Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

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Just a headline on Newton 1, I now work on NTI version of Apple 1 and datanetics keyboard.

I have mentioned I would work on NTI version of Apple 1 (which I will call and mark at the back as Newton NTI). CAD data is easy and done based on pre-NTI one. However, NTI version is quite different from pre-NTI in that the soldermask looks glossy and has a relatively rougher surface. I myself have one S-100 card manufactured by NTI in 1975-76 period and just have the same soldermask condition as Apple 1 NTI boards. With this great reference sample, a few ago, I went to discuss with a process engineering manager in the same PCB fab I used to make pre-NTI boards and we both agreed that the soldermask was made by obsolete processing technique and the soldermask ink is hard to find now. We came up with modified process flow for soldermask and will run a few pieces to see the cosmetic result and test whether the soldermask layer can stand hand-solder and even leadfree wavesoldering.

On the other hand, some of the Newton owners asked the possibility of matching keyboards which can work with their replicas and I usually refer them to W. Sander's website for clue to retrofit an Apple II plus keyboard. But as it is not easy for some of the folks to find a keyboard with good functionality (I believe in some case they have to sacrifice the integrity of a working Apple II plus), I start to think about building a small batch of fully assembled datanetics keyboard with MM5740AAE/N decoder. Now I have the schematics, 20+ decoder ICs and a disassembled original Apple II keyboard (I attempt to repair it and its PCB and switches are good references); PCB CAD and manufacturing is not difficult and the most challenging part is to get somebody to make the switches and caps - not an easy task for small volume. The PCB I am going to build will be soldermask coated.

I will post photo if there is any promising progress.

Cheers,
Mike Newton

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Newton-Computer: Newton 1, Newton NTI

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Joined: Dec 25 2011
Posts: 18
Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Just want to let you know that the prototype NTI bare board is complete, but the fabricator made some mistake on the processing in the evaluation batch (fortunately only 5 pcs) and that s why you see there are soldermask "bubbles" on the traces. The actual run will be fine after some process adjustments. But I can still claim partial victory as you can see the soldermask is rougher and glossier than pre-NTI run, the NTI logo below Apple Computer 1 marking and also the edge finishing of soldermask openings. I am going to order some bare board and assemble another batch in a month or so. I am going to name this board as "Newton NTI" to distinguish from Newton 1, as there is still demand on Newton 1.

I worked with PCB fab long enough to simulate the same processing step used in the actual NTI build.

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/109866693740649982432/albums/5794590033023250961

speedyG's picture
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Joined: Nov 16 2011
Posts: 2407
Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Hello NewtonMike,
in case that you decide to distribute datanetics-like keyboard i would like to have one or two bare PCB´s with one encoder chip but not assemled ( without keyswitches and - decoderchip not mounted... ) ...
sincerely speedyG

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Some updates to those who are interested:-

Datanetics Keyboard: I have got 20pcs of MM5740AAE/N encoder so far and will probably sell the ICs alone or together with the datanetics bare board. I am in the progress of collecting more so that folks can complete their Apple 1 replica. I have reserved a few pairs to some people, so let me know if you need one.

Apple 1 NTI version: After I reviewed the evaluation boards, I worked with the PCB fab further fine tune the gerber to accommodate the "vintage" processing technique and have just issued PO to the fab and the boards should be ready by late October. I am going to keep the adjustments (mostly non-noticeable) secret until the on-shelf date - just read from Mike's blog that some adjustments have been made to Mimeo and I still want to keep "Newton 1" and "Newton NTI" different from Mimeo Smile

I have no plan to make enclosure as it was up to the hobbyists to design and work on their own enclosure; some in fact use it as naked like myself, I think the board itself is a masterpiece of art and should not be made invisible, though Corey's transparent plexiglass is a good option. I like the idea of selling the replica in "semi-assembled" form like what Jobs and Woz did in the past.

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

10/26/2012 Update

Datanetics keyboard: I now collect around 45pcs MM5740AAE/N in total and I will find time to test them all using my own original Apple II to make sure they work. Still yet to work on CAD data of PCB. Plan to do it in Nov.

Apple 1 NTI version: first batch of bare boards are ready to ship and I am going to receive them by early Nov. Judging from the photos, they looks good and more "retro", considering they are built according to the old processing technique, as compared to all previous replication attempts so far. Have shown photos to one of the NTI version owner, who gave positive feedback.

PS: 4~5 sets of Newton 1 have been sold to private museums, I received some positive feedbacks in Ebay, showing the quality is not as "fairly brittle" as people said. I hope NTI version will complete collection of serious hobbyists and collectors.

Mike

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

11/17/2012 Update

Today, I receive the NTI boards from the PCB fab and I post photos in Google Photo (please see in below link).

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/109866693740649982432/albums/5811819985032883297

To achieve similar soldermask appearance of original NTI boards, old processing technique has been used which is "interestingly" new to most PCB fabs now, I tried to compare the boards to the S-100 board which was also built by NTI (NTI should in fact be the company name of PCB fab) and the surface condition and edge condition of soldermask opening look pretty close. For other features, those who has been building Apple 1 replicas (pre-NTI versions) should be able to see the differences.

I thought to assemble and sell only finished replicas, but I understand some folks enjoy the fun of assembling a replica and populate their own components and even sockets. So now, I will sell bare board and for those who are interested, pls PM me.

Mike

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

I just post a thread in "For Sales and Trade" section for selling Newton NTI bare board and a few assembled Newton 1 sets. If you are interested in any of them. Please PM me.

Apologize for keeping those waiting for Datanetics board, I will catch up.

Thanks, Mike

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

While pre-NTI and NTI are identical in terms of circuitry and those who have bought NTI bare boards really work their boards, but I still hadn't worked on one for myself. So, lately when I have enough TI ic sockets and 1973 datecoded gold 22uF 25V cap similar to those used in original NTI board, I start (finally) to work on one board... this time, I spent some time to solder-plug the vias holes, and the result looks promising.

https://plus.google.com/photos/109866693740649982432/albums/5811819985032883297

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Please compare and contrast your board with the Mimeo.

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

I believe this has been discussed in previous thread and some of the folks have both Mimeo and Newton and should be able to tell. If you have Mimeo and wonder whether Newton is a reproduction of Mimeo, the answer is no and you verify by looking at the photos closely. Hope this helps.

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Today, I stuff all the caps and everything else and try to see if what I have on hand can make something looks close to the original NTI version Apple 1. I even use my only one 1977 datecode gold-plated LM323K voltage regulator. The result is not bad.

https://plus.google.com/u/1/photos/109866693740649982432/albums/5811819985032883297

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Re: Apple 1 NTI and datanetics keyboard

Hi Mike,

Any progress on making replicas of the Datanetics keyboard?

If you can come up with those, I definitely would want to add my name to the waiting list.

Thanks,

rookie2013

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rookie2013