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Sound dampening for 99/4A keys?


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#1 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 4, 2018 12:37 PM

Has anyone ever tried installing dampeners on a TI-99/4A's keys?

 

I recently read a posting on How-To Geek re: quieting mechanical keyboards and thought it might be fun to try a keyboard-quieting project.  But needless to say, the TI's key stems aren't the common "plus shaped" Cherry MX type.  So I suspect any ordinary o-ring dampeners wouldn't work well.

 

Any thoughts or suggestions? 



#2 save2600 ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 4, 2018 5:43 PM

Earplugs? :grin:

#3 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 4, 2018 6:06 PM

Expanding foam and a razor blade?

#4 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 9:17 AM

As a kid, I had 2 TI consoles:  one with black keys and one with grey keys.  I still have the one with grey keys. 

 

As I recall, the console with the black keys was quieter and had a softer feel.  I'm actually more interested that getting back to that softer feel than I am in noise reduction.  (Noise reduction is a fringe benefit; it would be less bothersome to my partner when I'm up in the wee hours tinkering.)  I'm thinking some o-rings could work if properly sized and placed. 

 

Not really a big deal, and I do like the nostalgic sound.  The How-To Geek article just set me thinking about some fun tweaks.

 

I'll do a bit more digging and will post again if I find anything useful.



#5 Opry99er ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 10:36 AM

I can't help you, unfortunately, but in contrast--i actually hook up a Sennheiser condensor microphone directly above my keyboard and run the signal through an 800 watt,dual amp PA system and blast it through the house... I love that sound, and I think everyone who lives here should too. ;)

#6 digdugnate OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 1:29 PM

i actually like the sound of the TI kb :)  i have a 'Das Keyboard' mechanical in my office and i love it.



#7 80s_Atari_Guy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 1:56 PM

I love mechanical keyboards.

My PC RGB keyboard has MX Blue Switches, they sound amazing.

I also have a old Dell AT101W with ALPS switches. I love this thing so much, it's in my Will.  :-D  I don't use it because it was new old stock and I want to keep it pristine, but I often just get the keyboard out just to stroke it. My family think I'm weird.

 

My all-time fave would be the Cherry G80-3000 HFMGB. This thing should come with a 18+ rating, for keyboard lovers. If I hooked this thing upto Opry99er's Sennheiser condensor microphone, any mechanical keyboard lover in range of the amp would need a box of tissues.  ;)

 

For retro machines you can't beat a BBC Micro/Master, gorgeous keyboard. The TI, also sounds amazing. The Oric Atmos, also not bad for such a small computer.



#8 mizapf OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 2:09 PM

In my office, and at home: Cherry G80-3000. In the office, when hardware is scheduled to be renewed, I explicitly order a Cherry keyboard.

 

I was pretty surprised to learn (after ordering) that Cherry's headquarters are located in Auerbach in der Oberpfalz, just 45 km from here, where I am currently typing.



#9 arcadeshopper OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 3:49 PM

I can't help you, unfortunately, but in contrast--i actually hook up a Sennheiser condensor microphone directly above my keyboard and run the signal through an 800 watt,dual amp PA system and blast it through the house... I love that sound, and I think everyone who lives here should too. icon_wink.gif

 

and the neighbors



#10 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 6:10 PM

I can't help you, unfortunately, but in contrast--i actually hook up a Sennheiser condensor microphone directly above my keyboard and run the signal through an 800 watt,dual amp PA system and blast it through the house... I love that sound, and I think everyone who lives here should too. ;)

 

I love it!  :thumbsup: A ringing endorsement if I ever heard one.  (Pun intended.)
 
 



#11 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 6:22 PM

I knew mechanical keyboards were still popular, and it's interesting to hear the various impressions of models old and new.

 

I actually prefer mechanical keyboards, too.  I'm using one now with my Mac, in fact, and I love it.  But I admit I favor mechanicals that have a softer, squishier feel and a more subtle "clack". 

 

So noise aside, I'm curious to hear opinions:  how "squishy" do you like your mechanical keys to be?



#12 Opry99er ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 5, 2018 11:29 PM

My original Mac Plus has a very loud and responsive keyboard... Not only does it "clack," but is has almost a metallic ringing after each keystroke.  It is currently my favorite keyboard to type on.

 

The keyboard I'm using now on my PC is a Fellowes Microban split keyboard with another nice clacky feel to it.  Still, my Mac Plus and my TI are my favorites, followed closely by my TRS-80 Model 3.



#13 Ksarul OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 6, 2018 8:22 PM

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed hears me typing on one of my mechanical keyboards and demands to know: "Who are you typing so hard to?" Then she'll come over to look for my non-existent girlfriend and be disappointed that I'm typing a message here on AtariAge. Of course, she doesn't notice the sounds at all when she is using the same keyboard. It just feels so nice to use!



#14 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 7, 2018 1:10 PM

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed hears me typing on one of my mechanical keyboards and demands to know: "Who are you typing so hard to?" Then she'll come over to look for my non-existent girlfriend and be disappointed that I'm typing a message here on AtariAge. Of course, she doesn't notice the sounds at all when she is using the same keyboard. It just feels so nice to use!

