New F77 or a Unicomp?

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Muirium
µ

01 Apr 2021, 15:48

Palatino wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 15:11
Rhododendron wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 14:59
in the end only you can know for sure.
Very true. And also why I've gone from 1 to 50 keyboards. But even though I now know for sure, I need to keep them all in case I forget, or my opinion changes, or someone asks me for a dome-with-slider doorstop or blue oval paperweight or a bag of random keycaps to use as confetti at a keyboard-themed wedding. The last time I threw something away, I was eight, and I still regret it.
Do they spark joy?

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ddrfraser1

01 Apr 2021, 15:55

Muirium wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 15:48
Do they spark joy?
HA!

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Palatino

01 Apr 2021, 16:00

Marie would certainly not condone them.

dafoomie

01 Apr 2021, 17:17

Rhododendron wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 14:59
Dikkus wrote:
30 Mar 2021, 12:59
The way people hyped it up to me made it seem like there was a gulf of quality difference between the two, and I have to disagree. Both are great switch designs and you could be perfectly happy with either.
micmil wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 05:06
This is a loaded question. The only group of people louder than F-heads is Linux nerds. It's kind of like going to r/mechanicalkeyboards and asking if you should buy a Corsair or a box full of rotting plague rats. The plague rats will win every time.
I agree. Typing on a Model F after having used a Model M isn't going to be the enlightening event that some people make it out to be. Overall I would say the Model F is nicer, although it is much noisier than a Model M. Also, the lighter feel doesn't have to be an advantage, I actually like the Model M's heavier weighting better, so I swapped the springs in my F with M-springs. In your case, the more than hefty price, long waiting time and questionable chinese machining are additional negative factors.
Good luck deciding! Just keep in mind people's opinions are always biased, in the end only you can know for sure.
Couldn't agree more. I have an F77 and a Mini M on my desk at work, my daily driver has been the M since I got it for the reasons you mentioned. Too light for me, and the layout isn't great. I don't regret the purchase but people need to temper their expectations, 4x the price isn't 4x the feel.

micmil

01 Apr 2021, 19:04

Muirium wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 11:14
Well… one of them is definitely more desirable for your siege trebuchet.
True. Although the eternal Model F vs Plague Rat debate will never be settled. Personally I've never seen a siege ended via beamspring but huck a few rats over the walls and you walk in a couple of weeks later without a care.

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robo

01 Apr 2021, 20:54

I think the FUD over "questionable Chinese machining" in the repro F's may be misplaced. AFAIK a big part of the long lead time is Ellipse being super anal about tolerances before accepting parts.

micmil

01 Apr 2021, 21:18

It's just weird that they went with a Chinese company. It's not like even being twice as expensive would have hurt sales on this thing. Why even raise the question? I know GOOD Chinese manufacturing is good (see: Eastman Guitars) but bad Chinese manufacturing is baaaaaaaaaad to the point that it drags down reputations of other companies.

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Muirium
µ

01 Apr 2021, 21:37

2X sure. But how about 10X? China has us all beat so hard.

Now, in Ellipse’s case, I expect a very, very healthy markup indeed. So say these boards cost $100 per finished unit, really. Even then I wouldn’t be surprised if western manufacture came in at $500-1000. You just don't get economies of scale doing small batch niche stuff like this.

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robo

01 Apr 2021, 23:40

micmil wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 21:18
It's just weird that they went with a Chinese company. It's not like even being twice as expensive would have hurt sales on this thing. Why even raise the question? I know GOOD Chinese manufacturing is good (see: Eastman Guitars) but bad Chinese manufacturing is baaaaaaaaaad to the point that it drags down reputations of other companies.
I think it's fair to say that Chinese manufacturing is just the state of global manufacturing at this point. You get what you pay/QA for.

Anyone railing against 'Chinese crap' I honestly just think is racist nowadays. Crap can come from anywhere. Just look at American or British cars for many decades...

micmil

02 Apr 2021, 00:06

robo wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 23:40
I think it's fair to say that Chinese manufacturing is just the state of global manufacturing at this point. You get what you pay/QA for.

