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Old 11 October 2019, 00:29   #1
simulant
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Help support crowdfund for "Retro Computer inspired USB PC Keyboards & Mice"

Hi I am hoping to get some help and support for my Crowdfunding campaign.



Basically I have all the tooling and manufacturing in place to have Amiga-style and other retro inspired modern USB PC keyboards and mice made.

The aim is to produce some very affordable (but still good quality) keyboards and mice that can be used mainly for emulation and with modern systems - but they will also still work via adapters with classic Amiga computers and CD32.

I have already had a prototype made and Mike from Amiga Inc. has initially seemed positive about the project. I also have Acorn brand holders on board (as I also wish to make Acorn, Amstrad and Sinclair style versions too). The reason I need a few platforms is mainly just to factory minimum order quantities.

Anyway I am ready to launch my IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign and even have the pre-launch page and a video to show the product ready!!

BUT I am stuck now in a licensing limbo

I've not had final approval from Amiga Inc. despite Mike's positive comments and I am left not knowing if I am actually allowed to start the campaign (I am happy to pay a royalty or use Amiga licensing terms if needed).
Acorn have generously already given me the go ahead, but Sky UK (who own the Amstrad and Sinclair brands) have me also stuck in limbo. They will not say what I can or can't launch with... Their lawyers tend to play it safe with generic legal email replies and that aren't very specific in regard to what is "passing-off" or not allowed.

I wanted to reach out to the community and hopefully get some support from you guys.

I feel this would be a great product - just to give another option for Amiga fans at a good price (retro computing is already an expensive hobby!) and these mice and keyboards would work on new systems for NextGen Amigas, yet also save wear on tear on collectable retro Amigas via using adapters. They'd even be a good option if an original keyboard or mouse is not available, or if it is already too expensive. You may have a broken or faulty one on your A1000-A4000 for example...

I realise A1200.net and other projects are already filling the need for replacement keycaps or cases, mechanical keys etc etc and I love all of this and I've even pledged myself - so with that in mind I wanted to go a different route and not tread on anyone's toes.

I also wish to donate to well-known vintage computing charities too, so it will be for a good cause.

If anyone knows anyone at Amiga Inc. or Sky UK, or has friends or colleagues that may know anyone that could give me some help or an inroad to get the project started in regard to licensing it would be a great help. Please PM me. I really appreciate any support.

I've put a lot of money and time already into setting up the manufacturing and tooling/mold, as well as colour matching, design, having the prototype made, making the video and even meeting with an IP lawyer etc.

I just now need some help and support with the final push.

If anyone wants to see the project and video here is the pre-launch page:

https://www.simulant.uk/input/

Also I am on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/Simulant_Retro

Please sign up on that page to the newsletter and hopefully when I finally do get fully approved I can let you know that the campaign has begun!

I am trying to be very respectful and not start the project without the correct permission.

Thanks very much indeed and I realise this may not be for everyone, but I am just trying to do something which I think is cool and offer another input option for those who can't afford more expensive options, as well as help the community and charities too

NOTE ON KEYBOARD & MOUSE DESIGN:
I wanted to note on the keyboard and mouse as I know purists may not like the style of the keycaps or non-tank mouse etc. There are good reasons I've gone this way though.
For one the same mold has to be used for all the computer platforms I want to use (again due to MOQ). So to save production costs and hopefully also give a bit more wrist-strain relief and modern comfort I have gone with "half-height keycaps" rather than full profile ones. These are not completely flat or chiclet laptop style, they still have some shape and profile to them in order to not look completely out of place with classic hardware BUT they do allow for easier manufacturing and a little lower final retail price. The same reasons with not choosing and Amiga-looking or "tank" mouse style really as above, these are a modern and high DPI mouse with micro-switch buttons and really nice and light to use. Again they are neutral in style across the other platforms too such as Acorn/Amstrad etc. The result means that I hope to have both mouse and keyboard available for under £60/$75 and bearing in mind that includes licensing and donating to charity. I can only estimate this at this stage of course but I will give the best feasible price!

Last edited by simulant; 30 October 2019 at 00:48.
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Old 11 October 2019, 00:44   #2
deladrevoc
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This project looks great, I wish you the best of luck and I'm ready to back it!
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Old 11 October 2019, 00:54   #3
simulant
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This project looks great, I wish you the best of luck and I'm ready to back it!

Aw thanks so much for your kind response. I am so worried about upsetting people, hence why I haven't even launched even though this has been ready for months!! I just want to try to do things right.



