Author Topic: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)  (Read 8626 times)

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Offline japanitrat

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[IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« on: Fri, 02 June 2023, 16:20:07 »
 



Distilling elements of spacecrafts like the Space Shuttle series or Space Station V on the surface of dye-sublimated DSA PBT keycaps.

Reboot of the first IC from 2016.

>> Interest Check Form


Kits

















Planning to trim these down a bit and you can help!

>> Interest Check Form

Top voted kits:

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"Yes" counts a full vote.
"Maybe" counts half a vote.

Last updated: June 17.

 
 
Pricing

With SP: Pretty expensive.

Not only because of the size of the kits but also because of the edge-to-edge print design.
Due to the tolerances in SPís production setup, it's likely that there will be significantly more rejects than usual during QC.
I received quotes from SP for the above kits and it's looking pretty grim.

I am in contact with another party who would be able to produce it at a fraction of SPs price
but the quality is yet to be determined.


Photos of the SP prototype





















All of the above are photos, not renders, with the prototype kit I received from SP.
The first pictures show it on a PC Sneakbox AVA with custom-cut vinyl to cover the hole in the center of the plate.
The middle pictures show it on a Skog Reboot, Desert colorway, shot at a local university with some old (and new) equipment of theirs.
The remaining ones are done using a black PC Pandora by Koobaczech.
Once I am back from travels, I'll add a couple more board examples (65%, HB85)

>> Interest Check Form



Renders

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The following are 3D renders, done in Blender.



   

   



   



   



   



>> Interest Check Form




Alternative modifiers

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A few variants of the modifiers which I liked as well:


>> D1 (full album)


>> M2 (full album)

   
>> M3 (full album)

Feel free to vote for your favorite in the IC form!




Samples

I ordered a full prototype set from SP this summer in addition to the 2019 samples.
Here are some pics:









The process changed slightly from 2019 to 2023, leading to some pretty sharp edges.
Unfortunately, there is less tolerance for alignment inconsistencies with this approach so I am trying to get another sample set with a few changes.
One more thing: SP doesn't print on 6.25U+ space bars. Imo, vanilla space bars look good as well though (see prototype photos above).

That being said I am in contact with another producer who can actually do space bars and they'd be significantly less pricey.
Their prototypes are yet to arrive.

>> Interest Check Form

2019 samples:

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It wasnít clear whether the proposed design would be feasible with SPís production setup so I ordered samples back in 2019:





The alphas looked promising! As for the colors: the circled one is what I am looking for.
Base color is WAN (standard SP DSA PBT color).




Additional merch

No deskmats...
Open to other stuff, though. Let's see ...


Vendors

Several ones confirmed in all major regions: US, EU, UK, SEA, OCE, CN.
Stay tuned!


Updates

More
  • 2023, Sep 23: Full update of the post.
  • 2023, Sep 1: The prototype set from SP arrived.
  • 2023, Aug 23: First sample from the other manufacturer arrived. Doing some modifications for a second round.
  • 2023, Jun 22: Talks with another manufacturer.
  • 2023, Jun 11: Kitting updates: Base got slimmer again. Blanks got numpad. Took form votes for the kits and added a breakdown to the post.
  • 2023, Jun 5: Made "M1" the default variant for the modifiers. Kitting updates.
  • 2023, Jun 4: Made the base kit smaller. Added a compatibility kit to the form. Removed the "M4" variant.
  • 2023, Jun 2: New IC post!
  • 2023, May 21: Requested quote from SP.
  • 2023, May: Renders are good enough now. Kitting is getting closer to finish line too. Probably needs more condensing, and dropping a few things. Ditched the Website plan (itís just too much work for too little return). Did a lot of iterations on the renders. Backgrounds, camera settings, type.
Older:

2021-2022:

  • Almost no work on the keyset for two years. Only dabbled with the website idea.


