Author Topic: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.  (Read 1118 times)

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Offline bigfishkb

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Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« on: Wed, 13 May 2020, 15:22:59 »
Those that say crack is addictive have never typed on a mechanical keyboard. It starts as harmless fun like any other activity, maybe you saw a nice custom build online or you even know someone with a mech that you could try. Next thing you know you are meticulously speccing parts trying to satisfy all your wishes. Something with the perfect pcb, switches, case, keycap set combination that will give you the layout, RGB functionality, programability, tactile feedback, and aesthetics that you desire. You are taking apart each switch and applying a perfect amount of lube to achieve the most marginal difference in sound and feel and soldering together every component to ensure it is up to your standard. You cannot go back to a rubber dome or scratchy, wobbly switch. You now know the true bliss of premium switches, the satisfying thocc, the flexibility in layouts and programming ("Oh god the layers!"). I just completed my first build and I'm already planning my next 3 or 4 builds. It's too late for me, I have no endgame. I do not wish to recover, I am just hoping that you could help find my rock bottom under a heap of GMK group buys. Here's to the start of a new hobby!

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 14 May 2020, 09:40:47 »
Hi bigfishkb. Welcome to keyboardaholics anonymous, I mean ... Geekhack.

I actually don't do much of any of that myself, though I can be cheap, and like modifying things, so most of my boards are just random OEM boards I swapped better switches into. I am in IT as well, so I also need to use standard layouts most of the time, so no nonstandard layouts (though I do use old AT boards often, but that's pretty close to modern ANSI) and layering for me.

I'm going to guess that you're a tactile or linear guy. Clicky guy myself. What switches have you tried? Which do you like?

Try not to go bankrupt.  :thumb:

Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 14 May 2020, 23:09:57 »
I'm really enjoying silent linears (Helios) right now since I'm a student and don't want to cause a disturbance during lectures. Although I am planning to dabble more with tactile soon as I've got some holy pandas to look forward to arriving at some point for a future build. What clickys do you use? I've only ever tried kailh box whites on a friend's board. Non standard layouts are what allured me in the first place but navigating split spacebar and the compromises that come with arrows has me wanting to try more traditional ANSI layout going forward. Non standard size modifiers can be a pain to track down.

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 09:01:28 »
That makes sense. Never tried Healios or Holy Pandas myself, but I haven't heard/read anything bad about them. I know people seem to love just about anything from Zeal, and people seem to rave about holy pandas too.

For modern switches, I mostly use box jades and navies. I may try box whites on a gaming board for a compromise switch for both typing and gaming, as there's nice crisp tactility (while being just barely perceptible, and very light) and a relatively quiet click. Of what I have tried, my favorites are Alps SKCM blues (their linears and tactiles are very nice too) and IBM's capacitive buckling spring. Kailh's thick clicks come close, but not quite. NEC blue ovals and Hi Tek's 725 (space invaders) series are awesome clickies too.

You can configure some 60% boards, like the DZ60, to have dedicated arrow keys. Cap options are still limited in that regard, but case and plate options are pretty good I think.

Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 11:40:36 »
That's so cool it's like we're on complete different ends of the keyboard spectrum. Our boards are like comparing a tuned up civic with a vintage muscle car. I really like the dz60 actually and use it as my main board because of the directionals but the 1u rshift is a necessary compromise. For a future build I'm definitely thinking 65% (the discipline is calling me) might get the PCB made since the group buys are really difficult to get in on and I'll get the option of using an alternate PCB color. Wouldn't mind adding some mill max sockets either while I'm at it. What board is your daily?

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 12:21:55 »
That's so cool it's like we're on complete different ends of the keyboard spectrum. Our boards are like comparing a tuned up civic with a vintage muscle car. I really like the dz60 actually and use it as my main board because of the directionals but the 1u rshift is a necessary compromise. For a future build I'm definitely thinking 65% (the discipline is calling me) might get the PCB made since the group buys are really difficult to get in on and I'll get the option of using an alternate PCB color. Wouldn't mind adding some mill max sockets either while I'm at it. What board is your daily?

Well, I used quite a few boards. I work primarily out of two different locations. At one I have had an IBM F AT set up for months (haven't had to be there since the apocalypse began). Prior to that, at that location, I was using a Das Pro 4 I swapped box navies into. At the other I have the reproduction IBM F77 that's in my profile picture. Prior to that I was using a Leading Edge DC-2014 with blue Alps. Prior to that, I was using a Corsair K65 I swapped box navies into.

