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 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

Microswitch Options

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.

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).

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).

Known Issues

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).

MechBoard64 Reviews

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).

© breadbox64.com 2019

40 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.

  22. My old keyboard was stored outside in a shed for probably 10 years and even though I took it all apart and cleaned it up good, it doesn’t work very well anymore. I’d really like to get a mechboard instead! Mechanical key switches is obviously the way to go 🙂

  23. Cool. Can’t wait! I have another query. I’m planning on putting an Ultimate 64 board into a Pixelwizard 64c case (and I don’t want to cannibalise my beloved breadbin for parts). So I assume I’ll need keyboard mounts – will the Pixelwizard ones be ready to use or will I need to modify them? If they’re okay, would you recommend the metal or 3D printed ones, and are there any other parts I’ll need in order to fit the Mechboard when starting a build from scratch? Thanks.

  24. Hi Aaron, I have tested/reviewed the Pixelwizard case here (link). I got the 3D printed keyboard mounts as I personally think they look better with the black plastic case and black motherboard (C64 Reloaded MKII). That being said, the metal brackets will do the job just the same. So it all comes down to your personal taste. I would also get a power cover that will make a nice finish for the power plug. Corei64 makes these for the Ultimate64 along with his version of the 3D printed keyboard mounts (link, link).
    As I don’t have a Ultimate64 myself I have not tested the 3D printed brackets nor the metal ones from Pixelwizard. I did test it with a C64 Reloaded MKII and there was no need for any modifications. The dimensions of the MechBoard64 is the same as the original keyboard so I cannot see why it would not fit with an U64 installed. I do know that several users of the MechBoard64 have installed the keyboard inside a Pixelwizrad/C64C slim case case and I have not heard that any modifications were necessary to make it fit.
    Good luck with your project 🙂

  25. I just installed an Ultimate 64 in a Pixelwizard 64C (slim) case with a breadbin keyboard and printed the mounts found here (link). They worked best since they clear the keyboard cable more easily compared to some of the other options on Thingiverse. You can also order them from the services linked on that page (“order this printed” link) if you don’t have a 3D printer. FWIW, I can’t wait for the next batch to begin accepting orders to complete my project!

  26. Can’t wait for the next batch to open up for pre-ordering! May I please ask how that is going to be announced? On this blog post, on a new blog post, on some mailing list, om social media…? I too would love to order a keyboard to go with the U64, so I really hope not to miss out on batch #2! Tusen takk! =)

  27. Hi Swedish Pete, thanks for your interest in the MechBoard64. I will open the next pre-order list as soon as the next batch is running. It will be announced on this page and on the current batch page. I’m sorry but I don’t have a social media account 🙁

  28. I have been using the Mechboard64 for a while and I have to say: it’s a brilliant piece of equipment. Far superior to the original C64-keyboard and worth every cent! Hope you continue this project, as I’m planning on buying another one later this year 🙂

  29. Hi Jiffy, thanks for your nice comment and I’m really happy to hear that you like your keyboard 🙂

  30. After a few weeks testing the Mechboard64 I can only say: FANTASTIC. I just can’t wait for the next batch since I want to upgrade my other C64 and my C64Reloaded with the Mechboard too.. Fantastic Work

  31. Hi Tore, thanks and yes, the MeC64 keyboard was a great inspiration for the MechBoard64. I have linked to the deskthority.net post numerous times to give tlt as much credit as possible. However, I ended up completely redesigning his awesome work to enable the Shift Lock function with a momentary microswitch and also aligning all the switches a little better. The 3D printed adapters were also modified a bit to ensure a perfect fit 🙂 My goal was to make a replacement keyboard for the Commodore 64 while tlt’s goal was to make a USB keyboard ‘disguised’ as a Commodore 64 keyboard 🙂

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