Mechanical keyboards

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vulpes
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Mechanical keyboards

Hi guys!

Is anyone here into the mechanical keyboards? I figure as a hobby, it is very similar to what we have here
(why would you need a flashlight, you have a phone / why would you spend more than $10 on a keyboard).

Anyways, here is my humble collection:


Vortex Pok3r – Cherry MX Blues
cable that is sticking out is soldered to swd header, I want to play with custom firmware


Magicforce 68 – Outemu Blues
got it for almost free since it was key chattering, couple of solder bridges on the controler
happened to be the culprit, I prefer these switches to original Cherry ones


Cherry G80-3000HAD – Vintage Blacks (1995)
doubleshot keycaps, converted to usb with PS2-to-USB Pro Micro firmware


IBM Model M122 – Buckling Spring
waiting to be restored, needs bolt modding and usb conversion

My current goal is to build Helix split keyboard with nrfmicro, a nrf52 based controller
instead of ATMega.

Since I will be left with parts to build a couple more of them due to MOQs, I will probably do
a micro group buy, just to cover the cost of leftover parts and my time. If anyone is interested,
please send me a message, I don’t want to risk this sounding like an advertisement.

So people go ahead and post your babies! I hope to see bunch of different boards,
as unneeded as most of the lights here! Big Smile

forsh
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Nothing beats them old cherrys, I love them old styles , hit it with a hammer and all’s good
I’ll get a mech on day , I’m in a iMac so I’ve got Apple keyboard

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sb56637
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I use laptops for almost everything, but I do insist on it being a Thinkpad T-series (looks like I have the same one as vulpes), because I believe they have the best keyboards for a laptop by a long shot.

Budget Light Forum ...where Frugal meets with Flashlight!

vulpes
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forsh wrote:
Nothing beats them old cherrys, I love them old styles , hit it with a hammer and all’s good
I’ll get a mech on day , I’m in a iMac so I’ve got Apple keyboard

They really are built like tanks and the precision of the molding is impressive. I felt really dumb when I tried to open it and realised it has no screws, it is held together only by plastic clips. Even though I don’t like linear switches, I sometimes use this one since it is an important part of computing history, at least for me (and we were born the same year!)

sb56637 wrote:
I use laptops for almost everything, but I do insist on it being a Thinkpad T-series (looks like I have the same one as vulpes), because I believe they have the best keyboards for a laptop by a long shot.

Mine is actually a X230 and their keyboards really are great. Same goes for newer series, sister has T440p and it is pleasure to type on.
raccoon city
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I've never owned a mechanical keyboard, but I do insist upon full size keyboards with high profile keys.

Good mechanical keyboards are kinda pricey.  $)

puglife2
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raccoon city wrote:
Good mechanical keyboards are kinda pricey.

You can find a lot of IBM model M under $500 on ebay

raccoon city
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I'm cheap.

My current keyboard was $25 brand new.

vulpes
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puglife2 wrote:
raccoon city wrote:
Good mechanical keyboards are kinda pricey.

You can find a lot of IBM model M under $500 on ebay


I think you may have an extra zero there. Following local craigslist, thrift shops and such can pay off. I got my model M for $15.
Lightbringer
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Once upon a time I took home a retired terminal… think it was an ADM42… and it had the most beautiful mechanical keyboard. Spring-switches fitted with tiny magnets that’d activate individual Hall-effect devices. A keypress would let the cap drop down a well ‘til it silently bottomed out, juuuuuuuuust the perfect amount of springiness. Absolutely perfect. All were individual Cherry switches.

Some SOB in my so-called “family” threw it out as “junk”.

Also had a few ADM11s (amber- and green phosphor) “disappear” over time. Those keyboards were a bit more lower-profile, but still had a really nice keyfeel and “clack”.

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

puglife2
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vulpes wrote:
I think you may have an extra zero there. Following local craigslist, thrift shops and such can pay off. I got my model M for $15.

Still under $500 Glasses

OrangePeel
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If you are a big collector of IBM clickies, your going to hate me. Before my oldest was born, I sold about a dozen, new in box, IBM M15 ergo clicky keyboards on eBay. I only paid $8 each so I was happy to get $50 – $75 each. I had no clue collectors in Japan were offering $1,000 each. I was inundated with requests for month afterwards.

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I have a Ducky One 2 Mini with Cherry Browns. I love it but I might go to a TKL.
I dipped my toe into the artisan key cap waters and bought a Dwarf Factory The 4 Veggies KIN.
They make beautiful caps and lucky for me one was enough to satisfy my curiosity.