At home, my HTPC board is a TG3 "cop keyboard" that I swapped box jades into. My gaming rig's board has been the same since I got into mechanicals, a K70 with MX reds. I don't use the board for typing enough to have bothered to swap those yet. For general typing, I have been mostly using my recently-acquired original IBM F107, but I'll alternate between that and random modern modified boards and original AT/XT 5-pin din boards.

I have a DZ60 PCB and related parts coming, eventually, if all of the parts can finally come from Chinese customs purgatory, since I did want something hot swappable for more realistic switch testing, etc.

So, long story short, I don't really daily drive any specific board. I love to swap between box thick clicks and random vintage clicky boards (including linears, since I have a few old Zenith boards with linear Alps).

What about yourself? What boards have you got?

Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 17:52:26 »
That's so cool it's like we're on complete different ends of the keyboard spectrum. Our boards are like comparing a tuned up civic with a vintage muscle car. I really like the dz60 actually and use it as my main board because of the directionals but the 1u rshift is a necessary compromise. For a future build I'm definitely thinking 65% (the discipline is calling me) might get the PCB made since the group buys are really difficult to get in on and I'll get the option of using an alternate PCB color. Wouldn't mind adding some mill max sockets either while I'm at it. What board is your daily?

Well, I used quite a few boards. I work primarily out of two different locations. At one I have had an IBM F AT set up for months (haven't had to be there since the apocalypse began). Prior to that, at that location, I was using a Das Pro 4 I swapped box navies into. At the other I have the reproduction IBM F77 that's in my profile picture. Prior to that I was using a Leading Edge DC-2014 with blue Alps. Prior to that, I was using a Corsair K65 I swapped box navies into.

At home, my HTPC board is a TG3 "cop keyboard" that I swapped box jades into. My gaming rig's board has been the same since I got into mechanicals, a K70 with MX reds. I don't use the board for typing enough to have bothered to swap those yet. For general typing, I have been mostly using my recently-acquired original IBM F107, but I'll alternate between that and random modern modified boards and original AT/XT 5-pin din boards.

I have a DZ60 PCB and related parts coming, eventually, if all of the parts can finally come from Chinese customs purgatory, since I did want something hot swappable for more realistic switch testing, etc.

So, long story short, I don't really daily drive any specific board. I love to swap between box thick clicks and random vintage clicky boards (including linears, since I have a few old Zenith boards with linear Alps).

What about yourself? What boards have you got?

Aside from my DZ 60 I'm just waiting on parts for my second build to come in. It took me a while to finally decide on the config for my first build since I was trying to go for portability, functional layout as well as some other aesthetic choices I insisted on, like split spacebar and arrows. The next build will use a Dawn 60 by Xelus and I plan to make a custom sandwich case using only clear acrylic to maximize RGB. Now that I learned how to solder I just want to keep making more. Those all sound like solid workhorse boards, did you have to add USB support for the IBM models? What are your plans for the dz60 as far as case, switches, keycaps?

Offline IronCheeks

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 20:09:27 »
Welcome, bigfishkb!

Reading that first line in your OP message is exactly what happened to me. I began looking at switches, reading about modifications that can be done, gathering up some research about the keyboards I may like, eventually leading up to purchasing quite a few artisans and joining many groupbuys. Reading through, it makes me excited and happy that I have looked into this hobby. I have yet to even have my first keyboard arrive from drop and I already have lubed up 3/4 of the NK_Blueberries I plan on trying out with 3204 grade 0.

My current daily driver is a Das Keyboard Professional 4. I thoroughly enjoy the feel of the Cherry MX Brown, but I do type pretty heavily and does mess with my sense of key presses. You can say I border on heavy tactile and linear.  I do have some Zealios V2 on the way from Drop.




Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 20:31:53 »
Welcome, bigfishkb!

Reading that first line in your OP message is exactly what happened to me. I began looking at switches, reading about modifications that can be done, gathering up some research about the keyboards I may like, eventually leading up to purchasing quite a few artisans and joining many groupbuys. Reading through, it makes me excited and happy that I have looked into this hobby. I have yet to even have my first keyboard arrive from drop and I already have lubed up 3/4 of the NK_Blueberries I plan on trying out with 3204 grade 0.

