Author Topic: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room  (Read 2546 times)

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Offline ddrfraser1

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Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 08:22:31 »
Ok, I may have pissed off every moderator on GH but I don't care if I get booted. This is a worthy cause.

It's 2020. We have gotten tons of great keycap sets, GMK, SA, KAT , PBT MT3. AND we have gotten a lot of great, some out there but still great, keyboard group buys. So, why oh why do we still not have any good keycaps sets for ALPS and TOPRE. How amazing would GMK alps or topre be? How amazing would MT3 topre be? I get that Alps and topre are more niche but come on. People keep saying there's no demand but i don't buy that. Just look at how many other people are asking the same thing.

And here's the part where I've probably pissed everyone off. I've commented on a selection of posts where people are asking the same thing as me. As you can see, I've sort of clogged up the keycap forum. There is demand.

Won't one of you brilliant geniuses out there put together some ICs?!
« Last Edit: Sun, 05 April 2020, 09:46:18 by ddrfraser1 »

Offline Slayer77

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 09:11:29 »
Ok, it's 2020. We have gotten tons of great keycap sets, GMK, SA, KAT , PBT MT3. AND we have gotten a lot of great, some out there but still great, keyboard group buys. So, why oh why do we still not have any good keycaps sets for ALPS and TOPRE. How amazing would GMK alps or topre be? How amazing would MT3 topre be? I get that Alps and topre are more niche but come on. People keep saying there's no demand but i don't buy that. Just look at how many other people are asking the same thing. Won't one of you brilliant geniuses out there put together some ICs?!
MOQs would be extremely low, not enough demand. On topre you could just use sliders for MX caps? No idea about alps though.

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Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 09:25:48 »
Nope. I don't buy the low MOQ argument. If you look around GH, reddit and deskthority there are tons and tons of people asking the same thing as me and tons of people giving the same answer. Let's admit it, MX style switches are fine but have their limitations. Alps is so much better and the HHKB market as well as other is strong. Everybody wants to pimp out their HHKBs and leopolds.

If you do a search on GH alone you'll find post after post of people asking where to by topre or alps sets in GMK, SA, thick PBT, DSA, highpro and others.

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 09:52:22 »
We all know about Tai-Hao and KBDfans stuff. That stuff is fine but I'm talking about good quality double shots, thick PBT, highpro, the sexy, colorful innovative stuff we see in typical group buys. Let's be honest, the GH-122 was a way wackier idea than this and you guys made it happen. There is plenty of demand for good topre and alps caps.

Online Rob27shred

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 09:55:11 »
It isn't low MOQ, it is the fact the tooling for those caps does not exist & those companies are not gonna invest the huge sum required to make the molds unless there is proven high demand. Which for ALPS & Topre caps there just is not enough of. Trust me as an ALPS afficenodo I would love GMK ALPS mount caps or SP SA ALPS mount, but even with the sharp uptick in people in this hobby & people using custom ALPS boards the demand id still not high enough to make those companies want to have the tooling made. SP does have tooling for DSA & DCS ALPS mount & Tai-Hao makes OEM ALPS mount 108 key sets, but all three have MX stabilizer mount so they're only useable on custom builds really.

Offline biothermal

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 10:01:22 »
My guy, you didn't have to post on every thread... You're not the first to make the argument, and you won't be the last.

Why not make put together your own IC? There's no reason to "clog up" forums asking someone to do something that you yourself are capable of.

Offline Sup

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 10:09:33 »
We all know about Tai-Hao and KBDfans stuff. That stuff is fine but I'm talking about good quality double shots, thick PBT, highpro, the sexy, colorful innovative stuff we see in typical group buys. Let's be honest, the GH-122 was a way wackier idea than this and you guys made it happen. There is plenty of demand for good topre and alps caps.

