Keyboard Builders' Digest
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Keyboard Builders' Digest / Editorial

Behind the scenes #159

Keyboard projects, quick news, in the mailbox, meetups, new vendors and discount codes!

dovenyi
Published March 25, 2024
Creators! Feel free to tip me off about your keyboard related projects to bring them to 120K readers.

Hey, what's up everyone!

Welcome back for another weekly recap and behind-the-scenes write-up.

If you are new to kbd.news, you can read how this started out and what this is all about nowadays. If you like what you see, subscribe to the newsletter (free) and donate some bucks to keep this otherwise free and ad-free project alive.

Help to fund the newsletter

Some of you prefer the newsletter format and would support me to continue it. Understood.

Feel free to donate some bucks if you can afford it. The $145 annual fee I'll have to pay could be covered by:

More info below…

Some posts worth sharing

Pic: IROK ND75 reviewed

IROK ND75 reviewed

  • The IROK ND75, sold by MechKeys, is a genuine little gaming board with compact layout, nice magnetic switches, and plenty of RGB. The first contemporary Hall-effect board I've ever tried.
  • Sandalmoth published the Powerspill, a Dactyl-like split with keywell.

Pic: Powerspill

Powerspill

  • Squalius-cephalus shared the Reviung-derivative monoblock Silli41, along with its numpad companion.
  • Jhonatan Ferrer's JK206 is an open-source 12x5 ortho keyboard – actually 3 numpad PCBs stuck together.
  • Semickolon shared some updates to the FAK firmware, along with Partycrasher Micro, a Pro Micro drop-in replacement.

Pic: Silli41

Silli41

  • A 65% keyboard case inspired by the ZX Spectrum: Kada Spectrum by Emil.
  • I learned about text expanders like Espanso via LividElevator's r/mk post. Unfortunately, steno is not for heavily agglutinating languages I type in, and the usage of these text expanders is limited too, but I set up unicode fractions, some emojis, arrows, etc.
  • Svalboard Lightly with trackball holder (onshape repo, source).

Pic: Svalboard Lightly

Svalboard Lightly

Pic: Katana Kombat

Katana Kombat

Keyboard art

Inferno by Qlavier (source):

Pic:

This one was inspired by a friend who's awful at touch typing and told me over and over to make a "faster keyboard" whatever that that means. :)

Pic:

RE:CAP – artisans from recycled plastic by jankycaps (source):

Pic:

We've seen keycaps made from bottle caps or recycled aluminum.

Junkycaps' Mikhael shared the results of his experiments on injection molding recycled plastic in a great blog post.

I've been trying to make keycaps from 100% recycled plastic for a while and am pretty happy with the results so far. Here's a little blog post chronicling my design and production journey if anyone is interested.

Evolurk Aperture 75

A keyboard (IC) inspired by Leica M Series cameras. "Viewfinder" (display), "ISO knob" (encoder), magnetic contact interfaces and screwless quick-release mechanism for easy assembly.

Pic:

Chinese dragon spacebar

Chinese dragon spacebars made by the ladies at Aihey Studio:

Pic:

"Switch" keycaps (IG):

Pic:

Follow-up on the newsletter

Thanks for the feedback and sorry for not getting back to each of you. I received dozens of emails, lots of great insight. I get it. So some of you don't use social media at all, and find the newsletter format the best option.

Understood. I'm going to continue sending out the newsletter then.

That said, it would be a real shame if I had to pay the annual fee only to be able to work for free, so please support me with some bucks, especially if you indicated your willingness to do so in your feedback. ;)

The $145 annual fee I'll have to pay could be covered by:

  • A one-time $5 donation by 33 people (PayPal fees factored in…)
  • A one-time $3 donation by 58 people

(Unfortunately, donating $1-2 doesn't make much sense, unless of course you want to support PayPal instead of me. :) E.g. half of a $1 donation goes to PP in fixed fees.)

