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Atari 400 Aftermarket Replacement Keyboard Thread

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The ultimate Atari 400? Well, that would be 48K, a monitor jack (S-video, etc), and a replacement keyboard! How close to the 800 can we come? Those 3 things!

 

But what about the keyboard? It's never *really* going to equal the 800's great keyboard, but how close can it come? What is (was) the best aftermarket 400 keyboard replacement? They still come up on Ebay from time-to-time. Sometimes it's just the keyboard, and other times it's a 400 with the keyboard installed. However, it seems there were at least 3 aftermarket 400 keyboards on the market, and it would be nice to know what they are.

 

I remember one called the "B-key" (or something like that) but I don't remember which one it was. Please chime in an identify these keyboards!

 

post-16281-0-82251900-1383438804_thumb.jpg

Let's call this keyboard "#1." I sort-of think this was called the "B-key" (brand) keyboard, but I seem to recall it was all brown keys, back when I saw one (25 years ago). I could be wrong. What is the particular brand of this keyboard, #1????

 

 

post-16281-0-35752300-1383438822_thumb.jpg

The local Atari dealer had one of these. He told me what it was called, but I can't remember now. Let's call it #2.

 

 

 

post-16281-0-47022600-1383438831_thumb.jpg

What is this called? Never seen one! Anybody seen one? Let's call it #3.

 

 

If there are any others you know of, please post them here. Also, which is the best, in your opinon?

 

Thanks, and take care.

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I have a 400 with an aftermarket keyboard, I will have to dig it out an see which keyboard It has, I purchased it hoping to do the incognito 400 upgrade.

 

Robert

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When I had mine it had one of pic #1, fitted by local distributor before sale.

 

I didn't particularly think highly of it, IMO the best solution for the 400 probably would have been to do an external one like XEGS has. At least then it could be proper size without the keys overhanging the normal area, plus at least let the computer retain it's original look.

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The first one is most certainly the "B Keyboard" from Inhome Software (Burlington, Ontario, Canada). It came in at least two versions and had replaceable keys so you could choose the single or multi-coloured look. Retail price was $150 (see receipt). if anyone wants a scan of the printed materials, please let me know.

 

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Image 1 shows the complete version 2 package with single colour keys.

 

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Image 2 shows the version 1 package with multi coloured keys along with an extra version 2 keyboard. Note the bag of extra brown key caps.

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Over 20 years ago I acquired a 1200XL keyboard from a surplus shop, removed the encoder chips from it, and connected it via ribbon cable to the pins for the keyboard connector on the bottom of a 400 mainboard. It did take a while to determine the points on the keyboard the ribbon cable needed to connect to.

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I have 2 Atari 400's tested both today and booth seem to work great. One has a version 2(ATTO-SOFT) keyboard, and on the other is a version 1(B-Key). The version two looks odd because it sits so high above where the original keyboards would be, but the both keyboards work perfectly.

 

BONUS: I just took the Atari with the Version Two Keyboard apart and it has, what I think is a 48k upgrade, The bottom of the main board has a small add on, transparent thin PCB and it says Intec Peripherals Corp. Inside plugged into the slot closest to the the keyboard, is another card that says Intec Peripherals Corp, © 1981 MM6448. The board looks very well made.

 

Below are some pics 1&2 are a Version 2 (ATTO-SOFT) Keyboard, 3&4 B-Key Keyboard, 5 is a Atari 400 48k Upgrade from Intec Peripherals Corp.

 

 

20140301_181849.jpg20140301_181953.jpg

20140301_182119.jpg20140301_182109.jpg20140301_181407.jpg

Edited by venom4728a

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I am swapping parts around, I want to have the Intec 48k Upgrade in the 400 with the B-Key Keyboard. And hopefully one day an Incognito will make it complete The Atto-Soft will go back into the basement for now.

 

Robert

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Here are some more Pics.

 

Back side of B key Board.

20140301_182057.jpg

20140301_182045.jpg

Side by Side B-Key Left and Atto-Soft on the Right.

20140301_220157.jpg

Front View B-Key

20140301_220215.jpg

Front View Atto-Soft

20140301_220208.jpg

 

Everything Working Correctly.

20140301_215554.jpg

Edited by venom4728a

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I am swapping parts around, I want to have the Intec 48k Upgrade in the 400 with the B-Key Keyboard. And hopefully one day an Incognito will make it complete The Atto-Soft will go back into the basement for now.

 

Robert

I picked up a 400 off ebay a few years ago with a b-key keyboard. It also had an intec 48k board hidden inside. Was a nice surprise. :)

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Who made this version? I had one of these in 1982. It is raised and had a more classic key layout that was very close to the 800. The raised frame allowed for bigger keys and the ability to place those keys like an 800 (i.e. it had more area to work with) and didn't have to invent some creative key arrangements like the others did. I can't for the life of me remember who made it.

 

As far as ultimate 400's, well I've finally reacquired a 400 with 48K RAM. The RF quality is so good, I just can't bring myself to mess with "good enough". As far as the keyboard, I bought for nostalgia, so it's keeping the OEM membrane keyboard. It is amazing how much smaller the 400's foot print is and how light it is compared to an 800. With 48K, its just as capable, but in such a small package.

post-27335-0-03633000-1393738589_thumb.jpg

Edited by ACML

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I picked up a 400 off ebay a few years ago with a b-key keyboard. It also had an intec 48k board hidden inside. Was a nice surprise. :)

I won this probably over a year ago and it just sat untested in a box on my bench until this past few weekends I have had lots of time to get stuff all flashed up to date and get other things installed. I was pretty happy to find that card in there. Just an hour before that I was on one of the atari vendor websites thinking about buying a 48k upgrade. Then I thought, maybe I should see what is in these first. LOL. I am glad I did...