I know the Amiga community in particular are very passionate, and I am myself about all things Amiga, so I just hope to gain some support. Yours is a great start, thanks again
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Old 11 October 2019, 01:12   #4
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What exactly is "Amiga" about this? It looks just like a PC keyboard.

And oh, it's also Acorn, Amstrad, etc. So it's just a money-grabbing scheme aimed at gullible retro enthusiasts?
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Old 11 October 2019, 01:36   #5
DanScott
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
So it's just a money-grabbing scheme aimed at gullible retro enthusiasts?
"Not only will you be helping to make available some fantastic & useful retro style computer keyboards & mice, but you will also be helping our chosen charities by supporting & backing this campaign."
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Old 11 October 2019, 07:55   #6
Unkown
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Would this mouse keyboard combo be available in black ? As and when ready ?.

PS: signed up as well..
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Old 11 October 2019, 09:54   #7
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Is there a real "Help" key?
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Old 11 October 2019, 10:57   #8
idrougge
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Originally Posted by DanScott View Post
"Not only will you be helping to make available some fantastic & useful retro style computer keyboards & mice, but you will also be helping our chosen charities by supporting & backing this campaign."
The charity being Simulant himself?

I fail to see what's even remotely Amiga about this standard PC keyboard, apart from a logo to which he hasn't got the licence.

It might work for the Acorn, which actually uses a bog-standard PC keyboard, but then again, you can order green function keys from any keyboard boutique nowadays.
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Old 11 October 2019, 10:58   #9
simulant
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
The charity being Simulant himself?

I fail to see what's even remotely Amiga about this standard PC keyboard, apart from a logo to which he hasn't got the licence.

It might work for the Acorn, which actually uses a bog-standard PC keyboard, but then again, you can order green function keys from any keyboard boutique nowadays.
Boutique keyboards I find too expensive for most users. This is personal I know. My aim is to produce these at affordable prices (ie. £60 or under for both mouse and keyboard). I grew up with these machines in the 80s in a time when Jack, Sir Clive and Lord Sugar all wanted to give people good computers for cheap prices. For the masses not the classes so to speak. I agree with that view more than going down the mechanical high-end way (that option is already there for people anyway if they want to customise keycaps and such.)

The only thing that is "Amiga" about this is that the keyboard and mouse look better alongside your Amiga than using a black PC keyboard or gaming keyboard that doesn't match at all. Also the inclusion of Amiga-style function keys etc, as well as in the final product having a good case paint colour-match

I've also made sure these are PS/2 usb backwards compatible, as some keyboards and mice these days are HID (so need drivers) - making them still to PS/2 means they'll work with any adapters already out there but I also hope to be able to provide some adapters too if possible.


Quote:
Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
What exactly is "Amiga" about this? It looks just like a PC keyboard.

And oh, it's also Acorn, Amstrad, etc. So it's just a money-grabbing scheme aimed at gullible retro enthusiasts?
Hi I realise it won't be for everyone but you'll have to just take my word that it is not my intention at all for this to be some sort of money-grabbing exercise. The whole reason I actually started this is due to myself owning these systems and being in love with them.

My A4000 keyboard is in a bad way and very yellowed, also it has some wrong keys for my language layout so can be a bit of a pain mistyped certain characters etc. To buy a replacement somewhere like on ebay is £180 approx. Which I find too much to spend. When you have a bunch of old systems repairs and replacements get very expensive. Similarly I'll probably never get to own a CD32 style keyboard either for my console.

As for Amstrad and Sinclair I grew up on these systems and still also own them today, I'm just a big fan

You can see in the images I own all these systems and I'm very much about trying to keep these old computers alive and also keep them promoted to younger and new audiences too.

My Acorn RiscPC700 also is in a pretty bad way keyboard-wise... So the project didn't start to make money at all, it started due to my own needs and lack of suitable replacements. I also saved for a long time and sold a few Amigas over the years to finally get the X5000, again no reasonably priced matching keyboard exists. So honestly and truly I just wanted these products to exist.


Quote:
Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
The charity being Simulant himself?

I fail to see what's even remotely Amiga about this standard PC keyboard, apart from a logo to which he hasn't got the licence.

It might work for the Acorn, which actually uses a bog-standard PC keyboard, but then again, you can order green function keys from any keyboard boutique nowadays.
The two chosen charities are:

https://www.computinghistory.org.uk

and

https://www.retrocomputermuseum.co.uk


Quote:
Originally Posted by Unkown View Post
Would this mouse keyboard combo be available in black ? As and when ready ?.

