Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
The ZX Spectrum reborn: a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions.
3,113 backers pledged £723,390 to help bring this project to life.

Keyboard progress

Posted by Henrique Olifiers (Creator)
104 likes

First of all, apologies for the two extra weeks between the updates -- but only now we’ve finally got keyboard news worth sharing, including next steps towards finishing the keyboard. 

With the keys samples in hand (see previous update), Phil proceeded to test them back in Cambridge. The way we do this is quite simple: we attach the keys to an existing template keyboard with the same mechanism that is used in the Spectrum Next’s keyboard. 
 

It ain't sexy, but it works and that's what matters!
It ain't sexy, but it works and that's what matters!
 

The most important feedback here is that the key format feels incredible good -- in fact, even the keyboard manufacturer, a specialist in keyboards with years of experience and dozens of models under their belt -- praised how good the Next keys feel to the touch, and how accurate the keyboard becomes with the key shape compared to a typical, modern keyboard. 

Let this sink in for a second… Keyboard experts in 2018 are saying that the original key shape developed by Rick back in 1984, when paired with modern mechanics and engineering, is better to the touch than the key shapes we use in most keyboards today. Yep.

With the good news in hand, it’s feedback time to our manufacturer friends. The first issue Phil detected was an injection mark on the top of the keys, seen at an angle. This has to do with a width discrepancy of 0.15mm of some of the keys’ notches. With the wider notch, a depression appears on top of the square keys that is perceptible at an angle depending on light incidence.
 

The keen eyes of Mr. Phil Candy wouldn't miss that. No, sir!
The keen eyes of Mr. Phil Candy wouldn't miss that. No, sir!
 

Note that this is visible in the unpolished finish, which is not the final finish: the keys are meant to be polished in that part, thus the depression would become even more apparent, particularly with several keys in a row.

Our friends got the feedback and proceeded to fix the issue, and sent us back today pics of the new injected keys, now with the polished finish to its surroundings, showing that the distortion seems to be gone. These new keys are now flying to Cambridge for Phil’s final appraisal and go-ahead.
 

Look at that polish! Look at that shine! Mirror, mirror, is that...
Look at that polish! Look at that shine! Mirror, mirror, is that...
 

In parallel to the keys’ work, the manufacturer gave the greenlight to the keyboard metal backplate for the final assembly, and the keyboard plastic frame molding, so the final keyboard can be shortly assembled and tested with the case prior to the greenlight to mass-injection, assembly and dispatch to SMS in Nottingham.

This should hopefully now run smoother and quicker, with the keyboard assembled for our next update!
 

Case extra care

In parallel to the keyboard work, Phil revisited one aspect of the case to make double-sure that mass-injection wouldn’t result in the warping we have seen in the past and solved with extra structures. Following a meeting with a few colleagues experts in plastic molding and injection, Phil decided to thicken a bit the upper case by 0.7mm in certain areas, allowing for the plastic to flow better during injection and giving it even more resilience upon mold extraction. As the saying goes: ‘better safe than sorry’, and since we had the time to act on this so it has been.
 

The bold areas are indicated by red
The bold areas are indicated by red
 

 
 

The amount of work that goes into a simple change of width of one surface... Phil is ace.
The amount of work that goes into a simple change of width of one surface... Phil is ace.

The next steps ahead of us now are to get the keyboard assembled, fitted neatly into the reviewed case, get both mass-injected, assembled and flown over to the SMS plant for final assembly and dispatch.

A couple of steps closer now!
 

Blackpool Play Expo

For those of you lucky enough to have visited Blackpool Play Expo, Jim Bagley took a Spectrum Next case and box to show people in the flesh. But if you missed it, make sure to visit the FB group where Jim appears in quite a few of pictures of the event, plus playables of Monkey McGee and Baggers in Space! ;)

Shoutout for a new group, Gaming on the Spectrum Next, focused on the upcoming games for our machine.

And that’s it for now, folks… Again, sorry for the lateness of this update: Next update shortly as soon as more news on the keyboard are in!

Russell Glover, Lucien Hoare, and 102 more people like this update.

