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Talk to me about..............Mechanical Keyboards


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#1 Gibson

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 17:17

Time is gonna come soon I think. Doing enough coding now to warrant one, and think it's a good idea. Good for the hands, good for the coding, etc. etc.

 

So after doing a bit of research, I've concluded that genuine Cherry Mx switches are best, also "Double shot" keycaps are best, also if they're not made out of ABS (whatever that is) but rather are made out of PBT or POM (whatever they are - obviously all of these are different types of plastics) then the keys will not develop the "shine" over time, and also the legends will not fade with double shot keycaps because they go through like a stick of Brighton Rock.

 

Now, do I need "Backlit"? Well, it certainly looks nice, it appears that the choice is clear double shot inserts with led backlighting, or coloured double shot inserts without backlighting. This raises the question - how long do the backlighting led's last? Is getting not backlit better because it will last longer, or, being led's is this not really an issue?

 

What switch do I want? It looks to me like a toss up between Cherry MX Browns and Cherry MX clears. The clears apparently are fairly stiff, whereas the browns are looser.

 

Are there shops that have switch testers that one can walk into and have a try of?

 

Budget, probably around £120, that kind of region.

 

Now the ones that have really caught my eye as being not only of high build quality, but great value for money are "Ducky". Especially this one :

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/B01BNE920U

 

Seems to have teh schizzle. Except I would be wanting it with a black case, not brown. I'm researching that one can't go wrong with a Ducky.

 

Other boards that caught my eye have been the "Code" keyboard with Cherry clear switches (can we get this with brown switches?), and the Filco Majestouch 2 keyboard. However, the Filco has printed legends and ABS keys. Not sure about the "code" keyboard. I think that is backlit and another plastic for the keys, similar to the Ducky.

 

My money's with the Ducky at the moment. Of course, I'll make up my own mind about this, as it seems very personal, but any thoughts on the matter or recommendations would be much appreciated, I understand there's also a "Das Keyboard" coding keyboard, and there are also some by Corsair, I believe that are quite good.

 

Cheers.

 

 

 


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#2 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 03 May 2018 - 22:26

Aha, this topic is relevant to my interests! Very happy Ducky Shine II owner since 2013. Not lost an LED yet, but if one goes (or a switch) it'll just be a matter of popping her open, desoldering the switch or LED and replacing it, and that's a fairly easy project for anyone who can use an iron.

 

Not sure what options exist for testing switches in your neck of the woods but I had bugger all in mine, so I ordered a tester before taking the plunge - it has a grey, black, red, brown, white, clear, blue, and green. If you PM me your address and solemnly swear to pay it forwards to the next mech-curious soul you encounter I'll cheerfully send it to you, it's no use to me any more.

 

6YKlX0z.jpg


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#3 DigitalSquid

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 17:16

Do you need back-lighting?

Completely personal preference, makes no actual difference to the physical typing at all. If you think it looks good then go for it. Personally, I think they're more for the kind of people that what to show off their setup - glass viewports in the desktop casing, colour-coded braided power cables, etc...

 

What switch do you want?

I'd take up RD's offer and borrow the hallowed tester unit. From my experience each type of switch is surprisingly varied. I had a similar dilemma when I first looked at mechanical keyboards. I couldn't decide between red and brown switches; in the end I went for red as I didn't like the tactile "kick back" you get with brown. I think they'd suit a better type than me that relies on the feedback of a key press for proper fast touch typing.


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#4 Gibson

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 18:00

Cheers Chris, how kind! I've sent you my address, and I'll pass the unit to someone else when appropriate.

 

Re - the back-lighting issue :

 

Does one need to turn the back lighting on to see the legends on the keys? Or are they visible without it? On the photos, they appear to be perfectly visible without the backlighting, although they're only photos. I think I like the idea of it, and it seems that there's no problem with the LED's going in the keys or anything. However, I may decide against it. It may be more sensible to go for non-backlit keys. Doesn't seem to be a major issue.

 

I've got my eye half on this one currently, pending the tester unit :

 

https://www.amazon.c...lv_ov_lig_dp_it

 

Looks pretty close to the mark. White backlighting, brown (pending tester unit confirmation) switches, which I suspect is what I'll fancy (I'm after a fairly gentle click action), PBT double shot keycaps, minimal design, great stuff. I think you can get the same model without backlighting as well, seems with Ducky, one can go for almost any permutation of features that one wants.

 

I suspect I'll end up with a Ducky of some description. Spoke to a mate of mine last night, they were the first make he mentioned as well, he says they're a keyboard specialist company.


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#5 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 14:00

Righto, I'll get that in the post to you straight away.
 
I don't use any of the fancy pulsing modes or anything, I just have it set to a constant low light that's equally legible whatever the lighting conditions. Because you get an individual LED per switch you don't really get any backlight bleed between the keys so it's literally just the legends that are illuminated (though they are perfectly legible without). You can set the level to pretty much anything from glow worm to LASIK.
 
