MechBoard64

The MechBoard64 is a brand new mechanical keyboard for the Commodore 64It is made from Gateron microswitches, a black PCB and a rigid black anodized aluminum bracket. The keyboard supports all versions of the Commodore 64 including the newly produced motherboards (C64 Reloaded & Ultimate64). A detailed description of the MechBoard64 along with heaps of images can be found here (link).

The keyboards are made in batches based on demand and the price is 155 Euros + 16 Euros for tracked shipping worldwide. The name, size and status of the current batch can be found here:

2018 Fall Batch (Batch Running)

UPDATE: The non-binding pre-order list for the next batch has already been filled. It is therefore not possible to be added to the list at this time. When the next batch runs, the pre-order list will be re-opened and it will again be possible to enter the list for a future batch. I apologize for the inconvenience.

What’s in the Box?

A MechBoard64 consists of the following parts:

  • A rigid laser cut aluminum bracket with a silky smooth black anodized finish
  • 66 Gateron microswitches of your choice (yellows, reds or blues)
  • Black 3D printed keycap adapters fot attaching your original Commodore 64 keycaps (keycaps not included!)
  • 20 cm rainbow colored ribbon cable for attaching the MechBoard64 to the Commodore 64 motherboard
  • Keycap puller for easy removal of your original Commodore 64 keycaps
  • Custom keyboard stabilizers for the Space bar (9u size) and Return key (2u size).
  • Costar plate mounted clips
  • Costar keycap insterts
  • Two spare microswitches
  • Shift Lock circuit with bright red LED for indicating the key state (on or off)
  • Spare green LED for exchanging the color of the Shift Lock LED
  • Printed installation manual (an in-depth digital version can be found here)
  • Some Danish Candy
  • Optional: 10 cm ribbon cable extender for long boards (e.g. Assy 250425 & 250466) installed in a C64C slim case (link) (+ 5 Euro)
  • Optional: Pre-installed Cherry Locking switch for the Shift Lock key (+ 13 Euro)
  • Optional: A ‘switchless’ version without microswitches at a reduced price (- 15 Euro)

Microswitch Options

The MechBoard64 comes with microswitches from Gateron. Three options are available: Gateron yellows (55 g linear), Gateron reds (45 g linear) and Gateron blues (55 g clicky). The Gateron yellows resemble the original C64 keys the best.

Some people may want to use their own microswitches. Check out the current batch for more info on this option. Please note that only Cherry mx style microswitches (e.g. Gateron and Cherry mx) have been tested with the MechBoard64.

3D Printed Keycap Adapters

The MechBoard64 comes with 3D printed key adapters that fits the stems of the Gateron switches and the original C64 keycaps. The keycap adapters are made from Shapeways in a material called Strong and Flexible which is also known as Nylon Plastic, PA12 or Polyamide. Please note that the 3D printed key adapters only work with Cherry mx style switches (e.g. Gateron) and the standard Commodore 64 keycaps. Other C64 keycaps, like the strange ones shown below, will not work and hence cannot be used with the 3D printed key adapters!

Commodore 64’s with a Long Board in a C64C Slim Case

If you plan to install the MechBoard64 in a Commodore 64 with a long board (e.g. Assy 250425 or 250466) in a C64C slim case, you will need to order a 10 cm extender cable for it to fit! Otherwise the keyboard cannot be connected to the motherboard! The price for the extender cable is 5 Euros. Please add this information to the non-binding pre-order email.

Want to use the MechBoard64 with a Keyrah?

Some people may want to use the keyboard with a Keyrah from Individual Computers (link) in order to connect the MechBoard64 to a modern day computer or a RaspberryPi. In those cases it should be noted that the Keyrah does not provide +5V to the pin powering the Shift Lock circuit. Therefore, neither the Shift Lock key nor the LED will function with the Keyrah. To overcome this, a locking switch can be installed instead of the non-latching standard switch. How to do this mod can be found in the installation manual found here (link). Please note that any modding will void your warranty of the keyboard!

