Zealios Groupbuy Started

This is an interesting GB as it is the first custom switch the community has seen. It comes in both tactile and linear variants with the option of 62g, 65g and 67g variants. It is being held at zealpc.net. Each order also allows you to be in an exclusive bingecap raffle.

Keychatter Store

Preparations have begun for the opening of the keychatter store.

Artisan keycaps, custom cables, custom cases, and keyboard parts coming soon!

I’m not sure what artisans and products will be offered. But this is a nice direction for the store to go. I belive livingspeedbump will do something good with it.

Shine 5 Release Date Still Murky

Ducky shine 5 will have its first launch in Australia in September.

Posted by Ducky Keyboard on Wednesday, 19 August 2015

imgur Mirror

So September for Australia and I believe it is already shipping in Taiwan.

There also seems to be something interesting going on regards to the double layer PCB.

Ducky為了讓 Cherry RGB 燈光更亮,也方便專業玩家日後自行改裝SMD LED燈與軸體,因此推出「2片雙層板電路板PCB設計」,率先採用於Ducky Shine 5與羊年限定版。這些高成本的設計,為的不只是讓Ducky鍵盤表現更...

Posted by Ducky Keyboard on Tuesday, 25 August 2015

imgur Mirror

This does look a bit like innovation. But I can’t quite tell from the photos what is actually going on.

Sentrantpc

The universal plate featured last week is now live on massdrop. This is not the same as the JDcarpe designed LeandreN one. But was designed with fewer options in order for it to be cheaper, therefore a viable option for many. It also comes with a nice selection of colours for anodizing.

It seems sentrantpc is gearing up for something with an interest check for custom spring weights. If you are interested in getting your perfect switch weight, I suggest you fill out the interest form.

LeandreN

The PCB and Plate GB is now over and in the production/invoicing stage. As this is an interesting GB, I think it worth covering. PayPal issues have been resolved. Everyone has been invoiced and around 80% already paid. Plates are done and are now ready for anodizing. This means you can expect them in 2 weeks ish.

That previous link is to LeandreN’s blog which hast just started up. I imagine it will be a good place for more information on what’s happening.

Blahlicus

With a manufacturing delay on the Diverge II’s PCB everything is now on track. Shipping should have started today.

New Ortholinear Keyboard

This was announced on the latest episode of Board Makers. It is a planck with an additional row on top, or bottom depending how you look at it.

This is also a good time to mention Board Makers the premier keyboard podcast. Episode 10 came out today.

Keycaps

Binge Hoards Hyperfuse

Binge bought 100 additional sets of GMK hyperfuse which ran on Ctrlalt earlier in the year. They will soon be sold on binge’s website bingecap.com

Gen.s

A groupbuy has started for Gen.s’s keycaps pictured here Orders are ending 1st of September so I though it worth mentioning before it had gone.
They all look of great quality, but they are quite pricey. Prices:

  • Gem Caps $20
  • Daft Punk $50
  • Shipping $6-13 (CONUS to International)

  • GB Thread

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Typed on HHKB Pro 2

My week with the Novatouch

This week I participated in the Novatouch Community tour. I am always interested in trying new keyboards and the Novatouch covers a couple of my interests. It is a Topre board (I have only experienced the HHKB) but also a unique (ish) Topre board. This is because it has the Topre to MX sliders. These reasons make this an interesting keyboard all around. The fact that a keyboard that is this much of a niche exists is interesting enough.

I do what I always do with any keyboard and change the layout to how I want. This is colemak, with capslock as a dual-role modifier as ctrl/esc. These are options that are not given to you on the Novatouch but have to be done computer side.

Unboxing

Additional Photos

When opening the keyboard, I was pleasantly impressed with the packaging. It is not too exciting, but it has a magnetic seal on the box. So of course I was excited. I am a fan of packaging and this just got me interested in the keyboard.
The box contains:

  • The Novatouch
  • A Keypuller
  • A Micro USB Braided Cable
  • A booklet
  • O-Rings

The first thing I did was lift the Novatouch from the box. From this moment I was very impressed of how it felt in my hands. It has a really nice weight and nice matt finish. The only branding is on the back and the underside of the keyboard. The overall look of the keyboard is to my taste unless you see it from the backside. Where you have an unusual style change, with a strange line running across the board.