2020:

  • Dec: Created a website for voting: TS Svelte + Sapper on Vercel with firebase auth and storage for the voting. Lots of things changed in web dev in the past 5 years (been working exclusively with internal tech in my day job). Such a headache! In the end, I got the voting done client-side. Created a Blender script that will spit out all combinations (rendering takes forever, even with the new RTX card I got) and then some more JS scripting on the Sapper/Svelte side to create the UI for it. It was designed as a serial A-B test. About 46 "ballots" as I'd call them. Also added the kits (+script to create croppings and thumbnails).
  • Nov: Mostly work on novelty variants again. I looked into "mission badges" for the 1Us. Thought they could look good but they lack a good relationship with the overall set. How would I pick the ones to be put there? What's the criteria? What could be a "mission" in the MK world? Settled on doing only a "greeble" kit back then. Removed the "Stripes" modifier variant in favor of mixing pattern with icon mods. I had done this as an experiment back in Sept 2017 already but removed it as it was too busy. Doing it now again for putting it up for a vote. The community evolved a lot over the years. I wondered if the current situation would be better or worse for my set. Things I worried about: it's too gamery/noisy. It's too plain (b/w). The novelties are not novel enough. At the end of the month, I reached out to a few people again to check my kitting. and they were really helpful and pointed out many issues. Particularly, I had a lot of subkits because I couldn't decide for an alpha base (had three, wanted to launch with 2) and mod variant (had 5, wanted to launch with 2). Both convinced me easily to combine kits so there would be less things to worry about for vendors and consumers alike. Based on their feedback, I also removed some of loud accents and novelties. In the process, at least 4 kits got merged which makes the overall set easier to grasp. Might simplify further, we'll see.
  • Aug: Came up with a sort-of-a company name for which I bought the domain for: type.dev. Turned out to be too expensive and unnecessary to begin with. Also centered the mods on many of the 1Us, specifically for the Ortho Kit. This should work in general, as the 1Us on the regular TKL and Fullsize kits are already centered and because there are only very few situations where a 1U would sit above/below to a left/right aligned keycap (ESC being the most prominent one).
  • Jun: MacSurfy posted Kat Refined, focusing on legends with nice visualization and explanation on his thoughts and process of the design. This hit home with me as I was going through a similar process but not to this documented detail. Work on Novelties: very slow. Tried a lot with stripes and also a few versions with air vents, bolts, and ridges. But none of them stuck so far. Was pretty disappointed. At least I made a bit of progress on the render environment.
     
  • May: Created a logo, chose secondary fonts for renders, created more scripts for automating things. Switched to a new Eurostile versions and added the Cyrillic alphas kit. A lot of work went into font-weights, alignment and size-fitting. Especially on keys with secondary and tertiary legends (e.g. num row and international kit).
  • Apr: Got a lot of actual board models from different sources. Rewrote my Python scripts for managing the modifier variants. Remodeled the keys to capture the nature of the dyesub print around the top edges a bit better.
  • Mar: Covid-19 was in full swing in Europe. Started working on Kits again, and switched to Blender 2.82, learning more about it.


2019:

  • Feb: Picked up the idea again and contacted SP to get some samples for verifying the accuracy, contrasts and PBT colors. As last time, the contact and communication with SP was really good and they were super helpful in getting samples to me. Even more, the samples looked promising! From here on, public announcements from my side on the original IC thread stopped. What I can tell from my render directory is that I worked on different contrast settings of the alphas, mods, and icons. I also did a few more imaginary boards to have renders for more layouts (40%, 65%, Boardwalk, 1800 Compact). As well as settling on the first consistent Novelty set: the flags kit.


2018:

  • 2018: Stopped working on the set for most of the year. Inspired by some other keyset runs, I thought I'd create a small website at the end of 2018. It was mostly a litmus test for the kit renderings. It did not turn out that great but it gave me a better idea of where things could move to.


