Brand New Model F September Update – shipping milestone, dye sub success, next container shipment, solenoid installation video, firmware

Project status summary – what has been going on lately:

This section is nearly the same as last month’s update: For those who have not been following recent updates and frequent postings over on the Deskthority and geekhack project threads, I will note that there is still time to customize and order your Brand New Model F Keyboard and/or any accessories like the First Aid Kit for future repairs, extra key sets, inner foam, extra flippers/springs, Model F key pullers, custom made 3 meter USB cables compatible with these keyboards, and other parts. Also I will note that the keyboards have started shipping – it does not mean that your keyboard will be shipping right away! There is still a ways to go to get everyone’s keyboard out.

The major update for September is that I’ve QC’d and shipped out 500+ keyboards so far and am continuing to send out shipments without printed keys to those who want early delivery, with printed items to ship later.

The only ones that are not going out are those who prefer delivery all at once (e.g. if they do not have extra Model M / Model F / Unicomp keyboards to borrow keys from) and those whose keyboards are in the second of two container shipments of the early bird round (mostly the remaining keyboards with installed, unprinted keys as well as the compact case keyboards).

The last step is the dye sublimation which they are working on setting up and still needs more time to complete.

Major Shipping Milestone!

This month the 500th Brand New Model F Keyboard shipped! This is a major milestone for the project that started back in 2015.

Orders continue to ship out. Message me if you’re interested in the separate shipping option described above.

For those not aware – the “separate shipping” option is still available for you to request – more details in point 3 of the June update below.  I continue to mail out keyboards, First Aid Kits, and anything else in stock to those who request it, with printed keys to ship later.  Most classic case keyboards can ship in the next month or so upon request, except some black and True Red cases.  Many keyboards are arriving in the second of two container shipments for the early bird round, expected later this year.  Black, Industrial SSK Blue, and Dark Gray unprinted key sets will arrive later this year as well.  Pearl/pebble unprinted key sets are in stock and can ship with your keyboard if you have ordered it (you can still place a new order for one of these key sets as well, so you have keys to use now as well as having printed keys that will arrive later).

Regarding new Model F orders, orders can ship in two parts if you’re interested, with the keyboard and non-printed accessories that are in stock to ship within about one month of ordering, and the rest to ship later when ready. Please feel free to email me to make sure the option is available for what you’re ordering, if you are interested in that option.

Second container shipment:

The factory is wrapping up the repairs and expects the next container shipment to go out before the end of October. In order to continue mailing out keyboards upon request, the factory will not be holding up the second container shipment for the dye sublimation to finish.

This shipment consists of the remaining items from my first order (the early bird round) plus extras that I ordered, beyond what people have ordered. All the remaining beam spring controllers (both Displaywriter and non-Displaywriter) and solenoids were completed and will be included in this shipment.

Dye sub update: Great success this month!

Below is a high-res scan of the latest sublimated keys of excellent quality (same as what was posted previously with my phone camera) vs. the exact originals they were based off of.

The new ones as sublimated by the factory’s equipment appear to be a touch wider and thicker, so the finalized artwork will be updated to counteract those changes. (I did not account for the higher than expected amount of dye migration/bleed during the sublimation process, as the finalized artwork was an exact match to the originals)

As noted earlier the sublimation quality is excellent, as shown in these scans, looking at the keys in person, and examining them with my stereo microscope. The factory is working on the alignment and the jigs.

It is interesting to note the amount of uneven wear on older, well-used IBM keys compared to brand new ones.

I was very impressed that the quality of the sublimation itself met or exceeded the quality of the highest percentile of IBM’s Model F sublimation work, even comparing them under my stereo microscope.

I provided the factory with detailed tolerance specifications for the dye sublimation alignment testing this month. Now that the sublimation settings are good, the trial of the dye sublimation jig was worked on this month and was set to be completed by the end of last week. This is the first test of a full jig as opposed to previous tests of small jigs to work out how to achieve the tolerances, so it took a few weeks longer than previous test jigs. The dye sublimation has taken longer than expected but as reported in the prior update, the results have been outstanding, meeting or even exceeding the sublimation quality of the 90th+ percentile original IBM examples (check out the prior updates for more details).

Solenoids update:

The solenoids themselves already started shipping. I received a few of the production units by DHL Express. The rest of the production batch will be on the second container shipment later this year. If you would prefer not to wait please email or PM me if you wanted to help cover the additional shipping costs. The solenoids and solenoid drivers are still available to order.

Solenoid Installation Guide and Sound Test video:

Model F Comprehensive Product manual update:

Work on a comprehensive product manual for the Model F Keyboard (helpful for both new and original Model F keyboards) continues, thanks to efforts led by Deskthority member darkcruix. The manual is in great shape so far and is now more than 100 pages! Please feel free to check out the manual and help out with the effort by going to this Deskthority thread:

Great computer setup with a new F77!

I wanted to share (with permission) a great photo from a customer matching a True Red F77 with an SGI (Silicon Graphics) Fuel computer. A great setup!

xwhatsit issues; QMK firmware on the Model F:

A couple months ago I switched to QMK for all the new Model F’s that are shipping. I continue to be surprised with the xwhatsit issues that have come up in recent months based on xwhatsit’s otherwise solid history in my experience dating back to 2014. I do hope that these xwhatsit firmware-specific issues can be resolved so that there will always be multiple firmware options for these keyboards. QMK so far continues to work very well. If interested, please contact user pandrew to request an invite to the QMK Model F beta.

Compiling firmware:

I thought I’d share instructions someone sent me on using the xwhatsit utility and compiling the xwhatsit hex firmware files – someone was asking me about this recently. As always, this would be done at your own risk.

Compiling/running the xwhatsit capsense utility on Linux:

For Ubuntu:
1. Open the Software & Updates program and select Community-maintained free and open-source software (universe)
2. Extract the precompiled file into a directory
3. Open a terminal and cd into that directory
4. In a terminal run: sudo apt update && sudo apt install gcc gcc-avr avrdude
5. sudo apt install build-essential
6. sudo apt install qtcreator
7. Run sudo ./ibm_capsense_usb_util

How to compile the firmware hex file on Linux (easier to do than on Windows):

For Ubuntu:
Open the Software & Updates program and select Community-maintained free and open-source software (universe)
In a terminal, run: sudo apt update && sudo apt install make gcc gcc-avr avrdude avr-libc build-essential
To get patch files from GitHub, click on the commit and in the URL, append .patch and then save that as a .patch file. pandrew’s work to create 0.9.2 firmware can be found here: … its/master
Move the patch files into the src directory
In the terminal cd into the src directory
To change the files based on a patch file, run patch < filename.patch
Run patch files in order from oldest to newest (start with debounce patch, then patch 1, then patch 2, then patch 3 (the latter three patches from pandrew).
Run make and copy the ibm_capsense_usb.hex file that was created
The default debounce is 11. To create the debounce 6 version, edit the scan.h file and change the line with #define SCAN_DB_THRESH_TOP 11 – change to a 6 (I used to use the debounce 6 version when sending out the Brand New Model F keyboards)
Run make and copy the ibm_capsense_usb.hex file that was created