PS: signed up as well..
Thanks for your support. Black may also follow but for now I've added a grey and black CD32-style or NextGen sort of style for the darker variant


Quote:
Originally Posted by Predseda View Post
Is there a real "Help" key?
Sorry, no real help key at the moment - however I am open to changing a key to accommodate this if demand is there. The reason being again is that minimum order quantity at the factory, if the membranes or key positions change for one design it becomes a separate order to the factory and requires 3000-5000 units ordering of just that design which then raises the costs for all of them (as well as the risk that I won't raise enough to meet the MOQ). So this was the best way round having them made at all that I could come up with.

Last edited by simulant; 11 October 2019 at 11:25. Reason: combining posts
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Old 11 October 2019, 12:21   #10
Unkown
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Thanks simulant i for one really do appreciate your time and effort on this project, you cant please everybody at the same time. hope this works out for you, because i would be very interested in this mouse and keyboard combo. even tho i dont have any amiga computer but that will change in the near future.

Fingers Crossed!.
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Old 11 October 2019, 12:44   #11
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Originally Posted by Unkown View Post
Thanks simulant i for one really do appreciate your time and effort on this project, you cant please everybody at the same time. hope this works out for you, because i would be very interested in this mouse and keyboard combo. even tho i dont have any amiga computer but that will change in the near future.

Fingers Crossed!.

Thank you - haha I hope to at least please some of the people, some of the time!!
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Old 11 October 2019, 14:56   #12
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Here you go: https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/...mouse-port.asp

Classic keyboard in classic beige/grey, new with a sub-£60 price. If you want an Amiga logo, you can print out a sticker.

If you want to restore your proper Amiga keyboard (the kind that actually has an Amiga key layout and interfaces with your Amiga) or change the layout, there is A1200.net's Indiegogo campaign for fresh key caps.
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Old 11 October 2019, 16:12   #13
simulant
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Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
Here you go: https://www.keyboardco.com/keyboard/...mouse-port.asp

Classic keyboard in classic beige/grey, new with a sub-£60 price. If you want an Amiga logo, you can print out a sticker.

If you want to restore your proper Amiga keyboard (the kind that actually has an Amiga key layout and interfaces with your Amiga) or change the layout, there is A1200.net's Indiegogo campaign for fresh key caps.

Hi thanks for the beige windows keyboard link but in a way you're only really showing the need for the project there in my opinion, and it is only that (an opinion that is).


The linked keyboard defeats the purpose - it isn't customised so you have to do that. It doesn't look nice AND it already costs more than my already bespoke customised keyboards I wish to offer. The £60 price I mentioned INCLUDES the matching mouse also.



Plus you'd have to add the cost of your stickers... No offence to stickers but I'd rather have a keyboard that is printed by a machine in the factory than stickers that don't look part of the keyboard and will eventually peel off and wear off. I realise some people like stickers.



Again though as I said, it isn't for everyone but I wouldn't really want that beige windows keyboard for that price with stickers on it myself, then with a different mouse again so that nothing matches at all...
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Old 11 October 2019, 23:03   #14
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Originally Posted by simulant View Post
Thanks for your support. Black may also follow but for now I've added a grey and black CD32-style or NextGen sort of style for the darker variant

I'm in for that one, be nice to replace my totally wrong coloured cd32 dell keyboard imusing atm
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Old 12 October 2019, 19:47   #15
simulant
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I'm in for that one, be nice to replace my totally wrong coloured cd32 dell keyboard imusing atm

Great thanks also for the support
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Old 12 October 2019, 21:43   #16
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I do agree with @idrougge that these are just PC keyboard and mouse, nothing special. Maye they're good for Next Gen Amigas, but not really for classic systems.
You are missing the classic Amiga layout, like HELP key, (I can't see if your keyboard has an "Amiga" keys).
You said "I've put a lot of money and time already into setting up the manufacturing and tooling/mold, as well as colour matching, design, having the prototype made". Did you actually design this keyboard and mouse from scratch, created the molds, etc, or found a keyboard that fit your idea?
Because if you did design the keyboard and the molds, maybe would have been better to design the shell for your A4000 keyboard and make those replacements, so you could replace the yellow ones. I bet you could sell a lot of new A4000 keyboard cases. I could probably buy one too if the price is decent. Same idea that was made for A1200 cases and C64 ones ( I got the new C64c case from Kickstarter).
I would also get some new A4000 face plates.