2017:

  • End of year-ish: I was putting in a lot of time into my Blender setup to easily iterate over ideas and automate changes. And I was still struggling with novelties. I thought, WipeOut-ish would look awesome but I was having trouble creating a reasonable story around them in relation to the theme. And of course, being the end of 2017, I had to try a Hiragana alphas kit. (replaced in favor of Cyrillics eventually).
  • Mid-year-ish: did some basic kitting, and worked on more distinguished modifier versions. Quite a bit of effort went into the icons, and I experimented a lot with different patterns. After initial feedback, I also did modifiers for the Ergodox, featured abbreviations of a bunch of NASA Spaceshuttle systems on the bottom row, and where the 1.5U side mods would feature more relatable keywords (Kudos to Parva Ovis who nudged me towards using four-letter words!). While the icons on regular modifiers came naturally, creating them for the random mods was somewhat harder.
     
  • Jan: started to move to 3D renders as the KLE ones were prone to misinterpretation and I really wanted to have something more tangible and good looking for a real IC after the confirmation I got from the first replies. At that time, true 3D renders were rare and although I had some prior experience with 3D software, I jumped on Blender (2.78 I think) and struggled a lot with it. However, I made some great progress. I created a first set of basic keyboard models and iterated over the legends (size/thickness) after more feedback primarily on Discord. Yet, at the same time, responsibilities in my day job went up a lot and I really dug what I was doing there. So DSA Discovery had to be put on hold (which turned out to be a recurring theme ;)


2016:

  • Oct: It wasn't clear to me whether this edge-to-edge dye subbing could actually be done accurately by SP. I contacted them in October 2016 and got informed that the official tolerance space is 0.02 inches (btw, SP's response was really warm and encouraging. Awesome folks!). As the design emphasizes the edges, I imagined that even smallest deviations in the vertical space would kill the look. Yet, as GH user Data pointed out, the first realization of LCARS (DSA Galaxy Class R1 by Norbauer in 2014) actually had its legends pretty close to the edges. This was extremely reassuring and helped me not loose faith in the idea but to build on it.

  • Oct: First IC for DSA Discovery went up.
  • Half a year earlier, in 2015, CQ_Cumbers already started an IC for getting Eurostile to the SA profile. Unfortunately, Space Extended never made it off the ground as the quotes for the double shot molds were too high and they didn't have the capacity to run it at that time. I talked a bit with CQ_Cumbers when I started my IC, just to make sure that I wasn't stepping on his toes with a similar idea. Note: CQ_Cumbers retried the idea with Classic Space in mid-2018, targeting KAM profile with reverse dye-sub but I don't think that it materialized so far. I did not want to be blocked on this so I focused on dye sublimation and that led to new ideas that wouldn't have been possible with double shot legends: subtle patterns, different shades of grey on the same key, among other things. One key feature emerged that played really well with the theme: the dark grey stripe at the bottome edge of each key. At that point I already had a few initial ideas for the mods and some novelties but nothing consistent.

  • Humble beginnings. Started with KLE, and the idea of using Eurostile Extended as font.



Design background

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The type

At the core of this design is the typeface that shaped some of the most iconic science fiction media of the past 50 years.
Eurostile. Specifically, Eurostile Extended.

When we see it, we think of the future. Well, my generation at least, haha.

DSA Discovery uses a slightly modified take on the URW version which is the most recent and true iteration over the the original Aldo Novarese designed.
For this keyset, I created a new weight between Regular and Medium, balancing the space on the keycap surface as best as possible.

More about Eurostile in this keyset:

More

Microgramma is the original, iconic sci-fi typeface (1952), eventually superseded by Eurostile (1962) by the same designer: Aldo Novarese.

There are subtle differences between the fonts (e.g. some letters feature stroke direction changes that come with an additional horizontal transition, making these letters slightly wider).
Wikipedia is not quite clear on whether Eurostile or Microgramma was used for some popular media (e.g. 2001: A Space Odyssey)
but the Microgramma page certainly contains a lot more references.

