[UK] Kaihua BOX switch test, borrow or buy

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an_achronism

06 May 2021, 07:29

I don't really know whether this is better suited to here or WTB but I suppose my preference might leam toward borrowing so maybe here is marginally better. But basically, here's the deal...

I have recently repaired a Corsair Strafe board I bought 3 years ago and which had begun to exhibit intermittent but often extreme chattering / stuck keypresses on the logical side. It was the USB cable, which I'd always hated anyway because it's really thick and inflexible, so I just solved the problem by internally rewiring the keyboard connection to the USB "passthrough" port on the back, so it now works perfectly if I plug it in with any old USB-A cable and I've stripped the stock cable for parts. However, this was not a board I bought expecting it to be amazing, and indeed it is not: it has Cherry MX Blue switches and after using them pretty much every day for almost exactly 3 years, they make me want to stick screwdrivers in both of my ears and twist them until I can hear that MX Blue rattle no more.

So I want to desolder them all and replace them with Kaihua/Kailh BOX switches. The only trouble is that I am chronically indecisive and have no immediate access to any of the switches I'm interested in for first-hand testing purposes.

This is not intended to become my daily driver board again, as I can't really go back after discovering buckling springs and Alps switches. Consider it an exercise in environmentalism and an excuse to tinker for tinkering's sake: it'll save this crappy board from landfill because I'm not going to use it with those MX Blues any longer but I can't imagine it having any resale value after my oddball USB port modification (perhaps it might after I replace the switches though).

I think I have it narrowed down to the following switches:
  • NovelKeys BOX Pink
  • NovelKeys BOX Heavy Pale Blue
  • NovelKeys BOX Navy
  • Kailh "Chinese-style" BOX Noble Yellow
I've chosen the above because I have realised that I really like buckling spring switches, which are significantly heavier and more tactile than just about anything in the MX-like lineage and have thus permanently ruined Cherry switches completely for me. Ideally, though, for these to actually give me anything beneficial that I don't really feel I get out of Model M buckling springs, I am looking for a pronounced tactile event (sound is secondary) followed by some resistance to discourage bottoming out and make it easier not to. Unicomp themselves and some individuals will lead you to believe that you can do this straightforwardly on their Model M buckling spring switches but I vehemently disagree, having been using one for about a month and finding that it is more or less impossible not to bottom out in normal usage. Yes, you can technically stop pressing a buckling spring switch bafter the tactile event, but that's only really doable if you push a switch down comically slowly and carefully, which would involve me having to type about 3 times slower than my dad. I've got sh** to do, dammit!

Based on everything I've read/heard, I'm making a number of semi-educated guesses, including...
  • Navies are probably a smidge too heavy for me. I really love the key feel on my brand spanking new Model M but I reckon the weighting is on the absolute limit of my tolerance threshold. Therefore, I don't want anything heavier than the buckling springs on a modern Unicomp Model M.
  • Pinks might be the best bet except that they're maybe a tad light, and I've heard some fairly negative things e.g. about inconsistent return clicking due to the slightly unusual positioning of the click bar
  • I think Noble Yellows might have less experimental click bar positioning, but exactly the same click bar otherwise... and lighter springs, which probably isn't to my taste (then again, I wouldn't know for sure without trying them out)
  • Pale Blues are, I think, more or less BOX Whites with a heavier (but not quite Navy heavy) spring and the thick click bar from BOX Navy/Jade. The thick click bar might help create a reasonably large tactile event (good) but if the spring weight is not appropriately matched, I won't get that nice cushiony bottom out pre-warning I'm looking for (and I hear Pinks can offer).
To get all of those on a tester, it looks like I'd need to buy at least two testers. Kaihua sells one with all its "Chinese-style" BOX switches, and one with all the others I just listed, but none that has the Noble Yellow alongside the rest. I've zero interest in the other Chinese-style ones though. And even then, if I just assume I won't like the Noble Yellow and order the tester that has the rest, it's shipping from China, so it'd take a while to get here, and I'd like use it once to help me decide then never again. I'd probably sell it.

Does anybody in the UK have one of each of these switches going spare that they'd like to loan or sell me, and/or an empty tester plate for me to stick them in for a basic fiddle? Or, alternatively, might you have any thoughts/recommendations/info to help me figure out a blind buy instead, based on what I've told you about my tastes and intended objectives?

