Author Topic: Tinkering with my 87u  (Read 21123 times)

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Offline _rubik

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Tinkering with my 87u
« on: Sat, 28 August 2021, 11:23:58 »
Iíve always loved the Norbaforce polycarb cases and I love my 87u, but I donít love them together.

The 87u has a black plate and key set, which (IMO) doesnít look too great in a frosted PC plate.

I could get an RGB TKL R2, but I thought Iíd at least take a stab freshening up my 87u.

Hereís what weíre starting with:



A few years back I swapped the domes for BKE redux heavies and (over)lubed the sliders. Overall Iím fairly happy with the feel, but it could use some tuning.
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 28 August 2021, 11:31:09 »
Iím a huge fan of the R2 rgb white plate in the PC case, so I might as well start there.

Inspiration:


Last night I started tearing down the 87u

Pulled it out of the case



Pulled off the caps



Separated the PCB/domes from the plate/sliders



Removed the sliders



And finally removed the slider housings. I was a little hesitant for this part.

The housing tolerances are fairly low so thereís certainly wiggle room, but theyíre held in place with little plastic tabs. If you donít squeeze the housing enough, I suppose you could shave off the plastic tabs. But if you squeeze too much, you could damage the housing and I donít really want to buy a parts board.

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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 30 August 2021, 18:14:43 »
Painted the plate! I sanded the plate down first with 600grit sandpaper, wiped everything down with rubbing alcohol, primed, and painted with a standard rattle can.

A few imperfections here and there, but overall Iím pretty pleased.

Next is to get everything back together, but Iím waiting on some new domes and silencers from deskeys.

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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 31 August 2021, 23:39:52 »
Cleaned up and snapped the housing back in. Funnily enough, housing had pretty high tolerances before, so the extra paint gives everything a more ďsnugĒ fit. The housing arenít rattling anymore!



Still waiting on my deskeys package (shipped from China), so the project is on hold for the time being
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 31 August 2021, 23:54:19 »
Well damn. Just placed my order for the 2021 Ghost of Christmas Future Norbaforce. Supposedly it's slated to ship mid-fall.  :D
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 02 September 2021, 13:19:59 »

Well that was fast
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 02 September 2021, 15:21:05 »
Buttoned up.



deskeys 56g domes, 0.3mm silencing rings, and 205g0. I immediately noticed a few small  adjustments that I need to make, but otherwise itís pretty solid.

Compared to the bke heavies, it feels much more ďstockĒ. The tactile bump is rounder and the return isnít as immediate or sharp. Iím not completely sold on the silencing rings  though, but I think thatís just a matter of preference.

One thing I did notice that I _dont_ like is the spring chatter. I can hear the springs rattle a bit on the key return. Not sure exactly why, but Iím assuming thereís more room for the spring to move under the dome. Iíll have to do some reading. Maybe this has always happened, but the silencing rings have muted the slider return and so I hear the spring rattle more.

Iíll daily this board for a week and update this thread.

Excited for the norbaforce either way.
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Offline jamster

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 02 September 2021, 22:34:55 »
I'm enjoying watching this.

My 87U is close to enough to perfect (well, for a TKL) that I cannot bring myself to risk changing anything, but it's definitely interesting following your project.

The silencing rings- do they only affect the sound of bottom out, and do they reduce the tactile event of the membrane?

Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 03 September 2021, 16:55:47 »
I'm enjoying watching this.

My 87U is close to enough to perfect (well, for a TKL) that I cannot bring myself to risk changing anything, but it's definitely interesting following your project.

The silencing rings- do they only affect the sound of bottom out, and do they reduce the tactile event of the membrane?

Wasn't sure if anyone was following along or if I was just speaking to the wind -- glad you're enjoying the thread  :D

I'm certainly worried about making one change too many, but I've opened this thing up more times than I can count -- so why not I guess

The silencing rings don't effect the sound of bottoming out not do they change the tactile event (from what I can tell), but they do reduce the slider travel. Deskeys make gaskets that sit above the dome to counter the reduced travel, but I haven't tried those out.

These rings are only 0.3mm (their second thinnest option) so I'm not too worried about travel very much. Overall, the combined reduced travel and return sound is starting to grow on me though.
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Offline jamster

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 03 September 2021, 21:57:57 »
So the silencing rings reduce the sound of the key returning to the upwards position? I could see some value in that.

I seem to have been misunderstanding what these rings do.

Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 03 September 2021, 23:39:07 »
So the silencing rings reduce the sound of the key returning to the upwards position? I could see some value in that.

Exactly right. I don't notice any difference on key-down, but it softens/muffles the key-up sound. I usually use my realforce in the office, so this'll do wonders at reducing that slider on slide-housing "clack".
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 08 September 2021, 15:09:24 »
Decided to dress up the board a bit with white caps to match the white plate. Not terribly in love with them ó maybe a tad warmer than I was looking for, but theyíll do for the time being.

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Offline jamster

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 08 September 2021, 23:02:58 »
So the silencing rings reduce the sound of the key returning to the upwards position? I could see some value in that.

Exactly right. I don't notice any difference on key-down, but it softens/muffles the key-up sound. I usually use my realforce in the office, so this'll do wonders at reducing that slider on slide-housing "clack".

Dammit, this might require further effort and investigation on my part!

Do they change the feel of the travel at all? The last thing I'd want to do is reduce the tactility of actuation, which is one thing I noticed with the factory-installed mod of another EC board which I have (Royal Kludge, dental band mod seems to markedly reduce tactility).

(Agreed on your comment about the caps, if the photo is accurate, then the warmth doesn't seem ideal with the black casing.)
« Last Edit: Wed, 08 September 2021, 23:04:36 by jamster »

Offline AW_Keyboard

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #13 on: Sun, 26 September 2021, 23:50:27 »
Do you find your solutions for springs rattle? not sure if gasket could help?

Looking forwards to your full build.  :)

Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 27 September 2021, 00:12:46 »
Do you find your solutions for springs rattle? not sure if gasket could help?

Looking forwards to your full build.  :)

I'm waiting on the sliders before I take everything apart again, but I plan to lube either the springs with 205g0 or the PCB itself with 203g2 (just a thin layer applied directly). I'm not sure which I prefer to be honest. It think they would achieve roughly the same effect, but I'm guessing the 203g2 will last longer. On the other hand, I'm maybe more comfortable bag lubing the springs because you can run into capacitance issues with too much 203g2 iirc.
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 25 March 2024, 23:04:43 »
Necroing my own thread here. This is the current state of the build -- it's been sitting on my thread for almost three years now. The Norbaforce case arrive a few months after the last post, but otherwise nothing else has changed. It's time to give it some love.



Some things need to change. For starters, these caps are awful. I wanted something to tide me over under I added MX slides but I never got back to it. The plate paint job is... OK. I think I'll leave it for now, but I'm considering stripping it and bringing it to a shop to have it professionally painted.

Also, that dammed bottom corner. The housing is slightly misshapen and the stem is different, almost like it was rounded off. I forget the exact reason (I think it has to do with the LED), but there's nothing we can do about that. I'm thinking since deskey now sells replacement housings, I can experiment with shaving a few down to size.

Otherwise, the list of things I need:
- MX sliders, almost certainly from deskey
- Housings. The current housings are pretty beat to hell after taking things apart a few times. Plus the Deskey clear housings plus purple slides give some zealio vibes that I can't say no to.
- Domes. I know I replaced these in an earlier post, but deep down I think I'd be happier with a lighter dome.

The silencing rings still feel great and the springs are springs. Not much to share there. Of course, if I'm tearing it all down to built it back up, I'm going to relube everything again.
« Last Edit: Mon, 25 March 2024, 23:08:30 by _rubik »
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Offline _rubik

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 17 May 2024, 16:54:22 »
I picked up the Cipulot R1 RF 87u PCB from CannonKeys. It was probably not necessary, but gaining QMK support was a big plus for me. That turns this board from a fun weekend board to a productive daily driver with Space-FN etc.

At this point the only thing left from the original board will be the plate.... which I might as well have cerakoted because we're pulling out all the stops here, I guess.
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Offline Rhienfo

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Re: Tinkering with my 87u
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 17 May 2024, 22:35:21 »
I picked up the Cipulot R1 RF 87u PCB from CannonKeys. It was probably not necessary, but gaining QMK support was a big plus for me. That turns this board from a fun weekend board to a productive daily driver with Space-FN etc.

At this point the only thing left from the original board will be the plate.... which I might as well have cerakoted because we're pulling out all the stops here, I guess.

I mean qmk is big for tkls at least, I really don't like the standard layout so it's big that I can reprogram it. Might grab a replacement pcb/adapter so I can reprogram my layers better for my hhkb, and that is a layout that I really like.
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