After 10 months of work, Best is releasing its 2018 Atari XL Keyboard Upgraded / Enhanced replacement Keyboard Mylar. With this 2nd generation Atari XL Keyboard replacement Mylar, Best now has a New Best made Upgraded / Enhanced / Lifetime replacement Keyboard mylar for every popular Atari product made that has a Keyboard with an Internal Keyboard mylar. The only Atari keyboard that Best does not have a Upgraded Keyboard mylar for, is the Mitsumi made Atari 800 Keyboard. Because there was only about 1% to 2% of the total production run (4 to 5+ years) of the Atari 800 computer that used the Mitsumi made 800 Keyboard with its close to 100% failure rate internal Mylar. Best gets a single request for 800 Mitsumi Keyboard replacement mylar every 10 to 12+ years which makes making a new Atari 800 Mitsumi replacement Keyboard mylar simply not cost effective.
Atari XL Keyboard Upgraded with the Best 2nd Gen. Lifetime replacement Keyboard mylar
Early in 2017, Best knew we were going to have to make a second generation Atari 800XL internal Keyboard mylar. We were down to our very last 50 Ė 60 New Atari 600XL / 800XL Keyboards we got out of the local Sunnyvale Atari parts warehouse 10 to 15 years ago. But a high percentage of the last new Atari 800XL Keyboards ended up having new internal Keyboard mylars that went bad after 20 Ė 25+ years of non use.
Best History. About 25+ years ago, Best made a 1st Generation 600XL / 800XL New keyboard replacement Mylar. It was basically a copy of the original Atari XL internal Keyboard Mylar with a few minor upgrades to it. About 5 to 6 years after Best made the 1st production run of the Atari XL Keyboard Mylarís, Best went to make another production run of them, only to find the US Company went out of business. All of the correspondences with Keyboard Mylar company Representatives / Salesman / Engineers, art work films and the hard tooling to make the new Best XL Keyboard Mylarís was lost or destroyed.
In the meantime back then, when Best purchased the 8K to 10K pallets of Atari goods out of the Sunnyvale Atari warehouses, a couple of those Pallets were new Atari XL Keyboards, so the need to make a new production run of the replacement Atari XL keyboards mylars was low on the priority list of Atari projects to do at Best.
Best has made 10+ Atari replacement upgraded keyboard mylars for different Atari products in the last 33+ years in the Atari business. So we knew we could make a New 2nd Generation Enhanced / Upgraded / Lifetime replacement Atari XL Keyboard mylar, that would cure the known problems the stock Atari XL Keyboard mylar have always had for the last 25+ years.
Trevor B. of Canada Trevor was one of the very 1st Atari 600XL owners to receive the just released Best exclusive 2nd Generation Upgraded / Enhanced Atari 600XL / 800XL Lifetime Keyboard mylars "Received the mylar, and installed it, and everything works great, thank you."
So early March 2017 Best was ready (had all of the sample XL Keyboards and other Engineering secís ready to go) to approached our new Keyboard Mylar manufacture (the one that just made the small production run of the new Upgraded / Enhanced Best 1200XL Keyboard Mylarís, which Best has sold to Atari 1200XL Owners all over the world). Hundreds and Hundreds of dead and partially working 25+ year old Atari 1200XL Keyboards have been now upgraded to a Lifetime Atari 1200XL Keyboard with the new Best 1200XL Keyboard Mylar.
Our Keyboard Mylar manufacture said that they were simply too busy with more production orders than they can process for the next 3 to 5 months. They said they would contact Best when they had an opening in their production schedule and could produce a small production run of the new Best XL Keyboard Mylars.
Mid July 2017 our Keyboard Manufacture contacted Best saying they had a open window in their production schedule and could start to work on our New XL keyboard mylar for us.
So Best send our Keyboard Mylar manufacture a complete New Atari XL Keyboard with 3 to 5 defective / failed old Atari XL Keyboard inner Mylarís. Also sent the one and only Best 1st Generation XL Keyboard mylar we still had in stock out of our Best Engineering samples / archives.
