This is a small keyboard (127mm x 70mm / 5" x 2.75") that can be built as a traditional 5 x 8 matrix output, a serial ASCII output, or as a USB keyboard device
The primary motivation was because I needed a matrix keyboard for my Jupiter Ace. I also wanted to make the RC2014 less reliant on having a laptop attached in order to use it. Combining these ideas wasn't a huge stretch of the imagination, and extending it with the ability to act as a USB keyboard too was fairly trivial.
I haven't seen anything else on the market that fulfills what this keyboard does. It is very adaptable and easy to program.
As a matrix keyboard, you can connect it to any micro that has at least 13 pins of I/O available to use in your project. It is also the same layout as the Sinclair ZX81, ZX Spectrum and Jupiter Ace. It will also work with the Minstrel ZX80 Many other retro computers of this vintage use a similar layout so it can easily work with those too.
As a serial ASCII keyboard, you can connect it to any device that wants a serial input, ranging from any micro controller,Raspberry Pi, PC/Laptop with FTDI lead, network equipment, and, of course, RC2014. This option uses an Atmel ATMEGA328 (Arduino Uno) as the controller, and, as such, is easy to program, and easy to modify if you want different layout or baudrate etc.
As a USB Keyboard you can plug it in to any PC, laptop or tablet (which supports USB keyboards) and it'll show up and work as a regular keyboard! You will need an Arduino Pro Mini, and please be aware that the footprint on the PCB is actually too narrow to line up properly. You will need to order this as the Matrix option or PCB option, and make appropriate adaptions for the Pro Micro to fit.
Whilst the tactile feel of the keyboard is great, seeing what the keys do isn't that easy. I have put some files up on Thingiverse so you can lasercut a case from plywood or acrylic. With a printed and laminated top this looks and feels great!
Serial Keyboard This includes the PCB, 41 tactile switches, 8 diodes, pre-programmed Atmel '328 controller and it's supporting components
Matrix keyboard This includes the PCB, 40 tactile switches, 8 diodes and header pins
PCB only Yup, you guessed it. Only the bare PCB!
Note for Minstrel ZX80 customers: This keyboard makes a great addition to this ZX80 clone from Tynemouth Software so we have teamed up to offer you a 20% discount on the keyboard. To get this, simply buy your Minstrel ZX80 and select RC2014 under the keyboard options. You will then be emailed a discount code to use here when you buy either the Matrix or PCB Only option. Please note that the keyboard and the Minstrel will both be shipped to you separately,
The laser cut case, cover, and RC2014 are shown in the photos for reference only and not included in this sale. The details for cutting your own case are on GitHub and the RC2014 can be purchased here
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Tinkering with old 8 bit home computers to see what can be done with modern solutions.