Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

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Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:44 am

So, I found some Fujitsu FKB4725 mechanical keyboards around. Now, I've still got to take them home and test them, but from what I understand there is a market for vintage mechanical keyboards, and there seem to be a few eBay auctions for them. I could use a bit of money, and I'm not a mechanical keyboard person (Noisy and no ergonomics, no thanks), so I was thinking of selling them. So, does anyone here have advice on selling computer parts? Is it worth going on eBay, or should I just try and Craigslist it (I'm in Vancouver).

Oh, and there is also an IBM Model M the electronics shop is willing to trade me another working PS/2 keyboard for, I'm guessing that would also be worth something?
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 1:00 pm

I'd guess that the golden window for selling these things was a few years ago, when nobody (aside from Unicomp and maybe a couple of other obscure companies) was still selling new mechanicals. These days, people with an itch for the clicky-clatter have so many choices of new designs. That said, the prices for new mechanicals tend to converge on $100 so that leaves a lot of room underneath to sell used and make a few bucks (especially if your acquisition cost is zero). And there are still people for whom the original Model M is the only design worth having, so that one in particular (assuming it is in good shape) may be worth more than the others.

Shipping cost could be a factor, though: those old mechanicals tend to be wonderfully heavy mofos. So while EBay gives you access to many more buyers vs selling locally on CL, you may not see as much return. Of course you could always try CL first and then resort to Ebay if you can't find enough buyers. Or just save them and bring them to sell at the next TR Vancouver meetup.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:00 pm

Ebay is going to reach a wider audience than Craigslist. I think they're worth attempting to sell, and the Model M is worth picking up as well. I'm sure there are still plenty of diehard purists who want the old models.


I also have a completely off-topic personal suggestion: Do whatever you can to break yourself from the habit of opening sentences with "So....". I'm not just talking about written text, but also when speaking. Think about it when you speak, and stop yourself.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:37 pm

Model Ms are worth about $50 on ebay, so make sure you get something worth while in trade, if you swap it at the local computer shop. This assumes it's not a rare model.

Those Fujitsus look interesting. Are they buckling spring like the Model Ms? There are a lot of mechanical switch keyboards on the market right now, but only the Unicomp is a buckling spring model.

Geekhack would be a good place to post an ad. It's home to a large community of mechanical keyboard fans, and they would be a good source of information.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:00 pm

Fastfreak39: I feel like they should change the phrase "jumping on the band wagon" to "sailing on the pirate ship"
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:30 pm

One suggestion: regardless of how you sell them, do a thorough cleanup first. Blow the accumulated dust and crumbs out of the tray. Clean all exposed surfaces with a mild, plastic-safe solvent (such as 90% isopropyl alcohol). Any UV yellowing can't be helped, but dust, grime, tar/nicotine, etc. are going to be large turnoffs. Note that this includes the cords, as these tend to get filthy over time and many people don't notice it at a casual glance...but someone who just paid $50, might.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:44 pm

Good god, yes. Absolutely clean them.

I'm not germ phobic, but I'm not a fan of touching crusty keyboards.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:49 pm

Thanks all. I'll try that, and will trade something to get that model M, I just need to find a cheap PS/2 keyboard first. Sorry about the late reply; it has been a hectic few days. I'll clean them up when I bring them home to test them and make sure all the keys work. Does anyone have a good program for that? I can test most of them with a text editor, but I can't think of any program that actually uses all the function keys.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:43 pm

Under Linux "xev" will show all the X events including key presses.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:38 pm

notfred wrote:Under Linux "xev" will show all the X events including key presses.

...and if you don't have easy access to an existing Linux system, just download an Ubuntu ISO and use it as a live CD.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:39 pm

The Egg wrote:I also have a completely off-topic personal suggestion: Do whatever you can to break yourself from the habit of opening sentences with "So....". I'm not just talking about written text, but also when speaking. Think about it when you speak, and stop yourself.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2014/05/13/mark_zuckerberg_s_frequent_use_of_so_might_be_a_trend_especially_in_silicon.html

So, back to the topic... 90% Isopropanol can be difficult to find, but 70% is everywhere and cheap. Just rub it on the keys and other hard surfaces with cotton balls or swabs and let it dry by itself. Also, the damp swabs can get grime out of ports and crevices.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:44 pm

The 91% stuff is widely available at drugstores (e.g. Walgreens) around here. The 70% stuff works too, it just takes a little longer to dry.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:51 pm

It's better if you can get the good stuff, but whatever you get... always leave it to dry rather than wipe it off. Contact time is key.

