"QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

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twellys
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"QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby twellys » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:07 pm

Hi,

I've been contracting for a company called Thrane & Thrane (Parent company called Cobham) just North of Copenhagan in Denmark. It's very near Denmark's Technical University. Anyway, I was just passing a couple of the glass cases with more "historical" bits of kit, when I did a double take - There was a keyboard & CPU, which was part of a bigger rugged RadioTeletype equipment mainly for sailors, and it had a "QL"-like keys. Will put a pic later. Unfortunately I can't take it out and disassemble it, and the people I'm with don't know anything about it. I think the keyboard is ~1990, give or take 5 years. Finally, the keyboard has a part number of "TT-1601A".

So:

* Anyone got more information about it please?

* Are keys on it the same as the QLs?

Many thanks,

Tim


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Dave
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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby Dave » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:00 pm

The keyboard 'system' was one of the standard systems offered during the late 70s through early 90s. A few manufacturers used the same molds to do the two-shot process to mold the standard keys, with your choice of colour and finish. The customer just needed to define their keyboard layout and they could produce the keycaps, silicone bubble mat and a membrane if needed. Sinclair bought into this system and used it across several machines.

Most of the keys were standard moldings. Special moldings for custom keycaps cost significantly more. Sinclair didn't use any on the QL.


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Dave
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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby Dave » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:05 pm

Additional memory popped up:

Ironically, they were mostly used in short run industrial control panels and systems.

The keys were designed to look like a traditional manual typewriter, but with a flat, angular bed to stop fluff and crud getting under the keys. The tops of the circles were trimmed flat as a concession to the needs of ladies with longer manicured nails. They would catch and chip their nails on more rounded keys. This style of keyboard allowed a larger keycap for hunt and peck typists, but a more designed shape top for touch typists.

Not that you could touch type very fast with the QL's bubble mat, which was closer to more industrial designs. And key bounce!


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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby twellys » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:16 am

Thanks Dave - that explains it all!


Ralf R.

Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby Ralf R. » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:53 am

I know those keycaps from Keyboards we once had in our Company, when we used to have the Basic4 System with that wonderful Omega Thoroughbred Basic, a multi-user system, running on Unix.


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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby Dave » Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:52 pm

Multi-shot molding in fact quite advanced technology for the 70s. In keyboards it was 2-shot. They would mold the white letter shapes. Then these would be mounted and the black part injected. This means the letter goes down through the keycap and will remain with wear. It is superior to printed keycaps. Before the 70s, keys would either be etched and inlaid or they would be heat printed with a vinyl.

Two-shot molding was cheaper, more durable and quality was much higher. It was a no-brainer.


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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby Szk » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:36 pm

Dave wrote:The keyboard 'system' was one of the standard systems offered during the late 70s through early 90s. A few manufacturers used the same molds to do the two-shot process to mold the standard keys, with your choice of colour and finish. The customer just needed to define their keyboard layout and they could produce the keycaps, silicone bubble mat and a membrane if needed. Sinclair bought into this system and used it across several machines.

Most of the keys were standard moldings. Special moldings for custom keycaps cost significantly more. Sinclair didn't use any on the QL.
(...)
The keys were designed to look like a traditional manual typewriter, but with a flat, angular bed to stop fluff and crud getting under the keys. The tops of the circles were trimmed flat as a concession to the needs of ladies with longer manicured nails. They would catch and chip their nails on more rounded keys. This style of keyboard allowed a larger keycap for hunt and peck typists, but a more designed shape top for touch typists.

Thanks Dave, I didn't know this background history. Always wondered how and why Sinclair and Dickinson moved to those expensive (or so it looked) 2-shot keycaps but kept the cheap membrane system in the Spectrum+ and QL keyboards...

Researching further, I see that double-shot moulding is enjoying a slow resurgence in the gamer and enthusiast markets.

I don't care so much about double-shot moulding or silk-screened keytop printing, but I'm a bit disappointed that there are current solutions for Sinclair (well ZX Spectrum) customized keycaps for regular shaped keyboards, but not for that signature-looking square keycaps with flat trimmed circles on top... if we could find replacement keycaps in that shape, it would be great to keep at least some traditional QL resemblance on a modern kit with the Q68 inside... :idea:


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Re: "QL" keys on a manufactured RadioTeletype???

Postby NormanDunbar » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:55 pm

My Dell laptop could do with two shot moulded keys! The 'A' key has no letter on it now, and neither does the left hand shift key. I obviously use those a lot.

Cheers,
Norm.


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