Author Topic: Filco style tkl case?  (Read 566 times)

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Offline F eq ma

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Filco style tkl case?
« on: Sun, 09 May 2021, 12:04:50 »
I would like to build a TKL board with a nice case.    The Filco TKL looks great, but I want to run QMK and I want the experience to solder and build.   Sweat equality drives love.   Got really excited when I ran across the Phantom PCB, but looks like I am late to that party, as it went recently out of stock for the leftovers of the 2012 GB.

I am at a point where I can either build a pcb and plate with opensource, then search for a case.  Or the other way around.   Find a case and design around that.   Seems like the case is the more difficult of the two.

I ran across the follow on aliexpress.   Anyone have any experience with this case?  It seems to check all of my wants.  That blue is beautiful.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001912870659.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.319b1bfciGgcSr&algo_pvid=03dca47a-d7d7-4f01-831b-2b1024944663&algo_expid=03dca47a-d7d7-4f01-831b-2b1024944663-0&btsid=0bb0624016205784698301614e9e08&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_

It looks like it would pretty tight height wise for a teensy board, but I was thinking of leaving those keys at the upper right off since I don’t typically use those keys.  Maybe a peekaboo effect to the board.

Edit:  looks like Kkatano has a pcb named yurei inspired from Phantom that outlines a case issue with this YMDK.  https://github.com/kkatano/yurei/blob/master/images/filco-pcb-and-ymdk-case-problem.pdf
« Last Edit: Sun, 09 May 2021, 14:33:47 by F eq ma »

Offline Tactile

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Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 09 May 2021, 14:42:57 »
Tex brand used to have a pretty nice selection of cases made to fit a Filco TKL pcb. Don't know if they still do or where to buy them but you might try searching for that brand.

Offline Sup

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Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 09 May 2021, 15:48:38 »
Tex brand used to have a pretty nice selection of cases made to fit a Filco TKL pcb. Don't know if they still do or where to buy them but you might try searching for that brand.

TEX cases for Filco keyboards are discontinued. Only way to obtain one is trough Mech market and even there they are rare. You still have cases on aliexpress i think but, those are pretty bad and i don't see those as a upgrade.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 09 May 2021, 20:47:27 »
That PCB will not fit that case or the Vortex, it only works in the Tex case, and that's only if the controller is in the same location as the Phantom PCB. The Filco is at least fixable (just remove the plastic on the connector), the Phantom PCB requires milling the chassis.

As for that case,
The top looks good, but the bottom looks like old school garbage Chinese quality.  A thin flat plate like that always ends up warped and bent once screws are put in a few times, drives me bonkers when I see that sort of assembly.  It's just cheap, which is why it's done that way, maybe it's thicker than it looks. The other problem I have is that this is a couple screws to attach the plate to the frame while the Tex and Vortex cases both sandwich mount the plate creating one of the most solid keyboards you will ever use. The YMDK is a decorative chassis, the Tex and Vortex were absolute beasts that were like a 10 ton safe for your keyboard. They were not the best made but what they lacked in precision they made up for by being over built.


Instead of a Filco, go look at WASD, they offer a Tex/Vortex style chassis that's better quality, all are programmable, and at least some support QMK. You will need to read up on it more, but I know some can use it.
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Offline F eq ma

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 22
Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 09 May 2021, 22:03:14 »
That PCB will not fit that case or the Vortex, it only works in the Tex case, and that's only if the controller is in the same location as the Phantom PCB. The Filco is at least fixable (just remove the plastic on the connector), the Phantom PCB requires milling the chassis.

As for that case,
The top looks good, but the bottom looks like old school garbage Chinese quality.  A thin flat plate like that always ends up warped and bent once screws are put in a few times, drives me bonkers when I see that sort of assembly.  It's just cheap, which is why it's done that way, maybe it's thicker than it looks. The other problem I have is that this is a couple screws to attach the plate to the frame while the Tex and Vortex cases both sandwich mount the plate creating one of the most solid keyboards you will ever use. The YMDK is a decorative chassis, the Tex and Vortex were absolute beasts that were like a 10 ton safe for your keyboard. They were not the best made but what they lacked in precision they made up for by being over built.


Instead of a Filco, go look at WASD, they offer a Tex/Vortex style chassis that's better quality, all are programmable, and at least some support QMK. You will need to read up on it more, but I know some can use it.


I have a lot to learn, but that is also known as experience.   Thanks for pointing out the small details.   It educates and moves me forward.

