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Author Topic: Mechanical Keyboards  (Read 22765 times)

ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #50 on: 28 Jun 2013, 21:47 »

Even while it's debatable whether this keyboard is mechanical, this thread is definitely the right place to write about it.

As I have already written in the Blog thread, I have received a new keyboard today. It's a Leopold FC660C. A keyboard with the capacitive Topre switches, which are highly praised, but also debated in keyboard enthusiast circles. The base mechanism of Topre switches is basically a rubber dome. That gives a first impression of Topre switches being nothing but fancy rubber dome keyboards. These rubber domes have a conical spring underneath, which then activates a capacitive sensor under each key when compressed. As this mechanism doesn't close an electrical contact it's very easily possible to build keyboards which support N-Key rollover, i.e. n keys pressed simultanously and registering. Also these key switches don't exactly feel like typical rubber dome switches. The overall impression can simply be shortened down to "smooth". Topre switches feel very smooth. Not too much of a tactile bump, but still very well pronounced. A very nice sound, and in comparison with most other rubber domes a very distinct bottoming out, which gives them a feeling almost like mechanical switches.

The only big problem with Topre switches/keyboards is the price tag. These things are not very common, but very high quality, so the price is extremely steep. Topre, the japanese company behind these switches, produces the "Realforce" keyboards, which seem not at all special, but are simply high quality keyboards which have Topre switches. With a price tag of over $300. Then there are the Happy Hacking Professional keyboards, which are made by PFU Fujitsu, and until a few months ago this was the only keyboard which was made by a different company than Topre to use the Topre switches. HHKBs are very expensive as well, and feature a very minimal design. Too few keys for my taste. Now the Leopold FC660C entered the market. It's a bit less expensive (in comparison with most other keyboards it's still a high price), has an interesting key layout, which suits my usage very well, and has a quite nice build quality as well. This may be one of the smallest keyboards I own, but it's still one of the heaviest. (Definitely heavier than a Cherry G80-2551. Probably not the case with most plate mounted Cherry MX keyboards)

Altogether it's a very nice keyboard, for people who are willing to throw a bundle of money in the direction of third party Topre producers.
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mtmerrick

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #51 on: 28 Jun 2013, 21:49 »

$300 for a keyboard  :psyduck:
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #52 on: 28 Jun 2013, 21:57 »

apparently I was exaggerating a bit. I just looked them up, and Realforce keyboards rarely go over $300. Maybe Anniversary Editions and silent ones can be that highly priced. The most generic Realforce is $235. The HHKB is $260. The Leopold I'm typing on right now did cost me $200 including shipping to Germany.
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #53 on: 28 Jun 2013, 21:59 »

~$250 for a keyboard is still insane. less so, but still....  :psyduck:
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bhtooefr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #54 on: 29 Jun 2013, 02:46 »

It's literally one of the two parts of your computer that you use the most, and for the most part, it doesn't become outdated (Windows keys being the biggest exception - even outdated protocols aren't an obstacle) you can move it from computer to computer.

I'm typing this post using an IBM Model F, part number 6110345, made in 1984.

In January 1984, the keyboard listed as an option for the 5272 (which is the 3270 PC's display) - that keyboard being IBM P/N 6110344, which is identical to my keyboard except for the keycaps - was $295.

So, basically $300 for a keyboard, in 1984. Or, $661.39, today.

It wouldn't sell worth a damn in 2013, even considering that the electronics will be much cheaper today, but it's worth every penny.

You want more insane... same price list, $632 for the 87-key beam spring boards used on the 3278/3279 terminals. However, the 5251 terminal's 83-key beam spring board was only $265. $270 for the 83-key Model F for an IBM PC or XT.
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jwhouk

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #55 on: 29 Jun 2013, 03:17 »

I've taken a second look at my keyboard's info - it's a Gateway SK9920 PS/2 keyboard. I actually don't use the fancy-schmancy extra keys on the top (except the mute and volume buttons, but those are rare).

I would absolutely LOVE to own a Model M keyboard, preferably the later ones (where I'd have half a chance at finding a connector that would fit a PS/2 keyboard slot).
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bhtooefr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #56 on: 29 Jun 2013, 04:57 »

Eh, only the very earliest ones don't have PS/2 cables. Even then, that's not a problem - you can very cheaply adapt it to PS/2, replace the cable with a PS/2 one, or even get a custom USB cable (basically, it has the same sort of chip that would be in a PS/2 to USB converter).

Avoid the ones without LEDs (they'll still work in theory, but you don't get caps, num, and scroll lock LEDs).

