Author Topic: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)  (Read 5557 times)

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Offline Hypersphere

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NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 08:48:56 »
INTRODUCTION and DESCRIPTION

Recently, I bought two non-ADB NeXT keyboards. One with the standard US ANSI layout (small horizontal rectangular Return key) and one with the reverse-L Return key. There are also European-layout versions of the keyboard.

These keyboards have doubleshot keycaps that are white on black. Some appear to be cream on black, and a few are triple-shot with white/cream on black and front legends that are green on black. The Command keys are doubleshot green on black.

The US ANSI version has undamped cream Alps switches with text legends. The one with the reverse-L Return has black Alps switches with symbolic legends on some of the modifiers. I got the reverse-L version mostly for the symbolic keycaps and spare parts.

The NeXT keyboard has a pleasing form factor with a fairly standard full-size layout except for the absence of the F-key row and 5 media keys instead of the top 6 in the navigation island. The top row of the NumPad has a Backquote/Tilde key instead of NumLock, and the right column of the NumPad has 1.00x Minus and Plus keys along with a 2.00x Enter key. The bottom row of the main typing area is Winkeyless (of course!) with a 9.00x spacebar and no space between the 1.50x modifiers or between the modifiers and spacebar. The single Control key is to the right of the "A" key. There is no CapsLock key -- this function was otherwise activated on the NeXT keyboard and called "AlphaLock". The Shift keys are windowed and illuminated with LEDs when AlphaLock is on.

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HASU CONVERTER

The NeXT keyboard cannot be used with a contemporary computer and USB interface without an appropriate converter. Fortunately, Hasu has produced the physical converter and the code to enable it to work.

https://github.com/tmk/tmk_keyboard/tree/master/converter/next_usb

Currently, I have the converter plugged into the end of the stock mini-DIN5 cable, but I am considering installing it inside the keyboard case along with a flush-mount micro-USB connector in order to have a detachable standard keyboard cable.

Naturally (for me), I have programmed the converter in a HHKB-like layout. I use the Right Alt key as Fn. The converter works beautifully, thanks to the industry and genius of Hasu.

IMPRESSIONS

Although the NeXT keyboard is essentially full-size, it gives the impression of being compact. It measures 17.75 x 5.50 inches (45.1 x 14.0 cm) and weighs 2.67 lb (1.21 kg). This fairly hefty weight in a relatively compact package helps make the board feel dense and sturdily built. In comparison, my black Dell AT101W measures 18.5 x 8.25 inches (47.0 x 20.9 cm) and weighs 3.11 lb (1.41 kg).

The case is black and agreeably simple in design; the only branding is a small colorful NeXT cube logo centered on the top bezel. Unfortunately, the smooth finish of the keyboard readily picks up and shows fingerprints. Moreover, the black keycaps conspicuously display wear according to frequency of use, resulting in prominent uneven shine on a given cap that is inconsistent across the board. Because of the marked shine on the caps, especially on my US ANSI version, I swapped most of the modifiers for the less-worn caps on the L-shaped Return version. In addition, given that I usually prefer typing on PBT, I also swapped out the stock alphanumeric caps with those from a Granite SBI board.

Although I cleaned the case thoroughly with detergent, when I followed up by wiping it down with 70% (v/v) isopropyl alcohol, the wipes continually picked up a black color, as if the alcohol were dissolving black pigment from the plastic. The upper and lower sections of the case are separated by a rubber gasket that must be aligned carefully before tightening the 7 screws that hold the two sections together. Although I am careful about not stripping threads, the case plastic seemed fairly soft, as I ended up stripping the threads in two of the mounting posts at the center and rear of the keyboard. I remedied this by inserting thin-walled screw anchors in these two posts.

Typing sound and feel are good to excellent. The undamped cream Alps are not as crisp as blue or white Alps, but they are smooth and provide more than adequate tactile feedback without the somewhat mushy feel of damped switches. I bottom out all my keystrokes, and the NeXT chassis furnishes a fairly solid sounding board that is not as solid as my Northgate Omnikey 101 but not as hollow as my Leading Edge DC-2014. The feel is definitely lighter and more resilient than that of my custom 60% with tactile brown Alps in a stainless steel plate. Some of the keys exhibit pinging, but I do not find this sufficiently objectionable to be a deal-breaker.

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The long spacebar was initially a bit loud and rattly, but after lubing the stabilizer and putting foam pads on the top plate directly under the stabilizer inserts, it became acceptably quiet. At first, I had considered swapping the slider with one from a Matias Quiet switch, but this no longer seems necessary.

Considering the fairly low current prices of these keyboards and even allowing for the extra cost and work of a Hasu converter, the NeXT non-ADB keyboard is a reasonably good value. Within a stylish compact format, it provides a fairly standard layout that includes most of the keys of a full-size keyboard except for the top F-key row and one key in the navigation island. Despite some shortcomings noted above, I recommend this keyboard, and I intend to add it to my keyboard rotation.