Offline Maledicted

  • Posts: 1825
  • Location: Wisconsin, United States
Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 11 May 2021, 17:05:58 »
As for that case,
The top looks good, but the bottom looks like old school garbage Chinese quality.  A thin flat plate like that always ends up warped and bent once screws are put in a few times, drives me bonkers when I see that sort of assembly.  It's just cheap, which is why it's done that way, maybe it's thicker than it looks. The other problem I have is that this is a couple screws to attach the plate to the frame while the Tex and Vortex cases both sandwich mount the plate creating one of the most solid keyboards you will ever use. The YMDK is a decorative chassis, the Tex and Vortex were absolute beasts that were like a 10 ton safe for your keyboard. They were not the best made but what they lacked in precision they made up for by being over built.



The thickness of the bottom of the chassis is roughly the same as what is visible where the USB port is mounted. Since I have no measuring utensils nearby, it is about the same thickness as the height of a mini USB connector from top to bottom, or the standard thickness of the casing that fills the gap between the alphanumeric cluster and nav cluster. Google says this is 3mm. It seems like overkill to me.

I have 3 of these cases, 2 of which I have used for a period of time now with KBParadise V80s swapped into them. If I recall, the PCB is screwed to the top of the case in 2 or 3 different places in the upper alphanumeric/F key area and the plate is screwed to the bottom edge of the top of the case in 3 different places. Maybe some of it is the thickness and rigidity of what seems to be steel plates used in the V80, but it seems pretty freaking solid to me. Because the V80 comes in such a light plastic case, I think I remember the empty aluminum case feeling substantially heavier than the complete stock V80. I haven't tried to weigh it though and the product page doesn't seem to list it. The stock V80s seem surprisingly hefty considering their cases.

If anybody does pick one of these up, they should find quality equivalent replacements for the screws and throw the ones that come with them in the trash. You should also look at getting some slightly shorter screws for the plate and/or some washers to fill the gap. I forget the dimensions of the ones I ended up using, but I could find that later if anybody is interested. I don't know if they're all so fragile, but the ones used to secure the PCB and plate are cheap pot metal. I broke the head off of one and wasn't able to extract what was left inside of the hole because the pliers I used to clamp down on the twisted metal that remained was bending and twisting it like tin foil. The reason that happened to begin with was the screw was too long for the threading in the hole with the V80 plate and wouldn't snug against it without a lot of force (Even though I'm still talking barehanded precision screwdriver force, with no additional leverage). The V80 plate is also just shy of securely grabbing the head of the stock screws, and washers meant to match the factory screw threading are often not really any wider to resolve this either so I went with something bigger. I don't think my washers are even metric, but it works. Another hardware consideration is that the USB breakout board is held to the bottom of the case by very lightly threading the holes they drilled in the PCB. I immediately thought it would make a lot more sense for me to get some slightly longer screws and add nuts and maybe washers so the board is actually secured.

There also doesn't seem to be anything built into the design to properly ground the case (I'll fix that). I just laid down some chair mats at work that seem to have increased my usual static charge (for now) and I have caused the board to stop working without power cycling 2 or 3 times (4 now, it just happened again) since I put the mats down a few days ago.

They didn't seem to use particularly tough aluminum either and/or don't use an anodization process that's spectacular. I accidentally dropped a ring of 6 big brass keys on the one I have set up at home from a height of 2 or 3 feet and there seems to be a small divot in the case that is no longer black.

The gray is also more like a smoky silver. It looks nothing like the product pictures. It makes me wonder why they even bother offering a separate silver option.

Infernal hardware and nitpicking aside, they're very beefy cases in my opinion, coming from someone who routinely daily drives IBM 4704 boat anchors.
« Last Edit: Tue, 11 May 2021, 17:08:46 by Maledicted »

Offline F eq ma

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 22
Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 11 May 2021, 17:40:46 »

(Attachment Link)

The thickness of the bottom of the chassis is roughly the same as what is visible where the USB port is mounted. Since I have no measuring utensils nearby, it is about the same thickness as the height of a mini USB connector from top to bottom, or the standard thickness of the casing that fills the gap between the alphanumeric cluster and nav cluster. Google says this is 3mm. It seems like overkill to me.

