Author Topic: First build 75% or TKL availability  (Read 2024 times)

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Offline nick1881

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First build 75% or TKL availability
« on: Sun, 01 November 2020, 04:50:58 »
Hi guys, I'm new here and so far I've done a lot of reading and I've ordered a load of switches to try.

I currently have a Ducky Shine 7 blackout with Cherry MX Red Silent. I'm looking for something slightly smaller that is as good or better quality. This is the best keyboard I have ever had but I have no idea how it compares to others.

I would prefer 75% or TKL, while I love the look of 65% boards I think I'd prefer the extra keys, losing the numpad is already a compromise as I like to use it, but my desk is small and I will appreciate the extra space.

I have my Ducky with a dim white LED glow through the keys, it would be great if I could get something the same.

From what I have seen availability is a major problem, I'm already excited and I don't want to wait 6 months.

I love the look of some of the KBDFans kits, the TOFU is so nice but a little too small maybe, the Bella is good but I'm not sure about the switch opener. KBD75V2 is good but I'm not sure about the clear plastic edge.

Hot swap would be nice while I'm still very new to switches, but soldering is not a problem for me. I could always buy another PCB and add different switches.

What else is available now or very soon that would suit? I prefer ISO as I'm in the UK.

KZ75 looks nice - no LED?
ESNTL_TKL - Very nice but no LED possibly a long wait
KBD75V2 - Not sure about clear plastic - only grey in stock

Offline treeleaf64

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 01 November 2020, 09:17:42 »
Kbd75v2 I built one without the plastic edge and it worked fine

It had RGB and that worked fine

It sounds ok for tray mount
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Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 01 November 2020, 11:39:31 »
Wait, they do it without the plastic edge?

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 03 November 2020, 10:40:00 »
So I'm leaning towards the KBD75v2, the pull of the TOFU65 is still strong but I'm not sure I want to have so many keys on shortcuts.

Are these boards fairly good quality? Will I be impressed over my Ducky? Or should I look at higher end?

I'm still waiting on my switches as I'd prefer to order everything at the same time.

I've also got my eye on Durock screw in stabilisers

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 04 November 2020, 19:56:19 »
I've handled a number of KBD75 at meetups. It's an excellent board for first build. Affordable, but sturdy.

The KBD75 is only a 'tray-mount,' but it seems to be on the high end of that . I find that switches in general feel good in the KBD75, whether it be tactiles or clickies, especially BOX clickies. As I said, they are sturdy.

They are really, really heavy, and are clearly meant to be a desk-bound build, so keep that in mind. I find that the WKL versions are more pleasing to the eye, and appear less cluttered. There is a KBD75 variant available in Canada, here on this board, the PLA75.

They can even be silenced fairly effectively. You can look up the video of a Silent Alpaca KBD75 build on Youtube.

The weakness of the KBD75 is the cluttered layout, with no 'blockers' for spacing. Very 2016 in concept. As you saw, KBDFans tried to remedy the problem by developing a spaced 75% called the Bella, but it had the stupid cat/dog-faced switch-opener, so people didn't buy it. It stayed up for days in the in-stock section, recently. Too bad, because it's probably a good keyboard without the dog-thing.

I sympathize with your desire to avoid a 65% layout, as you will have to use layers and stuff. TOFU65 is great, though, and can be silenced. KBD67 mk2 is better, and the new KBD67 lite will be cheap.

I don't know much about the edges of the KBD75, or the LED, but I see many people with active LED strips on the KBD75. The amount of light is limited by the design. Which is fine with me. I don't know anything about the polycarb or non-metal KBD75.

As for TKL, I recently acquired a KBD8X MKII in polycarb, and it's all you really need. I was going to get a metal-cased one, but they were OOS. My polycarb 8X is flawless, though. That's not something everyone can count on, sadly. The sound and feel is amazing, but I am using an aftermarket polycarbonate plate.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 04 November 2020, 22:04:55 »
Also, you might want to look into the new GMMK PRO 75%, which may become a serious contender for people looking for a custom-style board in that size category.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 05 November 2020, 03:50:00 »
Thanks so much for the detailed reply.

The KBD8X looks really good, sadly not in stock and I have no idea how often the restock these.

The Bella was in stock when I started looking but I was really put off by the switch opener, though it did still tempt me, but now out of stock too. Stock seems to be a big problem.

I woke up this morning to see the GMMK Pro, does look really good. I haven't seen a render of it built with switches and caps yet. The current GMMK is low profile which I'm really not a fan of, does this look like it isn't to you? If it looks good then I will highly likely pick one up too when available. I will still build a board too as I will enjoy the process.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 05 November 2020, 14:32:25 »
Yes, when we know more about the GMMK Pro, it might be the solution for you.

Bella would be good if they did an R2 with a different switch opener. Not sure if they will.