The producer of the Keyrah, Jens Schönfeld of Individual Computers, has explained why there is no +5V line connected to the Keyrah: The +5V line is not wired up on any version of Keyrah. Reason is that the USB descriptors also include a value that tells the computer how much power the device consumes. The operating system then makes a decision about leaving power on or switching it off for safety reasons. With the +5V line being “open” for any additional device, the entry in the USB descriptors would not be correct, and the USB port may get overloaded. Thus, to ensure that the device abide by the documentation so no customer can claim that the product endangers their host computer, the +5V line is “NC” on the Keyrah. However, you can wire it up to the +5V source of the USB by adding a jumper wire. Performing this mod obviously voids the warranty of the Keyrah. 

Prices & How to Place an Order

The price for a MechBoard64 is 155 Euros + 16 Euros for tracked shipping worldwide. It is usually possible to order more than one keyboard. Non-binding pre-orders can be made by sending an email as instructed on the current batch page. The link can be found on top of this page! When enough pre-orders have come in for a batch, I will send out emails with instructions on how to make the payment through my PayPal account. Do not transfer any money until you get a confirmation e-mail! At that time I will also need your name and address as I cannot see this information through PayPal.

Orders must be paid within five working days after the confirmation email. After that time, your order will be deleted to serve the next in line and get the batch started. Orders are queued in a first order first served order. Any excess non-binding pre-orders that could not be fulfilled in the current batch, will automatically be transferred to the next pre-order list for the next batch run. These pre-orders will of course enter the next pre-order list in the order in which they came in.

Running af Batch

When all pre-orders for a batch have been paid, the production of the keyboards will commence. A batch usually takes 10-12 weeks to produce from the last payment has been received to all the keyboards have been shipped. The time frame is conservative but may be extended if parts take longer to get get than anticipated. Any delay will be annouced on top of the current batch page. Included in the production time is the assembly of the keyboards which is all done by hand in my basement. When a keyboard is done, it will be shipped out in the order they were ordered. Thus, a batch may be shipped during a time period of several weeks and not all at once.

Shipping

The keyboards are all shipped from Denmark using the Danish postal services, PostNord. All keyboard shipments will have a tracking number. People living outside of the European Union may be charged with custom fees and import taxes which are not included in the above price. So please keep this in mind before ordering. According to PostNord, the delivery time is usually: 2-5 working days to EU countries, 4-6 working days to North America, 7-10 working days to South America, 4-7 working days to Asia including Japan and South Korea, 2-8 working days to Africa and 3-15 working days to Russia. Some local variations in delivery times may be expected.

Installation Manual

A printed intallation manual is included with the MechBoard64. However, the latest in-depth digital version can be found here (link).

Danish Politically Incorrect Candy

Back in the 80’s we used to eat Skipper’s liqorice Pipes while sweating bullets during some exhausting games of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon 1500 m dash. Each MechBoard64 comes with a liqorice pipe for your enjoyment. Please consume the pipe before the EU law makers make them illegal contraband!

…Since the 1930’s the delicious liqorice pipe has been the Skipper’s steady companion on the long journeys on the seven seas. Every time the ship is in a friendly port the Skipper makes sure to pile up with enough Skipper’s Pipes so the crew can make their next journey without worrying about running out of their favorite companion…

Allergic to Skipper’s Pipes? The content of the candy can be found in the images below.

I Missed Out

If you did not get a keyboard from the current batch, don’t worry! There will be more batches made at a later time. The frequency and size of batches will heavily depend on the general interest (e.g. the number of non-binding pre-orders). Future batches will be announced on top of this page!

Terms and Conditions

Breadbox64.com abide by the European Union laws for online shopping. Thus, when buying goods from breadbox64.com, you have the same consumer rights as anywhere else in the European Union. The Terms and Conditions can be found here (link).

© breadbox64.com 2018

29 comments on “MechBoard64

  1. I have not set up an auto-reply for the pre-order list to ensure that it went through. I may do this for future batches 🙂

  2. oh no, I always look here on the homepage, because I like the keyboard so much. Now I looked again and…… Baaaaaargh……….. Pre-order closed 🙁
    I would be very happy if it would be possible to place a new list for people interested in this keyboard. An automatic feedback when the next batch is available would be nice. Perhaps there is a way to put this into practice.
    From my side…… a lot of praise for the great work. Thumbs up.

