These keycaps are by HandyKaps. They are a relatively new maker who appeared a couple of weeks ago. When photos of these caps were posted on /r/mk, I was immediately interested in how they were made and how they would feel. So I was very excited when /u/hanahlol (alt account) contacted me. What I got were two HHKB arrow cluster sets. In bronze and steel variations. Like with CMYKeys I wanted to type on these a bit to see how they will fit into an everyday board. Since I only have one HHKB and only one arrow cluster I placed the sets on either side of the board.

Unboxing

These caps came in a perfectly sized, golden, bubble lined box. This was not a mega package, but perfectly pleasing to me.

Colour

Colour is not really the right title as they have a more of a visual texture that really makes them stand out. The steel looks by far the best, in terms of looking metal. Although I don’t want to discount the bronze, as it is of course a great metal. With a bit more shine to the bronze I think they would look even better. From this section I just wanted to get across, they look grand amongst a regular keyset.

Feel

These feel great. How they are made I’m still a little confused on. They are resin with a mix of metal powder and then they are polished to give the exterior the metal look. So they are part metal and part resin. I’m not sure if there is a bit of a placebo going on here but they do feel metallic, but they have a very gentle metallic feel to them. I would be interested to seeing how they compare to fully metal Scarface keycaps.
The steel ones especially have a brushed metal look on the sides of the caps. One thing I was not sure about is how metal caps would feel. These are somewhere in-between as they are not fully metal and not totally resin. I would love to type on a whole set of these. Currently I just have the feeling on my outer fingers and it is a strange sensation when typing. Not bad strange, but very nice This has lead me to be quite impressed with these caps. When using them in arrowkey position, they feel great. It is a bit of a different typing context, but you will feel the metallic nature especially when you have two or three fingers resting on them. This is the same for if you are in WASD position.

Sculpt and Cast

These keycaps are made fairly well. From the front you will not see any imperfections, the metal finish looks great and the texture is also a great replication. Some cutting has been done round the bottom to neaten them up. But it does not look rough. Not a lot can go wrong here but these are fine in terms of quality. The steel ones here really show off the metallic texture on the sides. You can also see the awesome colour of both sets.

One point of interest is the stems. I have an interest in finding good Topre stems as the stem design is just a little tricky to get right. These caps have a simple stock stem but the rest of the cap has been infilled to the point where it slots over the HHKB’s plate. The circle depression is where the slider and outer slider housing goes. I have never seen anyone else do this, but it allows you to have a little extra weight to the keycap. If done correctly, there should not be any issues.

From what I can tell this has been executed quite well. One issue I have is the ‘up’ key feels slightly different. It might be that something is catching on the inside of the caps stem housing. This is my only issue so overall they do feel great. I have really enjoyed typing on them.

If anyone is looking for a nice cluster to add something to their HHKB these are a fine choice. They are currently unavailable but follow /u/handykaps and /u/hanahlol for more information on when you can get these. The use of metal powder is something I haven’t seen before and I think it makes for a very nice keycap with a very nice texture. This is a promising beginning and they will only get better with each cast and sculpt. Good work from HandyKaps and I will be interested at what the future brings.


Typed on HHKB Pro 2

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