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C70 Feedback

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evyd13:
So... I got one from Drop the other day. There is a lot we need to discuss.

The case is really nice, honestly. I couldn't have asked for more on that. The anodizing is beautiful, high quality. I like the rubber feet as well. The switch top removal cutouts are a nice touch.
For stock keycaps, these are the best. Nice doubleshot GMK keycaps that we're used to. I like the colors on those.
On the inside is where things change. The foam that is supplied is a bit dusty - might be because it's two years old, but there are small black pieces of foam everywhere.
Then there's the daughterboard, which can be flipped to have a Micro USB connector instead of USB-C. It makes no sense and seems like a useless feature to me, as there is a nice USB A to USB C cable supplied in the box. However, the pogo pin connection to the main PCB is smart, but a cable would have been fine as that doesn't push the PCB up.
Now, before I go any further, I need to address something. This board was advertised as a "true community custom" and was apparently designed in collaboration with known designers from the community. For some reason though, it's pretty much anti-community. How on earth did this happen?!

The PCB does NOT support QMK firmware! Instead, GMK decided to make their own software - and even that is far from good. It's confusing to me with only two layers to program (afaik..) and selecting a key requires you to scroll through a list of keys. That wouldn't be so bad if the scrolling itself wasn't slowed down. I haven't used it much so I can't say more about that. Did I mention it's not currently available for Mac or Linux?

Upon first glance at the PCB, I was confused, because all the components are on the front, which means you have to desolder every switch to repair something. Speaking of switches... Why was this even offered ONLY with Cherry switches? Cherry switches are one of the least liked switches in this community because they are scratchy. Even Gaterons would have been better. Of course, GMK is related to Cherry, but okay, you could have offered a kit instead, but you didn't. Even worse is that the switches come with diodes in them, which are attached to the PCB. That is fine if they are used, but after fully desoldering the board it seems the diodes in the switches are not electrically connected. Instead, the PCB has SMD diodes on it, also on the top side. Completely useless diodes which only make desoldering this true community custom even harder. Apart from that, the PCB is fine. What I do want to mention though, is how stiff this board is. In its construction it uses spacers between the plate and the PCB, through which a M3 T8 torx screw goes to mount to a standoff in the case. It's your average tray mount, but with a spacer to allow the screw to be on the plate instead of the PCB. Couldn't have made it more stiff. (I personally don't like it, but maybe some people do.)

So in short, case is nice, keycaps are nice, but the PCB sucks and the software to program the board sucks. I'm glad I'm able to design PCBs so I did design a replacement PCB for it yesterday.


Here is an album of the board: https://imgur.com/a/EdCbrGb

jimboytacos:
Haven't seen your PCB layout, but can it support the traditional 6.25U or 7U spacebar? That 6U spacebar is difficult to find in gmk base kits.
How about support for split backspace?

evyd13:

--- Quote from: jimboytacos on Thu, 30 April 2020, 16:30:58 ---Haven't seen your PCB layout, but can it support the traditional 6.25U or 7U spacebar? That 6U spacebar is difficult to find in gmk base kits.
How about support for split backspace?

--- End quote ---

Due to the case no other layout can be supported. There is a small part removed from the inside bezel for the screw of the stabilizer to fit. That means the only way to do a different space bar size is plate mounted. (Picture here)

I could add split back space support, but what's the point of that when it's almost a tkl?

Let me know what your thoughts are  :)

GMK_Andy:

--- Quote from: maartenwut on Sun, 26 April 2020, 16:34:53 ---So... I got one from Drop the other day. There is a lot we need to discuss.

The case is really nice, honestly. I couldn't have asked for more on that. The anodizing is beautiful, high quality. I like the rubber feet as well. The switch top removal cutouts are a nice touch.
For stock keycaps, these are the best. Nice doubleshot GMK keycaps that we're used to. I like the colors on those.
On the inside is where things change. The foam that is supplied is a bit dusty - might be because it's two years old, but there are small black pieces of foam everywhere.
Then there's the daughterboard, which can be flipped to have a Micro USB connector instead of USB-C. It makes no sense and seems like a useless feature to me, as there is a nice USB A to USB C cable supplied in the box. However, the pogo pin connection to the main PCB is smart, but a cable would have been fine as that doesn't push the PCB up.
Now, before I go any further, I need to address something. This board was advertised as a "true community custom" and was apparently designed in collaboration with known designers from the community. For some reason though, it's pretty much anti-community. How on earth did this happen?!

