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Another Keyboard Post

January 2, 2022 - General Computing

I’ve written about products from Unicomp previously- specifically, the Unicomp Ultra Classic, most recently Here. Unicomp is the company who now makes the Model-M keyboards. And has for some time. I’d thought they owned the patent on buckling spring which is why we had switches like the Cherry MX Style of mechanical keyboard key actuation design, but There seem to be other vendors now offering keyboards using the design, such as Model F Keyboards, which is creating keyboards which attempt to reproduce the Model F keyboard, which preceded the Model M, and also used buckling spring switches, and according to their copy there the product uses the buckling spring design; I think the patent must have expired relatively recently to allow this.

As I’ve previously written, my first Unicomp keyboard was a beige Ultra-Classic. That failed, and for some reason I gave Unicomp a second go with a Black model of the same keyboard. Eventually, as written in my previous post on the subject, that started to exhibit the same problems and symptoms that preceded the failure of my original Ultra Classic, and I nipped the problem in the bud by buying a Corsair K70.

Only a few hours ago, I stumbled upon the Black Ultra Classic and, on a lark, decided to plug it in and remind myself how broken it was. To my surprise, it worked perfectly fine! I have a secondary computer setup using an Acer Z22 AIO, which also plays host to the display of several other computers, with the USB  peripherals being swapped as necessary by moving the USB Hub. It had a “RedDragon” mechanical keyboard attached, and so I did a drop-in replacement on the USB Hub.

Imagine my surprise when the keyboard was now completely non-functional. After some testing I found it worked when plugged in directly, but not through the hub. Eventually I realized the power supply for the hub was disconnected, and plugging it back in did indeed restore the keyboard’s functionality. But I was curious and used a USB tester to see the power draw. The keyboard was drawing extra power during identification which wasn’t working through the USB Hub when connected without Power, possibly due to sharing the power from a single USB port on the host machine. Oddly, it was drawing as much as 5.25V instead of 5V too; I threw out the old keyboard when I moved, mostly due to me gutting it and sort of ruining it trying to fix the issues. But now I wonder if it was simply a case of it trying to draw too much power? I don’t think so, but it’s certainly possible.

As an aside, I am in fact still using the same Corsair K70 keyboard I described in the linked post, which at the time I had purchased recently but I’ve now had about 5 years. It’s held up quite well. Now, I used the same colour scheme from when I wrote that until a few days ago, when I decided to change it up. Because I had used the same colours for so long (and never turn the backlight off) the LEDs have degraded such that now when I set the colour to white, I get a colour scheme somewhat “complementary” to the colours I had before; for example, keys that were previously blue, will now have a yellow tinge even when set to white, because the Blue LED, having been worked so hard for the last 5 years, just isn’t as bright as the relatively unused Red and Green. It’s an interesting aging effect that I’ve not seen anybody discuss before, but it’s certainly something worth considering in terms of using and maintaining a keyboard; In my case, since my computer is on 24/7 I probably should have been turning the backlight off with the keyboard button when I was going to bed or otherwise not using the keyboard for some time.

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