Obsession Log: Keyboards

As you can tell, I enjoy messing with tools. Perhaps too much. For those who care (cough, @megalithic cough,) here’s the story so far.

Apple Standard Keyboard (M0116)

The first computer I learned to type on was an Apple Performa II… I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s the board known as the M0116. It’s probably in goodwill or my parents garage now… I probably need to harvest those vintage orange alps switches and sell them on eBay. :P

Random keyboards from garages and CompUSA

Somewhere in high school my uncle built a computer with me. That probably is the source of pretty much… all the other foolishness on this site. Cameras, programming, unix tools, all mostly point back to that glowing blue case. I used whatever Dell keyboards we had lying around, eventually picking up a low profile Corsair keyboard to fit my shallow keyboard tray.

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000

When I got my first job I was just typing on my laptop, which was then a glowing gamer-green Asus. I found a Microsoft ergonomic board in the supply closet and the owner let me keep it. I think I just relished the challenge and weirdness of learning to type on the pseudo-split, but it started to teach me that there was a world of usefulness beyond just glowing gamer lights.

Related and awesome… codinghorror’s review of the Natural 4000 from 2005.

KBC Poker II with Cherry Blues (2011)

kbc poker ii

I bought this after seeing my friend Tom’s HHKB. It was small portable enough to come with me to school and work… and loud. Still one of my favorite boards, taught me that I didn’t need all the keys and that putting things behind layers was possible and awesome. I won a lot of Starcraft 2 games on this board.

WASD Full-size with Cherry Blues (2012)

Wasd blues filter

Inspired by the keyboards from the video game Portal, I bought a WASD full sized keyboard with blank keycaps. Eschewing labels on the keycaps was the first big jump towards learning to type properly. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at not bottoming out, so my coworkers told me I had to get rid of it. Too noisy. :P

I sold this board to buy…

WASD 70% with Cherry Browns (2013)

Wasd browns

Nearly the exact same board with Cherry Browns. This became my board for quite a while. I think I sold it to my friend Billy, who later sold it to some other developer in Birmingham. Pretty sure it’s floating around Cayenne Creative now.

This was my work board for a long time until I sold this board to buy… (seeing a pattern?)

JD40 with Cherry Blues (2014)

JD40 Top, pictured with switched up Poker II
Top: switched up Poker II. Bottom: JD40 with DSA Deep Space (wish I had bought more of that!)

I bought this in 2014 (first experience with long wait group buys!)… immediately dismissed it as being too small. Eventually, after I discovered the re-sell value of keyboards, I sold it on reddit to /u/chrisswires, who made this out of it.

POK3R with Cherry Clears (2015)

Just before I started messing around with it…

I had read about MX Clear at some point… and decided to upgrade my trusty Poker so that I could have one at work and one at home.

This one taught me that having separate keymaps for different boards was super annoying. (The arrow keys and others moved between the Poker II and Pok3r.) It also showed me how nice it was to type on a keyboard with a heavy plate and case. I also became convinced I didn’t need a full size keyboard.

After installing SA 1976 R1. I later ordered a wooden case took a year to arrive and was broken on arrival with no replacement. :(

It also kicked off my customizing boards when I ordered SA 1976 for it (which I later sold for way more than I paid for it… to pay for more keyboards. :P)

MX Clear was the first switch where I could type without bottoming out and it was more quiet than a clicky. This became my main board for a long time. I modified the older poker II over the years, new case and such… and then…

Planck Light with Kailh Burnt Orange Chocs

I’d been eyeing the Planck concept for a while. I had already been thinking that if the JD40 had a few more keys, I’d be able to use it, and this seemed to be a good way to try it. I also had been convinced by my Ergodox and Kinesis using friends that ortholinear would be nice.

I loved it. I thought it was going to be just a neat toy, but it became my main keyboard for six months or so. I liked the small form factor, I liked the layer system, I loved having custom firmware I could change myself, and I honestly saw ergonomic and typing speed benefits.

I sold the poker II, the pok3r, and the staggered style keycaps to pay for the next wave of boards… the rise of the ortho. :P

Let’s Split Eh with Zealio v1 67g

picture of split keyboard

This one convinced me that split keyboards were going to be the best for me and my uses. My first build, my first split, my first fancy-switch keyboard… and still the one that I’m typing this article on today.

It’s moved to wearing MDA Big Bang, which is a great keyset for this board.

I wrote a lot more about this board here.

Massdrop (OLKB) Preonic with Zealio v2 67g

Keyboard

Soon after I had put in my order for parts for the Let’s Split… Massdrop released a drop for their version of the Preonic. At the time, I still wasn’t convinced that I didn’t need a number-row… and it’s pretty. I really enjoyed it, but discovered by that point that the Planck Light and the Let’s Split Eh had taught me to type without the number row… so eventually it was sold to fund more splits.

I excused this shameful behavior by the amount that I was able to sell the SA 1976 set for… thankfully right before they did another run and the value plummeted. Buy low, sell high right?

I thought at first that the v2 Zealio was going to be the endgame switch… but over time I realized that I typed much better (no bottoming out, less strain) on the v1 Zealio… so now that started a new quest of trying to find a replacement switch.

OLKB Planck with Originative MOD-M Tactile

Planck with matte white high pro case and SA Ice keycaps

It’s currently wearing XDA Canvas R2 on Originative’s Mod-M Tactile switches. While not as smooth as the Zealio v2 67g, they are a serviceable successor given that the v1 zeals aren’t made anymore. I do miss the quietness of the zilents, but ultimately it’s about typing. If I could find a hoard of v1 67g zilents, I’d buy ‘em all. Oh well. ¯\(°_o)/¯

I’ll probably keep this one around for coffeeshop use and for the hotswap ability.

Keebio Nyquist in SP-50 case with Originative MOD-M Tactile

nyquist

I like splits, but I like fancy cases. There are not many nice aluminum cases for ortho split keyboards… keebio designed a PCB that fit another board’s case and would support my favorite QMK firmware.

It’s heavy, but it has its problems… you can’t reach the reset button easily. I also had to file the case slightly to get everything to fit, but it’s lovely and works. It’s wearing my new vilebloom SA set… as is half of /r/olkb these days.

So that’s it… sort of. There may be a Kyria from splitkb.com on order… I already sold the Planck light to fund it… :P I could also see myself selling the Nyquist in a heartbeat if someone comes up with a nice aluminum case for a Let’s Split sized split.


Changelog
  • 2019-11-14 19:33:21 -0600

    Auditing the tags in the site...

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  • 2019-11-07 20:32:02 -0600

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  • 2019-11-07 20:31:07 -0600

    Post: Keyboard Obsession