My 2 cents.
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Old 12 October 2019, 23:12   #17
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I will be supporting this. No doubt !
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Old 13 October 2019, 12:33   #18
simulant
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I do agree with @idrougge that these are just PC keyboard and mouse, nothing special. Maye they're good for Next Gen Amigas, but not really for classic systems.
You are missing the classic Amiga layout, like HELP key, (I can't see if your keyboard has an "Amiga" keys).
You said "I've put a lot of money and time already into setting up the manufacturing and tooling/mold, as well as colour matching, design, having the prototype made". Did you actually design this keyboard and mouse from scratch, created the molds, etc, or found a keyboard that fit your idea?
Because if you did design the keyboard and the molds, maybe would have been better to design the shell for your A4000 keyboard and make those replacements, so you could replace the yellow ones. I bet you could sell a lot of new A4000 keyboard cases. I could probably buy one too if the price is decent. Same idea that was made for A1200 cases and C64 ones ( I got the new C64c case from Kickstarter).
I would also get some new A4000 face plates.

My 2 cents.

Hi thanks for the feedback.


The designs and money spent so far are my own, and the mold has been made for my exclusive use from the designs. However to get the mold without spending a fortune I had to buy the rights to a mold that is no longer used and have it updated and modified in the factory (for example so that it doesn't have multimedia keys, LED panels and indentations on the top case cover as most modern keyboards now have with numpads). As you may know a mold can be £50,000 or more for this type of product. So I've invested my own money to do this at a much cheaper price which has proven risky before even starting the crowdfund. The factory will now hold this updated mold for me, but not indefinitely so that is why I need some help to get the licenses finally approved so that I won't lose my money on this.

The reason I went that far and had a prototype made is because I didn't want to be another "idea" or "vapourware" - I wanted something real so that backers on the crowdfund would have some confidence that I can do this and something exists. I don't want people putting their money down and feeling like it is a risk or just waiting forever for the product to be made. I wanted to be ready to go.

I don't want to offend anyone, and I think what upsets people the most is if they think I am claiming these to be Amiga replicas or actual Amiga keyboards. Or as you say "something special". That's not my intention at all. I am not claiming these are anything more than just standard usb PC mice and keyboards (other than a little retro PS/2 backwards compatibility of course).


The only thing I am claiming or wanting to express with this project is that these will allow an affordable solution for Amiga and other retro computer users to be able to have mice and keyboards that take design and colour inspiration from the originals. I feel the project will really help the retro community so that we no longer only have Windows input devices and generic keyboards to use. As well as raising awareness too hopefully with younger audiences about classic computers. They just match better than just using a Dell keyboard etc or an extremely yellowed or broken original.


The idea here really is based on a compromise between a good price and having a design to match.


I've tried to avoid doing replicas or cloning originals due to knowing that A1200.net are already working on replica solutions, although of course having exact copies of originals will always bring higher retail costs for buyers. A1200.net also are only offering Amiga which is great but harder to meet minimum order quantities for the factory, where I am looking to also include some other retro computer designs to help get the costs down for backers. I agree though, exact replicas keyboards and "tank" mice would do really well and I'm sure A1200.net will manage this in time, it just takes a lot of investment and initial budget to get exact replicas out. Renewing original hardware is great and being able to swap cases and do replacements to keep systems nice will always be really valuable.



My own project though is more just to offer another input option or solution. What I like about my own project is that these keyboards and mice can sit between classic and new systems without being one or the other completely. I also like the idea of helping to bring Amiga into the 21st century in some ways too (along with all the other projects out there). Helping to keep it going with new options and products available. Here are my current designs which may need to change of course if I am not approved to use all the logos or intellectual properties, but you can see I'm not just focussing on Amiga so also need to have keyboard and mice molds that will work across styles too:





I grew up on all the computer brands my input devices are inspired by. I still own Amigas, Amstrads, Acorns and Sinclair computers today as well as others, and I just truly love them all... I also wanted a project where I could give to charity and help support some UK computer museums who do great work to keep getting more young audiences in on retro machines as well as preserving what we already have for people like myself to visit and see

Last edited by simulant; 13 October 2019 at 12:43.
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Old 13 October 2019, 12:39   #19
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I will be supporting this. No doubt !

Thank you so much, it is great to get the support. I really need all the help I can get to get the campaign launched
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Old 13 October 2019, 12:43   #20
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It doesn't make it an Amiga-style, Amstrad-style etc. whatever keyboard just by putting a logo on it. It's missing all the Amiga-specific keys such as Help, numeric parentheses keys, etc. and has various useless keys and indicators that are meaningless on an Amiga, and arbitrary new ones that never existed such as a Boing Ball key. Seems pointless and overpriced.

Last edited by Minuous; 13 October 2019 at 14:22.
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