The included cable is a nice braided cable but is a 90° cable. This is not something I can utilise as it makes my cable setup just a little harder. However, I always have a good stock of cables so I am ready to connect keyboards. I used a standard white Micro USB that came with my Moto G. This worked fine as expected.

Initial Typing

As soon as I started typing I immediately noticed I was typing faster than usual. This is one of those random events I can’t explain, I can in no way attribute the Novatouch to instantly improving my typing speed, but the feeling instantly clicked with how I type. My new found speed was pretty awesome, but this lasted around a couple of hours. From this typing session I had ascertained that it felt light. The thin ABS keycaps bounce with very little pressure. From a stock perspective, I found this a truly peculiar typing experience. It is 45g Topre, but it feels nothing like the HHKB. With all of this said, I really liked this at first.
The sound is the fist difference I noticed. It is plonky, hollow and light, The modifiers were the worst offenders. There is a real clatter on the upstroke. I quickly grew dissatisfied with how it felt. You can tell that it is Topre, because of its distinct feel, but it is still different. When it comes to keyboards it is all down to the person and what they like and how they like their switches to feel. The confused nature of this board contributes to the rift of people who think the Novatouch is great and those who don’t.

Regarding the Fn layer you get a few additional functions. Media controls, volume and the option to repeat keypresses. Everything works as you would expect. The volume and media keys are the standard scan codes that I had already configured in my WM so they worked perfectly.
The repeating functions had no use for me. I can’t think of any games that I play that require me to spam a certain key.

A Change of Keycaps

One thing I knew about the Novatouch was that the stock keycaps did not provide the optimum experience. With this in mind I was quick to change the keycaps. I started the first day on the stock ABS. Which is only fair, as these are what it comes with. I swiftly moved on during the second day. The only other keyset I have is the Gateron PBT blanks. I think these are good enough to see what the Novatouch could achieve with nicer keycaps. They were surprisingly easy to put on. The Novatouch stems feel a bit looser then a standard MX stem. However, I found this varied between slider. Some went on really easily and could slip off easily, whilst others were tight. When using the supplied keypuller, I noticed it to be a bit smaller than ones I have used in the past. This is to fit into the housing at the top row. But even with a smaller keypuller, getting the top row of keycaps out is a bit of a challenge. There is not a lot of room to get the wire around the keycap. Saying this, it was not a major struggle. Just frustrating.

My initial thoughts do not recognise this as making huge difference. It is a little less plonkier but I do not see it as a huge improvement. My experience with PBT keycaps is not that expansive. I have used SP DSA and now Gateron PBT. I would say both of those are of a good thickness. So I was disappointed that I did not find this to hugely change my experience. Once I had settled down and done a couple of typing tests I felt a little better about the Novatouch.

The next thing I tried was the o-rings. The first problem I encountered was putting these on. They slipped off the stems of the Gateron PBT so I had to place them on top of each slider and then carefully put the keycaps over them. This was tedious and did not always work.
After putting them all on, I was not enamoured with the new feel. It took me 10 minutes before I had to take them off. This was not a good addition to this keyboard.

Typing Tests

Gateron PBT

Stock Caps

The End of the Week

After typing on the Novatouch for a week, I kind of like it. The stock keycaps do not feel the best to type on. The Gateron PBT moderately improved my experience. After a couple of days I adjusted to the new feeling and adapted my typing to this quite well. The feeling is not the Topre feeling I know compared to my HHKB. It is most definitely Topre but different. The sliders really do sound “plonky”. But it is not entirely a bad thing. I like keyboards for the variety of different switch types that produce a different feeling, this is another.
Aesthetically I like the look, this is all I desire from a tenkeyless. Not a lot of excess body, and no fancy bevels. Even though the branding is minimal, the back does not really look great. The Fn layer does what you want but doesn’t really give you any options. No mapping of capslock or anything like that. Something that may annoy others is the lack of indicator lights. Capslock does not have an indicator light despite there being a space for it on the PCB. This does not bother me as I do not use capslock.

The Novatouch is a strange keyboard. It’s a great tenkeyless, but the feeling just isn’t that which I recognise as Topre. To enhance your experience the thicker keysets are needed. A landing pad mod would be a nice addition to this keyboard and reduce some noise. With a bit of tweaking I think this could be a very nice keyboard.

