Author Topic: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea  (Read 4693 times)

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Offline joneslee85

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Dear Unicomp (@zmenchho)

I have been a fan of IBM Model M and its heavy weight buckling spring. I could not have enough of it, and I have to confess that game changer like Cherry MX and Capacitive Switch are no where near the robust Buckling Spring.

These day we are too busy modding our Cherry MX that we totally forget about the joy of getting our hand on the IBM Model M, mainly because of shortage of stock parts and media attention. However I do believe that with effort of the community and Unicomp as the company, we could revive the buckling spring trend. So I have a proposal to the keyboard designer at Unicomp. Please make us a keyboard that resemble the vintage IBM Model M 87key



* 87key layout OR 60% layout
* Variety of keycap color (granite color if possible)
* Coiled detachable USB cable
* DIP switches for configure Win/Mac keys
* LED backlid optional
* Classic enclosure
* OR a brand new flat and low profile case
* Full NKey rollover

Or crazier, if Unicomp could design a first 60% layout keyboard, I would go crazy!

Guys, looking forward to reply with support comments if possible

EDIT: I also understand cost factor affect the feasibility. So I suggest that Unicomp run a Kickstarter campaign, I think Geekhack community would help out to get media attention and funding
« Last Edit: Wed, 13 November 2013, 07:08:28 by joneslee85 »
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Offline Computer-Lab in Basement

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 07:04:03 »
mkawa is the one with all the info on this, but from what I heard they can't/won't be making TKL BS boards? Don't quote me on this, I'm not exactly sure of the details on this...

Wait for kawa to return, I'm sure he can shed some light on this.
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Offline joneslee85

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 07:07:56 »
mkawa is the one with all the info on this, but from what I heard they can't/won't be making TKL BS boards? Don't quote me on this, I'm not exactly sure of the details on this...

Wait for kawa to return, I'm sure he can shed some light on this.

if they can't legally make TKL layout, how about the 60% layout, don't tell me IBM patented that too ;)
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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 09:23:42 »
I believe Unicomp says there is no market. And also some parts they maybe can't/don't want to spend money to be able to make.

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 09:28:06 »
Wcass is in the process of making 60% Buckling Spring boards available. He has one made, I already typed on it/fell in love with it.
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Offline Hellmark

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 10:09:38 »
I really don't get why Unicomp says that there is no market. I mean, look at the number of people wanting 60% and TKL keyboards. Nearly every other manufacturer on the market is selling quite a few TKL or smaller keyboards.

I'm thinking it may be more of a cost thing, where they may not have the money up front to make the extra stuff, so are not going to bother. I mean, part of the reason why they changed stuff around with the 104's was to cut cost.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 11:51:17 »
I think the issue is that they can't get the membranes in the right size from their supplier in a quantity low enough to try it. Most of the rest of the parts they have or can make.

I don't know if they can contact membrane suppliers for the thriving rubberdome market though, or what their minimum order quantities are.

Offline Lu_e

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 14:11:59 »
Every time this is brought up, I hate unicomp a little more.

WTF
MX

Offline joneslee85

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 15:52:09 »
Wcass is in the process of making 60% Buckling Spring boards available. He has one made, I already typed on it/fell in love with it.

any chance that you could get the picture uploaded for everyone to see?
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Offline Hellmark

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 16:06:05 »
Even if they just did a TKL, doesn't their existing membrane allow for them to just cut down in size? I thought that is what some people were doing when restoring SSKs.

Offline Linkbane

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 16:20:12 »
I'm pretty certain that the way to get more appeal for this is to make it new, not old. Everything on your list is expensive and a lot is unnecessary to most people. The majority of people who fund a kickstarter campaign, assuming they aren't geekhackers, will probably not be interested in multiple keycaps colors other than the ones they buy, and creating more will drive up the cost. N-key rollover has almost no practical applications besides being something to brag about technically, and would make development more expensive (why not use PS/2, anyways?).

