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Opry99er

Let's play a little game...

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...I like to call, "Mitsumi or no-Mitsumi"

 

 

Since there are usually questions about this, I thought we'd give it a thread with some keycap examples.

 

Here's how the game is played.... Someone posts a picture of a keyboard, and then people get to debate whether it is Mitsumi or no-Mitsumi.

 

I'll start it off with a couple little fellas I found on eBay today.

 

 

post-24953-0-97932500-1547850877_thumb.jpg

 

 

post-24953-0-07219300-1547850889_thumb.jpg

 

 

Have fun.

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Subject #1:

 

post-65819-0-94948200-1547925863_thumb.jpg

 

Subject #2:

 

post-65819-0-31617200-1547925877_thumb.jpg

 

Subject #3:

 

post-65819-0-57539700-1547925897_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Subject 1&2 = ALPS:

 

post-65819-0-39055300-1547926256_thumb.jpg

 

Subject 3 = Stackpole:

 

post-65819-0-19454200-1547926312_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

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Nice!!

 

 

In my first post, the first picture was a Mitsumi, and the second was a stackpole. :D

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One of the manufacturers of TI keyboards. They were produced with a board membrane instead of mechanical contacts. Mitsumi keyboards are considered inferior by most due to their flaky nature and lack of longevity.

 

Don't worry.... yours is a stackpole. :D

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If it's not considered cheating, here's a way you can determine the manufacturer of a keyboard when buying a TI (especially if you can't look through the bottom vents):

 

 

 

Take a close look at the 3 key. If the numeral 3 has a *rounded* top, you have an Alps keyboard. If the numeral 3 has a *flat* top, continue reading.

 

If the keycaps have very square-looking edges as opposed to rounded ones, or have very small legends (like the late VIC-20 and breadbin C64) you have a Mitsumi keyboard. If the keycaps have rounded edges, continue reading.

 

There are four remaining manufacturers for TI keyboards other than Alps and Mitsumi. These are Stackpole, Hi-Tek, Futaba, and another manufacturer that nobody has ever identified AFAIK. The Stackpoles and Hi-Tek's are virtually identical and found in the majority of TI-99's. The Futabas, on the other hand, are much rarer. The unidentified keyboard is very difficult to come upon in my experience and I've only ever had two examples (one of which I gave away). Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to tell these apart from keycap appearance. The Futabas tend to have thinner legends than the other two along with ever-so-slightly squarer keycaps, although it's somewhat hard to tell unless you can compare them side by side. The remaining three manufacturers seem to use the exact same keycaps otherwise, with the exception of a different stem for the unidentified manufacturer.

 

For the record, here's a rough approximation of rarity based off of eBay listings I've seen for consoles/personal experience (with 1 being most common):

1. Hi-Tek/Stackpole

2. Alps

3. Mitsumi

4. Futaba

5. Unidentified Manufacturer

 

As has been repeated several times on this forum, avoid the Mitsumis at all costs due to reliability issues. If you want to go by keyboard *feel* however, I'd also recommend staying away from Futabas and the unidentified manufacturer (the latter feels absolutely wretched IMO, at least 10x worse than the Mitsumi), although these are rare enough that you're much more likely to get a Hi-Tek/Stackpole. The Hi-Tek/Stackpole is what most people have and it's pretty nice. Personally, I prefer the Alps variant.

 

 

Edited by AwkwardPotato
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The funny thing about the Mitsumi keyboards is that everyone wanted them BITD because they were generally super-reliable. The problems with them only became evident with the passage of time, as the membranes oxidized and reliability tanked.

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If it's not considered cheating, here's a way you can determine the manufacturer of a keyboard when buying a TI (especially if you can't look through the bottom vents):

 

 

 

Take a close look at the 3 key. If the numeral 3 has a *rounded* top, you have an Alps keyboard. If the numeral 3 has a *flat* top, continue reading.

 

If the keycaps have very square-looking edges as opposed to rounded ones, or have very small legends (like the late VIC-20 and breadbin C64) you have a Mitsumi keyboard. If the keycaps have rounded edges, continue reading.