BurningPlayd0h
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Built a TADA68 using Aliaz silents (basically Gateron silent browns that are a bit more tactile due to different stem) and have been loving it. Do kinda miss having dedicated function keys for gaming, but there were basically zero 70/75% boards available when I bought it other than a few prebuilt.

If I did get another board I would definitely look into something with better stabilizers. Even after a bit of lubing the ones on the TADA still have a bit of rattle to them.

vulpes
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Lightbringer wrote:
Once upon a time I took home a retired terminal… think it was an ADM42… and it had the most beautiful mechanical keyboard. Spring-switches fitted with tiny magnets that’d activate individual Hall-effect devices. A keypress would let the cap drop down a well ‘til it silently bottomed out, juuuuuuuuust the perfect amount of springiness. Absolutely perfect. All were individual Cherry switches.

Some SOB in my so-called “family” threw it out as “junk”.

Also had a few ADM11s (amber- and green phosphor) “disappear” over time. Those keyboards were a bit more lower-profile, but still had a really nice keyfeel and “clack”.


That’s really sad to hear, but you never know if you might get lucky and find one in the wild.
(At least that is what I tell my self when I see an average Reddit dumpster find keyboard that I probably couldn’t buy even if I had those couple of thousands it seems to be worth)
puglife2 wrote:
vulpes wrote:
I think you may have an extra zero there. Following local craigslist, thrift shops and such can pay off. I got my model M for $15.

Still under $500 Glasses


Fair enough. Big Smile

OrangePeel wrote:
If you are a big collector of IBM clickies, your going to hate me. Before my oldest was born, I sold about a dozen, new in box, IBM M15 ergo clicky keyboards on eBay. I only paid $8 each so I was happy to get $50 – $75 each. I had no clue collectors in Japan were offering $1,000 each. I was inundated with requests for month afterwards.

People in Japan and Korea are crazy. Japanesee have Topre keyboards, on paper very similar to conventional membrane keyboards, but arguably nicer to use than real mechanical ones, very expensive and well built. Koreans have this crazy custom scene. They basically invented custom keyboard with excessive amounts of metal, that can cost even thousands.

Spacegrass wrote:
I have a Ducky One 2 Mini with Cherry Browns. I love it but I might go to a TKL.
I dipped my toe into the artisan key cap waters and bought a Dwarf Factory The 4 Veggies KIN.
They make beautiful caps and lucky for me one was enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Artisans are fortunately out of my price range given there are some really beautiful keycaps out there. Though there are so called Taobao artisans, mass produced injection molded plastic caps. I might get some since they are cheap and interesting novelty items.

BurningPlayd0h wrote:
Built a TADA68 using Aliaz silents (basically Gateron silent browns that are a bit more tactile due to different stem) and have been loving it. Do kinda miss having dedicated function keys for gaming, but there were basically zero 70/75% boards available when I bought it other than a few prebuilt.

If I did get another board I would definitely look into something with better stabilizers. Even after a bit of lubing the ones on the TADA still have a bit of rattle to them.


How do you feel about Aliaz switches? I want to get them for this Helix project. On paper, they sound perfect; heavier and more tactile than (gateron) browns and as silent as a mechanical switch can get. Both properties are important to me, since blue switch variants I currently have are too light and my sister is not to fond of the sound. And they wouldn’t set me back more than $30, considerably less when compared to other tactile silents such as $1 a piece Zilents.
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This seems to be a godsend for fans of both mechanical keyboards and Thinkpad’s nipple: https://tex.com.tw/products/shinobi

Different switches to choose from, optional bluetooth module and also available with ISO layout.

vulpes
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IIRC, it is even sold under official Thinkpad branding in some markets.

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I am an OLD (ish) gamer and have used a great arrayof mech/non mech kb’s over the years.
I am massively surprised at the quality of this – EG Carbon
I picked it up a bit cheaper than this £27, and for a mech/rgb kb it is a bargain – hasn’t missed a beat in over a year now with regular use/hammering lol. frame is aluminium.
Best bit is the software is built in, so no extra rubbish running in the tray – sure you can’t make your own patterns, but there are plenty to choose from and they are all adjustable in speed etc.

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vulpes wrote:
IIRC, it is even sold under official Thinkpad branding in some markets.

I think that’s a different one. The Shinobi was just released AFAIK and the Lenovo model is several years old (using membrane / scissors keys like normal ThinkPad keyboard). Just search for “ThinkPad Compact Keyboard”.