I'd take a photo to show you but it's really in need of a clean (and so's about half of my desk) so please accept this one from forever ago instead:
 
VWmPUXY.jpg

The other great thing about a Ducky is if the need ever arose you could pick it up off your desk and use it to stun a rampaging wildebeest. I'm pretty sure if I balanced it across two bricks it would take my weight without snapping.

 

Edit: while we're on the subject I've been contemplating picking one up for my old ma. I was thinking of grabbing the Ducky One for the slim bezel with MX Blues and these keycaps.


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#6 Gibson

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 18:53

Righto, I'll get that in the post to you straight away.
 
I don't use any of the fancy pulsing modes or anything, I just have it set to a constant low light that's equally legible whatever the lighting conditions. Because you get an individual LED per switch you don't really get any backlight bleed between the keys so it's literally just the legends that are illuminated (though they are perfectly legible without). You can set the level to pretty much anything from glow worm to LASIK.
 
I'd take a photo to show you but it's really in need of a clean (and so's about half of my desk) so please accept this one from forever ago instead:
 
VWmPUXY.jpg

The other great thing about a Ducky is if the need ever arose you could pick it up off your desk and use it to stun a rampaging wildebeest. I'm pretty sure if I balanced it across two bricks it would take my weight without snapping.

 

Edit: while we're on the subject I've been contemplating picking one up for my old ma. I was thinking of grabbing the Ducky One for the slim bezel with MX Blues and these keycaps.

 

Cheers mate, much appreciated.

 

Haha those steampunk keycaps are great. Also, I've since quite got into the "grey" retro commodore-ish look myself, and I'm thinking about going non backlit as it goes. The skyline has caught my attention

 

https://www.overcloc...-kb-23c-dk.html

 

It kind of grew on me. Only thing is they put the alt legends next to each other rather than above each other, which is.... well, dunno what I think about that. Could be interesting.

 

I haven't had a proper look at overclockers yet, I think I'd better sift through it, they seem to have a great selection.


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#7 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 20:06

commodore-ish

 

Yup. Reminds me of my Amigas (and the IBM Model M)


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#8 Gibson

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 00:34

Actually your "Keyboard for your old ma" has raised a point. I haven't looked at the Ducky ones, only the one 2's. D'oh.

 

I quite like the one you've chosen for her. Might have to sort through the original Ducky ones and maybe go for one of those instead of a one 2. I actually think the original ones seem to look a bit nicer if one is going for a more minimal vibe.

 

The skyline is cool, but I don't like those shift state legends next to the unshifted legends. I need something that isn't playing funny buggers, and there's a few of the ones that seem like that, a bit more conventional.

 

Funny old company, great keyboards apparently, but they don't half make it tricky to find exactly what you want. I'll get there though. Already changed my mind about seven times. I'm new to this :D


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#9 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 02:37

Not your fault mate, "One 2" is abysmal branding.


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#10 Gibson

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 15:25

Yeah when's the "Ducky two one" coming out? is it the same as the one two? Who knows?

 

Actually I quite like the board you're buying for your Ma, as it goes. Didn't like white keys at first, kind of growing on me, very clear and crisp looking.

 

Also, I've quite got into the ten keyless idea. When was the last time I used a numeric keypad? Never, that's when. Takes up less space, more comfortable for the hands when shifting from mouse to board, yes I quite like this.

 

Here's one :

 

https://www.ultimate...t=3136175898664

 

Interesting. It says "coding" to me. And the shifted legends are in the conventional place.

 

I'd ideally like the gray/gray - 

 

https://mechanicalke...t_detail&p=3567

 

This is a nice one. A little more subtle. I can't find a ten keyless version of it though. Does it exist?

 

Also, they do blue/gray and white/green - interesting although a bit out-there.

 

So the questions, what do I think of white keys and ten keyless? Actually, these ideas have grown on me. And I think I actually prefer the standard "one" range to the "one two" range. It's a bit more minimal.

 

So I've gone from a full size black board with backlighting to a ten keyless white board with no backlighting. Well, that's how it goes. I'll probably order it in a week or two, so gives me a bit of time to mull it over and gather up the alternatives.

 

What do you guys make of ten keyless? 


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#11 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 18:35

I've never got into the tenkeyless/60% craze, I have a massive desk and I occasionally use my numpad. Plus I've always thought these tiny little keyboards look a bit ridiculous in the middle of the massive expanses of space people put 'em in.


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#12 Gibson

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Posted 07 May 2018 - 20:39

Ah, now 60% definitely not, as I use the arrow keys and the page up/down etc. - but the 80% Tenkeyless is really starting to appeal to me, as it goes. I have a small desk and I never use the keypad. I will have to have a careful think about this, as it strikes me I would be very comfortable with one of those as I find that moving from the mouse to the keyboard often makes my shoulder a bit sore, if you see what I mean.