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Go-Kart

06 May 2021, 09:16

You can borrow my Kailh and Gateron testers if you like. That'd get you part way there.
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Bjerrk

06 May 2021, 10:36

an_achronism wrote:
06 May 2021, 07:29
I've chosen the above because I have realised that I really like buckling spring switches, which are significantly heavier and more tactile than just about anything in the MX-like lineage and have thus permanently ruined Cherry switches completely for me.
You're talking membrane buckling springs, right? Have you tried a Model F by any chance?
Otherwise it may be that your love of buckling spring switches is not so much about the stiffness. Capacitive buckling springs are not very heavy, and I find them even better than the membrane variety of the Model M.

In fact, after trying the Model M for the first time, I went through a phase where I thought I preferred heavy switches. :P

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an_achronism

06 May 2021, 10:48

Bjerrk wrote:
06 May 2021, 10:36
You're talking membrane buckling springs, right? Have you tried a Model F by any chance?
Otherwise it may be that your love of buckling spring switches is not so much about the stiffness. Capacitive buckling springs are not very heavy, and I find them even better than the membrane variety of the Model M.

In fact, after trying the Model M for the first time, I went through a phase where I thought I preferred heavy switches. :P
I have not, but I am already well on my way to correcting that: I have one of Ellipse's F77s and a terminal 122-key F both ordered. I suspect the 122-key will arrive before the F77; I'm approximately equally exicted about both of them. I have also been hunting for an "XT" F (preferably a UK one, which I understand to be part no. 1501105) and feel like I should have an AT for the collection, even if I don't necessarily end up using it regularly, as I'm not quite so keen on the layout (yeah, I think I prefer the XT, fight me). There have been a few XTs going lately but they keep going for what frankly feels like silly money to me for that particular board but I'm not in any huge hurry so I'll keep an eye on them (watching a few just now). And yes, I've heard that the F is to some extent (some say subtly, some say quite clearly) weighted a tad lighter than an M, which does appeal to me. But you're correct, it isn't so much about the stiffness as it is about the uniqueness of the key feel; it's just that I also prefer a heavier switch as well, if not necessarily as heavy as the M I have.

I was considering putting sort of an ongoing long-term WTB wishlist of sorts in the WTB section, which I've more or less finished for now, but I frankly need to stop spending money for the next month or two because I've waaaay overspent in the past 30 days or so. All this because I finally killed my crappy MX Blue board and got a tad overexcited, hahah. Perhaps I should just keep the draft saved until I've let my credit card recover...

Go-Kart wrote:
06 May 2021, 09:16
You can borrow my Kailh and Gateron testers if you like. That'd get you part way there.
I might very well take you up on that, although which ones I mentioned are on there? Is it just the Pale Blues or is that dark blueish one a Navy? I'm guessing it's a Royal or something instead.

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Bjerrk

06 May 2021, 10:53

an_achronism wrote:
06 May 2021, 10:48
And yes, I've heard that the F is to some extent (some say subtly, some say quite clearly) weighted a tad lighter than an M, which does appeal to me.
Oh, I would say that it's significantly lighter! At least Ellipse's reproduction. (And here I am comparing to 1980s Model Ms as well as Unicomp's Model M).

I have an XT in the mail, will let you know what I think when it arrives :D

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an_achronism

06 May 2021, 11:20

Bjerrk wrote:
06 May 2021, 10:53
I have an XT in the mail, will let you know what I think when it arrives :D
If it's crap, I'll send you my address ;)

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Go-Kart

06 May 2021, 14:00

an_achronism wrote:
06 May 2021, 10:48
I might very well take you up on that, although which ones I mentioned are on there? Is it just the Pale Blues or is that dark blueish one a Navy? I'm guessing it's a Royal or something instead.
I couldn't tell yah! I'll dig out the invoice to identify them.

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Go-Kart

07 May 2021, 13:50

I've checked my purchase history and that Kailh switch tester apparently contains, "Black, Red, Brown, White, Gravity Blue, Gravity Yellow, Gravity Orange, N, J." So aside from the standard Box Red, Black and Brown, the Box White is obvious. I'm guess the N and J refer to Box Navy and Box Jade. The Gravity Orange is a Heavy Burnt Orange. Gravity Yellow appears to be a standard Box Yellow. So Gravity Blue is possibly a Pale Blue? Kinda feels like it; a tad heavier than the White.

