New C64 Keyboards work-oin-progress post. Read more on breadbox64.com

New C64 Keyboards

(Well, it’s still work-in-progress but a protoype should soon be ready for testing…) During the last year or so, new Commodore 64 motherboards (link) and new Commodore 64C cases (link) have hit commercial retro market. On top of this (and hopefully very soon, Phase5!!) we’ll also get new keycaps (link). To compliment all these great new items, several forum posts have discussed the possibility to produce new keyboards as well. However, so far I’ve only seen one who has actually made one and that was on deskthority (link). The keyboard is called ‘MeC64’ and it is based on mechanical Cherry MX switches. It can be used as a standard USB keyboard or as a C64 keyboard. As I’m only interested in getting new keyboards for my commies and nobody else out there want to make some for me, I have decided to do it myself (angry smiley!!!). In theory it should be quite simple to create a new keyboard PCB that would accommodate Cherry MX switches. It is basically a matter of copying the original keyboard PCB, have it made and start soldering… Well, as easy as it may sound, things like that still tend to take forever to complete… This post is to show the progress of my project and some of the components that will go into the keyboards. Feel free to comment on my choices!

The drawing of the frame that the Cherry switches will be attached to is done. I just need to have it laser cut in a piece of metal at a local metal shop. The layout looks like this.

Keyboard layout with sizes of the keys for the new commodore 64 keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

I have decided to use Cherry MX switches as these are easy to get (including spare parts) and have been used in the gaming community for years. To get switches that resemble the feel of the original keys, I have chosen red and brown switches for my keyboards. Both swithes are linear but only the brown has a tactile bump. I also had to get the six key switch tester with 6 types of Cherry MX switches. All this device does is to give the user the ability to compare the feel of the different switches. This tool is more a ‘nice to have’ than a ‘need to have’ item! I think the feel of the Cherry MX Red is the one closest to the original C64 keyboard.

Cherry MX switch tester. Read more on breadbox64.com

Here are the piles of Brown and Red Cherry MX switches.

Brown Cherry MX switches for the New Commodore 64 Keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

Red Cherry MX switches for the New COmmodore 64 Keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

Damper O-rings to eliminate the “clack” from the collision on mechanical keyboards when’bottoming out’.

Damping springs for the New COmmodore 64 Keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

Stabilizer springs and clips for the RETURN key. Stabilizer springs for the spacebar are in the mail and should land on my doorstep within a couple of days.

Key supports for Cherry MX switches for the New COmmodore 64 Keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

3D printed keycap converters to use original Commodore 64 keycaps on Cherry MX switches (link).

New C64 Keyboards-WIP

A wire keycap puller tool (for gently removing key caps) and a tool for separating the top and base parts of Cherry MX switches.

Key pullers for Cherry MX switches for the New COmmodore 64 Keyboard. Read more on breadbox64.com

I’m currently working on creating the PCB and after completion, have it made somewhere. I really hope to have a working prototype within the next couple of months! So stay tuned for more info on the project!

© breadbox64.com 2016

14 comments on “New C64 Keyboards

  1. Awesome – can’t wait to see your progress! Ever since I managed to get a Commodore 64 Reloaded last year I’ve been looking for a keyboard, so here’s hoping your work pays off (and that you would consider launching a Kickstarter, eventually! ^=^).

  2. Hi there! I did the same thing – looked for somebody who would take the time to make some new keyboards… It seems that most of the work involved is the craftsmanship in physically making the frames that hold the PCB and then of course a lot of soldering. I currently plan on making two new keybords for my own C64 Reloaded boards (maybe a few more as the cost for having additional frames/PCB’s made are drastically reduced after the first prototype). If everything works out (and the looks of the keyboards are acceptable) I may consider putting out the drawings/schematics if people want to make their own keyboards.
    A Kickstarter campaign may be a little too much for me as I don’t have any experience in producing stuff nor selling it to make a profit 🙁 If it should be done (and not by me), the frames should be made in plastic to keep the costs down (I plan to make mine in metal) and the soldering of the switches should be made in another way than me sitting in my dark basement with a soldering iron 🙂

  3. Nice! Keep up the good work, and let us know. I love the whole idea of having a completely new C64, with just a few chips being left from the original. 😉

  4. How are you handling the shift lock? I know the latching cherry mx switches were discontinued some time ago and I’m currently looking for a source for them. To save on I/O Commodore went with an 8×8 keyboard matrix which makes the layout for cherry switches a pain. I also plan to use RGB Neo Pixels and RGB blues with clear bodies in my design further complicating the board layout/ trace routing.

  5. Hi Bryan, I have been searching for a few of the discontinued latching Cherry switches but without any luck. I’m planning on using the original Commodore shift lock if I don’t manage to get some cherry ones. It’s a much bigger project than first anticipated…

  6. Hi there! I’d totally be down on buying a PCB and mounting plate if you feel like doing some sort of group buy (Along with any of the other parts where it makes sense to do so :P). :D.

  7. Hi Lori, I have considered doing just that 🙂 However, the project is not exactly moving at light speed, so I’d rather see how the first few prototypes end up before starting to take people’s money… I really hope to have something to show you guys within a few months. If I don’t hurry Jens Schönfeld may have his keyboards ready for the upcoming C64 Reloaded V2 sale 🙂

  8. Guten Tag, please keep me updated. I’d really like to buy one or two replacement keyboards. All the best from Switzerland 🙂

  9. The project is moving forward – slowly but it’s moving! I’m currently working on the PCB using SprinLayout. I’ll keep you updated!

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