Author Topic: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)  (Read 1360 times)

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Offline DmonFrost

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Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 09:01:23 »
Hi all,

I've been around for a several weeks reading and it's time to ask the questions I couldn't find or at least it seems they are outdated.

I've been thinking on buying a 60% but as the numpad is really useful when I'm working I thought to buy a 60% + numpad but... why not going for a full keyboard to substitute the Logitech K120 I'm using?

So that's why I've investigated and I think (probably I'm wrong) the keyboard that adjust better to my needs could be:
Varmilo VA108M
Ducky One 2 RGB or Shine 7
GMMX kit with custom switches and keycaps.

So my needs are:
Full keyboard.
Backlight (no RGB needed, just to see the keys when dark).
Good construction and quality (nothing to be changed) or made by custom pieces.
Budget: <180$

I didn't find enough pieces to do it full custom or at least on budget. Everything is related to 60% and TKL.

Any help or advice would be appreciated  ;)

Thank you in advance!
« Last Edit: Wed, 02 September 2020, 09:25:13 by DmonFrost »

Online yui

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 09:12:51 »
well custom plus < 400$ budget ain't happening but a good keyboard can be found. from what i have read leopold (FC900R seems to fit your requirement) and ducky are good boards at a good price, the gmmk is maybe the pest price for a hot-swap board but not the best quality. i have not read much about the varmilo so i can't tell much about it.
Short version: if you want hot swap then go for the GMMK else then it is a story of which one you like to look of best and comes with the right switches.
hope that was a bit useful.
vi vi vi - the roman number of the beast (Plan9 fortune)

Offline jamster

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 09:50:59 »
Another option- Keychron K4. More compact than fullsize but has the number pad. Has lighting.

Offline Riverman

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 11:28:03 »
WASD makes nice keyboards, too, that meet all of your requirements, but I don't know that they're any better than a Varmilo, and you don't get dye-subbed PBT keycaps for the price.  I've had a couple of Varmilo VA108s, and they're great keyboards, if they have a switch you like and you don't mind the odd wood grained plastic case.   The only downside to the keycaps on Varmilo keyboards is that they're not shine-through.  The keyboard itself is backlit, but it only lights up the gaps between the keys.

Offline DmonFrost

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 12:44:15 »
Thank you guys!

I know that full custom could be out of scope but... it could be such a dream :p

I didn't know the Keykron one so I'll take a look to it although I think I'm not going to feel comfortable with so many keys together.

Maybe backlight is not really an option as better keycaps are not backlight compatible and having a keyboard just glowing is not really the objective. I prefer having better quality than disco lights.

I had to discard WASD as international shipping costs me like 1/3 of the keyboard budget, but It looks pretty well as you can customize every single detail of the keycaps.

Do you recommend Varmilos. Are any of you using a 100% keyboard? Which one?

Offline hvontres

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 13:13:46 »
Another option for a full size board might be a relatively inexpensive hot swap board. I was looking at a Abkoncore k595 or a Reddragon K556. I ended up going with a Reddragon since I had a $25 coupon from ebay. I'll let you know how that turns out once I get it. My plan is to put on a set of /dev/tty Mt3 keycaps (which I already have...) and probably some Hako True switches. I am still trying to decide between those, the Hako clears or the kalih burnt orange speeds from Novelkeys.

My other plan was to get a bare bones GMMK (no switches or keycaps) to start with.
Henry von Tresckow

             
1986 Model M 1390131 (square badge), 1987 Model M 1391401 (Oval Badge), 1993 Model M2 project, Modded Reddragon k556 with Hako True switches and dev/tty keycaps (work keyboard)

Offline jamster

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 19:32:47 »
If lighting is optional, there's the Leopold 980 for build quality.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 02 September 2020, 22:43:36 »
I always wonder how one goes from 60% all the way back to 100%. LOL
There are boards in the middle, including ones with full numpad, not extremely common but they do exist (check out the XD96).