Anyone railing against 'Chinese crap' I honestly just think is racist nowadays. Crap can come from anywhere. Just look at American or British cars for many decades...
Hey, don't throw everyone under the racist bus.

Some are purely jingoist. :lol:

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E3E

02 Apr 2021, 01:01

robo wrote:
01 Apr 2021, 20:54
I think the FUD over "questionable Chinese machining" in the repro F's may be misplaced. AFAIK a big part of the long lead time is Ellipse being super anal about tolerances before accepting parts.
Not to burst the apologist bubble, but the QA isn't flawless.
Spoiler:
Image
Image
There was this casting flaw in the case of the one I bought second-hand.

Not only that, but trying to sell the cheap repro powder coat on these as if IBM used an inferior powdercoat is absurd. The repro powdercoat is thin and noticeably different in texture than an OG 4704, which seems far more robust and durable with a texture that is difficult to reproduce.

I won't put it on Chinese manufacturing, just that these are not as perfect as people like to think.

That aside, the feel on the board is very accurate to the OG.

As for the Unicomp SSK vs this? Depends on your priorities. If you want a no fuss layout that's going to just work out of the box and you aren't so torn on Cap BS vs Mem BS, go with the SSK.

There's some charm to the "almost there" F77 layout with its lack of F keys but its awesome-but-quirky little 15 key pad, imo.

Tristor

02 Apr 2021, 02:19

I have a 1993 Model M that was recently repaired and bolt-modded for me by Clicky Keyboards. I've been typing on it now for a few weeks. Prior to that I was using my New Production Model F F77 for several weeks, and prior to that I was using a Unicomp Customizer 104 for several years. I can say that without a doubt the Model F has the best feel of the three, but that while it is obvious it's not earth shattering. I think there's nothing wrong with the Unicomp, and if that's the route you'd like to go you'll likely be happy with it.

All of the buckling spring boards feel superior to my MX style keyboards, I owe a not insignificant part of that to the curved plate design creating a much more comfortable and natural key positioning than you get with flat plate keyboards. The closest I've found is running SA or MT3 profile keycaps on the MX boards with a 5.5-6 degree slant.

Whichever option you pick, Unicomp or F77, I am sure you will enjoy it.

REVENGE

02 Apr 2021, 08:32

Just spent a little time on the Mini M this evening. Aesthetically speaking, I think the new Unicomp keycaps are absolutely gorgeous. Would love to see a full set of white keycaps with blue dye lettering.

That being said, I am immediately reminded of why I prefer the Model F strictly over the Model M. The buckling characteristics of the F design is still superior, IMO. If you've tried both Model F and Model M and know you prefer F, then you probably won't regret shelling out the premium for something you'll enjoy typing on more as a daily driver.

Rayndalf

02 Apr 2021, 10:33

REVENGE wrote:
02 Apr 2021, 08:32
Just spent a little time on the Mini M this evening. Aesthetically speaking, I think the new Unicomp keycaps are absolutely gorgeous. Would love to see a full set of white keycaps with blue dye lettering.

That being said, I am immediately reminded of why I prefer the Model F strictly over the Model M. The buckling characteristics of the F design is still superior, IMO. If you've tried both Model F and Model M and know you prefer F, then you probably won't regret shelling out the premium for something you'll enjoy typing on more as a daily driver.
Pretty much this, I love the F mechanism, I have some grimy F XTs that still feel great, the mechanism just laughs at dust and dirt.
The F77 is cheaper than many MX customs and comes with worldclass keycaps and the best clicky switches.

The Mini M is a reasonable value, but I'm not sure how many people want to spend that much on a keyboard without NKRO. 2KRO makes it pretty unusable for gaming. I'd rather have a used Filco and some $35 Aliexpress keycaps 2 random old boards that don't have NKRO, but that's a personal problem.

