacks, but I'm not sure what kind of adapter you would need.  There are probably DIN-5 to USB adapters out there but if they are available in Germany would be the main question.  Otherwise, with a good cleaning and the adapter you'll be up and going on it in no time!
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Offline hwood34

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 16:14:36 »
Those are legit MX switches, don't worry. On an old board like that they're bound to be pretty damn smooth so you lucked out there.

As for converting it, you'll want just a basic AT to PS2 converter, then an active PS2 to USB converter and you'll be all set. Just make sure to have the keyboard switched to AT and not XT
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Offline Altis

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 16:16:58 »
You'll need to convert from DIN-5 to PS/2, then either just use that (if you have a computer with a PS/2 port) or use a PS/2 to USB converter.

In any case, good find! Always nice to come across a vintage keyboard that's worth keeping around and restoring.
WhiteFox (Gateron Brown) -- Realforce 87U 45g -- Realforce 108US 30g JIS -- HHKB Pro 2 -- IBM Model M ('90) -- IBM Model M SSK ('87) -- NMB RT-101 & RT-8255C+ (Hi-Tek Space Invaders) -- Keytrak (Blue Alps) -- Chicony KB-5181 (Monterey Blue Alps) -- KPT-102 (KPT Alps) -- G80-1800 (MX Blue) -- KUL ES-87 (62/65g Purple Zealios) -- CM QFR (MX Red) -- Apple Aluminum BT -- Realforce 23u Numpad

Offline ImpendingxDoom

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 16:24:21 »

For cleaning you can take the case apart and give it a good wash with warm soapy water (no abrasives, and go around the sticker to keep it intact). From there, you can pull the caps and let them soak in some more warm soapy water (or do some denture tab cleaning if you feel ambitious). Once the caps have been soaking for a while, take them out one at a time and clean off any caked on nastiness with a paper towel. For the circuit board, wipe it down with a dry towel to get any hair and whatnot off. For the plate ans switches, I usually use a qtip and some alcohol/soapy water to clean between the switches, and compressed air for everything else.

If you really want to get crazy with it, you can make some retrobright and cure it in UV light. But there is nothing wrong with a yellowed board; it shows its age well.

Offline Mzen

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 17:13:19 »
This community seems to be pretty amazing. Less than one hour and I not only got most of my questions answered but I also got great tips on how to clean it up properly... You people are awesome! :eek: :D

For the last days I have been daydreaming about getting a nice TKL with MX Blues and some PBT caps later down the line to make it feel a bit nicer, but at this stage it would be a bit difficult to drop that kind of money, especially since I'm in Germany and mechanic keyboards are not only harder to find but they are also more expensive to import... That's why I'm particulary excited about this discovery. Also, I can't stand the gamer keyboards style, they are too "edgy" for my taste, I would rather type on a nice piece of history like this one, should hold me off nicely until I can get some more toys to play with ;D (and oh boy, this hobby can certainly get expensive quickly haha)

While we're on this subject, I have a couple more questions:

How nice were the Chicony keyboards back in the day? It's the first time I've heard about them and I would love some more info.

While I was looking at the keycap options, I came across some nice looking blank Vortex PBTs. What is the general opinion on Vortex keycaps? Just wondering if it would be worth the investment or look out for other brands.

Offline Altis

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 19:44:50 »
This community seems to be pretty amazing. Less than one hour and I not only got most of my questions answered but I also got great tips on how to clean it up properly... You people are awesome! :eek: :D

For the last days I have been daydreaming about getting a nice TKL with MX Blues and some PBT caps later down the line to make it feel a bit nicer, but at this stage it would be a bit difficult to drop that kind of money, especially since I'm in Germany and mechanic keyboards are not only harder to find but they are also more expensive to import... That's why I'm particulary excited about this discovery. Also, I can't stand the gamer keyboards style, they are too "edgy" for my taste, I would rather type on a nice piece of history like this one, should hold me off nicely until I can get some more toys to play with ;D (and oh boy, this hobby can certainly get expensive quickly haha)

While we're on this subject, I have a couple more questions:

How nice were the Chicony keyboards back in the day? It's the first time I've heard about them and I would love some more info.

