[Update – 2020/02/29] – Leap Day update. I was able to repair the leads on flex circuit board using the conductive paint that I picked up at Canadian Tire. The ESC key works 100% now. I had wanted to lower the thumb clusters a bit, but realized that I didn’t have the right sized screws and will need to build proper spacers. I’ll fix that when I get the new circuit board and USB cable. Although I have purchased a new controller board and USB cable for repair I will likely jump on the Stapleburg Mod for additional flexibility.
[Update – 2020/02/23] – I ended up tearing down the keyboard again to address the ESC key. Cleaned the ribbon and button interface again with isopropyl alcohol. I also reinforced the PCB backing used to support the ribbon cable with some corrugated paper wicking material from a leftover humidifier wick. I’m glad to say that the ESC key is working much better and the reinforcement has improved the confidence of the function row substantially (they’d constantly collapse on both sides when pressed). It is still not 100%, but until I can make it to Canadian Tire and get some conductive paint (windshield defogger paint), I won’t be able repair it any time soon.
A few things that I’ve noticed:
- The PS/2 cord has some sort of short in it. I’m basically attaching it to and from different computers to practice, you can hear the keyboard shorting out (buzzing on the speaker, LEDs flashing). In some cases, this resets the keyboard memory and I lose all my key bindings and macros. This is very disappointing.
- I used 3M Dual-Lock fasteners to attach an Apple Magic Trackpad V1 to the center of the keyboard. I thought that this was clever, the V1 Magic Trackpad fits perfectly on it. I placed some adhesive vinyl bumpers to engage the click buttons on the rubber feet of the trackpad. It’s great to have another option than my mouse to interact with. Scrolling and panning is so smooth.
- I really miss the bumps that are typically found on the “F” and “J” keycaps. I realize that the Kinesis uses different keys for the home row that cradle your fingers for orientation, but I find them lacking. For the time being, I have blue masking tape bumps on them for orientation. This has increased my confidence significantly enough. I may have to use a grain of sand and crazy glue to create my own bump. Similarly, I placed some tape on the “C”, “V”, “M” and “,” key caps to help me prevent the over-reaching I typically when typing. This has helped somewhat, but I still hit the directions keys from time to time.
- I really like having the built-in numeric pad.
- I’m still struggling with adapting common Mac and PC shortcuts to the keyboard. Things like CTRL + Left or Right to move across words or (option-left right on the Mac don’t feel very natural. I also make use of certain hotkey functionality powered by BetterTouchTool to manage my windows. The location of the option key on the left thumb cluster makes it difficult to engage these type of text navigation shortcuts. Multi-key combinations need to be rethought.
For the first issue, the cable likely needs to be replaced. I was fortunate to find an eBay seller from the Netherlands selling an old Advantage1 Pro USB cable, the USB-PS/2 bridge board and the original control board this morning. As I understand it, the Advantage V1 (which replaced the older model 130s like the Kinesis Essential, Classic and Professional) were completely identical to the older PS/2 keyboards. The only addition was the conversion to USB through a built in USB-to-PS/2 bridge and 2-port USB hub. From the pictures, it looks like I should be able to use the cable as a drop in replacement. I might be able to salvage a spare memory chip too. I could even swap out the board completely if I choose to re-solder connectors (my key-well PCBs are slightly different and connect directly to the controller board through a molex connector). I’m going to try to swap out the ICs effectively “Frankenstein-ing” an Advantage out of my Classic.
I’m hoping that this will eliminate the short circuit and breathe new life into an otherwise perfectly functioning keyboard.
- I’m not a speed demon, I tend to top out at just over 60WPM. I’ve never really needed to push this as I don’t think faster than I type when I’m composing in free-form vs. transcribing. ↩