One note about Keychron, they tend to be TALL. If you're used to something slim, it's a real big jump to use one. GMMK is 28mm tall (desk to keycap top) while the Keychrons tend to be 35mm (7mm or about 3/8in difference) which is considered the upper limit for ergonomics. It may not sound like a big deal but it is when being used, that's like sticking a pencil or cell phone under the front of the board. It may not matter to you, but does to many people.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline DmonFrost

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 03 September 2020, 09:01:22 »
Another option for a full size board might be a relatively inexpensive hot swap board. I was looking at a Abkoncore k595 or a Reddragon K556. I ended up going with a Reddragon since I had a $25 coupon from ebay. I'll let you know how that turns out once I get it. My plan is to put on a set of /dev/tty Mt3 keycaps (which I already have...) and probably some Hako True switches. I am still trying to decide between those, the Hako clears or the kalih burnt orange speeds from Novelkeys.

My other plan was to get a bare bones GMMK (no switches or keycaps) to start with.

Nice, because I have time to choose one as I'm going to order it in one or maybe two months from now so I'll have your feedback before that date :)


I always wonder how one goes from 60% all the way back to 100%. LOL
There are boards in the middle, including ones with full numpad, not extremely common but they do exist (check out the XD96).

One note about Keychron, they tend to be TALL. If you're used to something slim, it's a real big jump to use one. GMMK is 28mm tall (desk to keycap top) while the Keychrons tend to be 35mm (7mm or about 3/8in difference) which is considered the upper limit for ergonomics. It may not sound like a big deal but it is when being used, that's like sticking a pencil or cell phone under the front of the board. It may not matter to you, but does to many people.

Hahaha I haven't gone yet to 60% so I cannot return to full KB. But yes, although I'd like to try a 60% one I want a full keyboard as... keys are there for some reason right? Probably I'm going to buy a GK61 for trying it, for fun. To test how it feels having one.

I've been told that Keykron is having a lot of issues, not sure if in a specific model or as brand in general so maybe I could avoid it from now. A classic full 100% or 110% like Varmilo offers it's good enough for changing my work's one :p

I've seen that a lot of you guys (in this forum, in general) are using Filco but not Ducky or Varmilo. Are Filco maybe for more specific or demanding group of people?

Offline jamster

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 03 September 2020, 09:13:32 »
I've seen that a lot of you guys (in this forum, in general) are using Filco but not Ducky or Varmilo. Are Filco maybe for more specific or demanding group of people?

No idea where you'd get this impression from, I certainly don't get that impression from Geekhack.

Also, I would not base my purchase decisions on perceived popularity of manufacturers- if that were the case, I'd have ended up with a bunch of Razers and have been very unhappy. Or some impractically small colour-coordinated thing if I spent too much time looking at Reddit.

Offline DmonFrost

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 03 September 2020, 10:33:49 »
I've seen that a lot of you guys (in this forum, in general) are using Filco but not Ducky or Varmilo. Are Filco maybe for more specific or demanding group of people?

No idea where you'd get this impression from, I certainly don't get that impression from Geekhack.

Also, I would not base my purchase decisions on perceived popularity of manufacturers- if that were the case, I'd have ended up with a bunch of Razers and have been very unhappy. Or some impractically small colour-coordinated thing if I spent too much time looking at Reddit.

There was a thread, I don't remember where and I had the impression that I read Filco more than Varmilo or Ducky. Of course the most of post where about brands I don't even know, customs or old IBM ones.