 

Fortunately, my partner also uses a mechanical keyboard, an old Microsoft ergo unit.  So, during the day at least, he doesn't even take notice when I'm typing away on this mini Adesso.  (At night, on the other hand, I think he'd just prefer I just go sleep at a reasonable hour.)



#15 OLD CS1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 8, 2018 1:19 PM

She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed hears me typing on one of my mechanical keyboards and demands to know: "Who are you typing so hard to?" Then she'll come over to look for my non-existent girlfriend and be disappointed that I'm typing a message here on AtariAge. Of course, she doesn't notice the sounds at all when she is using the same keyboard. It just feels so nice to use!

 

If she is anything like mine, she is just hoping you will find another poor soul to drop you off with to free her from her karma of whatever horrible thing she did in her past life to get stuck with me. :D



#16 etownandy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 12:06 PM

I dunno if this would work, but Tandy 100 owners used to use orthodontic rubber bands to quiet their keyboards.



#17 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 9:54 PM

I dunno if this would work, but Tandy 100 owners used to use orthodontic rubber bands to quiet their keyboards.

 

That's a clever idea.  Akin to the o-rings though, which are basically just heavier, rounded-edged rubber bands.  Still, either small rubber bands or o-rings could work if they're the proper size.  I may eventually experiment with those.  (The only reason I haven't already tried is that it seems hard to find just a few; usually, you have buy them in packs of dozens or hundreds.)

 

At the moment, I'm preparing to test 2mm-thick craft foam.  (I picked up a 12"x18" sheet today at a Michaels Store for 99 cents.)  I'll be cutting a couple of pieces to size, fitting those to the base of a few keys, and then testing.



#18 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 2, 2019 12:02 AM

So I did finally test the 2mm-thick craft foam.  It was just the right amount of dampening, giving the keys a slightly softer feel and sound while still maintaining the unmistakable mechanical quality.

 

The process was easy but took a bit of time since I had to cut each foam square twice, once for the square piece itself and one inner square hole.  I was able to use a paper cutter for the big pieces, but the inner square holes required a utility knife.  Then it was simple enough to slip the square foam piece over each key post.

 

For everyone that loves the hard feel and sharp noise of the mechanical keyboard, have no fear:  if I don't have the office door closed, it's still loud enough for my partner hear late at night.  :)

 

 



#19 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 2, 2019 12:32 AM

After so long I'm glad to see this project wrapped up.  I'm wondering though if one could order a couple of cheap Chinese punches in the proper size to do the job if they didn't want to mess around with an X-Acto knife.

 

<< LIKE THESE >>

 

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#20 jmazzy OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 2, 2019 1:46 PM

After so long I'm glad to see this project wrapped up.  I'm wondering though if one could order a couple of cheap Chinese punches in the proper size to do the job if they didn't want to mess around with an X-Acto knife.

 

Cutting each of the square pieces wasn't too bad - the paper cutter made those cuts reasonably quick.  I think the time-consuming part was cutting those inner square holes with the utility knife.



#21 twoodland OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2019 9:45 AM

Could you imagine a replacement TI Keyboard circuit board that let you choose the keyboard switch of preference (https://mechanicalke...s.com/switches/)?  That would be awesome!  Add backlit led keycaps and it would be EPIC!  Any 99er mechanical keyboard engineers out there? 



#22 AwkwardPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2019 12:49 PM

I've built & hand-wired my own mechanical keyboard for my PC. One thing that has to be kept in mind is that the switches used in the TI's stock keyboard are much taller than any switch currently available today, so unless a workaround was devised, all of the keys would appear to have "sunk" into the case. Furthermore, you'd need new keycaps, which in my opinion at least would spoil the look of the TI. 



#23 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2019 1:03 PM

Add backlit led keycaps and it would be EPIC! 

 

I could go for that, as long as they are not the chicklet variety.  My concerns would be the cost of a limited run with all the labor involved and of course the power requirement for all those individual LED's.  Of course it might be possible to design it with a couple of LED's and a plastic light guide like in automotive dashboards.

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#24 AwkwardPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2019 1:28 PM

 

My concerns would be the cost of a limited run with all the labor involved

 

If you'd prefer backlit keycaps that look similar to those that come with the stock TI keyboard, chances are you could start a group buy on one of the more popular keyboard enthusiast forums to drive the cost down a bit. Otherwise, modern backlit keycaps can be found for a semi-reasonable price, although they'll probably look fairly out of place on the TI.



#25 AwkwardPotato OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 3, 2019 1:36 PM

Given that this is a thread dedicated to quieting down the TI's keyboard, I'll also note that swapping in a new switch type wouldn't help much with the noise situation. Not only are modern MX switches just as loud as the stock ones found in TI keyboards, but they also sound much more high-pitched.


Edited by AwkwardPotato, Thu Jan 3, 2019 1:37 PM.





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