And, Unicomp still produces Model Ms to this day, and they make native USB, as well as 104-key versions (but the 104s, except for the EnduraPro in black in PS/2, are out of stock right now, it seems).
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Masterpiece

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #57 on: 23 Jul 2013, 03:37 »

The mechanical keyboard I ordered arrived today. Ankh is going to hate me for this, but I got myself the Razor BlackWidow.

AND SERIOUSLY, THE TYPING EXPERIENCE ON MECHANICAL KEYBOARDS IS SO AWESOME  :mrgreen:

Masterpiece

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #58 on: 23 Jul 2013, 03:40 »

In my defense, I had already ordered my keyboard before Ankh advised me against the BlackWidow.

ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #59 on: 23 Jul 2013, 03:52 »

Nah, I don't hate you for that, at least it's a mechanical keyboard.

I just wanted to make you aware of options which are better in my opinion.

Also: If you like the Black Widow with Blues, then you should definitely try a Model M. And then begin your life long search for the best typing experience ever.

I have some terminal Model Ms lying around. You'd just need to make yourself the suitable converter. *hint* *hint*

Looks like this, only in white:
(click to show/hide)

As it's a keyboard originally intended for IBM Terminals you'd need a converter for them. On the two big keyboard forums there is a member who made a firmware for a small microcontroller development board called "Teensy" which supports these.

I also have two ordinary Model M's, so I might be willing to sell the second one.

Also maybe have a look into the keyboard forum bhtooefr and I frequent. It used to be a little less noisy, but there are always new users nowadays. The senior members are very knowledgeable and nice though. link
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Masterpiece

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #60 on: 23 Jul 2013, 03:55 »

Well, I already have a mechanical keyboard now, I'm not going to start searching for another one now ;) but I might get back to you if this one ever breaks down.

ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #61 on: 23 Jul 2013, 03:59 »

There are so many good keyboards! You can't just stop with one! You'll always find one you'll like better! Believe me, your Black Widow will feel flimsy in comparison with a Model M!


(though I admit that the keyboards you're desiring get more and more unobtainable with time. Getting a Beam Spring keyboard nowadays is almost impossible, and getting one of these to work with a modern computer is something nobody has managed before. Also getting a IBM Selectric is a little complicated)

Also don't forget that some keyboards are better for special purposes. Like, MX Blue/Buckling Spring for typing, MX Red/some other linear switch for FPS gaming, another silent but tactile keyboard for carrying around with your notebook.
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Masterpiece

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #62 on: 23 Jul 2013, 05:11 »

I don't have a Notebook, nor do I intend to get one.

ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #63 on: 23 Jul 2013, 06:08 »

Then it's even more important that you carry a fine keyboard wherever you go, so you don't need to use a filthy rubberdome when working on another computer! :mrgreen:

Just think of all the great keyboards you haven't tried yet! Model Ms, Model Fs, keyboards with ALPS switches, MX Red, MX Brown, MX Clear, Ergo-Clear, Cherry ML, Topre, all the ergonomic keyboards; there's so much to learn, so much to discover! You've only taken the first step on the way of keyboards!
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ev4n

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #64 on: 25 Jul 2013, 07:31 »

I have to admit, I really want to upgrade my $10 M$ keyboard to a mechanical.  The action on a mechanical just feels awesome.

Functionally, though, it's paying money to do something I can already do....
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #65 on: 30 Jul 2013, 10:10 »

Even though this is not going to be of interest to most here, I'd hope that I'm allowed to shamelessly advertise my sales thread over at DT.

link

Shipping to the US would probably make this impossible for most, but if e.g. one of the European members would be interested, just send me a PM on here. No need to register at DT.
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #66 on: 30 Jul 2013, 12:06 »

40 euros for a Model M? Makes me wonder what I could get for the two I have sitting in my closet.
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #67 on: 30 Jul 2013, 12:18 »

On the German ebay they usually go for over 50. But I don't really like making large profit from something like this, so I set the price low.

If I was out for money I'd have cleaned it and put it on ebay with the right keywords.
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Sorflakne

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #68 on: 31 Jul 2013, 17:52 »

I can't type on a touchscreen very well, I just can't find the keys blindly. I need to rest my fingers on the homerow, which is impossible on a touchscreen. Also mechanical keyboards (i.e. real mechanical keyboards, which have single switch units under each key) usually actuate in the middle of the keypush, so you don't have to push the key down all the way. Also typing on a touch screen isn't particularly good for your wrists, as each impact on the surface affects your wrist. Your fingers get stopped from moving very rapidly, which exerts a great force on your joints. When typing on a mechanical keyboard you can learn to type without “bottoming out”. That's impossible on most rubber dome keyboards (RD boards are the typical keyboards you can find everywhere. There are also Scissor switch keyboards, which are lower, which have their origin in notebook keyboards), and most rubber dome keyboards require high forces to actuate. IIRC most rubber dome keyboards actuate at a force of 65cN (which corresponds with the force of 65g at 9,81m/s accelaration, so normal gravity), while the most typical mechanical switches actuate at 45-55cN, depending on the variant. You might really want to try a keyboard with Cherry MX Red switches. Non-tactile, linear 45cN switches, which are really comfortable if you don't bottom them out. Or Cherry MX Black, which are more widely available and which are easier not to bottom out, as they actuate at 55cN.