Stock is an issue always, especially now. However, the KBD8X MKii is a standardized design that has been in production since 2019. You might want to keep an eye on the website and get on any lists. They tend to do big drops, where they drop about 100 of each colour ready for sale, and then take up to 500 GB orders for each colour. The last big drop like that was in the summer, and it should be nearing completion around now, I think? Then, a new GB might happen.

KBD8x MK2 is definitely worth it. Designed by Ai03. Easy to customize. Aftermarket parts available. Only ever use full-plates, as half-plates are not sturdy enough on that board. Polycarb plates work well on it. Sadly, it only comes with brass as a stock item right now. You can dampen the board with carefully-layered tissues instead of the in-stock foam. The foam changes the feel noticeably.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 07 November 2020, 13:27:54 »
My sample of switches arrived today, a friend 3D printed me some switch holders and I've ordered some keycaps, currently only tried a cap on a few of them.

I already know I don't want clicky switches and as I have silent reds now I don't want silents again.

I'm still not sure if I want linear or tactile though. I would really like to try out a full tactile board to see how I get on. I do play a lot of Call of Duty so it needs to work well in that. Heavier keys are also out.

Tealio V2 do feel nice.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #9 on: Sat, 07 November 2020, 20:12:49 »
Linears are big RN. Durocks [but need film, lube], Gateron Black Ink, and Novelkeys Cream are some of the most popular, Tealios are endgame quality.

Tactiles were suffering for a long time, then a lot of heavy tactiles became available [Holy Panda, Zealio V2, T1, Kiwi, Blueberry]. Now things are looking good for light tactiles again, with the RARA stem in RARA V2, Shogoki, plus the new Oxblood and Kangaroo switches. Oxblood might be the best for your purposes. Or even the new MX Brown Hyperglide.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 08 November 2020, 04:56:46 »
Thanks for the reply.

I can certainly appreciate the quality of the Zeals, though the Gaterons and Durcocks are very good for the money, stem wobble is very different though.

I plan on blind testing myself and eliminating switches I don't like, hopefully I narrow it down to a few options.

Current provisional build

KBD75V2 Alu black with brass plate and brass weight
Telios V2
Deskeys films
Durock Smoky screw in stabs - ordered
Tai-Hao Exotic Layout PBT Double Shot Keycaps - ordered
Lube

KBDFans switch opener

Not sure if I should also get a switch lube station
« Last Edit: Sun, 08 November 2020, 05:04:13 by nick1881 »

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 08 November 2020, 07:03:08 »
This is probably a fine provisional build. If you're getting Durock stabs, make sure to go for V2. The earlier V1 stabilizers were more likely to pop out.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 08 November 2020, 07:09:06 »
This is probably a fine provisional build. If you're getting Durock stabs, make sure to go for V2. The earlier V1 stabilizers were more likely to pop out.

Oh the stabs were from Mechboards.co.uk they donít mention V2, Iíll check with them.
Thanks

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 12 November 2020, 11:30:13 »
Well after blind testing myself with about 20 switches, I started eliminating ones I didn't like, I ended up with the Tealios V2.

Then I gave my Dad (who has no real interest in keyboards but humoured me) a try, he also picked the Tealios, slightly unfair at this point as I had lubed it along with the Turquoise Tealio I had lubed.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 13 November 2020, 04:14:22 »
Order placed for my first build.

I will be watching more videos before it arrives but I think I should be ok.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 24 November 2020, 05:41:15 »
All my parts arrived today except keycaps.

I have tested the PCB, all looks good.

Lubed and fitted the stabs, like an idiot I was busy following a video and installed the left shift, but with iso I don't need it. :-[

I mounted a few switches to the plate and tested the stabs, you should have seen my face, it feels incredible! I'm shocked at how good they feel. I haven't done any kind of band aid mod, is it worth it?

Next up switch lubing. I already found the stab lube therapeutic so I'm looking forward to this.

Offline Darthbaggins

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 24 November 2020, 09:53:28 »
Once you go custom, you can see how many corners are cut on mass produced boards (but they are cut to reduce overall cost of them).  I am leaning towards the GMMK Pro as it has similarities to the Satisfaction 75 (which is a dream build for me) but the price is right. 

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 24 November 2020, 10:39:01 »
I've lubed and filmed 20 switches now and I've had enough already  :)) it's pretty tedious

I also want the GMMK Pro, though now I'm not sure I want to lube another load of switches

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 24 November 2020, 10:42:08 »
Yeah, you really have to go custom to get a board that has characteristics acceptable to an enthusiast.

It's kind of irksome that $120-150+ boards are being sold with all the pieces [case, switches, stabilizers, even dampening material], but they're not optimized.

Then again, we see how much labour is involved in things like lubing switches.

