Dead RK-9000

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Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:22 am

Damnit, I just killed one of my RK-9000s. It is very dry here this morning, when I sat down to log in I got a massive ZAP. The keyboard has failed in a very strange way (Shift keys don't work any more, but otherwise the keyboard still seems functional), and the USB port it was plugged into on the PC is dead.

I'm checking into ordering a third-party replacement controller board for it.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:41 pm

Leave in unplugged for a couple days, then try again. It might be working again.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:01 pm

ludi wrote:Leave in unplugged for a couple days, then try again. It might be working again.

Yeah, worth a try but highly doubtful. Turns out the Shift keys are all by themselves on one row of the switch matrix. So it sounds like the circuitry associated with that row is fried in the controller chip.

I may just go and pick up a Ducky from Micro Center as a replacement...
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:21 am

I would say this is your perfect opportunity to try out that cheap mechanical from monoprice. Although MX Blue is the clickety clackety one so I am not sure if your office mates will appreciate.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:09 am

Flying Fox wrote:I would say this is your perfect opportunity to try out that cheap mechanical from monoprice. Although MX Blue is the clickety clackety one so I am not sure if your office mates will appreciate.

Funny you should mention that, I actually thought of it shortly after I started this thread. I went and tried to order one, but they are now out of stock. My nearest office mate managed to order one yesterday (maybe he got the last one? bastard... :lol:), so the noise would not be an issue regardless; he'll be over there clicking and clacking away. (My dead one had blues too, but with o-rings installed.)

I ended up swinging by the Micro Center on the way home from work and picking up a Ducky Zero. I considered ordering a "bare bones" (no keycaps) 'board from WASD and moving the keycaps from the dead one over since they've already got o-rings installed, but the Ducky was only $9 more than the keycap-less WASD since it was on sale. And the crappy Dell rubber dome I used for the day was really pissing me off, so this needs to get dealt with ASAP. Current plan is to use the Ducky at home, and take the RK-9000 from home to the office.

I will still pursue the controller board replacement idea, if that pans out I will have a spare.

Now I just need to decide whether I want to get another set of o-rings and go to the trouble of modding the Ducky (the RK-9000 at home has the o-ring mod too, so it is what I'm accustomed to). The Ducky also feels like it has an MX green under the spacebar, as the spacebar is noticeably stiffer (the RK-9000 had a blue there); that will take a little getting used to.

Yes, I am really picky about my keyboards. :wink:

Edit: And just as an aside for those of you who care about such things, the Ducky that Micro Center has on sale -- though it is still about double the cost of that (now out of stock) Monoprice unit -- has backlighting and media keys. I don't imagine I will make much use of those features, but they managed to add the media keys while still maintaining a very compact form factor, as the media keys go where the num/caps/scroll lock LEDs would normally go (the num/caps/scroll lock LEDs are inside their respective keys instead).

Edit 2: Something else that just occurred to me -- since they are backlight compatible, the Ducky's keycaps are necessarily "double-shot" molded. So the lettering won't eventually fade the way it tends to do on the Rosewills.

Edit 3: Arghh! Ducky Zero + Iogear GCS1104 KVM + older Linux systems = KVM glitchiness! :evil: Didn't have this issue with the Rosewill. At least invoking the KVM's "HID Reset" sequence (NumLock-Minus-F1) seems to straighten things out when it happens, and the issue does not seem to occur seems to occur less on newer (3.x) Linux kernels, so this issue should eventually (mostly) fix itself. :roll:
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:49 pm

Hey, would there happen to be anyone here who has an older (Gen 1) RK-9000 or Filco Majestouch that died due to a beverage spill? If so, I would be interested in taking it off your hands to scavenge the controller card!
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:40 am

A replacement controller is on its way, $35 shipped from some guy in Sweden who apparently designs custom keyboard controller boards as a hobby. The replacement is also "hackable" (the source code for the firmware is available, and you can flash your own custom firmware into it if you want).

I ordered it pre-assembled (he also sells the bare board and parts as a kit for $10 less). If the components had all been through-hole I would've probably gone the kit route; but I'm not confident enough in my ability to hand-solder tiny surface mount parts.

Also planning to replace the blue LEDs with red or green ones, since I already have the keyboard taken apart.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:53 am

You know JBI, have you thought about finding a "better" keyboard? I mean those RK's seem to have quite a few issues, some due to user error albeit. You should order 4-5 keyboards and audition them for a bit and just keep the one you want. Maybe find something a little more reliable.

I just wouldn't want to deal with the hassle of resoldering or maintenance you've had to go through. You like to tinker though, sooo.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Sun Mar 09, 2014 12:32 pm

The older RK-9000s (like the one I just killed) seem to have much better build quality, with none of the switch soldering or USB connector issues that plague the newer ones. Aside from apparent ESD susceptibility (and that really was a truly massive *zap* as it also killed the USB port on the PC) and the overly bright blue LEDs, I have had no other issues with it. I could easily see continuing to use it for years to come.

While I have it taken apart I also plan to install a ground wire to the switch mounting plate. Hopefully this will give any future discharges an easier path to ground than through the controller logic, though the fact that the plate is painted probably limits the usefulness of this mod. I suppose if I felt like popping all of the keycaps off I could scrape away a little bit of the paint around each switch, but that sounds like a lot of work!

FWIW I'm pretty happy with the Ducky too. The weird KVM switching issue has not happened again since the first day; I'm not sure what was up with that.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:08 am

C'mon JBI, just treat yourself to an early Bday gift, you deserve it ;)

http://codekeyboards.com/

I really want one of those in clears, but such a pain to Canada with the extra duty and taxes, and now exchange rate sigh.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:36 am

anotherengineer wrote:C'mon JBI, just treat yourself to an early Bday gift, you deserve it ;)

http://codekeyboards.com/

I really want one of those in clears, but such a pain to Canada with the extra duty and taxes, and now exchange rate sigh.


