ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

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Joined: Sep 5 2009
Posts: 80

The latest project I have completed is a full ASCII Upper/Lower case keyboard that can be used on an Apple 1 or Apple II or other computer requiring a parallel interface. Key features are:

All 128 ASCII characters can be generated including Upper and Lower case.
The keyboard has true N-Key rollover with no diodes since each key goes directly to an FPGA
Every key is auto-repeat, after any key is held for 1 sec the repeat starts.  This can be disabled on the daughter board.
A jumper block option allows the output connector to map directly to either Apple 1 or Apple II
The keyboard outline is compatible with the Apple II and Apple II+
The key switches are Cherry MX switches which are widely used,  all parts are new and modern parts.
Series resistors and zener diodes are used to protect the circuits if there is incorrect insertion of the 16 pin cable in the DIP header.
The Power light is replaced by a Caps Lock toggle key that is lighted Green for Caps Lock and Yellow for no Caps Lock
Custom double-shot keycaps are used.

A description with pictures is at

www.apple1notes.com/old_apple/Peripheral_Boards_files/Keyboard%20Note.pdf

wsander

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Joined: Oct 9 2011
Posts: 1044
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Great work Wendell. Hopefully you can partner with someone to have boards produced for the Apple community. This project will go a long way to prevent people from scavenging Keyboards from Apple II plus machines for their Apple-1 replicas and to replace damaged or missing keyboards in Apple II plus systems where they are needed.

Cheers,
Corey

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Joined: Jan 1 2015
Posts: 47
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

+1 to what Corey wrote.

Any time frame on when you might have something available?

Len

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Joined: Dec 4 2016
Posts: 1
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Hi Wendell, do you have any more details on the keyboard released, I would really like to build one.

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Joined: Jun 5 2008
Posts: 380
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Hi All,

I'm looking to create a retro style keyboard for a personal project. Since I like to cut costs by sharing extra PCBs, I'll be making a batch of them.

There is a good chance I'll leverage significant parts of Wendell's design, though I do have an alternative Cherry keyboard design that I started on a number of years ago. This may become a bit of merge of my old design and Wendell's. I have been in touch with Wendell and he has been very open about sharing his design with me.

I have a few of requirements that I'll be working against, most of which have been addressed already by Wendell.

1) Apple 1 compatible
2) Apple 2 compatible
3) Cherry MX style key switches
4) Separate programable keyboard encoder - my personal project demands a non-latched keyboard, which requires some changes to the encoder circuit as compared to an Apple 1 or 2. I also want to make this keyboard useful for other retro computer designs which may have unforeseen requirements.
5) Retro style key cap set - I figure I'll add some extra caps to Wendell set, so that in combination with keyboard encoder changes, it could be useful for additional retro applications.

Is there anything else that people might want on this keyboard?

regards,
Mike Willegal

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Joined: Jun 5 2008
Posts: 380
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

I forgot to mention one thing - based on Wendell's BOM costs, a keyboard or kit is likely to cost you around $200. This is similar to the estimate I made several years ago, which is why I put my version on hold. However, since that time, the eBay selling price of Apple II keyboards has gone up considerably, which might make this a more feasible project these days.

regards,
Mike Willegal

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Posts: 380
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

I'm revising my thinking a little. I'm looking at making a keyboard with a separate encoder, compatible with two piece versions of the Apple II and II plus keyboards. That way, if you just want an Apple II replacement keyboard and your encoder is good, you will be able to reuse your existing encoder. Also by replacing or reprogramming the encoder board, you will be able to create a custom keyboard for your application. I plan on making keycaps sets, with a variety of 'extra' keys with additional legends. One example would be adding clear screen and rub out functions for Apple 1s. I will also provide mounting points for the extra keys found on a Datanetics, rev D. One of my motivations is that I need a non-latching keyboard like the early Don Lancaster TV typewriter keyboards, for my SCELBI project. This approach will allow me to create that keyboard and still satisfy Apple 1 and Apple II users that need keyboards.

