Chinese USB Hall Effect Keyboard - Review and Impressions

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

24 Jan 2017, 13:24

andrewjoy wrote:
XMIT wrote: I'll get an updated prototype with my personal order which should be here in about two weeks.
No excuse , i want to see XMIT's wood!

:P
Seriously, I have no idea what you're talking about. If you want to see photos of the keyboard collection - including all the Hall boards I've currently got - check the XMIT's Keyboard Collection thread. If you want to see the new prototype boards you'll need to wait until they arrive.

andrewjoy

24 Jan 2017, 13:34


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fohat
Elder Messenger

24 Jan 2017, 14:42


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Rob27shred

11 Feb 2017, 17:31

XMIT wrote:
vivalarevolución wrote: Got an update from Massdrop. Looks like it will be shipped soon. I'm excited!
Oh really? I didn't see that update yet! But the manufacturer told me these should be getting on a plane on the 27th. I'm excited too!

[edit] Heh, that's because I didn't actually order any boards through Massdrop. I get mine direct from the manufacturer. I order some weird stuff and don't want my order confused with a Massdrop order.

In case you're curious, here is what a clear/acrylic 87-key board looks like with Round 6. Works great!
XMIT_0826.jpg
XMIT_0828.jpg
Man that acrylic version looks good! Sorry to hear about the issues with the stems. Although I am very glad you decided to address it before letting them leave the factory. It may delay the boards getting in our hands but I'm perfectly content with waiting longer for higher QC. I hope things go more smoothly for you with these boards once that kink is worked out XMIT! ;)

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

16 Feb 2017, 15:03

Hi friends - I've got some updates. First, the keyboard reworks are proceeding nicely. We're hoping to get all the boards on a plane to the US in the next couple of days. So, let's say that these will ship around the end of the month, considering the aforementioned import and distribution delays.

I asked the factory to send me the very first boards off the production line for last minute verification. They arrived on Monday. I'm happy to say that everything is in order. Some photos are here: https://goo.gl/photos/WdVukVhhnLXdj1xKA .

There were some questions about the firmware programming tool. I've received a beta copy of the tool. It is able to offer key remapping of the main (not Fn) layer at the moment. I'm still working with the manufacturer and their firmware sub-contractor to make improvements to the tool.

One local user noted a fitment issue when flipping the space bar. I believe this is a key cap issue and not a keyboard issue. I'm still working to root cause this issue. I don't fully understand it yet.

Thank you so much for your patience! Hopefully you'll have your boards in hand in the next couple of weeks.

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Hypersphere

16 Feb 2017, 20:57

After the dust settles from Round 1 of this innovative project, I am looking forward to further developments, such as the possibility of a Hall Effect board with switches modified to yield tactile and/or tactile-clicky types.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

16 Feb 2017, 21:00

Hypersphere wrote: After the dust settles from Round 1 of this innovative project, I am looking forward to further developments, such as the possibility of a Hall Effect board with switches modified to yield tactile and/or tactile-clicky types.
Thanks! Lots of folks are excited for the same thing. I'm hoping to have a clicky prototype in hand by the end of the month. Right now everything else is on hold while the factory cranks out the final production boards and ships them over.

I also definitely owe you some responses to PMs. Bear with me, I'll get to them.

User avatar
Hypersphere

17 Feb 2017, 00:03

XMIT wrote:
Hypersphere wrote: After the dust settles from Round 1 of this innovative project, I am looking forward to further developments, such as the possibility of a Hall Effect board with switches modified to yield tactile and/or tactile-clicky types.
Thanks! Lots of folks are excited for the same thing. I'm hoping to have a clicky prototype in hand by the end of the month. Right now everything else is on hold while the factory cranks out the final production boards and ships them over.

I also definitely owe you some responses to PMs. Bear with me, I'll get to them.
No worries! Take all the time you need. I know you are extremely busy with many things. Keep up the good work on the Hall Effect keyboard!

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fohat
Elder Messenger

17 Feb 2017, 00:09

Hypersphere wrote:
XMIT wrote:
Thanks! Lots of folks are excited for the same thing. I'm hoping to have a clicky prototype in hand by the end of the month.
No worries! Take all the time you need.
+1

I am very interested in the tactile version with light springs, but I feel sure that the longer I wait, the more bugs will have surfaced and have been resolved.

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vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

09 Mar 2017, 01:48

Mine arrived today. typing on it right now. The packaging and presentation is great. A bamboo case is certainly unique and I love it. And all these LED modes...

Definitely the best linear switch that I have used. I imagine that feel can be attributed to the lack of physical contact in the switch mechanism and these nice big springs that allow for a quick key return action.

andrewjoy

10 Mar 2017, 12:58

vivalarevolución wrote: Mine arrived today. typing on it right now. The packaging and presentation is great. A bamboo case is certainly unique and I love it. And all these LED modes...