While I was looking at the keycap options, I came across some nice looking blank Vortex PBTs. What is the general opinion on Vortex keycaps? Just wondering if it would be worth the investment or look out for other brands.

I have a Chicony KB-5181 with Monterey Blue (alps-like) switches that are considered quite good. The only thing is I found the case to be quite tinny and hollow. I took the board out of the case and plan on making a custom wood/antler case for it as the board itself is quite good.

Vortex keycaps seem to be as good as any other as far as PBT caps go. I have a few sets and they're among my favorite keycaps.

Those Cherry MX Blacks look to be vintage, which are actually quite a bit smoother than modern Cherry MX Black switches. That'd be some extra good luck!
WhiteFox (Gateron Brown) -- Realforce 87U 45g -- Realforce 108US 30g JIS -- HHKB Pro 2 -- IBM Model M ('90) -- IBM Model M SSK ('87) -- NMB RT-101 & RT-8255C+ (Hi-Tek Space Invaders) -- Keytrak (Blue Alps) -- Chicony KB-5181 (Monterey Blue Alps) -- KPT-102 (KPT Alps) -- G80-1800 (MX Blue) -- KUL ES-87 (62/65g Purple Zealios) -- CM QFR (MX Red) -- Apple Aluminum BT -- Realforce 23u Numpad

Offline hwood34

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 20:37:49 »
How nice were the Chicony keyboards back in the day? It's the first time I've heard about them and I would love some more info.

While I was looking at the keycap options, I came across some nice looking blank Vortex PBTs. What is the general opinion on Vortex keycaps? Just wondering if it would be worth the investment or look out for other brands.

Chicony boards are pretty solid all around. If you want to help get rid of some of that yellowing, a much more basic version of the full retr0bright is just some 40 volume peroxide mixed with water (sorry, forget the ratio) and a little bit of oxy-clean. Pour the mixture in container and let the case and keycaps sit in the bath in the sun for a few hours
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Offline OfTheWild

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 03 January 2016, 21:11:56 »
awesome find! i used to have that exact same board when i was a kid
-Dana

Offline x9Memoriez

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 01:05:43 »
Damn, being in Germany is just about as painful as living in Australia with this hobby. At least we have MechKB.com to keep us satisfied as far as good boards go.

Best of luck to you on finding a good TKL! Numpads can get annoying if you dont do too much number-crunching...
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Offline bocahgundul

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 01:14:12 »
Nice find bro that is a big logo Cherry mx vintage black  :thumb:

Offline rowdy

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 04:29:09 »
I'd concur that those switches look very much like vintage black MX switches - very smooth indeed!

Great find :)
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

NEC APC-H4100E | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED red | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED green | Link 900243-08 | CM QFR MX black | KeyCool 87 white MX reds | HHKB 2 Pro | Model M 02-Mar-1993 | Model M 29-Nov-1995 | CM Trigger (broken) | CM QFS MX green | Ducky DK9087 Shine 3 TKL Yellow Edition MX black | Lexmark SSK 21-Apr-1994 | IBM SSK 13-Oct-1987 | CODE TKL MX clear | Model M 122 01-Jun-1988

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Offline hwood34

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 09:51:02 »
Damn, being in Germany is just about as painful as living in Australia with this hobby.

Got all that OG Cherry though
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Offline Mzen

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 15:45:15 »
Everyone, once again I want to express my thanks for your help.

I just spend the last hours cleaning up the board and giving a nice warm bath to the keycaps, everything is looking great after putting it back together again. For something that is more then 25 years old, the keys look brand new except for the yellow (which I'm keeping, gives it a bit of that retro look). Everything checks out except one white stabilizer stem that is missing on the "+" key, but that is easy to replace.

The adapters have been ordered, now I just have to wait and pray that it does work. If something goes wrong, I might need your help to figure out a solution, we'll see what happens, but I remain hopeful :thumb:

As a side note, I am still curious to try out some MX Blues eventually, but I can't wait to give these vintage Blacks a go. They certainly are very smooth, give me a feeling unlike any other keyboard that I've tried before.

Offline Waateva

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 04 January 2016, 15:59:13 »
Everyone, once again I want to express my thanks for your help.

