I recently got hold of an English version of the numeric keypad for Spectrum 128 and was curious to check how it compares to the Spanish version of the keypad. If you’re new to this and require introduction to the numeric keypad, look here.
Anyone who has ever owned or has seen the Spanish version of the Spectrum 128 will have no doubt noticed the resemblance to Spectrum 48K+ made by Samsung in Korea. It is possible that both models use parts that have been manufactured at the same Korean factory (as opposed to an average UK Spectrum 128 which outer appearance looks closer to a Spectrum 48K+ made in a UK factory).
It is no different with the two versions of numeric keypads.
The photos of the two keypads side by side show the differences in both units proving two entirely different moulds have been made for each type. What’s more, my own gut instinct tells me the English version has been manufactured first and the Spanish one has later been designed to match its look and functionality.
The only components of the keypads that I found looked similar in both cases were the keys and the curly cord.
While the legend on some of the keys are printed in 2 different languages, the shape of the keys and the font of the text remain identical. The printing of “SHIFT” on this particular unit looks a bit rough as if someone went with a white pen marker over it.
As the case with any Samsung-made Spectrum (48K/ 48K+/128K+), the SINCLAIR logo is styled differently to the original.
Another most noticeable difference can be observed looking at the bottom of the keypads.
The feet on the Spanish keypad are made of hard rubber, while the English keypad features feet made of foam material – very similar to that found on the bottom of Spectrum+ legs.
Also notice different type/size of screws used and the way the screw holes have been shaped.
The reverse of the bottom plates show further variations in the plastic used to make the case as well as the different moulding style.
Mottled vs. smooth reflective surface finish
Below is the view that welcomes you as you remove the back cover.
I was expecting to find one of those poor quality Sinclair membranes that due to age and heat have a tendency to crack or malfunction. Luckily the membrane used in the English keypad is very different to the typical Sinclair one. I don’t know of its origins at present but the membrane is of high quality and very similar to the Samsung-made one in that respect.
Membranes by this manufacturer also occasionally appear in rubber-keyed Spectrums, which is the only type of original membrane (apart from a Samsung one) that doesn’t need replacing.
I am yet to find this type of membrane in any of the Spectrum+ models. Having not come across such this far suggests these membranes have only been designed for rubber-keyed model (and the English keypad).
(Ed. Except now you have hexed it and will inevitably find one of them in a Spectrum+ in the coming days.)
Samsung membranes (left) are easily recognizable by the line of text present on the bottom of the keypad membrane (or top if on Spectrum 48K/48K+ membrane). Notice the Samsung membrane is overall more transparent.
Have you spotted something odd?
Yellow vs. Semi-transparent rubber mat
These are all the electronic parts found inside the keypad.
If you’re acquainted with Samsung-made motherboards, you will recognise the distinct green colour of the motherboard and dark blue colour of the capacitor. The chip present on the beige board (which incidentally isn’t a pcb material I have ever seen in any Spectrum!) is dated year 1985, week 32 whereas the chip on the green board dates 2 weeks later.
Notice the lack of silkscreen markings on the beige board and different components and their layout.
Reverse side of the PCB
Below you can play “Spot the Differences”.
Some are more obvious and some rather subtle.
One of the mysteries is the shape of the long white keyposts inside the English keypad.
Compared to the black keypost, it’s missing bits of plastic in some places which, when translated into functionality, results in the key not having enough grip and support and therefore often falling out or being pushed down unevenly. It’s even more of a mystery as white posts found in Spectrums+ keyboards don’t lack any plastic bits.
Cost cutting, Sinclair?
Shiny reflective vs. matte and mottled surface to the keypost props
Last example of the differences between keypad case moulds present themselves in the shaping of the arch enabling the cord to enter the case:
And now I have to put it all back together….