 

 

Robert

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I won this probably over a year ago and it just sat untested in a box on my bench until this past few weekends I have had lots of time to get stuff all flashed up to date and get other things installed. I was pretty happy to find that card in there. Just an hour before that I was on one of the atari vendor websites thinking about buying a 48k upgrade. Then I thought, maybe I should see what is in these first. LOL. I am glad I did...

 

 

Robert

LOL. That would have been a real pisser to order a 48K board only to find you already had it. I actually sold off my b-key a while back and replaced it with a new membrane keyboard. It's not as easy to use but I prefer the classic look.

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I got a 400 as a Christmas present back in 1980. It came with the Educator package. About four months later my mom surprised me by getting the 400 upgraded with a bkey keyboard and 48k. I typed in years of analog computing programs with that keyboard. I can't believe now how small that keyboard was. I taught myself how to program with that machine. I used it until it died and replaced it with a 130xe.

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The 48K 400 with the B keyboard was great. I took one to Honduras when I was sent there TDY and used it to program a weight and balance routine for the UH-1 Helicopters we had assigned to our unit there. I was the Weight and Balance Officer along with the Maintenance Office, Tech Supply Officer and any other title they could hang on me. Flew test flights when I had time and ran 6 miles 3 time as week. The Atari came in handy doing the weight and balance as well as writing awards when we got ready to rotate back to the states. The nice thing about the weight and balance was that it was in basic and could be adapted to run on an IBM also so when we left I converted it to IBM and left the program with the new unit but saved it so that it could not be changed.

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I just pulled mine out to play with it.

 

My QWERTY keys (specifically) do not work.

 

Have to open it up.. bummer.

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I have the "B" key version installed on my Atari 400. It doesn't feel too shabby, though the keystrokes aren't as nice as they could be it's quite an improvement over the membrane keyboard.

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As soon as I get a 400 (don't know when that might be) I'm going to try to install the TransKey-II board in it. I had good luck with the TKII on my 1200XL. I used to really curse the membrane keyboard on the 400 I had as a kid, but now I think it'd be fun to keep it as a backup and use the TKII for input.

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There was another 400/800 keyboard in the early 80's, but it was external. You had to install a jack on the computer or (IIRC) run a ribbon cable out between the upper and lower shells. Had a friend with one of those external models on an 800, and he would sit back 10 ft or so and type on his 80-column 800 displayed on his ~40 projection TV/monitor. He had is plugged in with a jack, and IIRC, it was selectable between internal and external keyboards.

 

I had one of the 400 B-Key boards, and I was so disappointed when I got it because the keys had the "creative arrangement" mentioned earlier. And that's my issue with using a PC keyboard -- that is a really creative layout (compared to stock Atari).

 

-Larry

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I just bought one with 48K and this style keyboard (B-key). It's actually nicer than I thought it would feel. I really like this keyboard. It's arrangement will take some getting used to, but it is a good trade from the membrane. I still have a stock machine with the OEM keyboard for pure nostalgia. This machine, with 48K and this keyboard "to me" was better than an Apple II. The Apple II was the first computer I used in high school equipped with 48K and a monochrome monitor, I'll take a tricked out 400 any day. A friend of mine loved my 400 and 800 in 1982, but his father bought him an Apple II knockoff called the "pineapple". It still costed twice as much as my 800 in 1983. No contest. The 400 properly equipped was a lot of bang for the buck!

 

20140301_220215.jpg

Edited by ACML
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well tonight I took apart my 400 and cleaned everything.. the ribbon cable from the keyboard to the board looks good. there was some moisture? corrosion around the pinch connector on the board.. I did not clean YET with anything specific, I just wiped the area clean and reinstalled.. all the traces on the board itself looked good.

 

My 6 keys still dont work.. so .. I guess next thing is to get in and clean that ribbon cable pinch buss.. i have no idea what else to do.. all other keys on the keyboard work fine except the row of 6 qwerty...

 

Suggestions??

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Can someone with the b-key pop the space bar off and take a picture of the stabilizer? I've got a 400 with b-key, and I'm missing the plastic bits that connect the stabilizer bar to the ends of the space bar. I tried using the little piece at the ends from a cherry mx board with costar stabilizers, but they were a bit to tall. In a pinch, I think I could get a new set of those and shave down the cross top to make them a lower profile. The pieces are these bits

http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keyboard-parts/cherry-mx-keycap-stabilizer-insert-2pcs.html

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by oryan_dunn

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Can someone with the b-key pop the space bar off and take a picture of the stabilizer? I've got a 400 with b-key, and I'm missing the plastic bits that connect the stabilizer bar to the ends of the space bar. I tried using the little piece at the ends from a cherry mx board with costar stabilizers, but they were a bit to tall. In a pinch, I think I could get a new set of those and shave down the cross top to make them a lower profile. The pieces are these bits

http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keyboard-parts/cherry-mx-keycap-stabilizer-insert-2pcs.html

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

So, I ended up getting these stabilizer inserts. I had to shave the cross section down since the 400 B-key keyboard is lower profile. Doing that, though, cut off the plastic nubs that held the pieces in the spacebar. I ended up using a pair of pliers to distort the cross section, so when I inserted it into the spacebar they stayed in place. I'm not sure how robust this will be over time.

The other thing I had to do was use an exact knife to make the opening bigger since the diameter of the crossbar is larger than a standard stabilizer bar.

 

Overall, it seems to work ok.

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