 

I get problems with my neck and shoulders which I've fixed now quite successfully with a dual monitor setup, and being disciplined about using the keyboard more. I reckon a tenkeyless might help with that as well.

 

You guys have been a great help so far, I didn't really know much at the beginning of this thread, and Squido's made me think about the backlighting, and Chris is not only kindly sending me the tester, but has incidentally shown me that white and grey keyboard which I really like.

 

Had a similar experience recently with a piano keyboard I bought, started off wanting all the bells and whistles and ended up with a minimal Kawai VPC1 and running Pianoteq on a laptop, almost the polar opposite of my original choice. Not looked back.

 

Many thanks guys for the input so far. Much appreciated.


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#13 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 11:44

And here we see the bike-shed effect in action. If it was a £10 membrane jobbie you'd have bought the first one you clapped your eyes on and called it a day, but a £100+ mechanical is much harder and you've grown a committee to stymie your efforts. ;)


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#14 Gibson

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 17:05

Yeah exactly, it's fun at first looking through all the stuff and getting together the models you want, then it becomes rather a chore after a bit.

 

To boot, I've actually discovered that a very limited amount of models are actually obtainable this side of the water, none of the exact models I want I can actually find in any shops so I'm going to have to compromise on some feature or another. I should have learned by now to check that kind of thing before I go looking around. Been caught out by that before.

 

I think I will be in fact joining the tenkeyless club, I like that idea for a couple of very concrete reasons. 

 

Ducky backlit, Filco Majestouch, and WASD CODE seem to be what I can locate over here that fit the bill. Test the switches on the tester out, check for availability, pick up what I can. I'm sure I'll be a happy bunny after switching from my Logitech 7 quid jobbie. 

 

Now. What mouse mat shall I get? I require one that is black but not too black, grippy but not too grippy, has a logo that's not too big and not too small, smells just right, and can go in a 40 degree wash without melting. I have 3567 options on Amazon. That should occupy me for the next few years or so.


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#15 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 08 May 2018 - 18:01

Couldn't possibly help you there, my rodent currrently sits on the cheapest of the cheap large mat off Ebay. Has one of Michael Bay's awful Transformers on it, if that helps illustrate how little thought I put into it.


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#16 Gibson

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Posted 09 May 2018 - 16:31

I now have half a mind to get a mouse pad with a picture of a rodent on it, and put a model transformer on top of it.

 

Nah, same here, I buy mouse pads from ebay, two for two quid. FTW.

 

Ok, here's something that caught my eye. "Floating keys". PBT dye keycaps, great choice of switches, reputable. Great cap symbols. Seems like a contender. Only heard of this make yesterday.

 

https://caps-unlocke...andard-edition/

 

Available in the UK, as far as I can tell. A handsome bugger. Seems to fulfill my requirements.


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#17 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 12:56

Interesting. I've not heard of them, but it does seem to fit your shopping list. Looking at the dropdown of switches I'm not aware of any "silent black" or "silent red", presumably they're just the standard Blacks and Reds with pre-fitted O-rings.


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#18 Gibson

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 13:23

I've read some things about them and I think I've made my decision to buy that one now. Phew, that's that over with. 

 

Oh - and whoops, it's actually the VA88 that I want - ISO layout. The VA87 I linked to is an 87 key layout. Good catch by myself for my future self there.

 

As usual, one looks all around the houses and right at the last minute an outside bet creeps in and nicks the top spot.

 

Received the switch tester today, Chris. Many thanks. Now, just to decide on the switch, the order will be made, and I can put this bloody thing to bed. It's giving me a headache. Yes, I think the silent versions probably are o-ringed versions.

 

Thanks for all the help, been much appreciated for sure. I'll post here when the damn thing arrives, hopefully in a few days and give a report.


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#19 Renaissance-Design

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 12:31

Ah, bollocks. I was going to include a note with which switch is where so you wouldn't have to pull the caps but I completely forgot. Mea culpa. You should be able to see most of them ok, it's just the white/grey/clear that's a bit ambiguous.


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#20 Gibson

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Posted 11 May 2018 - 19:42

Ah, bollocks. I was going to include a note with which switch is where so you wouldn't have to pull the caps but I completely forgot. Mea culpa. You should be able to see most of them ok, it's just the white/grey/clear that's a bit ambiguous.

 

Ah no worries, I worked out which one was which by a process of deduction so the one below the brown one was the clear one. I decided on browns anyway, so that didn't matter so much. Was a toss up between browns and clears and the clears came across as just a bit too stiff.

 

Ordered it. Only prob is got to wait a few weeks because the particular one I want isn't actually in stock, but oh well, no probs.


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