The next 4 to 5 months was spent on working with the keyboard mylar manufacture Engineers, working on the details / upgrades / enhancements Best wanted on the new XL Keyboard mylar. We had sent them a complete description on all of the changes we required. But when the 1st Engineering print of the new XL Keyboard mylar was sent to Best, it ended up a basic copy of the original Atari XL keyboard Mylar, with only 1 or 2 of the new changes we requested. Best noticed on the early new XL Keyboard mylar prints received, showed them using conductive carbon silk screened circuit traces vs the requested all Silver conductive traces. Ask any old Atari 1200XL Keyboard owner the problems / failures they had on the old Mitsumi made 1200XL internal Keyboard mylars with carbon conductive silk screened traces. Bests oldest made (25+ years old now) and still selling Atari replacement Mylar is for the Atari XE Computer keyboards. The original Atari OEM XE Keyboard mylar has a close to 99% world wide failure rate. It has the same type of dielectric safety coating as the Best made XE Keyboard mylar, but the silk screen traces on the stock XE Keyboard mylar crack with years of normal use. The Best made better XE Keyboard mylar with Silver conductive traces and clear dielectric coating has the world wide reputation with Atari XE Owners as a Best Lifetime XE Keyboard replacement mylar once installed.
So months of work and many Engineering prints sent and rejected, Best held out for every Change / Upgrade / Enhancement we wanted on the new Best XL Keyboard mylar.
Stock Atari XL Keyboard construction and known problems
∑ The Atari made XL Keyboard internal construction has a clear mylar sheet folded in half with conductive silver traces silkscreened on the two insides of the Keyboard Mylar surfaces. A second flat piece of blank clear Mylar sheet with many thru holes in it (one hole for each XL Keyboard key cap function) was placed between the folded over XL Keyboard mylar sheet as a baffle. So when the XL Keyboard Key cap was pushed on the outside of the XL keyboard assembly, a small center spring under that XL Keyboard key cap and white square plunger would push thru a hole in the XL black plastic keyboard assembly pushing two different sides of the keyboard mylar conductive traces pads together, like a mechanical switch and that one switch closure information was sent to the XL Keyboard encoding chip, which then sent to the XL CPU chip as a complete key cap closure. For that time frame, 30+ years ago, this was standard type of Keyboard manufacture methods used. Known problems of this type of XL Keyboard Internal construction.
∑ With years and years of typing on / flexing the XL Keyboard internal mylar, the exposed Silk Screened very thin silver traces would be come brittle and start to crack. Which meant certain XL Keys or whole sections of the XL keyboard would stop working. This is what caused the protected carbon traces on one version of the Atari / Mitsumi made 65XE / 130XE Keyboard mylar to almost 100% fail. We are pretty sure the original Atari Keyboard design Engineers never expected their new Atari XE Keyboards to work / still function some 30 to 35+ years after they were 1st made.
∑ Another area on the XL Keyboard mylars that have a high failure rate is where the inside silver circuit traces on the XL Keyboard would run / transition from one inside of Keyboard mylar folded over half to the other inside of the mylar half. These connecting thin sliver traces between the mylar halfís, would run thru a flat fold line in the mylar halves where the exposed silver traces would crack with enough typing on / flexing / vibrations of the internal XL Keyboard mylar.
Close up view of a stock XL Keyboard mylar only on the bottom, on the top is a New Best mylar Upgraded XL Keyboard. See the width of the connecting traces that pass from one side of the inside of the XL Keyboard mylar sheet to the other inside mylar surface. As you can see the new Best XL pass thru trace widths are almost double the width of the old stock XL Keyboard internal mylar. The New Best XL keyboard mylar has a silk screened on light green dielectric safety coating that keeps the wider traces and all of the other XL Keyboard traces from flexing too much and lessens the chances they will crack with 15 to 25+ years of normal use.
∑ In high moisture levels areas, the heating up and cooling down of the XL Computer over and over, would cause the stock XL Keyboard mylars to internally sweat, get moisture condensation between the folded over mylar halves. Things spilled on the outer XL Keyboard top surface like water, coffee and sodas would leak into the inner XL Keyboard mylar surfaces and again short out the thin silver traces which sit fractions of an inch apart from the next unprotected trace. Also with the clear flat sheet of plastic (which sat between the inner folded layers of the XL keyboard mylar) with the holes in it, when you tried to clean the soaked or stuck together (like spilled soda) XL mylar layers, you would damage / crack, pull off or rub off silver traces off the inner XL Keyboard mylar inner surfaces. We have heard many many times over the years in the Atari business, a family pet like a cat would pee on the top of the XL keyboard and again short out the inner silver conductive traces. Liquids like Soda would also etch off / dissolve the Keyboard mylar silver traces or internally short out the exposed silver conductive traces on the mylar inner.
