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Level42

XL keyboard -> FFC adapter PCB

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Woohoo, the PCBs have arrived and they look sweet in white !

 

 

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Prices !
1) DIY solder kit for one XL or XE: 10 euro
2) kit with both connectors soldered 20 euro

A kit is: two PCBs, two connectors, one flex cable.

I realise the difference is pretty big but soldering the connectors needs to be done by hand and is rather time consuming.

Shipping costs excluded and I’m shipping from The Netherlands. 
If there is much interest from the US maybe a group order might save a lot on shipping costs. Shipping costs between Europe and the US are insane and I’m officially not allowed to ship any goods as a letter anymore.

 

Which doesn’t stop me from doing it, but then the full risk is on the buyers side.

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Simply drop me a PM for your orders :)

 

the connectors have arrived....I’ll first make a set and try it on a XE.


If anyone wants two pins soldered in for the space bar option please let me know so, and also XL or XE (or both if you haven’t made up your mind yet, LOL).

 

 

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Managed to find some 40cm cables and it’s even better! Can leave the keyboard next to the Atari and type and still have access.

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On 8/4/2020 at 2:51 PM, Level42 said:

Simply drop me a PM for your orders :)

 

the connectors have arrived....I’ll first make a set and try it on a XE.


If anyone wants two pins soldered in for the space bar option please let me know so, and also XL or XE (or both if you haven’t made up your mind yet, LOL).

 

 

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I've dropped Level42 two PMs about ordering one of these for my 800XL, but I haven't heard anything back in the two weeks since my first PM. Have any of the rest of you heard anything back?

 

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Status update: last 10 days it has been blistering hot and besides doing my daily work I have been mostly floating around in my Intex set-up pool.....

However, things are finally cooling down a bit and I managed to get a “prototype set” ready.

I used the “drag soldering” method but not with much succes. I had te desolder plenty of pins plenty of times and also use solder-wick to remove bridges.... took me probably an hour to complete the set with all contacts OK on both sides and no shorts. Next step...install in an XE....

 

Also, I have found an interesting alternative soldering method using a frying pan, sand aluminium foil and an inductive cooking plate.....I’ll be trying that out too because it looks promising to be able to solder a number of boards in one go....

 

 

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Edited by Level42
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24 minutes ago, Level42 said:

Also, I have found an interesting alternative soldering method using a frying pan, sand aluminium foil and an inductive cooking plate...

I have not tried it yet, but it looks promising indeed. Best if you have a stencil to apply the solder paste. Can also be done on a regular stove. At first I bought bird sand, but that has a perfume added to it. It stinks already at room temperature. Luckily there was some road working going on in my neighbourhood, so I went outside with a plastic bag and got myself some fresh sand :) Just dry it inside.

 

 

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LOL !

Yeah I just happen to have an induction cooking plate in my kitchen since a year or so......you can even use a gas plate.

 

I was indeed not thinking of bird sand but thanks for the tip anyway ! 

 

Sadly I was so stupid to not order a stencil thinking I wouldn't need it, but for this it is definitely a great help. It would be crazy simple as it is only that single SMD connector of course.  I had some hope I could simply buy a ready made "general" stencil, but although these do exist they all seem to be aimed at phone repair/reballing. Also had a look at DIY stencil making video's on youtube but they are all pretty much work. I could also ask the PCB manufacturer to still make it but it will take some time to arrive which means further delays....anyway, lessons learned.

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I went ahead and ordered a stencil because I have experience with applying solder paste without stencil and it is not a great way to do it. Seen lots of videos using the stencils and it makes things a lot quicker and better. Guess it will take a week or two to arrive.

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I'm also interested.  I have a dead 800XL that I want to convert into a stealth Windows 10 computer.  I've seen a person that cut the connector off of the motherboard and then used a Teensy 2 to convert the keyboard to a USB keyboard.  

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YES ! I finally found a quick and reliable way to solder the connectors !

