Author Topic: kinesis advantage keycap replacement limitations  (Read 45366 times)

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Offline keylock

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kinesis advantage keycap replacement limitations
« on: Fri, 28 October 2011, 14:04:25 »
Hi,
I have considered buying the Kinesis Advantage for some time but Im very disturbed by the blue keycaps. According to posts on this forum the keycaps of this keyboard seem to not be standard cherry keycaps. Is this accurate? can keycaps made for the Kinesis be purchased somewhere? This post http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:20814 describes a mod with g81 keycaps which seem to fit. Is the g81 keycaps also non standard keycaps? Does anyone have experience with with these keycaps?

Thanks in advance

Offline Lanx

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kinesis advantage keycap replacement limitations
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 28 October 2011, 14:19:27 »
the blue spherical keycaps are the most awesomest home row keycaps, don't bother replacing them, once you use em cylindrical home row keys feel uncomforming. but to answer your question they are mx keycaps and mx switches, they are "different" heights and stuff because well, the keywell is unique so they form fit the keycaps, you can def replace the keycaps, it just might not be as uniform as stock.

Offline keylock

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« Reply #2 on: Fri, 28 October 2011, 15:23:06 »
thank you Lanx

Offline rantenki

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« Reply #3 on: Wed, 02 November 2011, 23:17:45 »
I swapped my keys out during one of the early cherry keycap group buys, and they work _awesome_. I never looked back, and there is nothing unusual about the keys. The main issue is relocating keys from various rows to the thumb keys. The kinesis keys are all kinda tall though, so YMMV.
[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 30709[/ATTACH]

Offline sordna

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« Reply #4 on: Wed, 02 November 2011, 23:53:02 »
You can replace the blue keycaps with standard keycaps, just get keys with the normal profile for that row (ASDF...)
The only reason these blue keycaps are different, is to tell you by feel (and by glancing) you are in the home row. Instead of nubs in the F and J keys, you have a concave spherical surface on all 8 home row keys. I actually like both the look and the feel of these keys, but you are free to change them with standard keys, they will fit and as long as your F and J have the nubs you'll have no problem locating the home row, either method works fine.
I put my some letter keys from my Poker to the Kinesis briefly and they fit perfectly.
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Offline Lanx

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« Reply #5 on: Thu, 03 November 2011, 00:43:10 »
i put regular f/j nubs and kept asdkl; spherical home row. 20 odd years of typing with nubs...

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #6 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 17:00:09 »
Some of the Kinesis Contoured key caps are 'standard' Filco type key caps. I've been meaning to do the complete comparison, but have not been able to as of yet.

But, check this new thread out.....

http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:23722

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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #7 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 06:10:16 »
i read that the keycaps on this keyboard are only row 3 except the row with numbers (but apparentlly number 3 and 8 are also row 3?)
Do you think that it would be weird to change the keycaps for SA family respecting the number of the row like a classic keyboard? I am affraid that the shape of the keyboard will make that uncomfortable…

ty

Offline ricercar

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« Reply #8 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 16:45:28 »
I've replaced keys on my Kinesis with 'regular' Cherry MX keys, double shots from a Wang terminal. They fit fine, however: the board looks kinda wonky:
- The thumb keys are not shaped as you would expect. (I've left mine in place)
- The wide symbol keys  - + | " are mostly fugly when replaced with single-width standard key caps.
- The cursor arrows do not match the angle of their neighbors.

Maybe if ripster's nice I'll post a picture. Chortle. (EDIT I'll add pics anyway, because _i'm_ nice.)
« Last Edit: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:05:14 by ricercar »
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #9 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:09:56 »
Quote from: ricercar;457743
- The thumb keys are not shaped as you would expect. (I've left mine in place)

i want to leave them too

Quote
- The wide symbol keys  - + | " are mostly fugly when replaced with single-width standard key caps.

if all goes fine, i expect to get 1,25 width keys

Quote
- The cursor arrows do not match the angle of their neighbors.

not sure that i understand that… do they fit with the stock keycaps? because even if they were «row 3 arrows», you replaced them by row 4 DCS family? So if they are still from the same row even if the shape is not the same, it should fit?

I would like SA family on it but i am afraid to loose the ergonomy with row 2 and 4, every switch has its own position, they did that for a reason… and it would be too expensive to reproduce the original composition with my bépo layout.

i would love to see a picture

thank you
« Last Edit: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:13:32 by Razer1987 »

Offline ricercar

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« Reply #10 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:17:10 »
Quote
not sure that i understand that… do they fit with the stock keycaps?
The arrow keys fit on the stems fine, but the key height and angle are dramatically different than the keys above them and to the sides.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #11 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:25:30 »
thank you for the pics

is it an old one? because now the function keys don't have mx switches… do you know if yours has exactly the same shape of a new one? because it looks perfectly ergonomic.
« Last Edit: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:32:11 by Razer1987 »

Offline ricercar

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« Reply #12 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 17:37:45 »
The Cherry MX FKeys and the various holes are mods that I perpetrated. This is a regular model KB133MPC Kinesis "Essential MPC," from before they were called "Advantage."

