NovaTouch TKL Community Tour

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wlhlm
~

16 Aug 2015, 22:53

I'm surprised that Novatouch still has the sping on the spacebar slider after changing so many hands. I've heard stories of people losing them within the first minutes of unboxing the keyboard. You DTers are quite well mannered, I like it! 8-)

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Hypersphere

16 Aug 2015, 23:33

@Mu: If only the SA sphericals were fashioned from PBT!

It is fun experimenting with the NT and knowing that it is possible to mix and match components to make a unique board.

If/when you tire of experimenting, you can go back to a Realforce, whose beautiful keycaps are engineered to work perfectly with their switches.

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RoastPotatoes

17 Aug 2015, 09:52

I received the novatouch today!

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cookie

19 Aug 2015, 11:03

Is it possible to put me on the list?

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HAL

20 Aug 2015, 23:13

CM Bram wrote: Looking forward to reading the impressions! :)
Nova Touch review

My personal preference for keyboards switches is: Model F, Topre 55g, Model M (in this order).
Layout wise it has to be TKL like my IBM SSK (at work) or the Realforce 87U 55g I use at home or even the Model F Unsaver I am working on.
Spoiler:
IBM_6016730_Unsaver_cleaning_the_PCB_2015-08-05_1920x1080.jpg
Cleaning the PCB of the IBM Model F Unsaver
IBM_6016730_Unsaver_cleaning_the_PCB_2015-08-05_1920x1080.jpg (416.7 KiB) Viewed 1201 times
Living in Austria I have already tried to get my fingers on a NT but failed twice miserably:
  • I orderd one from Amazon US but the GLS delivery hates me and did not leave a notification and when I investigated it was already sent back. Amazon did however refund me.
  • I tried the Massdrop GB last month.
So I awaited the Nova Touch with anticipation.

Outside and Optics

The Nova Touch is pleasing to the eye in that it does not have any unnecessary feature.
I especially like the rubbery finish even though I am not sure it will stand the test of time.
Like with my recently accquired Logitech MX 1000 (was that realy 10 years ago) the rubbery finish is already fadeing.

The CM Logo is hidden on the back. The braided cable is a nice touch as is the angeled plug.
Since I am not a flat keyboard person the rubberized feet (are very important and) are sturdy
enough to give the keyboard the angle I like while keeping it firmly on the desk.
The Nova Touch is a little bit lighter that the Realforce 87u (and a lot lighter than a regular SSK).

Will it type?

I used the Nova Touch with the original caps even though they scream: Replace me.
NovaTouch_1920x1080.jpg
In this picture the Nova Touch reminds me of the old Next keyboard
NovaTouch_1920x1080.jpg (202.87 KiB) Viewed 1201 times
To find out about a keyboard I use it at work: C++ development for a whole week.

Usually I hate new keyboards for a day. Then on the second or third day usually there is a period of reconciliation and I develop an opinion. The Nova Touch was different, I immediatley liked it.

Yes - it types

Compared to my 55g Realforce the switches feel lighter. Compared to an old IBM rubber dome RT3200 the switches feel more linear and way better. On the fourth day it struck me and I took out my TypeHeaven voila: identical.
The Nova Touch is like a TKL TypeHeaven with MX stems. And of course the TypeHeaven looses because of the numpad where the mouse could be.
The Nova Touch also easily beat my Royal Kludge 55g because it feels like a real Topre while the Royal Kludge does not get it completley right.
The Nova Touch is only second to the Realforce 55g:

While codeing when I think about how to tackle a problem I sometimes solwly press the arrow keys
to let the cursor wander through the code as I plan my next attack.
That is time when I achieve that good feeling of oneness with cup rubber which is only possible with 55g switches.

Make a 55g Nova Touch and I will get one instantly.
NovaTouch_with_Wingnut_and_Granite_Keycap_Set_1920x1080.jpg
Nova Touch with Wingnut and Granite Keycap Set
NovaTouch_with_Wingnut_and_Granite_Keycap_Set_1920x1080.jpg (221 KiB) Viewed 1201 times
Thanks again for letting me try this nice keyboard.

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Hypersphere

20 Aug 2015, 23:32

@HAL: I didn't like the NT at first, but it is growing on me. Recently, I put my Silencing Rings on it, and this transformed the board for me. I've also installed 55g domes, but lately, after going back and forth on RF87ub boards with 45g and 55g domes, as well as alternating between HHKBs with 55g and 45g domes, I am finding that the heavier switch weight is no longer the main attraction. Standard vs. silenced is now the primary difference in my book.

The Granite set looks sharp on the NT (or any board for that matter). Unfortunately, I find it difficult to type on a non-sculpted profile. I prefer a higher and sculpted profile such as OEM, and I am looking forward to getting an SA set (wishing, however, that it could be PBT instead of ABS). Although silencing rings do wonders for the return-stroke "clack" on the NT, they don't help the contact noise when bottoming out with most Cherry mx keycaps I've tried. However, the NT does well with higher profile caps such as OEM or SA. So well, in fact, that I am considering purchase of a second NT for work.

