Author Topic: Everything is Bakeneko  (Read 1158 times)

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Offline chungsteroonie

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Everything is Bakeneko
« on: Mon, 14 June 2021, 23:42:49 »
I just got into mechanical keyboards a few weeks ago, and was looking for some affordable options that had the latest fun-filled features.  One of the keyboards I saw a whole bunch of spicy Youtube videos about was the Bakeneko. . . an "in stock" budget keyboard perfect for someone like me.  Jokes aside, it's pretty frustrating trying to start into this scene with everything good being out of stock perpetually.  So, I was looking for some fun off-the-shelf options that I could play with and that I could repeat readily when the inevitable friend comes knocking.

For the Bakeneko, even with a couple of high volume drops, it's only sad face for me  :(



So I went looking for some alternatives like this KBDfans Anode Aluminum Case %60 --> Bakeneko



The main trick was hacking these little cutouts in the case for the O-ring gasket to clear the Durock V2 screw-in stabilizers.





And hacking off all of the PCB supporting bits from the case.



With all of the supports hacked off, I'm using 3/16" thick medium hardness Sorbothane as supports, and these can be placed wherever you want on the this particular KBDFans Anode Aluminum %60 Case Bakeneko.  Sure, it's pretty expensive material if you plan to do something silly like line an entire case with it, but I'm using literally scrap quantities.  The 4"x4" square that I bought will last me forever at this rate of use.



For this case I'm using a 9 inch diameter 1/8 inch thick Silicone O-ring that is 50 durometer.  Mine was purchased from McMaster Carr as an in-stock (for real. . . it's in stock) item.  Depending on the case being used and the gap between the PCB and the case wall, you can use different diameter Silicone o-rings to adjust.  The more you stretch the o-ring (smaller diameter), the thinner the overall gasket is.  For his case, the gap is quite large between the case and the PCB, so 9 inch sized o-ring used here  is the maximum diameter possible and there is no stretching at all when wrapping this size o-ring around a standard 60% PCB.

Because the side wall of this case are pretty thin, be careful when making the cutouts for the backspace key stabilizers as you can cut straight through the case like I almost did. . . don't be me!



Next, I also tried the KBDfans 60% Wood Case For DZ60 GH60 Wood Bakeneko



This one was pretty cool because I don't see a lot of wood cases out there with modern gasket-type mounting options.  Thanks, KBDfans for your innovation!  I'm re-using the 9 inch diameter gummy worm gasket here, but the case gap is smaller here than on the anodized aluminum Bakeneko above.  I will need to experiment with a smaller diameter one.  6.5 inch is too small.  I do not know what the proper size is, but I think I may try out 8 inch and see how that goes.  The 9 inch works and fits, it's just that I do not get as much of the satisfying PCB movement and I would like to optimize that a bit.  (EDIT: The 8 inch diameter 1/8" silicone o-ring works better than the 9 inch one in this wood case!)  I find the sound on the wood one to be quite satisfying though with a lot of interesting variation especially with this aluminum half plate setup. . which was provided by Dremel.





The rest of the internals are very similar. . . I yanked out the brass standoffs with pliers and then used a dremel to cut out all of the perimeter PCB supports.  A flush-cut router would have made quick work of everything, but when all you have is a Dremel, you kindof have to go with it.



For this case, I am using 1/8" thick Sorbothane for PCB supports.  This thickness is almost perfect in the application, and Sorbothane without any additional adhesives sticks LIKE CRAZY to the bare wood and wood finish on this case.  It is really not going anywhere. . .actually, if you try to remove the strips after installation, bits of it will be stuck to the wood.



The rest of the cutouts are about the same as before except the case wall is thick enough that there is no danger of cutting clear through.



Here are the spacebar stabilizer cutouts.  Assembly and disassembly starts by inserting the butt end of the PCB along with the USB socket in the case first and then pressing the front edge of the PCB in. . . so relief cuts for the spacebar cutouts allow the board to install and remove easier while still locking the entire assembly into place better than the original Bakeneko design.





Next, I also tried the cheapest option which is the KBDfans 60% Plastic Case  Plastic Bakeneko.



This one had the funnest flex of all the options but required the most cutting of the support spines inside the case.  The gaps are small, so a 6.5 inch diameter gummy worm o-ring is used here like suggested for the Tofu versions EDIT:  the 8" diameter O-ring works better in the plastic case providing better contact around the perimeter.





For rear PCB supports, I am using some EPDM rubber tubing left over from PC water cooling projects.  This stuff is 1/16" wall thickness which worked out perfectly on the existing support spine.