As near as I can tell, it's the exact same form factor as the Advantage. However, Input Nirvana would know better, because he's owned both Essentials and Advantages.
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Offline sordna

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« Reply #13 on: Tue, 22 November 2011, 21:57:03 »
Quote from: ricercar;457775
The arrow keys fit on the stems fine, but the key height and angle are dramatically different than the keys above them and to the sides.

That's the case with the stock keycaps as well, they are angled differently. Anyway, you can play with the angle by turning those keycaps 180°, at least it's something to try and see what you find more comfortable.
In any case I don't think you lose much of the ergonomics by going with standard keycaps, for example keys 3 and 8 are indeed shorter than their neighbors, but the switches mounted on that column sit lower anyway, so you still get a lot of the ergonomic effect.

Regarding the arrow keys, I believe they are shorter than nomral keycaps, if your replacement keycaps feel too tall, you can always dremel them.
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Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #14 on: Thu, 01 December 2011, 22:33:19 »
The cases of the Kinesis Essential, Classic, Professional, Advantage, Advantage Pro are all the same. They are available white and black. The silver Advantage Pro is a black case painted silver. There is no other difference. Keys are available white and black. The home row is blue on both color boards.

There are 12 different key profiles on the Kinesis Contour, not counting the rubber keys. Some of the keys match Filco/Filco clone keys, I saw that when I was at WASD Keyboards. I was supposed to try and identify all the keys for a couple people here on GH and add it to my Kinesis mod article. Considering my life the last couple months, I'm lucky to still be able to type here occasionally, let alone anything else, so I don't feel too bad. My suggestion is for someone with a Kinesis to compare with a Filco/Filco clone to identify as many Kinesis keys as possible and post it. Then it will be done before I get around to it.

In the future (spring/6 months from now) I will be involved with another GH'r making molds for cases, modified cases, and key caps. The goals are higher quality cases, different colors, modified cases, split cases, sooper kool kwality key kaps. It will be wonderful I'm sure.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #15 on: Tue, 13 December 2011, 21:51:35 »
I've just received my Kinesis and i want a keycaps custom set from WASD. I don't know if the keycaps are from DCS family from SP or more like filco family, but even if it is not exactly the same, it is still the same kind of shape, so i hope that keycaps from WASD will be good on it. But I don't count 12 different shapes but only this

1 unit: 8 R4, 14 R3, 12 R2 (8 spherical), 18 R1, 4 R5
1,25 unit: 6 R2, 2 R4
2 unit: 2 R1 and 2 vertical like enter numpad

it is only ten different shapes, maybe i miss something?

the only keys that i can't reproduce with wasd are the 4 R5 (ctrl, alt, etc.) and the home row with spherical.

I will post some pics when i get them

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #16 on: Tue, 13 December 2011, 22:32:55 »
I'm sure there are 12. I don't have my notebook available to check and tell you what they are.

EDIT- All I did was take off the keycaps (you only need to take off one of the key wells since the keys are the same as the other side) and line them all up. Some are a different height, slope, size. I was going to go to WASD and match up what I could with Filco-type keys that he has. I know at least some of them match.
« Last Edit: Tue, 13 December 2011, 23:10:11 by input nirvana »
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #17 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 00:15:12 »
i take off every key, and i only find 10 different types. So it would be interesting to compare it with your notes. I want to be sure that i don't miss something.

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #18 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 00:26:24 »
You win. Now I'm too curious to let this go.
I'll take mine keys off first. I'm sure I'll have an accurate answer. I'm a detail nit-pick person.


BRB 20 mins.

EDIT----
I coded each key cap type with a letter (A, B, C,....)
One problem is I only came up with 11 key types, not 12. I can't remember where/what the 12th key type was since I can't find my notebook, and I did this about 2 years ago. Maybe the 12th key type was the rubber nubbins.

[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 34922[/ATTACH]
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:20:20 by input nirvana »
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #19 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:25:34 »
we don't have the same keycaps or i am blind…

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #20 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:27:45 »
Unlikely, but not impossible. What are the differences?
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #21 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:37:23 »
[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 34923[/ATTACH]

without any measuring device but only my eyes a flat space and a flat plastic card, i see it like that

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #22 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:44:00 »
First off, the pic I sent is of the right hand keys. The 4 keys on the far right are the 1.25 wide keys (_-,|\,"', shift) so they should not be the same as any other keys in the group. See?

