Author Topic: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?  (Read 2660 times)

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Offline embeddedguy85

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Hypothetically, if I didnt care about patents and didnt sell it, how hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard? I really want one, but they go for $1600 on ebay.

The keys would be easy to get.

The springs might be easy right?

The overall body could possibly be ordered from somewhere - but where?

The electronics I'm sure wouldnt be that hard...?

Any advice?
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2018, 05:26:54 am »
Bugger that, I want one of THESE.
 

Online ebastler

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2018, 07:00:19 am »
Bugger that, I want one of THESE.

Nah; those are pure kitsch (in my book).
 

Offline chickenHeadKnob

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2018, 09:35:04 am »
Bugger that, I want one of THESE.

Nah; those are pure kitsch (in my book).

Jeeeez, that thing is hideous. Burn it in the fire of moloch!.  OK, I can understand the circular  retro typewriter keys, they might be well purposed in a  stylish minimalist  metal case. It is the badly routered wood base, which looks like school wood-shop production that ruins it.
 

Offline BrianHG

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2018, 11:40:57 am »
Hypothetically, if I didnt care about patents
The patents have expired.  You can make and sell as you please.

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Offline TerraHertz

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2018, 01:36:04 pm »

The Greatest Keyboard of All Time.. Reborn

And still no one thinks to make a 10keyless version. Bah.
Collecting old scopes, logic analyzers, and unfinished projects. http://everist.org
 

Offline embeddedguy85

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2018, 03:51:02 pm »
Why then did the unicomp folks have to buy the patents?

Also, what documents do I need to do this? What are they called exactly? "Manufacturing Specifications"?
 

Offline Benta

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2018, 04:22:47 pm »
Don't understand your motivation. Just buy it for $90 at Unicomp. There's no way you can make it cheaper yourself.
 

Offline embeddedguy85

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2018, 04:37:10 pm »
They dont make an m15 split version.
 

Offline Benta

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2018, 04:54:07 pm »
Now I understand, I missed the "15" part, that keyboard was unknown to me.

Well, I guess you can build one if you want. If you're looking at bringing it into the market, I'd do a sanity check on the business model. I doubt if you'll find many customers.
 

Offline embeddedguy85

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2018, 04:56:48 pm »
No, I just want to build one just for me. How hard would it be?
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2018, 04:58:26 pm »
No, I just want to build one just for me. How hard would it be?
Like any project, probably harder than you think. Not impossible though, and you'd learn a few things along the way.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2018, 05:10:20 pm »
Why then did the unicomp folks have to buy the patents?
That was before they expired.
 

Offline embeddedguy85

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2018, 05:10:38 pm »
What about the "tooling"? Ive read that the tooling hasnt been tracked down. But my question is what tooling do you need?
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2018, 05:24:55 pm »
What about the "tooling"? Ive read that the tooling hasnt been tracked down. But my question is what tooling do you need?
Tooling generally refers to injection moulds, which are very expensive to make. Maybe some schematics, though I doubt it.
 

Offline embeddedguy85

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2018, 05:25:58 pm »
What about using a 3d scanner to scan one of them?
 

Online Mr. Scram

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2018, 05:32:53 pm »
What about using a 3d scanner to scan one of them?
Making a 3D model isn't that hard. Producing plastics from it is tougher. For production you need moulds. For a one-off more options are available, but none is very convenient. Printing is expensive and comes with a few issues and more manual approaches are tedious. CNC milling might be another option.
 

Online rstofer

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2018, 07:48:35 pm »
I bought one of the Unicomp Classic M models about a month ago.  It's amazing!  My error rate went down and my typing rate went up.  The buttons are all in the right place, none of this 'oh, it doesn't matter where Delete goes!" nonsense.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MPXMSHJ

The bold black letting on white caps is really nice.

Down side: No media keys...  Well, no problems here, I don't use them very often anyway.

I am seriously thinking about buying more for my other workstations.  But only thinking...



But the M15 is in an entirely different category.  I would buy the buttons (and in fact the entire 'Classic M' keyboard from Unicomp and then figure out how to break up (or redesign) the PCB and the case.

How hard can it be?  Way harder than I would ever want to deal with.  If I had to have one, I would just outbid everyone on the next unit to show up on eBay.  It would still be cheaper than doing it myself if I put any kind of price on my time.
 

