Author Topic: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14.5mm front height (GB opens Oct. 29)  (Read 28577 times)

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Offline dani_

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[IC] Mesa TKL - 14.5mm front height (GB opens Oct. 29)
« on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 00:48:34 »

Mesa TKL





Updates

Discord: https://discord.gg/rX7BZhK

  • April 15, 2020: First prototype is on the way, should arrive first week of May.
  • May 3, 2020: Updated renders while I wait for the prototype.
  • June 8, 2020: IC Poll posted! Prototype assembled and tested, build album, typing test, water test.
  • June 27, 2020: Preliminary pricing and options
  • August 2, 2020: Second round of prototypes in production, update layout options
  • October 11, 2020: R2 Prototypes complete, final GB details, web store is live, raffle opens Oct. 29!





The GB raffle will open Oct. 29 at 7:00pm PST. and will stay open for one week! The link will be posted here when it's live.






Introducing Mesa TKL, a keyboard designed to minimize the height of the first row of switches. I find that switch height is a big determinant in how comfortable I find a keyboard, especially over long typing sessions. To this end, I've opened a slot in the bottom of the case to let the PCB hover just above the desktop. The slot is positioned so that the bottom-most components on the PCB are flush with the bottom face of the case which itself sits on silicone feet 0.5mm above the desktop. The result is that the first row of switches are 0.5mm higher than they would be if you simply laid the PCB/Plate assembly directly on your desktop. I've illustrated this in the image below:


The front height measurement doesn't exactly capture what I'm trying to achieve with this keyboard (as it depends on bezel width, typing angle, sidewall height, &c.) but it can serve as a rough comparison with other keyboards being produced. 19mm-21mm seems to be about standard in the community, so you can expect Mesa to sit approximately 5mm lower than you're used to.

I'm pretty excited about this concept and am eager for feedback so if you're interested please respond with your questions or suggestions.





Specs

Case:
  • Typing angle: 8.5deg
  • Weight: 2.6kg
  • Front height: 14.5mm (including silicone feet)
  • Plate mount: PORON gasket
  • Sound damping: EVA foam plate-PCB and PCB-case
  • Case Material: aluminum with black or white e-coat
  • Weight and plate Material: media-blasted stainless-steel

PCB:
  • Soldered with ISO support
  • QMK/Via firmware
  • ESD protection
  • No lighting
  • USB-C daughter board

Layouts:


Other Design Considerations
  • Plate vibration is dampened at three points to give this keyboard as tight a sound as possible: 20 PORON gaskets mechanically isolate the plate from the case; a foam fill layer sits between the plate and PCB; and two more PORON strips beneath the PCB dampen any residual vibration.
  • I don't like heavily branded keyboards so I will not be putting any logos or lettering on the case itself. The exposed portion of the PCB will bear a trademark but that will be the extent of any branding.
  • Despite having a low front height, the case is actually quite high-profile: the skirts of Cherry Profile keycaps sit 1.5mm below the surface of the case.


Group Buy Structure

Price: $450 + taxes + shipping
Colors: black or white e-coat
MOQ: 20 each for WK and WKL
Limit: 50 units total
Raffle: Opens Oct. 29 @7pm PST for one week.

Currently Working On

  • More (and better) renders
  • Prototype
  • Interest check form
  • Prototype from new factory
  • Finalize options and price
  • Set GB date
  • Group buy begins Oct. 29!





Second Prototypes

Full build album: https://imgur.com/a/z0eRyX9

E-white + Stainless Steel Prototype






Anodized Black + Brass Prototype
Note: This configuration will not be available in the GB!
It's just here to give you an idea of what the keyboard looks like in black.
The black colorway what will be available is e-black + stainless steel.






First Prototype

Typing Test

Water Test




Renders


More





Old Renders

More




« Last Edit: Sat, 17 October 2020, 16:29:48 by dani_ »

Offline xondat

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 00:53:05 »
Itís finally happened!

Will be following and maybe picking one up if it comes into reality.

Offline 002 DC

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 00:53:11 »
hmmmm

Offline PikaJoyce

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 00:56:42 »
While you may think sockets look cleaner than joints, having sockets exposed like that would make it seem less durable in the long run especially if the board is being traveled with.

Example would be putting board in bag and if it gets knocked around, the sockets may come loose.

How do you propose to prevent that from happening?

Offline tex_live_utility

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 01:04:58 »
Couldn't you reduce or eliminate the need for the hole in the bottom by lowering the typing angle? 8.5 is on the steep side.
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Offline nephlock

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 01:17:19 »
A lot to like here! Love the exposed idea, but also vote for a solder pcb option! Badge is cool even if just an accent bar. Only thing Iím not quite sold on is the sharp corners and having the chamfer in the seam. Definitely following this

Offline TheAutoManCan

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 01:30:40 »
Itís a really unique and creative design, Iíll give you that. But, having the PCB exposed in that way is a big no-no for me.

Offline sohju

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 01:47:13 »
Heavy hand + steel tabletop = short circuit.  Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty good design. But exposing the PCB makes you vulnerable with short circuits.

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Offline Exemplar

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 02:00:11 »
Especially with the give of a material like rubber or Poron, I think this may be risky. The design looks great, I just worry that making the sacrifice of having an open bottom may be too much for the sake of a low front height.
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Offline hkiri

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 02:08:39 »
Obligatory question: Does it support ISO?

Edit:
Just realized it is a Hotswap PCB. RIP ISO.

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 05:21:55 »
Have to agree with others. Exposed PCB is a pass for me. Either reducing the angle to allow a thin base, or honestly even putting a plastic layer across that section (hopefully transparent!) to keep the case thin at that point but reduce shorting would not be preferable.  Still a unique design regardless, and if firm on the opening I wish you luck!
« Last Edit: Fri, 06 March 2020, 06:09:26 by Zeelobby »

Offline Snapple

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 06:06:17 »
Please add Win Key!

Offline Dakk1d

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 06:31:15 »
Have to agree with others. Exposed PCB is a pass for me. Either reducing the angle to allow a thin base, or honestly even putting a plastic layer across that section (hopefully transparent!) to keep the case thin at that point but reduce shorting would not be preferable.  Still a unique design regardless, and if firm on the opening I wish you luck!

I agree with all of the above. :thumb:
A visible PCB is a cool and unique idea but you should not be able to actually touch it.