PS: The Shinobi seems to be awesome, but too expensive. Even as a professional software developer I can’t write enough to justify it in addition to all my other mechanical keyboards. Also I love my trackballs and don’t need a trackpoint in a desktop keyboard.

vulpes
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I was thinking of Tex Yoda (standard 60% layout), but can’t find anything linking it to Lenovo. I could swear it was released on some official event a few years ago. Facepalm

Rusty Joe
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Great topic! I am definitely looking for a new one! Any recommendations are coveted!

vulpes
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How much are you willing to spend?

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I had a cherry with click from about 1993-2004, too bad It got someday replaced with a USB one instead converting it
I am sure it would have lasted longer than the 2 USB I had to trash so far

BurningPlayd0h
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vulpes wrote:
BurningPlayd0h wrote:
Built a TADA68 using Aliaz silents (basically Gateron silent browns that are a bit more tactile due to different stem) and have been loving it. Do kinda miss having dedicated function keys for gaming, but there were basically zero 70/75% boards available when I bought it other than a few prebuilt.

If I did get another board I would definitely look into something with better stabilizers. Even after a bit of lubing the ones on the TADA still have a bit of rattle to them.

How do you feel about Aliaz switches? I want to get them for this Helix project. On paper, they sound perfect; heavier and more tactile than (gateron) browns and as silent as a mechanical switch can get. Both properties are important to me, since blue switch variants I currently have are too light and my sister is not to fond of the sound. And they wouldn’t set me back more than $30, considerably less when compared to other tactile silents such as $1 a piece Zilents.

I’ve been happy with them (other than wishing they were still MORE tactile, but that’s the same with almost every switch) however I haven’t used some of the new boutique switches.

The complaints I’ve heard is that they aren’t the best with stem wobble and that some “scratchiness” is noticeable, maybe due to the reduced sound. More sound than feel from what I can understand.

To someone that isn’t completely obsessive like the Mech KB community they are quiet, just heavy enough (70g on mine IIRC) and have the softer bottom out I love about silent switches.

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I bought a cheap (~€50) Royal Kludge RK61 to use until I built my Iris.

Iris rev. 2 with Zilent 67g v2 switches (lubed with Krytox 105) and Big Bang MDA keycaps, no LEDs.
I chose the silent switches for office use. For a future, home-use build I’ll go for really clicky switches with a lower actuation force.
Total part cost plus shipping was roughly €170.
It runs the open source QMK firmware

(the picture isn’t of mine, but it looks the same)

Wrist rests aren’t pictured.

For a deep dive into keyboards, including a deep dive into mechanical keyboards, look at “Xah keyboard Blog” (and ignore the grammar).

vulpes
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BurningPlayd0h wrote:

I’ve been happy with them (other than wishing they were still MORE tactile, but that’s the same with almost every switch) however I haven’t used some of the new boutique switches.

The complaints I’ve heard is that they aren’t the best with stem wobble and that some “scratchiness” is noticeable, maybe due to the reduced sound. More sound than feel from what I can understand.

To someone that isn’t completely obsessive like the Mech KB community they are quiet, just heavy enough (70g on mine IIRC) and have the softer bottom out I love about silent switches.


Thanks, that sounds great. I’m no switch snob by any means and it seems like we have similar preferences. Though I would probably go for the 80g variant. And those as you say boutique switches are too expensive, at least a buck a piece.

borealis wrote:
I bought a cheap (~€50) Royal Kludge RK61 to use until I built my Iris.

Iris rev. 2 with Zilent 67g v2 switches (lubed with Krytox 105) and Big Bang MDA keycaps, no LEDs.
I chose the silent switches for office use. For a future, home-use build I’ll go for really clicky switches with a lower actuation force.
Total part cost plus shipping was roughly €170.
It runs the open source QMK firmware

(the picture isn’t of mine, but it looks the same)

Wrist rests aren’t pictured.

For a deep dive into keyboards, including a deep dive into mechanical keyboards, look at “Xah keyboard Blog” (and ignore the grammar).


Currently I’m torn between Helix without bottom row, so 40%, and column staggered such as your Iris, but in 40% so Corne (crkbd) is the most likely candidate. How do you like the layout in terms of ergonomics? The main reason I want an ortho split 40% is the idea of moving my fingers outside their home column as little as possible (as anyone else using similar keyboard, I guess). I have ran into that blog before, that guy Xah has bunch of boards originating from in one place.
BurningPlayd0h
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vulpes wrote:
BurningPlayd0h wrote:

I’ve been happy with them (other than wishing they were still MORE tactile, but that’s the same with almost every switch) however I haven’t used some of the new boutique switches.

