Author Topic: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?  (Read 1236 times)

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Offline armani

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  • Posts: 27
  • Location: dallas, texas
I was set on getting the 68-key Vortex PC66 in Dark Grey but it is out of stock on the US vendor's site and shipping from the vortex site is a bit too much, especially for a potential two week waiting period all the way from Taiwan (compared to free shipping from the vendor's site). I have been using an actual vintage keyboard for gaming for two years and not gonna lie it's hellish and im looking for something to replace it because of that lol

Also noticed vortex has a Model M SSK DIY kit coming out soon, I'd definitely be willing to blow the $200+ on it but I know absolutely nothing about building my own keyboards, and I'm kind of wanting something that's currently available that I can have at my door within a week or two, apparently ETA for it is March 2023

Besides the vortex keyboards my searches for a keyboard within my specifications have came up practically empty, besides Unicomp, however their keyboards aren't that great for gaming I've heard.

My only requirements:
-case preferably being black/dark grey
-N key rollover
-modeled similarly/after an old school keyboard from the 90s
-don't care what kind of switches it uses but I am most familiar with cherry and ALPS
-prefer to pay $300 or under

Does anyone have any good suggestions?
« Last Edit: Wed, 16 November 2022, 04:31:13 by armani »

Offline LASERman Projects

  • Posts: 105
  • Location: Kent, UK
  • Soldering is my native language.
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 04:38:39 »
I would go for Class80 but:
  • It's custom board and way more expensive just for the KIT
  • Group Buy is already closed

Offline heretyk

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  • Location: 🇵🇱
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 04:52:21 »
NCR-80 and Dolch CR-80 keyboards caught my eye recently. I have no opinion on them but would love to get one of these.

Offline HungerMechanic

  • Posts: 1208
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 08:11:15 »
The NCR-80 is your best bet. I have one, got another for a relative.

The colour is right [dark grey], and they're styled after the classic Cherry boards.

You can get them in default plateless config, or elect for a CF or FR4 plate. The expanded kit option comes with its own imitation Cherry stabilizers, but I don't know if they are any good. You can also order with optional dampening foam.

You just missed the sale on AliExpress - you could get an expanded kit sent to you for about $155 CAD. Now it's probably $20 more.

Anyway, they are very light and retro. Exactly what you are looking for. Can get a solder or hotswap PCB. I've read that some people have fitted ALPS into them somehow, I think, but they are mainly an MX board.

It turns out that the voluminous case is great for sound resonance. So if you want to amplify / magnify sound, they are great. [Just avoid dampening, and you can use the 'tape mod' if so desired.] People put high-end clickies in them like Zeal Clickiez and they are really great boards for that.

Offline HungerMechanic

  • Posts: 1208
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 10:24:10 »
Another option for you is the Command65:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=112938

If I were looking for a retro-styled 65%, this would be amazing. It even has a solenoid!



It's too bad you just missed the GB, but pre-orders are available on CandyKeys:

https://candykeys.com/product/command65

Offline armani

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 27
  • Location: dallas, texas
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 13:29:07 »
NCR-80 and Dolch CR-80 keyboards caught my eye recently. I have no opinion on them but would love to get one of these.

The NCR-80 is your best bet. I have one, got another for a relative.

The colour is right [dark grey], and they're styled after the classic Cherry boards.

You can get them in default plateless config, or elect for a CF or FR4 plate. The expanded kit option comes with its own imitation Cherry stabilizers, but I don't know if they are any good. You can also order with optional dampening foam.

You just missed the sale on AliExpress - you could get an expanded kit sent to you for about $155 CAD. Now it's probably $20 more.

Anyway, they are very light and retro. Exactly what you are looking for. Can get a solder or hotswap PCB. I've read that some people have fitted ALPS into them somehow, I think, but they are mainly an MX board.