And the two bottom rows are different keys, they are similar, but different.

Take another look, confirm you are doing the RIGHT HAND key well.. before we proceed.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #23 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:46:00 »
sorry, my picture is for the left hand… with the thumb keys of a right hand… it's 1,25 from row 2 this is why i put the same number, let me redo it in 5min

Online Razer1987

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« Reply #24 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:51:42 »
no need for picture, i am stupid i read it as a left hand…

the only difference between us is that i don't see any difference between G and H

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #25 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:54:58 »
There is a difference, but it's small. You can easily live with the very bottom row being the same key cap as the row above. I was at WASD and had gotten some key caps for my split Kinesis mod, and I noticed some of the key caps were the same. Exactly. Unfortunately I was in a rush and had to leave before I was done, otherwise I could tell you which key caps they are.

I was going to have WASD etch Klingon characters onto the key caps :)
[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 34924[/ATTACH]
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:58:00 by input nirvana »
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #26 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 01:57:41 »
it is really weird because both are from R1 (i can read it under the key), that's mean that kinesis doesn't use the same family keycaps or the same manufacturer for these keys.

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #27 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:00:25 »
What is the serial number on the bottom of your board?
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #28 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:01:48 »
86119ub

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #29 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:11:02 »
Ah-ha!

Look:

[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 34925[/ATTACH]

Kinesis has changed key cap manufacturers. The black one on left is from #82000 and the white one is from #35000. The black one does not have the R1 designation. And on #82000 the two bottom rows are the SAME.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #30 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:19:06 »
i am not sure that i follow your demonstration… the black one is from the most recent board? and you tell me that «g» and «h» row are the same even without the «r1» designation. And on the white one these rows are different?
and also mine are not from the same manufacturer as 82000 because i have R1 designation

so you think that i am not crazy and that i have two identical rows?

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« Reply #31 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:30:39 »
You have identical rows.

On my #82000 I do not have the R1 designations, I have B4, B6, B15 on the same exact keys...seems like gibberish. On the white (over 10 years old) the rows are slightly different. I just checked 2 other boards #40000, #31000 and they have the slightly different rows.

You're not crazy, you're French :)
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« Reply #32 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:34:30 »
ok cool, it's a relief… the only bad thing with wasd is that they don't want to laser etched my own keys, i would like to send them some R5 and spherical keys to reproduce the layout…

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« Reply #33 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:41:22 »
WASD won't work on the keys that he doesn't sell? So you would send him the keys to do, then have him send them back? Is that correct?

There has to be a way to get this done, I'll help. Give me the info on the keys you are doing...

I can see that he would be in a bad spot if something happened to a couple of the keys and he couldn't replace them.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #34 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:53:09 »
this is exactly what he told me and i can understand, but we don't speak about thousand of dollars so it's not a big deal…

i want 8 row 3 DSA family keys to reproduce the home row with a bépo layout
and 5 row 5 DCS family to reproduce 2 Ctrl, 1 Alt Gr, 1 Menu and 1 windows flag

i think that i can get the spherical keys easily from the Round 4 group buy and maybe i can ask 7bit to add row 5 to the group buy… because even if they have them in stock, i don't know if Signature Plastic can sell such a few quantity to me… i have to ask them

but maybe if some Kinesis users want to make custom keysets, it will be interesting to get these keys in a bigger quantity
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:57:43 by Razer1987 »

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« Reply #35 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 02:59:25 »
I'm sure Kinesis owners want custom key caps. I want to sandblast mine so there are no legends. Or, I would like to get the key caps out of a different plastic than ABS. If you can let me know what the key caps designations are by whomever makes them, I can add it to the Kinesis mod article (see my sig)

EDIT- Anything custom on your Kinesis...I'd like to put a picture in the photo Gallery of the Kinesis mod article.
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 03:16:35 by input nirvana »
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« Reply #36 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 03:36:52 »
i have also one B13 on a full row of R1, and it seems to be exactly the same

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« Reply #37 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 03:41:34 »
Yea, on mine it seems to make no sense. Silly letters and numbers.

I may be going past WASD on Dec. 23. I can see if he will be there and I can bring one of my Kinesis keyboards and get the key caps matched once and for all. If that is of any help to you, let me know and I'll post the info.

