Author Topic: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?  (Read 26315 times)

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Offline dante

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An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« on: Tue, 22 October 2013, 12:51:55 »
Matias,

Once your ABS/PBT keycap sets are underway would you consider selling a stripped down 87 ANSI PCB+Controller kit?

The idea is while the Mini is nice - some of us want our traditional navigation cluster like you see on Filco's, Ducky's, Leopolds, etc.   Also the aesthetics ... we just want a plain looking keyboard.

So you could sell a PCB/Controller kit that has everything that is needed except: 1) Switches, 2) Keycaps, 3) Case.  The kit itself doesn't even need to be fancy - just well packaged for transit.  Maybe offer a slight discount for those who purchase everything (switches/keycaps) at once.

The case can be sourced from an existing board like Filco (you'd probably want to use that as the bench mark) or an aluminum aftermarket one.

I tried pushing this idea (in Cherry format) towards WASD as I think not only would the Enthusiasts like it (and it's never been done before AFAIK) but you could market it towards Electronics Schools for use in their programs.

Thoughts?

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 06:13:41 »
Dante,

Yes, I think that's do-able.  A few questions...

It sounds like all that's needed is the PCB with all components on it.  Is that correct?

What's a reasonable cost for the stripped down kit?

How about the mounting plate?

If we do it, it would have to start as a group-buy, since there are minimum order quantities for making PCBs.

Offline dante

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 07:35:57 »
I'll run an interest check to get numbers/feedback to you :)

Yes we will definitely need a plate.

Matias: Any idea on minimum MOQ?
« Last Edit: Wed, 23 October 2013, 07:46:17 by dante »

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 08:28:03 »
I'll run an interest check to get numbers/feedback to you :)

Great, thank you...  :-)

Quote
Yes we will definitely need a plate.

We've used fiberglass mounting plates for prototypes.  They're really strong and are quieter than metal ones, and (best of all) do not require tooling.  Would they be acceptable in a kit?

Quote
Matias: Any idea on minimum MOQ?

For PCBs, it's usually 500pcs, but if we charge enough, we can cover the cost of making more than we need.


Offline jdcarpe

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 08:34:31 »
You might be able to gauge some interest for a TKL Alps DIY kit from my thread: NEW! Alps-based TKL Keyboard Project.

FYI, I know Alps isn't quite as popular as MX, but we sold 711 PCBs in the GH60 group buy, to 306 individuals.

FWIW, Matias, I would love for a company such as yours to take over this project and make it a reality. :)
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Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 08:37:02 »
I completely agree with jdcarpe. I've been itching to get my hands on a 87key/TKL Alps compatible PCB.

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 08:48:10 »
You might be able to gauge some interest for a TKL Alps DIY kit from my thread: NEW! Alps-based TKL Keyboard Project.

FYI, I know Alps isn't quite as popular as MX, but we sold 711 PCBs in the GH60 group buy, to 306 individuals.

Wow, that's incredible!

Quote
FWIW, Matias, I would love for a company such as yours to take over this project and make it a reality. :)

Well, it definitely sounds like there's potential here.

I've never run a group buy before, but we can certainly take care of the manufacturing side of things.  If somebody can clue me in on the former, I'm sure we can make it work.  :)



Offline jdcarpe

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 08:51:49 »
I've never run a group buy before, but we can certainly take care of the manufacturing side of things.  If somebody can clue me in on the former, I'm sure we can make it work.  :)

I'm sure there are members here who would be willing to take orders and handle distribution, if you were to make this happen from a manufacturing aspect. :)
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Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 09:13:08 »
I've never run a group buy before, but we can certainly take care of the manufacturing side of things.  If somebody can clue me in on the former, I'm sure we can make it work.  :)

I'm sure there are members here who would be willing to take orders and handle distribution, if you were to make this happen from a manufacturing aspect. :)

That sounds perfect.

Crossing my fingers that we can make it happen...  :)


Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 10:11:58 »
For those who are following this thread and didn't see the Interest Check, check it out here.