The demand is not there and you replying to all posts with people asking for custom Topre/Alps key-caps from last decade is not going to help. Alps is niche even inside the enthusiast keyboard community and it doesn't help that Alps stopped producing switches anyway. Topre already has high quality key-caps as is people rarely want to change those key-caps and those that want to change they rather just invest 200 bucks into a novatouch to harvest the sliders and mod there Topre board to accept MX key-caps.

For Topre they just need to make a good MX Sliders. And Alps they are doomed far is know or they have to shelf a lot of money and hope there sets make MOQ to be produced. There was someone that made Alps to MX compatible sliders but it had some issues.
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 05 April 2020, 11:51:49 »
Most Alps keyboards are vintage, or custom keyboards made for vintage Alps keycaps.
Alps has the problems that that there isn't a single standard layout and there isn't a single stabiliser type ó and some keyboards even use multiple types of stabilisers on the same keyboard, or even on the same key ("Big-Ass" Enter). Caps Lock on Alps keyboards can be 1.25u-stepped, 1.5u-stepped or centre-stemmed and the location of the Alps mount on ISO Enter can be in three different locations.
There have been double-shot Alps keycap sets from Tai-Hao (OEM) and Signature Plastics (DCS), but those fit only some of all the many Alps keyboards.

Moulds for injection-moulding are expensive and they need to have been made from the beginning to support multiple key stems. The cost of a set for another key stem would therefore be close to the cost of a new keycap profile altogether ó much much higher than the cost of yet another small series in a new colourway.
Tai-Hao and SP had designed their moulds for different stems, because they are third-party manufacturers.
GMK's moulds are from Cherry, which Cherry had made to work only with their own switches.
Maybe SP has Alps-support for other profiles: Why don't you ask them!

BTW. I don't agree that "Alps is superior". Some vintage switches with Alps -mount, when in good condition have unparalleled tactile feel and sound, but that's it. There are other qualities to consider! Availability is one.
Input Club and Kailh's upcoming Silo Command switch has been described to work in a similar way to Alps: If they had made it right, the tactile leaf might be exchangeable.
There are also a few older switches with click leaf that are in production even: I-Rocks unnamed switch, and Hua-Jie AKF.
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Offline Polymer

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 06 April 2020, 14:01:49 »
Nope. I don't buy the low MOQ argument. If you look around GH, reddit and deskthority there are tons and tons of people asking the same thing as me and tons of people giving the same answer. Let's admit it, MX style switches are fine but have their limitations. Alps is so much better and the HHKB market as well as other is strong. Everybody wants to pimp out their HHKBs and leopolds.

If you do a search on GH alone you'll find post after post of people asking where to by topre or alps sets in GMK, SA, thick PBT, DSA, highpro and others.

Do your own interest check and try to find a vendor that can make them for you.  I don't know how many different runs you'll need to go through before they get it right but this will be a labor of love (for you not for them). 

I think you'll find it more difficult than you think.  It isn't like this hasn't been floating across ALL of the forums for many years. 

But if you can find a way to make some high quality Topre keycaps at a reasonable price, I'm in. 

Offline RominRonin

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 07 April 2020, 00:12:01 »
Nope. I don't buy the low MOQ argument. If you look around GH, reddit and deskthority there are tons and tons of people asking the same thing as me and tons of people giving the same answer. Let's admit it, MX style switches are fine but have their limitations. Alps is so much better and the HHKB market as well as other is strong. Everybody wants to pimp out their HHKBs and leopolds.

If you do a search on GH alone you'll find post after post of people asking where to by topre or alps sets in GMK, SA, thick PBT, DSA, highpro and others.
The problem is not the number of people alone.

A lot of people come along, asking about key sets, it doesnít mean they are all willing to spend 150 dollars or euros on a keyset. Itís usually a shock how expensive good quality key sets are. So deduct a percentage of these people from that demand you think there is.

Then consider that people can never agree on a colour combination. To give an idea of the difference in demand between Mx and topre caps: think of every Mx group buy youíve seen in the last year alone: now think that they have each sold at least 150 sets (and in many cases, much more than that).