I don't want to have a Razer or Corsair, I'd like something special and more personal, that's why I'm here asking for your experience for not purchasing just a "gamer keyboard". I'm too old for E-sports and I'm not interested at all, I want to have a good typing experience :)

Offline Riverman

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 03 September 2020, 11:34:10 »
Filco used to be sort of the gold standard for an off-the-shelf mechanical keyboard, but these days I think most people would consider them overpriced for what you get.  Look at eBay, where they sell for well under $100 in auctions, and you get a better idea of their true value.  I do a lot of data entry at work using the numeric keypad, so anything short of a full-size keyboard is out of the question for me, although I've always wanted to try a Leopold FC980.  I'm currently using Topre keyboards at home and at work.  My current favorite MX board is a G80-3494.  It's lighter feeling than a plate-mounted keyboard, and I don't mind the size, but it is huge compared to most anything else, and the stepped caps lock key really limits aftermarket keycap choices.  Other than the Cherry, Leopold keyboards are probably my favorite.  They're extremely solid and come with great keycaps.  I've also owned a couple of Duckys, Varmilos, and Filcos, and they were great too.  The Ducky seemed the most modern, with nice styling and a USB-C port.  The Varmilo had their woodgrain case, which bugged me, and the Filco looked a little blocky and dated, although I have to admit that I like their logo.

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 03 September 2020, 22:22:18 »
I've seen that a lot of you guys (in this forum, in general) are using Filco but not Ducky or Varmilo. Are Filco maybe for more specific or demanding group of people?

As Riverman said, Filco was kind of the gold standard and even today is still considered good, just not a good deal.
More importantly this industry and hobby was VERY different then.

While brands like Ducky and Varmilo existed, they were extremely rare and hard to get and people preferred subtle. Today you can get one of Amazon or MechanicalKeyboards.com and have it well within a week if not next day but When I bought my Vortex Race I had to arranged the sale over email as the company I had to get it from didn't even have a shopping cart system, then I sent my money to the a country overseas and prayed something actually showed up 2-3 months later (with no tracking). Not only was it sketch but it was not cheap, shipping alone today would be over $80.

This industry and the internet has changed a TON since then, thankfully. We didn't have a bunch of quality Chinese customs, we didn't have $40 mechanical keyboards, we thought it was amazing when Cooler Master and Rosewill cracked $100. Cherry Switches were EXPENSIVE, we thought it was amazing to pay only 80 cents per switch. Group buys were for caps, not community designed keyboards. You bought off the shelf or nothing. The GH60 and Phantom changed all of that. Not only that but we have far better resources and access to equipment, we have tools to help design cases, plates, pcbs, you can 3d print and test it and then fire it of and wait for your completely custom keyboard to show up.


Would I buy a Filco today? No.
A few years ago we had several aluminum cases, aftermarket controllers, Phantom PCBs, none of that is made anymore. It would still be a good keyboard (after a cap swap), but I'd advise someone to go buy a Ducky, Leopold or Varmilo because you get more for the money. For me though, my keyboard expectations and preferences are at the point that everything has to be torn apart and gone through to make it perform how I expect (springs and stabs!) so it's easier to just buy cheap hot swaps or high end kits I can assemble.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline DmonFrost

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 04 September 2020, 12:50:59 »
Nice points of views guys. I really appreciate them.

It's something I didn't think about. As Keyboards, talking about mechanical ones, were quite expensive, not so easy to find and they have a long live, it's quite usual not having the "last generation fancy/tecnhological keyboards". And like you said it's better looking for the key experience, that is the essence of the keyboard.

I'm thinking that maybe it would be a good idea, as I'm new on modern mechanical keyboards (I used to have an IBM one when I was young) to start with the GMMK kit that will allow me to test different switches. It has an aluminium plate and although it only allows 3-pin switches it's probably a good start as some of you have suggested.

What do you think?


Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 05 September 2020, 01:21:13 »
It's a good way to go, then as you figure out what you want start looking for it.
Not out much money and you still have a switch testing board. Just be sure to get a magnetic cable for it, the connector is a Micro B and easily damaged.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline jamster

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 05 September 2020, 01:30:20 »
Nice points of views guys. I really appreciate them.

It's something I didn't think about. As Keyboards, talking about mechanical ones, were quite expensive, not so easy to find and they have a long live, it's quite usual not having the "last generation fancy/tecnhological keyboards". And like you said it's better looking for the key experience, that is the essence of the keyboard.