Also doesnt a low front height and a higher than standard typing angle kind of contradict each other? With a lower front height i would want a lower angle to be able to keep my wrists straight.
Į\_(ツ)_/Į

Offline eniigma

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 09:58:06 »
very unique and nice looking board!

a couple of things:
-if you're optimizing this for comfort (with the lower front height), why a 8.5 degree angle? seems pretty high
-what is the thickness of the wall in the bottom of the case that has the hole for the PCB? I would be concerned about that being too thin
-if your board is optimized for much flex at all,  it's likely gonna hit the table/bottom of case. not sure if this would work, but maybe you could expand the bezels and put like a thin foam sheet in the bottom that'll sit in a lip in the bottom case. that way, I wouldn't be concerned about getting grime inside of the board, and you won't have mispresses if it has flex

other than that, great work! looking forward to seeing where this goes

Offline Captain Shwah

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 10:15:26 »
Hey man! Cool to see what you've been working on since the meetup  :)

This is a neat concept. I'm definitely curious to see how the cutout affects the sound of the bottom rows, especially given that many of us use thick desk pads these days. That flush front with the high back look amazing.
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Offline equalunique

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 10:24:11 »
I never wanted a tkl before now

Edit: Keep the exposed PCB, low profile, & angle.
« Last Edit: Fri, 06 March 2020, 16:39:38 by equalunique »

Offline The Equals D

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 10:31:26 »
Wow, this is pretty neat I love the idea of minimizing the front height, I'd get one if I wasn't so clumsy and positive i'd break the exposed part. Also since the pcb looks to not be a standard connector placement, it would be good to also have a solder version available.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 11:18:48 »
Thank you all for the feedback so far, I really appreciate you taking the time.

I have a pretty hectic day today but I plan to go through all of the replies this evening and post a response then.

Offline kokugatsu

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 11:19:36 »
I think having a polycarb cover/lid under the pcb slot would look great and address some of the above concerns.

Offline alxbrn

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 14:44:57 »
Cool, but exposed pcb = I'm out.

Offline chits

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 14:51:12 »
the idea is neat and I'm all for new things. Surely there's a simple way to still 'expose' the PCB without actually exposing it. good luck, I'll be following this one.

Offline Owl

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 19:39:19 »
The geometry of the board is gorgeous in my opinion. The edges and lines are really good. Like the others though, I share concerns with the exposed PCB. Even if there isn't an immediate danger or threat to the exposed PCB, it's still "solving" an issue that a wrist rest already solves for most people. And for me, it would make using my wrist wrest now look really goofy. I am still interested and curious though and may even be curious enough to one if it goes to GB with this design.

Offline Venatorious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 06 March 2020, 20:43:02 »
Alps pls!

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #23 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 00:48:35 »
Thank you all again for your feedback, please keep it coming as I start putting together an IC form. You've raised some great points and I'll do my best to address them below. Let me know if I missed anything.

Re: exposed PCB
You've expressed a lot of concerns about about the exposed PCB so I'll tackle these first.
1. Short circuiting. I don't see this as a big issue for a few reasons:
    a. I can't think of anything under your keyboard conductive enough to cause a short circuit including any deskmat material. Even if you spilled water and shorted the switch contacts it wouldn't harm you keyboard - that's how they work any way :)
    b. I'll address it in detail below but the pcb should not flex enough to cause an issue.
    c. There are no supply or ground contacts on the exposed portion of the PCB so even if there was an accidental short, it wouldn't do any damage. Worst case, you get a phantom key press.
2. Damage to the PCB. In my experience circuit boards are pretty robust, so the only real danger might be knocking SMT components loose. I can look into moving the switch diodes for the 1st row of switches into the covered part of the case to prevent this so if the final design moves to soldered switches, there will be nothing to knock loose.

I think these are still valid concerns so I will certainly do some testing with one of the extra prototype PCBs to validate my claims. That said, I consider the opening to be a core part of the design and I'm okay with trading some durability for it.

As to adding a covering, I think it defeats the purpose of the keyboard. The PCB/plate gets pushed back up and at that point there are any number of amazing TKLs out there that fit the bill.

Re: hotswap sockets
I've never had any issues with hotswap sockets and I do have a few loose hotswap pcb's knocking around in my bin-o'-parts so I don't anticipate this being an huge issue. Soldered PCB's are much easier to produce so if there is a desire to do so, fine by me! This will for sure make it onto the interest check form.

Re: typing angle
I hear the criticism and concede that having a low front height and relatively steep typing angle flies against conventional ergonomics. However I personally find the combination to be the most comfortable without a wrist rest (just a matter of preference, but I don't like using them). Despite owning a few high-end keyboards, my daily driver remains a now 7-year-old Topre realforce. It's ugly as sin, poorly constructed, and (at the risk of making enemies) feels as though someone poured molasses all over some perfectly good zealios. But with the feet down I think the gemotery is bang-on. Mesa is a bit milder than the realforce at 8.5deg to the Topre's >10deg angle, mostly because I think 8deg is just about perfect for GMK keycaps (the extra 0.5deg give me a bit more clearance for the USB port). Like the opening in the case, I see this as a feature that you're either into or not. Without it though, I think this is just another TKL that doesn't really differentiate itself from big field of amazing keyboards produced by this community.

Re: flex
For obvious reasons this board is not designed to allow any flex. The the gasket mount is strictly for acuostic purposes. The gaskets will be under high compression (hence 12 case screws) and based on my testing should not give more .2mm total. The silicone layer between the PCB and Plate should add a bit rigidity as well. If you really lean on the plate and use a thick deskmat some of the PCB components might make contact but as I mention above, I don't think there are any deskmats conductive enough to cause an issue. Again though, I will absolutely do some stress testing with the prototype.

Re: ISO and Alps PCBs
I don't anticipate enough interest to make these options possible but I'm happy to open source the PCB which you can then modify to your liking.

Re: winkey
WKL is not hugely important to me so it just depends on how much interest there is. I will be certain to put this in the IC form.

Re: case thickness
The bottom of the case is 3mm thick and tapers down to just under 1.5mm thick behind the lip around the opening.

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #24 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 07:39:07 »
1a: God and here I was just thinking about working at a metal desk and shorting the board out due to flex. This is definitely a spilled drink death magnet! Sure spilling drinks on other keyboards kills them, but ANYONE whose ever spilt a drink just on the desk next to a keyboard can tell you the first thing it does is try to hide under stuff. And while sure, shorting switches happens and we can always buy 6 extra pcbs to switch out when we kill one, that's not exactly good functional design, lol.

Really hope you go with some covering solution (still think clear acrylic or PC would be the coolest) otherwise from a practicality standpoint this is still a no from me.

Offline equalunique

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 08:09:59 »
Please keep the lower portion of the PCB exposed. If you cover it, then this is will devolve into yet another TKL kit no more special than any other IC/GB TKL on here. It's obviously not in serious danger even if something does cause a temporary "short" - basically the same effect a normal keypress would have.

I'm a fan of the 8.5 degree angle.

There's a new TKL IC every month for anyone here who wants a covered PCB & lower angle.

