ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

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ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Re: ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

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

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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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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

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

Thanks.

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Mike WIllegal wrote: Hi All,

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

 

I have been working on a keyboard with exactly these features.  It has Apple 1 and Apple 2 connectors, and it can fit in an Apple II.  It can be populated with more keys for  a layout similar to the ADM-3A, or fitted with a different controller and operate in an OSI computer.   I've put the design files and firmware up on Github, if anyone is interested. 

I still have to add apple II compatible mounting holes and could use suggestions about the keycaps before placing an order.

Dave

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ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/Apple II

Here's a photo of the keyboard (populated for an ADM-3A style layout).  I know that the power light/key is in the wrong spot.  I've already moved it to be flush left with the shift key.

The keyboard can take Cherry keys, or Futaba MD4PCS (George Risk KBM-01-01) keys.  This prototype is using the Futaba keys.

 

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A version that was plug n

A version that was plug n play compatible with a ][ or ][+ would be awesome.  Lots of people would be interested in that.

 

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So far, this one is.  But I

So far, this one is.  But I could use some help in makeing sure the mounting arrangement is correct, and also deciding things like, is are the  "Bell-G" and  "^-N"  caps really necessary.

 

For the power button, my plan is to use a lighted key with a translucent white keycap, but could include an option to anchor in a 3D-printed cap like the later models and solder the LED directly.  Also, it would be good figuring out what features Apple users might want to be configurable.

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ASCII Keyboard for Apple 1/AppleII

I guess this forum doesn't allow editing of typos in our posts. 

 

Anyway, for the Apple II, the rightmost 2 columns of keys (The 8 rigthmost keys on the keyboard) would not be populated, and the left lower key would be populated, probably used as a Caps Lock with a light.

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Also, what keyboard macros

Also, what keyboard macros might be useful?  For example, any programs such as BASIC that might be nice to load with a key sequence (e.g., ctrl-1)?  Also, since there is a serial port on board, it may be possible to load programs as if typed through the serial port.  The current interface puts the serial port two of the ASCII keyboard lines, but with a low enough data rate it should be possible to send keys between bytes.

 

 

 

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dfnr2 wrote:

So far, this one is.  But I could use some help in makeing sure the mounting arrangement is correct, and also deciding things like, is are the  "Bell-G" and  "^-N"  caps really necessary.

 

For the power button, my plan is to use a lighted key with a translucent white keycap, but could include an option to anchor in a 3D-printed cap like the later models and solder the LED directly.  Also, it would be good figuring out what features Apple users might want to be configurable.

 

Do you have a ][ or ][+ to test with?

 

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I do have an Apple II+.  It's

I do have an Apple II+.  It's packed away at the moment, and I've been testing with a Replica 1 and a logic analyzer.

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would love to see this pcb

would love to see this pcb available for other apple 1 owners.

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toddmp wrote:

would love to see this pcb available for other apple 1 owners.

 

The PCB design files and firmware are available on Github:

 

https://github.com/osiweb/unified_retro_keyboard

 

The firmware works, but I'm waiting for the latest rev to put the finishing touches on it, such as DIP-switch configuration to select keymaps, etc.   Also, I am about to place an order for some key sets, which will take about 3 months to manufacture. 

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toddmp wrote:

would love to see this pcb available for other apple 1 owners.

 

The PCB design files and firmware are available on Github:

 

https://github.com/osiweb/unified_retro_keyboard

 

The firmware works great, but I'm waiting for the latest rev to put the finishing touches on it, such as DIP-switch configuration to select keymaps, etc.   Also, I am about to place an order for some key sets, which will take about 3 months to manufacture. 

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Great work on the Keyboard.

I've just put together your Rev.1.3 Keyboard layout and a early version of your Controller PCB using Cherry MX Blue switches. I can finally put back Apple II Plus keyboard back in it's computer case.

I can say I'm very happy with the results and it works great with my Newton 1 computer. The Clear Screen button on the keyboard and Reset "CTRL + BREAK" is a very nice touch. I think I'll be ordering a couple of Keycap sets from you when they become available  so I can build up another using the latest Revison when you have the DIP-switch configuration to selct other key maps. I can see a real use for this as i was hoping to put together an OSI system which means I already have a keyboard.

 

Thanks Dave for a great project

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Another Test

opps

I fogot to say while I was puttting back my Apple II Plus keyboard in its case I connected up the Keyboard using the Apple II connector on the PCB board and as you can see also works great. This would be a great replacement for anyone that has a Apple II  computer and no keyboard. Or just on the test bench.

 

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Looks nice!      

Looks nice!

 

 

 

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