∑ On many old Atari XL Keyboards LED would stop working because it was not making proper contact with the XL small conductive pads or the thin mylar traces to the LED pads would crack.
∑ The end of the XL Keyboard mylar strip that fits into the 24 pin pinch connector, the silver traces would get worn off, because of too many insertions and extractions from the XL Motherboard keyboard 24 pin female pinch connector over years and years of doing this. This would cause certain XL Key Cap functions or whole sections of the XL Keyboard to stop working.
∑ The very thin end of the XL Keyboard mylar strip that fits into 24 pin XL motherboard pinch connector would get the square corners bent up, folded over or damaged to a point where the conductive silver traces on the end of the mylar would not make proper contact with the 24 pin female pinch connector on the XL Motherboard. On one production run of the Atari XL Keyboard mylars, the end of the mylar sheet / strip that fits into the pinch connector was so thin it the Silk Screened on Silver traces would not make proper contact with the 24 pin female pin connector on the XL motherboard. So the Atari Engineering fix for this thin XL Mylar connecting strip problem was to fold over (about 3/8 inch wide) the end of the mylar strip back on to itself to double the thickness that was pushed into the 24 pin female pinch connector.
The Best Upgrades / Enhancements to the new Best lifetime 600XL / 800XL Keyboard mylar.
∑ The old clear flat center sheet of the XL Keyboard Mylar with the many holes in it, has now eliminated. In its place, Best had our Keyboard mylar Manufacture, silk screen a thin green dielectric safety coating on both of the insides of the folded over mylar surfaces covering all of the thin silkscreened on silver trace runs. This new dielectric silkscreen coating has many protective functions. It keeps the silkscreen silver traces from over flexing and cracking with age. The critical silver traces (conductive switch pads on both sides on the inside of the mylar) that are exposed to the open air down to the very minimum amount exposed. Any small foreign materials like dust, dirt, rust, moisture, dried condensation chemicals, soda are kept from attacking the silkscreen silver traces. If required, it makes cleaning the Best Enhanced / Upgraded XL mylar internal surfaces easier and it also lessens the chances damaging or rubbing off the silk screened silver mylar traces.
1st Article sample of the New Best Upgraded / Enhanced XL Keyboard
Mylar received on 10-18-17. Inside view of the Best XL Mylar
Outside / back side view of the 1st article Best XL Keyboard mylar.
∑ The thickness of each side of the light green dielectric coating on each inside of the folded over Best XL Keyboard mylar, when added together, was suppose to end up as the same thickness of the removed old flat clear center mylar sheet with the thru holes in it. But it was found by our keyboard mylar manufacture that they could not get the light green silk screened dielectric coating thick enough to be equivalent to the same thickness as the removed flat middle mylar sheet without having some manufacturing / silkscreen problems. So it was found that a second thicker / darker green silkscreened ring (a second Manufacturing process) of dielectric material around each exposed Silver conductive pad fixed the total thickness problem. This second thicker Green ring of dielectric coating on both insides around each silver contact pad of the new XL Keyboard mylar sheet had an additional benefit. It helps to seal out air from direct contact with exposed silver conductive pads. Although not airtight seal, it is one step closer to good seal compared to the exposed open air silkscreen trace pads on the stock Atari XL mylar construction. Some 24+ years ago Best found the Best made Lifetime replacement 65XE / 130XE Keyboard Mylar with the translucent dielectric / safety coating, protected all of the Silk Screened on silver traces from over flexing to much during typing on the XE Keyboard and also prevented the silkscreened on Silver traces from cracking with years of normal keyboard use.
Second close of view of stock bare stock Atari XL Mylar (bottom) laid over the New Best Upgraded / Enhanced bare XL keyboard Mylar on the top with its wider pass thru (one inside side of the XL Mylar to the other inside mylar surface) Jumper trace pads and wider the LED pads (middle right side of above picture). Also notice the silver traces going to the LED pads have been beefed up too.