  3. Hi Kalle, I’m sorry that you missed the pre-order for the first batch. As of now, there is no email list or pre pre-order list available. I want to make sure that the first batch is well received before starting up another batch. However, based on the general interest of this first batch, I’m pretty confident that future batches will be larger than the first one 🙂

  4. This is beyond awesome! Even though the first batch pre-order window is closed, I can’t wait for the next one to open up! I have two questions, if you don’t mind?
    1: Is there any way to receive a heads-up for the next pre-order info opportunity so I don’t miss it?
    2: My idea is to assemble a fully working, brand new C64 for a relative as a Christmas present. Is there any chance receiving a MechBoard64 before Christmas provided you are part of the second batch?

    Please do keep up all of your _stunning_ work for the C64/128 community! <3 <3

  5. Hi Johan, as of now, there is no email list for early pre-orders available. I really want to make sure that the first batch is well received before starting up another batch. However, based on the general interest, I’m sure that the next batch will be upscaled a bit so more people can get a keyboard.
    Regarding your second question; It’s still a bit early to give a time estimates of future batches. With a little luck, the second batch may be ready for the holiday season 😉
    Please keep in mind that everything is done in my spare time so there is a limit to how many keyboards I can produce for each batch. I would rather make smaller batches with shorter lead times than large batches with very long delivery times :o)

  6. Hi all

    I was lucky enough to be sent one of the first batch to beta test. It was the Gateron yellow version of the board. I had an email to show me postage and tracking, then 4 days later it arrived. From Denmark to the UK thats pretty good. Packaging was good. An outer box to protect the inner box that has the logo on and the keyboard inside wrapped in bubble wrap and surrounded by polysterene pieces. The booklet that comes with it is well written and has some very useful pictures.
    The keyboard itself is explained here so i will just add that the build is top quality. The metal backplate is for sure far superior to the originals. It gives it that solid feel and the extra bit of weight just feels good to hold. The Gateron yellows i was a bit dubious of before ordering as i thought that they may feel like the original dull mushy Commodore keyboard. This is not the case at all. They feel like a mechanical keyboard should feel like. Responsive, with the right amount of resistence, just without the click. Because my keyboard is going to be put inside a brand new case along with a brand new Reloaded MKII board, i have decided to go for a new set of key caps. I have done a bit of research and from being a pc gamer i have found that double shot keys are pretty good in this situation. I found a nice set of Corsair backlit keys and filled the board with as many that would go in the correct positions. I think i have maybe 15 keys i need to get fabricated to fill the board. Should be an interesting mission over the next few months and i will post my results if i can get them done. This is what i find great about the board. If you want to go retro you can add the 3d printed pegs and if you want to go full on brand new backlit, you have the option. There is just one led so adding extra could be possible and it is definetly something to consider. The 3d printed pegs are also of a very high quality. They are not too stiff making them easy to work with but at the same time a very tight fit. Even if they did wear over time(highly unlikely) i am sure they would be readily available to replace.
    I have taken a few pictures. In one of the pictures i put a double shot key with the Windows logo in the shiftlock position so you can see the potential for backlighting. I think the potential for customisation is literally up to the buyers imagination. If you sesarch custom keycaps on the web you will see the sort of keys that are out there. Maybe these keyboards will start a new craze and we will all be showing our creations. Maybe a keycap producer will see how much interest there is for this board and get to work on a brand new set for the comunity. I am going to write to a few and see what they think.
    The only small problem i had was the keyboard ribbon was really stiff and could have maybe been set the other way so i did not have to twist it as much. Once worked a bit it was fine.
    To sum up my experience of the Mechboard 64 so far, i would say i am very impressed. So much so that i have already put in an order for my next board. I am willing to wait for the rest of the community to get their boards first though as i want you all to experience this great piece of hardware. Looks like you are gonna be busy.

    Thank you MtnBuffalo.

    Long live the 64!!!

    Images can be found in the user gallery here (link).