Comments

Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Jari Komppa on

      I for one am ready to wait until it's done. All updates have shown are solved problems. If there's something they could improve communication on, it's the roadmap and what's still missing and what possible problems there still are.

      I mean.. they were oddly quiet about the case. Then it turned out the partner who was supposed to manufacture the case had .. disappeared. Luckily that was resolved.

      They were oddly quiet about the keyboard. Surprise! Issues with the keyboard.

      They've been oddly quiet about the manual.. but that's a minor issue, I hope.

      Still, steady progress. I hope the setbacks (and, well, brexit) doesn't ruin the financials of the project.

    2. Missing avatar

      Pete B on

      Martin, if they didn't want to deliver I'm pretty sure they would have given up a lot sooner and put a lot less effort in. To me it seems like the plastics and keyboard partners are pretty rubbish and slow and seem to need to be hassled over stuff that they should really sort themselves.

    3. Missing avatar

      Vasileios on

      Thank you for the detailed update guys and for making sure the quality of the end product will be as perfect as possible! ;) :D :D

    4. martin Lindholm on

      after every update, I get more and more sure that my spectrum next will never arrive... can understand that there would be some delay, but now it just feels like you make up shit so you dont have to deliver... begining of 2018, is soon 2019, and in this pace soon 2064...

      still got faith... but that wont last forever.

      (and all you "dont worry, lets get it best" dont reply...

    5. martin Lindholm on

      after every update, I get more and more sure that my spectrum next will never arrive... can understand that there would be some delay, but now it just feels like you make up shit so you dont have to deliver... begining of 2018, is soon 2019, and in this pace soon 2064...

      still got faith... but that wont last forever.

      (and all you "dont worry, lets get it best" dont reply...

    6. Frans van Egmond on

      Would it also be possible to get that technical drawing as a readable download somewhere?

    7. Ryan Lloyd on

      thanks for the excellent and detailed update.

      Would it be possible to have the relevant pictures from the Blackpool Expo as another update for those who do not use Facebook please?

    8. Missing avatar

      Alabug on

      It's been so long I forget why I backed this when I did. I was into it for that Winter. I'll give it until Xmas. I hope it drops by then. When a usable manual. I want to discover this computer.

    9. Mat Cooper on

      Every time I read an update I just feel more reassured this is going to be one hell of an amazing bit of kit!! Can not wait to get this!!! Keep up the always stellar work gentlemen, you certainly are doing the Sinclair name proud!

    10. Missing avatar

      zyser on

      Thanks for the update, and most of all, thanks for ensuring a great outcome of this labour of love.

    11. Marc M. Kloosterman on

      Did Mr. Candy had a Spectrum when he was 35 years younger? Or is this devotion to perfection a nod to the late Mr. Dickinson?

    12. Ted Kenneth Johansen on

      Seems you got some sort of defect on the right topmost key. But then again, polished plastic is a nightmare. :p

    13. thefunkygibbon on

      great stuff, but one thing i'm sure a lot of us are wondering, will we receive it in time for xmas? honest answer would be appriciated.

    14. Missing avatar

      Magnamundian on

      While I appreciate you want to get the product absolutely right I'm concerned at the extent that the completed product is being touted around events and twitter with talk about second runs etc. while original backers are still waiting.

      I'd like reassurance at this point that components that -have- been finalized are in/have been produced and we're just in this last snagging stage.

      i.e. once you've completed the snags we don't have to wait for everything to be ordered in / produced, or a second run of boards etc.

    15. Matt Langley on

      Sounds like we're roaring into the thin end of the cone of uncertainty. :)

    16. Missing avatar

      Artur Poldan on

      This is great! You guys are awesome. Thanks a lot for great work and dedication.

    17. Missing avatar

      Steven Raynham on

      The attention to detail is bordering on obsessive, that's a good thing. I haven't looked forward to seeing something this much since I was a child.

    18. Missing avatar

      Russell Glover on

      Your attention to detail is immense. Thank you.

    19. Missing avatar

      Graeme Nattress on

      Great update and thanks again for the attention to detail.