Same with the DIP switches and detachable cables. More money, more people required.

If this were to be a thing, it'd have to have modern appeal. I would never have a BS on my desk because its bezel on a TKL makes it almost as large as a 104-key board, and it's just pointless to have all that. Lighter, weaker as a result (hardly an issue, it'll still be better than Cherries/Topres), but again built for popular appeal.
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Offline rowdy

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 16:23:45 »
If Unicomp made one, they could sell them on eBay.  They'd recoup their outlay pretty quickly, until people realised, that is.
"Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. It’s in HHKB’s slogan, but when America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces." - Eiiti Wada

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Offline dante

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 20:18:32 »
The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,
Oh!

The sun'll come out
Tomorrow
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

« Last Edit: Wed, 13 November 2013, 20:48:20 by dante »

Offline dorkvader

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 21:33:12 »
Even if they just did a TKL, doesn't their existing membrane allow for them to just cut down in size? I thought that is what some people were doing when restoring SSKs.
No cutting and repairing the membrane (like hasu did with his 60% buckling spring) is very difficult and expensive. It is probably possible to roll up the membrane and fit it in the case, but you have to be careful still.
I'm pretty certain that the way to get more appeal for this is to make it new, not old. Everything on your list is expensive and a lot is unnecessary to most people. The majority of people who fund a kickstarter campaign, assuming they aren't geekhackers, will probably not be interested in multiple keycaps colors other than the ones they buy, and creating more will drive up the cost. N-key rollover has almost no practical applications besides being something to brag about technically, and would make development more expensive (why not use PS/2, anyways?).

Same with the DIP switches and detachable cables. More money, more people required.

If this were to be a thing, it'd have to have modern appeal. I would never have a BS on my desk because its bezel on a TKL makes it almost as large as a 104-key board, and it's just pointless to have all that. Lighter, weaker as a result (hardly an issue, it'll still be better than Cherries/Topres), but again built for popular appeal.
The reason I got my first cherry KB (WASD V1) was because the KRO of my current model M was not enough for several applications I used daily. Also: PS/2 is dead. There is almost no reason to use it nowadays.

keycap colours are already available from unicomp through their new process and will not affect the price in any way. If unicomp were interested, they might advertise that more. Last time I checked, DIP switches were pretty cheap and jumpers were already available in unicomp keyboards.

I'm not sure what you're getting at here. There are very real costs involved in bringing a new product to market, but many of said costs are not high in very real terms. They come out as the high cost of tooling / process change, but if you are designing a new process or new product, you can greatly ameliorate these costs as they can all happen at once.

If you already have a product, changing it is expensive, but if you are introducing a product, and you need to change you tooling, process, etc. then it's not so bad.

This is more true with manufacturing / big business than with crowdfunding, but with DIY, the process is mainly by hand and the added cost of change is almost equivalent to the raw price difference in your items. this is aprt of why DIY lends itself well to custom work.

Offline Dubsgalore

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 21:36:35 »
60% BS boards please, I would buy one

Ya know...to like try it out and all

I'm not very good with buckling spring and it's information and qualities, but i want to try it bad and a unicomp 60%/ssk would be awesome

Offline Belfong

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 22:02:01 »
Matias has plans for a 60%.
Look at the price of the IBM Model M SSK in eBay.
Look at how Poker 2 are selling out and HHKB too.

I don't believe there is no market for 60%.
Unicomp is just clueless!
 

Offline uzoc

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 13 November 2013, 22:17:38 »
Matias has plans for a 60%.
Look at the price of the IBM Model M SSK in eBay.
Look at how Poker 2 are selling out and HHKB too.

I don't believe there is no market for 60%.
Unicomp is just clueless!

Some of the questions, are:
- 60% keyboard?
- When was the last time you saw one in a store?
- How much do they cost?
- How popular are they?