Thinking back on my week, I like this board. It took some adjusting and a new keyset. But once I got going I found I did enjoy typing on it. It is not the same and does not sound the same as my HHKB. But in its own category (as there are no others like it) it is a very nice keyboard.

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Farewell Gyfcat:

typeracer Typing Data for the Week


Typed on the Novatouch

I was first interested in the CMYKeys because I knew the maker KeyKollectiv to have made impressive keycaps in the past. KeyKollectiv made the successful meowcaps. Which although impressive, completely passed me by. I completely missed that sale. Now with CMYKeys I got into the beta sale on July the 20th. After paying on the 20th of July, I received them on the 11th of August.
I was very excited to get these as I am with any artisan keycaps. They arrived in a rather large cardboard box. Something that I never expect for these but seems to be the emerging trend. Although I got them a while ago I have waited a little longer to do this spotlight as they are modifier keys and are in high usage spots on my HHKB. This is a spotlight, but I have done a little testing in the process. The testing was to see how these keycaps held up under high usage.

CMYKeys Box Outside

The keys I got were the HHKB Base Set, which contained 2x Alt, 2x Fn and 2x shift keys. This also came with a bonus keycap which was R4 magenta. They came in a small plastic bag with a branded sticker. These small touches always impress me and make unboxing these a joy. This coupled with the invoice was the only branding that comes with the caps. I was particularly happy with the invoice for some reason.

Artisan CMYKeys Mod Pack in Bag KeyKollective invoice with signature

Colour

One thing I like about these keys is the colour. I am a fan of the CMY colorway so was looking forward to getting these. They are not as bright as the GMK ABS but more subdued. At this point you should remember that these are the beta keys, so these may not be how KeyKollectiv wants the final product to look like. I think I received a nice selection of colours. I’m not sure whether these were made with the same batch of resin, but its clear a lot of effort has gone into colour matching.

The Cast

An overall judgement on the casts is that they are very impressive. I cannot see and faults or bubbles, let alone any overt seams. This adds to a nice feel of quality. There is some cutting marks around the bottom edges but I don’t think it is too noticeable.

Another triumph of these caps is the stems. Topre stems are a little annoying and you can make them work a couple of ways. KeyKollectiv have just added a small bridge between the two clips. What this does is add strength but also maintains the click when they are in position. I think this is the better way to make Topre stems and you can see it used on Topre Clacks. The Alt’s have noticeably thicker bridges. All this means is there is less of an audible click. But I will commend then on the fact that they still fit very well.

KEYkollectiv CMYKeys Modpack underside shot

KeyKollective Red FN Underside Artisan Keycap HHKB Blue Alt Artisan KeyKollectiv Topre

I have yet to decide whether maintaining the click is better than just fulling the centre completely These caps are at the limit of how thick you can make Topre caps. You do not get a lot of room to work with due to the HHKB’s ‘plate’. Although they have been bulked they don’t catch or hinder the keys from fully depressing.

I really like the underside of these caps. There is not a perfect dome but it sort of characterful. This may be subjective as it does not look perfect. You can tell that this is a handmade item that someone has worked on. This is what sets aside artisan keycaps from regular keyset injection moulded keycaps. Thought has been put in, and you can tell. But I can also see the other side of this, getting a perfectly hand cast keycap can be just as rewarding. What this come down to is, I like this sort of ‘imperfection’.

Closup of Topre Artisan Underside

The other thing you will notice on the underside is the KeyKollectiv mark. You can see it as a small spider, but my guess is its two K’s back to back. Very nice.

KeyKollectiv Artisan Mark Here I tried to get a close up shot

My set on my HHKB amongst my own b-stock. You can see that they stand out quite a bit. HHKB In a collection of Artisan Keycaps with KeyKollectiv mods

Here is a video to get some idea of them in action.

What I can conclude from typing on them for around a week, is that they feel really nice. The sound is perfect and makes them perfectly at home with a stock Topre set. When it comes to the texture, this is a nice replication of what you will find on a regular keyset. In the prominent places they are, I have found them very pleasant to type on.

This is not the last you will see of KeyKollectiv.


Typed on the Novatouch