Sunday 29 September 2019

Minstrel Keyboard now with Overlay PCBs

This is an old post, preserved for reference.
The products and services mentioned within are no longer available.

Introducing another keyboard option for the Minstrel ZX80 Clone.
I added a tactile switch keyboard option to the Minstrel last year, which looked very nice, but there was limited space around each key.
There was only space for one letter or number, no keywords or graphics characters. When I did a similar thing for the Commodore PET, the spacing was a little larger and there were no keywords to fit in, so I was able to fit the normal and shifted symbols in around each key.
I do have membrane overlays for the ZX80/81 which stick over a ZX81 membrane keyboard, in various colours and BASIC versions. As there is no visible switch element, there is space for all the artwork, keywords, symbols etc.
The new overlay PCBs combine the best of all those options.
These sit on top of the switches on the tact switch keyboard, with the switch plungers poking through the holes in the PCB, and with each switch surrounded by all the various keywords and graphics.
I planned to use quite tall switches, but I found they were a little weird to type on, so I found some nice switches that were just tall enough to poke through with the PCB sitting directly on top of the switches.
They can just rest the overlay PCB on top, so you can swap them around if you want to use both versions of BASIC. I have produced a blue PCB, with the keywords for ZX80 4K BASIC (PRINT "" is O shift Y shift Y).
And also a white PCB with keywords for ZX81 / ZX80 8K BASIC (PRINT "" is P shift P shift P). You can also bolt them to the base PCB if you are happy you want to stick with one version or the other.
The tact switch keyboard is available separately from my Tindie Store.
And you can order one or both overlay PCBs with that, and the Minstrel Tactile Switch Keyboard is available with blue or now also green solder mask, to match the main Minstrel boards.
The overlay PCBs are now also an option on the Minstrel ZX80 clone with Keyboard listing.
The keyboards can also be ordered as an option to the main Minstrel 2 ZX80 clone page.
And Minstrel 3 ZX81 Compatible kit page.

2022 Update: At the time of writing, there are still a few Minstrel 2 (ZX80) and Minstrel 3 (ZX81) kits available from  The Future Was 8 bit Those have this type of keyboard built in. But be quite as those are the Final Edition kits, there are unlikely to be any more.