Microgramma D is issued by URW, and Linotype with extended Latin. It wasn't chosen for this set as it felt a bit outdated and less clean than its successors.

Eurostile Next vs URW

Eurostile has seen quite a few iterations and additions. For instance, support for Greek and Cyrillic or modifications for @, Ä.
Eurostile Next (2008) and the URW version represent the most complete versions of the font, both supporting Cyrillic.

The Linotype version does is pretty uniform on the vertical axis and it appears to have more upper-case friendly versions of punctuation, signs and other special characters.
I think this works particularly well for titling cases while the URW version works better in mixed cases.
However, the LT version also has a few rounder versions of some characters (e.g. Q) while the URW version is more true to the original, staying more on the blocky side.
As for the Cyrillics, I asked a reputable keyset designer with experience in this script for advice and they preferred the URW version ever so slightly.

Hence, I went with URW Eurostile Extended for the Cyrillics and main Alphas, and Eurostile Next for many punctuation parts.

Weights

For the URW alphas on the keyset, Medium was a bit too thick and Regular too thin.
So on all keys, I am using Regular with a slight path offset which puts it right in the middle of Regular and Medium.

I requested a stamp of approval from Peter Rosenfeld of URW for this modification, and they were happy to give it (as long as it would not be shared/distributed on its own, of course).


The bar

The distinct grey-black bar at the bottom of each keycap pays tribute to the black insulation tiles of the Space Shuttle.


The alignment

One last distinct feature of DSA Discovery is the symmetrical alignment of the legends across the main mod clusters.
I love that look, and I kinda want to see that on my favorite boards.

« Last Edit: Fri, 06 October 2023, 03:42:47 by japanitrat »

Offline aicyborg

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 02 June 2023, 16:57:19 »
Lit. Thank you for including ISO-UK in base. Please don't remove that unless the cost of the current base kit is astronomical and the exclusion of those keys would mean a very significant reduction in cost (saying this because you said you're looking to cull keys).

Minor note: the "Second choice for modifiers" question in the Jotform is broken, the only option is 4.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 02 June 2023, 17:25:47 »
Lit. Thank you for including ISO-UK in base. Please don't remove that unless the cost of the current base kit is astronomical and the exclusion of those keys would mean a very significant reduction in cost (saying this because you said you're looking to cull keys).

Minor note: the "Second choice for modifiers" question in the Jotform is broken, the only option is 4.

Noted :)
And thanks for letting me know about the form issue. Should be fixed now.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 03 June 2023, 19:45:41 »
Update:

  • I made the base kit smaller (11 keys removed) and added the missing 1.75 backspace for 40s support.
  • I added a compatibility kit for voting to the IC form (not the post).
  • I removed the "M4" modifier variant. Quite a few people voted for it but it is just too noisy/busy, imo.

Offline MikeTheTiger

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 10 June 2023, 15:56:41 »
Space and DSA Dyesub? Iím in.

Offline William_S_Jones

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 10 June 2023, 20:09:07 »
Space and DSA Dyesub? Iím in.
Me too, I'm a sucker for nice DSA sets!

Sent from my SM-G998U using Tapatalk


Offline fairypenguin

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 10 June 2023, 23:13:51 »
Really liking the M2 variant!

Offline MateKeys

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 11 June 2023, 02:09:38 »
Perfect work, I would like to know where to contact you. We are a Chinese supplier and I wonder if we can cooperate. Thank you :thumb:

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 11 June 2023, 16:22:51 »
Thank you all for the kind words!

Made some further updates:

  • Trimmed down the base kit further. It's now 19 keys less than originally!
  • Extended the Blanks kit to include keys for the numpad.
  • Added a breakdown of the kit votes from the IC form (see the chart after the kits in the post). This is super useful imo. Thanks everyone who filled out the form!

-

Really liking the M2 variant!

Based on the votes on the form, you're not alone!
It comes really close after M1.