Now a TKL is much more possible...
After all we have all these CM TKL's which are not cost prohibitive at the $50 range (on sale).
I'm more inline with the TKL popularity AND cost.
If you insist on a TKL it will work (and THEN ask for a 60%).
But asking for a 60% BEFORE a TKL?
Not going to happen!!!

Offline unicomp_uc

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 14 November 2013, 00:08:49 »
Every time this is brought up, I hate unicomp a little more.

WTF

Agreed. I love BS, but I wish the lone supplier wasn't as archaic as the product's technology. This is not to speak of their friendliness, but rather their resourcefulness, innovation and desire to actually grow their company as opposed to just staying afloat is maddening.

 
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Offline berserkfan

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 14 November 2013, 21:40:41 »
I agree with you. If so many companies can make TKL successfully (and it is obviously profitable since more and more companies are making TKLs), then Unicomp is being too conservative and cautious.

You always need to risk some money and investment in tooling. If you are not willing to risk, you will never get the rewards which CoolerMaster is doubtless getting, because their QFRs are popular.

Every time this is brought up, I hate unicomp a little more.

WTF

Agreed. I love BS, but I wish the lone supplier wasn't as archaic as the product's technology. This is not to speak of their friendliness, but rather their resourcefulness, innovation and desire to actually grow their company as opposed to just staying afloat is maddening.
Most of the modding can be done on your own once you break through the psychological barriers.

Offline SneakyRobb

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 14 November 2013, 23:14:32 »
I thought unicomp bought the patents and the equipment. They just kept business as usual. Perhaps retooling production lines is out of the question in terms of cost

Offline Hellmark

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 15 November 2013, 07:57:13 »
Unicomp was formed from former Lexmark employees when Lexmark killed off the M, and bought everything from Lexmark. Not everything is made in house, with the membranes being contracted out, but it is rare for a company to make everything themselves.

Offline wcass

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #21 on: Sat, 16 November 2013, 15:11:41 »
I remember the answer to this; it is indeed, tooling cost for membranes and cases – in the tens of thousands of dollars IIRC. They just don’t see the numbers for it to be profitable.
 
One way of making it more attractive to Unicomp (and fill current demand) might be to partner with someone willing to do customization R&D and offer “kits”– like the Mercedes Benz/AMG partnership. If order volume can justify a tooling investment then Unicomp could add the “custom” design into a new production line. I’m pretty sure that I could have my 60% BS design professionally made and assembled for under $150 each at between 10 and 20 units. At 100 units, it should be under $100 each.
 
Unicomp doesn’t compete with <generic Chineese manufacturer> by making cheap keyboards, it competes with Cherry mostly by making a good keyboard. We need to convince them that they can be profitable by competing with Torpe by making a great keyboard.

Offline joneslee85

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #22 on: Sat, 16 November 2013, 17:35:37 »
Lovely answer.

@wcass: as far as i know, the patent for BS is expired, if somone could run a project for a custom
PCB and 3D printing or acrylic case
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #23 on: Sat, 16 November 2013, 20:05:34 »
Lovely answer.

@wcass: as far as i know, the patent for BS is expired, if somone could run a project for a custom
PCB and 3D printing or acrylic case
Buckling springs were patented in the early 1980's, over 30 years ago. Most patents last only 20 years tops. Tthe buckling spring patent has expired, so we can, indeed, make our own.

The issue is, of course, the expensive tooling. I suppose the cheapest way is to buy a load of SSK chimmneys from unicomp, come up with our own membrane controller and metal plate (and bolts) and then either go caseless or 3D printed case and it still would be expensive.

Offline joneslee85

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #24 on: Sun, 17 November 2013, 06:15:36 »
No doubt it would be a real challenge but then again, it is more rewarding and 2x the fun. I am in to give fund for GH guru with enough knowledge to make initiative
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Offline joneslee85

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #25 on: Mon, 30 December 2013, 18:24:56 »
.... I’m pretty sure that I could have my 60% BS design professionally made and assembled for under $150 each at between 10 and 20 units. At 100 units, it should be under $100 each.
.....

