Author Topic: Rebel60 Review  (Read 778 times)

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Offline aeiu

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Rebel60 Review
« on: Sun, 10 October 2021, 04:16:15 »
Rebel60     reviewed by aeiu



Specifications
  • 60% 64-key layout
  • Stacked acrylic case
  • Polycarbonate plate
  • Plate foam
The Rebel60 is a 60% stacked acrylic gasket-mounted keyboard. While the term 'gasket-mounted' here is technically correct, but due to the design, it's potential can't be fully achieved in the final build. This will be mentioned a little later in the review. The plate provided with this kit is polycarbonate, no other materials (aluminium, brass) is available as an option. Plate foam is also provided with my kit.


Design

Top


From the top view, there are 8 visible screws with washers separating the screw and the top acrylic panel. You can also see that the top most panel is the smallest in size, then it gets larger going down the layers. There are people who like how it looks, and there are those who do not. Personally, I like how it is implemented. The washers have a good design choice and fit well with the entire aesthetics of the board. The corners' roundness can also be seen from this view. The roundness isn't too exaggerated as opposed to the Mojo60 where it's way too round for me. Of course, this is personal preference.

Front


Here is where I am really attracted to the Rebel60's design, especially the transparent layer at the second most bottom. The last layer at the bottom is actually a transparent silicone/rubber feet that has a side with adhesives for you to stick onto the transparent layer. There are screw holes for you to drill into the stand offs, so be sure to align the holes properly (or at least try to, the measurements on mine were a tiny bit off). With this board being stacked acrylics, there isn't much interesting to look at.

Sides


Over at the sides, it's essentially the same deal as the front, nothing much to really talk about. It is after all, your typical stacked case design. You may have noticed that the board is elevated, and there's an extra few layers at the back of the board, we will be discussing about that in the next section.

Back


So at the back view, the first thing you'll notice is the feet that raise the angle. I do not know the typing angle, and I am not bothered enough to find it out. Though, it is a comfortable one for me. From this view, you can also see that the USB port is situated at the right, which will be at your left when using this board. This PCB will be discussed further later.

The feet here can first be assembled with the transparent silicone/rubber layer, which as stated before, has a size with adhesives that you stick to the smallest acrylic panel before stacking in ascending order. This section can be screwed together with the main case with the 2 longer standoffs provided.

Bottom


Over at the bottom, you can see the huge transparent panel that is just right below the PCB. This layer is able to diffuse the underglow from the PCB. From my experience, the PCB does that perfectly, no complains there. There is also a huge cutout for the USB port to hang out at the top right. This cutout is also present on the two layers of acrylic right above this transparent one. Personally, I am fine with the design, I like how 'exposed' it looks, but for you it might be different. A design like this can make a board look cheap and low effort, but I'm alright with that. Another complain that I have though is the USB port's position after the installation. It's rather difficult to see from here but the USB port from the bottom view is offset to the left.

What you may have noticed too is that the bottom panel looks like it's frosted. I am not sure if this is considered as frosted acrylic, but it sure looks like that to me. Taking a closer look at it, you can see how awfully close it is to the PCB. When I was assembling this keyboard together, I didn't think much of it, just continued what I was doing.

As you may recall, I used the term 'gasket-mount' loosely because this board is a gasket-mounted keyboard, but it is unable to flex because there is totally no space for the board to do so. Depending on how you configure the gaskets, of course you will have varying amounts of flex and acoustic changes. However, it shouldn't feel like a tray mount. My RK61 modified with the o-ring mount mod had more flex than this (though I am having much more fun typing on this board currently.)

At this part, you should go watch Dominic Lee's review on the Rebel60, he has more experience and credibility than I do.

An extra thing to note from the bottom view here is the two screws at the top two corners, situated right beside the feed. I do not know if this design was intentional or an oversight, but when the screws are screwed in, it does not sit flush against the panel since it is not recessed. Extra washers (like the one on the top panel) are not provided here, so this is what I can assume. A couple of recessed holes would make for a nice touch, but either way it is not as bad because of the elevated typing angle which avoids those protruding screw heads to scratch the surface of wherever this keyboard is placed on.

The screws provided on this keyboard are hex screws, an allen key is also provided, though mine looks a bit worn down. There's only one type of screws so there's less confusion during the assembly. I like that it is kept simple.

Plate

*sorry, no pictures for this one

Since this is the first time I am using a polycarbonate plate, I do not have a lot to talk about. I only know that polycarbonate is a more flexible material as compared to aluminium which is usually the common option. Plate material also affects how a board sounds, but I assume everyone in this hobby already knows. As far as I know, the Rebel60 only comes with polycarbonate as plate material.

