What is my white whale keyboard?

Monty

09 Oct 2020, 01:04

And I don't mean IBM Displaywriter ;)

Hey there. Recently got into the keyboard hobby, and I am looking for suggestions on which keyboard I should actually be hunting for, in terms of key feel, sound, age, quality, etc.

I learned how to touch type on Cherry MX Blues. I love the clicks! But the sound was way too high-pitched for me.

I got an HHKB4 Pro 2 which I still use frequently when I am working in coffee shop. I love having such a light key weighting, and I can easily type up to 100 WPM. I also love the layout--mainly control rather than cap locks. But the feel isn't nearly as refined as what I thought mechanical could be, and I missed the clicks.

I ended up getting a Model F XT, which is amazing. I got one that was in great condition: I didn't have to replace the foam or anything. Only a little bit of rust on the back plate. I love how smooth they keys are, the clicks sound like a nailgun (a plus), and the build quality is insane. Lastly, the uniform key profile allowed me to switch to workman layout. My only complaint is that the springs are too stiff. I can't type nearly as fast or as long as I can on my hhkb.

I thought ALPs might be a good fit, and I found a Focus FK-2001 that was stored with the cover, so it seemed to be in decent condition. I like the weighting, but they keys aren't nearly as smooth as the Model F. Also, the key profile doesn't allow me to switch the layout.

So is there a board that fits all my criteria?
- clicky
- smooth
- light weighting
- flexible layout
- nice build quality.

Is there a "white whale" board that checks all these boxes? I love vintage boards, but I am not opposed to any suggestions, including building my own from scratch.
Last edited by Monty on 10 Oct 2020, 00:07, edited 1 time in total.

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PlacaFromHell

09 Oct 2020, 01:21

Welcome to Deskthority :D At first, something like your endgame keyboard is not as easy to define if you are just discovering what you like more, but as you seem to like a lot buckling springs, you might want to get an IBM model F with a more standard layout, like a 4704 or a battleship (which tends to have more loose switches), or even build your own model F inside a model M frame.
Obviously I'm not saying the most affordable or easy options, but you asked for a white whale. Anyways these fit in the spectre of the hard but not impossible things. If you don't like heavy switches don't waste your time with a model M, they're quite heavier than a model F.

Rayndalf

09 Oct 2020, 01:44

If you know you like the F XT, then perhaps a Model F AT or even a Modern Kishaver? Modding ATs to support a modern layout seems like a very rewarding endeavor from the posts I've read though. If an F is too harsh I'd just stick with it, it's a very light and pleasant switch and a ping reducing mod (floss) and some case foam might reduce the (perceived) brutality of the bottom out.

Blue alps are highly hyped, but any F in even mediocre condition feels great (no need for "9/10" switches or the presence of factory lubrication).

As far as MX clones Kailh box whites/pinks/navies (pinks are a good middle ground weight wise) and Pheonix switches are also great (I really like Pheonix switches, some Aristotle stems in kailh housing I tried were what convinced me to give clickies another shot, the slight click on upstroke always lets you know when the switch is reset so I think they're the best clickies for gaming).

An OG G80-3000 with a GH80-3000 PCB and Pheonix or kailh box pinks and OG doubleshots would be a great board, but I still think a modded F AT would be terrific.

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Yasu0

09 Oct 2020, 02:17

May as well at least try an M. Its not as nail gunnish.

Wait.. you used an F in a coffee shop? What I'm seeing in my head is a comedy sketch.

Also.. regarding wpm, fight me.

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hellothere

09 Oct 2020, 02:37

Rayndalf wrote:
09 Oct 2020, 01:44
As far as MX clones Kailh box whites/pinks/navies (pinks are a good middle ground weight wise)
If you really like MX, you need to try Pinks. Pinks are essentially MX blues done right. The sound is a little better, but if you're after sound in an MX switch, that's almost definitely Jades with some Navys for, say, the space bar and other modifiers.

Take a peek at https://youtu.be/zsTeOVcMi0s. That's a pretty good look at some clicky vintage keyswitches.

Iwaju

09 Oct 2020, 02:45

Yasu0 wrote:
09 Oct 2020, 02:17
May as well at least try an M. Its not as nail gunnish.

Wait.. you used an F in a coffee shop? What I'm seeing in my head is a comedy sketch.

Also.. regarding wpm, fight me.
I respect you, the highest I have gone was around ~68 WPM :(

GivenZane

09 Oct 2020, 08:01

Hi there,
From what you described you might be a good fit for a IBM Model M. The keypress on them is about 10g lighter. You still get most of the nice typing feel of a Model F, but with less weighting.

Do the switches have to be clicky? I, myself used Kailh Blues for years and I found the transition to other types of switches took me only a couple days. Right now I have my Zenith with Yellow Alps. Yellow alps are of course linear, but they are a very relaxed experience to type on IMHO.