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #26 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 08:58:21 »
Please keep the lower portion of the PCB exposed. If you cover it, then this is will devolve into yet another TKL kit no more special than any other IC/GB TKL on here. It's obviously not in serious danger even if something does cause a temporary "short" - basically the same effect a normal keypress would have.

I'm a fan of the 8.5 degree angle.

There's a new TKL IC every month for anyone here who wants a covered PCB & lower angle.
So the unique feature is something you'll never see and can destroy your PCB... Hard pass. Lol

And it's not keypress shorts people are worried about, but actual component shorts and static discharge. It's why PCBs are insulated. Static discharge into the PCB usually does more than just trigger a switch click.

Fail to see how covering it with a transparent material makes it any less unique. If anything releasing the plate file later for that bit would give people cool color and underglow options.
« Last Edit: Sat, 07 March 2020, 09:04:29 by Zeelobby »

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #27 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 11:36:29 »
Please keep the lower portion of the PCB exposed. If you cover it, then this is will devolve into yet another TKL kit no more special than any other IC/GB TKL on here. It's obviously not in serious danger even if something does cause a temporary "short" - basically the same effect a normal keypress would have.

I'm a fan of the 8.5 degree angle.

There's a new TKL IC every month for anyone here who wants a covered PCB & lower angle.
So the unique feature is something you'll never see and can destroy your PCB... Hard pass. Lol

And it's not keypress shorts people are worried about, but actual component shorts and static discharge. It's why PCBs are insulated. Static discharge into the PCB usually does more than just trigger a switch click.

Fail to see how covering it with a transparent material makes it any less unique. If anything releasing the plate file later for that bit would give people cool color and underglow options.

As I mentioned above, there are no sensitive components in the exposed area. The power rails, MCU, crystal, &c. are above the navigation cluster, safely out of the way of any spills. There is also a 4mm lip on the high side of the opening so that you'd have to have pretty serious spill to get liquid in to the case itself.

I don't intend to add a covering because it defeats the main design constraint which is setting the PCB as low as possible. The opening is functional, not an aesthetic feature. Adding a cover would add ~3mm height accounting for clearance, material and fasteners at which point it's not really that much lower than other keyboards. Again, to me the height of the plate/PCB is the main feature.

There's no question that with an open case the PCB is more susceptible than it otherwise would be, but I think permanent damage is an outside risk. I will definitely be testing this once I have prototypes in hand.

I intend to release the plate and PCB anyway so in the event that a PCB is somehow flooded and destroyed, you won't be left high and dry (pun absolutely intended).

Offline chits

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #28 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 11:44:30 »
Can't fault you for sticking to your guns. I hope the prototype testing is rigorous enough to assuage potential buyers. Good luck!

Offline Venatorious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #29 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 15:44:16 »
As I mentioned above, there are no sensitive components in the exposed area. The power rails, MCU, crystal, &c. are above the navigation cluster, safely out of the way of any spills. There is also a 4mm lip on the high side of the opening so that you'd have to have pretty serious spill to get liquid in to the case itself.

I don't intend to add a covering because it defeats the main design constraint which is setting the PCB as low as possible. The opening is functional, not an aesthetic feature. Adding a cover would add ~3mm height accounting for clearance, material and fasteners at which point it's not really that much lower than other keyboards. Again, to me the height of the plate/PCB is the main feature.

There's no question that with an open case the PCB is more susceptible than it otherwise would be, but I think permanent damage is an outside risk. I will definitely be testing this once I have prototypes in hand.

I intend to release the plate and PCB anyway so in the event that a PCB is somehow flooded and destroyed, you won't be left high and dry (pun absolutely intended).

That makes sense on the covering add height to the board, now just add in alps and I'm in :)

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #30 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 16:07:56 »
Yeah. Maybe with rigorous testing. Wish you the best of luck with the GB. It's just my personal opinion that adding cool looking stuff to the board bottom is kind of pointless. Something that might cause additional failure, doubly so. Adding even just a mm of plastic would still love that, be unique, and be cool to look at, and I definitely feel like wouldn't destroy the whole purpose of the board.

But it's definitely your vision and I can't fault you for that. Enough people will probably be interested to hit MOQ anyway.

Offline Nerdbot5000

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 19:27:32 »
TKLs aren't for me, but I fully support your effort in trying to minimize height. If this exposed pcb design is successful, it would be great to see this for other %s.

Offline lush_bunny

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #32 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 23:14:30 »
Not sure if I want to follow another TKL IC, but this sounds interesting as heck. I share the concerns others have already raised, so now I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping you can pull off a robust working prototype. Good luck!

Offline gnhuy91

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #33 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 23:17:37 »
so I heard we need some Alps votes, count me in

Offline Venatorious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #34 on: Sun, 08 March 2020, 00:36:46 »
so I heard we need some Alps votes, count me in

Mein brother

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #35 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 13:29:43 »
Really nice design. I hope that there will be a solution to that exposed pcb... really not a fan of it (but we will see what will happen).
ISO support would be really nice. I hope there will be many other people too, so we can get that out of the box.

Really interesting how this will turn out though, keep it up.

Offline dom

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #36 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 15:02:03 »
I respect your thinking!

1. Exposed PCB is made for a reason (a nice design choice), I love it, a bit risky as others pointed out, but I don't feel any fear about it (I might be ignorant or just stupid one).

2. No branding, this is also huge for me (doh!), there are lots of designs with "unpleasant" branding, which destroys the entire esthetics for me. Thank you for thinking about the end-user, not only about yourself. Look at the "7V" as an example (fantastic board, with crappy logo - IMO only of course).

3. The badge over the navigation, at least for me this is an unnecessary element, which (as you mentioned) adds complexity and therefore cost. I will never understand the "why" behind elements like this on the boards. Each board should differentiate itself in different ways and not by adding elements, which act as "form over function" delegates.
But hey! 100 people = 100 opinions  :D

Respect!
And looking forward to seeing the progress!

« Last Edit: Thu, 12 March 2020, 15:05:14 by dom »

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #37 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 15:38:17 »
Yeah. Some people are all about badging and weights. Some aren't. In the end it's good there's options for both.

Offline dom

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #38 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 15:41:30 »
Yeah. Some people are all about badging and weights. Some aren't. In the end it's good there's options for both.

Agree!  :thumb:

Offline monteyalps

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #39 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 16:02:31 »
Very interested to see if this will pull through, with alps support I may have to take another hit this year and build another alps tkl :o

Offline The_Royal

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #40 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 16:30:13 »
My Thoughts/Suggestions:

I love the big move you are doing here.  I love exposed PCB designs but I think what would really take this over the top is 3-Things...



1.) Move the switch diodes up into the upper "closed" portion of the case so that just the Hotswap Sockets are exposed.

