Behind the scenes #2023/34
Quick news, lots of stuff in the mailbox, meetups, shops, whatever.
Published August 25, 2023
What a week! Lots of original content in this issue – and even more in sight.
If you're joining us for the first time, welcome first of all. This weekly recap and behind-the-scenes write-up is about all the cool and fun stuff going on in the DIY keyboard scene these days.
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.
For your ears
The week started with Gleb's Deathpad. It proves that unusual mashups like e.g. keyboards + death metal are bound to bear fruit. So let's choose a light mashup for background music this time, an old favorite of mine: 'Kiss Billie Jean to Get Lucky' by JJ Rosa. (Allow me some cooldown period for death metal as I'd rather not risk alienating readers by starting the second editorial with ferocious riffs in a row.)
Reading for the weekend
- Gleb Sabirzyanov made and sells a single piece of Deathpad, a one-of-a-kind macropad with 9 keys at the heart of a death metal inspired case. Already mentioned in last week's editorial but then I learned there's much more to this project and we talked about his inspiration and workflow.
- Another longer format piece: an interview with Morgan Venable, creator of Svalboard, who tells us about this awesome project and the reinvention of the Datahand keyboard.
- I've been testing the Planeta, a clean and simple monoblock split keyboard with piezo speaker – designed and sold by Ergohaven.
- Quirk shared the design files of his Cut Slope, an orthoish unibody split with splayed outer column.
- DreaM117er's (video demo) Explorer Mountain is a modular monoblock split supporting a wide range of switches.
- Strange-Lab5541 has updated his handwired split with those distinctive retro keycaps: fisk 2.0 is here.
- The Fanta-Manta by Protieusz is a resurrection of rainkeebs's closed source and discontinued Manta.
- NoSegfaultPlz published his CyberKeeb 2040, which is both a mechanical keyboard and a cyberdeck.
- Pamungkas Sumasta's AI-powered kAiBoard is an internet-connected device powered by ChatGPT with built-in virtual assistant, redefining user interaction.
- braindefender's KLP Lame caps now also with MX stems (github).
- Monkeyboard aka supersplit – not new, Tarneo made this a year ago (github), but it was posted on lemmy this week. And there's also a long blog post about the project.
- Cherry announced the new MX2A switches with "high-precision ring lubrication" and "barrel spring" – just to name a few features. I'm not really into switches (working on strengthening this part of the blog, as you'll see next week) so can't tell if these are mere buzzwords or really make a difference.
- Penk's first (handwired) builds with resin-casted MOBOP caps.
No new donors this week.
Except of course my faithful supporters who set up recurring donations earlier. Many thanks to you and to everyone who supported this project thus far.
In the mailbox
Planeta, bancouver40, CFX caps, Killer Whale on the way.
I got the Planeta on Monday and have been using it since. Review here. Great board, one of my muggle coworkers fell in love with it immediately, especially the typing feel. I thought I hate XDA but it works really well with this board, except of course the thumb keys.
Then Chosfox went berserk and sent me a super cute bancouver40, along with a heap of CFX caps – like seven sets/kits. Thanks Robin, and fyi, you managed to ruin a whole research team’s productivity for one whole day. Honestly, grownup men with all kinds of scientific degrees but like kids in a candy store… 🤣
Bancouver review hopefully next week.
Taro Hayashi's Killer Whale kit on the way. After posting the interview at the time of the last restock, you vacuumed up the available kits in a blink of an eye, before I could figure out if Yushakobo ships to Europe at all. (I don't think so, but my emails go unanswered.) But Taro was so kind that he arranged a shipment for me – for free. (Thanks again!)
What else? I ordered an Olivetti typewriter. I've been eyeing with this design for months now but was waiting for a beautiful green one in pristine condition. Well, the one I bought earlier this week is neither green nor impeccable, but it has something more special: an interesting story. It has something to do with this lovely couple on the photo below, shot in the 1950's. I mean the photo, not the couple. History is a bitch, but not so much in this case. I may talk about this next week once the typewriter arrives.
Behind the interviews
Last week ended and this week started with the Deathpad. I learned only after mentioning it in the previous editorial that there's much more info out there about this crazy art project than the photo I stumbled upon earlier. In a last minute update I put a link into the newsletter so the splash page was already there, but then we exchanged some emails with Gleb throughout the weekend to put a more comprehensive post together.
Svalboard. Yeah. We've been working on this piece with Morgan for ages. :D At some point it was 30K character long but I feared not many of you would make it to the end so we ended up with a much shorter version of only 10K chars. The rest may come in a different article, maybe as part of the next advent calendar.
Another interview is ready to be published, it's about switches and the switch market, but I wanted to keep something for next week.
And of course the reviews. As much as I liked playing with and typing on the KBDcraft Adam (LEGO-compatibility makes building so much fun!), getting back to more ergo fields with the Planeta was refreshing. But next week comes the Bancouver40. I'm scared already. It's an incredibly cute and well-built board, I haven't realized how small it is until holding it in my hands, but I've never used a pure ortho nonsplit board. And CFX spacing? It will be a real challenge.
Upcoming events in the database of keyboard meetups:
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.
New shops and updates to the database of keyboard vendors this week:
- Only small tweaks in the backend and in admin scripts.
- I had so many plans for this week because I was largely alone at home. My family went visiting relatives for a couple of days. But not much progress unfortunately. Of course preparing the the 3-4 interviews/reviews simultaneously was pretty time-consuming, and then the boards and stuff I received distracted me and successfully killed my productivity – or did they? After all, the result will be at least two reviews.
Still with me? There's a lovely lake in my city with fish and ducks and turtles that reminds me of another dad joke:
Every time I take my dog to the park, the ducks try to bite him. That's what I get for buying a pure bread dog.
That's all for today. Thanks for checking by. As always: Keep learning and building!
Until next time,
Published on Fri 25th Aug 2023. Featured in KBD #202308.