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Beetle

600/800XL Keyboard variants

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Hi

 

Often i hear about the cheap and bad XL keyboards, and many people say the XL keyboards

were almost as good as the 1200XL keyboard (which is built completely different to the

600/800XL keyboards).

 

How can this opinions differ so hard? Well, there are many different keyboards out there!

When i write about XL keyboards from now on, i relate only to 600/800XL

ones, not to 1200XL's. The additional wiring on my keyboards are conversions to german

layout (QWERTZ).

 

I own 4 different XL keyboards, and did own a 5th type (i am not sad i gave it away :) ).

In this thread i will write some words to every keyboard and give it a simple name.

 

 

 

Here is my favorite XL keyboard lets call it "type 1", manufactured by Alps.

Notice the narrow "O" and that the "CONTROL" label is fully inverse.

post-8944-1176212341_thumb.jpgpost-8944-1176212354_thumb.jpg

post-8944-1176212384_thumb.jpg

It is slightly stepped; space bar, shift, control, tab and return key have a "hook" for easy typing.

The key tracers are easy and precise to press, with very similar pressure needed compared

to 1200XL keyboard. Each switch is soldered with 4 solder joints to the PCB. The tracers are

shorter than in other keyboards, so it mounts a bit flatter in your XL.

 

----------------------------------------

 

Now i show you a Keyboard of "Type 2", made by AWC (number 70166201). It has similar keycaps as Type 1

but the "CONTROL" label is outlined here.

post-8944-1176213089_thumb.jpgpost-8944-1176213100_thumb.jpg

post-8944-1176213137_thumb.jpg

This one has hooks only for space bar and left shift key, but the keys don't block because

the tracers give good guidance to the keycaps. Keys are soldered with 2 solderjoints to PCB.

IMO the second best XL keyboard you can get. The springs under the keys are a tad stiffer than the type 1,

which will make this keyboard #1 choice for many Atarians.

 

----------------------------------------

 

OK, here comes "type 3". This one has single tracers soldered with 2 joints to a PCB and

its made by AWC, too (70166205). The "O" is less narrow, the labels are printed wide and more bold,

compared to the Type 2 AWC board. Outlined "CONTROL" label as well. The keycaps look quite different

here: smaller top area and more stepped than the first two keyboards.

post-8944-1176213838_thumb.jpgpost-8944-1176213849_thumb.jpg

post-8944-1176213860_thumb.jpg

It has the same hooks as the Type 2 keybaord, but the tracers are of lesser quality and sometimes block,

if you press the wide keys not in the center area. Well, i used this keyboard for years, and if you keep it clean

it will last very long. It still gives you a solid keyboard (but the upper ones are clearly better).

 

----------------------------------------

 

Time for presenting Keyboard "Type 4". It can polarize, some love it, some hate it. On the one hand,

it is very heavy quality, the heaviest keyboard of all, due to a 1mm thick metal plate, covering the whole

keyboard underneath. This keyboard is not stepped at all, which some people prefer, some don`t. The

shape of the keycaps are somewhat close to those of the 1200XL, but they have a rough surface.

post-8944-1176214847_thumb.jpgpost-8944-1176214862_thumb.jpg

post-8944-1176214874_thumb.jpg

The drawback of this keyboard are the shift keys with no hooks at all (they block easy and often)

and the circuitry, which is not a PCB but a mylar foil with vapour-deposited traces. They are prone to

oxidation and in consequence fail. I know of no reliable method to fix such a foil (besides replacing).

Some like it, some hate it. Easy to see, mine is dead, too. I kept it to slay burglars...

 

----------------------------------------

 

Last, but not least, the 5th XL keyboard i know of. It has big, almost sharp edged

keykaps, with remarkably big labeling. Although there is a PCB for the curcitry, there are no single

tracers. The keys press conductive rubber pads onto the PCB. This keyboard was manufactured by

Mitsumi.

post-8944-1176230515_thumb.jpgpost-8944-1176230569_thumb.jpg

post-8944-1176230593_thumb.jpg

This keyboard is stepped but gives by far the cheapest quality feedback. The keys are loosely guided

and rattle while typing. This keyboard is the main reason for the prejudice "XL keyboards are bad and cheap".

