Saturday, 11 March 2017

ZX80 USB keyboards

Don't panic, I'm not suggesting ripping the guts out of the brittle plastic case of an original ZX80! This is a replica keyboard. I've been building a selection of ZX80 clones recently, and using various types of keyboards.
One of those is the ZX80-KDLX (which I got from Sell My Retro), which is a PCB with miniature tactile switches for keys and an overlay printed to match the ZX80. This made a very nice looking computer when paired with the Minstrel ZX80 clone board.
I had a request to turn one of these into a USB keyboard, I understand the plan is to pair this with a 3D printed ZX80 case. Should be interesting. I have various USB keyboard controller boards for ZX81 USB keyboards, a ZX81 was the first USB keyboard I made.
The keyboard matrix is the same 5x8 matrix as used on the ZX81, so I was going to use one of these boards, but that plan hit a snag. The ZX81 USB keyboard is mounted upside down in the lid of the case, so is the wrong orientation to just plug the keyboard in.
Instead I used one of my generic USB keyboard controllers, one with more than enough pins for the job and fitted SIL turned pin headers for the connectors. These replica keyboards are designed presumably for the flat flex connectors on the ZX81, but the SIL headers are a good fit for the solid core ribbon cable used.
They key mapping was basically the same as the ZX81, other than a few symbols changing places.
All ready to go into whatever case the buyer has in mind.
If you want to order a kit to use with a ZX80 replica keyboard, you can buy one below. The kit include the USB keyboard controller, mounting pillars and a USB cable. You just need to supply the keyboard. As I always say when asked, pretty much anything with a keyboard can be converted into a USB keyboard. If you have something in mind, let me know.

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