I'm thinking that maybe it would be a good idea, as I'm new on modern mechanical keyboards (I used to have an IBM one when I was young) to start with the GMMK kit that will allow me to test different switches. It has an aluminium plate and although it only allows 3-pin switches it's probably a good start as some of you have suggested.

What do you think?

You can turn a five pin switch into a three pin switch in about three seconds, using nail clippers :)

Offline hvontres

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 05 September 2020, 04:18:17 »
If you are willing to wait a bit, there is always this:

Definitely looks like a very interesting option.
Henry von Tresckow

             
1986 Model M 1390131 (square badge), 1987 Model M 1391401 (Oval Badge), 1993 Model M2 project, Modded Reddragon k556 with Hako True switches and dev/tty keycaps (work keyboard)

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #17 on: Sat, 05 September 2020, 04:53:38 »
You can turn a five pin switch into a three pin switch in about three seconds, using nail clippers :)

Nothing like clipping the pins on $130 worth of switches just so they fit into your $60 keyboard.

Especially when those pins would help ensure proper alignment and reduce problems.
Filco MJ2 L.E. w/hand milled Vortex case, custom feet/paint/winkey blockoff plate, HID Liberator, stainless steel universal plate, 3d printed adapters, Type C, sound dampened,  Thick PBT caps (o-ringed), Cherry Jailhouse Blues w/lubed/clipped Cherry light springs | GMMK TKL | Magicforce 68 | YMDK75 | KBT Race S L.E. | Das Pro (Costar model) | GH60 | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline DmonFrost

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 07 September 2020, 09:05:37 »
I think for starting it could be ok having only 3 pin switches, clipping pins of a 1,3 switch could be risky if later on I move to a PCB mounted scheme.

Thank you all for your recommendations for a 100% keyboard  :thumb:

Offline hvontres

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Re: Looking for a good custom or model 100% (full size)
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 09 September 2020, 03:17:46 »
Another option for a full size board might be a relatively inexpensive hot swap board. I was looking at a Abkoncore k595 or a Reddragon K556. I ended up going with a Reddragon since I had a $25 coupon from ebay. I'll let you know how that turns out once I get it. My plan is to put on a set of /dev/tty Mt3 keycaps (which I already have...) and probably some Hako True switches. I am still trying to decide between those, the Hako clears or the kalih burnt orange speeds from Novelkeys.

My other plan was to get a bare bones GMMK (no switches or keycaps) to start with.

Ok, So the Reddragon showed up today and I have already taken it appart for mods. :)

Fist the good:

  • Nice aluminum case is nice and stiff and fairly compact
  • RGB lighting seems to be nice if you are into that kind of thing
  • The Otemu Brown switches actually feel OK, but I will change them anyways
  • The USB cable is attached to the board with a JST Connector, so it might be possible to make a USB-C connector pannel for the case
Now the not so good:
  • The PCB uses Otemu hotswap sockets. They look kind of like a budged mil-max knockoff. They work fine with Otemu switches, where both legs are 0.8mm wide. Kahli swiches have one 0.8 and one 1mm leg. I ended up modding a pair of needle nose pliers to allow me to crush down the wider leg on the Kahli's to make them fit.
  • I tried a Cherry switch and it too has issues with one of the legs being just a little too wide.
  • No provision for PCB mount stabilizers
  • I'm faily ceritain there is no way to use something like QMK on this PCB


Overall, I would say this might be an option for someone mechanically inclined enough to work around the limitations of the Otemu sockets, but otherwise, I think a GMMK or similar board with Kahlih sockets is a much better place to start.


Henry von Tresckow

             
1986 Model M 1390131 (square badge), 1987 Model M 1391401 (Oval Badge), 1993 Model M2 project, Modded Reddragon k556 with Hako True switches and dev/tty keycaps (work keyboard)