Nevertheless, i never saw one of that keyboards broken, and all the wide keys have hooks so blocked

keys is not a problem here. Just give the PCB and rubber stamps a cleaning if needed. Most people

will even prefer the XE keyboards over type 5 XL keyboards.

Thanks to miker for making this pictures!

 

 

 

I hope this comparison is of use to someone here. If you have a keyboard other than those mentioned

here, please send me pictures in at least 1024x768 and the same angles as the pics above. I will

add them to my post with credits to you, so this first post stays up to date.

 

Greetings,

Beetle

 

Edit: thanks to JellE for helping me with my poor english :)

Edited by Beetle
  • Like 6

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Good stuff...

 

Do you know who manufactured each of the different types? Are they all by Mitsumi, or are they 5 different makers, or do they even have manufacturers labels?

 

Probably everyone already knows this, but 800 keyboards come in at least 2 different varieties, too. Next time I have my 800 apart, if I can find my camera, I'll post pictures...

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Well, i did write all info i had above :)

Type 1 - Alps

Type 2 +3 - AWC

Type 4 - no idea, but label is readable (any hints?)

Type 5 - Mitsumi

 

but will add any fact i get into first posting.

Edited by Beetle

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Type 4 here - don't like it much but still way better than the ones on my XEs.

 

When I had the 600XL, it had the quality stepped type. Great kb although keystrokes were short and a bit noisy from memory.

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I have probably seen a dozen or so type 4, and only one type 1 (aka 600xl) and maybe one or so of the others. The Type4 ones I have lasted forever and are rock solid. No warping bending. etc.. All the non-Type 4's I have always sink into the case (which is why some seem to have large rubber supports under them to press against the shield) or the switches themselves would start to break at their solder joints.

 

Perhaps its the env we keep them in?

Edited by kheller2

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Great info Beetle, glad to see the differences explained in detail. I remember noticing the different keyboards on xl's back in the eighties, I wondered back then why the xl's sometimes looked slightly different.. I guess i was used to seeing mass produced non variant home computers in the other platforms .. I must say, apart from the xl's i'm repairing now (which were badly treated) i've not seen an xl with a bad keyboard before.

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This is an excellent and helpful thread. Thanks Beetle. :)

 

I just got my first 800XL after wanting one for 23 years (my friend had one in 1984). When I got it, I was surprised that the keys had a rough surface because I didn't remember them being that rough. Now I know it's a "type 4" and my friend's 800XL must have had a different keyboard.

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Although the feedback on the XE KB's wasn't very good, at least there was very little chance of anything going wrong with the KB (that's if you replaced the KB resistor that come's as standard with the XE with the correct value one, either that or replace the XE kb MEMBRANE after 12 months use or the contacts will corrode or oxidise

 

I didn't like the XL kb's because they could easily get cracked at the back after prolonged use, I know, it happened to me and at the time when the likes of silica and other shops where asking 50 GBP for a replacement XL KB, luckily i spotted a cheap 800xl going at the PC/PCW show for about 20/30 pound (KB was OK)

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Although the feedback on the XE KB's wasn't very good, at least there was very little chance of anything going wrong with the KB (that's if you replaced the KB resistor that come's as standard with the XE with the correct value one, either that or replace the XE kb MEMBRANE after 12 months use or the contacts will corrode or oxidise

 

I remember having to fix my first XE keyboard which I bought new when they came out. After using it for about 6 months, I remember having to replace 6 or 7 or 8 resistors (seems like they might have been pull-ups or downs?? can't remember) to keep it from missing keystrokes.

 

Does anyone else remember this problem? Does anyone else remember this modification or fix??

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It would be interesting to know the dates when each of these keyboards was released. Usually, the first release of anything is the best quality, the second is similar quality but bugs or potential problems are fixed, then each successive release is a cost cutting measure to the final "ultra-crap because we don't give a shit anymore".