In the US at least, Newegg is offering a $20 rebate on the NT, which effectively brings the price down to $145.99 shipped. Much better than the $200 I paid as an early adopter!

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HAL

20 Aug 2015, 23:50

Hypersphere wrote: I've also installed 55g domes...
Where did you get them? Or did you go the expensive way?

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Muirium
µ

21 Aug 2015, 00:03

Oh, you can guess.

I'm on a modded NovaTouch right now too, with Granite on it no less. I beta tested these boards for CM, so I've got a bit of experience with the feel of them with all my MX caps. I didn't like the way Granite rattled so much on the NovaTouch. The only caps I was happy with were those mighty, tall SA.

But! I installed a full set of Hyper's damping rings, and the NovaTouch is completely transformed. Granite works even better on it than Round 5 SA now, on both the down and up strokes. I've got an o-ring on the spacebar, which I like a little tough with low caps like these, but the rest of the board is plain simple naked PBT DSA. It's marvellously quiet now, and all the sound is thock. No rattling, no clashing. Signature Plastics caps - at least in the DSA and SA profiles that I have - seem to work a lot better with this hybrid Topre stuff than Cherry. The couple of Cherry sets I've got (doubleshots and lasered PBT) are loose and nasty. The PBTs clash on bottoming out, which masks much of the improvement. Nice thick Granite, though, is a whole other story. Very classy.

So yeah, if you get a NovaTouch, I *highly* recommend these damping rings. They're the difference between a nice try and a fully realised Topre board. The next thing I'm up to is getting a metal case on this instead of the rubberised shell, but that's a story I can't tell yet.

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Hypersphere

21 Aug 2015, 00:04

HAL wrote:
Hypersphere wrote: I've also installed 55g domes...
Where did you get them? Or did you go the expensive way?
I wish I could say that I ran them off on the 3D printer in my garage, but I went the semi-expensive way. Some time ago, I bought a used RF87uw55 from someone on GH. This works out fairly well, because it was a 1:1 dome swap. I now have a 55g NT with silencing rings and a 45g RF, which is soon to get silencing rings as well. I will eventually sell the white 45g RF, as I prefer black keyboards.

BTW, I am typing this on an EK Edition 45g RFub and enjoying it greatly. I like the little extra touches, such as the improved legends (although these are difficult to appreciate with the black on dark gray color scheme) and the red LEDs on the CapsLock and NumLock keys. It's a very smooth board, and I believe I type faster on the all-45g than on the all-55g version of the RF.

If I do get a second NT, I will try to remember to do some objective typing tests to compare the 55g and 45g versions.

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Hypersphere

21 Aug 2015, 00:29

@CM Bram: I think that I got one of the first NTs that was available in the US. It had no CapsLock LED. Have they subsequently added a CapsLock LED? This would be a nice addition, along with some DIP switches for things like swapping Win/Alt, Backspace/Backslash, and Fn/Menu. Being able to swap Fn for a key that sends a scan code would especially be good so that people can set up a user-defined Fn key. Thanks.

@Muirium: Thanks for the additional comments on how well the Granite set works on the silenced NT. Currently, I have Vortex double-shot PBT caps on my NT. These are OEM profile and they work extremely well. Being PBT, they also sound and feel nice. However, their appearance is a bit crude -- especially in comparison to the elegant dye-sub PBT caps on my RF. So, I think I will give the Granite caps another try to see if I am still thrown by the flat profile. When viewed orthogonal to the surface, Granite looks elegant, but at an angle, I prefer the look of high-profile sculpted keys.
Last edited by Hypersphere on 21 Aug 2015, 00:37, edited 1 time in total.

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Muirium
µ

21 Aug 2015, 00:37

Caps Lock LED would be easy, technically, as I even modded one myself into my final production NovaTouch. The PCB supports it.

DIP switches? Not so much. That would need a redesigned PCB (whose Topre branding suggests CM isn't exactly in full charge of that) and also a different case for the access panel.

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Hypersphere

21 Aug 2015, 01:23

@Muirium: Yes, I recall the neurosurgical precision of the SMD soldering you (and/or your brother?) did to install a CapsLock LED on a Novatouch.

It's unfortunate about the DIP switches. However, even without DIP switches, I would prefer a Menu key to a hard-wired Fn key. The built-in functions of a Fn key are usually things I don't care about or would rather remap to something else.

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Muirium
µ

21 Aug 2015, 13:24

The LED is easy. The resistor is the hard part. That was my kid brother's doing:

Image

Naturally, I had tried something a little different beforehand:

Image

But the big bugger didn't work. Wrong value.

