Author Topic: The Keeb Thread  (Read 1855 times)

Bobbias

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2020, 02:53:45 PM »
:/ looking at some of the pictures on /r/mechanicalkeyboards I can see lots of unusual/custom form factors, but I don't exactly want to build my own. It's just that I'd love to have more actual keys. I'd love something like the space cadet, with all it's modifier keys. I could do without additional function keys if I could have more modifiers. I've been looking into remapping some keys like capslock, as well as adding additional combinations for modifier use (like mapping ctrl+shift a to say, a box drawing character, or greek alpha, or fraktur A etc.) but honestly I'm not super happy about how limited I feel with the standard 104 key factor. Note: apparently the database does not like unicode, I had to remove characters from this post...
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Spectere

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #31 on: October 05, 2020, 01:30:25 AM »
Look into keyboards that support the QMK firmware, such as the ones that Drop sells (pretty sure there are some less expensive Chinese designs available on Amazon as well that would fit the bill). Those allow you to remap keys at the firmware level and utilize up to 16 layers.

The database is set up to use Unicode (if it weren't, the label for the old Snowman board wouldn't appear). I'll bet it's an SMF limitation. Kinda seems like so few fucks are given about SMF 2.0 that they don't even bother updating the copyright date at the bottom anymore (and yes, there have been patches released after 2017).

Here's hoping SMF 2.1 comes out one of these years. I'd like to be able to get it installed before I turn 40.

(To add some context, the first public alpha of 2.1 was released in 2012, the first beta was released in 2014, and the first release candidate was released in 2019. I turn 40 in November 2024, so we'll see what happens.)
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 01:32:54 AM by Spectere »
"Fuck 2020, and Fuck FedEx."  -Bobbias

Spectere

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2020, 01:05:14 PM »
So I ended up heading to the office today to work with someone directly on a project (basically doing a lot of last minute tweaks%u2026way easier to just go in rather than coordinate everything over Teams), which gave me the opportunity to use my trusty Logitech G710+ again.

Kinda feels weird to use MX Browns again after using other switches for so long. I'm not used to switches that have this much pre-actuation travel, that's for sure. These switches have at least 1mm of travel before the top of the tactile bump.

This keyboard uses a plastic plate and o-rings, so it's pretty damn quiet. Way quieter than my GMMK (aluminum plate, I believe) and custom board (carbon fiber). In terms of switch feel, the MX Brown is serviceable. Definitely far from my favorite at this point in time.

The thing that feels really odd is using a full-sized keyboard again. Like, this thing actually feels unreasonably large. I'm so used to using a center-aligned keyboard that I had to shift my desk around so that the alphanumeric keys are somewhat centered. Fortunately, I'm using a trackball, so I was able to just shove that over to the side without an issue. Good stuff.

But yeah, not too bad. I'll still take my weird lab experiments over it, but it's serviceable.

Edit: Back home now and yeah, night and day difference. Gaming mechs are definitely better than rubber domes (unless they're equipped with Romer-G's), but it's incredible how much of a difference using a non-Cherry switch with a solid plate makes. Honestly, I think I like the feeling of my Apple Magic Keyboard 2 more than the G710+, to be perfectly honest. It uses some very crisp scissor switches with a solid aluminum body, so it feels sturdier and has a nice, snappy response.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2020, 04:25:24 PM by Spectere »
"Fuck 2020, and Fuck FedEx."  -Bobbias

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #33 on: December 17, 2020, 11:22:16 PM »
HEY GUESS WHAT, I HAVE A NEW KEYBOARD



Yeah, I decided to try the whole ortho thing. I wasn't bold enough to grab a Planck and join the whole 40% movement, so I just went with a 50% layout (the Preonic) instead. I'm kinda glad I did, honestly, since it gives me a lot more room to tweak the layout without things getting too far away.

To input symbols, you would use the lower/raise buttons (the keys flanking the space bar) and tap home row keys. For example, lower-J gives you '-' and upper-J gives you '_'. A someone who primarily programs in C/C++/C#, being able to lower-L and lower-; for '{' and '}', respectively, is one hell of a killer feature.

Beyond that, I did some tweaking to the standard keyboard layout to bring over a few things from my 60% configuration, like Fn+WASD for arrow keys and the like, as well as adding in a few essentials like right-ALT (since I use that as a compose key in Windows/Linux).

It's been…interesting so far. I've used it for about ten hours and have found that the orthogonal key layout does sort of change the way you have to type, so it's hard to say whether or not I'm completely sold on it. The staggered key layout allows you a great deal of flexibility in how you type things. For example, if you type the word "certify," with a staggered layout you can very easily move your left index finger down (or your thumb up) and left to pick up 'c', tap 'e' with your ring finger, 'r' with your middle, then 't' with your index. The way I approach typing is full of little quirks and optimizations like that.