 

There are four remaining manufacturers for TI keyboards other than Alps and Mitsumi. These are Stackpole, Hi-Tek, Futaba, and another manufacturer that nobody has ever identified AFAIK. The Stackpoles and Hi-Tek's are virtually identical and found in the majority of TI-99's. The Futabas, on the other hand, are much rarer. The unidentified keyboard is very difficult to come upon in my experience and I've only ever had two examples (one of which I gave away). Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to tell these apart from keycap appearance. The Futabas tend to have thinner legends than the other two along with ever-so-slightly squarer keycaps, although it's somewhat hard to tell unless you can compare them side by side. The remaining three manufacturers seem to use the exact same keycaps otherwise, with the exception of a different stem for the unidentified manufacturer.

 

For the record, here's a rough approximation of rarity based off of eBay listings I've seen for consoles/personal experience (with 1 being most common):

1. Hi-Tek/Stackpole

2. Alps

3. Mitsumi

4. Futaba

5. Unidentified Manufacturer

 

As has been repeated several times on this forum, avoid the Mitsumis at all costs due to reliability issues. If you want to go by keyboard *feel* however, I'd also recommend staying away from Futabas and the unidentified manufacturer (the latter feels absolutely wretched IMO, at least 10x worse than the Mitsumi), although these are rare enough that you're much more likely to get a Hi-Tek/Stackpole. The Hi-Tek/Stackpole is what most people have and it's pretty nice. Personally, I prefer the Alps variant.

 

 

 

Check this ebay listing out. It shows a rounded number three key printed on a square-looking edge keycap! Then in another pic of the bottom of the same console, you can see the brown PCB and partial sticker indicating a Mitsumi keyboard. This throws a wrench in the mix! I guess there will always be exceptions.

Edited by twoodland
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Check this ebay listing out. It shows a rounded number three key printed on a square-looking edge keycap! Then in another pic of the bottom of the same console, you can see the brown PCB and partial sticker indicating a Mitsumi keyboard. This throws a wrench in the mix! I guess there will always be exceptions.

 

Here are pics for ref:

 

post-65819-0-38377100-1550233458.png

 

post-65819-0-11240300-1550233468_thumb.jpg

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The black Mitsumi keyboards are actually pretty hard to find--but as noted, the font is so wildly different that they are very easy to identify once you know what to look for.

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Although I've gathered bits and pieces in other posts re: the different TI keyboards, I'm grateful for this thread. Very informative. Thank you all for sharing.

 

I picked up this Futaba keyboard on eBay about 6 weeks ago. Looks like it's never been used. I tried it it out in my 2nd console, but I think I may have damaged the ribbon cable because, after re-seating it, a few of the keys stopped registering. (I've ordered a replacement ribbon cable.)

 

IMG 5796

IMG 5797

IMG 5798

 

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This picture is of the unit i just purchased from ebay.

Looking between the key caps, i see white.

Any ideas what type this one could be?

 

s-l1600.jpg

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8 hours ago, jrhodes said:

Any ideas what type this one could be?

Reflection?

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Dunno, but if it bothers you, some narrow strips of black electrical tape between the keys or maybe a sharpie might help (after removing the keys of course).

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Not sure.

Listing only had pictures from above.

Are you going to be doing another run Jedimatt42's TI-USB-99 Keys anytime soon? May have to consider one if its a membrane keyboard.

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9 hours ago, jrhodes said:

Not sure.

Listing only had pictures from above.

Are you going to be doing another run Jedimatt42's TI-USB-99 Keys anytime soon? May have to consider one if its a membrane keyboard.

I have stock

 

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1 hour ago, arcadeshopper said:

I have stock

 

Good!  I'm going to get me one of these when the F18A Mk2 comes out.  Hopefully that new power supply board is available then, because I want all three installed at the same time.

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47 minutes ago, --- Ω --- said:

Good!  I'm going to get me one of these when the F18A Mk2 comes out.  Hopefully that new power supply board is available then, because I want all three installed at the same time.

Understandably. Our little machine is many things, but it isn't the easiest in the world to open up.

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I think that white is reflection, as Asmusr suggested.  I've had dozens of TIs and don't remember a white plate under the keys on any of them.

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