∑ Best had our Keyboard Mylar manufacture increase the side to side width (beefed them up, to prevent cracking) of the 16 pass thru / transition traces that go from one side of the inside of the XL Keyboard mylar fold line to the other side by at least 66% (See the above bare Mylarís picture). We also had them redesign the back end of those wider traces from a right angle / square end to a rounded back end for better stress relieving with the mating traces that connect up to the back end of those pass thru traces. When one of these pass thru / transition traces failed on the original Atari XL keyboard mylar, you would find that different diagonal rows of the XL Key caps would stop to function. When the far right 4 pass thru / transition traces failed, different XL right side function keys stop working and when last 2 far right pass thru traces failed the LED would stop working. Our manufactures keyboard mylar design Engineer, wanted Best to leave this 16 pass thru traces exposed in the mylar fold area with no green dielectric safety productive cover over them and wanted to silkscreen a second conductive 16 carbon traces over the silver pass thru / transition as a protective cover. Best insisted that the wider 16 pass thru traces in the folded area of the XL keyboard mylar, must have the same light green dielectric protective coating. We knew green dielectric / safety coating on the New Best XL keyboard mylar would prevent the 16 pass thru silver traces pads from cracking in the folded over area.
∑ The LED mylar contact silver trace pad widths have been increased for more contact surface on the Best XL Keyboard mylar (see above close picture, right side middle of mylar), which also required the clear mylar area / surface around those pads had to be increased in over all size, compared to the stock XL LED pads clear surrounding area. Also the thin traces that connect up to the 2 LED silver conductive pads also had the traces widths increased / beefed up.
∑ The Best XL Keyboard mylar right connecting strip also has the green dielectric protective covering over the silk screened silver traces vs the stock made Atari XL keyboard connecting mylar strip with exposed silver conductive traces. Although not required (because of green dielectric coating on the mylar connecting strip), Best left the second clear protective plastic extension strip of mylar plastic that sits below / under the mylar connecting strip with the conductive traces as extra protective safety / stabilization support strip.
∑ The end of the Best XL Keyboard connecting strip that goes into the 24 pin pinch connector on the XL Motherboard has had its total length increased by 10 mm over the stock XL Atari keyboard Mylar.
Old XL Keyboard laid directly (black traces on top) over the New Best XL Keyboard mylar (bottom). Notice the Best larger / longer length XL right side connecting strip area
This feature was added so if sometime in the far future, if you do wear off the Silver conductive traces off the very end of the Best XL Mylar connecting strip from repeated insertions and extracting into the 24 pin female pinch connector on the XL motherboard, you can trim off the end of the worn off (conductive silver traces) connecting strip end with a pair of scissors and end up with new clean exposed silver traces again. This extended length of the Silver conducting traces feature, was 1st designed / used on the Best XE keyboard lifetime mylar connecting strip end.
Close up view of the Best XL Upgraded / Enhanced Mylar connecting strip end. Blue arrows indicates the width of the new rectangular reinforcing clear strip. Green arrow points to the backside clear safety cover strip. Purple arrow is pointing to the rounded corner(s) on the clear reinforcing strip and Best XL keyboard connecting strip end.
∑ With the extra clear reinforcing strip added to the back side of the Best XL Mylar connecting strip end, it is very easy to fully insert the Best XL Keyboard mylar connecting strip into the XL Motherboard 24 pin pinch connector and feel it bottom out. You pinch your 2 fingers on each end of the mylar strip connecting strip end and then evenly insert the Mylar connecting strip into the pinch connector until you feel it bottom out. With the stock Atari XL Keyboard mylar connecting end, you could not easily feel when the connecting mylar strip bottom out in the 24 pin pinch connector and you would put more pressure on the XL connecting strip, many times bending or damaging the stock XL connecting strip end.
∑ The end of the XL Keyboard mylar connecting strip (and the clear reinforcing backing strip), now has two rounded corners for easier insertion into the 24 pin female XL motherboard pinch connector vs the stock Atari XL Keyboard connecting mylar end with it square ends / sharp corners.