It turns out that the voluminous case is great for sound resonance. So if you want to amplify / magnify sound, they are great. [Just avoid dampening, and you can use the 'tape mod' if so desired.] People put high-end clickies in them like Zeal Clickiez and they are really great boards for that.
Both of these hit the nail on the head, the Dolch one is nice but just a tiny bit out of my price range, but the NCR-80 is honestly equally as nice and has a great price. Almost set on getting the Kit 2 version of the NCR80 R2 here: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256803159626791.html?gatewayAdapt=glo2usa4itemAdapt&_randl_shipto=US

I know absolutely nothing about building my own keyboard so I am somewhat unsure, if I bought it, would all I need are the keycaps? If so, would also like some retro looking keycaps too, would love ones similar to these shown here (but not these exact ones, because I looked them up and they were $200...a bit too much for me imho):

Offline HungerMechanic

  • Posts: 1208
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 14:29:35 »

Both of these hit the nail on the head, the Dolch one is nice but just a tiny bit out of my price range, but the NCR-80 is honestly equally as nice and has a great price. Almost set on getting the Kit 2 version of the NCR80 R2 here: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256803159626791.html?gatewayAdapt=glo2usa4itemAdapt&_randl_shipto=US

I know absolutely nothing about building my own keyboard so I am somewhat unsure, if I bought it, would all I need are the keycaps?

Kit 2 of the hotswap NCR-80 will provide you with all the parts you need, except for keycaps.

I ordered Kit 1 of the soldered version recently, so I'll try to let you know how that goes:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003364462523.html

The ones with the WKL layout, like the one you indicated, are all from R1-R2. They come in dark gray, beige, or "cool grey" [beige because of an error.]

You'll want to order the "DarkGray | LightGray" colourway.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003345941543.html


For keycaps, you can order Shenpo PBT [be sure to use the store coupon]:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004124258598.html

Here is my relatives' NCR-80 with Shenpo PBT:



This is the Dark Gray case.

These might also be some good keycaps for it [I think they are also available in the US]:

https://www.deskhero.ca/products/cannoncaps-earl-grey-lavender



In terms of building, I don't know if the hotswap one comes already assembled or not. It would definitely be a good idea to message the seller. They might be able to provide you with that service.

If not, and it needs assembly, you could ask an assembly service to purchase the NCR-80, and they can assemble it for you locally. They would probably be able to tune the stabilizers better, anyway.

You should probably ask the seller exactly what is involved in terms of assembly for that hotswap version.

Now, regarding keycaps again, there are actually many options, fortunately. Like the aforementioned CannonKeys. Next up the ladder from Shenpo is 21kb:

https://21kb.com/collections/keycaps

You can also look up Artifact Bloom sets like "Vintage" on Drop.com. They are very consistent for the price, but have a slippery surface texture. I only enjoy them with clicky switches, as they still feel firm.

On the higher-end of AliExpress keycaps is EnjoyPBT. Here is their classic-inspired Spectrum set:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004861086189.html

Dolch:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004857083191.html

Classic Hangul:


https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004856536488.html

And so on. Maybe one of the beige sets could be paired with accents from EPBT Be The One:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004887312394.html


If you perform a search for 9009 on AliExpress, there are countless imitation sets, some of them quite affordable:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004064148367.html

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004822212647.html


It looks as if your biggest hurdle is assembly. So you may want to get more information on that. With hotswap, at least you don't have to solder switches in. And putting keycaps on is easy. So maybe you can get it assembled from the seller.

Offline HungerMechanic

  • Posts: 1208
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 16 November 2022, 15:24:56 »
I forgot to mention there are some more keycap options.

Domikey is a newer ABS manufacturer that does some classic-styled sets:

Dolch

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003178748243.html

Astronaut

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003492122743.html

WoB

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004884833206.htm

Midnight

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004707464438.htm



Okay. That last one isn't classic, but it would probably look good on the NCR-80.

They are positioned just below GMK in terms of quality.




It's too bad you missed the GB for CRP Round 5:

https://drop.com/buy/hammer-crp-keycaps-r5

but they are expensive anyway. They are the highest-end PBT beige keycaps in production. You could get in on this GMK GB, but it will take a couple of years to fulfill:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=118749.0

You can still get extras from CRP R4 at Syrup Labs:

https://store.syruplabs.ca/collections/crp-collection

Offline armani

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 27
  • Location: dallas, texas
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 17 November 2022, 00:21:51 »
I forgot to mention there are some more keycap options.

Domikey is a newer ABS manufacturer that does some classic-styled sets:

Dolch

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003178748243.html

Astronaut

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003492122743.html

WoB

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004884833206.htm

Midnight

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004707464438.htm

Show Image


Okay. That last one isn't classic, but it would probably look good on the NCR-80.

They are positioned just below GMK in terms of quality.