The PCB does NOT support QMK firmware! Instead, GMK decided to make their own software - and even that is far from good. It's confusing to me with only two layers to program (afaik..) and selecting a key requires you to scroll through a list of keys. That wouldn't be so bad if the scrolling itself wasn't slowed down. I haven't used it much so I can't say more about that. Did I mention it's not currently available for Mac or Linux?

Upon first glance at the PCB, I was confused, because all the components are on the front, which means you have to desolder every switch to repair something. Speaking of switches... Why was this even offered ONLY with Cherry switches? Cherry switches are one of the least liked switches in this community because they are scratchy. Even Gaterons would have been better. Of course, GMK is related to Cherry, but okay, you could have offered a kit instead, but you didn't. Even worse is that the switches come with diodes in them, which are attached to the PCB. That is fine if they are used, but after fully desoldering the board it seems the diodes in the switches are not electrically connected. Instead, the PCB has SMD diodes on it, also on the top side. Completely useless diodes which only make desoldering this true community custom even harder. Apart from that, the PCB is fine. What I do want to mention though, is how stiff this board is. In its construction it uses spacers between the plate and the PCB, through which a M3 T8 torx screw goes to mount to a standoff in the case. It's your average tray mount, but with a spacer to allow the screw to be on the plate instead of the PCB. Couldn't have made it more stiff. (I personally don't like it, but maybe some people do.)

So in short, case is nice, keycaps are nice, but the PCB sucks and the software to program the board sucks. I'm glad I'm able to design PCBs so I did design a replacement PCB for it yesterday.


Here is an album of the board: https://imgur.com/a/EdCbrGb

--- End quote ---

QMK -   I've mentioned this before, but will mention it again. We know this is a community favorite, and many of us really like QMK on community boards we have. There problem for right now is this: we need our own software because we also use the same platform for our industrial clients. If we use QMK, even fork it, we must make our code public, and that could be something many of our industrial clients are wary of. We know our software isn't nearly up to the standards we want though, and have been doing a total overhaul to it in the meantime. I've talked to Jack, Skully, MechMerlin about QMK quite a bit, and its not off the table, but for now its just not happening because of a lot of in depth reasons. Again, we know how good it is in terms of features (though definitely not the best for clients without some knowledge of programming boards) so for now we must stick with our own.

Yeah, its an odd layout as well. New layouts come out every day. Some are hits, some are misses. We tried to go with things that have been admired in the community on higher end customs (stepped caps, WKL, etc). Obviously its not perfect, but we are still very happy with how it came out. It is a niche layout, but for some we think it will work very well, and as the layout was presented during the buy we had assumed anyone buying it would be a fan of the layout.

A kit is definitely still an option we are looking into. We couldn't offer more switches because of many reasons with the initial buy (like keeping the options simple with Massdrop to keep the cost down). With MX swtiches there are so so many that anything offered stock will not satisfy everyone, or even close, which is why we are still considering a kit for the future. 

At the  time the daughter board seemd very important, and got much good feedback. When it was being designed a few years ago, USB C was not very common at all, but it was the future, and this was a way of future proofing that connection.

I have passed all of this feedback along to others on the team though, thank you for taking the time to write it all out. :thumb:

Handke:
Agreed, I'm not going to buy this if there isn't an open source firmware; I don't understand what does this have to do with your own code??? I don't want your code.
There are many brilliant persons here on geekhack that are able to design a pcb from scratch, and you tell me that you can't supply us with an opensource keyboard? This is really impossible to understand.

I've already said that this layout is very strange... Everyone is selling TKL keyboards, and they're a success, and now we have this c70 layout that I don't like at all.

I hope that in the future you can make a tkl layout with an open source firmware.
I wonder if you asked yourself why a keyboard designed by GMK sold way LESS than a a random nice tkl keyboard group buy designed by some keyboard enthusiast that have another job. Take a random keyboard group buy and you'll see that they sell more than your product sold on massdrop. This has to mean something. People here know more about what the community wants than you do.

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