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aileronster

Brand-new 800XL Keyboard Woes

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So I was reading the book Breakout about the Atari 8 bit computers, and having grown up in the 80's and seeing a friend get on a BBS with ATASCII I was blown away by the capabilities. I grew up on an Apple II+ myself. I've been having a huge nostalgia crush on all the old 8 bit computers for the last couple years and in my ignorance decided to buy an Atari 800xl according to the book above which suggested getting it from Best Electronics.

 

So I did just that and when I received it (looked great for its age) the right shift key was sticking and the left would sometimes work sometimes not. I wrote the owner and asked if I could get a replacement key for left side and if just using the keys that were skipping (Sometimes register sometimes not) would fix them or if there was a trick to fixing them. He said that if I felt it was a problem after a few days send it back and he will fix it. I didn't like the idea but I did sent it back.

 

Now you have to understand that I favor the inside of the shift keys. Which I explained and sent two photos in the box to show how my pinky finger rests on the keyboard and which keys were not always working. See photo below:

  626831692_Favorinsideshift.thumb.JPG.9d0336bd28ac3d02987bde6229e3695a.JPG

 

The photo is at a slight angle by the way and I lifted my hand to better show my pinky. Yes it curves in a lot... Needless to say he sent me back a replacement that was even worst, and now the left shift key actually locks up , plus the control sticks as well now. But the other shift key does in fact work; so there is that.

 

I'm at a loss of what to do. He offered me an XE computer as a solution; of course it would cost more. But I'm done its not the computer I wanted... and it honestly felt like he was playing some kind of sick joke and I'm dejected. I'm not saying he did that... it just felt that way and I'm not trying to bad mouth his company either. But because of the experience I actually want to just throw out the system. I wouldn't sell it to someone like this unless they knew what they were getting into (buying for parts.) I bought a bunch of books on Atari, and the SDrive-Max and the AVG cart. Now I'm waiting for the cart to get here so I can just unload it all and forget about this experience.

 

But before I do that... I'm asking you guys for help...

 

Is there a way to repair the shift key and the control key so it doesn't stick? It so bad I cannot actually get it to go down on the shift key without serious force which can't be good for the key and makes it impossible for me to use (Unless I was to press dead center of the key which my finger wont do.) I took typing class in high school so I don't hunt and peck. Also I planned on doing a good bit of programming learning the 6502 in assembler, player missile graphics, and just going through the whole Atari thing that I didn't get to experience. So a working keyboard is essential.

 

Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks.

 

BTW... I've debated writing this because I didn't want to bad mouth anyone but I'm at a loss of what to do.

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first of all welcome to the forum. there are many helpful users on here with experience of all sorts of repairs and mods etc.

Ataris are not particularly complicated so repair is much less taxing than more modern stuff. XL machines and their predecessors are built robustly, XE models... to a lesser extent (they were built down to a price). if anything, that offer of an XE should include a refund not a price increase haha.. 😁

 

i would advise you pop off the keycaps of the offending keys. try to keep them as level as possible when prying them up. im thinking the shift key may not have the metal rail fitted properly, causing you to increase pressure. a small amount of lubricant may be worth a try on reassembly but use light grease as oil would likely ooze due to gravity.

it would also be worth removing a working keycap so you can compare it to the faulty ones - in case they have switch parts missing/damaged.

 

operate the key switch with the keycap removed and see if it still sticks.

 

did you know there is a built-in keyboard test? you just hold down option when you power up the computer or you can type 'bye' (without quotes) from the basic prompt.

 

have a go and report your findings on here in case further delving is required.

 

best of luck!

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3 hours ago, aileronster said:

But because of the experience I actually want to just throw out the system.

Please, Please,  Please don't do that, so many people here ready to help you fix this, then I'm sure you will realise

 

what a great machine you have bought.

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As mentioned, the open ends of the wire should be clipped to the underneath of the key so it travels down level. If you need to use grease, make sure it's safe on plastic.

 

Image result for 800XL KEYBOARD REPAIR

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Okay I just ordered a Keycap puller, considering the age of the computer, I don't want to mess it up so its going to be a couple days before it arrives and I make an attempt. I have silicon grease, which should be inert to the plastic components, and shouldn't drip. I'll try and make sure it doesn't come in contact with electronics.

 

I'll also check the metal spring wire rail which considering how much it rocks side to side, makes me think that could be the problem.

 

Thanks for you guys recommendations. We'll see how this goes. :)

 

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Okay, I got the keyboard puller and took out the offending keys and one more for good measure to get a look around.

 

Seems I have a type 4 board according to this thread.

 

Though I could be wrong. Anyways I'm including a photo to show what the keys look like, they do not have any side loading (canted) supports. Which explains why its happening.

 

Keys-Atari800xl.thumb.jpg.bc053762e3357389c43f4491c275bc30.jpg

 

Adding silicon grease looks like it might be risky as it will probably get into the mylar area and contacts. Id have to apply it to the key posts and then it sits inside the square sleeves. It don't believe it will solve the problem. Actually I don't have any ideas on how to solve this. :(

 

But thank you everyone for responding and trying to help. :)

 

 

 

 

Edited by aileronster
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start a new post asking if anyone has an 800XL keyboard to sell - the variants are interchangeable

get a photo tho - to make sure you dont buy the same type again

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That version of the keyboard might not be good for how you wish to type.  Having said that, do any of the white plastic plungers have cracks in the corners -- if they do, that could lead to sticking.  And yes that is a Type 4 keyboard. 

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No cracks in any of the keys I'm currently worried about, haven't looked at any others. Thinking of Jerry rigging cherry shift key stabilizers with some rubber cement as a test, if that works I could bond them to the board. At least for now that's the idea.

 

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Oh I see now the type 4 thread. I obviously read another thread when I stated that it is not type 4. In this thread 

 this is discussed and indeed it looks like type 4. 

I love those heavy keyboards. They really need strong fingers lol. I do not have the issue with the shift key. But... yes there is a but.

I recall that I have another variant of this type 4. This one has the same keycaps, but has springs under every key. And no, I am not speaking of type 5. 

There were narrow strings under most keys and narrow + wider springs under the larger keys (like shift). It was the narrow spring that actually pressed on the mylar foil.

 

So when you remove your shift you will have the keycap + wider spring + narrow spring.

 

Anyone recognizing what I am talking about?

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I love your inspiration about the A8's!! Keep with it and you can have a lot of enjoyment from them.

 

Yes you got a type 4 which are not aging well for the exact reason you are understandably upset. The bigger keycaps must be pressed in the center and may stick no matter how carefully they are pressed. I suggest you buy a type 1 or type 2 replacement keyboard or another 800XL with one of those. Keep your current 800XL as a parts machine, to help diagnose faulty chips, etc... 

 

I know well that feeling of  dejection that you describe.  My advice is to stay away from myatari seller on ebay!

Quote
so·cio·path·ic | \ ˌsō-sē-ə-ˈpa-thik How to pronounce sociopathic (audio) , ˌsō-sh(ē-)ə- \

Definition of sociopathic

: of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or exhibiting antisocial personality disorder

 

 

 

Edited by Sugarland

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I don't have that keyboard so there might not be enough space but any possibility of getting a small piece of teflon tape between the white and black parts to keep the plunger square and reduce friction? It could fold over the outside of the molding for extra security?

 

image.png.8f7e1b4ce5720cef5aadaf9fb7348fd5.png

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