Definitely the best linear switch that I have used. I imagine that feel can be attributed to the lack of physical contact in the switch mechanism and these nice big springs that allow for a quick key return action.

Glad they turned out well mate !

Good to see they are getting shipped, i am so excited for mine to come.

How are the caps ? Mine will be getting taken off but just wondering if they are at least 1/2 decent.

User avatar
XMIT
[ XMIT ]

10 Mar 2017, 13:09

We've been plagued with some quality control issues that are highly disappointing. I spent all day yesterday (like, 6am to 11pm local time) responding to various bits of feedback. It's scattered through the Massdrop forum system, and private and public Reddit posts, for the most part. I'll work on aggregating everything to my Web site, xmitkeyboards.com, for long term reference.

I need to have a long chat with the factory about quality control.

For the most part people are getting working boards or boards with minor issues, but there have been a few returns. My long term goal is a 99.999% success rate. That's not feasible, so, I'd like to go for one "nine" at a time - starting with 90% success.

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just_add_coffee

10 Mar 2017, 13:50

XMIT wrote: Thanks! Lots of folks are excited for the same thing. I'm hoping to have a clicky prototype in hand by the end of the month. Right now everything else is on hold while the factory cranks out the final production boards and ships them over.
I'll definitely get in on the clicky group buy if it happens.

And without sounding like a complete cheeseball, I hope that you keep fighting, that you keep your spirits up, and don't give up on Hall Effect keyboards. I've seen some of the posts on Reddit where people have had issues and, if I had been in your shoes, I would've commenced with heavy drinking and a steady stream of The Cure cds. So don't be like me (though I'd argue that a little bit of The Cure is pretty awesome), go kick ass and take names.

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Harshmallow

10 Mar 2017, 16:51

I just wanted to chime in and say that I've read some of your replies to customers that received some poor quality boards - I'm very impressed with how you've handled all of this without any negativity, using the feedback as essential constructive information and all. I've worked in customer service for over a decade and I know how hard it is to deal with shit like this. I was just getting into mechs around the time this drop went down, but if you do go for a round 2 in the future, I'd be more than happy to support you.

dwolvin

11 Mar 2017, 16:32

Hi XMIT,
Got mine- add me to the satisfied list. USB connection isn't the tightest would be the only QA point, but I have already 'sold' a couple when the tactile comes along. I am loving the lighting more than I thought I would, and will be switching to the stiffer springs since I type like a Neanderthal. Still upper lip- the only thing we have to fear is Reddit and Taxes! (and... drinking and Cure CD's almost made me snort coffee).
20170311_070800.jpg
20170311_070800.jpg (4.08 MiB) Viewed 1245 times

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

11 Mar 2017, 17:24

The Cure! Hah! I know what my Secret Santa recipient is getting this year...

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

11 Mar 2017, 18:38

XMIT, if you ever feel like moving on from The Cure to The Smiths, please come back for some cheering up before it's too late. You are not the son and heir of nothing in particular!

Seriously, though, I'm glad to hear that you have a positive attitude, and are giving great customer service even with this first problematic run. I'm looking forward to the eventual tactile run too.

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just_add_coffee

11 Mar 2017, 20:21

Techno Trousers wrote: XMIT, if you ever feel like moving on from The Cure to The Smiths, please come back for some cheering up before it's too late. You are not the son and heir of nothing in particular!
You shut your mouth!

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

14 Mar 2017, 23:33

I just ran across this tech blogger post about the XMIT HE keyboards, dated March 9, and referencing a Tom's Hardware post on March 8. It's a good explainer for those new to the technology, and it's nice to see XMIT getting some more press.

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vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

15 Mar 2017, 15:50

andrewjoy wrote:
vivalarevolución wrote: Mine arrived today. typing on it right now. The packaging and presentation is great. A bamboo case is certainly unique and I love it. And all these LED modes...

Definitely the best linear switch that I have used. I imagine that feel can be attributed to the lack of physical contact in the switch mechanism and these nice big springs that allow for a quick key return action.

Glad they turned out well mate !

Good to see they are getting shipped, i am so excited for mine to come.

How are the caps ? Mine will be getting taken off but just wondering if they are at least 1/2 decent.
Keycaps are a little thin, but that was to be expected. I will probably swap out them out for some of those PBT backlit doubleshots that I see for sale here and there.

Speaking of quality control, I will admit, the keycaps do seem to vary in their fit on the key stems, which I believe was described in one of the Massdrop updates. I don't mind that much, because it's not like I am throwing the keyboard across the room or anything and will probably replace the keycaps when I have the chance.

That's my only gripe and I don't want to take away from my overall satisfaction with this innovative product.

andrewjoy

15 Mar 2017, 16:23

That was also a problem with CM and the early novatouch as well, is it the caps that are loose or the stem ?