It's too bad you missed the GB for CRP Round 5:

https://drop.com/buy/hammer-crp-keycaps-r5

but they are expensive anyway. They are the highest-end PBT beige keycaps in production. You could get in on this GMK GB, but it will take a couple of years to fulfill:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=118749.0

You can still get extras from CRP R4 at Syrup Labs:

https://store.syruplabs.ca/collections/crp-collection


Both of these hit the nail on the head, the Dolch one is nice but just a tiny bit out of my price range, but the NCR-80 is honestly equally as nice and has a great price. Almost set on getting the Kit 2 version of the NCR80 R2 here: https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256803159626791.html?gatewayAdapt=glo2usa4itemAdapt&_randl_shipto=US

I know absolutely nothing about building my own keyboard so I am somewhat unsure, if I bought it, would all I need are the keycaps?

Kit 2 of the hotswap NCR-80 will provide you with all the parts you need, except for keycaps.

I ordered Kit 1 of the soldered version recently, so I'll try to let you know how that goes:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003364462523.html

The ones with the WKL layout, like the one you indicated, are all from R1-R2. They come in dark gray, beige, or "cool grey" [beige because of an error.]

You'll want to order the "DarkGray | LightGray" colourway.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003345941543.html


For keycaps, you can order Shenpo PBT [be sure to use the store coupon]:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004124258598.html

Here is my relatives' NCR-80 with Shenpo PBT:

Show Image


This is the Dark Gray case.

These might also be some good keycaps for it [I think they are also available in the US]:

https://www.deskhero.ca/products/cannoncaps-earl-grey-lavender



In terms of building, I don't know if the hotswap one comes already assembled or not. It would definitely be a good idea to message the seller. They might be able to provide you with that service.

If not, and it needs assembly, you could ask an assembly service to purchase the NCR-80, and they can assemble it for you locally. They would probably be able to tune the stabilizers better, anyway.

You should probably ask the seller exactly what is involved in terms of assembly for that hotswap version.

Now, regarding keycaps again, there are actually many options, fortunately. Like the aforementioned CannonKeys. Next up the ladder from Shenpo is 21kb:

https://21kb.com/collections/keycaps

You can also look up Artifact Bloom sets like "Vintage" on Drop.com. They are very consistent for the price, but have a slippery surface texture. I only enjoy them with clicky switches, as they still feel firm.

On the higher-end of AliExpress keycaps is EnjoyPBT. Here is their classic-inspired Spectrum set:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004861086189.html

Dolch:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004857083191.html

Classic Hangul:


https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004856536488.html

And so on. Maybe one of the beige sets could be paired with accents from EPBT Be The One:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004887312394.html


If you perform a search for 9009 on AliExpress, there are countless imitation sets, some of them quite affordable:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004064148367.html

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004822212647.html


It looks as if your biggest hurdle is assembly. So you may want to get more information on that. With hotswap, at least you don't have to solder switches in. And putting keycaps on is easy. So maybe you can get it assembled from the seller.

Thank you very much for the recommendations, I will definitely consider one of these keycap sets!

Offline suicidal_orange

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  • Location: England
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 17 November 2022, 04:18:43 »
The Vortex is available on mechanicalkeyboard.com if that's still an option, wont beat ali prices but you can have it soon :)
120/100g linear Zealio R1  
GMK Hyperfuse
'Split everything' perfection  
MX Clear
SA Hack'd by Geeks     
EasyAVR mod

Offline HungerMechanic

  • Posts: 1208
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 17 November 2022, 08:05:50 »

Thank you very much for the recommendations, I will definitely consider one of these keycap sets!

I'm glad you have enough options now. The Shenpo PBT keycaps pictured earlier are probably the cheapest "good enough" choice.

Another good Shenpo option for NCR-80 specifically are these repro Xerox caps:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003677302127.html



I've often considered them for my own NCR-80. Decent price, although it goes down $5 during sales. Maybe check the price on 12.12.


On the less-cheap side, GMK Muted 2 extras are going on sale at Deskhero.ca Friday at 3 p.m. EST. That set goes with anything, and it pairs well with GMK Mr Sleeves at Apex Keyboards. So that's your chance to get those 2 items for the next 2+ years.

Anyway, I'm sure any of those keycaps will be fine. Now that you've selected your kit, most of the decisions have been made. You just need to cinch assembly, either with the seller or with a local builder. The latter will add somewhat to the cost, but it will still be within budget, and it's definitely worth it.

Offline LASERman Projects

  • Posts: 105
  • Location: Kent, UK
  • Soldering is my native language.
Re: Does anyone know any good newer mech keyboards that look vintage?
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 24 November 2022, 06:04:27 »
Check out upcoming Moondrop Dash75