2.) Castellate the Edges of the PCB as well as the Stabilizer holes so that they are gold/silver plated and aren't just milled FR4.

3.) What if you got in touch with Kailh and inquire about getting Custom Colored(plastic portion) sockets for use on the PCB.  That, along with a killer silkscreen, could make for a beautiful and stunning Bottom View of your board.




Just my general thoughts.  Good luck with this.  I think this is gonna be one hell of a board.  :cool:

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #41 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 16:35:44 »
My Thoughts/Suggestions:

I love the big move you are doing here.  I love exposed PCB designs but I think what would really take this over the top is 3-Things...



1.) Move the switch diodes up into the upper "closed" portion of the case so that just the Hotswap Sockets are exposed.

2.) Castellate the Edges of the PCB as well as the Stabilizer holes so that they are gold/silver plated and aren't just milled FR4.

3.) What if you got in touch with Kailh and inquire about getting Custom Colored(plastic portion) sockets for use on the PCB.  That, along with a killer silkscreen, could make for a beautiful and stunning Bottom View of your board.




Just my general thoughts.  Good luck with this.  I think this is gonna be one hell of a board.  :cool:
Damn. This man right here took it to 11. Id take all the risks if that was exposed on the bottom.

Offline lush_bunny

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #42 on: Thu, 12 March 2020, 21:20:51 »
Can we talk color? Iíd hate to be impressed by the tests, jump on board, and start saving money only to find out the board wonít have the colors I want.  :(

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #43 on: Fri, 13 March 2020, 09:02:40 »
Can we talk color? Iíd hate to be impressed by the tests, jump on board, and start saving money only to find out the board wonít have the colors I want.  :(

For colors, I think the standards like black/dark grey, light grey and white are a must. Maybe a deep blue and a deep red for starters....

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #44 on: Fri, 13 March 2020, 09:24:17 »
Well if us non-designers can just throw out colors I'd take putrid green and neon chartreuse XD

Offline FRANCO

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #45 on: Fri, 13 March 2020, 15:10:36 »
This might be odd, but the way the middle USB port looks makes me want this board lol

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #46 on: Sat, 14 March 2020, 19:53:00 »
A quick update on what I've been up to this past week:

1. I'm reworking the PCB since moving the bottom row of diodes proved impossible in the previous layout. I hope to be done this weekend with prototypes ordered early next week.

2. I've been getting in touch with a lot of CNC suppliers, pricing out prototypes and various scales of production. I have some promising leads but if anyone has a good recommendation, I'm all ears.

3. Finally, I'd like to spend some time making better renders but I'll do that once the prototype is in-flight since that will take at least a month to complete.

Cheers, stay safe, and don't hoard toilet paper!

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #47 on: Sun, 15 March 2020, 10:13:27 »
A quick update on what I've been up to this past week:

1. I'm reworking the PCB since moving the bottom row of diodes proved impossible in the previous layout. I hope to be done this weekend with prototypes ordered early next week.

2. I've been getting in touch with a lot of CNC suppliers, pricing out prototypes and various scales of production. I have some promising leads but if anyone has a good recommendation, I'm all ears.

3. Finally, I'd like to spend some time making better renders but I'll do that once the prototype is in-flight since that will take at least a month to complete.

Cheers, stay safe, and don't hoard toilet paper!

Nice. Make sure to test the prototypes by pressing the escape key. I am having concerns that the far left and right sides dont have enough support and might tilt to the left or right. :) Just a heads-up to watch out for that,
Everything else looks real nice

Offline kokugatsu

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #48 on: Sun, 15 March 2020, 10:41:21 »
+1 for solder over hot swap

Offline The_Royal

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #49 on: Sun, 15 March 2020, 12:08:30 »
I know people are concerned with the exposed portion of the PCB for static-related issues.

What if you incorporated some sort of thin barrier like a ridged sheet of .05-1mm Of Polyimide (Kapton) that slides in as the bottom window cover?



I have zero issues with fully exposed PCB but some people I know in dryer areas do experience quite a lot of ESD and dust issues with there boards.

Not sure how well it would integrate but Iím just spitballing here.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #50 on: Sun, 15 March 2020, 22:45:26 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.

Here are some pictures:




Offline lush_bunny

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #51 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 02:49:38 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.

Here are some pictures:

Show Image

Show Image

Show Image

Stop I can only get so erect!

The issue of ESD and dust is one that completely slipped my mind, and thanks to The_Royal for bringing this up. Should I ever decide for this board, this would be a welcome addition.

Offline Venatorious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #52 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 10:36:51 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.

Here are some pictures:

A great compromise that pleases everyone.  Nice work  :thumb:

Offline Zeelobby

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #53 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 10:39:56 »
Def like that approach more. i'd probably get my own arylic/pc plate cut and find some way to magnetize it to leave it clear.

Offline swingkat

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #54 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 11:53:22 »
Definitely like the idea of a clear plate to cover the exposed PCB. Could something like that be done as an option with the group buy? I was actually not a fan due to the exposed pcb, but if there was an option to cover it, I'd consider a buy.

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #55 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 12:03:16 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.

Here are some pictures:

Show Image

Show Image

Show Image

This is it, chief!

Offline chits

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #56 on: Mon, 16 March 2020, 17:00:50 »
make it PC for the 'exposed' effect without actually exposing it...unless a sheet of PC that thin would be too fragile.

Offline monteyalps

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #57 on: Sat, 21 March 2020, 01:33:47 »
I'm 100% in for the exposed pcb myself, but that magnetic compromise looks good! :thumb:

Offline Nostril

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #58 on: Sat, 21 March 2020, 02:54:57 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.

I already liked this board/design a lot when it was exposed and was previously in favor of just leaving it exposed, but after seeing this concept, I do prefer the revision. Nice job!

Offline lootbag

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #59 on: Sun, 22 March 2020, 00:25:46 »
This is interesting! I need a TKL in my life.

Offline ryou965

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #60 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 07:13:02 »
oh god please take my money

Offline OverHerb3

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #61 on: Mon, 23 March 2020, 09:19:45 »
Please take my money, this looks amazing!

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #62 on: Thu, 26 March 2020, 13:37:13 »
Is there a already a price floating around? I know it will be an estimate at this point but still.
Also, is there a Discord server already?
Would be nice to have.
« Last Edit: Thu, 26 March 2020, 13:39:02 by Aquilla »

Offline Jaltr

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #63 on: Thu, 26 March 2020, 16:53:24 »
I'll keep an eye on it

Offline Aquilla

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #64 on: Tue, 31 March 2020, 09:03:46 »
Re: ISO and Alps PCBs
I don't anticipate enough interest to make these options possible but I'm happy to open source the PCB which you can then modify to your liking.