 

I just got an 800XL with a "type 1" keyboard from B&C. I thought "type 1" would be an early version - being considered "the best" - but it looks like a later one judging by the cheaper, thinner plastic. It is a good XL keyboard, but the keys look and feel a bit cheap. I bet it was released after the "type 4". The "type 2" must be the first one made - based on the pictures of the 800XL before it was released.

 

I'd like to see a listing of the different 800XL case and motherboard revisions. The B&C 800XL I just got has a horrible cheap-looking case. The plastic quality is much cheaper than my other two 800XLs and the motherboard and RF shield are different.

 

 

(This useful thread should be made a "sticky" or something. It was damn hard to find again.)

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Wow. Excellent thread, thanks for bumping it. I was totally unaware that there were these variations, I just assumed type-4 was it. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for a parts XL with a different keyboard since my type-4 has been a constant pain in the butt.

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Wow. Excellent thread, thanks for bumping it. I was totally unaware that there were these variations, I just assumed type-4 was it. I'm going to have to keep my eyes open for a parts XL with a different keyboard since my type-4 has been a constant pain in the butt.

 

Yes. I prefer the type 4 Because They are so heavy duty (I'm hard on keyboards).

 

The oxidized Mylar can be resurrected most of the time by cleaning it with a product called "Goo Gone" (Usually available at your local Dollar store). I have used it to bring several of them back. I just get an old T-Shirt and soak a small part of it with the goo gone. rub it on the oxidized Mylar and leave it for about 5 minutes. then I use a green dish scrubber, put some goo gone on it and scrub the Mylar with it (not too hard just a moderate amount of pressure). this usually takes the oxidation off and Voila! It works. =)

 

By The Way: The Manufacturers name on the Label on my type 4 says SCCO.

Edited by kjmann

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I remember having to fix my first XE keyboard which I bought new when they came out. After using it for about 6 months, I remember having to replace 6 or 7 or 8 resistors (seems like they might have been pull-ups or downs?? can't remember) to keep it from missing keystrokes.

 

Does anyone else remember this problem? Does anyone else remember this modification or fix??

I'd like to know about this modification, too. One of my XEs has a brand new keyboard, while the other has one which I had to painstakingly fix using conductive paint on the broken/oxidized traces. Both work now, and I'd like to keep them that way.

 

This is a very interesting thread...

Edited by flashjazzcat
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It seems there are also variations among the different "types". I've got two "type 4" keyboards - both revision 3A. The one in my main 800XL (revision 1A motherboard) has an annoying blocking problem on the large shift key. The other one - in an (unfortunately dead) 800XL with a Revision 2A motherboard - doesn't have that problem and the keys are a slightly darker brown. (so I swapped the keyboards so my good 800XL has the good keyboard)

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Mega-bump. Been chatting about XL keyboards and was referred to this thread. I've got (actually fitted, since I had plenty to choose from) type 4 keyboard in my two "best" XLs, since I like the rigidity of the board, the heavy feel, and the looks. I was alarmed to read about the oxidisation issue, though, as well as the shift key sticking. I haven't experienced either of those issues yet, although both keyboards are in excellent condition and have received little use. It was a toss-up between type 4 and type 3 for me: unfortunately at least on of my type 1 keyboards was sacrificed for a 1064 conversion.

Edited by flashjazzcat

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My favorite used to be Type 1, but I've had keys go flaky on a couple of them (probably oxidation) so now I put Type 2's in my main machines.

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The switches have a habit of failing on both, I found, but they're easily replaced if you have a spare. I must admit I prefer that to having to replace a whole sheet of traces or faff about with a conductive pen.

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Thanks for such nice summary!

 

This progression is exactly what I was looking for, since I just finished restoring/upgrading my only 800XL, originally bought in 1984, for which I still have an intact purchase receipt/invoice... :cool:

 

My 800xl is also fully socketed... (I believe that even resistors and capacitors are also socketed on this thing! :) ) I don't recall seeing so many sockets, except on my "Jay Miner" 800.

 

My keyboard is Type 1, without a doubt.

Edited by Faicuai

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