Offline dante

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 11:55:29 »
Matias,

Can you give a $$$ value we would need to hit at 500 MOQ?

It would include:

Bare PCB
Controller
Fiberglass Plate
(Both the Plate/PCB will be Filco "standard" size/drilled)
Documentation on diodes/any components needed for a finished board.

Also perhaps the pricing can be adjusted (slightly) if people pick up sets of your ABS/PBT keycaps + Switches to go along with it? [will probably need pricing on that too]

I will probably reach out to MechanicalKeyboards.com and see if they may be interested in picking up some kits.

EDIT: JUST REALIZED ... Maybe it should be mandatory that the kit includes a set of Matias keycaps to go with this ... just to maintain stabilizer clip compatibility.  The clips also need to be in with the kit  Unless it were possible to do dual stem options - making it compatible with either Matias or Apple Alps keycaps.
« Last Edit: Wed, 23 October 2013, 12:37:29 by dante »

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 16:03:41 »
Matias,

Can you give a $$$ value we would need to hit at 500 MOQ?

It would include:

Bare PCB
Controller
Fiberglass Plate
(Both the Plate/PCB will be Filco "standard" size/drilled)
Documentation on diodes/any components needed for a finished board.

Our controller is an SMD part which would not be easy to solder by hand, so may I suggest that we include all parts pre-soldered onto the PCB except for the switches?

I'll have to check on pricing, but off the top of my head, I'd guess maybe $50.  That would include the fully functional PCB and fiberglass plate.

Quote
Also perhaps the pricing can be adjusted (slightly) if people pick up sets of your ABS/PBT keycaps + Switches to go along with it? [will probably need pricing on that too]

That would certainly save on shipping.

Quote
I will probably reach out to MechanicalKeyboards.com and see if they may be interested in picking up some kits.

Great idea.

Quote
EDIT: JUST REALIZED ... Maybe it should be mandatory that the kit includes a set of Matias keycaps to go with this ... just to maintain stabilizer clip compatibility.  The clips also need to be in with the kit  Unless it were possible to do dual stem options - making it compatible with either Matias or Apple Alps keycaps.

Shouldn't be difficult to design it to work with most available caps, so I don't think it's necessary to require that caps be included in the kit.  However, including stabilizers and clips is a good idea.

Offline pasph

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 16:26:50 »
Hoping also for an ISO version, if it isn't possible i'll take the standard ansi but hoping
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Offline esoomenona

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 18:45:07 »
I don't really know much about the Mathias line of boards aside from some quick knowledge, but does your controller offer programmability?

Offline wetto

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 21:06:38 »
Ok, I've been speaking with Matias. I had an idea and I gave it to him, but it's only an idea so far and he's going to check if it's possible or not.

Anyways, I know that lots of us have novelty keycaps like Clacks and the kind. One of the most annoying things so far for Topre keyboard owners, is that they just can't use some novelty keycaps that are available to Cherry MX Switches and the same may happen with this Matias switches keyboard.

But, since you can make a PCB that's compatible with both Matias switches and Cherry (including the holes, which Matias switches uses for backlighting), my idea is to make this PCB also Cherry MX Compatible

"And why'd you do that?" To expand the possibilities of modding it. Maybe using Cherry MX Grey on the spacebar or using Cherry MX Clear on the ESC key and placing a Clack Keycap on it or even using Cherry MX Switches on the function row just to place novelty keycaps there, everybody would love to do that.
« Last Edit: Wed, 23 October 2013, 21:14:59 by wetto »
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Offline dante

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 21:22:41 »
I'm not into Novelty keycaps at all - but hey - whatever features can help get us up on MOQ I'm all for :D

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 21:24:57 »
I don't really know much about the Mathias line of boards aside from some quick knowledge, but does your controller offer programmability?

It doesn't offer programmability, but it can hold up to 2 layouts, which are switchable via a DIP, which we use to select PC or Mac layouts.  Our IC also handles function keys on the Mac correctly -- it's the only one that does (other than Apple's of course).