For the gasket strips, there are 2 thicknesses being 2mm and 3mm, each for the top and bottom respectively. The adhesives on them are pretty good from my experience, and they are easy to apply on the plate. If I am not wrong, the gaskets might be poron, and they are really really soft to squeeze.

Originally I've thought of applying the gasket strips on the acrylic panels instead of the plate in the event that XCStore does make extra plate options for the Rebel60. People do this on custom boards so they don't have to spend more money on extra gaskets. At the end of the day, I've decided to keep them on the plate instead since I would not really be buying anything else for this board.

Another thing to note regarding the gaskets. Initially when Dominic was talking about how this board cannot really provide the bouncy typing experience, I thought it was because of the hotswap sockets taking up space. Moreover, I noticed that he applied all the gaskets provided, which I hypothesized it as causing a stiffer experience. I've only had these theories and knowledge to work with, but now I have this board in my hand, I can provide all of you with my input (pun intended).

Knowing this board's design, the gaskets are really only there to hold up the board and help with the acoustics. I've only applied the gaskets to the sides of the board and left the top and bottom completely empty. My hypothesis here is depending on your gasket configuration, your board can sound vastly different than mine, but the flexibility won't be far off.

Layers


There are a total of 12 layers in this keyboard, with 7 (+1 silicone/rubber feet) being the main part.
  • Starting from the top, there's only two layers that cover the plate.
  • The 3rd and 4th layer are where you can see cutouts for the gaskets to be aligned in it.
  • The 5th and 6th layer are disconnected at the top left to create space for the USB port.
All of these acrylic panels have different surfaces on the top and bottom. At the top, it has a matte finish, while at the bottom it has a glossy surface. So this is something to take note when assembling the keyboard.


CX60 PCB


Specifications
  • South-facing PCB
  • GH60 mounting holes
  • Soldered
  • Supports PCB-mounted stabilizers
  • Strictly 64-key layout
The CX60 PCB uses GH60 mounting points, but only supports the 64-key layout strictly. The GH60 mounting holes allow you to use this PCB on the Tofu60, or any other cases that support the same format. This soldered PCB also utilizes PCB-mounted stabilizers, which is definitely a welcome addition at this price point. In my opinion, this may be one of the better budget soldered PCBs out there. Not to mention that this board is also south-facing, which eliminates the north-facing switch interference entirely without the need of using Akko CS or long-stem pole switches. However, fans of RGB lighting may lose interest in this board as there are no SMD LEDs, if you want the LEDs, you'd have to solder those in too. However, the hotswappable PCB (CM64) that comes with this keyboard kit has SMD LEDs, so you may want to look into that if you like RGB.

Why did I choose the CX60?
Comparing both the CX60 and the CM64, it is obvious that the CM64 is much more superior in terms of convenience and practicality. However, it is my preference that dictated the purchase of the CX60 instead.

I have a strong belief where the soldering process plays a huge part in building custom mechanical keyboards, and that the process makes me feel very involved and emotionally connected to the board. Plus, it is a benefit that the CX60 is much cheaper than it's hotswappable counterpart.

The lack of SMD LEDs is also an appealing factor to me simply because of the way it looks. I do not mind the underglow though, it is a welcome addition. The underglow for the Rebel60 definitely adds flavour to it.


Final Verdict
In my humble opinion, I find the Rebel60 to be a good board that delivers so much value considering its price. The design elements of this board may steer people off, but I see it as a strong characteristic of the board, and it gives the board a very recognizable silhouette. Of course, you may have a different take, but that is totally fine.

When I originally considered this board, visuals were not the priority. It was the south-facing PCB, PCB-mounted stabilizers, and the gasket-mounting system that caught my eye. I prioritized functions that the board provides more than its aesthetics. Even then, the aesthetics did not fail to deliver.

The build process was fairly straight-forward, I built everything with only reference pictures taken from Dominic Lee's Rebel60 review video. The only trouble I really had was dealing with screwing the layers together, but that may be because of my lack of experience handling stacked acrylic cases. For first-timers, I think this board may pose a bit of challenge during assembly, but spending a bit more time wouldn't hurt to understand how it works.

If you've read until from the start until here, thank you for taking your time to be here. Hopefully I've been able to transfer some knowledge and details regarding this board to you.

Despite some of my mildly critical comments on this board, price has to come into play. In this hobby, you really pay for what you get (depending on the situation of course). We cannot expect a budget board like this to have meticulous attention to detail up to par with those metal customs.

To wrap things up, I apologize if some of the information I put out is false. I'm only a few months into this hobby and have been actively learning more about it.