Author Topic: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?  (Read 1156 times)

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Offline Wire

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Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« on: Wed, 09 December 2020, 15:00:51 »
I am looking to build a 75% keyboard, and am looking for a PCB with decent lighting. I often use the keyboard in the dark with the only light coming from my monitor, and am wondering if having keycaps with light passthrough is needed for clearly defined print.

Q1 - Do I need light passthrough keycaps?
Q2 - What are your recommendations for 75% PCBs with decent backlighting?

This is my first post here, so if I've made any mistakes please let me know.

Offline Learis

  • Posts: 81
Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 09 December 2020, 19:18:15 »
I'm confused. If the only light that you use right now is from your monitor, then can't you judge for yourself right now how easy or difficult the keycap print is to read if it's not shine-through? In any case, shine-through keycaps make significant difference for backlit keyboards. Shine-through keycaps allow you to easily see the print while non-shine through will mostly just illuminate a border around the keycap. I don't know recommendations for 75% pcbs so hopefully others can help you out with that.
Mend and Defend

Offline Leslieann

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Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 09 December 2020, 21:14:18 »
If you want backlit legends, not just a cap outline you need shine-through.
Not all shine through are created equal, the ones that shine best are lasered and wear fast. The better doubleshot ones will last but not shine as bright.  Make sure your LEDS are placed where your legends are otherwise that won't even matter.

As for the best choices...  HAHAHAHAHA
75% gets almost no love and worse, there's almost nothing available. Krepublic probably has some but you won't see it until February at this point, maybe later. KBDfans is probably sold out. YMDK makes a nice 75% but I'm not sure how they've fared with Covid. Beyand that, most companies simply don't make a 75%.
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)

Online Findecanor

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Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 10 December 2020, 04:52:53 »
It is not possible to get decent backlighting with Cherry MX or clone switches IMHO. They had actually never been designed for backlighting in the first place but to support an optional indicator LED in the front of the key visible through a window on the front side of the keycap. The LED position is intended for keys such as Caps Lock.
"Gaming keyboards" have the switch rotated to the back, but the light distribution is still bad - going more around each key than up through the legend. "RGB" switches with transparent housings disperse it just a little bit more upwards, but the basic problem remains and it dispersed the light even worse around the key.

The DIY keyboard community has instead embraced having just accent light around the keys, and using additional coloured side-glow/under-glow out the sides of the keyboard's case. Many enthusiasts prefer to use thick-walled high-quality keycaps that are completely opaque, and provide a good feel and sound, over having the keycaps lit.
Most DIY keyboard PCBs with "backlighting" have the switches in the original orientation with the LED cutout in the front, so as to provide the best compatibility with keycap sets. But this is even worse at lighting up legends on keycaps for "gamer keyboards".
Moreover, few DIY keyboard PCBs with backlighting even supports programmable backlight, such as what gamer keyboards to: you'd get one single colour for all.

And by the way, some low ambient lighting in the room would be better for your eyes than having bright lights shining straight at you.
Man must shape his tools lest they shape him
-- Arthur Miller


Offline jamster

  • Posts: 885
  • Location: Asia
Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 10 December 2020, 20:36:06 »
I've noticed that with white keys and black text, you still get so much light shining through that they legends are still clearly visible in the dark.

Offline Darthbaggins

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Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #6 on: Sat, 12 December 2020, 12:18:40 »
I no longer use backlit caps on my boards, only one I use it on is for my 6yr old so he can learn letter placement and spelling.  So far he's been learning fast - not bad for a kindergartner.

Offline Wire

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Re: Is light passthrough necessary for dark spaces?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 11 January 2021, 01:00:07 »
Darthbaggins, good for him. That information about you not using what I'm looking for, and tid bit about your 6yr old is very helpful to me.