Offline pixelpusher

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 11 June 2023, 19:51:54 »
Wow.  Youíre still at it!  Great to see. I filled out the new IC form  :thumb:
« Last Edit: Sun, 11 June 2023, 20:33:40 by pixelpusher »

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 12 June 2023, 17:36:37 »
Wow.  Youíre still at it!  Great to see. I filled out the new IC form  :thumb:

Hah! It's been a while indeed :D
Thank you! ❤️

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 25 June 2023, 18:37:34 »
Short update:

  • Got a pricing list from SP and it's ... expensive. Will see what I can do to bring it down. Also checking other manu options.
  • Ordered a full prototype set from SP to see what the impact of the tolerances will be between dye sub hits.
  • Confirmed a few vendors! More info on that soon.


Laters!

Offline MikeTheTiger

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 25 June 2023, 18:39:54 »
Short update:

  • Got a pricing list from SP and it's ... expensive. Will see what I can do to bring it down. Also checking other manu options.
  • Ordered a full prototype set from SP to see what the impact of the tolerances will be between dye sub hits.
  • Confirmed a few vendors! More info on that soon.


Laters!

Dyesub from SP is pricey. Iíve gotten quotes before on it.

Offline vhaarr

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 10 August 2023, 02:31:46 »
Happy to see 2x 3u spacebars here, means the kit is ready for goks type k! :-D
Let the Holy Handgrenades rain.
Hammering on an old Happy Hacking Pro 2. Still going strong!

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 22 September 2023, 11:17:15 »
Quick update before I make a larger update to the post itself.

About a month ago I received a prototype set from SP. It took me quite some time to take photos but I think I got some good ones now!
« Last Edit: Sat, 23 September 2023, 17:56:58 by japanitrat »

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 22 September 2023, 11:21:13 »
I am also testing with another manufacturer that would be much cheaper but it's not clear yet whether they can make it the way I'd like to see it. With SP I now got a great sample but I am doing another test anyway with a slightly different process.

Vendor-wise, I got several ones confirmed in all major regions (US, EU, UK, SEA, OCE, CN). More on that as well in a bit.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 23 September 2023, 17:57:48 »
Post updated! Also added a comparison between 2019 and 2023 samples.

Offline vhaarr

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #17 on: Sun, 24 September 2023, 02:02:59 »
Between the "Prototypes (SP)" heading in the original post and the "Renders" section, there's 8 different images with lego, oscilloscopes, and so forth.

Can I just confirm, they are actually photographs? I mean they are stunning if so. I suspect some of those photographs could win awards. I can hardly believe it; the lack of dust, the lighting, the perfect setups - it's wonderful.

EDIT: Also, I'm shocked how much better I think this kit looks in the kit renders compared to actually ON a keyboard. When I just saw the kit renders I really really wanted it, but now I'm not so sure.

One really crazy idea might be that it would look better without the bars on the alphas. For me. And then for the rest of the keys use a uniform bar height, so that for example the spacebar flows perfectly with the mods.
« Last Edit: Sun, 24 September 2023, 02:07:27 by vhaarr »
Let the Holy Handgrenades rain.
Hammering on an old Happy Hacking Pro 2. Still going strong!

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #18 on: Sun, 24 September 2023, 11:45:08 »
Between the "Prototypes (SP)" heading in the original post and the "Renders" section, there's 8 different images with lego, oscilloscopes, and so forth.

Can I just confirm, they are actually photographs? I mean they are stunning if so. I suspect some of those photographs could win awards. I can hardly believe it; the lack of dust, the lighting, the perfect setups - it's wonderful.

EDIT: Also, I'm shocked how much better I think this kit looks in the kit renders compared to actually ON a keyboard. When I just saw the kit renders I really really wanted it, but now I'm not so sure.

One really crazy idea might be that it would look better without the bars on the alphas. For me. And then for the rest of the keys use a uniform bar height, so that for example the spacebar flows perfectly with the mods.