The F77 isn't 3 times as good as the Mini M, but it's still the best keyboard in it's price range and it's incredibly affordable as far a complete and ready to use endgame board goes.

kmnov2017

02 Apr 2021, 13:34

REVENGE wrote:
02 Apr 2021, 08:32
....Would love to see a full set of white keycaps with blue dye lettering....
Unicomp can do any custom colour you want. Custom keysets cost USD 30.

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Muirium
µ

02 Apr 2021, 14:08

Are you getting their nice new sharp legends or the old style? Can you tell?

Honestly, the Unicomp caps I bought are all pretty damn lousy.

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depletedvespene

02 Apr 2021, 15:31

Dikkus wrote:
30 Mar 2021, 12:59
But other than the sharper tactility and the slight weighting reduction, there honestly isn't a huge difference between an M and an F in my experience. The way people hyped it up to me made it seem like there was a gulf of quality difference between the two, and I have to disagree. Both are great switch designs and you could be perfectly happy with either. Sure, there are differences but they aren't as pronounced as some people say IMO.
This. YMMV, but I find that the difference between F and M buckling springs is not enough to overcome the other main factor, which is the physical layout — I prefer using a regular full-size or SSK Model M over an F XT or an (unmodded) F AT. This, BTW, is one of the main reasons F122 keyboards are so sought after (the layout ain't a problem) and the M122 units got a bad wrap until recently (its one advantage over the similar F model was negated).

Tristor

02 Apr 2021, 18:01

depletedvespene wrote:
02 Apr 2021, 15:31
This. YMMV, but I find that the difference between F and M buckling springs is not enough to overcome the other main factor, which is the physical layout — I prefer using a regular full-size or SSK Model M over an F XT or an (unmodded) F AT. This, BTW, is one of the main reasons F122 keyboards are so sought after (the layout ain't a problem) and the M122 units got a bad wrap until recently (its one advantage over the similar F model was negated).
I feel nearly the opposite. I prefer compact layouts and got the F77 over the F62 only because the F77 layout felt more natural. I'll probably end up acquiring an F62 down the road, though.

Xcore

03 Apr 2021, 00:21

I am a fairly new owner of a F/XT, so my points might only apply to this very specific keyboard and not to the F77. While I think the feel of the keys while typing is actually quite nice, they do have two things, that I would state as possible contra-points:

The keys make a really annoying high-pitched ringing sound while typing. Like a Mosquito in the night attempting to bite you, once you close your eyes. I don't hear this, because mostly I play music while working. But if you are easily annoyed by sounds, this might be a problem.

In contrast to my model M at least, the keys vibrate when I lift my finger and this vibration travels into my fingers, especially if I type very slowly. I'd prefer the keys if this phenomenon would not be there, tbh.

REVENGE

04 Apr 2021, 01:27

FYI, I reported a few issues with my Mini M and have been asked to send it back for repair. Unicomp customer service seems excellent, but the production Mini M does still have some teething issues. Compared to one of their M classics that I own (manufactured in the 2000s), I would say key consistency is considerably worse. It could be a QC issue or maybe even a materials issue. The new spring material seems different (maybe softer?) than what they used from 15 - 20 years ago.

Also, lack of programmability is a big con for me. I'm so used to 60% boards that I prefer to program Fn layer keys on the WASD cluster for pretty much any board I own. I really wish the Mini M could support that...

micmil

04 Apr 2021, 01:50

REVENGE wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 01:27
FYI, I reported a few issues with my Mini M and have been asked to send it back for repair. Unicomp customer service seems excellent, but the production Mini M does still have some teething issues. Compared to one of their M classics that I own (manufactured in the 2000s), I would say key consistency is considerably worse. It could be a QC issue or maybe even a materials issue. The new spring material seems different (maybe softer?) than what they used from 15 - 20 years ago.