If ISO is gonna happen the plate would need to support it as well, keep that in mind. And I sure hope it does happen :)

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #65 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 23:57:17 »
Apologies for the long delay, hereís a quick status update:

tl;dr Prototype to arrive early May, probably not much activity until then.



Unfortunately due to the COVID19 situation I have very little spare time these days so progress has slowed. I am focusing on kicking off tasks that will take a long time to complete like prototyping, and putting off less critical things like making attractive renders. Rest assured, I will not start the group buy until I have the full time I need to devote to it.

I have ordered a first prototype and parts will be trickling in through early May. The only major change to the design is removal of the badge over the nav cluster. In the end it just wasnít possible to get what I consider to be an acceptably tight fit at a reasonable cost. Otherwise the current design is very close to the renders in the original post. I am still exploring the covered bottom option but that's on hold for now and likely wonít make it into the first round of the group buy.

Thank you all for the support, the feedback has been encouraging. The next step for me is to put some nice renders together and start thinking about finishes and colors, so be on the lookout for those.





3.) What if you got in touch with Kailh and inquire about getting Custom Colored(plastic portion) sockets for use on the PCB.  That, along with a killer silkscreen, could make for a beautiful and stunning Bottom View of your board.[/size]


I love this idea and have been discussing it with Kaihua. They can do it but it'll be expensive so I'm going to leave it as a "we'll see" for now.

Is there a already a price floating around? I know it will be an estimate at this point but still.
Also, is there a Discord server already?
Would be nice to have.

Iíve gotten manufacturing quotes that would let me run this as low as $250 a board up through three times that amount. In the end, you get what you pay for. What are you willing to tolerate as far as tool marks, anodizing blemishes, &c.? Iím pretty confident I can reach my quality goals (which, admittedly, are high) at a price between $350 and $400 (shipped in CONUS). If this manufacturer comes through with a good prototype, it may be lower. If freight costs continue to rise, it may go up.

Discord server created (I think?)Ö https://discord.gg/rX7BZhK. Iím not sure what the protocol is: do we agree in advance on a time to log on and discuss? Or is it more of a free for all? Forgive me for being a little out of touch.

Nice. Make sure to test the prototypes by pressing the escape key. I am having concerns that the far left and right sides dont have enough support and might tilt to the left or right. :) Just a heads-up to watch out for that,
Everything else looks real nice

It's hard to tell from the renders but the brass weight is a bit wider than it looks. Only the Escape and Pause columns are "floating", every other key is supported. I will, of course make sure that everything is stable though and extend the weight if it is not.

Offline alper_maestro

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #66 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 06:39:33 »
Hey,

As for the Discord channel. Well done!  :thumb:

However, some advice.

-Make a 'welcome' topic for only people who have entered the Discord channel, in which no one can comment of course (close topic for comments)

-A separate topic with 'announcements' for when there are updates that you want to share with the community. (close topic for comments)

-Also a topic for 'general' chat concerns Mesa TKL. (just like here on Geekhack, same concept so to speak) > NO VOICE channel for this.
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 April 2020, 06:42:22 by alper_maestro »

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #67 on: Sun, 03 May 2020, 16:29:45 »
Another quick update:

I've added some updated renders to the main post. I've only just starting learning Blender so these are improving as I figure things out but I think they're passable for now.

The discord server is up and I try to spend some time there every few days so check it out if you more detailed questions or comments.

Meanwhile parts have started arriving. I've got the silicone and foam parts, the PCB will arrive later this week, and I'm still waiting on a status update about the case.

Offline ecbob

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #68 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 05:25:00 »
What kind of color ways are you looking at?

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #69 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 17:57:54 »
What kind of color ways are you looking at?

Colors are undecided so far. The plate and weight will be un-treated brass regardless so any color options will have to match that. Clear/silver and black anodizing are easy and universally popular. E-white might be an option as well, I'm still working that out with the manufacturer.

I'm happy to mock up renders of other color and keycap set combinations on request if you have an idea.

I'm waiting to post a proper IC poll until I have prototype in hand and have had a chance to do some testing and post a thorough writeup. It's a bit behind schedule but I expect to be able to do that within two weeks.

Offline alper_maestro

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #70 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 04:52:58 »
What kind of color ways are you looking at?

Colors are undecided so far. The plate and weight will be un-treated brass regardless so any color options will have to match that. Clear/silver and black anodizing are easy and universally popular. E-white might be an option as well, I'm still working that out with the manufacturer.

I'm happy to mock up renders of other color and keycap set combinations on request if you have an idea.

I'm waiting to post a proper IC poll until I have prototype in hand and have had a chance to do some testing and post a thorough writeup. It's a bit behind schedule but I expect to be able to do that within two weeks.

Will there only be a WKL version?

Offline werc

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #71 on: Tue, 12 May 2020, 10:43:00 »
+1 for a cover. would particularly love something transparent like acrylic or polycarbonate
+1 for hotswap; definitely prefer this for flexibility

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #72 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 12:03:24 »

Will there only be a WKL version?
[/quote]

This will depend on the poll but I expect there will be enough interest to make both.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (new renders)
« Reply #73 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 12:49:15 »
Big update - prototype has arrived, IC Poll is up!

First off, please fill out the poll! The responses will determine what configurations will be available and help me estimate the final cost.

The first prototype is assembled and tested!

The prototype case has finally arrived and despite a slew of manufacturing issues, it has served its purpose in validating the overall design. I will be making some minor adjustments but I believe the case design to be complete. Unless something else comes up, the final product will look exactly as it does in the most recent set of renders.

Iím pretty unhappy with the factory that made this first case so I will be switching manufacturers. Unfortunately this will mean a delay as I order a second prototype. The new manufacturer has a great reputation for making high quality keyboards, however it will be more expensive than I originally planned. As they say, you get what you pay for.

Iíve posted links to a build album, typing video, and the results of testing to address the concerns expressed over an exposed PCB. I have been using the keyboard as my daily driver for the past week and I am really pleased with the results. The low height makes it extremely comfortable to type on without a wrist rest. Iím also very happy with the sound profile. Between the foam under the plate and the isolation mount you can hardly tell that thereís an opening in the bottom of the case.

I have made a few changes as a result of testing the prototype:

  • The raw brass parts look spectacular for about 24 hours and then they tarnish pretty badly. The new manufacturer assures me that the brass parts will be oiled so Iíll see how that goes before turning to other options. I tried finishing wax on this prototype and the results were okay. Polished stainless steel is also a possibility but that does increase the cost (and would require re-working the USB port to make it flush rather than recessed.)
  • Iíve changed the plate damping layer to foam rather than silicone rubber. The silicone would require injection molding or casting which are well outside the scope of this project. The foam plate damper is a hair thicker than the silicone fill I designed so I may raise the case by half a millimeter or so to account for it.
  • Iíve chosen to use poron rather than silicone rubber for the gaskets as it provides noticeably better isolation.
  • I may remove the foam layer between the PCB and the bottom of the case because it has a pretty minimal effect on the overall acoustics. With the hot-swap sockets it servers a secondary purpose of keeping the PCB tight to plate but if I go the soldered route, itís pretty necessary.

