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Hacking the Atari 800 Keyboard & CX85 Keypad onto a USB PC Keyboard Circuit


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Now, this is something that I've wanted to do for a LONG time!


I'm going to make my own custom keyboard. Not just any keyboard... a keyboard that will be like a favorite guitar... one that has EXACTLY the feel, the look, the cool-factor, and everything else that will make it "The keyboard that I will use from now on".


This fantasy keyboard is now going to become reality... Mostly because I found CX85 Keypads for $5.95 USD at BGmicro.


So, I bought two!


These keypads are normally fairly uncommon, & expensive, so get 'em while the getting's good!


I already had an extra 800 Keyboard. It used to be an extra 800. It's case met with an untimely death, one day a few years back, in an unfortunate tragedy that could have been prevented.


Soooo... Now I know that it's not a good idea to keep vintage gear behind the headboard when you have a long-legged brunette wearing a lab coat, fishnets & knee-high combat boots... ahem...


Then again, maybe it is, still carefully weighing it out... memory-wise... lol.


Alright, yeah, had it been my ORIGINAL 800, then there would have been a BIG problem. ha.


So much for the hazards of trying to juggle the lifestyles of being a rockstar & a hacker. lol.


Enough for the TMI Department... Just wanted to make it perfectly clear that I would not willingly commit the sacrilege of destroying an Atari 800 for this project. You shouldn't either. Get a woman to do it. LOL. No, no, non, NINE! DON'T DO IT!


Anyway, I've got the donor 800 Keyboard, and the CX85, and they are going to be having a new life as My Ultimate Keyboard.


My plan is a Brute-Force hardwiring of the keys directly to a known-good USB PC keyboard. Fairly Lo-Tech, time consuming, annoying to do... BUT I will HAVE one Badassed, Bitchin' Keyboard to use from now until doomsday. So, for me, it's worth it.


I'll document my progress here, so that anyone else who is so inclined will have something to go on.


I know that there are very few CX85 images & 800 circuit board images on the web, so, here's some to add to your image catalogs:


CX85 New & Unboxed:



CX85 Casing Skins & Keypad:



CS85 Casing Skins (will now be a 'Project Box'):



CX85 Frontside Keypad (lol, yeah, now you know I'm an old school skater):



CX85 Backside Keypad:



CX85 Keypad Layout:



CX85 Mounting Hardware:



Here is a size comparison of a typical PC keyboard with the 800 Keyboard & the CX85:



Here is a Full-Sized view of the Atari 800 Keyboard:



Left Side Closeup of the Atari 800 Keyboard:



Right Side Closeup of the Atari 800 Keyboard:




I'll post more pics, once I get them desoldered. This will be a major bitch to do, and will be time consuming.


...Until then, you have the following options, if you want to build this yourself:





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  • 1 year later...

I know I'm totally necro-ing this thread... but how far did you get with this project? I am curious if it's possible to mod an Atari 800 keyboard into a USB keyboard as well. I'm going to work on a project where I would like to be able to utilize the Atari 800 keyboard. I just have no clue how to do it >.<

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