I have been looking around the Internet to see what I could see. I found this post. 0roo0roo at AnandTech Forums posted pictures of the bottom of the top plate of an MS 4000 ergonomic keyboard that failed and was dissected. It appears the “curve” of the keyboard is mostly exterior plastics. The keys are arranged around several FLAT plates inside the board. This makes my life *considerably* easier, as the aim is to duplicate the “curve” on my keyboard.
…which has acquired a nomenclature, by the way. This is going to be called the DK1 for what should be fairly obvious reasons.
Doing several hours of homework during insomnia-time today has taught me some things:
- There are PCB mount and plate mount versions of Cherry MX switches. Plate mount switches have a couple of plastic locating pins missing, which would put undue stress on the electrical contacts if they were used as PCB mount switches.
- The Chyron Infinit! keyboards I acquired have plate-mounted switches. Genuine Metal plates. Also (thick!) circuit boards instead of membranes for the circuitry.
- I MAY be able to either modify the Chyron plates or cut the Microsoft plates in order to properly plate-mount my switches. I may also be able to make new plates out of flat plastic or FRP, but I would like to avoid this if practicable.
- Depending how odd the layout is for the MS 4000 keys, I may be able to use some of the PCB from the Chyron keyboards. This is excellent, as the less PCB manufacturing I have to do, the better.
Also, yesterday, I learned that this is going to be a LOT of work. It took me two hours of wiping with moistened towelettes to get the key caps cleaned. Soldering a 104-key layout plus diodes means 416 solder joints, and if I wire it with flying leads for the matrix, many hundreds of wires or several custom-trimmed leads.
I need to find myself a not-terrible looking candidate for the chassis donor keyboard, take some high quality photos (which are surprisingly not common online) and then get some good photos of the keyboard all disassembled. I need to measure the key openings in the MS plates and see if they can be opened up to the right size squares to mount the Cherry switches. I may try to make a metal punch to get uniform holes in the plastic. I may also try to see about cutting the Chyron plates up to get them laid out properly. This may involve some favors from some dudes I know who can weld.
I need to compare key cap shapes and profiles. It will likely be necessary to modify some of the caps to fit, but I can do plastic stuff thanks God.
Figuring out that Microsoft used flat plates inside their keyboard has taken the ambitiousness of this whole affair from “good luck with that, self” to “maybe not so impossible after all”. To be continued. Seven hours of R&D so far, at least. No wonder good keyboards cost money!