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an_achronism

08 May 2021, 18:44

Go-Kart wrote:
07 May 2021, 13:50
I've checked my purchase history and that Kailh switch tester apparently contains, "Black, Red, Brown, White, Gravity Blue, Gravity Yellow, Gravity Orange, N, J." So aside from the standard Box Red, Black and Brown, the Box White is obvious. I'm guess the N and J refer to Box Navy and Box Jade. The Gravity Orange is a Heavy Burnt Orange. Gravity Yellow appears to be a standard Box Yellow. So Gravity Blue is possibly a Pale Blue? Kinda feels like it; a tad heavier than the White.
Thank you for doing that. Aye, I can easily imagine "Heavy" being mistranslated to and from another language e.g. Mandarin as "Gravity" so given that NovelKeys calls them "BOX Heavy" before the colour, I expect "Gravity Blue" = "Heavy Pale Blue".

I just noticed that I wrote something incorrect btw: I said Pale Blue had the heavy click bar but I don't believe they do. To correct myself, here's what I think they actually are...

NAVY: heavy bar, heavy spring... excellent click and tactility but bottom out more or less guaranteed, which is one of the things I'm *not* as keen on with Model M buckling springs

PALE BLUE: lighter bar from White, heavy spring from Navy... result having lower tactility due to having to push harder because spring is heavier but bar is not thicker to compensate

PINK: medium bar in between the above which is also angled more steeply to reduce upstroke resistance/click (I'm guessing because Jades were criticised for return issues), slightly lighter spring than either but still heavier than White... result being some "floaty" resistance from spring after actuation/tactile event, which I like the sound of, but inconsistent upstroke, which I don't

NOBLE YELLOW: medium bar like Pink but without the steep angle, lighter spring like White... apparently more tactility and less inconsistency on upstroke than Pink but without having actually tried it out, I don't like the sound of lighter spring and I suspect it probably lacks that floaty resistance after actuation

I'm wondering if there might be some merit in taking Noble Yellows and replacing the spring with one like the Pink (I can't remember now if any other switch has the same spring as Pink). Theoretically, you should get the more consistent tactility of Noble Yellow while hopefully retaining the same after-the-fact spring resistance from Pink. Expensive though and might not actually work out that way in practice.

If you're happy to send those two testers over then that'd help a bit, thank you; I'll get them back ASAP. Although realistically, I'm probably going to end up having to buy a tester anyway for the Pink and Noble Yellow (I wish they did one that had both on it), the Gateron one will coincidentally be handy for my partner. I just got her a wee 60% with Gateron Reds based on what she said she wanted, only for her to immediately say they're too easy to actuate (which I did say beforehand but never mind hahah). First thing I did was swap the spring in the space bar switch out for one from a Gateron Green, which helped, but she's now looking to try heavier springs on other switches as well.

I'm guessing that the Noble Yellow may be a hair too light for my taste but I'd ideally like to try it anyway because I've heard pretty much exclusively positive comparisons against the Pink. Apart from concerns about it being a bit inconsistent on the return, it sounds as if the Pink is closest to what I reckon I'm after.

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Go-Kart

08 May 2021, 20:05

Indeed. Do you know, I got that Kailh tester just for the Heavy Burnt Orange! Though it has come in useful since. When reviewers make switch comparisons; helping friends and family determine switch preference, etc.. The latter is a fun exercise to see which none enthusiasts favour.

O.K., I'll throw both of the testers in the box for you. I've got a blag Holy Panda, an MX Clear and a Razer Orange that you may as well poke too while you're at it. I actually rate all of the last three, particularly the Razer; although that's after a careful lubing.

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an_achronism

09 May 2021, 01:22

Go-Kart wrote:
08 May 2021, 20:05
Indeed. Do you know, I got that Kailh tester just for the Heavy Burnt Orange! Though it has come in useful since. When reviewers make switch comparisons; helping friends and family determine switch preference, etc.. The latter is a fun exercise to see which none enthusiasts favour.

O.K., I'll throw both of the testers in the box for you. I've got a blag Holy Panda, an MX Clear and a Razer Orange that you may as well poke too while you're at it. I actually rate all of the last three, particularly the Razer; although that's after a careful lubing.
Thanks mate, I appreciate that.

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an_achronism

13 May 2021, 19:18

Parcel arrived, so the first thing I did (well, second, after fiddling with the Apricot board for a bit) was put keycaps on the test switches and go through to my partner's home office with them, whereupon I made her sit fiddling with each one without telling her what any of them were to see what her preferences were. The two of us spent like half an hour fiddling with the switch testers and having the most horrendously insufferable conversation about the merits and problems of each, which was highly entertaining from my perspective. So ta for that, hahah.