My current daily driver is a Das Keyboard Professional 4. I thoroughly enjoy the feel of the Cherry MX Brown, but I do type pretty heavily and does mess with my sense of key presses. You can say I border on heavy tactile and linear.  I do have some Zealios V2 on the way from Drop.

That's awesome IronCheeks, Blueberries are all the rage right now and I bet that lube will really enhance smoothness and tactile bump. Zealios are cool too, I don't have anything bad to say about any Zeal switch I've tried and I'm pretty stoked about the 67g Zilents that should arrive shortly after this pandemic subsides enough to open new york again. Have you tested any blueberries so far, I've seen some mixed reviews about the tactile bump being very unique, almost like a double bump that takes some getting used to, really curious to know more about how they feel compared to browns.

Offline IronCheeks

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 15 May 2020, 21:13:54 »

Have you tested any blueberries so far, I've seen some mixed reviews about the tactile bump being very unique, almost like a double bump that takes some getting used to, really curious to know more about how they feel compared to browns.

I can't wait for NYC to open back up again for the sake of shipping out items I have ordered and also to have some good food going!
As for the NK_Blueberries, I've been pretending to type with them on my lube station and you do not really notice the double bump unless you are pressing lightly and slowly on the switches. They definitely do have a solid, rounded bump that happens early onto the downstroke - about 0.75 mm according to ThereminGoat's review. Once you get past that bump, though, it's a steady, smooth bottom-out. With an 80g spring weight, I want to say it feels like a very satisfying tactile that has a linear travel once you get past the bump. Bottoming out isn't much of a problem for me, so in theory, the noticeable actuation should help me improve in terms of accuracy. It's both pleasing and familiar for me as my first mechanical Keyboard was a Ducky Shine 3 Year of the Snake w/ MX Blues and that was what I was used to for almost 8 years before getting into this hobby.

I'm very curious as to how it types in a proper setup. Good thing my first board is gonna be a hotswap.
« Last Edit: Sat, 16 May 2020, 01:20:36 by IronCheeks »



Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 18 May 2020, 11:36:14 »
Aside from my DZ 60 I'm just waiting on parts for my second build to come in. It took me a while to finally decide on the config for my first build since I was trying to go for portability, functional layout as well as some other aesthetic choices I insisted on, like split spacebar and arrows. The next build will use a Dawn 60 by Xelus and I plan to make a custom sandwich case using only clear acrylic to maximize RGB. Now that I learned how to solder I just want to keep making more. Those all sound like solid workhorse boards, did you have to add USB support for the IBM models? What are your plans for the dz60 as far as case, switches, keycaps?

Nice. Split spacebars seem interesting. If I didn't think it would ruin my muscle memory for other more conventional boards, I would love to try it out. those acrylic sandwhich cases are cool. I have one for a Raspberry Pi. I think I would probably try to play around with the opacity and/or color of the layers if I were to be playing with LEDs myself. I imagine completely clear is going to glow nicely.

Soldering can be therapeutic, can't it? Also, maybe, somewhat fulfilling, to know that you've assembled something yourself. Not just slapping something together, but with just a little more permanence.

SKCM blue Alps are all I worry about at work. They're sensitive to dust/debri. I keep a towel over my Alps boards though when not in use. The rest are pretty much bulletproof. Kailh's box switches are IP57 rated against dust and water, and on the TG3 "cop keyboard" I modified the silicone mat that protects the plate and switches to prevent it from adding rubbery tactility to the switches themselves by cutting off the tops of the domes, since the switches themselves are relatively well sealed. Capacitive buckling spring is so simple that those boards will basically just work, forever.

The IBM F AT will only require an active converter if you do not have a ps/2 port on your computer. I use them through ps/2 if I can, with a 5-pin DIN to ps/2 adapter. Most desktops still have it. The protocol is the same, so that's all that's necessary. The F107 already had a replacement controller with a USB interface. I do believe that active conversion to USB is required for the IBM 4704 family. The new production F62s and F77s come from the factory with the same controller. Otherwise, I do have a few Soarer's converters I have put together, and a TMK converter, either of which work with most retro keyboards from the mid 80s on, including the F XT.

