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Bluetooth mod for IBM keyboards

The greatest keyboard ever designed, updated with wireless bluetooth convenience
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(+8, -3)
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(Nearly) everyone whose normal typing speed exceeds 100wpm knows that one keyboard stands alone as the unquestionable input device of choice for the computer-using elite: the original IBM/Lexmark/PCKeyboard.com "Model-M" keyboard and its immediate family members & descendants using the original "buckling spring" mechanical keyswitch mechanism that *perfectly* strikes *just* the right balance between force and feedback to enable hypersonic typing speeds. For those who use them, The Is No Acceptable Alternative. Period.

Mechanically, lots of the keyboards are approaching their 10th, 15th, and even 20th birthdays with little evidence of their age... ready to keep going for a few more decades. Sadly, nobody currently makes one that's wireless, let alone uses Bluetooth. What I'm proposing is a family of products based around the same core.

"The Rejuvenator" -- a tiny box that hangs by a short (strong) cable from the socket at the rear of the keyboard that originally fed the AT or PS2 cable. It has a battery compartment for four (optionally NiMH) AA batteries (to power the keyboard and transceiver) and a bluetooth transceiver. Also present is a single ps2 socket, for connection to later models with nonremovable cords (and, with a ps2 diplexer, keyboards with built-in pointer stick) It also has a (normally unused) socket for a USB cable (used to directly connect the keyboard to the PC when the batteries are dead or Windows/Linux isn't running) and a socket to which a cheap +5v adapter can optionally be connected for battery-charging purposes. Finally, the box has a small antenna and inductance-coupled charging circuit that springs to life when the expensive, but oh-so-nice-to-have inductance-coupled charging pad is purchased, plugged in, and situated beneath the keyboard.

"The L337" -- same bluetooth transceiver and interface module as "The Rejuvenator", but this model is strictly a custom job that requires sending the whole keyboard in for modification. An access panel is cut & a battery holder is installed, as are sockets for the power adapter and usb cable. A few days, a hundred bucks, and a few square inches of metal cutting, Dremel-shaping, and hand-soldering later, the keyboard comes home... cleaned, shiny, and fully tricked out with Bluetooth connectivity. Of course, it's practically *assumed* that anyone spending *this* much money isn't going to think twice about dropping another fifty bucks or so on the inductance-coupled charging pad to sit underneath it...

Is it for everyone? Hell no. Most average consumers would blanche at the thought of spending twenty-five bucks on a keyboard, period... let alone a hundred bucks for a new Endura Pro w/pointer stick from pckeyboard.com, plus another hundred or so to have it modded for Bluetooth. But it's NOT for everyone. It's for the elite few who simply refuse to settle for anything less than the Range Rover of keyboards -- with real, honest-to-god mechanical key switches for flawless tactile operation coupled with bluetooth for wireless convenience.

By the way, if anyone manages to make this work (with, say, a Basic Stamp and bluetooth module from parallaxinc.com), I'd love to buy one :-)

miamicanes, Dec 17 2003

PCKeyboard.com http://www.pckeyboard.com
Current owners/licensees(?) of IBM's buckling-spring patent. They sell a direct descendant of the original Model M keyboard, complete with pointer stick and original key mechanism we all love. [miamicanes, Oct 04 2004]

Parallax, Inc http://www.parallaxinc.com
Makers of the Basic Stamp, a cool device for DIY embedded computer/controller projects. [miamicanes, Oct 04 2004]

model M http://www.modelm.org/mboard.html
I had no idea... [neilp, Oct 04 2004]

Ad-hoc "half keyboard" would be nice... http://www.halfkeyboard.com
While they're at it, they could add support for enabling an overloaded spacebar for ad-hoc one-handed typing like the Half Keyboard™ (see demo at their site) [miamicanes, Oct 04 2004]

USB Model M Keyboard http://pckeyboards....net/customizer.html
The IBM Model M keyboard with a Windows Key & USB instead of PS/2. [Computer Guru, Feb 21 2009]

Baked! https://learn.adafr...luefruit-ez-key-hid
This was a few years ago. Now it needs to be updated for BLE. [notexactly, Jun 13 2015]


       so a ps/2 to bluetooth convertor ?
neilp, Dec 17 2003

       Well, I guess a simple ps/2 to bluetooth converter would be a step in the right direction. But seeing how model M keyboards are the only ones that anyone is REALLY likely to care about modding and retrofitting, it might as well be optimized for that specific application (the ps2 port was actually added after a co-worker pointed out that later models had nonremovable cords. The original idea was basically a cylinder the size of one or two "D" cells placed end-to-end (four AA batteries at one end, electronics at the other, short stubby tail connecting to the keyboard itself).
miamicanes, Dec 17 2003

       I've got one of these classic keyboards on my home PC (I bought it back in '91 with my (then blazingly fast) 486-dx33, and aside from the occasional disassembly for board chow removal, it has functioned flawlessly.) and I can easily type in the vicinity of 80-100 wpm with it. At work, I have one of those el-cheapo keyboards that comes with the mass-market Dell boxes, and I struggle to hit 60. I've been offered a $100+ microsoft natural keyboard, but I can't seem to convince management to spring for a $2 classic from our surplus warehouse and a $4 AT to PS2 adapter. I currently don't have a huge use for wireless, but I'm buying myself a projector for christmas, and I'd love to have the ability to sit comfortably on my couch without worrying about cords, or one of those other mass-market rubber button spring keyboards killing my wrists.   

