- Vintage ABS
- CVT Avant Stellar LED switches
- Bye-bye NMB!
- Sung Wei
- Himake AK-LK
- Monterey K7S
2015-05-17 — today I saw a keyboard labelled "Ortek MCK-701W/702W", FCC ID KJXMCK-701W. It was a rubber dome keyboard that was externally identical to the reverse-curve Acer 6511 with the sheet metal back and paired legs, but had a standard Ortek label.
All Google turns up is one set of photos showing a Reckon-branded keyboard (MCK-702W I suppose) with a bowed space bar (and I honestly don’t recall if the Ortek had this or not) and no photo of the back to demonstrate the Acer design, only a photo of an unbranded Ortek label.
This is not the first time that an Ortek keyboard has appeared with a Wentek FCC ID (grantee KJX) but the first that I have seen of either Acer/Ortek collaboration or Ortek copying Acer. Wentek is probably part of or otherwise related to Ortek though.
I have wondered for a long time what the keycaps on the BBC Micro were made from, as they hold their surface texture so well (for those unfamiliar, these are computers made in the early 80s). Now that I have all four keycap types, I can see that most of them came from the same OEM. The SMK-made keyboards have SMK keycaps (with a solid first shot), while the other three types (AWC/Futaba, AWC/SMK and unknown/Philips) use keycaps from the same source:
Signature Plastics have confirmed that Wong’s were a major customer of Comptec, and the keycaps do appear to be Comptec (and yes, they have the sprue marks at the front!), so it stands to reason that all three types are Comptec. As Comptec have only ever used ABS, then these keycaps must therefore all be ABS. The only suggestion that Signature Plastics had was that the grade of ABS could have been different (being changed subsequently due to industry regulation).
I must admit that I have no real experience with the longevity of Signature Plastics ABS keycaps.
CVT Avant Stellar LED switches
The CVT Avant Stellar keyboard has an LED inside the up arrow key. As this was another modern keyboard with simplified Alps switches (SKBM White) I was curious to find out what CVT were using for the LED switches.
I was able to obtain some photos of these LED switches from Bob Tibbetts:
According to Bob, the switch with a yellow slider is the original type found in keyboards, and the switch with a green slider is a replacement from a CVT distributor. The critical identification details aren’t visible or shown in the photographs, but a yellow slider matches Himake/Hua-Jie catalogue specifications. Additionally, Xiang Min have never been known to use yellow sliders, but they use green sliders extensively, so the replacement switches are likely to be Xiang Min.
I have yet to obtain any photographs of these switches in a keyboard (alongside the simplified Alps switches used for the other keys) so for now I’m placing this information here as a reference.
The suggestion however is that Alps SKBL series never included an LED switch. The only known SKBL datasheet shows a switch without the characteristic LED slot (a switch thus far not seen in a keyboard), so it appears that either Forward or Alps no longer considered this feature to be necessary. Keyboard manufacturers disagreed, and therefore had to obtain this type of switch from other switch manufacturers.
While investigating KCC information I discovered that NMB keyboards made for Dell were sourced from Shanghai Shunding Technologies Ltd. This company turned out to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Minebea, which was scheduled for liquidation in 2015 as a result of Minebea exiting the keyboard market.
This explains why Dell stopped using NMB for their keyboards.
The presence of “Sung Wei” on Datacomp keyboard PCBs has intrigued me for a while. Previous attempts to find out what the term means failed. However, after seeing the same term on the PCB of a Monterey K102 keyboard, I had another dig. The answer would appear to be that Shenzhen Sung Wei Electronic Co. Ltd was the PCB manufacturer, as that is their speciality.
It appears that the Focus FK-9000 contains the elusive Himake AK-LK alternate action switch (for the keyboard/calculator toggle key), which appears to be a copy of Alps SKCL Lock:
The slider is white (well, colourless), as described by the Himake catalogue.
Monterey K7S keycaps
The keyboard shown here on Imgur (with what are assumed to be Mitsumi KCT or KCM switches) has rather curious keycaps, with very steep sides. The double-shot moulding and internal structure is identical to SMK’s later keycaps, as seen in a SMK-made Tulip keyboards.
The same steep-sided design was however used by a confirmed Mitsumi keyboard. That keyboard has very different keycaps, with eight-way diagonal bracing and surface-ink legends. Sadly, despite having a Mitsumi PCB, there is no model number present, so we cannot determine the switch type or gain any further switch type confirmation. It, too, seems to be KCT or KCM series, but with the standard design instead of the unusual design found in the K7S.
Although the switches in the K7S cannot be proved to be real Mitsumi (as no switches were ever inspected by the keyboard’s owner), it is interesting that the unusual keycap shape matches that of a confirmed Mitsumi keyboard.
Additional products that use the term “mechanical”:
- Cherry gold crosspoint, in the KB79-2 and KB79-2R catalogues; they are referred to primarily as “hard contact” (compared to capacitive) but the “keyboard designers’ work sheet” from KB79-2 offers a choice between “Capacitive” and “Mechanical”. KB79-2R revised this to “Mechanical (Hard Contact)” and “Solid State (Capacitive)”.