Author Topic: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps  (Read 7966 times)

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Offline SpectreiiI

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[IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:31:02 »
So, I have been developing (on and off) a new profile of keycaps loosely based on the microswitch and cannon terminal profiles of the late-70s/early-80s. I have no idea how much time I have put into these (several hundred hours???), but it seems like a bit much just to put to waste so I figured I would continue development and get some feedback.

Here is where the design last left off:


*Note, Convex Bottom row is not reflected in this image.

The sculpt and feature sets of the profile are my number-one priority. Once those are finalized, if ever, legends will take precedence.

Here are some of the existing features of the profile as designed:

- High-gloss double-shot ABS plastic
- Pressure-justified shot design (screenless), allows for backlit legends
- 1.8mm uniform wall thickness
- Cherry MX, Topre, Kaihua box switch compatibility
- 13.25mm*1mm [LW*D] touch surface (12.5mm typical for SP, 14mm for Cherry)
- Convex bottom row /w standard declined, flat, or stepped hybrid bottom row options.

Here are some features I am working on:

- Exotic caps, stepped shift and such with options such as integrated trackpoint, led indicators, BAE, etc.
- trackpoint caps for alpha cluster
- biased dishes, other exotic dish designs
- other stuff I can't quite articulate and/or forgot

Anyway, I am just a designer/R&D junky, so if these were brought to market, it would be by another company licensing the design off of me. So please don't ask me for any details regarding my ability to produce the set. I am not a vendor. It is highly likely that if such an agreement were made that would allow these to come to fruition, it would be under an NDA until an official announcement was made anyway.

Hope you like them, and if not, oh well  :p

« Last Edit: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:07:19 by SpectreiiI »

Offline Baron

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:42:01 »
that looks super cool, the stepped caps are awesome

id love pbt though

Offline Remsky

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:42:38 »
Interested, do you have any idea about manu costs or even what manu to go through?
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Offline schoolbus

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:46:27 »
This looks really similar to MT3 profile aside from the exotic keys
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Offline dimo

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:48:23 »
would love to see comparisons to dev tty. Stepped caps are looking cool though

Offline Tarienn

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 14:52:48 »
I loooove profiles based on retro keycaps. Consider me 100% interested :D

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:04:54 »
would love to see comparisons to dev tty. Stepped caps are looking cool though

This looks really similar to MT3 profile aside from the exotic keys

Perhaps stylistically, but I would consider that a compliment. Profile wise, it's actually far closer to Cherry and Filco (OEM) Profile.


SSS is superimposed in blue over the corresponding profile in red. From the top down is SA, MIX, Filco (OEM), and Cherry.

Interested, do you have any idea about manu costs or even what manu to go through?
I do. Let me put it to you this way, if I was personally going to produce them (and I'm not), I wouldn't do it with anything less than $200k of cash on hand.


Offline dimo

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:07:08 »
would love to see comparisons to dev tty. Stepped caps are looking cool though

This looks really similar to MT3 profile aside from the exotic keys

Perhaps stylistically, but I would consider that a compliment. Profile wise, it's actually far closer to Cherry and Filco (OEM) Profile.

Show Image

SSS is superimposed in blue over the corresponding profile in red. From the top down is SA, MIX, Filco (OEM), and Cherry.

Interested, do you have any idea about manu costs or even what manu to go through?
I do. Let me put it to you this way, if I was personally going to produce them (and I'm not), I wouldn't do it with anything less than $200k of cash on hand.

Interesting! And they are quite similar to cherry, thanks :>


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Offline Kevadu

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:08:42 »
So it's like a more aggressively sculpted spherical Cherry?  I like.

But who is actually going to manufacture it?

Offline AuthenticDanger

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:18:06 »
But who is actually going to manufacture it?

Likely no one.
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Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:21:08 »
So it's like a more aggressively sculpted spherical Cherry?  I like.