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Offline chyros

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 10:31:39 »
I've seen a bunch of these on eBay, but the condition looked dubious. I've heard very good things about the cream switches, I'd like to give those a try someday. One of five colours I don't have a board of yet! xD
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline Hypersphere

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 11:17:53 »
@Chyros: you could try emailing the seller to see if he would select a board that appears to be in good condition, but opinions likely will vary! The undamped cream Alps are rather nice -- I much prefer them over the damped variety. I really like the form factor and design of this board, but the material used for the case tends to show fingerprints, and the stock keycaps become shiny.

What are your missing colors?


Offline chyros

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 13:21:09 »
@Chyros: you could try emailing the seller to see if he would select a board that appears to be in good condition, but opinions likely will vary! The undamped cream Alps are rather nice -- I much prefer them over the damped variety. I really like the form factor and design of this board, but the material used for the case tends to show fingerprints, and the stock keycaps become shiny.

What are your missing colors?
SKCM Cream
SKCL Cream
SKCL Brown
SKCM Brown
SKCL Yellow

I have a loose switch of the last two, but no boards.
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline mike52787

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 16:31:59 »
@Chyros: you could try emailing the seller to see if he would select a board that appears to be in good condition, but opinions likely will vary! The undamped cream Alps are rather nice -- I much prefer them over the damped variety. I really like the form factor and design of this board, but the material used for the case tends to show fingerprints, and the stock keycaps become shiny.

What are your missing colors?
SKCM Cream
SKCL Cream
SKCL Brown
SKCM Brown
SKCL Yellow

I have a loose switch of the last two, but no boards.
Ill be getting more skcm creams, and when I do I will install them in my omnikey 101. If you would like I could send it to you for a review so you can try em out. They are my favorite switch.

Offline Hypersphere

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 18:41:26 »
When you say "SKCM Cream" does this refer to the damped or undamped switch?

Offline Mattr567

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 18:54:32 »
Nice man. I like the look of the SGI caps on them. I wish I had those symbol legend caps but it wasn't worth it to buy two just for that purpose. Wonder why they switched anyway. I find the Creams to be crisper than Orange or Salmon and very close to Blue's. I mean they were on a data sheet together.

Using mine right now. Love the full size without the full size feel. Also having a black keyboard on my desk for once and not a beige one is very nice. Surprised as well at how standard the layout is.
Wang 725-3770 SKCM Brown, 1995
Zenith 163-73 - SKCM Blue, 1990
KBP V60 MTS - SKCM Amber w/ Canon HiPros
IBM P77, SKCC Green, 1984
IBM P70 - Alps Plate Spring, 1989
Compaq MX 11800, MX Black, 1997

Offline chyros

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 20:56:19 »
@Chyros: you could try emailing the seller to see if he would select a board that appears to be in good condition, but opinions likely will vary! The undamped cream Alps are rather nice -- I much prefer them over the damped variety. I really like the form factor and design of this board, but the material used for the case tends to show fingerprints, and the stock keycaps become shiny.

What are your missing colors?
SKCM Cream
SKCL Cream
SKCL Brown
SKCM Brown
SKCL Yellow

I have a loose switch of the last two, but no boards.
Ill be getting more skcm creams, and when I do I will install them in my omnikey 101. If you would like I could send it to you for a review so you can try em out. They are my favorite switch.
I'd love to, but shipping for a board like that would be >50, for that I could BUY a board with them :)) . If you got any spare boards in good condition I might buy or trade though :) .
Check my keyboard video reviews:


Offline mike52787

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 11 September 2016, 20:57:58 »
When you say "SKCM Cream" does this refer to the damped or undamped switch?
Undampened, of course :D

Offline alh84001

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 12 October 2016, 18:51:37 »
@Hypersphere nice keycap mod. I was also thinking about switching some keycaps from from non-ANSI board, and now you got me thinking with SGI caps. I have one yellowed SGI in the corner, and it won't be sunny here until March probably. Also, on my board, caps lock switch is a bit tilted, as if it got soldered while not fully seated into a plate. I suppose this is a manufacturing/refurbishing error, and not a feature, since in non-ANSI board it is no different than other keys.

@Chyros did you forget SKCL Ambers or do you actually have a board with them? Taking them into account, my list would be
SKCL Cream
SKCL Brown
SKCL Amber
SKCM Green (both pine and bamboo :))

Offline cribbit

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 17 October 2016, 00:59:50 »
You wouldn't happen to know where to get a NeXT cube for cheap? All the ones I find are in working condition and thus expensive, I just want the case.
I typed this post on my Slanck. I also developed a stronger, cleaner, easier handwiring method.


Offline Hypersphere

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 17 October 2016, 08:33:38 »
You could try writing to the fellow who runs Black Hole, Inc. to ask if he might have a NeXT Cube case that he could sell to you.

http://www.blackholeinc.com/store/


Offline toniwonkanobi

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Re: NeXT Keyboard (Non-ADB ANSI Undamped Cream Alps Hasu Converter)
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 21 June 2020, 17:03:00 »
One has to appreciate the Steve Jobs ness of this keyboard. Ditch the function row. Ditch the Home/End/Delete section ("Who uses that?" or something to that effect.) I keep thinking about making a 60% version of this board, but the shiny ABS keycaps on all the copies on ebay make me feel like it's not worth the effort to get a custom plate and PCB/etc.