xwhatsit Model F, Beam Spring USB controllers, solenoid drivers, solenoids

Starting at $30

Beamspring USB-C (non-Displaywriter)
Beamspring USB-C (non-Displaywriter)
Beamspring USB-C (Displaywriter only)
Beamspring USB-C (Displaywriter only)
Model F USB-C (New Models)
Model F USB-C (New Models)
Model F USB (Old Models)
Model F USB (Old Models)
Solenoid Driver (no solenoid included)
Solenoid Driver (no solenoid included)
Solenoid (no solenoid driver included)
Solenoid (no solenoid driver included)

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Add-ons total:



To choose the correct option that you need, please see below.  To purchase two separate store items from this page, you need to make a selection in the drop down menu above, add the item to your cart, then go back to this page and add the other item that you want.  Note:  All controllers offered here come with USB-C!  This is the only place to purchase these controllers as no one else manufactures them.  


What to order to use a solenoid in your new Model F keyboard:

  • All you need are the solenoid driver and solenoid.  These are two separate store items so please do add both to your cart!  Solenoid drivers help you add a solenoid to your keyboard.  You need both a solenoid driver and a solenoid; they are not sold together.  The solenoid driver does not include the solenoid but it does include the ribbon cable to connect to your controller.  The solenoid is installed inside your classic case new Model F keyboard, but it has to be installed outside the compact case keyboards.  Controllers are not required for your Brand New F62/F77 keyboard – they are included and installed with each F62/F77 order.

What to order to have a solenoid in your original Model F keyboard:

  • Model F USB controller, solenoid driver and solenoid.  These are separate store items so please do add all three to your cart!  The new controllers work with the original Model F keyboards but you have to spread out the ribbon cable wires a bit to account for the wider spacing on the originals.  The Model F controllers should work with all Model F keyboards that have separate controller boards (non-XT style).

What to order to have a solenoid in your IBM Beam Spring keyboard:

  • Solenoid driver, solenoid, and beam spring controller.  These are three separate store items so please do add all three to your cart!

Which beam spring controller to order:

  • Displaywriter beam spring controller (if you have a displaywriter keyboard – Google to confirm if you are not sure)
  • Other beam spring controllers – the non-displaywriter beam spring controller – examples include but are not limited to IBM 3278 Beam Spring Keyboard, 5251, 3279, 3276, and 4978
  • Some beam spring keyboards (3277, 3741) have a non-detachable controller – you may need to order a replacement capacitive PCB as well (I do not offer these)

What to order as a spare controller for your new Model F keyboard:

  • Model F USB (New Models)


Note: Small items in the store, like this item, do not ship free unless they are shipping with a keyboard – please contact me for a shipping quotation.  Please note that you have to head over to the Deskthority.net and geekhack mechanical keyboard forums for support as no one on one technical support is offered.


For important details and instructions please see below:


Custom made solenoid specifications:  Why pick this solenoid over other solenoids or over IBM’s original solenoids? The new solenoids are far beefier than IBM’s originals, so your solenoid clicking will be even better!  It’s a custom design that you can only order here.  The specifications are 6v, 40 ohm, 0.15A, 0.9W, adjustable throw factory set to 1mm but with a user-adjustable range of about 0.5mm to 5mm (there are 2 screws that can be loosened to adjust the distance of the strike bar).  The factory throw setting allows you to start using this solenoid with no modification (still need to follow xwhatsit’s solenoid installation guide to avoid damage to equipment). This solenoid has the dark blue outer covering, black and white twisted wires and 2.54mm connector like the original IBM solenoids, but with a strike bar so it won’t exactly resemble the IBM solenoid.  This solenoid is not the one that’s available on eBay, though it looks similar and the voltage and resistance specs are the same.  Also that other model doesn’t have the adjustable throw – you would have to spend time milling the strike bar to modify it for correct usage with the solenoid drivers.  If the ebay solenoid’s throw distance isn’t changed, your solenoid will be very sluggish and won’t be able to operate at full typing speed. Also my solenoid is even larger than the eBay solenoid, the 26mm height dimension on eBay is set to be ~29-30mm on my solenoid (the solenoid goes sideways in F62/F77 so it fits) though all the solenoid specs are subject to change.  With a larger metal frame, my solenoid should be a little louder than the eBay model and far louder than the original IBM!  This is the largest possible solenoid that will fit inside the classic style F62 and F77 cases.  These solenoids will be in the second container ship, expected to leave China soon, so they are not in stock just yet.

These solenoids are also a great option as an upgrade to IBM’s original solenoids too (I’d always save the originals of course for the sake of completeness).

Important note:  Model F custom USB cable not included – please order one here:  https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/product/spare-usb-keyboard-cable/

Note: legal, safety, and limited warranty information for this MODEL F LABS LLC product is available to consumers pre-sale and will be furnished upon request, by writing to the email or mailing address at the bottom of this web page.  Of course you’ll get a printed booklet with your order shipment!

Please note that for all PCBs and controllers that specifications and functionality may change over time, so I cannot guarantee compatibility or availability of each feature on these products.  One example:  the solenoid driver activity LED for diagnostic purposes does not work (the LED never worked even on my original solenoid driver made directly by xwhatsit).  One person was able to rotate the LED to switch the polarity and they got it working, but this would be done at your own risk.

Warning – you may destroy your controller, solenoid driver, and/or solenoid by not following the solenoid driver instructions as well as the other instructions in the manual at modelfkeyboards.com/manual

Most important is to match the square on both sides of the ribbon cable connector, so that you connect the squares (voltage line) to each other.  The position is different from what is pictured online, from other xwhatsit controllers, and from the photo below.  If you install the cable the wrong way you will destroy your equipment.  If unsure, do not connect it!

For the solenoid drivers:  see the images below for the general installation procedure of solenoid drivers inside Brand New Model F Keyboards.