Hoping also for an ISO version, if it isn't possible i'll take the standard ansi but hoping

No problem supporting ISO layout on the PCB, but it would require a different mounting plate.  We'll have to see how many people are interested.

Offline dante

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 21:53:56 »
So Matias when you get all the answers can you comment on:

1) If Cherry/Alps hybrid PCB is possible.
2) Cost of a set of 87 keycaps in ABS or PBT when purchased with the kit.
3) Cost of a set of say 90 Alps switches (Quiet Pro or Tactile Pro) when purchased with this kit.
4) Final cost per kit for just the Presoldered (minus switches), PCB, Fiberglass Plate, Stabilizer clips.
5) Is it possible to get different price tiers for a number of MOQ scenarios?

If anyone else can think of anything - please chime in.  (Especially those from Europe - please spread the love to Deskthority!)

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 23:19:41 »
So Matias when you get all the answers can you comment on:

1) If Cherry/Alps hybrid PCB is possible.
2) Cost of a set of 87 keycaps in ABS or PBT when purchased with the kit.
3) Cost of a set of say 90 Alps switches (Quiet Pro or Tactile Pro) when purchased with this kit.
4) Final cost per kit for just the Presoldered (minus switches) PCB, Fiberglass Plate, Stabilizer clips.
5) Is it possible to get different price tiers for a number of MOQ scenarios?

If anyone else can think of anything - please chime in.  (Especially those from Europe - please spread the love to Deskthority!)


1)  Hybrid PCB supporting both Cherry & Alps I'm sure will be no problem.

2)  Cost for the caps will have to wait until the tooling is done and we get an idea of what the yield rate is.  However, I'm sure it will be in line with what others have been selling caps for.  We all have the same costs.

3)  MechanicalKeyboards.com is selling packs of 90 for $32 with free shipping...
      http://mechanicalkeyboards.com/shop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=479

4)  Will let you know the cost of Presoldered (minus switches), PCB, Fiberglass Plate, Stabilizer clips, as soon as I have it.

5) Is it possible to get different price tiers for a number of MOQ scenarios?  Yes, that's easy enough to calculate once we have the cost of #4 above.

This bears repeating...

Quote
If anyone else can think of anything - please chime in.  (Especially those from Europe - please spread the love to Deskthority!)

Never done one of these before, but this is pretty exciting.  :-)   

« Last Edit: Wed, 23 October 2013, 23:40:50 by Matias »

Offline MOZ

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 23:27:31 »
I'm thrilled by the rapid progress on the alps front in the past week.

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 23:50:15 »
Just remembered an idea that's been bouncing around in my head for a while...

If we can sacrifice a key, we could mount a potentiometer (rotating knob) in its place to control backlight brightness.  Making it analog tremendously simplifies the backlight electronics, as well as giving you infinitely precise control over the intensity level.  You could tune it exactly to your liking.


Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 16:34:29 »
A knob for brightness alone seems overkill.

It would make more sense if the knob could serve several purposes, e.g. OS volume control? Unfortunately that would work better with an optomechanical knob that sends relative changes.

If you were to mount it vertically in a convenient slot, you'd get a scroll wheel, volume control (with Fn held), brightness (with Shift+Fn held), and more.

Is there any chance of this having a number pad layer? That gets missed all the time.
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Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 17:31:31 »
A knob for brightness alone seems overkill.

It would make more sense if the knob could serve several purposes, e.g. OS volume control? Unfortunately that would work better with an optomechanical knob that sends relative changes.

If you were to mount it vertically in a convenient slot, you'd get a scroll wheel, volume control (with Fn held), brightness (with Shift+Fn held), and more.

If we did it that way, the whole thing would have to be digital, which more or less defeats the purpose of the knob approach.  With digital, you can only do discrete steps, so you're better off sticking with just switches and not sacrificing that key.

Unfortunately, OS support for volume control is not very granular, and is even worse for scrolling -- if the pointer is not hovering over the intended window, the scroll wheel does nothing.