You can always use a small piece of paper or plastic bag over the mount in the cap and then push it on , makes it super tight !

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vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

15 Mar 2017, 17:15

andrewjoy wrote: That was also a problem with CM and the early novatouch as well, is it the caps that are loose or the stem ?

You can always use a small piece of paper or plastic bag over the mount in the cap and then push it on , makes it super tight !
Not sure, but I think the email mentioned that the stem was the issue. I'm not too worried about, the keycaps stay put when the keyboard is sitting on my desk.

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shreebles
Finally 60%

15 Mar 2017, 17:19

andrewjoy wrote: You can always use a small piece of paper or plastic bag over the mount in the cap and then push it on , makes it super tight !
I prefer using very small amounts of adhesive tape, that way, it will get stuck to the stem not inside the keycap!! :? ;)

andrewjoy

15 Mar 2017, 17:57

vivalarevolución wrote:
Not sure, but I think the email mentioned that the stem was the issue. I'm not too worried about, the keycaps stay put when the keyboard is sitting on my desk.

Nooo , that means i cannot play keyboard air guitar !
shreebles wrote:
I prefer using very small amounts of adhesive tape, that way, it will get stuck to the stem not inside the keycap!! :? ;)
I prefer no sticky whatsoever :) its easy to remove a bit of paper or plastic bag with tweezers

andrewjoy

16 Mar 2017, 11:00

Mine Arrived.

First impressions are very good. Bamboo case is nice but could do with a bit of a sand and some more oil but i will leave it for now.

The keycaps have a decent texture but as expected a little thin. I am in work at the moment so i cannot swap them but i will tonight.

The switches as expected are fantastic, they are a little loud on the upstroke and they feel a little harsh on bottoming out but that will be me as i am so used to topre at the moment , i am in fact already getting used to it at this point in the post as its the first thing other than my password i have typed :).

The manual could have been printed on nicer paper and in a better font but it does the job, hell you are lucky to get a manual with anything nowadays.

Very happy!

P.S is it possible to set the speed of the repeat rate ?

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Wodan
ISO Advocate

16 Mar 2017, 13:13

I've had mine for a week now maybe. Haven't really been involved in this thread/development very much so far but thought it might help to share my experiences here.

I'll start with what I liked about this board, then go through a handful of weak spots and want to end in a few recommendations for future models.

First off it was impressive to see how well this keyboard actually worked. For my personal switch preference (light, linear) and with the habit of bottoming out hard, I got great results with this "new" switch. The backlighting and underlight were bright and well distributed (Acrilic case model) and I could easily whack some Vortex PBT Doubleshot caps on the keyboard without much trouble. The lack of a contact leaf that interferes with the switch travel is amazing and felt a little odd at first.

What didn't impress me was the build quality and the choice of materials for many components. This is something that I credit to the absolute novelty of this keyboard and switch concept. The choice of plastic used for the switch housings and stabilizers results in a very cheap and rattly overall impression when using the keyboard. This is the case for many "clear plastic" keyboard parts these days so I am not sure there's an alternative clear plastic that will feel and sound less rattly. The sliders sit a little loosely on the springs inside their housing and I am personally not impressed by the force curve of the springs used. Since we are not influenced by a contact leaf or a click leaf, the spring characteristics alone define the switch feeling. To me they felt like starting off a little too light and getting a little too heavy towards the bottom giving them a slightly mushy feeling towards the end. Don't get this wrong but the force curve - nothing else - felt a little like Cherry MY switches. I would prefer the switches to not bottom-out on the springs - that's my impression - but instead bottom out when the slider hits the case bottom. The stabilizers were not good at all ... The keycaps are also

Some ideas for improvements of the next generation:
- Metal plate + injection molded keyboard case like most other keyboards in that price range
- Original Cherry stabilizers
- Use springs that will press the sliders against the top case to reduce the impression of wobble and give a more defined entry point into the force curve (spring already at ~20% compression)
- Limit the downstroke of the slider before it bottoms out on the spring. Not really sure if that's really the case but that's what it feels like. I like a defined, solid bottom out before the spring is fully compressed.
- Try different plastic for the switch cases if possible. Something that is less rattly.

Hope I didn't come across as too negative. There is great potential in this new design and it is impressive how this whole keyboard was buit from scratch.

User avatar
ohaimark
Kingpin

16 Mar 2017, 13:36

Preload is the term you're looking for. Increasing the spring length slightly could fix that. If you wanted a fix now, you could make a spring stretching jig to get consistent increases in length/force.

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fohat
Elder Messenger

16 Mar 2017, 13:51

Will O-rings work with these similarly to MX?

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ohaimark
Kingpin

16 Mar 2017, 14:19

Nope.

Edit: well, maybe if you found bigger o rings...

andrewjoy

16 Mar 2017, 15:49

topre style internal dampers

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