I ordered a walnut case, something I have always wanted on a keyboard (I'm a fan of old wood and iron, etc). I also ordered a brass plate. I ordered a mini usb version of the PCB since it was the last USB standard I found acceptably durable and user-friendly, couldn't find it with hot swap sockets so I ordered those separately. It will be my first, and maybe only, hot swap board, for more realistic switch/configuration testing. I had some of Kailh's new box silent reds coming, but those were somehow returned to sender, so the slow journey from China begins again on that.
« Last Edit: Mon, 25 May 2020, 16:14:32 by Maledicted »

Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 14:37:39 »
Nice. Splice spacebars seem interesting. If I didn't think it would ruin my muscle memory for other more conventional boards, I would love to try it out. those acrylic sandwhich cases are cool. I have one for a Raspberry Pi. I think I would probably try to play around with the opacity and/or color of the layers if I were to be playing with LEDs myself. I imagine completely clear is going to glow nicely.

Soldering can be therapeutic, can't it? Also, maybe, somewhat fulfilling, to know that you've assembled something yourself. Not just slapping something together, but with just a little more permanence.

SKCM blue Alps are all I worry about at work. They're sensitive to dust/debri. I keep a towel over my Alps boards though when not in use. The rest are pretty much bulletproof. Kailh's box switches are IP57 rated against dust and water, and on the TG3 "cop keyboard" I modified the silicone mat that protects the plate and switches to prevent it from adding rubbery tactility to the switches themselves by cutting off the tops of the domes, since the switches themselves are relatively well sealed. Capacitive buckling spring is so simple that those boards will basically just work, forever.

The IBM F AT will only require an active converter if you do not have a ps/2 port on your computer. I use them through ps/2 if I can, with a 5-pin DIN to ps/2 adapter. Most desktops still have it. The protocol is the same, so that's all that's necessary. The F107 already had a replacement controller with a USB interface. I do believe that active conversion to USB is required for the IBM 4704 family. The new production F62s and F77s come from the factory with the same controller. Otherwise, I do have a few Soarer's converters I have put together, and a TMK converter, either of which work with most retro keyboards from the mid 80s on, including the F XT.

I ordered a walnut case, something I have always wanted on a keyboard (I'm a fan of old wood and iron, etc). I also ordered a brass plate. I ordered a mini usb version of the PCB since it was the last USB standard I found acceptably durable and user-friendly, couldn't find it with hot swap sockets so I ordered those separately. It will be my first, and maybe only, hot swap board, for more realistic switch/configuration testing. I had some of Kailh's new box silent reds coming, but those were somehow returned to sender, so the slow journey from China begins again on that.
Yeah, it feels pretty good having a layer mapped in the center function key and the space bar is still very useable, so aside from the difficulty in finding suitable keycaps it's my preference, although now that I'm more familiar with using layers I'm graduating toward ANSI. Soldering was probably the thing I was most worried about and yes it is therapeutic. It's got me considering a hand wired build in the future. The wood case is a great choice, I use a wooden case and I like how solid and firm it sounds compared to plastic. What kind of hot swap sockets did you go with? I wanted to try adding mill max 7305 to hot swap mod some nicer PCBs but I want to make sure I'm not losing anything by doing so.  Oh man, great idea on the silent reds, I've got some on the way as well that I'm hoping to compare against Helios, so I know what you mean about the journey they make.

Offline bigfishkb

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 14:47:35 »
I can't wait for NYC to open back up again for the sake of shipping out items I have ordered and also to have some good food going!
As for the NK_Blueberries, I've been pretending to type with them on my lube station and you do not really notice the double bump unless you are pressing lightly and slowly on the switches. They definitely do have a solid, rounded bump that happens early onto the downstroke - about 0.75 mm according to ThereminGoat's review. Once you get past that bump, though, it's a steady, smooth bottom-out. With an 80g spring weight, I want to say it feels like a very satisfying tactile that has a linear travel once you get past the bump. Bottoming out isn't much of a problem for me, so in theory, the noticeable actuation should help me improve in terms of accuracy. It's both pleasing and familiar for me as my first mechanical Keyboard was a Ducky Shine 3 Year of the Snake w/ MX Blues and that was what I was used to for almost 8 years before getting into this hobby.

I'm very curious as to how it types in a proper setup. Good thing my first board is gonna be a hotswap.

Yeah that sounds like a really nice tactile, I'll have to get a hot swap board to try out more options. As far as a proper set up, what is your dream build?