I honestly don't believe that a "White Whale" keyboard exists for anyone. I regularly switch mine out depending on what I'm working on. My yellow or green alps boards when I'm relaxing and my heavier clicky/tactile switches when I'm going to be working for long hours typing. The heavier clicky/tactile switches make me feel like I am getting work done LOL I even pull rubber domes out from time to time because I have a few I really enjoy. I have somewhere around 10 keyboards I use regularly and another 30+ I switch to less frequently.

TL:DR
Buy several keyboards with all kinds of switches and try them out for an extended period of time and see what you like for what.
IBM Model M's have a lighter Keypress then IBM Model F's.

Cheers,
--Given


P.S. A note on Model M's. In my experience the key feel drops off greatly after 92-93. To me its quite noticeable, but that could just me being picky.

User avatar
shine

09 Oct 2020, 12:17

Don’t lie to yourself. It is a Displaywriter!! :) I won’t change mine for anything. You should try a beamspring keyboard.

It fits your criteria

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hellothere

09 Oct 2020, 19:53

GivenZane wrote:
09 Oct 2020, 08:01
I honestly don't believe that a "White Whale" keyboard exists for anyone. I regularly switch mine out depending on what I'm working on. My yellow or green alps boards when I'm relaxing and my heavier clicky/tactile switches when I'm going to be working for long hours typing. The heavier clicky/tactile switches make me feel like I am getting work done LOL I even pull rubber domes out from time to time because I have a few I really enjoy. I have somewhere around 10 keyboards I use regularly and another 30+ I switch to less frequently.

TL:DR
Buy several keyboards with all kinds of switches and try them out for an extended period of time and see what you like for what.
IBM Model M's have a lighter Keypress then IBM Model F's.
I mostly agree with this.

My hobby is not collecting keyboards. It's repairing them, so I'm only allowing myself to keep three keyboards: two for everyday use on two computers and one spare. However, I still do have a "white whale" that I'm looking for. That being said, I've used mechanical keyboards for 5+ years and only recently realized I don't particularly care for linear switches, so at least I'm eliminating an entire category of switches. (However, if anyone wants to prove to me how amazing linear switches are, PM me and send me your keyboard. I might even pay shipping.) Also, while I don't really care much how a keyboard sounds, as long as it feels good, I'm really, really happy with how Kailh "Thick Click" Navy switches sound, particularly on the spacebar.

My current "white whale" is Alps plate springs. I've just ordered 5 switches from orihalcon to find out if they feel as good as they sound. I'd also like to try blue Alps, but I'm not in an insane hurry to buy a blue Alps keyboard, especially because I can't find a good one under $100.

Oh. I also think Models M are better than Models F XTs. Please don't fite me.

NeK

09 Oct 2020, 22:17

Probably the ALPS board you tried is not in a good enough condition. Find yourself an ALPS white or blue in mint condition. They are as smooth as it gets, they are light as a feather and the click sound is out of this world. Although take note that sound is heavily depended on the board itself.

I say this based on owning and used a bunch of ALPS boards, a near mint Model M, and of course a lot of MX blues, browns and some of their clones.

When you do type on a good 1st gen ALPS keeb, you will know that there is no equal.

Hanslau

10 Oct 2020, 10:01

Oh boy you gotta explain yourself, why Model M over Model F? Though i do know there are many who also feel that way, but usually its down to layout and weight

Rayndalf

10 Oct 2020, 10:49

Model M switches are ~10 grams heavier than Model F switches IIRC.

GivenZane

12 Oct 2020, 04:51

Rayndalf wrote:
10 Oct 2020, 10:49
Model M switches are ~10 grams heavier than Model F switches IIRC.
Really? They feel lighter to me?

Cheers,
--Given

Rayndalf

12 Oct 2020, 07:51

Could vary model to model, my 1984 F XT is louder but softer than my NOS Lexmark M13.

GivenZane

12 Oct 2020, 20:15

It might. I'll try the buckle test later and see if that shows any difference. I know it's not a very acturate test but it hopefully will show something.

Cheers,
--Given

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Yasu0

12 Oct 2020, 23:59

Monty wrote:
09 Oct 2020, 01:04
So is there a board that fits all my criteria?
- clicky
- smooth
- light weighting
- flexible layout
- nice build quality.
Back on to checking all your requirements off for your white whale.. have you seen Chyrosran-san "project N" keyboard? Something similar might work for your whale hunt. Find chonky solid 80's keyboard with your preferred layout, then swap in modern clickster switches.

Also about that "..type over 100wpm" please post your results from 10fastfingers up here. M9HM and I need somebody to push us.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=24503

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