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Design68: A 65% replacement keyboard using AppleDesign controllers

demik

Well-known member
Was working on this since a few weeks. Since it works, I'm gonna post that here.

Long story short, while talking with folks around here, one common issue we had was that while Extended Keyboards are great (and still my favorite keyboard), they are kinda big for test benches or if your retro corner is small. That and we had too much dead AppleDesigns

The following idea was reusing the keyboard controller from a dead AppleDesign into a custom new keyboard.

Please note that this is ISO only for now, but everything including PCBs will be put on GitHub for people to mess with !
I only tested with an ALPS ISO 341-0001 Controller. Others controllers will probably need a different PCB

What's needed​

- Tester68 keyboard from CIY
- A dead AppleDesign keyboard
- 70 MX styled switches (5 pins recommended)
- 65% Apple styled keycap set
- custom PCB
- 2U keycap stabilizer
- some tools (a Dremel would help greatly)

Build log​

• Solder everything on the back of the PCB. The controller needs to be socketed

Design68_PCB_back.jpeg


• Cut every leg as close as possible to the PCB

Design68_PCB_front.jpeg


• Convert plate from ANSI to ISO

Design68_converted_plate.jpeg


• Remove batteries holder, USB receiver. Cut case for ADB cables and ADB socket

Design68_cable_cuts.jpeg


• Reassemble PCB / gasket / plate / switches

Design68_mounted_plate.jpeg


• Route cables. You may want to use some glue on the panel here

Design68_routed_cable.jpeg


• Keycap time and it's done ! Please check if the ADB socket hole can accept actual connector, you may need to enlarge it somewhat

Design68_back.jpeg


Builds​

To give you some ideas, two keyboards are already build:

Myself
- Case: Tester68 translucent black case
- PCB: Black, red LEDs
- Switches: AEBoard Naevies v2 (Alphas), Cherry MX Clear (Mods)
- Keycaps: Keychron ISO-FR ABS

@Paulie 's keyboard
- Case: Tester86 translucent purple case
- PCB: Black, blue LEDs
- Switches: Cherry MX Black
- Keycaps: Keychron ISO-UK PBT Retro

Design68_UK%2BFR.jpeg


Mandatory family pics (AEKII uncle for scale)

Design68_AEKII.jpeg


Design68_powerbook_azerty.jpeg


If you gave any questions, please do ask.

On a side note, We know that there is at least 2 or 3 ISO AppleDesign variants, which may have different controllers (same with ANSI)
Can some of you please check what's inside their keyboards ?

Thanks for the help
 

Nixontheknight

Well-known member
I wish I had seen this before trashing my dead AppleDesign Keyboard months ago. Luckily, a friend pulled two AppleDesign Keyboards out of the dump for me. While I get a photo of the controller on the spare, I have one request. Can you make the keyboards with Cherry MX Blue switches? I love clicky keyboards, and I love the sound of my AEKII as well as the keyboard on my modern computer (Razer BlackWidow V2, which uses Razer Green switches, similar to Cherry MX Blue). I'll make a separate reply with the photo of my AppleDesign keyboard's controller.
 

demik

Well-known member
I wish I had seen this before trashing my dead AppleDesign Keyboard months ago. Luckily, a friend pulled two AppleDesign Keyboards out of the dump for me. While I get a photo of the controller on the spare, I have one request. Can you make the keyboards with Cherry MX Blue switches? I'll make a separate reply with the photo of my AppleDesign keyboard's controller.

Yes you can. The PCB is designed to be used with standard Cherry MX switches, so blues will do (low profiles will likely not work tho)
MX clones will work as well. Solder what you prefer in it.

Thanks for the photo ! it's the good chip, although the PCB is slightly different (mine are close enough but had a jumper on J1)

UK AppleDesign I guess ?

Here is the one I used for reference:

820-0020_front.jpg


820-0020_back.jpg
 

demik

Well-known member
You can take everything off the old keyboard, but I found components for almost everything new.

Will post a BOM tomorrow :)
 

Daniël

Well-known member
Very nice, I should have one or two seriously cruddy ADs that I wouldn't lose a second of sleep over to sacrifice for a new mech board :)

With the controller IC mapped out, I wonder if more could be done with it. I'm a full-size boy when it comes to daily driver keyboards, so it would be neat if this could be adapted for that.

Moreover though, I seriously wonder if some sort of adapter could be concocted to retrofit an AEK(II) with the AD IC, or a custom replacement PCB, as I've got two dead AEKIIs myself. I will have to investigate that a bit further I think :)
 

demik

Well-known member
Very nice, I should have one or two seriously cruddy ADs that I wouldn't lose a second of sleep over to sacrifice for a new mech board :)

With the controller IC mapped out, I wonder if more could be done with it. I'm a full-size boy when it comes to daily driver keyboards, so it would be neat if this could be adapted for that.

Moreover though, I seriously wonder if some sort of adapter could be concocted to retrofit an AEK(II) with the AD IC, or a custom replacement PCB, as I've got two dead AEKIIs myself. I will have to investigate that a bit further I think :)

Thank you !

The controller matrix is 100% decoded (although its labeled as ISO-FR but that's easy to convert). It's somewhere in the KiKad schematics.
That being said I think there is a few replicas AEKIIs PCBs around, but IIRC they are USB.

I don't have any dead AEKIIs around be, but if it's just a switch issue you can replace most of them with matias switches. Most of the time it's that or an ADB socket issue
 

Daniël

Well-known member
I don't have any dead AEKIIs around be, but if it's just a switch issue you can replace most of them with matias switches. Most of the time it's that or an ADB socket issue

Mine seem properly fried, ADB controller wise. All they do is light up all indicator LEDs, and that's it.
 

demik

Well-known member
If that's of any interest to any of you, thanks to @Nixontheknight I've got the controller to boot in ANSI mode. It turns out the controller is dual ISO/ANSI. It can boot in either mode depending on how... the Num lock LED is wired !

That will probably need another PCB, but changes are minor. Do any of you in ANSI world is interested about that ?
 

EtherRad

Well-known member
is there a way to get the controller from somewhere if I don't have a spare AEK? This looks really nice.
 

olePigeon

Well-known member
I'm certainly interested in a new mechanical ANSI ADB keyboard, but can't justify the cost at the moment.
 

Paulie

Well-known member
is there a way to get the controller from somewhere if I don't have a spare AEK? This looks really nice.
You want an ADK, known as the 'AppleDesign Keyboard', rather than the much more worthwhile AEK. Luckily, ADKs are the cheap ones on eBay as there's millions of the things out there and people would rather have the better AEK/AEK2 anyway.
 

Nixontheknight

Well-known member
If that's of any interest to any of you, thanks to @Nixontheknight I've got the controller to boot in ANSI mode. It turns out the controller is dual ISO/ANSI. It can boot in either mode depending on how... the Num lock LED is wired !

That will probably need another PCB, but changes are minor. Do any of you in ANSI world is interested about that ?
I am
 

demik

Well-known member
There you go: ANSI version of the PCB.

I didn't build it, but it's expected to work. Changes are minor. You can find the ANSI Gerbers files here
 
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