Offline Maledicted

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 16:18:42 »
Nice. Splice spacebars seem interesting. If I didn't think it would ruin my muscle memory for other more conventional boards, I would love to try it out. those acrylic sandwhich cases are cool. I have one for a Raspberry Pi. I think I would probably try to play around with the opacity and/or color of the layers if I were to be playing with LEDs myself. I imagine completely clear is going to glow nicely.

Soldering can be therapeutic, can't it? Also, maybe, somewhat fulfilling, to know that you've assembled something yourself. Not just slapping something together, but with just a little more permanence.

SKCM blue Alps are all I worry about at work. They're sensitive to dust/debri. I keep a towel over my Alps boards though when not in use. The rest are pretty much bulletproof. Kailh's box switches are IP57 rated against dust and water, and on the TG3 "cop keyboard" I modified the silicone mat that protects the plate and switches to prevent it from adding rubbery tactility to the switches themselves by cutting off the tops of the domes, since the switches themselves are relatively well sealed. Capacitive buckling spring is so simple that those boards will basically just work, forever.

The IBM F AT will only require an active converter if you do not have a ps/2 port on your computer. I use them through ps/2 if I can, with a 5-pin DIN to ps/2 adapter. Most desktops still have it. The protocol is the same, so that's all that's necessary. The F107 already had a replacement controller with a USB interface. I do believe that active conversion to USB is required for the IBM 4704 family. The new production F62s and F77s come from the factory with the same controller. Otherwise, I do have a few Soarer's converters I have put together, and a TMK converter, either of which work with most retro keyboards from the mid 80s on, including the F XT.

I ordered a walnut case, something I have always wanted on a keyboard (I'm a fan of old wood and iron, etc). I also ordered a brass plate. I ordered a mini usb version of the PCB since it was the last USB standard I found acceptably durable and user-friendly, couldn't find it with hot swap sockets so I ordered those separately. It will be my first, and maybe only, hot swap board, for more realistic switch/configuration testing. I had some of Kailh's new box silent reds coming, but those were somehow returned to sender, so the slow journey from China begins again on that.
Yeah, it feels pretty good having a layer mapped in the center function key and the space bar is still very useable, so aside from the difficulty in finding suitable keycaps it's my preference, although now that I'm more familiar with using layers I'm graduating toward ANSI. Soldering was probably the thing I was most worried about and yes it is therapeutic. It's got me considering a hand wired build in the future. The wood case is a great choice, I use a wooden case and I like how solid and firm it sounds compared to plastic. What kind of hot swap sockets did you go with? I wanted to try adding mill max 7305 to hot swap mod some nicer PCBs but I want to make sure I'm not losing anything by doing so.  Oh man, great idea on the silent reds, I've got some on the way as well that I'm hoping to compare against Helios, so I know what you mean about the journey they make.

I do imagine that hand wiring will feel like an accomplishment, and the board will feel more your own, than other options. Something you meticulously built yourself, from nothing. I got the Kailh hot swap sockets because I believe that the hot swap version of those boards comes with them.

I'll have to feel helios, and so much more, eventually. Clickies are going to always be my main focus.

Offline IronCheeks

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Re: Hi, my name is bigfishkb and I'm a keyboardaholic.
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 26 May 2020, 20:54:18 »
I can't wait for NYC to open back up again for the sake of shipping out items I have ordered and also to have some good food going!
As for the NK_Blueberries, I've been pretending to type with them on my lube station and you do not really notice the double bump unless you are pressing lightly and slowly on the switches. They definitely do have a solid, rounded bump that happens early onto the downstroke - about 0.75 mm according to ThereminGoat's review. Once you get past that bump, though, it's a steady, smooth bottom-out. With an 80g spring weight, I want to say it feels like a very satisfying tactile that has a linear travel once you get past the bump. Bottoming out isn't much of a problem for me, so in theory, the noticeable actuation should help me improve in terms of accuracy. It's both pleasing and familiar for me as my first mechanical Keyboard was a Ducky Shine 3 Year of the Snake w/ MX Blues and that was what I was used to for almost 8 years before getting into this hobby.

I'm very curious as to how it types in a proper setup. Good thing my first board is gonna be a hotswap.

Yeah that sounds like a really nice tactile, I'll have to get a hot swap board to try out more options. As far as a proper set up, what is your dream build?

My dream build? Well, with the new upcoming Keycult No.3 and it's shemxy case, I want that case in purple anodization with lubed and filmed Blueberries or Zealios 67g, Durock stabs. Topped with either GMK Olivia or GK Modern Dolch.