Hey, you have Cnerry blue MX switches on the Advantage?
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 03:49:49 by input nirvana »
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« Reply #38 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 03:56:00 »
i am gonna do the switches change at the end of the month, i don't like the brown… it seems that i am gonna need to desolder them. I asked Kinesis if they could use blue mx but they don't want…

I have some time before ordering the keycaps from wasd, i didn't finish my layout, i begin with coraldraw so it takes time…

i emailed Kinesis about keycaps infos and Signature Plastic to see if they can sell little keys quantity. I know that the keys from SP (even from WASD) will not be exactly the same as stock but at least it would be a good way to keep the same ergonomic feeling. I will post the answers.

And it would be great if you can share your info about the keys with WASD.

Online Razer1987

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« Reply #39 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 15:15:50 »
Hi, Kinesis and SP answered me very quickly:

-Kinesis : These are our custom molds so we would not be able to provide contact information. If there is a special layout you would want, our supplier has a 1000 keycap set minimum. We would be able to check on pricing for the layout you are requesting.

(i ask them if they can share there manufacturer and the exact keys composition)

-SP : We have these stock items available for $1.00 / each - for a total of $14
(USD). Shipping to the US will be $3.50 and shipping to France will be
$5.50. If you would like to proceed, I will send you an invoice for payment
through PayPal, I would just need to know where the items will be shipping
to.

This is very cool, so if other people want that
- 8 row 3 from DSA family
- 6 row 5 from DCS family (the kinesis only needs 4 but i want to make also the alternative keys)
maybe we can have lower prices with multiple orders.

A combination between WASD set and these keys would be a great way to reproduce the stock set at a correct price.

So next step is to convince WASD to work on our own keycaps… (it would also be awesome if they were able to laser etched the side of keys to reproduce the keypad layout)

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« Reply #40 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 15:32:37 »
Kinesis wants 1000. If it were 500 I'd throw money in to make a buy, but I'm conservative. There is a market for the custom caps, I don't know how big it is since I would imagine almost all Kinesis users are touch-typists. You almost have to be.

If WASD could be profitable being THE Kinesis Custom Key Cap Guy on the Planet, I'm sure he might consider doing it.

Can you clarify the SP info? I'm a bit lost.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #41 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 16:20:15 »
Quote from: input nirvana;470796
Kinesis wants 1000. If it were 500 I'd throw money in to make a buy, but I'm conservative. There is a market for the custom caps, I don't know how big it is since I would imagine almost all Kinesis users are touch-typists. You almost have to be.

i am a beginner touch typist, i anticipate this purchase even if i am not really able to take advantage of it because i have a good opportunity to buy it in Canada and it is cheaper than in France.

i don't know if i have to understand 1000 sets or 1000 keys… still it is a lot, i type with bépo layout and i am not gonna find a lot of people who want that…

Quote
If WASD could be profitable being THE Kinesis Custom Key Cap Guy on the Planet, I'm sure he might consider doing it.
it would be great but i am not sure that the market is really big… most of kinesis users only need blank keycaps…

Quote
Can you clarify the SP info? I'm a bit lost.

SP can sell the keys that WASD cannot provide. And you can buy only one key if you want and if it is in stock.
- the home row with spherical (DSA family R3) lot of colors available
- the modifiers keys like «alt» and «ctrl» which look like DCS family R5 (the highest key) only black in stock

i know that this mix will not be perfect as stock, because every manufacturer has its own profile key but i am sure that SP keys will fit nicely with WASD keys. It is the only way to keep the ergonomic profile.

i am not sure that WASD can find this kind of keys (sph and R5) in the family keycaps that they provide

the only way to have a homogeneous family keyboard would be to purchase a full set of SP keycaps but we don't know if they have the same profile as stock set (same problem with WASD).
« Last Edit: Wed, 14 December 2011, 18:01:31 by Razer1987 »

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« Reply #42 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 16:22:06 »
What layout are you guys wanting? I would help to get towards 1000 by ordering 2 sets but It would have to be dvorak or blank.

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« Reply #43 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 18:53:35 »
In the Kinesis Split Mod article, at the end is a Gallery. You can see some people want blank, a different color besides black or white, multicolor like M&Ms, and/or a different layout than they have or can get. Plus with all the remapping, there are quite a few reasons, methods for different key cap sets. If the "correct" ergonomic key caps could be provided by one source, at a reasonable price and lead time of 2 weeks or less, with maybe even the option of higher quality key caps (not ABS?) then I'm certain with all the Kinesis keyboards out there that a very small business could be made for this. I believe it would need to be done by a WASD, not by an individual. They could even offer Kinesis customization services (swap out for different Cherry switches), or integrate a pointing device :)

Personally I just want blank key caps.
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Online Razer1987

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« Reply #44 on: Wed, 14 December 2011, 19:07:46 »
I*want bépo layout, if you want PBT blank just ask signature plastic, it would not be too expensive. Or maybe WASD can try to provide PBT instead of ABS

I am gonna try WASD for a full set and replace the R5 by R4 and the sph by classic one.

