One of our favorite retro-computing YouTubers, [Clint] from LGR, found himself a very interesting Fujitsu keyboard while thrift store shopping. It was a beautiful unit, but confusing, as this keyboard comes with an 8-pin DIN connector. A 5-pin DIN plug or 6-pin Mini-DIN would be easy to work with, but what was this odd connection? Turns out the Fujitsu N860-2500-T111 came with an Olympus CV-100 Video Processor, which was designed for medical imaging, potentially among other uses. And as often happened with old specialized hardware, the keyboard used a proprietary protocol for sending keystrokes.
[Clint] put out a call for anyone that could help him build an adapter, and [Andy] from Element14 answered the call. But this problem requires more than an adapter, mainly because the Fujitsu doesn’t have key rollover. It’s one key at a time, and that just doesn’t work for the sort of things [Clint] shows off on LGR. So, the electronic guts of the keyboard were removed, to be replaced with a Raspberry Pi Pico, wired directly to the keyboard matrix.
Continue reading “Fujitsu Proprietary Keyboard Goes PS/2 With A Pico”
History is full of stories about technology that makes sense to the designer but doesn’t really fit the needs of the users. Take cake mixes. In 1929, a man named Duff realized that he could capitalize on surplus flour and molasses and created a cake mix. You simply added water to the dry mix and baked it to create a delicious cake. After World War II General Mills and Pillsbury also wanted to sell more flour so they started making cakes. But sales leveled out. A psychologist who was a pioneer in focus groups named Dichter had the answer: bakers didn’t feel like they were contributing to the creation of the cake. To get more emotional investment, the cake mixes would need to have real eggs added in. Actually, Duff had noticed the same thing in his 1933 patent.
It is easy to imagine a bunch of food… scientists? Engineers? Designers?… whatever a person inventing flour mixes in the 1930s was called… sitting around thinking that making a mix that only requires water is a great thing. But the bakers didn’t like it. How often do we fail to account for users?
From Cake Mix to Tech
Apple has made a business of this. Most of us don’t mind things like arcane commands and control key combinations, but the wider pool of global computer users don’t like those things. As the world continues to virtually shrink, we often find our users are people from different lands and cultures who speak different languages. It is, after all, the world wide web. This requires us to think even harder about our users and their particular likes, dislikes, and customs.
Continue reading “But Think Of The (World Wide) Users!”
[Nick Poole] over at SparkFun was playing with some force resistive strips. He wanted to use them as a keyboard input. It occurred to him that the office laminator could feasibly laminate a sheet of paper and the resistor into one sealed piece.
He put the assembly inside the pouch, ran it through the laminator, and it worked! After this success he built on it to make a full resistive keyboard. Then it occurred to him to ask, as it would to any good hacker with access to expendable company property “what else can I laminate”? Basically everything.
His next experiment was an LED throwie. No problem. Bolstered by the battery not exploding, he got more creative. The next victim was one of SparkFun’s Arduino-compatible boards and his business card. Success again.
Finally he went full out. Since the input rollers to the laminator are soft silicone it can apparently accommodate a fair amount of variance in height. He threw a full noise maker keyboard with resistive pads and a USB cable into the assembly. No issue.
It seems like a pretty good technique for making keyboards, weather proof circuits, and more.