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

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.

Why purple?

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

Matt3o Designing Next Topre Keyset

I thought this was the biggest news from last week, and definitely one of the more interesting things to happen. With the recent development in Topre keycaps such as JTKeycaps and the pbt spacebar, it was always a possibility that more Topre keysets were on the horizon. What’s interesting about this news, is the fact it is being created in liaison with the community, and it is also going to be made by Topre.

This is interesting as it is a fairly large company that is now working with the community (through matt3o) but also that Topre is willing to make additional keysets again. Topre stopped producing additional keysets due to low demand. Which is why Topre keysets are currently very expensive. The other reason I thought it interesting, was the involvement of matt3o. It seems the popularity of the PBT spacebars must have caught Topre’s attention. This could certainly be a good thing for the future of Topre keysets. Before this announcement, I was sceptical of the future of Topre keycaps. With the novatouch and Topre to MX sliders by JTK, I wasn’t sure whether there was a future for Topre keycaps. If this happens, I expect there are here to stay.

There are currently a couple of drafts being shown, and matt3o is open to community suggestion.
This is my current favourite.

Zealios

Some more photos of the Zealios have been shown. For those not in the loop. Zealios are a new switch by manufactured Gateron but created by Zeal. The switches include 62g gold plated springs with an “MX clear” stem. This switch was created alongside a transparent switch bottom, that is said to help led diffusion.

I think this will be a very interesting switch as I am a huge fan of standard Cherry clears and excited by the prospect of a Clear with Gateron smoothness.

Planck on Massdrop

The Planck is olkb.co’s flagship or most well known ortholinear keyboard. Now on massdrop, it is doing surprisingly well. I had always thought reluctant to get a 40% but it seems that people are warming up to the idea of an even smaller keyboard. Currently at 365 purchases it is available with a huge amount of options, with a base unassembled price of $99 + shipping. Also, note that this is the PCB Planck. It is possible to get it cheaper from olkb.co for a little less if you go for the hand wired version.

1upkeyboards Wrist Rests

These are some very nice hand made wrist wrests made by 1upkeyboards. You will likely have seen their cases before. These are available in limited quantities because of all the work that goes into them. Prices go from $40 to $85 with free shipping in the US. If you are looking for a nice wrist rest I think this is one of the good choices.

Limited Edition POK3R

This is coming from a comment made by corus-kb on reddit. Although the POK3R is thought of as fairly standard, the more options the better. It allows people starting out, to get a better keyboard that they like. That said, this is a limited edition so I’m not sure of the numbers it will be available in.

mechanicalkeyboards.co.id

A new retailer is on the scene with an impressive inventory for something just starting out. They currently have Ducky, KUL, Corsair and Cooler Master keyboards available. The most notable products are of Krytone’s Krap. They have got an exclusive on the red and white colourway, with the promise of more to come. I have to say they do look really good.

Another product of note is the HHKB. There is always a lack of Topre retailers so another one is always welcome. The HHKB price is $248 which is a little more expensive than what it is available for at elitekeyboards.

New Universal Plate Coming to Massdrop

This comes from sentrantpc who I know for creating the bent aluminium switch tester. Supposedly coming to massdrop in the future, this plate is almost universal. It will be available in “plenty” of anodized colours. And will be sold for $21.99 per plate.
My first thought was, is this the same as the Leandren plate? No it is not. However, it is being run with LeandreN’s approval.
My second thought was that this is another massdrop project. Massdrop is continuing to be more prevalent in the mechanical keyboard community.

Massdrop KC60 Update

Not a lot to say. But I think I have bowed out at this point.

K3KC New Product

These are copies of ClickClacks skull design but as fridge magnets. I was surprised when I saw these as they are quite out of the blue. I am not a fan of these as they are far removed from what a keycap is and it removes a bit of the novelty. Then I was mildly surprised when I found out this was not an original idea, but done before by Clack himself.

POKER IV

This is a late addition and it really caught me off guard. I was not expecting to see anything about another poker iteration for a while. From the photos available. It is a staggered split 60% that has keycaps and probably uses Gateron switches. How the two sides connect, and how it connects to the computer is still up for discussion.

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Typed on the Novatouch