Quote
Is there any chance of this having a number pad layer? That gets missed all the time.

Definitely can do.


Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #23 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 17:57:55 »
If we did it that way, the whole thing would have to be digital, which more or less defeats the purpose of the knob approach.  With digital, you can only do discrete steps, so you're better off sticking with just switches and not sacrificing that key.

Not true at all. With a rotary encoder you can control the timing between steps far more easily than you can control adjustments using keys. Small adjustments and sweeping changes are equally easy and equally quick to accomplish. Scroll wheels are fiddly, but they're far easier to operate than trying to scroll with arrow keys, which move by exactly one step no matter how hard you press them.

The only thing that seems the least likely thing to need the dynamic range of adjustment control afforded by a rotary control, is keyboard illumination!
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Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #24 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 18:38:03 »
If we did it that way, the whole thing would have to be digital, which more or less defeats the purpose of the knob approach.  With digital, you can only do discrete steps, so you're better off sticking with just switches and not sacrificing that key.

Not true at all. With a rotary encoder you can control the timing between steps far more easily than you can control adjustments using keys. Small adjustments and sweeping changes are equally easy and equally quick to accomplish. Scroll wheels are fiddly, but they're far easier to operate than trying to scroll with arrow keys, which move by exactly one step no matter how hard you press them.

What you say is correct.

However, if the OS support isn't there, you'd need a driver to be able to tap the extra granularity the encoder provides, which is beyond the scope of this project.

For scrolling, OS support is good for granularity but bad for specifiying context -- since it was designed for scrollwheels on mice, not keyboards.

For volume control, it's the other way round -- context is good but granularity is very mediocre, since the OS assumes you're pressing buttons.  The wheel would just simulate button presses.  You'd get better control for big vs. small sweeps, but you'd still be stuck with whatever default minimum increment the OS provides.


The only thing that seems the least likely thing to need the dynamic range of adjustment control afforded by a rotary control, is keyboard illumination!

You may be right.  I don't use backlit keyboards, so I have don't have much experience with this.

With screen brightness, I often find that I want more granularity than is offered by the arbitrary digital steps the OS provides.  Of course, screen brightness and keyboard brightness are not the same thing.


Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #25 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 18:48:02 »
I do have a keyboard with a volume knob, but it's one of the worst keyboards I've ever used (it's the one that came with my PC). It's not unheard of to have that feature, but that also has the problem that you can't use it for anything else.
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Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 19:25:22 »
I do have a keyboard with a volume knob, but it's one of the worst keyboards I've ever used (it's the one that came with my PC). It's not unheard of to have that feature, but that also has the problem that you can't use it for anything else.

Not disagreeing.

I'm not saying it's not better.  I'm just saying it's not that much better, and that the cost-benefit tradeoff is probably not enough for a small project like this.

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 28 October 2013, 13:32:20 »
Unfortunately, OS support for volume control is not very granular, and is even worse for scrolling -- if the pointer is not hovering over the intended window, the scroll wheel does nothing.
As a mainly linux user, this is one of my qualms with windows.
--
Matias: you say there is a way to switch between two preprogrammed layous, as well as the possability for a numberpad layer. Would it be possible to switch between (say) two predefined layouts (qwerty and dvorak) like what wasd does?

I'm very excited about this: it'll serve as an excellent keyboard to test out the upcoming keycaps with.

Offline Matias

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 29 October 2013, 05:20:49 »
Matias: you say there is a way to switch between two preprogrammed layous, as well as the possability for a numberpad layer. Would it be possible to switch between (say) two predefined layouts (qwerty and dvorak) like what wasd does?

Yes, same way, via a DIP switch.


I'm very excited about this: it'll serve as an excellent keyboard to test out the upcoming keycaps with.

Great!

Offline sprit

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Re: An enthusiast 87 ANSI PCB+Controller option?
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 06 November 2013, 20:48:47 »
I would like to say ALPS 60%  75%  87%  Release Candidate PCBs are Ready. For The Record.

I'd like to add these to my PCB GB in a Week.