Sunday, November 29, 2020

ZX-Key: New Lite Version

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Introducing the new ZX-Key Lite: A mechanical keyboard for the ZX81 that's very similar to the classic ZX-Key.

The original ZX-Key has been available for some time now, and won't be going away anytime soon. However various requests have come my way asking about kit versions, versions that don't really need the Arduino for PC connectivity and similar, the Lite version should be the answer to many of these needs.

The ZX-Key Lite, ready for use with a ZX81

Fundamentally there are only very minor differences between the PCB of the Lite and Original; what changes there are afford the ability to provide options for selling differing levels of kits, or provide assembled units designed purely for use with a ZX81.

The most noticeable difference between the Lite and Classic ZX-Keys is the now optional Arduino Pro Micro. (In reality the Pro Micro was an option on the Classic boards as well, however the LEDS in particular then have zero purpose without modification.) The presence of an Arduino allows the keyboard to be used with a regular PC, a function mainly intended for use in emulators. A great feature that isn't required if you're only intending to use the keyboard with a real ZX81.

ZX-Key Lite: Complete Unit fit for a ZX81

The ZX-Key Lite version can always be updated to a Full /  Classic at a latter stage by installing the missing components and switching a jumper wire. The new board is more about providing choices, more than a fundamental redesign.

ZX-Key Lite: Board Upgraded to Classic and attached to a Minstrel ZX81 Clone

Housing the ZX-Key Lite Keyboard in an attractive case is just as simple as previously. There are 3 components available on Shapeways

  1. ZX-KEY Keyboard 'Starter' Case
  2. ZX-KEY Keyboard Case 'Top Plate' - Lite Version
  3. ZX-KEY Keyboard Case 'Bottom Plate'

The starter case and bottom plate are the same parts as used for the Full / Classic ZX-Keys. A 'Top-Plate' - Lite Version has been designed specifically to house a non upgraded ZX-Key Lite, and comes without the redundant Serial Expansion slot and now un-required extra LED indicator holes.

ZX-Keys Lite Case Top Available at Shapeways

Limited stocks of the ZX-Keys Lite are now available at Sell My Retro. It's predicted that kit versions will be available early in the new year, after supply chains and shipping times have returned to some normality.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi it would be good to make a kit version without the interface to suit my ZX21 project.