∑ Over the years Atari / Stackpole (the XL Keyboard manufacture) made two basic versions non-interchangeable internal XL Keyboard mylars. Both different XL Keyboards metal backing were marked (white label or black ink stamped) same Atari part number CO61982 date code 1983 with Rev. 3A or CO61982 1984 date code and Rev. level 3A.
Close up view of the XL keyboard medal back over the XL Function module (located on the backside of the metal plate) showing the number of Phillip screws required for each different non-interchangeable internal Atari XL Keyboard Mylars. Shown is 2 of the 4 different XL Keyboard Function modules screw hole mounting patterns used over the years.
Stackpole (one of the Keyboard manufactures that made the XL Keyboards) / Atari Engineering should of changed the Rev. level or Atari part number on at least one of the different XL Keyboard mylars / complete Keyboards to tell them apart. You can tell the different between the different XL Keyboards / mylars by the number of small Phillips screws used to mount the XL Keyboard Function Keyboard side module. One version XL Mylar / Keyboard (1983 date code) uses 4 screws to hold on the function key module onto the metal back (left side picture above) and the other version XL Keyboard / Mylar (1984 date code) uses 6 screws (right side picture above). Best designed its Enhanced / Upgraded universal replacement XL Keyboard mylar to fit both versions of the XL Keyboard types made.
For the months and months of back and forth information / work with our Keyboard Mylar manufacture, the New Best Upgraded / Enhanced 1st Article samples Mylars received on 10-18-17 and were found to basically ready to go into full production. This has not happened with a 1st article new Atari replacement part / product that Best has developed / made for over 20+ years now. There have always been months of back and forth communications / corrections with any new Atari parts manufacture before the final Atari product was ready to finally produce. Best did sent a 1st article QA report receiving report back to our Keyboard mylar manufacture, with about 10 to 12 cosmetic XL Keyboard mylar problems Best spotted, that will have to be corrected on the final production run on the New Best Upgraded / Enhanced Atari XL Keyboard mylar.
End of November 2017, we got an E-Mail in from our Mylar manufacture saying they could not produce the new XL Keyboard mylar. They said they were having problems controlling the minor cosmetic problems we commented on in the Oct 2017 1st article receiving report we sent them. They said they already did a production run of 1,000 pcs of the new Best XL Keyboard mylar and they got rejected by their QA department. At this point, they were starting to lose money on the Mylars.
Although Best could of pushed / demanded the Keyboard mylar company make the already paid for up front full production run of the XL Keyboard. If we pushed them too hard, there was a good chance they would just refund our full payment back to Best. So 10 months worth of work would be down the drain.
So mid to end of December 2017, Best carefully / tactfully spent the time (many many E-Mails back and forth) trying to convince our Keyboard Mylar manufacture to make the full production run of the Best Upgraded / Enhanced XL Keyboard mylar. They finally agreed to make another small preproduction run of 100 pcs, but they said they would try to work out the minor non functional cosmetic problems, but could not fully guarantee to fix all of them. Our Keyboard mylar manufacture said they would fully guarantee the full function of the New Best XL Enhanced / Upgraded / Lifetime 600XL / 800XL Keyboard mylar features.
On January 23, 2018 Best received the preproduction run shipment of new Enhanced / Upgraded Atari XL Mylar. Best QA department did a normal incoming Inspection on a statical sampling of the lot. Next functional XL keyboard tests were run. All Best New XL Keyboard samples 100% passed all tests. Even the cosmetic Mylar problems that we told the Keyboard Mylar manufacture about were corrected. This Good News was passed onto our Keyboard Mylar manufacture and Best told then to proceed with the full production run of them.
The New 2nd Gen. Best Enhanced / Upgraded / Lifetime 600XL / 800XL Keyboard replacement mylar CB101055-2nd are $32.95. Each Best XL Keyboard Mylar is supplied with a complete Atari Installation instructions with pictures.
The Atari Tech skill level to do the XL Keyboard upgrade / replacement is, on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 never pick up a tool or done any Atari grades to 10 could do any Atari upgrade blind folded, around 2 to 3 skill range. Basically change a tire or battery on a car skill level and ability to read and understand the written Install instructions with pictures.
Atari 600XL / 800XL U.S. Qwerty Keyboard upgraded the new Best XL Lifetime Keyboard mylar C061983-2nd $49.95
Best Electronics in the Atari business since February 1, 1984.
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