Author Topic: iGK61 keyboard review  (Read 3843 times)

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Offline pixelpusher

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iGK61 keyboard review
« on: Tue, 24 October 2017, 17:49:18 »
So here is my experience with a full 2 hrs in hand.  I'm sure I'll find more to say down the road.  I bought the DIY kit with all of the offered parts except switches/caps.

I have built 9 custom keyboards in the past, and have modified 6 or 7 others.  This will be the first time I have tried hotswap sockets.

Case:
The case is the same form as the plastic ones you can order for cheap from ebay and aliexpress.  You can read up on reviews of those if you have more question.  Nice, cheap case.  Me likey.

It has an interesting mounting system, and I assume it is because of the hotswap sockets.  The PCB actually screws to the plate (on the back of the PCB) and then you screw through the plate into the case.  The case has 7 or so tall plastic bits that protrude up through the PCB and meet the plate.  Intersting that they did it this way but still left all 6 standard mounting holes for 60% baords.

One negative about this case is the screws.  As is often the case when screwing into plastic, the holes are very tight and take a lot of careful turning to fully tighten (so as not to strip the screws).  My hand still hurts b/c my precision screwdrivers don't have nice cushy handles :(

Included Cable
My first time to use USB-C on a board.  Nice to not have to look which way to plug it in.  I got what looks to be a 5ft USB-C cable that is black with braided fabric covering it for something like $1.  Can't beat that.

PCB compatibility
The PCB is actually compatible with other 60% cases.  Now... not ALL of them because it is just a little to large on edges to fit in a pok3r case.  However, it fit in my wooden case that I bought from Aliexpress.  The only clearance issue with mounts is that the hotswap sockets could interfere slightly with the center screwdown.  I was lucky to have it fit down exactly in the wooden case, but YMMV.

Stabilizers
The plate mounted stabilizers are very good.  They sound much better than the ones in my pok3r boards.  (Those are my only reference for plate mount).  I'm pretty picky about my stabilizers, and these are good.  I notice a very slight rattle on the enter key but I haven't lubed them yet.

For some strange reason, they have cutouts on the board for PCB stabilizers everywhere EXCEPT the left shift.  I would recommend they fix that in the next version for people who wish to buy this as a DIY part.

The hotswap sockets
These are awesome.  They are using the new Kailh sockets, and they are ingenious.  Mine had a few that were only soldered on one side.  These are surface mount pieices, so they just have a slight bit of solder below the hotswap arms.  Looks like they didn't get a few of them secured.

When you push the switches through the board, the hotswap plugs will push out if not properly soldered in.  In my case, after loading up the board with switches, I had 3 not working.  I was able to fix the issue by taking the board out of the case and pressing them back against the solder points. I checked and noticed that one arm of the socket was not soldered on those three switches.

None of this is an issue for me because I have a soldering iron and the knowledge/experience to fix it.  I just resoldered the affected arms and all is well now.  However, this could be a big deal for someone without equipment or knowledge of how to fix it.  I might suggest more QC checks on those solder points. Maybe I got random bad luck.  Still, no biggie for people who know how to use a soldering iron.

RGB backlighting
The lighting is vivid.  I haven't gotten into the software to mess around with colors yet. I couldn't get the software to see the keyboard hooked up through a usb hub, but once I got it directly connected to my computer all was good.  The software is a ton of fun.  The lighting is going to keep me busy for a long time.  Cool stuff indeed.

Programming
I'm not so sure programmable keys.  It seems that you can only change a key, not actually add a function layer. So for this reason, I will say the programmability of this keyboard is completely useless.  Yes, it supports media functions and arrow keys and such, but you can only assign them to a key, remapping the key.  Who would ever do or need such a thing?  I was hoping to find a way to set a function key but I'm just not seeing it.  You will have to use autohotkey to actually program arrow keys and such on this keyboard if you don't like the default function layer

I had one led not working when I first plugged it in.  Touch a soldering iron to all 4 legs on it to reheat the solder and now it works.  Again, no big deal to someone with equipment, but not great QC.  All you had to do was plug in the cable to see it wasn't working.

