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600/800XL Keyboard variants

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5 hours ago, mimo said:

Try my Atari on eBay (used to be B+C computer vision) http://www.ebaystores.co.uk/Atari-Sales-and-Service/Atari-Portfolio-/_i.html?_fsub=8&

 

They don't list everything they have in stock

Myatari doesn't have any keyboards listed on eBay at the moment. The last one from them that I saw was a Stackpole style a few weeks ago which was listed as "last one".  I had actually decided to buy it last week but when I went to look for it again, it was already gone.  :(

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On 12/11/2020 at 6:10 PM, SS said:

Myatari doesn't have any keyboards listed on eBay at the moment. The last one from them that I saw was a Stackpole style a few weeks ago which was listed as "last one".  I had actually decided to buy it last week but when I went to look for it again, it was already gone.  :(

Best Electronics has keyboards, they have the mylar version and the mechanical version. Mechanical is more expensive. You need to call Best, they are very slow about responding to emails. I get the feeling they are way understaffed.

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@hueyjones70 - Yeah but those Best keyboards are on the pricey side.  I just bought an entire 800XL with a mechanical keyboard for only $20 more than Best wants for the keyboard alone.  A much better deal because I can put a number of the other parts to immediate good use.  

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Those opportunities are rare, I have only had one in the past two months and if you have a computer that you can't use you might not want to wait for an indeterminate amount of time while you hope to find that "GOOD DEAL".

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Hi sugarland I've already stripped the 800xl down and cleaned etc... I've uploaded pics of the top and underneath of the keyboard I've taken the keys off to clean. I can't see a way to replace a new mylar and a picture shows printed AWC P/N 100001 REV.04 Made in H.K

 

 

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That is a mechanical switch keyboard, there is no mylar. Each key has contacts inside the switch that are activated by depressing the plunger.

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I know it is possible to replace a ribbon cable but I don't know if replacements exist anywhere. You should just get a new keyboard from Best. There new improved mylar type keyboards are supposed to be very good and long lasting. Sell replacement keycaps on eBay. You can probably sell them for $5 each. You could also sell the key switches on eBay. It might take a while to recoup your cost but it is possible.

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2 hours ago, hueyjones70 said:

I know it is possible to replace a ribbon cable but I don't know if replacements exist anywhere. You should just get a new keyboard from Best. There new improved mylar type keyboards are supposed to be very good and long lasting. Sell replacement keycaps on eBay. You can probably sell them for $5 each. You could also sell the key switches on eBay. It might take a while to recoup your cost but it is possible.

The following is about an alternative to the original ribbon cable.

 

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On 12/14/2020 at 8:52 PM, Back2skooldaze said:

 

Hi sugarland I've already stripped the 800xl down and cleaned etc... I've uploaded pics of the top and underneath of the keyboard I've taken the keys off to clean. I can't see a way to replace a new mylar and a picture shows printed AWC P/N 100001 REV.04 Made in H.

 

I recommend you get the ribbon fixed/repaired with a custom cable to the motherboard. I believe @flashjazzcat can do this. He is in the UK though. That's a good keyboard revision you have with that one.

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Always loved following this thread. Now I have a question. :)  I Finally got an 800Xl with a type 1 keyboard. I must say that the feel of it is my absolute favorite. I only used type 4 and type 2 before. But there is always a catch isn't there? While I love the keyboard itself, I don't like the function keys. They are looser than the other ones, don't have as much give and worst of all seem to sink in below the case which looks kind of ugly. Does anyone know if there is a fix for that. Do I just have a bad copy? The 800XL itself looks like new and possibly unused. Even the power supply and RF cable have never been unwound.

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Hi just had my 800xl keyboard repaired by jazzcat and its FANTASTIC!!!! Jon has brought my atari 800xl back to life. Not only was the keyboard ribbon in a bad way but he found a dry joint that prevented a few keys not working plus the option keys came away from the keyboard so that's been repaired too plus I asked if Jon could do something to clear the video up. Which he has and its much clearer better colours. 

I shall be turning to jazzcat for all my retro repairs!! Glad to know him 👍his work is 100%

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2 hours ago, gobo said:

While I love the keyboard itself, I don't like the function keys. They are looser than the other ones, don't have as much give and worst of all seem to sink in below the case which looks kind of ugly

This sounds like a decent description of my own Alps (Type 1) keyboard.  The function keys on the AWC (Type 2) keyboards have a much tighter feel to them and the keys are still great feeling to use.  Because of this, AWC (Type 2) are my favorite XL keyboards to use.  

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7 hours ago, gobo said:

Always loved following this thread. Now I have a question. :)  I Finally got an 800Xl with a type 1 keyboard. I must say that the feel of it is my absolute favorite. I only used type 4 and type 2 before. But there is always a catch isn't there? While I love the keyboard itself, I don't like the function keys. They are looser than the other ones, don't have as much give and worst of all seem to sink in below the case which looks kind of ugly. Does anyone know if there is a fix for that. Do I just have a bad copy? The 800XL itself looks like new and possibly unused. Even the power supply and RF cable have never been unwound.

 

To mirror yours and SS' sentiments, yes the function keys are loose and tend to sink below the surrounding case, some computers more than others. Also after a lot of use the function keys will not sit as straight.  Nevertheless IMO it is the best keyboard for the 600XL/800XL machines. They are very fast and have an excellent response while having a satisfying and distinct sound.  There is no faster keyboard for the A8's. It may be possible to put new switches or move type 2 switches to the function keys?? Maybe RESET uses a spring for resistance that can be duplicated on the other function keys?

