Carreras (Part Two)

Just when I was beginning to think the days of FREE electronic typewriters were over, this ad popped up on Gumtree …

I made it mine, cleaned and de-yellowed the keycaps, outer shell and one-piece lid, but then ended up swapping over the lid and the (German) ribbon cover on the “fritzed” Olympia Carrera I described in a 2020 post.

… and a PCB located directly underneath the raised keyboard:

The rear PCB and the PCB under the keyboard are dated 1.88, which is a little later than I would have expected. I have two instructions guides for the Olympia Carrera – one is a “Preliminary Edition” dated 7/85, which was purchased separately and did not come with the “Fritzed” Carrera. The other guide is dated 5/86 and came with the FREE typewriter pictured at the top of this post.

The typing experience on the working Carrera is not bad. The hammer gives you a satisfying rat-a-tat without it being loud enough to be annoying. After what is a very short travel, the mechanical key switches on this typewriter bottom-out with a gentle click.

Apparently the switches in question are “the rare Marquardt Series 6180” (which probably only means anything to a Geekhacker), but anyway I tore-down the fritzed Carrera further to take a closer look:

Since the bottom of these switches are soldered to the keyboard PCB, taking the keyboard apart to get at them was no easy task!

The legends on the keycaps are grey-brown and laser charred, which provides rough, low-contrast markings compared with the flat, sharp and high contrast legends on dye sublimated or double shot keycaps.

The laser process under a microsope:

See: Laser_etching_vs_double-shot

Good industrial design, but it has to be said, a cheap ABS build quality overall – the only non-yellowing (or perhaps “less prone to yellowing”) better quality bits of plastic to be found are the inset platen knobs, the paper bail surrounds, and the slider switches to the right of the keyboard.

Unfortunately, the rarity of the switches do not compensate for the cheapness of the keycaps – dye-sub or double shot keycaps atop more robust switches (the stems on these are prone to snap when you pull them off) could have made these e.t.s better-than-average instead of just average.

For more on this model, see: Carreras