[IC] Paradigm ASK55 - a 14.5u/55% Alps Keyboard with Multi-Board Support

The Alps 14.5u custom

Pre-launch IC now live!

Backstory and Origins:

In Summer 2018, I fell in love with the Apple M0116 keyboards and layout. I explored the options available to make a modern, sleek keyboard using the gorgeous keycaps and Alps switches. There was nothing readily available, unlike for the AEKII. After quickly realising that a regular 60% case for the Alps64 wasn’t going to cut it, the ASK55 was born.

Over the last year, I’ve worked hard and spent a lot of time with some great people. I went away and developed 9 x 14.5u plates for the M0116, M0118, M0330, Mac Portable, IIc (and IIc with additional bottom row 1u key), IIc Plus and both NeXT non-ADB layouts with help from generous community members who loaned me the keysets for testing against.

The case has gone through numerous revisions but we’re finally at a point where we’re happy with our product. Thus, a year on, we’re looking to see if there’s enough hype to make it possible!

Facts and Specifications:

  • 9 classic 14.5u Apple layouts supported
  • A three-piece, case mount construction
    • A ‘swoop’ top to support the M0116, M0118, M0330 and Mac Portable
    • A ‘flat’ top to support the NeXT AAE, NeXT ABP, both IIc plates and the IIc Plus
    • A common bottom which supports all layouts
    • Available in frosted polycarbonate and 6063 aluminium
  • 14.5u Alps PCB
    • QMK-compatible, USB-C connectivity
    • One PCB which supports all 8 layouts
    • RGB underglow
  • Dedicated plates
    • A dedicated plate for each layout
    • Available in brushed brass and brushed stainless steel

Current Status (02/01/2020):

Prototype photos can be found at [url=https://paradigm.parts/projects/ask55]https://paradigm.parts/projects/ask55[/url]. Do you guys know how damn hard it is to take somewhat respectable pictures in the dark?!

Our final interest check is also live. Please register your interest!

News and Links:

FAQ/LATEST UPDATE: https://paradigm.parts/articles/ask55-faq

1 Like

The “60%” area of the M0116 is only 14.5u wide instead of the modern ANSI or ISO 60% width of 15 units, so if you plop this PCB into a modern 60% tray mount case, there will be an awkward gap somewhere of half a keycap’s width. Not sure if you have a solution to this or not but I’d be pretty careful about marketing this as a drop-in solution for 60% / pok3r style cases.

You’re totally right. It’s something I’ve opened up to the floor and I’ve put the question in there to see how people would like to see it tackled.

It’s still early days - who knows what might happen? :yum:

One solution for the gap is to make .25u blockers or “accent” pieces to fill the space on either side of the caps. There are several other Alps keycap sets that are 14.5u that you might consider supporting as well. Apple IIc, IBM 5140 etc.

It’s tricky. Realistically, I’m not sure how much I can do with .25u. The only options would be to do something on the plate or develop a case to eradicate the gap.

I’m considering the addition of other layouts and boards, I just need to see what resources already exist else I’ll be buying myself a few, in order to draft up.

Not too positive the 0.25u blockers would work because that would put some of the Pok3r tray mount posts directly underneath switches, which starts to limit the PCB to cases specifically designed for it. IMO, just design a case which is specifically designed with M0116 keycaps in mind and 14.5u wide but in the 60% format. M0116 keycaps have the same deal as AEK–they are aggressively sculpted using variable stem lengths so there is an awkward gap between bottom of keycap and case for the number row so regular 60% cases don’t look awesome with them anways.

I know a thing or two about case design, manufacturing, and CAD modeling (running Modern M0110 right now) so pls send me a PM if you need any help!

One more thing…if ASK60 has its own dedicated case design, I think it would be pretty dope to incorporate that big honking power button from the M0116 into the case and PCB design (it also uses an Alps switch mount, just rotated 90 degrees IIRC). :smiley:

In all honesty, I think I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. I had completely neglected to consider tray mount posts. Of course there’s going to be some degree of overlap.

And you’re right, the power button is a standard switch :ok_hand:

I’ll send you a message shortly.

Btw, I think the 5140 is a 15!

All, a quick update from me.

As a result of the IC, I began pursuing the option of a 55. Thus, the ASK55 has been born. I’ve been working on plates and bringing together the efforts of folk before me. I’ll update more when I can and I thank you all for your input thus far.

I checked and you are correct that 5140 is 15u. I’m sure I have some laptop caps from something that are 14.5u… But who cares about that. There was someone on Reddit a while back that did a 14.5u PCB. Found the link to his PCB on deskthority workshop.

Hey! Yeah, I’ll cover the main layouts and hopefully any true anomalies can adhere to any of the 6 layouts I’ll be sticking on the PCB.

Funny you say that - I’m working with Snacks on this because he’s done a lot of legwork already. I’m revising the layouts slightly as some of the keys are slightly off - something which will be more noticable with a plate. I’ll be providing more updates soonTM!

This has evolved ever so slightly

Check out the update at Paradigm! I’m still eager to hear what people think about a sandwich case. Does anybody want to get involved from a case point-of-view? What’s your experience with FR-4 for plates?

Quite an update :roll_eyes:

Please make sure you check out the IC form and register your interest!

hell yeah I’m up for this

Hell yeah, nice one - thank you!

If you haven’t already, I’d really appreciate it if you could fill out the pre-launch IC. It’s really useful and allows me to gauge numbers for suppliers :grin:

I already did :wink:

1 Like