I watched him do the job, while he was telling me how easy surface mount stuff is. Didn't look like it! He's definitely in the same club as Xwhatsit and all the other SMD guys: "if you can solder through hole components, then surface mount is a sinch!" No, it's really not…

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Hypersphere

21 Aug 2015, 22:52

Has anyone noticed unevenness in the Novatouch (NT) with respect to the height of keys in a given row and/or the fit of some keycap sets resulting in uneven heights of keycaps in a given row?

With a Vortex double-shot PBT set, I noticed that the "C" key was slightly higher than its neighbors. This problem appeared to reside largely in the keycap fit to the C key, because the height difference was attenuated by switching the C and V keycaps. Certainly, I have noticed differences in the fit of some of the NT stems; this was quite noticeable with some Cherry profile thick PBT keycap sets, such as those made by Imsto, which tend to have a loose fit.

Thus far, I have had the best results on the NT with the Vortex double-shot PBT set; unfortunately, this set is not very attractive looking to my eye.

At the moment, I am typing on the NT with the Granite set installed (as well as Silencing Rings). The fit of the caps is good, but I still get some apparent contact noise from a few keys, including F7, Backspace, and the Spacebar. Putting black 50A-R O-rings on all available stems on these keycaps resulting in completely eliminating the noise from the Backspace and reducing down-stroke noise from the Spacebar, but there is still some clicking from F7.

The Granite set is certainly handsome, but I still have some difficulty typing on it. I think the problem is a combination of the DSA profile and the spherical tops. I also find the Granite spacebar to be noisier on the return-stroke on the NT than the Vortex spacebar.

I am still looking for keycaps for the NT that provide the best combination of looks, sound, and feel. From my tests thus far, I think that the ideal caps will be PBT (dye-sub, double-shot, or blank) in a relatively high profile, e.g., SA or OEM, with cylindrical tops.

EDIT: I put the Vortex spacebar back on the board. Much better sound! Unfortunately, of course the color and profile are not a match for the Granite set. The Vortex white is too white; the black actually looks better. In any event, this reinforces my impression that the NT does better with higher profile caps.

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jou

21 Aug 2015, 23:28

Muirium wrote: I watched him do the job, while he was telling me how easy surface mount stuff is. Didn't look like it! He's definitely in the same club as Xwhatsit and all the other SMD guys: "if you can solder through hole components, then surface mount is a sinch!" No, it's really not…
I got hasu's 60% Alps PCB unsoldered to take a stab at SMD soldering. The soldering itself was not too bad (except for the crystal), even with my shaky hands. What frustrated me was handling those tiny parts. Getting those out of the packaging without losing them was especially a challenge. I did lose a resistor or two but luckily hasu has packed a few extras…

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RoastPotatoes

23 Aug 2015, 02:56

Image
I spent too long on this. But I wanted to do something interesting before I sent it on.

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cookie

23 Aug 2015, 16:52

mezmerizing!

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Madhias
BS TORPE

23 Aug 2015, 21:00

Great GIF, watched too long, could not stop!

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HAL

23 Aug 2015, 21:29

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WOW

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Redmaus
Gotta start somewhere

23 Aug 2015, 21:42

cannot stop watching

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Hypersphere

23 Aug 2015, 22:26

It's a domino-effect virus! Just hope it doesn't infect YOUR keyboard!

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Bramster
Cooler Master Employee

24 Aug 2015, 10:50

Nice impressions Hal! Loved reading it, thanks :)!

And RoastPatatoes, nice gif, wow, let me contact you about that by PM, I would love to use that on our own social media too!!

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cookie

24 Aug 2015, 11:16

What blank caps are those? They are awesome!

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RoastPotatoes

24 Aug 2015, 13:05

cookie wrote: What blank caps are those? They are awesome!
They are the Gateron blank PBT. The only issue I had was with the spacebar.

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scottc

24 Aug 2015, 13:18

Huh, my spacebar was perfect!

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RoastPotatoes

24 Aug 2015, 13:20

scottc wrote: Huh, my spacebar was perfect!
Really? I found the additional stems seem to get in the way.

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scottc

24 Aug 2015, 13:48

Sorry, I didn't mention that it was on a Novatouch specifically. But on my custom 60% with Cherry stabs it works perfectly.

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cookie

24 Aug 2015, 16:42

I've googled this right away, how did you get those? I am totally in love with them!
I am wondering if they come with an adapter kit so I can have a short right shift with function key for my custom Poker? And maybe for a future Novatouch! :D

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RoastPotatoes

24 Aug 2015, 16:44

cookie wrote: I've googled this right away, how did you get those? I am totally in love with them!
I am wondering if they come with an adapter kit so I can have a short right shift with function key for my custom Poker? And maybe for a future Novatouch! :D
Here is the GB https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=72609.0 They are quite extensive sets, they come with 3 different spacbars.

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cookie

24 Aug 2015, 17:37

Thanks mate,
The price is legit to be honest :)

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