Alternate SUN4 keyboards (Summary.)

From: John Witters (witters@tc.fluke.COM)
Date: Fri Jan 17 1992 - 18:02:32 CST

This article summarizes the e-mail I received, the postings to various
newsgroups, and my own investigations. I'm still not sure of the distinction
between a Sun 4 and a SPARCstation. I use the term Sun 4 to refer to any of
the newer machines which use a miniDIN connector for the keyboard cable
instead of a 15 pin D connector. My original query is posted below, with
comments added on what I found out.

>Our site is upgrading our SUN3s to SUN4s. I'm looking for alternate keyboards
>for a SUN4. I don't like the standard Sun type 4 keyboard because they put
>the RETURN key in the wrong place. The Sun 101-A keyboard option is better,
>but they put the ESCAPE key in the wrong place. What I'd like to have is a
>keyboard with a key arrangement like that on my SUN3 keyboard. Looking in the
>Catalyst catalog, I found a third party keyboard vendor named Cheetah Control,
>which offered what I want. However, they seem to have gone out of business.
>If anyone knows if one of the following alternatives is available, please send
>me e-mail or give me a call. Heck, I'll even accept a collect call!
> 1. A SUN4 compatible keyboard with a SUN3 key arrangement.

I struck out on this one. There is rumored to be a new Sun keyboard coming
out soon. I called the local Sun sales office, and the only thing they were
aware of was a new product coming out this Summer, which is rumored to have a
new keyboard. I have no idea if the new product's keyboard is any better than
what's now available. The sales person I talked to admitted that a lot of
people have been asking for Type 3 keyboards that will work with a Sun 4. If
the sales people are telling the factory about the demand, maybe Sun will
eventually supply it.

Sun no longer supplies Type 3 keyboards. Apparently, their keyboard vendor
(Oak) got out of the keyboard business. The Type 4 and Type 101-A keyboards
are made by Keytronics. If you order a replacement keyboard for a Sun3,
you'll get a Type 4 keyboard.

By the way, my original query might not have made it clear that Sun offers a
Type 101-A keyboard as an option instead of the Type 4 keyboard. The 101-A
keyboard has a key layout that resembles an IBM PC's keyboard. The RETURN key
is in the right place on the 101-A, but the ESCAPE key is in the wrong place.

> 2. An adapter to allow a SUN3 keyboard to be used with a SUN4.

One person said you could order an adapter from Nu Data (201) 842-5757. I
didn't investigate this.

Apparently, some Sun4s used a 15 pin D connector which will work just fine
with a Type 3 keyboard. I wasn't able to find a ready made adapter to connect
the Type 3 keyboard to the mini-DIN connector found on most Sun4s. However,
you can order a cable from Sun which allows a Type 4 keyboard to be used with
a Sun3. If you make or buy a 15 pin D connector gender bender adapter, you
can use this cable to connect a Type 3 keyboard to a Sun4. I tried this, and
it works. This is probably how I'll solve my problem. You'll need to order
part number X937A, "6 foot keyboard cable 'M' to 'D'." It costs $20.00
You'll also need a 15 pin female D connector adapter. One person gave
complete details on how to build a cable from scratch, assuming you can find
mini-DIN and 15 pin female D connectors. His instructions for doing this are
given below.

+ From: (Nick Sayer)
+ Newsgroups: comp.sys.sun.hardware
+ Subject: type 4 / type 3 keyboard pinouts
+ Date: 5 Jan 92 03:02:57 GMT
+ Organization: The Duck Pond public unix, Santa Clara, CA
+ Not being the type to spend upwards of $50 for something that ought
+ to be worth $5, I built my own 4->3 adapter so I could use a type 4
+ keyboard on my 501-1164 (Carerra) CPU.
+ 8 pin socket
+ 7
+ 8 6
+ 5 4 3
+ 2 1
+ 1 GND
+ 2 GND
+ 3 Vcc
+ 4 RxDB (Mouse)
+ 5 TxDA (Keyboard)
+ 6 RxDA (Keyboard)
+ 7 TxDB (Mouse)
+ 8 Vcc
+ 15 pin socket
+ 8 - - - 1
+ 15 - 9
+ 1 RxDA (Keyboard)
+ 3 TxDA (Keyboard)
+ 5 RxDB (Mouse)
+ 7 TxDB (Mouse)
+ 2,4,6,8,9 GND
+ 10-15 Vcc
+ My type 4 keyboard behaves in every way like the type 3 it replaced.
+ In particular, I can't find any way to exercise the LEDs, and the
+ key-click is screwed up (it clicks when you use shift, control,
+ and other such meta-keys). I can live without keyclick, however,
+ to get a keyboard where it's not necessary. :-)
+ --
+ 37 19 49 N / 121 57 36 W | BLOATED IDIOT!!!"
+ +1 408 249 963[012] (modem) | -- Ren

> 3. An application note and software describing how to re-arrange
> the keycaps on a SUN4 keyboard.

The keycaps can be pried off and moved. There are two approaches to the
software problem. For the "raw console" or Sunview, use "dumpkeys" and
"loadkeys." For X11 (MIT, Open Windows, or other) use "xmodmap." I haven't
tried this myself. I read the manual page for "dumpkeys," "loadkeys,"
"keytables," and "kb." They looked fairly intimidating, but I could probably
puzzle it out if I need to. We don't have X11 at our site, so I can't comment
on xmodmap.

> 4. An adapter between an industry standard keyboard interface
> (i.e. IBM PC) and a SUN4.

One person speculated that the miniDIN connector was the same as the ps/2
keyboard connector. He suggested using an adapter from a standard DIN
connector to a miniDIN connector, and plugging a standard IBM PC compatible
keyboard into a Sun4. He admitted that this left out the mouse, which would
make it useless for me. I have my doubts about whether the Sun4 miniDIN
connector is electrically compatible with the PS/2 keyboard connector, even if
they are mechanically compatible. I'll let someone else risk blowing up their
Sun4 or a keyboard by experimenting.

> 5. Any other ideas?

Use the Type 4 keyboard as is and get used to it. It isn't as awful as I
think, and the Type 4 actually has a better feel to it than the Type 3. My
response to this suggestion is that I agree the Type 4 has a better feel, but
as a touch typist, I feel the placement of the return key is idiotic. Call me
old fashioned, but I refuse to grow a sixth finger on my right hand just so I
can adapt to the new location of the return key.

Some folks wanted to know if they could use their Type 4 keyboard with a Sun3.
Yes, all you need to do is order the cable from Sun. Several people here had
the Type 3 keyboards they were using with their Sun3s die on them. Sun
replaced the Type 3 keyboards with Type 4 keyboards, which used a cable to
convert from the miniDIN connector on the Type 4 keyboard to the 15 pin D
connector used on the Sun3.

Someone wanted to know if they could use their Sun2 keyboard with a Sun4.
Rumor has it that there was a Sun2 to Sun3 adapter. If such a beast exists,
then you could connect the Sun2 to Sun3 adapter to the Sun3 to Sun4 adapter
described above, and use your Sun2 keyboard with a Sun4. I think this
suggestion came from the Department of Redundancy Department.

One guy had some Sun1 keyboards he wants to get rid of. However, it seems that
the Sun1 keyboards used an entirely different electrical interface from the
Sun3 and later Suns. Maybe they could be donated to a computer museum

    *  *  *		John Witters			voice:	(206) 356-5274
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