If you want a really comfortable and ergonomic keyboard, try this one:

It's one of the most ergonomically shaped keyboards apart from the Datahand (which costs currently around 2700$ more…):


Well then, hi there bhtooefr!
I...what the-?

I guess I'm weird...I type with no finger/wrist problems on a traditional keyboard (this after a couple decades of computer use).  Poor posture, palms resting on the desk, all the things to do wrong when typing, but I cam manage 55-60 wpm if I need to.

This be my keyboard.  At the front (top side) is a USB port that I only found after three years of using this keyboard, along with a pair of jacks for speakers and mic (how often does one look at the front of their keyboard?)


Quote
I just don't understand why one would want to keep the QWERTY (or in my case the QWERTZ) layout. It's one of the most unergonomic layouts for a keyboard. It was specifically designed to slow down typists and bring the often used keys away from each other, to stop typewriters from jamming. It has absolutely no use today, it is just being kept in use due to it's wide distribution, similarly to the imperial system in the UK and the US.
Hey now, us lefties love QWERTY.  Yeah, it was designed to slow down typers so they wouldn't jam up their typewriters, but in the process, one of the few  tools friendly to left-handed people was unintentionally developed.  Nearly all the "main letters and thousands of words using mostly left-hand buttons can be typed with the left hand.  I'll stick with my QWERTY, all you normal righties can go to Dvorak or whatever you claim is more efficient :-P
« Last Edit: 31 Jul 2013, 18:02 by Sorflakne »
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bhtooefr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #69 on: 31 Jul 2013, 19:01 »

Most people don't have a problem with ordinary keyboards, which is why those things are such incredibly expensive niche market devices.
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jwhouk

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #70 on: 01 Aug 2013, 05:57 »

I suspect age might be a factor - or just "that was the type of keyboard I learned stuff on".

(Of course, with me, that'd be impossible, since I learned to type on a Selectric typewriter in the early 1980's...)
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #71 on: 01 Aug 2013, 13:10 »

I learned to type on a Selectric typewriter in the early 1980's...

Likewise.  Man those things were amazing.
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #72 on: 02 Aug 2013, 04:20 »

Hey now, us lefties love QWERTY.  Yeah, it was designed to slow down typers so they wouldn't jam up their typewriters, but in the process, one of the few  tools friendly to left-handed people was unintentionally developed.  Nearly all the "main letters and thousands of words using mostly left-hand buttons can be typed with the left hand.  I'll stick with my QWERTY, all you normal righties can go to Dvorak or whatever you claim is more efficient :-P

I never thought of it like that but it totally makes sense!  I tried Dvorak a while back and even though I could type on it I never got as fast as QWERTY.
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bhtooefr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #73 on: 02 Aug 2013, 04:33 »

Mind you, there's also multiple Dvorak layouts.

What most people call Dvorak is the Dvorak Simplified Layout.

There actually are one-handed Dvorak variants for left and right hand usage.
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #74 on: 02 Aug 2013, 11:34 »

Well, one of the most important things about optimised layouts is that they distribute the keystrokes over both hands equally. Just because I'm right-handed I wouldn't want to have a keyboard layout which has all important keys under my right hand. To achieve greater typing speeds it's important to use both hands equally. And for ergonomic purposes it's important to move your hands less. That's why most ergonomic layouts have the vowels and the most common consonants on the homerow.

Also: get out of the mechanical keyboard thread you filthy casual with your rubberdome! ( :wink: )
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #75 on: 19 Oct 2013, 14:43 »

Anyone come across this?

http://codekeyboards.com/
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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #76 on: 19 Oct 2013, 15:05 »

Then there's always this.
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #77 on: 19 Oct 2013, 16:51 »

Yuck, that left handed one has a bigass Enter key and because of that a small backspace.
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ankhtahr

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Re: Mechanical Keyboards
« Reply #78 on: 18 Jul 2014, 15:05 »

I'll just quote my tweet about this… :roll:
[tweet]490171505528287232[/tweet]

And yes, I've got another box like that with bigger keyboards. Those are mainly Model Ms and such.
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