I have 3 of these cases, 2 of which I have used for a period of time now with KBParadise V80s swapped into them. If I recall, the PCB is screwed to the top of the case in 2 or 3 different places in the upper alphanumeric/F key area and the plate is screwed to the bottom edge of the top of the case in 3 different places. Maybe some of it is the thickness and rigidity of what seems to be steel plates used in the V80, but it seems pretty freaking solid to me. Because the V80 comes in such a light plastic case, I think I remember the empty aluminum case feeling substantially heavier than the complete stock V80. I haven't tried to weigh it though and the product page doesn't seem to list it. The stock V80s seem surprisingly hefty considering their cases.

If anybody does pick one of these up, they should find quality equivalent replacements for the screws and throw the ones that come with them in the trash. You should also look at getting some slightly shorter screws for the plate and/or some washers to fill the gap. I forget the dimensions of the ones I ended up using, but I could find that later if anybody is interested. I don't know if they're all so fragile, but the ones used to secure the PCB and plate are cheap pot metal. I broke the head off of one and wasn't able to extract what was left inside of the hole because the pliers I used to clamp down on the twisted metal that remained was bending and twisting it like tin foil. The reason that happened to begin with was the screw was too long for the threading in the hole with the V80 plate and wouldn't snug against it without a lot of force (Even though I'm still talking barehanded precision screwdriver force, with no additional leverage). The V80 plate is also just shy of securely grabbing the head of the stock screws, and washers meant to match the factory screw threading are often not really any wider to resolve this either so I went with something bigger. I don't think my washers are even metric, but it works. Another hardware consideration is that the USB breakout board is held to the bottom of the case by very lightly threading the holes they drilled in the PCB. I immediately thought it would make a lot more sense for me to get some slightly longer screws and add nuts and maybe washers so the board is actually secured.

There also doesn't seem to be anything built into the design to properly ground the case (I'll fix that). I just laid down some chair mats at work that seem to have increased my usual static charge (for now) and I have caused the board to stop working without power cycling 2 or 3 times (4 now, it just happened again) since I put the mats down a few days ago.

They didn't seem to use particularly tough aluminum either and/or don't use an anodization process that's spectacular. I accidentally dropped a ring of 6 big brass keys on the one I have set up at home from a height of 2 or 3 feet and there seems to be a small divot in the case that is no longer black.

The gray is also more like a smoky silver. It looks nothing like the product pictures. It makes me wonder why they even bother offering a separate silver option.

Infernal hardware and nitpicking aside, they're very beefy cases in my opinion, coming from someone who routinely daily drives IBM 4704 boat anchors.

Thanks for detailed experience with the case.   I read elsewhere about the screws on some of the cheaper cases.   Just an odd way to save a few pennys per unit.   But then again, i am not on that side of the fence.   I might pick one up to play with. 

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 11 May 2021, 20:47:38 »
The thickness of the bottom of the chassis is roughly the same as what is visible where the USB port is mounted.

but it seems pretty freaking solid to me.

There also doesn't seem to be anything built into the design to properly ground the case (I'll fix that). I just laid down some chair mats at work that seem to have increased my usual static charge (for now) and I have caused the board to stop working without power cycling 2 or 3 times (4 now, it just happened again) since I put the mats down a few days ago.
That's thicker than I thought, looks a lot thinner on the website, still has the same problem but less so.

I'm sure if feels solid and better than stock and many boards use a similar mounting system, it works, it works fine, it's just that the TEX/Vortex is just so much better. Doesn't help if you can't buy one though.

I have 3 aluminum boards, not a single one has a grounded chassis.
I'm pretty sure every keyboard I own that has a metal plate is grounded (exposed or not), all except the all aluminum ones. I would love for an electrical engineer to weigh in on it at some point but I ground all of mine.
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Offline F eq ma

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 22
Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 11 May 2021, 21:06:52 »
I have 3 aluminum boards, not a single one has a grounded chassis.
I'm pretty sure every keyboard I own that has a metal plate is grounded (exposed or not), all except the all aluminum ones. I would love for an electrical engineer to weigh in on it at some point but I ground all of mine.

Curious on how you ground the chassis?   Do you connect a wire to the board’s ground from a chassis screw?    Static is a real around here in the winter.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Filco style tkl case?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 11 May 2021, 21:15:55 »
On the Vortex/Filco I have a custom cable in it, I split the the ground/shield wire, stripped it and basically taped it to the bottom of the case.
On the Novelkeys the way the case comes together you can wedge a bare wire between the USB port housing and the chassis.

I have yet to ground the last one.
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