Offline kps

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« Reply #45 on: Sat, 17 December 2011, 18:41:59 »
I measured the keys from my KB132MPC today. I found 8 different profiles, three of which come in different widths.

Code: [Select]

      Front Back  Front     Kinesis
P0    340   380             A S D F J K L ;
P1    475   550   75°       Ctrl Alt Alt Ctrl
P2    400   425   73°       =+ 1 2 4 5 6 7 9 0 -_ Home PageUp
P3    350   335   71°       3 8 Q W E R T Y U I O P
P4    350   290   70°       Tab \| CapsLock G H '" SHIFT SHIFT End PageDown
P5    380   280   71°       Z X C V B N M , . /
P6    415   275   71°       `~ Insert Left Right Up Down [{ ]} Delete Enter
P7    415   300   70°       BackSpace Space


I believe this means they would map to a normal keyboard's keys like this:
Code: [Select]

P0    A row                  A S D F J K L ;
P1    Function row           Ctrl Alt Alt Ctrl
P2    1 row                  =+ 1 2 4 5 6 7 9 0 -_ Home PageUp
P3    Q row                  3 8 Q W E R T Y U I O P
P4    A row                  Tab \| CapsLock G H '" SHIFT SHIFT End PageDown
P5    Z row                  Z X C V B N M , . /
P6    Modifier row           `~ Insert Left Right Up Down [{ ]} Delete Enter
P7    Keypad Enter           BackSpace Space


Edit: diagrams superseded by this later post.
« Last Edit: Sun, 18 December 2011, 16:51:23 by kps »

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« Reply #46 on: Sat, 17 December 2011, 19:55:04 »
Wow, KPS, good information! I am especially a fan of your coloured diagrams.

Do your know why 3 and 8 are different profiles? I assume it's to help tough typing on the number row.

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« Reply #47 on: Sat, 17 December 2011, 20:13:37 »
3 and 8 are different because they are accounting for different fingerlengths.

KPS- Nice, better than I would have done. Can I use this in the Split Kinesis mod article? It can be helpful for others.

Interesting note about differences between two rows that was mentioned before:
I'm noticing that there is a difference between the two rows (P5 and P6), but not on the newer Advantage.
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Offline kps

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« Reply #48 on: Sat, 17 December 2011, 21:04:06 »
Quote from: input nirvana;472988
Can I use this in the Split Kinesis mod article? It can be helpful for others.

Sure, use it anywhere.

Quote
Interesting note about differences between two rows that was mentioned before:
I'm noticing that there is a difference between the two rows (P5 and P6), but not on the newer Advantage.

I do have an Advantage (at work) and a KB120 (in storage). Some day I may get around to measuring them as well.

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #49 on: Sun, 18 December 2011, 03:13:53 »
Quote from: kps;473003
I do have an Advantage (at work) and a KB120 (in storage). Some day I may get around to measuring them as well.

Earlier in this thread, I scratched out a diagram showing the two rows key types I assigned the designations"G" and "H"....(I know, it's crude, but I did it quick to get info to our new GH buddy Razor1987). This was using key caps from either a 130 or 132 Essential.

Some key cap info:

Doubleshot keys on Model 100 (black legend), 110, 120. Singleshot keys 130, 132 Essential, 133 Classic, 134 Professional, Advantage, Advantage Pro.
Doubleshot keys have a shorter "skirt" or the "sides of the key cap" than the singleshots.
The doubleshot keys that have dual legends...only one of the two legends is doubleshot.
I have a 134 Professional with dual legends (qwerty/dvorak) that is doubleshot. I suppose they were just 'using up' their dual legend stock so it happened to be a doubleshot set.
On my Advantage SN# 82000, the key caps (your rows P5 and P6) are the same exact key cap in size. Same key caps, no difference.On my 134 Professional with doubleshots/dual legends (your rows P5 and P6) are the same exact key cap in size. Same key caps, no difference.
Either on my 130 or 132 (your rows P5 and P6) are different as you show. ------I will go and make other comparisons in the next day or so and update this line----(I have 5 models to compare)

If anyone has any questions, please ask now, not later. Taking all these key caps off all these boards to measure and compare is a chore :)

EDIT---With this info/diagrams that kps provided (Post #46), it should be possible to look for replacement key caps.
« Last Edit: Sun, 18 December 2011, 03:40:31 by input nirvana »
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