  7. Hi Mongooseman, nice review and some sweet looking keys. Hope you’ll find the missing pieces to finish off your keyboard!
    I hear you in regard to the wiring of the keyboard. The orientation of the 20-pin pin headers on the MechBoard64 was a compromise. The socket you use for the C64 Reloaded mk2 could have been turned 90 degress to avoid the twisting of the cable. However, this would just have caused the same issues with the original short boards as they have their sockets oriented 90 degress in comparison to the C64 Reloaded mk2 boards. Nevertheless, Ultimate64 owners will not have to worry about the twisting issue as the socket on their motherboards is placed in parallel to the socket (horizontal to the PCB!) on the MechBoard64 which should make the cabling effortless.

    The pin header at the other end of the keyboard, for the older long boards, could also have been rotated 90 degrees to be parallel with the motherboard socket. However, spacing issues on the keyboard PCB made this a difficult task and a choice had to be made. Luckily there is more space available in the old breadboxes which ususally hold the long boards 🙂

    \MtnBuffalo

  8. Damn. Have been watching this project for ages. Blink and I missed it :/ Next time then 🙂

  9. Dammit! Missed out on this batch! Argh!

    Keep up the good work; I’m eagerly awaiting a second batch.

  10. Unboxing and the very first impressions of the MechBoard64 can be seen here from one of the beta-testers. The unboxing part starts at 5:15: (link)

  11. Nooo, I missed it because my daughter was born 🙂 She’s a good consolation price though, and hopefully I’ll get in on the next batch. Great job! 🙂

  12. Super interesting project. I plan to get one when the next batch is available. Is there a possibility of getting a kit and Howto guide?

  13. Thanks John. Future batches will most likely have the posibility of getting the keyboard without microswithces. This way people can install their own Cherry mx style switches. The how-to guide will be added to the online installation manual when this option becomes a reality. However, please keep in mind that the price reduction for a ‘switchless’ keyboard will be minimal, so this option is probably only for the real hardcore mechanical keyboard enthusiasts 🙂

  14. Fantastic project! I made a calendar entry for each day from now on so I can keep track for the second batch 🙂 Can’t wait!

  15. Hey there! At first, thank you so much for doing this awesome project! I have a new C64 incl. C64 Reloaded Mk2 and a brand new bread-bin-brown-colored C64C-Case from Pixelwizard built and this one is waiting for a new keyboard and some new keycaps.
    I’ve sent you the “sign me up for the next batch” email, and I’d like to ask an important question: Will there be the option to buy/order more than one set? That chances are good that I might want to order 2 or maybe even 3 sets (all for private use of course), so it would be interesting to know if this will be possible…
    Thanks and Best Regards, Marc

  16. Hi Marc, by sending me your email, you’ve successfully been added to the pre-order list. When the next batch opens, you can order as many keyboards as you’d like 🙂 It was only the very first batch that I put restrictions on as I wanted to distribute the keyboards to as many people as possible. It is also possible to order the keyboard ‘switchless’ if you want to use your own microswitches.
    Sounds like you have a very nice setup! All we need is the new keycaps from Phase5 to make a brand new Commodore 64.

  17. Any chance that you can make key adapters to use the early PET style keys? Likely not a hot ticket, but I have an early VIC20 keyboard and I would love to port those keys over to a mechboard as they’re as beautiful to look at as they are terrible to type on due to the primitive design underneath them. 😉

  18. I also really like the old style keycaps 🙂 The biggest problem is finding the time to make the adapters and of course the iterative process of printing and testing until the adapters are usable.

  19. Arghh… how did I totally miss this?! That looks like an awesome product! Definitely want to be part of a future batch. And if those Phase5 keycaps ever come to life it’s official; competely new C64s made from scratch 🙂

  20. I assemble mechanical keyboards as a hobby, if you could sell them as a kit and let people just assemble them for themselves that would be awesome.

  21. Hi Yan-Fa Li,
    The MechBoard64 is also offered with a ‘switchless’ option without microswitches. This way you can install your own Cherry mx style switches 🙂 The ‘Switchless’ version will only have the Shift Lock circuit installed and the bracket/PCB assembled.

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