The MechBoard64 is a brand new mechanical keyboard for the Commodore 64. It is made from Gateron microswitches, a black PCB and a rigid black powder coated 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. Status of the next batch run can be found here:
The pre-order list for the next batch is full and I plan to run it during the fall of 2019. I will write directly to everyone on the list when it starts.
The pre-order list for the batch I plan to run after the above is also full. I don’t know when that batch will run but most likely early next year. I will write directly to everyone on the list when it starts. All pre-order lists have therefore been closed. Sorry if you missed out.
What’s in the Box?
A MechBoard64 consists of the following parts:
- A rigid laser cut aluminum bracket with a silky smooth black powder coated finish
- A shiny black 1.6mm Printed Circuit Board with white silk screen writing
- 66 Gateron microswitches of your choice (yellows, blues or browns)
- 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)
- Optional: 10 cm ribbon cable extender for long boards (e.g. Assy 250425 & 250466) installed in a C64C slim case (link)
- Optional: Pre-installed Cherry Locking switch for the Shift Lock key
- Optional: A ‘switchless’ version without microswitches at a reduced price
The MechBoard64 comes with microswitches from Gateron. Three options are available: Gateron yellows (55 g linear), Gateron blues (55 g clicky) or Gateron Browns (45 g tactile). The Gateron yellows resemble the original C64 keys the best.
Some people may want to use their own microswitches. The MechBoard64 can therefore be ordered ‘switchless’ without microswitches. 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!
How to Order and Production Time
Instructions on how to show your interest in getting one or more keyboards can be found on top of this page. A batch should take 10-12 weeks to produce. 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.
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.
A printed intallation manual is included with the MechBoard64. However, the latest in-depth digital version can be found here (link).
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).
The MechBoard64 and 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.
The MechBoard64 and the 3D Printed Keyboard Brackets for the Ultimate64 by Pixelwizard
The right 3D printed keyboard bracket by Pixelwizard (link) use a different hole than the original Commodore 64 slim case mounts. To use the bracket you have a few options: simply not install the screw of the right 3D printed bracket from Pixelwizard. The MechBoard64 fits the Pixelwizard case pretty tight, so it shouldn’t move around too much even if leaving out one screw. However, the lack of a securing screw will obviously make it easier for the keyboard to shift around inside the case during normal typing. The left screw can be tightened more to minimize this but this may damage the mount (now you have been warned!). You can also drill a hole into the aluminum bracket of the MechBoard64 (this will void the warranty, though!).
The design of the right 3D printed keyboard bracket by Pixelwizard also causes issues in regard to reaching the male plug on the MechBoard64. A user has sent me these images of a work-around. He simply separated all individual leads of the ribbon cable to make it pass on the inside of the bracket. Thanks Jeff!
Last option is to get a 3D printed keyboard brackets from COREi64 in Canada (link). These will work with the Pixelwizard case and the Ultimate64 without the need to modify anything (metal bracket and/or the ribbon cable).
The MechBoard64 and the Ultimate64 Plexilaser Case
I have received the following user report from intric8 over at Amigalove.com. The MechBoard64 is not directly compatible with the sweet looking Plexilaser case (link) that is specifically made for the Ultimate64 (link) motherboard:
The Plexilaser case for the Ultimate64 uses a hole for securing/supporting the rear part of the keyboard. The placement of the hole is not used by the orignal Commodore 64 cases and is therefore not present in the MechBoard64. The issues can be fixed by drilling the missing holes to the aluminum bracket.
The slotted holes at the top and bottom part of the MechBoard64 bracket does not allow enough wiggle room to fit perfectly inside the Plexilaser case. This causes the case to get ‘stuck’ underneath the F1/F2 key, making it impossible to activate. Fixing the issue would require the slotted holes to be enlarged with e.g. a drill.
The top part of the Plexilaser case has a mounting bracket that screws right into the front of the case (just below the spacebar). This goes well with the original C64 keyboard as it has a cut out. The MechBoard64 does not have this and will therefore need to be modifed with e.g. a Dremel or similar tool.
Performing any of the above mentioned modifications obviously voids the warranty of the MechBoard64.
Below are a few images from Amigalove.com (thanks intric8!). More information and images can be found here (link).
Dave Ross (csixty4) tested the MechBoard64 here (link).
Eric Hill (intric8) from Amigalove.com tested the MechBoard64 here (link).
Christian Simpson (Perifractic) made a YouTube video that included the MechBoard64 (link)
Hackaday.com mentiond the MechBoard64 here (link).
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