With an ortho layout, typing "certify" using the method I outlined above is a hell of a stretch since your fingers have to move a full step over instead of a partial-step. The number row is even more awkward, which is why I suspect that the Planck layout appears to be a bit more popular than the Preonic. If you shove your middle finger up two rows on a typical staggered keyboard layout you land on '2', while on a Preonic you land on '1'. The combination of these two factors definitely initially decreased my confidence to the point where my speeds fell to levels I haven't seen in around 30 years.

I've built back up to around 60-80% of my usual speed (I still fumble with symbols) and there are certainly things that I've grown to like. There are two keys on a standard keyboard layout that are a bit tricky to hit: 'B' and 'Y'. 'B' is a step and a half away for both fingers while 'Y' is slightly closer to the right hand, but from a home position they're both a bit awkward. On an ortho both keys are a single diagonal step away.

I plan to stick with it and try to steadily improve my performance. If things really don't work out I doubt I'll have a problem selling it.

As far as the specs, it's capable of accepting taking both Matias-style (requires soldering) and MX-style switches (with Kailh hot-swap sockets). I went with 67g Zealios V2 switches. They're currently unlubed (it took USPS a week to get a small parcel from New York to Ohio and I just wanted to assemble it) but I'm planning to pop the switches out and give lubing them a shot. I like how Zealios switches feel unlubed, so I'm curious to see how much of a difference it'll make. The included space key stabilizer is unlubed, so I plan to take care of that as well. It squeaked like crazy on day one but it seems to have quieted down quite a bit…somehow.

The keycaps are the fairly typical Drop x OLKB Acute set, which are dyesubbed PBT caps in the OEM profile. They feel pretty good, but it is a little strange going from my exaggerated MT3 profile boards to this one. The case is a nice lilac colored aluminum jobby. It's nowhere near as heavy as the chonky case my 60% is in, but it has a reasonable amount of heft.

I do swap between my three keebs occasionally (had to switch back to my 60% for work yesterday because the Preonic was slowing me down way too much for the amount of work I had to do, and occasionally I need the nav cluster from my TKL), so I also picked up a magnetic cable. Basically, you just pop the little adapter into the microUSB/USB-C/Lightning port and the magnetic thinger attaches to it. That'll be nice if I decide to haul a keyboard back and forth between work and home after the lockdown ends.

Oh, and just to give y'all an idea of how small this sucker is, here's a picture of my G502 casually resting on top of it:



And, finally, a comparison shot/group photo/whatever you wanna call it:

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Bobbias

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2020, 07:22:42 AM »
See that level of control and extra buttons to do with is what I'd love... With a full keyboard layout. Or larger. Without breaking the bank. And I suspect that is not easily accomplished.
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Spectere

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Re: The Keeb Thread
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2020, 03:52:37 PM »
Yeah, that sort of thing just isn't mass produced. If you want something that's super flexible, there are 75% PCBs (TKL with a condensed navigation key layout) that have several spots for switches around the space bar. Thing is, the PCB and case usually run around $60-100 (depending on case materials), with the caps and switches running another $100+ easy, with stabilizers and lube running another $10-20, depending on what you get (all figures in Freedom Bucks. Not sure about the what the cost would be in Maple Leaf Moneys, especially since you'd probably have to import a bunch of stuff :(). That's assuming you're up to hand solder everything, too. PCBs with pre-installed Kailh sockets are usually a bit more.

Honestly, I would take a few moments to consider if you really need a full keyboard layout. After working with a 60% for several months, even going back to a TKL slows me down and forces me to shove my mouse further away from the keyboard. Being able to just Fn+WASD to navigate feels awesome, especially in macOS (since Cmd+Left/Right is home/end and Cmd+Up/Down is PgUp/PgDn). Being able to navigate quickly thought documents without having to move from the home row honestly feels incredible, and I can honestly say that I'm actually far more productive with this keyboard than any of the ones I've owned in the past. I occasionally miss having a numpad, so I built myself an external numpad that I can just plug in whenever I need it. On the Preonic I could even add a proper numpad to a separate layer, given that it's already an ortho layout.

As long as you're using a keyboard with the QMK firmware you can do basically anything with it. Head over to the QMK Configurator, select any keyboard from the list, and just check out the crazy shit you can do with it using the keycodes listing below. I think there are some cheaper QMK-compatible DZ60-based compacts and TKL boards on Amazon for fairly reasonably prices (roughly $70-80 IIRC) but I can't really speak for their quality.

The only real downside about all of this is that whenever I use my laptop undocked I always end up inadvertently turning on caps lock and typing "AAAAAAAAA" out of habit. Whoops.
"Fuck 2020, and Fuck FedEx."  -Bobbias