Was that a pun?
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 4:53 pm

I you leave it to dry the dissolved crud will re-deposit on the surface. It might *look* cleaner because you've spread it out in a thin layer, but you really do want to wipe.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:02 pm

The 90% is preferred if you can find it (and like JBI, I have no issue finding it at any drugstore, and even most department stores), mainly because it has a very low water content and is hence very volatile -- it won't tend to get inside switches or membranes and linger if a small amount runs into the keyboard. Also, being water soluble, it leaves no oily residues afterwards.

As for dislodging material...most of what ends up sticking to a keyboard will come loose with a combination of solvent and friction. Leaving the solvent to dry out does very little compared to wiping or swabbing a dirty area with an article soaked in the solvent.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2014 12:29 am

I was thinking of the remnants of previous users... i.e. microbial soils. The visible soils (dust and oils) should rub off on the cotton ball or swab when you apply the IPA, and multiple applications are better for those because you are trying to remove them rather than destroy them. Contact time is key for decontamination.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2014 5:47 am

Ahh, OK. Wasn't even thinking about the decontamination angle. Depending on how long these have been sitting, a large proportion of the pathogenic microbes are probably dead already... but yeah, decontaminating them is still a good idea.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Sat Aug 30, 2014 6:44 am

ludi wrote:The 90% is preferred if you can find it (and like JBI, I have no issue finding it at any drugstore, and even most department stores), mainly because it has a very low water content and is hence very volatile -- it won't tend to get inside switches or membranes and linger if a small amount runs into the keyboard. Also, being water soluble, it leaves no oily residues afterwards.


190 proof Everclear would be a good substitute for 90% isopropyl, if the latter is hard to find.

Engine degreaser and a brush works well for getting the detritus off of keyboards.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:11 am

I already own a bottle of 70% iPrOH, so I'll probably give that a try. I guess I could steal some 100% from my lab (I've got 4L of it sitting under my fumehood) if that doesn't work. Though, if you are really wanting to kill bacteria iPrOH isn't as good as plain old ethanol in the 50-70% range. That is what we used to decontaminate things when I was with a biochem lab; it seems you need water in there for it to be effective, which is why we didn't use absolute ethanol.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:09 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:Engine degreaser and a brush works well for getting the detritus off of keyboards.

I'd be a little bit leery of doing this. Engine degreasers generally contain acetone, xylene, or other industrial solvents. Depending on the particular solvents and the type of plastics used in the construction of the keyboard, you may find that you're removing more than you intended!
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:15 am

The plastic parts of a Model M will ride in the upper rack of a dishwasher without troubles. For the keycaps, either soak them in a bowl of soapy water or steal your wife's lingerie laundry bag and put them in the dishwasher as well.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:59 am

Captain Ned wrote:The plastic parts of a Model M will ride in the upper rack of a dishwasher without troubles. For the keycaps, either soak them in a bowl of soapy water or steal your wife's lingerie laundry bag and put them in the dishwasher as well.

Should we add "Model M - dishwasher safe" to its specs now? ;) :lol:
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 11:03 am

Captain Ned wrote:For the keycaps, either soak them in a bowl of soapy water or steal your wife's lingerie laundry bag and put them in the dishwasher as well.

For us homebrewers, a disposable mesh hop/grain steeping bag ought to work too! :wink:
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:37 pm

Sadly, I don't have a dishwasher. However, from what I saw, it didn't look that bad, so some scrubbing with isopropyl alcohol and Q-tips or a paper towel should be enough. Now to get around to bringing those keyboards home and seeing if they work.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:38 pm

Canageek wrote:Sadly, I don't have a dishwasher. However, from what I saw, it didn't look that bad, so some scrubbing with isopropyl alcohol and Q-tips or a paper towel should be enough. Now to get around to bringing those keyboards home and seeing if they work.

I wasn't that brave with my Model M caps. I just soaked them in soap water.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 1:11 pm

Flying Fox wrote:I wasn't that brave with my Model M caps. I just soaked them in soap water.

Dye sublimation on the keycaps, so no worries about scrubbing off the letters.
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Re: Advice on selling mechanical keyboards?

Postposted on Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:54 pm

just brew it! wrote:I'd be a little bit leery of doing this. Engine degreasers generally contain acetone, xylene, or other industrial solvents. Depending on the particular solvents and the type of plastics used in the construction of the keyboard, you may find that you're removing more than you intended!


I wouldn't try it with modern keyboards, but it worked really well with the Model Ms and Gateway keyboards circa-2000 at the school district I worked for. We would spray the keyboards with a diluted mixture, scrub them down, and we were done.

I don't remember the exact brand, but it was purple stuff.
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