No keys… won’t write
I have always been a Commodore fanboy and therefore never understood all the fuzz about Sinclair Computers. For me they always seemd to be underpowered, cheapy cripples – no sprites, no joystickports no real sound. As a constant reader of the fabulous Retro Gamer Magazine, you have no choice to neglect those tiny computers, though and talking to some guys at HomeCon really made me curious.
Now, two weeks ago, I bough a realy nice 70s design black and white TV on a bootmarket – the cool model that I spotted one week before was gone (oh wonder!) and so I had to go with the remaining Telefunken. Despite having a big scratch on the front, that I didn’t notice due to all the dirt, it is in working order and I took both – the ZX81 and the TV – to last weekends HomeCon. After some heavy knobturning sessions I went for the BBQ outside and Mugg managed to tune in on the ZX81. Great.
Just turning 30 years last year it cam to no big surprise that my ZX81 that I kept in the closet for ages now had the same problem. A quite common problem is keyboard membran that it stops working after a few years. The plastic band usualy is broken due to being bent inside the case and sitting on top of a RAM chip that tends to get hot, leaving the cable dry and brittle. Same was here. So no chance to load something.
A quick search on the net and I got an all newly produced replacement keyboard from RWAP. Replacing it is no big task and here are some pictures. As I stored away the tiny black and white TV in the basement, I haven’t tried the fixe machine by now, but a quick hookup to the TV that only gave me a really bad picture so that I couldn’t read a thing, showed that at least the keys are responding. Mhhh… if I should sneak down to the basement for the TV and give it a run now???
Some pictures of the process. In retrospect I should have read the included instructions prior so that I would have used a hairdrier to lift the old sticky keyboard… I did it the brutal way. 😉
Edit 2017: As I just bought a ZX80, that’s not doing very much, I dug out the ZX81 again, to set the TV tuner to right channel. In the wake of that, I noticed, that I did not remove the glue from the old keyboard and stuck the new one, including the papertape, on it, which made the keaboard stand out about 4mm over the housing. Fixed that, by using industrial cleaning spray, to get rid off the old glue and now used the double sided scotch tape, that was already on the back of the new keyboard. Fits perfectly and runs like charme.