Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

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Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:19

As part of my massive dumpster haul the other day, I picked up a wonderfully bizarre Kinesis Classic PS/2 keyboard...thing. It looks like this:
00-evendirtierkinesis.jpg
As you can see it's in a sorry state and is absolutely filthy. This is one of the most disgusting keyboards I've ever seen. I did try it, it seems to work, even if I didn't want to touch it with my hands. Yick. That said, these were quite expensive new, are fully programmable, and aside from the rubber chicklet function keys, use Cherry MX switches throughout. I posit that this thing is worth restoring. So that's what we're gonna do in this thread.

Let's see what we have to deal with...
01.jpg
Eww.

02.jpg
Ogod.

03.jpg
No.

04.jpg
NO.

Image

Well, here goes nothing...
Last edited by xjas on 2017-7-03 @ 10:30, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! Megathread with a billion WORKING PICS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:24

(Fun fact! I booted the Thinkpad from a floppy with QEdit and am typing this post on it. Speaking of good keyboards...)

05 (do not resize).jpg
Here's the bottom. Not as bad. I left this pic full-size so you can read the stickers if you want.

06.jpg
This thing is fully programmable, apparently the config file is plain text that you upload to it. It has this RJ11 jack on the cable that I'm not sure what is for.

Open it up, and
07.jpg
Wow, that is... strange. There are a bunch of dust bunnies, as expected, but the PCBs themselves look pretty clean on this side. The filth on the inside was dry & loose, so I hit it with the vacuum.

08.jpg
Here's a closeup of the main control board. I don't know how many of these things were made but it had to be a pretty small run. Note that the ROM is stickered for three different models (essential, classic & pro) and there are empty spaces for other components on the PCB. Also the instruction, "cut for USB." In a lot of ways it seems more like prototype hardware than a mass-produced product.

09.jpg
The PCBs for the keybeds are that curved and held down at least partly by hot glue. I bet EEVblog guy would have something to say about that.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! Megathread with a billion WORKING PICS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:26

13.jpg
Incidentally, all the screws on the inside are identical except one. The six that hold the case together on the outside are also identical.

14.jpg
This is how the function keys are assembled. Typical membrane design which is backed by a piece of blank PCB material(!), which is plastic-welded in. I had to break the "welds" (white dots) to get them out. Not sure how I'm going to hold them back in yet.

15.jpg
Here's what all the innards look like exploded out. Yes, they're still gross.

17.jpg
20.jpg
Close-up so you guys can see the horror.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! Megathread with a billion WORKING PICS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:29

18.jpg
19.jpg
For some reason, there are three ALT keys with one missing. And no CTRLs. I don't think that was the standard layout. Some of the stock key positions are marked on the PCB itself so I'm going to have to take a closer look.

To start with, I pulled all the keycaps off and tossed them into a bucket:
21.jpg
Okay, fine, I guess there's going to be some bucket.

Image

Here's what that left me with:
23.jpg
24.jpg
Yeah, nice. >:(
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:32

29.jpg
These mouse-pad palm rests are official accessories for these. Needless to say they were NOT gonna stick around. Fortunately they were easy to peel off.

31.jpg
Predictably, the top cover is rather yellowed, this shows the extent. The pads went in the bin. No way am I gonna rest the same hands that I eat with on those.

26.jpg
27.jpg
28.jpg
Let's make some suds!
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:35

I let the keys soak in the detergent for a while, hoping that would lift away most of the grime. Changed the water a couple times and blasted them with the spray nozzle. That wasn't enough to get them completely spotless, but after all, what alternative did I have? Scrubbing them individually with a toothbrush?

32.jpg
OH WAIT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT I DID. Well, more accurately I used three toothbrushes. Every single key. Suffice to say it took BLOODY AGES and was a HUGE PAIN.

That said, the results were quite good. Here's a before and after:
33.jpg
34.jpg


36.jpg
The blue home row keys are stock, but they're a different shape than the others. Weird.

38.jpg
Laid out to dry. There are actually only 67 keys, not including the rubber F-key pads. 68 if you count the one I'm missing.
Last edited by xjas on 2017-7-03 @ 10:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 10:38

41.jpg
Incidentally, here's what the top cover looks like after having been scrubbed with Simple Green and dried. Yeah it's pretty yellowed, and the missing palm rests are obvious, but at least it cleaned up really well. Haven't decided if I'm going to retrobrite this yet. Only a couple of the keycaps seem to have yellowed much (the "tall" enter & backspace) so it's probably worth putting the effort on this piece.

42.jpg
44.jpg
I hit the keybeds with the vacuum brush and manage to clean them up fairly well. Again, the grime was thankfully not greasy or sticky at all. I'm gonna hit this with compressed air tomorrow (once the shops open so I can get another can :P ) which should get them up to 95%. Really glad I didn't have to clean these with liquid.

That's it for tonight! Come back tomorrow when things are dry for the exciting continuation!

BTW if you’re wondering if the screen on the Thinkpad is any good for DOS gaming, the answer is yes, it totally is! Also, if you’re wondering if Arkanoid II runs unplayably fast on a 433MHz Celeron, the answer is yes, it totally does. >:(
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby spiroyster » 2017-7-03 @ 10:56

So it has a great personality?

I've always wondered if any of those "au natural" keyboards actually do anything o.0 ... other than just confuse and cause mistypes. If find my hands aren't restricted to either side when I'm typing so I suspect I would find something like that *difficult*.