I feel similar.  I think it was such a unique set when the IC first opened up, but the keycap scene is so diverse and full of unique sets today.  I still like it, but I do feel that the bars on the alphas are almost too much.  I think the unique font is enough to tie the theme into the alpas and the mods.  I don't know what you would do about the blanks.  I still like the set as-is, and I would buy it.  But I would prefer something a bit more subtle. There is an amazing improvement on SPs process with dye sub from the first round.
« Last Edit: Sun, 24 September 2023, 11:56:53 by pixelpusher »

Offline aicyborg

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 24 September 2023, 13:05:49 »
+1 to reformatting the OP to make it clear what's a render and what's a photo - perhaps would be best to overlay some text on each image used to clarify that. Your photography work is amazing, yet another example of the love and care you're putting into this.

-1 to removing the bars under the alphas. I appreciate they're a difficult thing to manufacture but they're a big part of the science/space theming to me.

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #20 on: Sun, 24 September 2023, 17:33:55 »
Hey there!

Awh man, I wish I could produce renders like that. So to confirm, yes, the first set of pictures after the kits are actual photos of the prototype on a couple of my boards. If you open the pictures  in a new tab (particularly the third and fourth one) and zoom in a little, there is plenty of small imperfections to find. I thought I brushed good enough but there is still a lot left, haha. I clarified the post a little to distinguish render from photos a bit more. Thanks for the suggestion!

And thanks for the compliments! It warms my heart :)

As for the suggestion to remove the bars on the alphas: I can see both sides. I have looked at the renders so often (and now the prototype) that I sometimes wonder myself if I should make the set a bit more "normal". I am also often thinking of changing the base color of the mods or the alphas, so it's not all uniform white, but a bit more familiar to standard keycap designs. For better or worse, I always thought I could eventually do a second round, with a slightly different design. That being said, I am also afraid the set might lose its touch if I remove the bars on the alphas. let me mull over this a bit ... :>
« Last Edit: Sun, 24 September 2023, 17:40:13 by japanitrat »

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 27 September 2023, 14:37:24 »
Album with renders with bar-less alphas: https://imgur.com/a/o8FKITs

Comparisons:

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

I have to admit that this version has some benefits over the original version.
Even though it loses a bit of its flair, and becomes arguably a bit more bland, it looks clean, and is not overly imposing. It still has some of that retro scifi air but more modern. It deviates less from other keysets than the original design, which is a good thing in a sense, as it would look less alien among other builds in a collection.
« Last Edit: Wed, 27 September 2023, 14:42:49 by japanitrat »

Offline pixelpusher

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #22 on: Wed, 27 September 2023, 16:02:57 »
I like the change.  Of course, it's your idea, so you should choose whichever look you like the most.  I've never run a group buy, but it seems like a poll might be in order?  Either way, Love the look.

Offline psychetype

  • Posts: 36
Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #23 on: Wed, 27 September 2023, 23:34:34 »
those photos are so beautiful.. will get this set for sure, glwic!!!! :D

Offline aicyborg

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #24 on: Thu, 28 September 2023, 14:27:17 »
Seeing it in side by sides (thank you), I don't hate it that much. Most importantly, does omitting the bars over alphas make the set easier to produce?

Offline japanitrat

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Re: [IC] DSA Discovery (Sep 2023 Update)
« Reply #25 on: Sun, 01 October 2023, 08:59:54 »
Seeing it in side by sides (thank you), I don't hate it that much. Most importantly, does omitting the bars over alphas make the set easier to produce?

It does not, as far as I can tell. I am not sure how many rejects they had with the prototype but there definitely are keys where misalignment is visible. So yeah, not sure. But I can ask.

I like the change.  Of course, it's your idea, so you should choose whichever look you like the most.  I've never run a group buy, but it seems like a poll might be in order?  Either way, Love the look.

I ordered another set of prototype keys without bars on the alphas. I will probably do a poll once they are here, yes :)

those photos are so beautiful.. will get this set for sure, glwic!!!! :D

Thank you, psychetype!