You might not believe that the demand is not there, but if it were, one of these manufacturers would try to capitalise on it.

In fact, kbdfans - who is one of the fastest reacting vendors when it comes to community demand - produced a topre compatible 9009 set. The same 9009 colours that produced 5 (or 6?) rounds of reproduction on its Mx variant produced only one (as far as Iím aware) in its topre incarnation.

That was one of the MOST popular colour combinations in the hobby. The gmk 9009 has also produced multiple rounds of gbs.

So the demand is much lower.
This makes it hard for a single colour combination to do well (smaller group of buyers, each want their own specific colour combination).
This plus the option of stem adapters and the sheer number of different colours to choose from in the Mx world make it very hard to create a topre group buy that would succeed.

But very hard and impossible arenít the same thing. Just start your own interest check, and contact everyone of those people interested in topre caps you found.

What do you have to lose but time? Now if anything is the best time for this kind of challenge.


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Offline nickheller

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 22:53:20 »
Ok, I may have pissed off every moderator on GH but I don't care if I get booted. This is a worthy cause.

It's 2020. We have gotten tons of great keycap sets, GMK, SA, KAT , PBT MT3. AND we have gotten a lot of great, some out there but still great, keyboard group buys. So, why oh why do we still not have any good keycaps sets for ALPS and TOPRE. How amazing would GMK alps or topre be? How amazing would MT3 topre be? I get that Alps and topre are more niche but come on. People keep saying there's no demand but i don't buy that. Just look at how many other people are asking the same thing.

And here's the part where I've probably pissed everyone off. I've commented on a selection of posts where people are asking the same thing as me. As you can see, I've sort of clogged up the keycap forum. There is demand.

Won't one of you brilliant geniuses out there put together some ICs?!

Why not do it yourself? You've made an IC for GMK, so you clearly know where to post something like that.  :confused: :confused:

Gotcha. Those sacks look mouth watering.

Offline fkcaps

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 16 April 2020, 23:53:45 »

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 10:31:25 »
Topre is niche, and will always be niche.

I'm still confident that Alps could turn the tide against MX if someone could recreate SKCM blues, as in the IC on this forum. It is almost a chicken and an egg scenario. People complain that there are no Alps caps, so they don't see the value in new Alps switches, and original Alps switches in good shape are scarce, so nobody bothers to make caps for them.

This needs to be handled like the companies making new MX-incompatible switches, like Silos. They release a total starter package. If that package becomes popular enough for its unique qualities, demand for an aftermarket is created, and with enough demand, more varied supply.

We need new SKCM blues, with a basic modern ANSI cap set, with a somewhat standardized PCB, plate, stabilizers, etc. New production, in coordination. Then it just needs time to stew, converting those who have only experienced the MX sphere of switches.

Problem solved, unless Silos end up being just as good as how everyone seems to revere the original beamsprings. Then Alps may become superfluous.

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 14:55:24 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Offline DALExSNAIL

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 15:18:35 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Vindicated that someone started an IC instead of you?

Offline fkcaps

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 15:34:27 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Haha, just sent it to all IC participants :)

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 15:35:06 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Vindicated that someone started an IC instead of you?

Lol, touche  ;D

Offline fkcaps

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 15:37:16 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Vindicated that someone started an IC instead of you?

Lol, touche  ;D

To be fair, I had told you about it in PM ;) I got a notification about this thread just while I was discussing the project with someone on Discord, I saw this as a sign!

Offline ddrfraser1

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Re: Addressing the Keycap Elephant in the Room
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 17 April 2020, 15:45:16 »
Anyone get the email from fkcaps.com? I feel vindicated  ;D

Vindicated that someone started an IC instead of you?

Lol, touche  ;D

To be fair, I had told you about it in PM ;) I got a notification about this thread just while I was discussing the project with someone on Discord, I saw this as a sign!

It was like the stars aligned