My overall impression is that this is respectable.  It's not perfect, but it's nice, especially if you don't need custom function layers. For the price I paid... it's a good deal.  Happy with my purchase.  I plan to use this board to try all of the switches I have sitting around.  I have 67g zealios in it at the moment. Very nice, but I'm about to swap it out with 62g and see which I like better.

If this was my only board, I would very much be missing the ability to control media and volume with a Fn+key command.  Again, as far as I can tell, this board only allows you to remap keys, not program function layers.

I have 5 or 6 switch tester plates around, but I can't ever get the full effect until they are on a real working board.  This is perfect for that job!


« Last Edit: Tue, 24 October 2017, 17:51:02 by reececonrad »
:)

Offline vizta

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 10 January 2018, 07:19:26 »
there is new software version at site.
could you update your review?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 10 January 2018, 07:46:57 »
there is new software version at site.
could you update your review?

Yes, Iíve installed the new firmware and itís just what the keyboard needed.  You can now assign function keys properly like on most keyboards out there.  I set all of mine to the default functions that are on the vortex  pok3r boards because thatís what Iím used to.  And I use caps lock as my function key, but you can set it anywhere. 

In still think itís a great value.  Iíve ordered the aluminum case and hope to have it soon. 
:)

Offline Jacob4341

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 12 January 2018, 18:18:44 »
Hi would you happen to be able to tell us the case compatibility with this PCB I was hoping to put it inside a KBDfans 5 degree case but I don't know if it's compatible.

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 12 January 2018, 18:35:00 »
Hi would you happen to be able to tell us the case compatibility with this PCB I was hoping to put it inside a KBDfans 5 degree case but I don't know if it's compatible.

Pretty sure it wonít fit but let me check.  I have that case
:)

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 12 January 2018, 19:10:58 »
It does not fit.  The plate is about 1mm to wide and about 1/2mm too tall.

Itís possible it would work with another plate but I would need more time to take it apart and see
« Last Edit: Fri, 12 January 2018, 19:17:01 by reececonrad »
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 22:46:27 »
Hi, is this your wooden case? https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/gh60-poker-keyboard-wood-case-Black-walnutWood-Scented-RoseWood/2230037_32734682512.html?spm=2114.12010612.0.0.305718f6hMXP5P

do you think any IGK61 PCB should fit in the case? If yes would the plate that comes with the assembled kit fit or should I get the plate that comes with the case?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 22:50:46 »
Hi, is this your wooden case? https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/gh60-poker-keyboard-wood-case-Black-walnutWood-Scented-RoseWood/2230037_32734682512.html?spm=2114.12010612.0.0.305718f6hMXP5P

do you think any IGK61 PCB should fit in the case? If yes would the plate that comes with the assembled kit fit or should I get the plate that comes with the case?


Yes, that is the wooden case that does NOT fit the plate that comes with the IGK61.  normal plates do work, but the IGK61 doesn't have holes for PCB mounted stabilizers at every position.  So, you would need to check to see if they have enough for your use or find a costar plate.  The ONE costar plate available on aliexpress does NOT fit in that wooden case.
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 22:54:35 »
Thanks for the fast reply! So if I get this straight, this case works, but needs a new plate that also supports plate mounted stabs?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 23:02:24 »
Yep.
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 23:05:40 »
Ahh damn I see. Thanks! Are you still using the case? If so which keys did you sacrifice using stabilizers for?

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 25 February 2018, 23:21:12 »
Also, I know this would be a tough call from just pictures but do you think this plate would work? https://sentraq.com/collections/parts-1/products/60-aluminum-plate-1?variant=22686226439

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 00:04:41 »
Also, I know this would be a tough call from just pictures but do you think this plate would work? https://sentraq.com/collections/parts-1/products/60-aluminum-plate-1?variant=22686226439

no, those are PCB mount
:)

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 00:09:16 »
Ahh damn I see. Thanks! Are you still using the case? If so which keys did you sacrifice using stabilizers for?