If the 104-key Green had PBT keycaps, i'd probably buy it on the spot. 170 for a keyboard that doesn't have everything I want is too much in my opinion.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:44 am

DancinJack wrote:
anotherengineer wrote:C'mon JBI, just treat yourself to an early Bday gift, you deserve it ;)

http://codekeyboards.com/

I really want one of those in clears, but such a pain to Canada with the extra duty and taxes, and now exchange rate sigh.


If the 104-key Green had PBT keycaps, i'd probably buy it on the spot. 170 for a keyboard that doesn't have everything I want is too much in my opinion.


Just buy some ;)
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:55 am

I know you have a wink, but geez. It looks like those are 1$ a piece plus shipping? 104 bucks for standard keyboard? No thanks.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:00 pm

anotherengineer wrote:C'mon JBI, just treat yourself to an early Bday gift, you deserve it ;)

http://codekeyboards.com/

I really want one of those in clears, but such a pain to Canada with the extra duty and taxes, and now exchange rate sigh.

I'm sticking with MX blues for now. If I got something like the Code I would want to replace both keyboards (home and work). One of the reasons I picked up a pair of RK-9000s in the first place was that my two Unicomps had very noticeably different spring stiffness, and it bugged me.

The Code is also a fair bit more than I am willing to spend on a keyboard. $110 for the Ducky was borderline, there's no way I'm paying $170.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:23 pm

Well, the new controller arrived, has been installed, and seems to work. I also installed a grounding wire between the mounting plate and a ground trace on the PCB.

I am seeing some strange behavior when going through the KVM though, essentially a more severe version of the issue I saw with the Ducky. The problem does not seem to occur if I use one of the peripheral USB ports on the KVM (instead of the one that is actually designated for the keyboard). The downside of this workaround is that the hotkeys to allow switching the KVM from the keyboard don't work (need to use the buttons on the KVM instead).

I believe there is a firmware update available for this KVM; maybe I will give that a shot.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:50 pm

DancinJack wrote:I know you have a wink, but geez. It looks like those are 1$ a piece plus shipping? 104 bucks for standard keyboard? No thanks.


There's a reason why group buys are a thing, things get a little cheaper that way for double-shots. But, still, they ain't gonna be cheap.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:53 pm

A Toofey sighting!

Good to have you back.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:56 pm

I lurk every now and then. ;)

And post on outdated front page articles occasionally. The whole e-mail when replies happen thing might actually cause discussions on older articles to keep going, actually...
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 5:58 pm

The DeathStar frontpage post is officially dead in the software transition.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:01 pm

Hah, I forgot about that one. :o

Anyway, I just want Signature Plastics to make Alps mount keycaps. This Matias Tactile Pro could use something other than the thin lasered ABS that's on it now.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:29 am

Upgrading the firmware on the KVM seems to have solved the flakiness issues. Very odd that these issues did not occur with the original Rosewill controller. But regardless, all is good in keyboard-land again!

As an unexpected side benefit, this controller also seems to dial back the brightness of the blinding blue LEDs a couple of notches.

Here's a pic of the new controller installed in the keyboard, and my mounting plate ground wire mod:
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Gotta love someone who names their company "Bathroom Epiphanies". Crazy Swedes. I can only speculate that he must've had the idea for making these things while sitting on the throne. :lol:
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:55 am

Any chance that could be retrofitted into a Model M, thus giving me native USB?
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:02 am

Not that particular one, but there have been replacement controllers for Model Ms.

One problem is that there's a few different generations of Model M, each with their own membrane connectors internally.

I believe a 42H1292 can use Unicomp's current controllers, for what it's worth.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:19 am

just brew it! wrote:though the fact that the plate is painted probably limits the usefulness of this mod. I suppose if I felt like popping all of the keycaps off I could scrape away a little bit of the paint around each switch, but that sounds like a lot of work!

I wouldn't bother. Most paints are not the greatest electrical insulators, and a layer that thin won't present meaningful resistance to a static discharge occurring well into the kilovolt range.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:27 am

bhtooefr wrote:I believe a 42H1292 can use Unicomp's current controllers, for what it's worth.

However, I'm rocking a 1391401.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:35 pm

In that case, might look at this: http://mg8.org/rump/
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:49 pm

bhtooefr wrote:In that case, might look at this: http://mg8.org/rump/

Oh bother. I see my soldering skills are about to get a workout.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:16 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
bhtooefr wrote:In that case, might look at this: http://mg8.org/rump/

Oh bother. I see my soldering skills are about to get a workout.

At least it is all through-hole. When I saw the keyboard controller I wanted was all SMT I paid the extra $10 to get it assembled instead of in kit form.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:17 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
bhtooefr wrote:In that case, might look at this: http://mg8.org/rump/

Oh bother. I see my soldering skills are about to get a workout.

At least it is all through-hole. When I saw the keyboard controller I wanted was all SMT I paid the extra $10 to get it assembled instead of in kit form.

No way no how am I up to SMT. My soldering skills started and ended at HeathKits.
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Re: Dead RK-9000

Postposted on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:46 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
just brew it! wrote:At least it is all through-hole. When I saw the keyboard controller I wanted was all SMT I paid the extra $10 to get it assembled instead of in kit form.

No way no how am I up to SMT. My soldering skills started and ended at HeathKits.

You'll be fine. Looked like that board had a DIP and a few through-hole discretes?

I should've taken a pic of the component side of the controller (it mounts in the keyboard component-side down). Build quality looked better than a lot of mass-produced stuff, and I'm pretty sure this is from a guy who is reflowing SMTs in his home/garage using a toaster oven.
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