 

Congrats on your 'new' type 1 800XL!  Was very lucky that ours was a type 1 back in the day.

 

Edited by Sugarland

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Thanks Sugarland! :)  I think I'll try it. All the years ago growing up I had a Type 4 and thought it was great. It felt so solid. I have an 600XL with one now but can see that it has problems with the shift keys etc. The Type 1 feels so different. It's amazing how different the 800XL keyboards felt for the same computer model. We all had them and had totally different experiences! I have  an extra Type 4 with problems. I'll post a pic of my Type 1 with Type 4 function keys after I switch them out if its possible to do.

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On 2/10/2021 at 11:09 AM, gobo said:

Thanks Sugarland! :)  I think I'll try it. All the years ago growing up I had a Type 4 and thought it was great. It felt so solid. I have an 600XL with one now but can see that it has problems with the shift keys etc. The Type 1 feels so different. It's amazing how different the 800XL keyboards felt for the same computer model. We all had them and had totally different experiences! I have  an extra Type 4 with problems. I'll post a pic of my Type 1 with Type 4 function keys after I switch them out if its possible to do.

 

You won't be able to switch the type 4 to type 1 but maybe type 2 to type 1. I would suggest you first try some key springs on the function keys.

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Everyone here is probably aware of this project already but this guy has made a completely new mechanical keyboard for the XL, including boards and keycaps. Very impressive work. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiD4YqbtebuAhULUxUIHZf5AykQFjARegQICBAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Fi%2Fmoments%2F1267489185411129344%3Flang%3Den&usg=AOvVaw3Pt9yY-ZEji_HBNJdNBz2d

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I just dont get it. Commodore folks have been backing two campains for just keycaps, collected tons of money and still have nothing. And here a sole guy makes completely new replacement keyboard just like that.

Edited by archeocomp
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13 hours ago, archeocomp said:

I just dont get it. Commodore folks have been backing two campains for just keycaps, collected tons of money and still have nothing. And here a sole guy makes completely new replacement keyboard just like that.

I can't imagine it was cheap, but yes it just goes to show what one person can do. Fantastic job. I wonder if he'd be willing to share plans etc with the community?

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I've spoken to the designer. Everything is released on a permissive license on his GitHub here: https://github.com/swetland/atari800xl-keyboard

That's PCBs, ribbon cables, key caps etc. It's not perfect for to spacing and he recommends designing a new metal back plate but even in this state, it's amazingly impressive.

Due to minimum order quantities it wasn't cheap. He estimates about 350 freedom bucks.

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$350 was what it cost me end to end -- two orders of 5 PCBs from JLCPCB ($30 ea w/shipping), a custom flex order (5 pcs) from Elecrow ($125), custom keycaps from WASDKeyboards ($67 w/ shipping), 61 keyswitches, some flex connectors, spacers, etc.  I re-used the metal backplate from another keyboard.  Worth it for a learning project and getting one functional custom keyboard out the other end.

 

To do it "for real", you'd want to design a custom back plate, revise the PCB so the fit is better, and if your goal is to make an exactly layout replica, you'll need to order much more custom keycaps because the meta keys, etc on an actual 800XL keyboard are not "standard" (relative to modern PC keyboards) widths.  I redesigned things a little bit so I could make it work with the regular assortment of keycaps you get from a custom printed set for an 87 key keyboard.  Otherwise the cost of a one-off order of extremely custom keycaps would have been extremely spendy.

 

I'd guess for a medium order (100s?) costs would be about $15/keyboard for PCB + flex, the keyswitches hit $0.66/ea at qty 1000 (so about $40), so it's a matter of how large an order do you need for a full set of custom keycaps for the per-unit cost to not be excessive.  I'm not sure what the backplates would run, but it's basically a metal rectangle with a couple holes, a couple cut-outs, and a few bends -- I suspect that's not a horribly expensive thing to have manufactured...

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I would love an Atari key to replace inverse key (like Atari 800).

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I have several 8-bit floating around at the moment. My original 800XL from college that replaced my broken 800, that sadly went out in the trash decades ago. I wish that weren't the case, but that stupidity of youth and all that. My original 800XL bit the bullet last year and I've been trying to troubleshoot it without a lot of luck. Last fall I bought a couple of nasty looking 8-bits, another 800XL and a 600XL for a couple of reasons. One, I thought they'd be fun restoration projects. Two, I thought that, at least the 800XL, would be a good comparison machine to have on the bench while I troubleshoot my original, to compare voltage levels, waveforms, etc. Anyway, both of these have Type 4 mylar keyboards. After reading through this thread, I started pining away for one of those 8-bits with a really nice mechanical keyboard. So, here's the funny part. Today I was tinkering out at my work bench and going through my parts when I pulled out the keyboard for my original 800XL and realized that it has a Type 1 Alps keyboard! I've had one all along and didn't even realize it! I really need to get that machine going again.

 

Now, for a question about my Type 1 Alps keyboard. On the back, lower right of the PCB, it says 600XLKB. This definitely came from an original from the box, never modified 800XL, not a 600XL. Is this common? Do they all say that?

 

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