But who is actually going to manufacture it?
There are a couple of parties interested, but I can't say one way or another. Nine times out of ten these things fall through.
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:23:52 by SpectreiiI »

Offline random0987

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:23:45 »
Really interested. Looks good like SA, types like Cherry. Best of both worlds.

Offline Zuology

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:36:55 »
Really happy to see this work continuing forward and not going to the junkyard/graveyard!

Curious to see how this profile compares against the already-released Mix/MDA profile, the yet-to-be-resurrected DSS profile from SP, Mike@Novelkeys' profile (medium-height hi-pro), and eVan's HuB profile. As an SA lover I am super happy that sculpted spherical is being explored more, since king-of-cylindrical Cherry-profile won't be dethroned any time soon.

Have you had a chance to do 3D printed prototypes yet, or are you still hashing out the final iterations?
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 June 2018, 15:39:39 by Zuology »
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Offline meepmeep

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 17:28:35 »
I like all new and unique profiles. This one looks fun to type on and the Backlight availability is great!  I am totally interested.

Offline HOBI3CAT

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 18:45:46 »
The backlit legends do it for me! I'd be totally in!

Offline BobCarltheThird

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 18:58:15 »
I was exited back when these were brought up in the novelkeys thread and I'm exited to see them here, hopefully they get put into production.
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Offline watchy0ubac

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 19:02:25 »
Pricing wise for a set of these would they be comparable to anything like a GMK set, or is that too far off to give a rough estimate?

Offline SingSong

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 20:02:25 »
Given my love of MDA/Mix, this looks sweet.

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 20:09:49 »
Pricing wise for a set of these would they be comparable to anything like a GMK set, or is that too far off to give a rough estimate?
That would depend on so many factors,  but I would say it is unlikely they would cost less for a comparable set.
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 June 2018, 20:12:44 by SpectreiiI »

Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 20:42:45 »
It looks quite nice. I hope this gets produced one day!

Offline Mangaboy5398

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 21:21:00 »
Damn this looks really good. And the idea of backlight capable legends is amazing! I can finally get other people to go down the rabbit hole

Offline audax989

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 07 June 2018, 21:37:19 »
had me at topre compatibility.

Offline Hak Foo

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 01:04:38 »
The question it has to answer is "what are you bringing to the table that's better?"  The marketplace is getting a lot more crowded.

Two or three years ago, just saying "we've got sphericals and can ship something in less than Signature Plastics' 18-month turnaround time" would be enough.

But now you've got vendors like Maxkey saying "here's a complete set, $100 out the door, in several popular colours right now".  And I'm even seeing some no-name places offering PBT sphericals
Overton130, Box Pale Blues.

Offline foxmancore

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 02:25:01 »
PBT please! :)

Offline tex_live_utility

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 03:21:46 »
I'm all about this.

Would look great in this colorway: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=88848.0
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Offline Korseir

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 09:30:47 »
had me at topre compatibility.

^this. very interested if this comes true

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 09:41:39 »
The question it has to answer is "what are you bringing to the table that's better?"  The marketplace is getting a lot more crowded.

Two or three years ago, just saying "we've got sphericals and can ship something in less than Signature Plastics' 18-month turnaround time" would be enough.

But now you've got vendors like Maxkey saying "here's a complete set, $100 out the door, in several popular colours right now".  And I'm even seeing some no-name places offering PBT sphericals
I couldn't agree with you more. With exciting new profiles and vendors popping up (seemingly) every few months, it takes an awful lot to stand out these days.

had me at topre compatibility.

^this. very interested if this comes true
I have several switches that I have also been working on, and they are all Topre mount. These caps, while compatible with Cherry MX mounts, are ultimately intended to be used with those switches, so if the caps happen, they will be Topre native, and Cherry MX compatible.


Offline ullr

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 15:56:32 »
[It] takes an awful lot to stand out these days.

Honestly it really doesnít, itís still very much a seller's market.

MT3 has had one complete pre‐order and they dropped the ball in a few ways (piss‐poor legend alignment, poor color QC, legend ****‐ups in a few kits, big ass delay...). All Chinese manufacturers of high profile caps are inflexible or have quality issues. Lead times are universally high. Sure, plenty of ICís, but not very many shipped products.