I just spend the last hours cleaning up the board and giving a nice warm bath to the keycaps, everything is looking great after putting it back together again. For something that is more then 25 years old, the keys look brand new except for the yellow (which I'm keeping, gives it a bit of that retro look). Everything checks out except one white stabilizer stem that is missing on the "+" key, but that is easy to replace.

The adapters have been ordered, now I just have to wait and pray that it does work. If something goes wrong, I might need your help to figure out a solution, we'll see what happens, but I remain hopeful :thumb:

As a side note, I am still curious to try out some MX Blues eventually, but I can't wait to give these vintage Blacks a go. They certainly are very smooth, give me a feeling unlike any other keyboard that I've tried before.

Good work, got any pictures of the board after cleanup?
Duck Black Bird - 80g Gatistotles /// O'Mira - V Blacks /// LZ GH v2 - V Clears /// NIU40 - Ergo Clears

Offline Mzen

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 05 January 2016, 07:56:54 »
I imagined someone might be interested in the internals, so I'll share some pics from when I started the cleanup:

122917-0
That "Enter" key was such a complete b*tch to take out and put back in... I love that huge thing, but the two stability wires inside are pure evil  >:D

122919-1
122921-2
122923-3
122925-4

And the final result:
122927-5
122929-6

I could't remove all the little black scratches here and there, but I am more than satisfied with the way it looks now.
Those adapters can't come fast enough! ;D

Offline yomammary

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 05 January 2016, 08:10:21 »
Wow looks really clean, good job!
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Offline chyros

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 05 January 2016, 08:18:36 »
Welcome to Geekhack!

Nice find, nothing like having a good old classic, eh? ;) Many people here start their adventure trying to choose some new Cherry board but those don't quite have the personality (and often not the build quality either) of boards like these, in my opinion :) . Glad you're enjoying the board!
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Offline Waateva

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 05 January 2016, 11:18:43 »
Looks good, thanks for sharing the pictures :)
Duck Black Bird - 80g Gatistotles /// O'Mira - V Blacks /// LZ GH v2 - V Clears /// NIU40 - Ergo Clears

Offline rowdy

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Re: Found something nice in the attic, assistance required!
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 05 January 2016, 22:46:16 »
Nice job!

Enjoy your keyboard :D
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

NEC APC-H4100E | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED red | Ducky DK9008 Shine MX blue LED green | Link 900243-08 | CM QFR MX black | KeyCool 87 white MX reds | HHKB 2 Pro | Model M 02-Mar-1993 | Model M 29-Nov-1995 | CM Trigger (broken) | CM QFS MX green | Ducky DK9087 Shine 3 TKL Yellow Edition MX black | Lexmark SSK 21-Apr-1994 | IBM SSK 13-Oct-1987 | CODE TKL MX clear | Model M 122 01-Jun-1988

Ị̸͚̯̲́ͤ̃͑̇̑ͯ̊̂͟ͅs̞͚̩͉̝̪̲͗͊ͪ̽̚̚ ̭̦͖͕̑́͌ͬͩ͟t̷̻͔̙̑͟h̹̠̼͋ͤ͋i̤̜̣̦̱̫͈͔̞ͭ͑ͥ̌̔s̬͔͎̍̈ͥͫ̐̾ͣ̔̇͘ͅ ̩̘̼͆̐̕e̞̰͓̲̺̎͐̏ͬ̓̅̾͠͝ͅv̶̰͕̱̞̥̍ͣ̄̕e͕͙͖̬̜͓͎̤̊ͭ͐͝ṇ̰͎̱̤̟̭ͫ͌̌͢͠ͅ ̳̥̦ͮ̐ͤ̎̊ͣ͡͡n̤̜̙̺̪̒͜e̶̻̦̿ͮ̂̀c̝̘̝͖̠̖͐ͨͪ̈̐͌ͩ̀e̷̥͇̋ͦs̢̡̤ͤͤͯ͜s͈̠̉̑͘a̱͕̗͖̳̥̺ͬͦͧ͆̌̑͡r̶̟̖̈͘ỷ̮̦̩͙͔ͫ̾ͬ̔ͬͮ̌?̵̘͇͔͙ͥͪ͞ͅ