And, after cutting out the necessary plastic support spines to allow flex clearance, I'm using 1/8" thickness Sorbothane strips for the front PCB supports.



These are all of the Bakeneko's I've been able to find in stock at the moment.  I'm sure there are other ones out there like the really cool Baldr glass Bakeneko case that is in group buy right now.







« Last Edit: Tue, 29 June 2021, 02:31:18 by chungsteroonie »

Offline MIGHTY CHICKEN

  • Posts: 403
  • buck buck, cluck cluck, squawk squawk
Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 15 June 2021, 11:07:33 »
everything is bakeneko
I am bakeneko

Offline Myrkwood

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Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 15 June 2021, 23:11:05 »
WE are Bakeneko

Offline hplar

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  • Location: Accra, Ghana
Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 24 June 2021, 00:12:39 »
Excuse me for being a little slow here, but how do the PCB and plate stay in? From what Iím getting you got rid of the stand off screw-in slots, if thatís the case wouldnít the PCB just fall out if the board is flipped?

Offline TheWonderBubble

  • Posts: 54
Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 24 June 2021, 00:41:21 »
Excuse me for being a little slow here, but how do the PCB and plate stay in? From what Iím getting you got rid of the stand off screw-in slots, if thatís the case wouldnít the PCB just fall out if the board is flipped?

Just don't type in zero-g and you'll be fine.  ;)
Shhhhh...my wallet doesn't know I'm here.


Offline Rubbermilitia

  • Posts: 257
Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 24 June 2021, 01:54:09 »
Excuse me for being a little slow here, but how do the PCB and plate stay in? From what Iím getting you got rid of the stand off screw-in slots, if thatís the case wouldnít the PCB just fall out if the board is flipped?
Its friction fit, people do this with unikorn, bakenoko, similar boards. Havent had the chance to actually read through this but it should be possible if using an o-ring around the plate/pcb

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Offline chungsteroonie

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Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 24 June 2021, 02:20:55 »
The PCB assembly is friction fit around the entire perimeter. . . additionally, the rubber O-rings in this proposed mod configuration slot and lock into the grooves that are cut into the side walls of the case to allow the o-ring to clear the Durock V2 screw in stabilizers.  This VERY securely locks the PCB/plate assembly into position once the O-ring is squished in there.  It takes a significant amount of force to pull the PCB/plate assembly up by the front lip near the spacebar.  I usually use a pencil with a rubber eraser to push the PCB up through the access hole at the case base while simultaneously pulling up on the plate with one end of a switch puller.  It takes so much force to dislodge the O-ring once seated into the groove that there is no way it will accidentally fall out.  You can hold the keyboard upside down and shake it as hard as you can.  The PCB is not going anywhere.



Here is one of the front O-ring relief cutouts.  The wedge shaped portion of the cutout allows the O-ring to have enough space to wedge into place near the spacebar as the assembly is first pressed into the butt end of the keyboard where the USB port slots in on the left side, and the two cutouts for the backspace stabilizers are located.  With the back installed first, the front end of the PCB assembly is lowered into place, and the O-ring carefully squeezed into first the wedge cuts and then locks into the full cutout at the spacebar stabilizers.  Without those wedge cuts, it would be tremendously difficult to press the PCB into the case and even more difficult if not impossible to remove it.



Here is a photo where you can see the O-ring seated into the side of the case under the plate once installed.

« Last Edit: Thu, 24 June 2021, 02:37:40 by chungsteroonie »

Offline chungsteroonie

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Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 24 June 2021, 06:52:00 »
I'm not so sure a lot of folks are chomping at the bit to buy and then hack up their keyboard cases like this, but if you plan to, the best Dremel tool to hand cut the inside case slots with is the #199 high speed cutter which works well on wood, plastic, and aluminum.



After doing a couple of cases with cutoff wheels and ball end cutters, I found this one to be far superior for control.

Another must have to avoid cutting too deep on the KBDfans Anodized aluminum case is a depth gauge.  I made mine from cutting an old credit card with scissors.



You can stick this into the groove as you cut to make sure you do not cut through the thin side wall of the case.


Offline chungsteroonie

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Re: Everything is Bakeneko
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 01 July 2021, 20:49:25 »
Economics of various mods as compared to group buy/wait options

The most economical VIA compatible options that I tried for 60% PCB's have been KBDfans DZ60 Rev 3.0 ($38), YMCK GH60 ($29), and KPRepublic XD64 ($30 caution: NORTH LED's!).  I don't think that hot swap PCB's are mechanically prudent to use long-term in this setup so I haven't tried.  The pads on the YMCK board seem a little more fragile than the KBDfans offering, but since I'm cheap, I'll go with that PCB for comparison.