The complaints I’ve heard is that they aren’t the best with stem wobble and that some “scratchiness” is noticeable, maybe due to the reduced sound. More sound than feel from what I can understand.

To someone that isn’t completely obsessive like the Mech KB community they are quiet, just heavy enough (70g on mine IIRC) and have the softer bottom out I love about silent switches.


Thanks, that sounds great. I’m no switch snob by any means and it seems like we have similar preferences. Though I would probably go for the 80g variant. And those as you say boutique switches are too expensive, at least a buck a piece.

Forgot to mention that apparently with both them and Zealios the heavier versions are supposed to feel even more tactile so if that’s the feel you want 80g would be a fantastic choice! Thumbs Up

borealis
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Unlike Qwerty, my fingers rest on the home row (in the center of each key) without any contortion. I’m still getting used to the left side (decades of Qwerty has you hitting the left bottom row with the wrong fingers) and the thumb cluster. Not having a full sized keyboard requires using layers, which will take some time to develop muscle memory for. I’m still deciding how to effectively get at all keys I need, I’m currently on three layers. I look at this as a multi-year project.
I would imagine that anything smaller than the Iris would require quite some layer-acrobatics – but you’re gonna look damn cool once you’ve got it down.

vulpes
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I’m well aware it’s all about efficient qmk layout map, apart from retraining muscles. And I won’t lie, I’m in it partialy for the cool factor. I enjoy people’s confused faces and questions when they realise my laptop has no desktop icons or start menu (i3wm user, tiling windows is the best invention after the internet), I guess 2 part keyboard with blank keycaps and oled screens looks pretty weird to the most of the people Big Smile And there is this since I’m feeding a steretype.

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My Keychron K4 with Gateron brown switches arrived today.

I was a bit apprehensive about the height of the keyboard, especially since I mostly use the very thin Apple Keyboard and Magic Keyboard, but I couldn’t find anything else with a 96% layout and good macOS out-of-the-box support within my price range. After a hours use the height hasn’t been a problem, but I’ll have to see how I go using it for a full day on Monday.

I’d be really interested to hear from any other macOS users with mechanical keyboards, especially anyone who has done a custom build. I know you don’t need a dedicated macOS keyboard, but I do like niceties like keycaps with macOS labels.

I have a feeling that K4 won’t be my last mechanical keyboard – I’m already having thoughts of trying blue switches, finding an old Apple Extended Keyboard with Alps switches and a locking caps lock, and maybe even a custom build with the number pad on the left.

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@skinny_tie

I have a Keychron K6 with Gateron Brown switches.

Being used to Gateron Blue switches and Gateron Red switches I must say the Brown just seem rather unappealing to me so far. I feel better using the stabbing blue ones or the buttery red ones, yeah people praise the “browns” as being the best of both worlds, I cannot agree with that, it’s just a different feeling.

The fonts are ultra thin and ultra small fortunately so I can barely see any letter, without back light I have to say I can barely even see what letter is
what during daylight. Yeah I do not really look at the keyboard when I type, but instead of a quick glance to have all everything in my mind clearly when
typing now a quick glance pretty much does not do anything, rather strains my eyes.

Unfortunately during daylight the back lighting is so dim and combined with very thin letters it basically make no difference for my use, while my old Anne Pro 1 has some punch that they can be used even in daylight without no issues, especially important for the black keys.

Caps-lock takes a full second to cycle from white to red light to signal that it is pressed, which is well really slow, on both of my Anne PRO 1 they are
instant.
They USB-C cable they offer is as stiff as a cable can be, this is basically a joke, just cable you can’t even use.

The thickness of the K6 keyboard is too much for me, the Anne PRO 1 keyboards I have are much better.

The K6 does look to be molded with quality plastics that is for sure, appears as higher quality, which impresses quickly even with it’s rather rubber key tactile feeling, except letters are so thin on dark grey keys with such dim backlighting during the day is a big con for me.

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@Hikelite

Most of your issues with the K6 probably apply to the K4 as well, although I don’t have the caps lock issue. It’s definitely very tall, and based on the disassembly videos I’ve seen there’s no need for that. The USB cable is also very stiff, and as the port on on the right hand side of the keyboard it’s both a bigger issue and more difficult to find a suitable replacement.

I definitely don’t love the Keychron and I would hesitate to recommend it, but I knew what I was getting into.

Do you use the Anne Pro on macOS? If so, how do you find it?

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