Offline nick1881

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 25 November 2020, 12:28:48 »
I'm all done, apart from missing keycaps, which my other set should arrive in a few days.

It took me hours to do the lubing, not sure I want to do that again, filming was fiddly too.

The soldering was easy, it's been a while since I did through hole but still fine and only took about 10 minutes.

Flashed with QMK and configured with VIA. It feel incredible to type on, the sound is amazing. Only thing I noticed is the space is a bit higher pitched compared to other keys, maybe just due to the size?

Offline Snooppy

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 27 November 2020, 14:11:10 »
I'm in love with the KBD8X MKii design.  I'm a noob too and was looking for something simmilar as nick1881 (75%, 80% or TKL).  I'm on a budget right now but in need of a new keyboard as mine is randomly disconnecting.  I've been looking at videos and reading online and get very interested in building my own.

Back lit would be a nice addition but I've never been a RGB fan in general, I like my keyboard to be minimalist but clean and eye pleasing.
Do you think it's possible to find everything I need on a single website?  I live in Canada and the shipping and handling can get expensive very quickly.

I'd rather the PCB to be hotswappable, I could get my hands on a soldering kit.  But i'm not too comfortable to do it.
I've always been a fan of linear switches but i'm intrigued with tactile switches.  I just want something not too loud but that still has that buttery feel to it.

I'm kind of overwhelmed with the amount of information that goes with keyboard, if you guys could just recommend some affordable pieces that have made their name over time.

I know my question is general, this thread actually helped me a lot already.
Thanks !

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 27 November 2020, 15:21:09 »
I have a recently-built KBD8x MKII. They really are good, except that you can't adjust the typing angle. I mean, there are no legs.

It hasn't been an obstacle yet, and seems fine at desk-level, but I thought you should know about it, as it is the only aspect of the design that seemed to me in need of improvement.

The KBD8X MKII is compact, heavy, and sturdy. The sound and typing experience is great, provided you have used quality parts and lubed the correct areas. You can use a variety of dampening materials. Be warned that the stock KBDFans dampening material that you can order with the 8X is very thick, and alters the typing experience. So you may wish to ask on-line about alternative dampening materials.

What are "quality parts?" Switches are very subjective, that's up to you. For stabilizers, the good stuff these days is Zeal PC, Everglide V2, and maybe Durock V2. [V1 had a problem with popping out]. Cherry used to be good, but now it is just okay, and GMK stabilizer quality went down. Fake imitation no-name 'Cherry' stabs are bad.

The KBD8X today only comes with a full brass plate. That's bad, because brass is a bit overkill for many uses. I purchased an aftermarket polycarbonate plate, and it is awesome. The KBD8X should really ship with a full polycarb option as it used to, but it doesn't. It used to give the option of full or half-plate, brass and polycarb. However, it was found that half-plates don't work well with the board. Don't use a half-plate here. Making it brass-only was a step too far, though, on KBDFans' part.

The KBD8X has QMK compatibility for lighting. You'll need to download some appropriate software, which is easy enough. So don't worry about it. Mine is a polycarb case, so the strength of the backlighting is incredible - it shines through the case as intended. It must be very muffled with the aluminum plate, I don't know. I turn off the lighting or have it on a low solid-colour setting anyway.

It's USB-C and uses detachable cables. It's easily compatible with custom cables. Switches are correctly-facing, and it's top-mount, so you'll probably get a good typing experience with all profiles. I like to say that the KBD8X is a mid-level board at near-entry-level prices. The next revision will probably be more expensive, so get a KBD8X MKII while you can! It's an authentic AI03 design.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: First build 75% or TKL availability
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 27 November 2020, 15:26:58 »
WRT to buying everything from the same site, that's difficult. I don't know that KBDFans, for example, stocks Zeal or Everglide V2 stabilizers. Nor does it stock JWK switches, which are popular.

KPRepublic, ironically enough, could be a one-stop-shop. It has Durock [I think] stabilizers, as well as supposedly "genuine Cherry," plus a wide range of switches, and some keyboard kits. But their keyboard kits are low-end compared to KBDFans. The XD87 is an entry-level board, and has wrong-facing switches. [I use OEM profile on my XD87 beater board.]

Both of those stores stock keycaps, at least. If you want true "one-stop," you may have to think of AliExpress as "one store." But you can get a lot of the parts from somewhere like Novelkeys or TheKeyCompany. MechanicalKeyboards.com has a lot with free shipping if you are in U.S., but the first two are better for Canadians. AliExpress is better for Canadians, if their stuff reaches you reliably, and you don't need to return stuff.

Even some U.K. shops are an option if you live in Canada. Shipping isn't much worse than U.S. and can often be better. But I don't know if they're 'one-stop.' Luckily, because of the growth of keyboards, places like Apex Keyboards and DeskHero can supply you with most things in Canada. You should start there.