SP SA is basically the only guaranteed product that is accessible, flexible, and quality ó but it isnít totally unproblematic (sprue on sides, middling QC as to color, etc.) and takes close to a year to ship. On top of that, the profile itself is unspectacular (doubly so for the Chinese PBT sets with the inferior 2‐3‐3‐3‐3 sculpt) and most people prefer something with more of a sculpt along the lines of what you have here (hence the chomping at the bit for /dev/tty).

I donít think itís fair to say that the market for high profile spherical sets is Ďgetting crowdedí when:

  • topre sets go for hundreds of percent markups and they donít even fit the boards people are putting them on
  • alps sets are all rare, vintage, yellowed, esoteric in layout, unobtainable, or some combination thereof
  • blanks barely exist
  • SA makes up a huge majority of enthusiast sets and much of the increase in options are manufacturers retreading that ground and failing to improve
  • ALL lead times of pre‐orders are counted in months
  • SA sets STILL (despite the perception of the communityís interest explosion having slowed) get flipped immediately after shipping with hundreds of sets sold

Offline zslane

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 08 June 2018, 17:13:55 »
To my mind, the true value proposition of any profile comes down to the aesthetic options made available to designers, and the calibre of the designers drawn to the profile. In other words, how many colors will be available? How easy will it be to request/make custom legends? Will triple shot be available? Will lens shots be available? Will front legends be possible? Will dye-sub PBT be an option? What surface textures will be available?

A compelling keycap profile is of little value if custom sets can't be designed with attractive colors, clean legend fonts and creative novelties, all at reasonable prices. Moreover, the fewer design options available to designers, the less likely the profile will attract the more skilled designers. And without them, your profile will struggle mightily for marketplace exposure and relevance.

Offline thelaughingman

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #29 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 04:10:32 »
I'm watching this thread for Topre compatibility. And from your comparison pic, I still can't quite make out how different it is to MT3. However, that is a pretty good place to start with since there isn't really a market for custom Topre keysets. Personally I have to use Topre MX sliders to use MT3. People who are sworn by the ONLY stock-Topre keycaps gospel can sod off, surely more options is always better.

Pricing can be relatively high at the very beginning as the average Topre owners are used to spending more money than MX-users counterparts to get what they want, but naturally other profiles will get cheaper and begs the question: slider swap + MX sets are much better value?

The first set can be the classic beige, similar to how MT3 went, but I also agree with zslane that you really need to get big designers to either bring their signature designs or come up with new attractive ones for the profile to stay relevant for a long time. And they will only come if your profile can support their wildest and craziest ideas.
« Last Edit: Sat, 09 June 2018, 04:17:56 by thelaughingman »

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #30 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 10:33:46 »
To my mind, the true value proposition of any profile comes down to the aesthetic options made available to designers, and the calibre of the designers drawn to the profile. In other words, how many colors will be available? How easy will it be to request/make custom legends? Will triple shot be available? Will lens shots be available? Will front legends be possible? Will dye-sub PBT be an option? What surface textures will be available?

A compelling keycap profile is of little value if custom sets can't be designed with attractive colors, clean legend fonts and creative novelties, all at reasonable prices. Moreover, the fewer design options available to designers, the less likely the profile will attract the more skilled designers. And without them, your profile will struggle mightily for marketplace exposure and relevance.
This is one of the meta type questions that I can answer with surety. I am not a vendor. I am a designer. Everything about the design of this product is designer-biased. I have designed the dishes to be universally compatible across rows (sans convex), and I have designed the molds to allow for complex flow paths on the legend plates. These caps could be triple, even quadruple shot. As far a touch surface textures go, I think something like semi-matte would have to be standard, because otherwise differences in texturing between the legend plates and the dishes will lead to bleeding issues. Yes, textures have depth.

Anyway, my point is, I'm with you.