       Big flaky butter-dripping croissant for you. (+)
Freefall, Dec 17 2003

       Nice idea. The ultimate retrofit would do away with the cable altogether (or put a auto-rewind spool) and slap an antenna on that puppy.
phoenix, Dec 17 2003

       i dont speak much computer but from what i got i liked it.
Space-Pope, Dec 17 2003

       Actually, just to throw a few other enhancement ideas out there... how about moving the pointer stick so it's directly beneath the spacebar, between the mouse buttons, and putting a thin scroll wheel between the G and H keys?   

       Rationale: it's easier to move the stick with your thumb. Try it sometime... just pretend that the number row is the home row, position your hand over it in an otherwise normal typing position, and try moving the stick with your thumb. It's a lot easier, isn't it? I can't necessarily speak for everyone, but I personally think it's easier to execute precision movements for long periods of time with my thumb (the strongest finger, in a fairly relaxed position) than with my index finger hyperextended as far as it can reach sideways. On the other hand, the crack between the G and H keys would be a PERFECT place to put a thin scroll wheel, because then you'd just be using your index finger to roll a wheel instead of apply precise amounts of force to a tiny joystick...   

       I've seen a few laptops that put the stick down there (the old TI 4000M, and one of the final Zeos-brand notebooks), but the only modern ones I know of that do it (sort of) are Fujitsu lifebooks. The problem is, Fujitsu's scheme (big, flattened bowl made from slippery plastic) seems like the OPPOSITE way it should be done (right overall idea, bad implementation of it).   

       Speaking of laptops... how 'bout a thick-but-rationalizably-not-too-heavy 17" desktop replacement notebook with real buckling-spring keys and swappable cursor/keypad modules (your choice: full-sized "T" cursor and 6 navigation keys, or full-sized numeric keypad)? Hell, it would only add maybe another pound and another 3/4 inch or so to a beast already weighing in at 10+ pounds and 2 inches... I'd go for it. Hello, Alienware? Voodoo?
miamicanes, Dec 17 2003

       Love this old skool idea.   

       And before all you 2004 IR & Radio Keyboard junkies think this all seems a bit retro in the new world of wireless keyboards think computer in study TV in lounge Videocard Svideo out + long home made cable and you have everything you need for a home entertainment system complete with legally downloaded Movie "trailers from AOL" Now all you need is a bit more distance on a Keyboard and you can control it from your livingroom. The current wireless lemons stretch about 9 ft from the PC and even my lounge is bigger than that.
PainOCommonSense, Mar 30 2004

       I would kill for one of these! Interestingly, I once had one. I had a IBM PC Jr back in the day, which didn't come with a hard drive, only floppies. The keyboard was of the heavenly IBM type. One day I noticed that part of the bottom of the keyboard could be removed revealing a battery compartment. I popped in 4 AAs I think it was just for the heck of it. Then I unplugged the keyboard and tried to type just for the heck of it and discovered it was a wireless keyboard! It had two IR leds in the front. I didn't even know the PC Jr had IR... It worked superbly too, even from 30-40 feet away.   

       I'm not sure what happened to that computer when I moved, but I didn't have enough foresight to hold on to the keyboard :-(. There's got to be thousands of those discarded floating around.
halidecyphon, Sep 06 2005

       My favorite keyboard was on an Old Nascom ][. It used Hall Effect components - (and magnets, instead of springs) it felt gorgeous. I guess it wouldn't be hard to get a bunch of dongles stuck together to do what you're suggesting, either... Now where did I put it last?...
Dub, Sep 07 2005

       I have been looking around and actually found this post as a result of a google query... i am working with some of my friends and suppliers to try to fabercate a bluetooth usb port that will allow the use of any normal usb device... i believe that coupled with a usb to PS/2 converter will be more than sutable for the model M.. if i end up with a workable adapter i will post here and make them for any one who wants one at cost.
BinaryHackerMan, Aug 28 2007

       The beauty of the Model M is in the fact that it's reliable, sturdy, built-like-a-rock, and just works (TM).   

       Why would you take a beautiful Model M and cripple it with batteries and remove the wired lifelines?   

       The only Model M improvement worth investing in is USB just so you can get a 'board that works on modern PCs. Keyboards (unlike mice) should stay in one place - you can't touch type on your lap! So a wired keyboard makes more sense than a wireless one, is more dependable, and won't die out on you.   

       When my wireless mouse (MX Revolution, the Model M of mice!) dies because I forgot to recharge it that's OK because I can still use the keyboard w/out the mouse to do just about anything short of playing an FPS game; but if my keyboard's dead I definitely can't use the mouse instead!
Computer Guru, Feb 21 2009

       you have no clue how long I've wanted something like this: I have 2 Model M's (one I use and a spare for my great^6 grandkids when this one breaks). One's 1986 the other a newcomer... 1991.   

       [CG] I'd like it so I don't have a ruddy great cable cutting across my desk... not a hanging dongle though, something that actually attaches to the socket or can be built inside (best)... and of course you can always connect the cable to type and recharge the batteries :)
FlyingToaster, Feb 21 2009


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