An old Dell QuietKey is new again

I'm still managing to keep up with my word count for NaNoWriMo, but the other day I found myself thinking back to the good old days of the IBM model M keyboards. They had such a wonderful clicky tactile feel. Yes I said clicky. They were truly fantastic keyboards and were built like tanks. I found out that a company called Unicomp holds the patents to the old M's and is making new versions. While I think that's fantastic, I just couldn't justify laying down close to $100 on a keyboard for myself right before the holiday season. So imagine my delight when I came across an old Dell QuietKey that I had gathering dust on the top shelf of my closet.

The Dell QuietKey isn't quite on the same level as the model M, but for a keyboard with plastic switches and no springs it's about as good as it gets. The action on these things is wonderful and the build quality is superb. I think the one I'm using is close to fifteen years old. I'm actually typing this post on it now.

The real beauty of these keyboards is that they are pretty easy to take apart and clean. Lucky for me considering the shape this one was in. My youngest daughter had used it for a period of time and spilled all kinds of food and drink in it over the years. Yes, you could actually spill things on these old keyboards and they would continue to work. Truly well designed pieces of machinery. Anyway, I've taken some pictures and detailed the stages of cleaning below just for fun.

The Dell QuietKey...

Taking off the keys...ewww...what is all that?

The keys on the QuietKey are pretty easy to pop off with a flat head screwdriver. Just be gentle and you won't do any damage.

All the keys removed and freshly cleaned.

Once all of the keys were removed, I just blew it out with some canned air. Then I took some cotton swabs and dampened the ends with a little windex. Then I went to town swabbing in between the switches. It took a good hour to get it to this stage. Now onto the keys...

Cup full of keys.

The keys are pretty easy to clean. Just fill the sink with some warm, soapy water and let them soak for about five minutes. Then just give each one a once over with a washcloth. After that it's just a matter of letting them dry and then reassembling the keyboard. You can find some good pictures on Google to make sure that you get all of the keys back in the right place.

My Dell QuietKey in it's new home.

I'm actually using this fine keyboard on my MacBook for NaNoWriMo at home. All I had to do was buy a simple PS/2 to usb adapter. You can find them on Amazon pretty cheap and they're super easy to use. My Mac actually brought up a screen that allowed me to configure the keyboard once I plugged it in for the first time. I'm really looking forward to using this keyboard. I don't know if my family is quite as thrilled because despite its name the keyboard really isn't that quiet. It's probably a lot more quiet than a model M, but it's certainly not quiet. I love it anyway.


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