[It] takes an awful lot to stand out these days.

Honestly it really doesnít, itís still very much a seller's market.

MT3 has had one complete pre‐order and they dropped the ball in a few ways (piss‐poor legend alignment, poor color QC, legend ****‐ups in a few kits, big ass delay...). All Chinese manufacturers of high profile caps are inflexible or have quality issues. Lead times are universally high. Sure, plenty of ICís, but not very many shipped products.
SP SA is basically the only guaranteed product that is accessible, flexible, and quality ó but it isnít totally unproblematic (sprue on sides, middling QC as to color, etc.) and takes close to a year to ship. On
top of that, the profile itself is unspectacular (doubly so for the Chinese PBT sets with the inferior 2‐3‐3‐3‐3 sculpt) and most people prefer something with more of a sculpt along the lines of what you have here (hence the chomping at the bit for /dev/tty).

I donít think itís fair to say that the market for high profile spherical sets is Ďgetting crowdedí when:

  • topre sets go for hundreds of percent markups and they donít even fit the boards people are putting them on
  • alps sets are all rare, vintage, yellowed, esoteric in layout, unobtainable, or some combination thereof
  • blanks barely exist
  • SA makes up a huge majority of enthusiast sets and much of the increase in options are manufacturers retreading that ground and failing to improve
  • ALL lead times of pre‐orders are counted in months
  • SA sets STILL (despite the perception of the communityís interest explosion having slowed) get flipped immediately after shipping with hundreds of sets sold
Currently typing on Mt3, and I can confirm, dye sub quality for everything but the cyrillics is ****. I love the look of SA, but personally I find it a terrible profile to actually type on. That said, many people love them, and the lead times are INSANE.

I'm watching this thread for Topre compatibility. And from your comparison pic, I still can't quite make out how different it is to MT3. However, that is a pretty good place to start with since there isn't really a market for custom Topre keysets. Personally I have to use Topre MX sliders to use MT3. People who are sworn by the ONLY stock-Topre keycaps gospel can sod off, surely more options is always better.

Pricing can be relatively high at the very beginning as the average Topre owners are used to spending more money than MX-users counterparts to get what they want, but naturally other profiles will get cheaper and begs the question: slider swap + MX sets are much better value?

The first set can be the classic beige, similar to how MT3 went, but I also agree with zslane that you really need to get big designers to either bring their signature designs or come up with new attractive ones for the profile to stay relevant for a long time. And they will only come if your profile can support their wildest and craziest ideas.

I have a few Topre boards and I think aftermarket sliders are ****. I think that's most people's hangup, not necessarily that the caps aren't OEM. I think the best designers will designers will design for the best profile, and a few have already expressed interest.

Offline zslane

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 12:19:49 »
...Everything about the design of this product is designer-biased.

Anyway, my point is, I'm with you.

That's great to hear.

I guess my ultimate point is that I have many spherical sets already (SA, DSA, and MT3) that I really love. At this point, a new spherical profile in and of itself is of little interest to me as I already have that base well and truly covered. The only thing that will make me part with my money is a set design that I find irresistible. That's why I say this profile's value proposition (for me) all comes down to the set designs that are made with it, not the fact that it is uniquely sculpted.

I will say that the possibility of getting Topre-compatible sets is intriguing, but again, I would probably only get excited by that if a set design came along that I simply couldn't pass up (e.g., Space Cadet).

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #32 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 12:45:23 »
...Everything about the design of this product is designer-biased.

Anyway, my point is, I'm with you.

That's great to hear.

I guess my ultimate point is that I have many spherical sets already (SA, DSA, and MT3) that I really love. At this point, a new spherical profile in and of itself is of little interest to me as I already have that base well and truly covered. The only thing that will make me part with my money is a set design that I find irresistible. That's why I say this profile's value proposition (for me) all comes down to the set designs that are made with it, not the fact that it is uniquely sculpted.