No covered option

After much consideration and testing a few different possibilities, I have decided not to offer a covered option for the bottom of the case. There are lot of technical reasons for this which Iím happy to discuss in a separate thread but ultimately it comes down to a conflict with the main design goal of lowering the plate as much as possible. Based on my stress testing I think fears about damage to the exposed PCB are overblown. There are very few scenarios that result in damage to Mesa but not a traditional, fully-enclosed keyboard. If youíre really planning to put your keyboard through the wringer, you should probably consider a different one. (This not meant to be exclusionary - design is all about trade-offs you and have to decide whatís important for your use case.)

Colors

Ultimately the available color-ways will decided by the poll. I really like the way the clear anodizing turned out, especially with the brass weight. This manufacturer offers e-white which would look also great with raw brass. Iíve added some renders below with some other color ideas. I really like the way the under-saturated colors keep the metallic texture of the aluminum so Iíll order some color chips to see if they can make that happen.


More
Black anodizing + brass weight
E-white + brass weight
Peach anodizing + stainless steel weight
Teal anodizing + stainless steel weight
Lilac anodizing + stainless steel weight


Group buy

My current plan is to ship 20 keyboards. There is some flexibility in this number but it seems to be the sweet spot between cost, risk, and what I can manage by myself. If after the IC poll it seems like there is significantly more interest than this, I will explore other options such as working with a vendor.

Prototype Commissions

Iíve accepted a couple of prototype commissions (i.e., I add a unit for you to my prototype order) from family/close friends and am considering opening this up as theoretically I have capacity for two more. Let me be absolutely clear: this is a high-risk, high-cost proposition! You would be paying more than the GB price for a board whose quality I cannot guarantee (since I have not worked with this manufacturer before!) The upshot is you would get your board much sooner and in whatever color/material combination youíd want since theyíre one-offs anyway. If youíre interested, send me a private message.

Next Steps

1. Collect the results of the IC poll
2. Make adjustments as necessary
3. Put in an order for the second prototype, color chips
4. Pricing
5. Set a GB date.

Until next time

The COVID lockdown is easing here in California and childcare resumes this week (thank goodness) so Iíll be more active again going forward.

Offline Tyson

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #74 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 18:03:25 »
Just filled out the form! I'm extremely looking forward to this GB! Depending on the price I'm 95% sure I'll be going for this when the GB starts! I really love the look and would love it if there is a solderable pcb but if not I think i can live with hot swap.

Offline alper_maestro

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #75 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 03:43:15 »
Filled in the form. Hoping for a Hot-swap with Winkey variant. Silver color would be nice or Dark grey is also cool I think.
« Last Edit: Tue, 09 June 2020, 03:49:28 by alper_maestro »

Offline VXQN

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #76 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 04:15:00 »
This looks great, love how innovative the design is!

Offline melikewater

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #77 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 16:47:00 »
Is the discord link broken? I havent been able to join for awhile.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #78 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 18:57:15 »
Is the discord link broken? I havent been able to join for awhile.

Yes, sorry! This is the link: https://discord.gg/rX7BZhK

Fixed in the main post as well.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #79 on: Sat, 27 June 2020, 17:29:19 »
First off, thank you all for responding to the poll. If you havenít done so yet please do, Iím checking the responses every few days as they trickle in. Iíve used the results to simulate the group buy with many different constraints and assumptions (Iím a software engineer, I canít help myself) and this is the configuration that results in the most orders:

Price: $450
MOQ: 20
Limit: none
- TKL only (no WKL option)
- Soldered PCB only w/ ISO support
- colors: e-white, clear anodizing, black anodizing
- Sand/blasted and oiled brass weight and plate

Iím sure there are a lot of questions so Iíll explain my choices below:

Cost

The change in manufacturer added nearly $100 per board in machining costs. It turns out that quality manufacturing and especially finishing are expensive, even in China. Iím simply not taking any chances on this. Iíve chosen a reputable manufacturer that understands the expectations for high-end keyboards and the cost reflects that.

On top of that, there is a (at least for now) 15% tariff on keyboards and keyboard parts manufactured in China. Iím still working through the details to see if thereís a (legal!) way around this but so far it doesnít look like it and it adds just under $50 to the final cost.

All in, my costs are about $400 per board. This includes materials, manufacturing, freight (to me), packaging, and auxiliary costs like e-commerce transaction fees. On top of that I will be charging $50 per board as my margin. This money will be put aside to deal with manufacturing and logistical issues as they arise. If everything goes smoothly, it will go towards offsetting some of my prototyping costs (which are nearing $1500 at this point).

I know $450 is a lot of money for a keyboard, especially from a first time GB runner, but in my view this is the only way to make it work. So Iím going to move forward with round two prototypes this weekend and when it comes time to run the GB either we reach MOQ or we donít.

MOQ/Limits

Based the poll results Iím expecting between 20 and 25 orders so all of the pricing is based on an MOQ of 20. Because of this Iím not to concerned with setting an upper limit on orders. If there is a swell of interest before the GB starts, Iíll revisit this.

Options

This was tricky because the results are very evenly split along almost every parameter. In the end, after slicing the poll results every which way, I think these options have the highest likelihood of meeting MOQ and getting made. Annoyingly, most of my preferences lost out (WKL and hot-swap) so Iím considering making those options available as add-ons but they would be pretty expensive do to the low volume.



Iím sorry I donít have better news for you on the pricing front - I had really hoped to keep the board under $400. On the bright side, Iíve been using the prototype for a few weeks now and, despite the abysmal machining quality, I have to say I'm really liking it. I'm excited to see what this new manufacturer can do and at the prospect of sharing this board with you all. Hopefully the higher than expected price doesnít put this board out of reach for too many people.

Iím going to post some updated renders to reflect the boards that will be offered in the group buy. Thanks to those that commissioned prototypes, I am expecting to have photos of each configuration offered.

That's all for now, stay safe out there.

Offline Tyson

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #80 on: Sat, 27 June 2020, 17:33:17 »
RIP no WKL, I'm out. I was really interested in this design. I'm still interested in seeing what this board sounds and feels like, maybe one of the GB winners can let me build the board for them on my stream when these things come in!

Offline Jyobah

  • Posts: 35
Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #81 on: Sat, 27 June 2020, 18:36:13 »
I am thrilled this will be a GB soon. Very nicely done with the updates and transparent about your cost per board and why the prices are the way they are.

