The Keyboard Hack Page
This page is devoted to ways to customize your Newton External
Keyboard. It represents some things Enfour employees have been
playing around the office. It is meant to be taken AS IS and NOT
as any product announcement. Anything you do after reading this
page entirely at YOUR OWN RISK.
Firstly, lets look at the keyboard cable. After doing a great
job of the original Newton Modem, with its lock-away serial cable,
what was Apple thinking of when it designed the Newton External
Keyboard. Admittedly it has the best key touch and format of any
mobile keyboard available in any market, but there are a couple
of places it falls down.
One is the size of the base. There is a lot of wasted space there.
Legs may not be a prefect answer, but I think there is too much
air in there filling up by briefcase when I carry it around. A
slimmer version would be nice. You can pull the keyboard apart
move the controller board arrangement and make a flat bottom,
but this is a lot of work and I will save it for another day.
(Speaking of the controller board... where did they get those
huge chips?! The parts and design look like early '80 engineering.
I am sure it might have been cheaper this way, but I have to carry
this thing around.)
The other is the cable. It sticks out of the top. Just the right
place for it to stop you resting flush your MP2x00 -especially
in the horisontal position. It also must be bent to stow away
and makes zipping up the keyboard carrying case a real hassle.
See the cable coming out the top
Original cable hole
So what to do? A simple hack, my friends. You are very unlikely
to break anything, so give it a go.
1. Unscrew the 6 screws in the base of the keyboard.
2. Take a handyman's knife or a round file and make an indentation
in the right side of the base the same size as the one the cable
is coming out on the top.
3. Move the cable to your new hole.
4. Close it up.
There! That didn't hurt. A couple of seconds scraping a smooth
indentation and the cable no longer gets in the way!
For those who are more technically inclined here is a variant
on the theme and my favorite.
This requires you to drill a hole in the base. See below.
The hard part is you need to cut the cable to feed it through the hole. You need to attach it
back up, so this will no be a hack for everyone. (Cut it at the
controller end, not the serial plug end.)
The advantage of this layout is that the bend in the cable doesn't
stick out on the right either. This is the slimmest way to set
up for carrying in the case.
tucked away underneath
For people who use a MessagePad in the horisontal orientation,
you might like to make your hole on the left side. (Either by
the file or drill method.) This is position the cable up nicely for a snug format.
For the really mobile, you might like to make your new hole a
little bigger than needed. This will allow you to adjust the length
of the cable and let you slide the cable inside for carrying.
$@!!(JWell that's it. Very simple ways to make your external keyboard
life much happier. I am sure you will be satisfied with the results.
Deep hacking 1
Now we get into the really deep stuff. These are things you should
You can see what this is just by looking at the pictures. Here
we have none away with the cable all together and added a serial
port. This requires that you solder the connector wires on to
a serial plug. In this case we have carved out the base and used
plastic putty to shape the connector.
It is nothing to look at. But it means you only need one cable
around. Great for people carrying PowerBooks at the same time
as their Newton.
Deep hacking 2
This hack requires an unsightly hole to be cut out of the top
of the keyboard. This is for the lid of a MP2K series to fit in.
You will need an Interconnect plug, so you will have to pull one
of the Apple ones apart. It takes a bit of construction work to
fix the plug in place.
The result looks really bad, but you now no longer require a cable
of any type.
Here is how it fits in.
You get an "all-in-one look" like this.
For the really astute people amonst you, you may have noticed
something strange about the MP2000 and keyboard configuration
in Cable4. "What, no Interconnect adapter? Why is the cable on that side?",
you ask. Well this is a little something else we are playing with.
The picture below will give you the idea, but that is another
by Richard Northcott Dec. 1997
Return to the top
Copyright Enfour Group 1997, contact >>> firstname.lastname@example.org