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

Starting at $30

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

Notes / How'd you hear about the project? What convinced you to join in?

DT/GH/Reddit username (to cross reference w/ the interest form - OK to order if you did not sign up or if you don't have a user name)

Total:

Description

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.

 

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.  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)

For important details and instructions please see below:

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.

Update:  Custom made solenoids themselves, xwhatsit USB-C beamspring controllers (displaywriter and non-displaywriter) and xwhatsit solenoid drivers now in stock and available!  (solenoid driver is compatible with xwhatsit Model F and beam spring controllers).   xwhatsit Model F USB-C controllers are also still available.

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.

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.

As posted by forum members on Deskthority:  The solenoid switch is found as “Exp Toggle” in the keymap dropdown in xwhatsit capsense software. I placed it on a layer so I could turn in on and off as I see fit 😉

For QMK:
You need to adjust the config.h and rules.mk as well as shown below. keymap.c is attached

config.h
#pragma once
#define TAPPING_TERM 200
#define TAPPING_TOGGLE 2
#define SOLENOID_MIN_DWELL 20
#define SOLENOID_MAX_DWELL 40

rules.mk
TAP_DANCE_ENABLE = yes
HAPTIC_ENABLE += SOLENOID

For all PCB products, colors and components may vary.  Cable designs may vary for the solenoid driver cables.

xwhatsit Model F expansion header pinout:  note that it is different from the original xwhatsit controller – you can damage the controller and other hardware by improper connections to the expansion pins.  Below is the pinout on the new Model F xwhatsit controllers.  Head over to the deskthority and geekhack forums for any and all questions related to the xwhatsit controllers.

xwhatsit pinout