Offline gnhuy91

  • Posts: 120
Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #82 on: Sat, 27 June 2020, 19:49:20 »
can we vote for WK vs WKL for the run?

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #83 on: Sun, 28 June 2020, 11:25:51 »
RIP no WKL, I'm out.

I just mentioned this in the discord but I'll post it here to because I think it's important:

I still really want to make WKL available, especially because thatís my preference, and I think there are a few ways to do it. However I do not want any more price increases so if it comes down to it, the less popular configuration will pay the difference and right now that is WKL.

I am thrilled this will be a GB soon. Very nicely done with the updates and transparent about your cost per board and why the prices are the way they are.

Thank you - it's a lot of money and you have a right to know exactly what your spending it on!

Offline DarkShot

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #84 on: Thu, 30 July 2020, 15:50:31 »
Regarding the choice of Kailh hotswap sockets, you could probably fit some 7305 Mill-Max sockets in to obtain hotswap functionality without any clearance issues. It _would_ require soldering up front and increase the overall cost if someone chose to do it, but it seems like a reasonable compromise.
  Rest well Nate

Offline tempo

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #85 on: Thu, 30 July 2020, 19:58:57 »
Interesting design

Offline Anthixious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #86 on: Thu, 30 July 2020, 23:27:30 »
Interesting how the angle was created, never seen the bottom of a keyboard being sloped into for that aspect.

Consider me interested! Any more colors?

Offline PotatoTM

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #87 on: Fri, 31 July 2020, 02:16:27 »
Looking forward to how it'll turn out, I noticed the IC poll didn't include any questions about the thin piece of brass to cover the PCB, has a decision been taken in regards to that?

Offline beekey

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #88 on: Fri, 31 July 2020, 02:57:28 »
Is there an overview with the supported layouts? I hope for split backspace...

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #89 on: Sun, 02 August 2020, 11:45:23 »
The second round of case prototypes are in production with the new manufacturer and should arrive towards the end of August. The only changes to the case were to raise the plate/PCB slightly and to change the shape of the foam damper under the PCB. This prototype is mostly a quality check on the manufacturer since I'm quite confident in the design at this point.

I've also ordered more PCB prototypes since I've completely re-designed it based on feedback from the poll. It will be soldered with support for ISO, stepped caps, split right shift, and split backspace (I've added a layout graphic to the main post). I've also moved to the C3 version of ai03's universal daughterboard which has better circuit protections than my original design. Finally I've changed the soldermask to black after seeing some cosmetic issues with the white.

Logistics-wise I'm nearly ready to go with some packaging samples in the works. Assuming everything is good with the various prototypes, I'd like to start the GB in October. Due to some miscommunication with the manufacturer around minimum quantities I'm going to have to re-think the options on offer. WK+black/silver are pretty safe since it looks like these will easily meet MOQ. The big decision is if/whether to offer an e-white option or a WKL option with its own MOQ.

Any more colors?

Unfortunately no.

Looking forward to how it'll turn out, I noticed the IC poll didn't include any questions about the thin piece of brass to cover the PCB, has a decision been taken in regards to that?

There will be no cover on the bottom of the case - the first ~20mm of PCB are exposed on the bottom. There are no SMT components exposed and no power supply traces in the exposed portion so it's my view that it's totally safe but obviously it's a decision for everyone to make on their own.

Is there an overview with the supported layouts? I hope for split backspace...

Just added this to the main post. Split backspace will be supported.

Offline Anthixious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #90 on: Tue, 04 August 2020, 03:49:24 »
First off, thank you all for responding to the poll. If you havenít done so yet please do, Iím checking the responses every few days as they trickle in. Iíve used the results to simulate the group buy with many different constraints and assumptions (Iím a software engineer, I canít help myself) and this is the configuration that results in the most orders:

Price: $450
MOQ: 20
Limit: none
- TKL only (no WKL option)
- Soldered PCB only w/ ISO support
- colors: e-white, clear anodizing, black anodizing
- Sand/blasted and oiled brass weight and plate

Iím sure there are a lot of questions so Iíll explain my choices below:

Cost

The change in manufacturer added nearly $100 per board in machining costs. It turns out that quality manufacturing and especially finishing are expensive, even in China. Iím simply not taking any chances on this. Iíve chosen a reputable manufacturer that understands the expectations for high-end keyboards and the cost reflects that.

On top of that, there is a (at least for now) 15% tariff on keyboards and keyboard parts manufactured in China. Iím still working through the details to see if thereís a (legal!) way around this but so far it doesnít look like it and it adds just under $50 to the final cost.

All in, my costs are about $400 per board. This includes materials, manufacturing, freight (to me), packaging, and auxiliary costs like e-commerce transaction fees. On top of that I will be charging $50 per board as my margin. This money will be put aside to deal with manufacturing and logistical issues as they arise. If everything goes smoothly, it will go towards offsetting some of my prototyping costs (which are nearing $1500 at this point).

I know $450 is a lot of money for a keyboard, especially from a first time GB runner, but in my view this is the only way to make it work. So Iím going to move forward with round two prototypes this weekend and when it comes time to run the GB either we reach MOQ or we donít.

MOQ/Limits

Based the poll results Iím expecting between 20 and 25 orders so all of the pricing is based on an MOQ of 20. Because of this Iím not to concerned with setting an upper limit on orders. If there is a swell of interest before the GB starts, Iíll revisit this.

Options

This was tricky because the results are very evenly split along almost every parameter. In the end, after slicing the poll results every which way, I think these options have the highest likelihood of meeting MOQ and getting made. Annoyingly, most of my preferences lost out (WKL and hot-swap) so Iím considering making those options available as add-ons but they would be pretty expensive do to the low volume.



Iím sorry I donít have better news for you on the pricing front - I had really hoped to keep the board under $400. On the bright side, Iíve been using the prototype for a few weeks now and, despite the abysmal machining quality, I have to say I'm really liking it. I'm excited to see what this new manufacturer can do and at the prospect of sharing this board with you all. Hopefully the higher than expected price doesnít put this board out of reach for too many people.

Iím going to post some updated renders to reflect the boards that will be offered in the group buy. Thanks to those that commissioned prototypes, I am expecting to have photos of each configuration offered.

That's all for now, stay safe out there.


Whether or not a WKL version makes it into the final list of specs, I'm looking forward to this board regardless. This is one board that I plan on owning and being happy with. I'm glad you chose a manufacturer that understands everything a board needs in order to look and feel high quality. Pretty much no upper limit on this GB I'm very happy with, and I'm interested in a hot-swap option as well. Only thing I'm kind of feeling lonesome about is that I'd love to see a dark emerald green choice, but it's understandable if it doesn't end up as a final color. Looking forward to seeing how this board turns out.