I will say that the possibility of getting Topre-compatible sets is intriguing, but again, I would probably only get excited by that if a set design came along that I simply couldn't pass up (e.g., Space Cadet).
I guess we are at odds on your first point. I am not at all satisfied with any of the current spherical offerings. As a matter of fact, my preference is Cherry, SS2, and OEM, in that order. Notice there are no spherical options in my preferences. I find them all very compromised. Hence, why I am developing this profile.  If you are satisfied with the current offerings, this profile might not be for you.

Offline Kevadu

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #33 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 13:33:49 »
I guess we are at odds on your first point. I am not at all satisfied with any of the current spherical offerings. As a matter of fact, my preference is Cherry, SS2, and OEM, in that order. Notice there are no spherical options in my preferences. I find them all very compromised. Hence, why I am developing this profile.  If you are satisfied with the current offerings, this profile might not be for you.

Just want to say that I completely agree with you on this point and I don't think you're alone.  Existing options for spherical keycaps are pretty mediocre, which is probably why there has been so much interest in new profiles lately.  For actual typing my favorite spherical would probably be Mix (though the dishes on those are so shallow they're barely even spherical...), but the current design options for that are...limited to say the least.  It's funny that while I say I like spherical keycaps I probably own more GMK sets than anything...

At the same time if all the new profiles that are being worked on actually make it to market it could be a little overwhelming.  I mean SP is working on DSS, there's Hub, Novelkeys has something in the works, etc.  We're also finally starting to see new sets in Mix profile and maybe we'll see some more MT3s as well.  While more choice is certainly a good thing I wonder if there is actually a big enough market for all of these...

Offline zslane

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #34 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 14:00:11 »
For me, issues like sculpt height and angle, dishing depth, and so on are of secondary importance to the set designs that come out for it. For instance, I think that XDA is a superior profile to DSA, but I have yet to encounter a single set I'd want to own. I think the only spherical profile I dislike enough to avoid purely on the basis of the sculpt/shape of its keys is Topre Hi-Pro.

Whatever their perceived deficiencies may be, I have no problem typing on SA, DSA, or MT3. However, I have a deep aversion to sets that I think are ugly, which is 99% of them, to be honest. That's why having a wide open, clear channel to (good) designers who are excited about making sets in this profile is of paramount importance, at least to me. Without that--along with a robust production capacity--there's little chance I'll see a custom set come out that I'd want to put on a keyboard of mine, regardless of whatever minor improvements the profile may have over the other, more established spherical profiles in the marketplace.

Offline SpectreiiI

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #35 on: Sat, 09 June 2018, 15:08:57 »
I guess we are at odds on your first point. I am not at all satisfied with any of the current spherical offerings. As a matter of fact, my preference is Cherry, SS2, and OEM, in that order. Notice there are no spherical options in my preferences. I find them all very compromised. Hence, why I am developing this profile.  If you are satisfied with the current offerings, this profile might not be for you.

Just want to say that I completely agree with you on this point and I don't think you're alone.  Existing options for spherical keycaps are pretty mediocre, which is probably why there has been so much interest in new profiles lately.  For actual typing my favorite spherical would probably be Mix (though the dishes on those are so shallow they're barely even spherical...), but the current design options for that are...limited to say the least.  It's funny that while I say I like spherical keycaps I probably own more GMK sets than anything...

At the same time if all the new profiles that are being worked on actually make it to market it could be a little overwhelming.  I mean SP is working on DSS, there's Hub, Novelkeys has something in the works, etc.  We're also finally starting to see new sets in Mix profile and maybe we'll see some more MT3s as well.  While more choice is certainly a good thing I wonder if there is actually a big enough market for all of these...
Well, the problem with injected molded plastics is the cost barrier of entry is really high, and once that barrier is cleared, the operating costs are really low. That said, premium quality caps are still really hard to come by, the only options in the market being GMK, SP-SA, and Gateron-ePBT.

Offline ray160

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Re: [IC] SSS Profile Keycaps
« Reply #36 on: Sat, 14 July 2018, 18:24:20 »
I'm interested in this too!