Interview With Zeal Concerning Zealios20 Aug 2015
I thought with the looming launch of an exciting new switch, that I would find out a bit more about them. It's not too long but I think this is a nice read into the upcoming switches. If you don't know what zealios are, this should be a good introduction.
Photo by Lastpilot
Who is Zeal? For those who don't know? What are you known for etc?
Hi, I'm Henry, and I run Zeal PC at ZealPC.net. I've been known for my custom USB cables, GMK Dolch keycaps, Ducky Dyesub keycaps, Springs, Lube, Green Tea Kit Kats, etc. Basically anything related to keyboards and Kit Kat!
Your recent project is a new switch. This is an ambitious project and I don't think this has happened before. There was talk of an ergoclear but MOQ was too high. What is this new switch? (just for introduction sake)
Indeed, this is an ambitious project and is probably one of the first community-developed switch! This new "Zealio" switch is what I like to call an "improved" version of the Ergo Clear switch. It's been built from the ground up with keyboard enthusiasts in mind. I've implemented all the pros and omitted all the cons that people have mentioned about the Ergo Clear switch.
Are the LED's going to be sold with the switches?
The RGB LEDs will be sold once an aftermarket RGB LED PCB has been developed. For now, RGB LEDs will not be bundled with Zealio switches.
Are these automatically colour changing LED's or do they require a separate controller?
Controllable RGB LEDs have a few controllers on the PCB side to make them work properly. The videos I've released so far have simply been an auto-changing RGB LED fit inside the switch, powered off a 3v button cell battery.
What motivated this project?
I was unhappy with the feeling of current generation Cherry switches. They were scratchy, inconsistent, and overall hard to source. The lack of Cherry switches pushed me to look for alternatives, and that's when I stumbled upon Gateron. That's when the magic started. :)
Photo by Lastpilot
Is this all you or are there others involved?
Zeal PC is currently a one man show, but depending on how things move forward, I'm sure there will be more people joining the team!
Are they officially named zealios?
I guess you can say that. :)) The name "Zealio" started in one of the keyboard Skype groups I was in, and the name sort of stuck ever since. The switch obviously will have a long and lengthy part number, but for all intents and purposes, "Zealio" or "Purple Gaterons" should get the message across.
Will they be available in PCB and plate mount variations?
At this stage, only PCB mount Zealios will be made. If the user has a PCB that doesn't support PCB mount supporting pins, they can simply snip them off with a flush cutter. It would be redundant to make a plate mounted bottom mould for the switch.
How long has this project been under way?
I've been discussing this project with Gateron since the beginning of 2015. It wasn't until early March did I start showing little snips of a picture I had taken of the first linear "Zealio" alpha-stage prototype switch. I released a small picture puzzle piece every day until April 1st, where I posted all the pieces to the puzzle. Then updates went silent until the end of July when the Purple Zealio prototype was complete and revealed.
What was the process of talking to Gateron to get these made?
I won't be disclosing too much information here. Just know that it consisted of multiple emails, phone calls, samples sent back and forth as well as an on-site visit!
Has this been a costly project?
Yes, it's been costly. But it will be worth it, and I'm sure the community will benefit from it!
Why did you settle on the zealios current specs? Tactile 62g Was this always the choice?
Before I even touched the Zealio switches, my goal was to replicate a smooth, vintage 62g lubed ergo clear. I thought my mind was set on 62g Zealios. However after receiving samples of 62g, 65g and 67g, making the decision has been tough. All three weights have its own unique characteristic. There's a chance all three weights will make it to the final production, but there's no guarantees.
Long long time ago, hidden somewhere in Deskthority/GeekHack, there was talk that Cherry would make "Purple" ergo-clear switches if they received a 750k switch order. I'm not sure where that post went, or who provided that figure, but it's been talked about enough to end up in the DT Cherry MX Ergo Clear wiki. I thought it would be fun to make that legend into a reality, and here we are now with Purple Zealios. There's also the fact that at the time of designing the switch, no other switch manufacturer has used purple yet for their stem.
Photo by Lastpilot
Is this the first of many? Is there the possibility of more switches coming from zeal and/or Gateron.
The first wave of Project Zealio will come in Linear and tactile variants. There may be a new clicky switch that can be made, but I'll have to see the response of the current Zealio switches.
When can we expect them to be on sale and for what price?
The projected start date of the GB Pre-order is before the end of August. Price per switch for the GB/Pre-order will be $0.75USD + shipping.
Do you see these switches being around for a long time? Or is this just dependent on demand?
I plan on keeping these switches constantly stocked for a good while. It wouldn't be wise to invest so much into new moulds, only to do one production run with them!
Are you going to make them available to other vendors such as olkb? This could result in zealplancks and what not.
Vendors are welcome to purchase the switches from the GB Pre-order, or afterwards at a higher retail price. The switches however, will be solely distributed by Zeal PC.
Will you be selling these switches in kits for keyboards and possibly keyboards pre-built with these?
There's a possibility, but as it stands, these will be switches for the end-user to mod into keyboards. If there's a new project or keyboard kit that arises, I'll be sure to let the community know.
Will these be shipping with any new snacks?
It will depend on when Zealios start shipping! Kit Kats are prone to melting under warm weather, so I might have to look into some hard candy. We'll see...
Do you have any future plans for zealpc.net that you can reveal?
No future plans have been finalized or disclosed yet. Though if Zealios take off, there might be something extra up my sleeves!
Well I can confidently say that I am looking forward to getting some zealios. But I also need a keyboard to put them on. Thanks to Zeal for answering my questions and to Lastpilot for letting me use his photos.
Typed on the Novatouch