Bringing a Classic Apple Keyboard II Into the Fashionable Period


Many classic pc keyboards are fascinating and collectible as a result of they include sturdy mechanical key switches — one thing that grew to become much less and fewer widespread as low cost membrane keyboards flooded the market. However not all classic keyboards are good; many fashions from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s have been additionally cheaply constructed. That was true of the Apple Keyboard II, which got here with the Macintosh Traditional and Macintosh LC (not the Apple II sequence, which had built-in keyboards). Martin had a damaged Apple Keyboard II gathering mud and determined to enhance it with fashionable elements.

Martin needed to maintain the unique Apple Keyboard II enclosure, however nothing else was value salvaging. The unique keyboard featured rubber domes and a membrane sheet on the PCB. Not solely did that present a poor typing expertise, nevertheless it additionally wasn’t sturdy. Martin’s purpose was to reuse the enclosure with fashionable elements whereas retaining the retro design aesthetic. After all, that meant utilizing high quality mechanical key switches to make sure longevity and a satisfying typing expertise. However doing so required a customized PCB on which to mount the brand new key switches.

Martin nonetheless had the unique PCB, which made it simpler to design the customized PCB. With that, he might take measurements to copy the scale and form of the PCB, together with the important thing change areas. The PCB’s traces type a regular keyboard matrix with diodes to forestall ghosting. An STMicroelectronics STM32F405 microcontroller displays the keyboard matrix and runs QMK (Quantum Mechanical Keyboard) firmware, which permits for nearly limitless customization of key maps, shortcuts, macros, and so forth. A Nordic nRF52840 SoC acts as a Bluetooth adapter to attach the keyboard to computer systems, smartphones, and tablets wirelessly.

The PCB obtained Kailh hot-swappable key change sockets, so Martin can change out key switches at any time when he needs. The important thing switches snap onto a customized key plate, after which plug into the sockets. The important thing caps look acceptable for the period and the one apparent signal that this isn’t a classic keyboard is the small OLED display screen close to the Apple brand. That works with the QMK firmware to show standing and configuration data.

The result’s a keyboard with the entire advantages of contemporary know-how mixed with the fashion of classic {hardware}.


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