Obsession Log: KeyboardsEvan Travers
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.
KBC Poker II with Cherry Blues (2011)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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
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.
Massdrop (OLKB) Preonic with Zealio v2 67g
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
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.
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
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.
Kyria Low Profile from splitkb.com
I wanted to dip my toe into the world of “staggered columnar” keyboards. The popular options in this world had either too many keys (like the Ergodox or the Iris) or what I considered to be too few (like the Corne.)
The Kyria’s design caught my eye as the curve of the hand looked to be really comfy, and there were lots of options for the thumb cluster. I sold my planck light, and started planning my build.
I built it out with my beloved Burnt Orange Novelkeys chocs, and quickly realized that I would yet again want to transition all my boards from straight ortholinear to staggered columnar. I sold my remaining MX planck to put in an order for the Keyboardio Atreus, and started developing a layout that would be compact enought to be a subset of every keyboard I had on order. Eventually I added the amazing MBK caps, and it’s a nice board.
Corne LP from boardsource.xyz
While I loved the feel of the Kyria’s finger curve and thumb cluster, I still love the feeling of a good metal case on a keyboard. A lot of the staggered columnar options tend to be proudly “janky” with PCB sandwich cases.
I had told myself that the first staggered columnar split that came along with a good case, I’d sell the Nyquist and buy it… and this was the first to the door. Pretty much after I ordered this, I started planning how to modify my layout even smaller.
I outfitted it with MBK keycaps from mkultra (totally worth the wait!) and the very strange gchoc modded choc switches from gheavy. They are 20g linears. They don’t feel like anything else, and I really like them. It took some time to get used to them, but if the only thing they have taught me is how to not bottom out on normal keys, they are worth it.
It’s a nearly perfect mobile keyboard, but I am very tempted to desolder the elite-c chips on this board and rebuild it with the new bluetooth enabled nice!nano chips… but that would also require rebuilding my layout in new ZMK firmware.
When the keyboardio kickstarter for the Atreus was announced, I immediately sold my MX planck to fund it. I knew that I still wanted a monolithic board for typing on my lap or travel, and this looked like basically a perfect replacement. I do miss the metal case of the planck, it was solid.
I’m probably going to do a full write-up of this board at some point, it just arrived, and I flashed QMK and my layout onto it. It’s still wearing the Kailh Speed Copper switches it came with, and they are pretty nice and I may just leave them. It is perfect for being a more capable and ergonomic “laptop” keyboard1, and I’m using it to type this right now. :)
I disable the onboard keyboard and lay my keyboard on top of it. ↩
2020-10-06 23:35:06 +0000
Add some missing links
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remove the code line breaks
2020-10-06 15:50:46 +0000
Add some more links and context
2020-10-06 15:39:45 +0000
Update obsession log post with more keebs
2020-06-18 19:26:02 +0000
Move everything to CST
Don't know why I didn't do that before. It caused _no_ end of
2019-11-15 01:33:21 +0000
Auditing the tags in the site...
Many removed, cleaned up, or renamed.
Tags with only one child got yanked.
2019-11-08 02:32:02 +0000
Add featured image
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Post: Keyboard Obsession