Also, lack of programmability is a big con for me. I'm so used to 60% boards that I prefer to program Fn layer keys on the WASD cluster for pretty much any board I own. I really wish the Mini M could support that...
I mean, with a Teensy and some time anything is possible. :lol:

Off in another thread we were kind of discussing Unicomp as a business and this is one of the things that shows me they're completely oblivious of what's changed in the mechanical keyboard world. Could you imagine if this thing shipped with QMK support, or was programmable on the fly? It would immediately become the single most sought-after keyboard on the market, and at an extremely reasonable price.

Instead, I'm certain they're primarily worried about their corporate customers who have zero interest in such things but need firmware that has absolutely no bugs, no fuss, no questions, just work.

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raoulduke-esq

04 Apr 2021, 02:12

REVENGE wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 01:27
Also, lack of programmability is a big con for me. I'm so used to 60% boards that I prefer to program Fn layer keys on the WASD cluster for pretty much any board I own. I really wish the Mini M could support that...
There’s always the USB-USB converter. Hasu sells them or you can make one and run it with TMK or QMK. I made one and use it for things like my HHKB, 11800, Unicomp Spacesaver M, etc.

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Muirium
µ

04 Apr 2021, 11:05

raoulduke-esq wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 02:12
There’s always the USB-USB converter. Hasu sells them or you can make one and run it with TMK or QMK. I made one and use it for things like my HHKB, 11800, Unicomp Spacesaver M, etc.
How do you actually make one? I've read about it a couple of times over the years and always stumble on the "Arduino USB shield" hardware part. The one I could find was bulky and discontinued.

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Bjerrk

04 Apr 2021, 14:32

Muirium wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 11:05
raoulduke-esq wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 02:12
There’s always the USB-USB converter. Hasu sells them or you can make one and run it with TMK or QMK. I made one and use it for things like my HHKB, 11800, Unicomp Spacesaver M, etc.
How do you actually make one? I've read about it a couple of times over the years and always stumble on the "Arduino USB shield" hardware part. The one I could find was bulky and discontinued.
Honestly, what I've found myself doing is reusing one of my TMK PS/2 converters, and then just popping in a passive USB-to-PS/2 between the keyboard and the converter...

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Muirium
µ

04 Apr 2021, 15:05

Well… the problem with "passive" converters is they aren't converting anything, electrically. You're relying on native PS/2 support inside the keyboard.

Image
https://www.instructables.com/USB-to-PS2-convertor/

Nice trick to play if your keyboard can pull it off. My Filco can, but my Realforce is strictly USB only and that's the one I'd like to Hasu USB>USB.

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raoulduke-esq

04 Apr 2021, 15:40

Muirium wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 11:05
How do you actually make one? I've read about it a couple of times over the years and always stumble on the "Arduino USB shield" hardware part. The one I could find was bulky and discontinued.
You’ll enjoy this. Here’s my BOM:

Bootleg Leonardo $13.88
Bootleg USB Host Shield $11.99
Project Box 2-pack $9.49 (optional)
Short USB A Male-to-Female extender I had sitting around (optional)

Here’s my instructions:
1. Order parts
2. Design layouts in QMK while waiting for Amazon to show up
3. Stack Host Shield onto Leonardo
4. Flash. Either of the two reset buttons will work, and QMK Toolbox is my go-to for flashing atmegas.
5. Make a couple notches in the project box for the Leonardo’s USB cable and for the USB extension cable. Leonardo cable goes to the computer and keyboards get plugged into the extension cable. This allows the box to get closed up.
6. Optional - Add a hole in the project box you can stick a paper clip in to hit the reset button. I make sure to add a reset button to all of my layouts so after the initial flash I don’t need the physical button anymore.

At first I wanted to go the Pro Micro route because they’re hella cheap and that’s what I use for everything else, but after I found this I changed my mind. I wasn’t too keen on introducing complexity with 3.3v since all my Pro Micros are 5v/16MHz. I didn’t want to find any under power issues with hungry boards. I also didn’t want to wait 900 years for a mini-shield to be shipped from China.