I'm waiting for this to become available on the NHS...
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby Robert B » 2017-7-03 @ 12:16

GREAT THREAD!!! I like how you present all the stages with details and other fun facts :D

That's some weird keyboard all right. I know a guy in my country who would kill for this keyboard :D He has several hundred keyboards of all sizes,shapes and you name it!

Did you wear a HAZMAT suit?
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-03 @ 19:38

xjas wrote:Haven't decided if I'm going to retrobrite this yet. [...]


Who am I kidding, did you guys really think I'd pass up an opportunity to make this even more complicated & involved?

45.jpg
Here's about ten bucks of retrobrite ingredients from my local pharmacy/everything shop. Went for a gel peroxide solution instead of liquid. The stupid oxi detergent was the most expensive part, because I had to get it at the supermarket and they only want to sell stuff to families of 12.

48.jpg
I decided to do the three most yellowed keys along with the top cover just to see how they'd turn out.

50.jpg
Mixed it up in hopefully the right proportions...

51.jpg
Some proper artistry going on here. Well, maybe not.

54.jpg
I went for the 8-bit Guy's method of wrapping it in plastic. It's 12 PM and it's now sitting out on a bright sunny day (next to my car which gets constantly shat on by birds.) We'll check back in a few hours.

Robert B wrote:Did you wear a HAZMAT suit?

Erm, I did go out and buy some latex gloves ... which I probably should have done before even touching the thing in the first place. Ah well. :P
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-04 @ 02:13

WOW.
57.jpg

That went well.

Just for a reminder here's how it looked like before retrobrite (but after a thorough scrubbing.) :
46.jpg

Some improvement there!

It's still a tiny bit patchy, you can see a few spots of yellow left in the right light at the right angle. It could have another application but I'm not going to go that far, I want to actually use this thing, not put it in a display case. :P

58.jpg
The keys turned out great too, I was worried it would fade the letters but it didn't. Maybe I should have done them all.

Incidentally, this is as good as I could get the key beds without resorting to liquid cleaning (i.e. using compressed air and one of those paintbrushes in the above pic.) Again, they're not perfect, but I can live with them. These things are concave and convoluted so they're almost guaranteed to form monstrous filth traps in use. Gonna have to keep an eye on what's going down there.
55.jpg
56.jpg
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby Jorpho » 2017-7-04 @ 04:43

The Kinesis patents just expired a little while ago. I wonder why we haven't seen cheap knockoffs yet?
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-04 @ 08:05

Jorpho wrote:The Kinesis patents just expired a little while ago. I wonder why we haven't seen cheap knockoffs yet?


^^ Interesting ... they're still making them and selling them AFAIK. The current design is virtually unchanged from this one.

One last photospam! Time to put it all back together & see how many bits there are left over.

60.jpg
61.jpg
No jokes, this is a pain in the butt to do. The keycaps resist any attempt to pick them up in the right orientation and slide straight out of your fingers. Especially if you've spent all day desiccating them with peroxide and isopropyl.

62.jpg
Some of the letters are worn in interesting ways. I bet I could guess the previous owner's logon password if I did a little detective work. :P One of these blanks is the 'T' and one of them is the 'R'; I have no idea which. Fortunately they're exactly the same shape so it didn't matter all that much.

Yes, that means many other same-size keys on this thing are not the same shape. There's probably a dozen variations to deal with.

63.jpg
I'm still missing both Ctrls and I still have one too many Alts. This was my solution to half of that problem.

64.jpg
Done!
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-04 @ 08:07

Reassembly is the reverse of removal. Incidentally I totally got this right first try. Because I'm just that good.

I almost certainly didn't assemble it with the ribbon cables for the function keys in backwards the first time around, and have to take it back apart to swap them around. Why would you think that would happen??

65.jpg
66.jpg
67.jpg
Last edited by xjas on 2017-7-04 @ 21:56, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby xjas » 2017-7-04 @ 08:12

Just before I post the finished product, I'd like to remind you guys what it looked like when I started out.
69.jpg

...and here it is now:
70-finished.jpg
Much, MUCH better. As soon as I find a replacement right Ctrl key I'm calling this an unqualified success.

Note that when I got it, there was a sticky note on it that said "broken." So does it work?
71.jpg
Of course it works! Every key works, the internal buzzer works, all the LEDs work, the programming mode works. It's mint. That may have taken the better part of two days, but I think this one was worth saving.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby oerk » 2017-7-04 @ 08:43

Nice, and funny, write-up!

Unfortunately, it's still ugly as hell :lol:

They should've gone with a two-part design instead of that ugly white slab.
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby badmojo » 2017-7-04 @ 21:02

Great post thankyou! I cried, I laughed, I nearly puked a few times. Amazing result :cool:
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby Jade Falcon » 2017-7-09 @ 19:54

very nice work.

I'd opt to die some of the keys
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Re: Let's restore: world's ugliest $300 keyboard! WORKING PHOTOS, NO BUCKET! How hard could it be ??

Postby Azarien » 2017-7-10 @ 09:35

xjas wrote:I let the keys soak in the detergent for a while, hoping that would lift away most of the grime. Changed the water a couple times and blasted them with the spray nozzle. That wasn't enough to get them completely spotless, but after all, what alternative did I have? Scrubbing them individually with a toothbrush?


I wash my keys in a washing machine.
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