Entry level kit options of gasket mount variety:

Cannon Keys Bakeneko kit - $130 (includes case, PCB, plate, stabilizers)

KBDfans D60Lite kit - $119

The Key Dot Co Portico - $135


Dremel Hacked Options:

plastic Bakeneko - $15 (case) + $29 (PCB) + $18 (Plate) + $12 (O-ring) + $2 (Sorbothane strips) + $18.50 (stabilizers) = $94.50

wood Bakeneko - $50 (case) + $29 (PCB) + $18 (Plate) + $12 (O-ring) + $2 (Sorbothane strips) + $18.50 (stabilizers) =  $129.50

Anodized Aluminum Bakenkeo - $73 (case) + $29 (PCB) + $18 (Plate) + $12 (O-ring) + $2 (Sorbothane strips) + $18.50 (stabilizers) = $152.50



It seems to me that the economies of scale tip the favor towards the entry level kits when available, but I do like having the ability to build a number of options with no delay if needed with very good performance and that can look pretty ok all the way up to the point where you open it up and look inside.  I've been able to learn a lot from doing these builds in various configurations and even had a chance to order some laser cut delrin plates to experiment with. . . even though I screwed it up and used 19mm key spacing instead of 19.05mm , a little filing sorted it out.  It is astounding to me how much of a difference changing out the case makes to the typing feel of the keyboard.  I was not expecting with the exact same PCB/plate assembly and mount system to have a completely different feeling coming back at my fingertips when typing between the wood case and the Aluminum case.  It's all been super fun.

A couple of options that stand out to me are the plastic case in milky white (available on Aliexpress) and the wood case.  The plastic material and molding/texture is pretty cheap on these plastic options but the milky white option masks a lot of those textural deficiencies and looks really nice with RGB underglow.  It also yields a comically light-weight package that feels and sounds really nice to my ear.  The plastic case also has the lowest front height and shallower typing angle than the aluminum case which suits my preference for ergonomics.  The wood case was interesting to me because it provided an assortment of varied sounds that was just fun.  I'm sure it is completely accidental, but there is a deep cutout on the right side of the specific case that I'm using which on the wood case, makes the right side sound significantly different from the left side when typing.  So, if consistency is your jam, you may want to select a wood case with more symmetrical cutouts.  There is not another wood offering on the market right now that I know of that is a proper gasket mount, and the material adds a complexity in the resonance it produces that just doesn't happen in plastic and metal.

Generally, Bakeneko seems to produce a sound with poppy alphas that are differentiated from the perimeter keys a bit.  These hacks retain that characteristic.  The Aluminum half plate accentuates that differential between the alphas and the perimeter keys as well as give the spacebar a higher pitched sound than the alphas.  The Delrin plate with plate foam seems to even things out a bit and creates a spacebar that is deeper than the alphas. . . more of a thud.

As expected, friends started coming out of the woodwork asking for builds so in the process of setting up another Aluminum case, I was test fitting a PCB/plate assembly to see if I had made my sidewall cuts deep enough, and I had not yet hacked off any of the standoffs since I use a bare PCB resting on the original standoffs to make my cut markings.  This was the very first time I typed on one of these with the stock mounting points intact, and even without the PCB screwed into any of the mount points, the difference was night and day!  There was a lot of metallic pinging sounds coming back at me in the stock configuration.  In the "Bakeneko" configuration, due to the internal void shape and material, the aluminum case is most problematic of the 3 that I have tried so far, but the most prominent ping coming only from the backspace key on the Aluminum plate configuration.  I made some efforts to tune that out with additional sorbothane, but in the end, I figured a ping isolated only to the backspace key could be considered it does not seem to happen with the Delrin plate.

I'll sit with these boards long-term and continue to tweak things specifically with adding weights to various internal areas as well as cutting internally to see if the sonics can be optimized more.  Overall, I think this build method is super fun and reasonably affordable.  I was inches away from purchasing Salvation when it first came out, and that would have been a really interesting board to have in my fingers for comparison and a reality check as to whether these mods are actually good or if they are in fact garbage, but I have not clue what I'm doing so did not pull the trigger.  Perhaps I will buy the weirdflex PCB and give that a go.
« Last Edit: Thu, 01 July 2021, 20:51:26 by chungsteroonie »