One little problem is that I don't currently have an Apple II or II plus with a two piece keyboard, though I do have a spare encoder board. Can anyone provide good details and images of how the encoder connector is set up on the main keyboard PCB and spacing between the two PCBs?

regards,
Mike Willegal

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Joined: Oct 9 2011
Posts: 1044
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Mike,

I think I can send you a spare PCB from an RFI Apple II keyboard. I use it for spare plunger parts so you can keep the PCB. I take a look for it when I get a chance.

Cheers,
Corey

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Joined: Feb 9 2006
Posts: 213
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Mike-
I'm always in the market for a good retro keyboard. Especially one with a reprogrammable encoder (Atmel?)
Dave...

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Joined: Nov 16 2011
Posts: 2375
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Hello Mike,
I've been waiting for alaunch of a order link since announcement of last
datanetics keyboard.... I need at least 4 PCB's
speedyG

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Joined: Sep 5 2009
Posts: 80
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

In developing an Apple 1 keyboard I built an encoder board to replace the Apple II encoder board then I built a Cherry Keyboard that used my adapter board. The keyboard is close to what you are talking about in that it matches the Apple II Keyboard Outline and the connector is compatible, even the mounting holes. You can plug an Apple II encoder board into the keyboard and it will work except there is no Right Arrow key. The connector on the original Apple II 2 piece keyboard was a Molex part that was the same kind of part that caused all the reliability grief on the very early Apple ///'s as it is a single wipe connector. A better connector is the Samtec SSM-125-S-SV that is dual wipe and compatible with the encoder board.

I will send you some pictures and can send you a keyboard if that would help.

Wendell

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Joined: Jun 18 2015
Posts: 135
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

I was curious, does the Apple II key caps fit on the Cherry Keyboard? The Cherry MX key switches almost look similar.

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Posts: 80
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

The Apple II and Cherry switch keycaps do not fit on each other. Keycaps that fit each are available but I have not seen any that match the Apple II keycap shape well enough to mix them on the same keyboard. Datanetics and later The Keyboard Company made their own keycaps so there was no tooling made by outside vendors at the time. Color matching should be possible as the Keycap Vendors generally do custom colors.

Wendell

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Joined: Jun 18 2015
Posts: 135
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Could some key-stem adapter be made so they would be compatible?

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Joined: Jun 5 2008
Posts: 380
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Update,

After sharing some keyboard ideas with one of the engineers at Paul Allen's Living History Museum, I'm considering going back to the single board solution that I was working on in 2014. This will be very close to an original Datanetics, rev D., except with Cherry key switches and an AVR for an encoder. It still should be usable as an Apple II keyboard replacement, through omitting the extra keys. I figure it will be just as easy to reprogram the AVR for unique applications, as add a special encoder card, plus will be less expensive and the look of a single card implementation will be superior.

This project is going to take some time to work through the design and implementation, but it will happen. Except for making some SCELBI front panels, that I owe a few people, it is tops on my retro priority list.

regards,
Mike Willegal

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Joined: Jan 17 2005
Posts: 53
Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

Mike WIllegal wrote:

Update,

After sharing some keyboard ideas with one of the engineers at Paul Allen's Living History Museum, I'm considering going back to the single board solution that I was working on in 2014. This will be very close to an original Datanetics, rev D., except with Cherry key switches and an AVR for an encoder. It still should be usable as an Apple II keyboard replacement, through omitting the extra keys. I figure it will be just as easy to reprogram the AVR for unique applications, as add a special encoder card, plus will be less expensive and the look of a single card implementation will be superior.

This project is going to take some time to work through the design and implementation, but it will happen. Except for making some SCELBI front panels, that I owe a few people, it is tops on my retro priority list.

regards,
Mike Willegal

Hello there. Any updates on this? I would love to build one. Smile

Thanks.