In addition, thanks for the tips with regards to alternative services and business models. On one hand, I don't want to monetize the newsletter. And I looked into some alternatives again, but Buttondown is still the cheapest option among these services – if I don't want to remove third of my subscribers.

IROK ND75 review

This was an interesting experience. First time playing with (non-vintage) Hall effect switches and PCB.

The feel is nice, just like the potential of the per-key settings. I had to do my own measurements to believe the 8KHz polling rate.

Pic: IROK ND75

IROK ND75

Pic:

The spring sale discount (10-30% off) is still in effect, so this board is available for $81.

Collecting vs hoarding

The other day I drove an hour to take a look at a collection(?) that seemed very promising based on some photos. The classified I came across earlier offered each of the keyboards for about $6 of local currency, which was a no-brainer for the Acer Ergo I recognized in the side-view shots.

Pic:

Yeah, hundreds of keyboards on top of each other, grouped into DIN, PS/2 and "black" heaps. :)

The on-site experience was shocking and made me aware of the difference between collecting and hoarding. Dust, filth, rust everywhere. You don't store parts of a collection under such circumstances, one of your very goals with collecting is to save relics from exactly these conditions.

My very first encounter, literally in the front yard, was a case of a rare Videoton PC – in open air, thrown away in the middle of the lawn. I was so shellshocked that I forgot to take any photos of the backyard, full of rusty computer parts arranged into huge piles.

Some work has been done lately, but the photos below are not representative of the mess I witnessed in general:

Pic:

Pic:

Some incredible finds, e.g. a complete IT section of the local metallurgical works closed long time ago, with lots of IBM terminals from the '70s. Beam-spring keyboards built into a desk – stored like this:

Pic:

Pic: IBM 3279s (IBM's first color terminal, from 1979)

IBM 3279s (IBM's first color terminal, from 1979)

I returned home with some keyboards and a Videoton terminal, but the loot somehow doesn't make me happy. At least I became richer with a realization: what I witnessed here is exactly what I have to avoid. Less is definitely more in this case.

Loot: Videoton VDT 52100 terminal, Acer Ergo 61 aka Acer Future Keyboard – from 1999 –, a Siemens. I had to ask for a broom to clean up most of the dirt, so as disgusting as this looks, it's way better than originally:

Pic:

Donations

For all the donation options check out the donation page!

In the mailbox

A Modern97 by Melgeek, the fountain colorway. This is a veeery long story :), review later.

Pic:

Meetup database

Recently added:

As always, this meetup database is both a calendar and an archive so feel free to send me upcoming events or even ones from the recent past to make this collection as comprehensive as possible.

Vendors & Discounts

I continue checking the coupons, adding new offers and removing inactive ones. Feel free to use the KBDNEWS discount code at 138 keyboard shops now!

New shops and updates to the database of keyboard vendors this week:

  • New discounts: Swagkeys (5% off via the KBDNEWS coupon code). Thanks!
  • MonacoKeys (DE) offered you a 5% discount too.
  • The KapCo discount changed to $10 (from 10%)
  • Cerakey: the coupon has changed a lot recently, it's back to KBDNEWS now, with $5 off.
  • thock.click → thock.design
  • Newly added: Nullbits, The Keeb Store, Pompokey, Jankycaps, MonacoKeys (DE), Mechaland (ID), Stickeys (IN).

I continue checking who's alive and kicking, contacting each shop listed in the database.

Developments

  • Reading progress bar. I've always liked this solution, which may help with orienting oneself within lenghty articles, so I've implemented something similar. Breaking a few things along the way I guess (mobile view, dark mode, etc.) so to be continued… :)
  • I practically added all shop logos to the database. Only a handful of them left. Working on a sprite system to avoid loading 550 images on a single pageload.

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That's all for today. Thanks for checking by. As always: Keep learning and building!

Until next time,
Tamás

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Published on Mon 25th Mar 2024. Featured in KBD #159.


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