I'm using the aluminum case they sell for the IGK61 now. 
:)

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 00:11:22 »
hold up, i have that plate.  Let me see if the plate mount stabs work.  I know costar fall out of that one.
:)

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 00:33:32 »
Okay, so as I remembered was correct.  That plate from Sentraq doesn't work with plate mount stabilizers.  It should, but as you can read, they haven't "tested" it. When you try plate mounted as well as costar, you will find that the holes are just a little too large.  Unfortunately, the stabilizer supports just fall out of the plate.  So, that won't work.
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 06:44:16 »
Thanks so much for testing these, I really appreciate your help and effort! It sucks that the plate mount stabs just fall out of the plate and it's looking like there's no hope for that wooden case since, like you said in your review, the left shift doesn't have PCB mount holes and in your replies explained that the costar one doesn't fit. Ingeniousmonkeys mentioned that they're developing a wooden case for the keyboard but I'm just inpatient. I just feel lucky that you helped me out with your big collection of parts and experiences! Thanks again!

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 07:07:34 »
Thanks so much for testing these, I really appreciate your help and effort! It sucks that the plate mount stabs just fall out of the plate and it's looking like there's no hope for that wooden case since, like you said in your review, the left shift doesn't have PCB mount holes and in your replies explained that the costar one doesn't fit. Ingeniousmonkeys mentioned that they're developing a wooden case for the keyboard but I'm just inpatient. I just feel lucky that you helped me out with your big collection of parts and experiences! Thanks again!

No problem.  Itís what geekhack is all about! 
:)

Offline Rob27shred

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 07:46:11 »
Interesting stuff, thanks for the review! Personally I am still not sold on hot swappable boards. I think they are great for people who do not know how to solder & are just getting into the hobby, but not sure they would hold up to my & your use case as a test bed. I worry about how many swaps the sockets will take before giving up the ghost. I've been thinking about grabbing a barebones GMMK TKL for the same purposes but have held off because of that worry. From your experience with the iGK61 so far do you think the sockets will hold up over time?
Current DD: AEK64 with SKCM Orange switches (SKCM Brown switches on Esc. & Space bar), steel plate cut from an AEKII plate (sanded & painted flat black), in a KBDfans Lambo clone alum. case.

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 09:09:44 »
Interesting stuff, thanks for the review! Personally I am still not sold on hot swappable boards. I think they are great for people who do not know how to solder & are just getting into the hobby, but not sure they would hold up to my & your use case as a test bed. I worry about how many swaps the sockets will take before giving up the ghost. I've been thinking about grabbing a barebones GMMK TKL for the same purposes but have held off because of that worry. From your experience with the iGK61 so far do you think the sockets will hold up over time?

At this point I estimate that I've swapped out the switches between twenty and twenty-five times with no issues.

I've put in here (full board builds):

zeal 62g
zeal 67g
Cherry silent blacks
Cherry silent reds
Vintage Cherry blacks
Newly tooled Cherry blacks
Cherry greens
Gateron blacks
Gateron blue (had to clip pcb mount pins b/c they are too darn big)
Kailh Purple Pros
Kailh heavy burnt orange
Kailh Green Pros
Kailh box blacks
Kailh box navy
Kailh box jades
Kailh box pale blues
Aliaz 60g
Aliaz 70g
Greetech blacks
Cherrystotles

Some of these I've tried a few times, so that's where I arrive at the 20-25 mark.

 The only issue I had was in the very beginning with a few of the sockets getting pushed out and needing to be re soldered.  The way the sockets work, they are fairly indestructible.  The only way they could fail is if they come off of their surface mount pad on the back.  However, it's pretty easy to just solder them back on.