I'm looking to the day I can buy your 60% BS keyboard.

Can you upload video or more photos of your 60% project?
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Offline pchatterjee

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 30 December 2013, 18:47:06 »
Still love the feel of BS boards more than anything else.  I just really want one in modern casing/housing without sacrificing the feel of the original Ms (even better than the Unicomps for whatever reason).  Would love a metal case option.  I personally dont like TKL and would like a numpad option.

I have used matias and they are not very close in feel or quality to the Ms or AEK 2s.

Offline Pacifist

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 30 December 2013, 21:15:59 »
I'd like unicomp to sell some 122 model m's

Offline E TwentyNine

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Offline regack

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #29 on: Mon, 30 December 2013, 21:39:07 »
.... I’m pretty sure that I could have my 60% BS design professionally made and assembled for under $150 each at between 10 and 20 units. At 100 units, it should be under $100 each.
.....

I'm looking to the day I can buy your 60% BS keyboard.

Can you upload video or more photos of your 60% project?

Yes... I could see paying quite a bit for one of these...

Offline Hellmark

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 31 December 2013, 12:11:17 »
I'd like unicomp to sell some 122 model m's

They've had 122s for years. That's something they have always had the molds for.

Offline Pacifist

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #31 on: Tue, 31 December 2013, 16:52:43 »
I'd like unicomp to sell some 122 model m's

They've had 122s for years. That's something they have always had the molds for.

Yea, im oblivious. But if unicomp has 122 molds, why don't they have 60% molds? The board has already been made so they're somewhere

Offline E TwentyNine

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #32 on: Tue, 31 December 2013, 17:06:05 »
Yea, im oblivious. But if unicomp has 122 molds, why don't they have 60% molds? The board has already been made so they're somewhere

 :confused:

How does one follow from the other?
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #33 on: Tue, 31 December 2013, 21:18:27 »
For such a small run (I think they are only found on a label making machine that clickclack's workplace used to use) IBM could have contracted with another company to get the case made. Or just recycled the moulds after the production run was over.

Offline Aer Fixus

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #34 on: Wed, 01 January 2014, 00:07:36 »
For such a small run (I think they are only found on a label making machine that clickclack's workplace used to use) IBM could have contracted with another company to get the case made. Or just recycled the moulds after the production run was over.

The obvious solution here is to get clickclack to create a mold of the keyboard! Problem solved. A mold for 60% Model Ms.
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Offline Burz

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #35 on: Fri, 03 January 2014, 20:41:39 »
Matias has plans for a 60%.
Look at the price of the IBM Model M SSK in eBay.
Look at how Poker 2 are selling out and HHKB too.

I don't believe there is no market for 60%.
Unicomp is just clueless!

Meanwhile, Matias could not keep up with the demand for their Mini boards for the better part of last year.

Unicomp is indeed clueless. They see no horizon outside their old 1990s business circles, not realizing there are generations of new computer users who are intrigued with mechanical boards.

They should hire a consultant to work out their fit-and-finish issues, do a logo redesign, and come out with a couple compact boards starting with a successor to the SSK.

My only beef with the proposition here is that hitting a company like Unicomp--and the mindset they're still in--with the 60% idea is probably counterproductive at this point; They are likely to dismiss it as a peculiar distaste for function keys, and that casts a shadow of peculiarity over the general idea for compact boards.
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Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Unicomp Buckling Spring 87key OR 60% layout keyboard crowd funding idea
« Reply #36 on: Fri, 10 January 2014, 08:40:29 »
Wcass is in the process of making 60% Buckling Spring boards available. He has one made, I already typed on it/fell in love with it.

any chance that you could get the picture uploaded for everyone to see?

I totally missed this comment but here are some links:

Custom BS membrane thread where the 60% BS board was made

My Keycon 2013 thread where I talk about using the 60% BS board

Samwisekoi's 60% BS Board discussion thread
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