Offline Anthixious

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height
« Reply #91 on: Tue, 04 August 2020, 03:50:26 »
Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.


I'm also in support of this option  :thumb:

Offline hottrout

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #92 on: Wed, 05 August 2020, 05:45:10 »
Great work on the ESD protection and the ISO.  WKL would be perfect and I am very interested in one of these. 
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Offline dibstern

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #93 on: Sat, 15 August 2020, 23:56:47 »
Possible for a white WK version? I'm not sure why no one seems to be making one even though the demand for them is sky high
Someone please dear god run a KAT Deep Navy w/ Mac Modifiers + Rama keycap set.


Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #94 on: Sun, 16 August 2020, 18:39:32 »
Not much to report except that prototypes are in transit and should arrive Soon(TM).

Taking some inspiration from the J-* keyboards, I've sketched out an idea for covering the PCB using magnets and a thin brass plate. Because there aren't any external fasteners, it only adds ~1mm between the PCB and the desktop. I'm not crazy about it because it adds complexity to the design but I figured I'd float it here anyway. For now I'm going to move ahead with prototyping the case as originally designed with the exposed PCB and we can re-visit this down the line.


I'm also in support of this option  :thumb:

I've abandoned this for a number of reasons scattered around the thread but I'll update the main post for clarity. I'm glad you like the board, thanks for the feedback!

Possible for a white WK version? I'm not sure why no one seems to be making one even though the demand for them is sky high

Possible but as of right now unlikely. I can't speak for other GB runners but I will share my reasoning. I will be offering two combinations of layout+color based on likelihood of meeting MOQ. Due to manufacturing limitations I can select either two anodizing colors or one e-coat color per production run. So in order to be made, the demand for a configuration with e-white has to outweigh the demand for the next two (anodizing) color choices combined.

Offline parablol

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14mm front height (fill out the poll!)
« Reply #95 on: Sun, 16 August 2020, 20:00:30 »
This looks GOOD

I wish there was Tsangan-style layout that included split space. Nothing like that exists AFAIK.

Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14.5mm front height (GB opens Oct. 29)
« Reply #96 on: Mon, 12 October 2020, 01:54:30 »
tl;dr - GB opens 10/29, raffle for 50 spots, WK and WKL available in e-black and e-white;



Here's the last big update for this project before the GB goes live!

To quickly re-cap the last two months: the second round of case and PCB prototypes turned out great, the commissioned prototypes were delivered, and Iíve been working on setting up the business side of things. (Oh, and we welcomed a new baby so I haven't slept since August...) Check the top post for the updated photos and build log. Everythingís pretty much ready to go so without any further ado, here are the details:

The group buy will be limited to 50 units and spots will be decided by a raffle which will open on October 29th. The raffle will run for a week, at which point Iíll send out invoices, take payment through my fancy new online store, and get production rolling.

The following configurations will be on offer, each with its own separate MOQ:
- Standard Layout (MOQ: 20)
- Winkeyless Layout (MOQ: 20)
- Option of black or white e-coat finish with either layout

Apart from that:
- The weight and plate will be sand-blasted stainless steel
- The PCB will be black, soldered (not hot-swap!) with support for ISO, stepped caps, split shift/backspace
- The final price will be $450 + plus shipping + local taxes

Note that there will be no support for:
- ALPS
- ANSI/6.25U spacebar bottom row
- Hot swap
- Cover/window for exposed portion of PCB



The final kit will be nearly identical to the round 2 prototype pictured in the new build log. The following are the differences:

Iíve changed the silicone foot pads to domed bumpers
    Why: the domes provide better isolation and are more stable on uneven surfaces

The weight will be available in sand-blasted SS only
    Why: the weight part has proven difficult to machine reliably and Iíve been getting more consistent results with the SS. Also, the SS is much less prone to tarnish and discoloration than the brass.

E-coat rather than anodizing
    Why: the e-coat adheres better to the sharp corners than anodizing pigment for a more consistently even finish. Iíve worked with the manufacturer to offer a black option alongside the white.

The actual front height measurement is now approximately 14.5mm (depends on the compression in the bumper feet)
    Why: Iíve made small allowances for flex in the PCB. This is about a business-card-thickness taller than originally planned, but obviously still quite low.

Replaced the foam pad under the PCB with strips
    Why: Out of an abundance of caution, I donít want any foam putting pressure on SMD components

PCB panelization changed
    Why: moved the breakaway tabs so that they are not visible through the slot in the bottom

Add ultra-low profile screws for spacebar stab
    Why: These screws will be included to replace the standard stabilizer screws so that they donít protrude from the case.



I expected fulfillment to take 4-6 months but Iím not going to commit to a timeline. My experience with the lineup of suppliers has been great so far so I have no reason to expect delays but once I place the orders it is completely out of my hands and the parts arrive when they arrive.

I think thatís everything for now. If you have any question or if thereís anything youíd like to see (specific photo, video, measurement, &c.) please let me know so that I can post it before the raffle opens.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: Mon, 12 October 2020, 21:50:55 by dani_ »

Offline apexshikari

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[IC] Mesa TKL - 14.5mm front height (GB opens Oct. 29)
« Reply #97 on: Mon, 12 October 2020, 02:07:16 »
:thumbsup:


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Offline dani_

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Re: [IC] Mesa TKL - 14.5mm front height (GB opens Oct. 29)
« Reply #98 on: Sat, 17 October 2020, 16:47:53 »
I've been getting some good questions which I think are of general interest so I'll post them here:

Is the PCB exposed through the bottom of the case?
Yes, the bottom row of switches is exposed through the bottom of the case. There is no window or covering despite some discussion to that effect earlier in the IC. I have already laid out my case as to why I don't think this is an issue so please read through my previous posts in the thread (hint: mine are the really long ones) before deciding if this board is for you.

Can I purchase multiple boards?
If all 50 spots are filled in the raffle, I will limit one board per buyer. I will add a multiple boards option to the raffle form and if there are spots left over I'll contact those people interested in multiple boards to work something out.

Extra plates, PCBs?
Yes! You can purchase extra PCBs, plates, and plate-pcb foam. You can already see these items in the store at mesakeyboards.com (though the prices might change a bit as I'm waiting for a few final quotes to come in).

How does e-black differ from black anodizing?
Anodizing is a dyeing process and e-coating is a painting process (similar to powder coating). In black, both finishes will look very similar since they don't reflect much light anyway but the e-coat will be slightly smoother and less metallic. I don't have an e-black sample on hand to show you but googling `site:geekhack.org e-black` will give you plenty of examples. The Leaf 60 GB thread has some high quality examples: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=99002.0.