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  1. A little history first... In 1990 I created the TransKey Board, an IBM keyboard to Atari interface via POKEY/GTIA connection. Having never used an actual IBM PC, I made some presumptions about how things like Num Lock and Caps Lock were integrated in the PC environment. Well as it turns out, I got a few things wrong in my interpretation. In order to get the interpretation better, the original Transkey went through several firmware iterations finally ending at Version 2.4. Getting ever closer to how things worked on a PC, but not quite all the way there. And then life stepped in, and unfortunately I had to get a 'real' job, and time for Transkey was no more. It was at this point that Chuck Steinman of Dataque proposed that I sell him the rights to TransKey, and thus let him take over the reins of manufacturing and marketing of this product. I agreed and the rest of what happened is probably well known to all of you. So here it is 2015 (25 years later), and although alternative products have been created (AKI and KRH) to do what TransKey was about, they along with the original TransKey are now difficult to find, and/or manufactured only when enough pre-orders have materialized (if ever). And I'm not saying that I will necessarily change that situation, but I figure having another variation of this product in the public domain certainly shouldn't hurt, and might possibly even help by reinvigorating the community around this product. Anyway with that said, it is my intention to create yet another keyboard interface board for your beloved Atari's. And then to share all the manufacturing data required in order to produce it. This will be a simple hardware design, utilizing only 1 integrated circuit, no crystal (internal oscillator) or external EEPROM (internal also), and no diodes. Could be easily bread boarded, although I will upload the PCB file(s) for a more professional version. So what will it be ? This go around I've decided to make it act more like an IBM keyboard was meant to be, while still providing all the key combinations that Atari 8 programs expect to be there. So this means that if I am in Caps Lock, when I press SHIFT and another alpha key, I should get the lower-case equivalent of that key. Letting go of SHIFT will once again render upper-case characters. And of course when not in Caps Lock, the opposite of this will be true. Num Lock mode will render 'numbers' when pressing a key in the Num Pad, and while still in Num Lock, pressing SHIFT will cause the keys to switch to their navigation equivalents. Of course when not in Num Lock mode the opposite of this will be true. Meanwhile the navigation section of the keyboard will be unaffected by Num Lock, and yield navigation actions only. Of course all the CONTROL, SHIFT, and CONTROL+SHIFT combinations will be represented, along with some CONTROL+SHIFT ones that never were before. And now for something really cool. If you've ever used a PC to edit text, then you can probably appreciate the fact that as you enter new text it automatically inserts space, pushing the existing text to the right. And vice versa, when you backspace in the middle of a line of text, the text to the right of where you are backspacing is pulled left automatically filling in the space left by the deleted character. Well although the Atari 8 doesn't inherently support this method of editing, the new TransKey-II design will. And there is more... There will be 4 supported macro keys, each able to store up to 63 keys in a non-volatile internal EEPROM. And if all goes well, there will also be mouse support, mimicking the actions of the Control-Arrow keys. Link to Document Listing all Special Keys Finally since all of what has been described is done strictly through the hardware interface with POKEY (and Start, Select, Option thru GTIA), there is no need or requirement to have any software drivers. Two models planned Transkey-II will be an internal version similar to what has been done in the past, having a POKEY piggy-back socket to acquire the necessary signals. TransKey-II-XEGS will be external, plugging into the provided keyboard port on the XE Game System. Both models will support PS/2 keyboards and mice. Project Status Keyboard code 99% completed. Mouse support is next, looking at approximately 3-4 weeks to write the code, integrate it with the keyboard code, and fully debug. PCB layout to follow successful mouse implementation. Stay tuned for more info... ---- Michael
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