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CSAReview: SWITCHHITTER PC->AMIGA KEYBOARD ADAPTER
John S. Freeland firstname.lastname@example.org
SwitchHitter PC keyboard to Amiga adapter
A keyboard adapter that allows you to use IBM AT compatible keyboards on
your Amiga 2000/2500/3000/4000 and CD32. (More than likely, an easy
solution will be available for A500/1000s.)
Name: Dana Peters
Address: #7 - 49 Sherway Drive
Canada K2J 2K3
Telephone: (613) 825-7031
World Wide Web: http://www.worldlink.ca/~dana
$45 (US), ground shipping included.
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
Needs a "keyboard port." I believe the A600 and A1200 machines would
require some rather extensive hacking to be able to accept this adapter.
None. This product simply replaces the standard Amiga keyboard hardware.
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
A2000, A2500, A3000, A4000 and CD32.
Just power down the Amiga, unplug the old keyboard, plug the SwitchHitter
in and the PC keyboard into the SwitchHitter and power back up.
There are some DIP switches for customizing the setup, but the default is
fine for a start - more on this later..
I'm _forced_ to use a PC Clone at work. The latest thing to appear on my
system there is a Microsoft Natural(c) keyboard. This is one of those
'Ergonomic' keyboards with the left-hand side of the keyboard slightly
offset (approximate 10 degree angle) from the right-hand side, and the
numeric keypad is more 'sculpted' to fit the fingers in the 'ten-key form'
Actually, I've gotten to like this keyboard. I've only been a marginal
'touch-typist' and this keyboard has helped enforce proper practice.
Besides - it looks cool! :-) So, it was time to start looking for keyboard
adapters so I could use one on my A4000.
During my search, Dana Peters and I got into an EMail exchange about a new
gadget he was developing, the SwitchHitter. I was looking for support of
the additional 'Windows' keys(at the bottom of the 'alpha' keys at
approximately the same position as the 'Amiga' keys on a standard C=
keyboard). Dana was very supportive and essentially did a custom design
for the 'Natural'.
When I received the prototype, I was pleased to see that not only was the
'Natural' support well done, but Dana had also added other features:
o StickyKeys - a convenience to those who prefer to type with one hand,
and/or enables users with limited manual dexterity to use the Amiga.
Enabling 'Sticky Mode' is just a matter of pressing and holding the
ScrollLock key. After two seconds, the 'Scroll Lock' LED flashes on to
indicate sticky mode is on. Now, whenever a modifier key is pressed and
released (Ctrl, Shift, Amiga or Alt) it will be automatically 'stuck' down,
the 'Scroll Lock' LED lights to indicate the modifier is stuck. The stuck
modifiers are automatically released after any non-modifier (or the Scroll
Lock) key is typed. If a non-modifier key is typed while a modifier is
being held, the modifier does not remain stuck when it's released
permitting normal two-handed typing while in sticky mode. Exiting Sticky
mode is like entering - press the ScrollLock for two seconds and you'll get
a flash from the 'Scroll Lock' LED.
o Keyboard Mouse - yes, the Amiga _does_ have that feature built- in - this
is just a nicer way of taking advantage of that... When 'NumLock' is on
(indicated by it's LED), the numeric keypad 8,2,4 and 6 keys are up, down,
left and right respectively, the 0 and . keys are the left and right mouse
buttons. In conjunction with Sticky Keys, the 'mouse buttons' in this mode
can be locked on for even easier manipulation.
o For those Not using the 'Natural' keyboard - there are four DIP switches
for several optional keyboard mappings. One setting provides a proper
'spatial' orientation for those that prefer not having to re-learn a
o Almost all of the keys are mapped to do something useful:
101-Key Amiga And in addition and
AT Keyboard Equivalent Most Notably :-)
----------------------------------- Microsoft Amiga
PrtScr/SysRq | Help Natural KB Equivalent
Delete | Del ---------------------------
Insert | Alt-g (accent) Left Windows | Left Amiga
Pause/Break | unused Right Windows| Right Amiga
Home | Shift left arrow Menu | Left A-m
End | Shift right arrow
Page Up | Shift down arrow
One 8 1/2x11 two-sided page.
This is all that was required for a product of this type. The DIPs were
explained in a logical, easy to understand fashion.
I like the complete support of the Micro*oft Natural keyboard and the
'StickyKeys' feature is quite cool
DISLIKES AND SUGGESTIONS
My only suggestion would be some way to 'program' the F11 and F12 keys. I
had no other use for them as the MS Nat. has a place for the 'Amiga' keys.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
The only other device like this that I've had my hands on is the PC
keyboard socket in the SX1 (CD32 expansion). There are some 'keyboard
buffering' problems with that one. I went back to the keyboard socket on
the CD32 when the SwitchHitter freed up my A4000 keyboard. :-)
None that I could find.
I've been quite pleased with the support so far. No need as yet to test
his repair support.
My only association is as a beta tester for the prototype - I now own a
production unit. I have no vested interest in his company and Naturally
:-) wish him the best.
No warranty is mentioned in the simple documentation. Very little could go
wrong with a discrete component like this, anyway.
I'd give this six out of six stars. A very cool gadget.
I'm very happy I found this product - it's made my clone friends envious
that it can make a Natural KB even better than when it's plugged into a