« Last Edit: Mon, 26 February 2018, 09:11:18 by reececonrad »
:)

Offline Rob27shred

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 26 February 2018, 16:34:15 »
Interesting stuff, thanks for the review! Personally I am still not sold on hot swappable boards. I think they are great for people who do not know how to solder & are just getting into the hobby, but not sure they would hold up to my & your use case as a test bed. I worry about how many swaps the sockets will take before giving up the ghost. I've been thinking about grabbing a barebones GMMK TKL for the same purposes but have held off because of that worry. From your experience with the iGK61 so far do you think the sockets will hold up over time?

At this point I estimate that I've swapped out the switches between twenty and twenty-five times with no issues.

I've put in here (full board builds):

zeal 62g
zeal 67g
Cherry silent blacks
Cherry silent reds
Vintage Cherry blacks
Newly tooled Cherry blacks
Cherry greens
Gateron blacks
Gateron blue (had to clip pcb mount pins b/c they are too darn big)
Kailh Purple Pros
Kailh heavy burnt orange
Kailh Green Pros
Kailh box blacks
Kailh box navy
Kailh box jades
Kailh box pale blues
Aliaz 60g
Aliaz 70g
Greetech blacks
Cherrystotles

Some of these I've tried a few times, so that's where I arrive at the 20-25 mark.

 The only issue I had was in the very beginning with a few of the sockets getting pushed out and needing to be re soldered.  The way the sockets work, they are fairly indestructible.  The only way they could fail is if they come off of their surface mount pad on the back.  However, it's pretty easy to just solder them back on.

That's great to hear, thanks for the reply! Sounds like you definitely put yours through the paces already. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't just get a iGK61 over the GMMK TKL since I am not a big fan of the TKL layout. :-\
Current DD: AEK64 with SKCM Orange switches (SKCM Brown switches on Esc. & Space bar), steel plate cut from an AEKII plate (sanded & painted flat black), in a KBDfans Lambo clone alum. case.

Offline Jacob4341

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 01 March 2018, 18:47:11 »
I just got my IGK61 last week and I love it. I did just blow out a hotswap socket swapping in a switch under my zero key. My understanding is that I just need to take the case apart and solder the socket to the PCB?

This will be a good time to lube the stabs too I think.

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 01 March 2018, 20:26:10 »
I just got my IGK61 last week and I love it. I did just blow out a hotswap socket swapping in a switch under my zero key. My understanding is that I just need to take the case apart and solder the socket to the PCB?

This will be a good time to lube the stabs too I think.

Yep, that should fix it.  I had to do this on a couple.  Make sure when you put the switches in you keep them almost parallel to the board but lead with the bottom/2 pin edge.  Donít force it but instead gently rock the switch into place (bottom to top).
:)

Offline Jacob4341

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 02 March 2018, 14:14:45 »
When I take my plastic case off do I just need to unscrew the screws in the plate or are there others under the rubber bumpons on the bottom?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 02 March 2018, 16:36:23 »
Just the plate
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 13 March 2018, 16:38:27 »
Hi, I'm back with more questions about fitting it into a wooden case haha. When you say, costar plates don't fit, is it from the outside edges? If so, I can probably, with patience, file down the edges to get it to fit. What do you think?

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #26 on: Tue, 13 March 2018, 17:33:27 »
Hi, I'm back with more questions about fitting it into a wooden case haha. When you say, costar plates don't fit, is it from the outside edges? If so, I can probably, with patience, file down the edges to get it to fit. What do you think?

Yes, you can file it to make it fit.  Iíve done this successfully for another case
:)

Offline PhinkeyPharaoh

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 13 March 2018, 18:00:23 »
That's awesome to hear! Thanks so much!  ;D

Offline AugustCanaille

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Re: iGK61 keyboard review
« Reply #28 on: Sun, 24 June 2018, 19:07:14 »
I just got my IGK61 last week and I love it. I did just blow out a hotswap socket swapping in a switch under my zero key. My understanding is that I just need to take the case apart and solder the socket to the PCB?

This will be a good time to lube the stabs too I think.

Where exactly did you purchase it from? I see some sites that are semi-shady to me....