After trying the frying pan filled with sand (which kinda worked, but the stencil’s not here yet so it wasn’t a complete succes...it also required a very large input from the inductive cooking plate...) I tried hand soldering again. First I tried it with a “hoof” soldering tip, which allows to put some solder in the tip and then drag it over the pins. Complete failure in the way that I had almost all pins shorted together. 
Next try I went for an ancient trick: pre-solder the soldering pads on the board. Then put the connector on, solder the two “big” pads on the side which hold the connector in place and then apply flux on the pins and without adding any solder, I drag soldered over the pins. To my amazement ALL pins were connected and there was not a single short !
Best thing: it took just a few minutes to do, which is really needed if you have to do 50 boards....
 

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Sounds similar to how I used to solder 48-pin TQFP chips (12 pins on a side, .5mm pitch) in the late 90s/early 2000s.  I had to learn how to swap the one-time-programmable chips so that I could keep testing after hours when the tech had gone home.  I would remove the old chip using a hot air soldering tool, and then clean & tin the pads.  I fluxed them and dragged an iron across all of the pads, which left just the right amount of solder on them.  Then I placed the new chip on top of the tinned pads and held it down with the back of the tweezers while I used the hot air tool to remelt the solder under the pads.  I used a small, round tip on the hot air tool, not the four-sided tool that is supposed to be designed for these packages.  I just moved the tip around the outside of the chip until all of the pins were securely soldered down.  I got pretty good at it, and only screwed up a couple of times when a neighboring 0402 surface mount resistor blew off of the board.

 

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Nice story....

 

yeah I used my hot-air station for the first (blue) PCB set I made. I used solder paste and it worked but the heat of the gun also melted the connector a bit. Still worked, but naturally I’m trying to keep the connectors good for the “production” ones.

made 4 so far....and getting better at it. It’s a bit of a shame that I need to solder the big pads first because there’s a tiny gap between the pins and the solder pads for them after soldering the big side pads.

maybe I need to use a bit more solder on the pads for the pins.....practice makes perfect....

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Now we’re getting somewhere... 10 done. It’s still not factory speed or quality, but maybe you can see my handwork as my “autograph” 😂😂😂
Do you guys think I should number them, sign them, box them and include a certificate of authenticity ? 😂😂😂😂

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Excellent !

 

Still progressing with this. I have now soldered boards for 20 sets so that's going very well.

 

I have also set-up a spread sheet to keep track of orders etc. and my girlfriend agreed to help me with the ordering and shipping process (she probably doesn't know what she's getting into :D )

However, before "launching" the ordering process I first needed to verify if the set will actually fit and work on XE's as well. So yesterday I dug-up my old trusty 130XE and went ahead. I also made pictures etc. to make a bit of an installation instruction. 

As always, the path to success is through some failures and well.....I fucked up LOL.

I neatly removed the original connector from the PCB, installed the adapter PCB correctly to the main PCB and soldered the original connector to the other adapter PCB......but.....when I wanted to connect it for a test run I realized that the contacts of the flex-cable were facing the wrong side of the small FPC connector...... I thought I had to twist it but of course that moves all the contacts around which is certainly what we don't want (see picture). 

The solution is simple: The original PCB connector needs to be soldered on the "back-side".....
It was so long ago that I installed the XL set that I had forgotten....

Anyway, next I tried removing the connector again and it's not easy to do this carefully, so following that I figured it might be a great idea to add brand new connectors. This has a few advances:

1) you can't make the same mistake that I did

2) you will have a brand new fresh connector, if you look at the flex contacts you know it's nice to have fresh contacts for the coming century....

3) it's no problem if you screw up your original connector (you still have to remove it very carefully though, the soldering islands of the XE's and even more the 800XE's and 65XE's are VERY fragile.)

 

Luckily I could actually still source brand new connectors for a reasonable price.

 

When ordering, let me know if you want this option. You can either select the connector simply to be added to the kit if you opt for a DIY kit, or let me solder it to one of the adapter PCB's for you.

 

Loose connector adds 2 euro's to the price, installed connector 5 euro's extra.

 

Also, I kinda forgot about this, but to install the adapter PCB to the main PCB you will need "double ended pins" (See picture).  Naturally I will include these with all sets sold.

 

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The questions isn't, "are these still available", but, are they available yet?

 

We're all still waiting.

 

You need to PM Level42 to get added to the list. He'll let everyone know when he's far enough along to start filling orders. I know he's been experimenting and learning and developing his process, but hopefully he'll be ready soon.

 

 

Edited by bfollowell

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