The full-size route is bigger, but not crazy. It goes in a small-ish project box that sits on the corner of my desk behind a monitor in unusable space. This route is also more expensive, but since basically all keyboards have tripled in price in the last 3 years why not pay 2-3x the price for a converter as well?

I turn green with envy, then red with rage, and finally blue with tears whenever I read about folks who picked up F107s or Unsavers or Pingmasters or F122s or similar for a couple hundred bucks a couple years ago. I bought my first “real” keyboard - a Unicomp Spacesaver M - back in 2018 and then got into split ergos and MX crap for a while. I was also into Reddit at that point and found myself in r/mk being bored by everyone’s fascination with lube/film/caps and only escaped when I stumbled on Ellipse’s project. If only I’d started with DT so I’d have been exposed to real stuff back when it was affordable. Orihalcon has a F107 on eBay right now that’s at $1400 and it’s probably going to go up another $1000 before the end of auction, which places it firmly in “that’s a nice board, but not THAT nice” territory for me.

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Muirium
µ

04 Apr 2021, 18:00

A couple of hundred? I never paid that much for a keyboard! And I’ve a few prime unobtainium boards now. $200 is way too rich for my taste!

Yeah, I don’t regret starting here instead of Reddit or Geekhack. Neither of them spoke to me the same way this place always has.

Oh, you’ll like this. I remember very clearly feeling I’d missed the Good Old Days even back at the time. For me, the SSK was my unobtainable object for what felt like forever. (You had to have much patience even then.) I remember the Taobao rabbit hole all too well. To think some lucky Shifts got them for well under $100 way back when. Gargh!

Ellipse

06 Apr 2021, 17:24

Model F Project coordinator here

Finners - The Model M was actually IBM's effort to cut two-thirds of the cost out of their Model F which originally went for $600 or more in the early 80s, adjusted for inflation. The Model F produces a much crisper sound with each key press. Over time the Model M inner plastic top plate begins to separate from the metal bottom plate as the brittle plastic rivets break off one by one, and that further dulls the sound of the keyboard. Once those Model M rivets fall out they can't be put back! The "bolt mod" is an option but it irrevocably changes the original sound of the Model M in my experience and is often a last resort to keep the keyboard going. The brand new Model F keyboards are also native USB with NKRO and are fully customizable with function layers, macros, and the option to customize each key and layout. They work with beta QMK firmware and xwhatsit firmware.

fbblovezl I sent you a PM - I am the new Model F project coordinator.

Dikkus a fix for binding stabilized keys was posted on the project thread a while back and is also included in the manual on the project web site. The fix has been 100% successful so far. It only takes a minute or two to do the fix and the only tool you need is a wire key puller. It's actually the key that needs a little adjustment - the stabilizer insert is fine as is. Check out the manual to see what I mean :)
The factory was made aware of the issue that affects some keycaps and they are QCing the stabilized keys and doing the adjustments where needed to save some time for the end users.

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Yasu0

10 Apr 2021, 00:47

Pretty much everything Mu said goes for me too. Actually under 100 or 150 is more my comfort zone than 200. Not that I can't appreciate a cast metal case F. In the same way I can appreciate a 427 cobra, repro or original, without the likelihood of ever trying to buy one.

Also gotta say, as somebody who could daily a scissor switcher and a Honda Fit without hesitation, something halfway in between the two extremes is very appealing.
Muirium wrote:
04 Apr 2021, 18:00
A couple of hundred? I never paid that much for a keyboard! And I’ve a few prime unobtainium boards now. $200 is way too rich for my taste!

Yeah, I don’t regret starting here instead of Reddit or Geekhack. Neither of them spoke to me the same way this place always has.

Oh, you’ll like this. I remember very clearly feeling I’d missed the Good Old Days even back at the time. For me, the SSK was my unobtainable object for what felt like forever. (You had to have much patience even then.) I remember the Taobao rabbit hole all too well. To think some lucky Shifts got them for well under $100 way back when. Gargh!

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