Offline steve30

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2018, 07:55:38 pm »
I'm pretty sure you can order the buckling springs from Unicomp (just like you can order keycaps).

I expect you could probably design the plastic pieces on a computer and 3D print them, and design a keyboard membrane and have it manufactured. It might not be possible to make an exact replica, but you could probably make something useable given the time and effort.

But why anyone would want an 'ergonomic' keyboard in the first place is beyond me. But I guess some people must like them.
 

Online BravoV

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2018, 08:00:09 pm »
The Greatest Keyboard of All Time.. ..

+1 , luckily scored one NOS still in the box with protective plastic & foam last year, a bit rusty but inside is fine.



Definitely a weapon grade keyboard.
Its not possible to wreck it into pieces like this if smacked into someone ...  >:D
« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 09:11:53 pm by BravoV »
 

Offline janoc

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2018, 09:07:30 pm »
I'm pretty sure you can order the buckling springs from Unicomp (just like you can order keycaps).

I expect you could probably design the plastic pieces on a computer and 3D print them, and design a keyboard membrane and have it manufactured. It might not be possible to make an exact replica, but you could probably make something useable given the time and effort.

But why anyone would want an 'ergonomic' keyboard in the first place is beyond me. But I guess some people must like them.


If you just want to get the switches, there are also the Cherry MX ones and even cheaper (but still decent) Chinese clones of them. I have recently got a mechanical keyboard with these switches at work for about $50 delivered (I think it was Aukey branded) and it is pretty decent. Not Model M, but if all you are looking for is a mechanical keyboard with a decent tactile response, this is a much cheaper option. Razer also makes a line of good mechanical keyboards.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2018, 09:09:19 pm by janoc »
 

Offline VK3DRB

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2018, 12:56:38 pm »
Better keyboards than the model M were the old leaf spring and flyplate type used in the IBM 3742's and 5251's. These were amazing. When a key was depressed, a flat leaf spring would distort, forcing a fly plate up. The fly plate was plastic which acted as a dielectric. Therefore relaxation oscillator would change frequency between when the fly plate was hovering over two PCB pads, compared to when it was up. The encoding scheme was EBCDIC, not ASCII. The clicking was made by a separate solenoid and plunger that hit a metal plate. One solenoid for the entire keyboard. The tactile feel and click sound were wonderful.

In my first job at IBM in the city of Melbourne, occasionally I used to go out on site and fix the individual keys in a keyboard. I was well paid, but the keyboards were so expensive, it made economic sense to fix them. After tens of millions of key strokes, sometimes a leaf spring would fracture. It took a lot of patience to hook a fly plate to the leaf spring. Sometimes it would take 20 minutes just to reassemble one key. Even though the keyboards had a protective membrane, smoke particles from cigarette addicts would affect key registration. The fix was to CAREFULLY remove the PCB, clean it with isopropyl alcohol and CAREFULLY reassemble it. With the 3741's and 3742's, I often found money in the keyboard area.

IBM also made some interesting keyboards for their 129 and 029 card punches. Some used ingenious diode matrixes to encode a keypress.

Today I develop electronics for satellite communications. I don't know why but those days were a lot more fun for some reason. Maybe it is because the keypunch operators were often pretty women who were well dressed. These days I work with nerds and geeks.
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2018, 01:23:26 pm »
I think I still have one or two of those IBM keyboards with a 5 pins DIN connector. Very, very nice tactile feedback and sound click, indeed.

Unfortunately those keyboards does not have the 'Super' or 'Windows' key, and I'm addicted to that key. It's as useful as the mouse wheel, if not more (Win+FewLettersToSearchOrLaunch, Win+E, Win+L, Win+ArrowKey and so on).

Offline HighVoltage

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2018, 01:26:03 pm »
I still have a couple of the original Model M IBM Keyboards and they are for sure the best built keyboards of all times.
But in today's office environment they are just too loud!


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Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: How hard would it be to make my own IBM model M15 keyboard?
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2018, 02:03:22 pm »
But why anyone would want an 'ergonomic' keyboard in the first place is beyond me. But I guess some people must like them.

I have a pair of Microsoft ergonomic keyboards, 1 on my company laptop dock and 1 on my personal computer.  For me, much more comfortable than standard keyboards.  I have arthritis in my hands and to me, it makes a real difference.  The other computers have standard keyboards but I don't use them near as much.
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