I'm actually not sure what a couple of those Gateron ones are, and one of them is my partner's preference apparently (I think it's a bit rough personally but it'd likely be nice if lubricated so it might just be this particular switch and not necessarily how they always feel):

Image
The colours of those two purplish ones are evidently quite different, but I can't seem to work out why there would be two purple/violet Gateron switches that don't have more or less the same coloured stems. Do you have any idea what those might be? Is one a 65 g Zeal and the other a 78 g Zeal or something? The lighter coloured (and lighter weighted) one was my partner's preference; personally I thought it felt pleasantly tactile but was badly in need of lube, whereas the darker coloured one was smoother but a little too heavy. There was also audible "spring ping" off the lighter ones, but not off the dark/heavy ones.

From the BOX range, predictably enough, I found myself preferring the Navy (though I do think it's probably too heavy) and to some extent Pale Blue and White, though those felt a little underwhelming and the tactility in the Pale Blue seemed to be sort of overwhelmed by the spring, which is precisely what I expected. There were some surprises in here for me as well, though. Although I had heard that the Jades have some issues with return, I was not expecting it to be as pronounced as it turned out to be: as you release the key, it hits the click bar and just sort of sits there until you've more or less completely released all pressure from the key altogether, at which point it abruptly catches up and leaps upwards into your fingertip (the bone of which is already some distance away by then), which feels horrendous to me. Which is a shame, because it otherwise feels quite pleasant and certainly not as fatiguing as the Navy seems likely to be if you kitted out a whole board and typed for a while on them.

Another surprise was what turned out to possibly be my favourite switch of all the ones you sent. This is hardly a controversial conclusion, but being the contrarian wanker that I am, I rather expected not to enjoy this one, and yet it turns out I kinda do:

Image
So in other words, if I'm not mistaken about what these are (at least roughly), apparently we both have annoyingly expensive tastes with what I assume to be some form of Holy Panda and some form of Zealios. Bloody hell!


Next stop: NovelKeys BOX Pink and Kailh BOX Noble Yellow, methinks.

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Go-Kart

13 May 2021, 23:12

Glad you've both had some nerdy fun :lol: Well I have good news and bad news for you.

The good news is that when I describe the HP switch as a blag Holy Panda, I meant that it's a cheap Chinese clone. Feker make them. Sometimes they're listed as Holy Pandas on eBay, Ali Express, etc. but more and more I'm seeing them pop up as Feker branded. Most likely because they've now got a reputation for being half decent. Although the one I sent you was lightly lubed with Super Lube Oil. They are cheap and well worth the money in my opinion.

The bad news is that, yes, you do like Zealios. Your guestimates of the weighting are correct if my invoice is anything to go by. I like both of them too. Both are stock, along with all of the switches I sent you, save the Fake Holy Panda and the Razer Orange. I found both of the Zealios to be nice, particularly the 65. I'd find it hard to suffer the cost of Zealios but depending on where I settle with my switch tastes across different form factors/use cases, I may go there one day. What did you think to the Razer? I'd imagine it'd be too light for your taste from what you have pointed to so far but I like them (when lubed).

As for all that clicky non-sense, I can't stand the sound of them so I've never really invested time to discern whether I like the key feel of any of them!

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Muirium
µ

13 May 2021, 23:41

Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
As for all that clicky non-sense, I can't stand the sound of them so I've never really invested time to discern whether I like the key feel of any of them!
Correct attitude regarding Cherry MX clones and subsequent improvements. But the kind of talk that’ll get you a head butt in certain parts of Scotland. You are warned, sonny! ;)

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 00:57

Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
Glad you've both had some nerdy fun :lol: Well I have good news and bad news for you.

The good news is that when I describe the HP switch as a blag Holy Panda, I meant that it's a cheap Chinese clone. Feker make them. Sometimes they're listed as Holy Pandas on eBay, Ali Express, etc. but more and more I'm seeing them pop up as Feker branded. Most likely because they've now got a reputation for being half decent. Although the one I sent you was lightly lubed with Super Lube Oil. They are cheap and well worth the money in my opinion.
I knew they were knockoffs, but I didn't know which knockoffs: there's no branding badge on the upper housing, just a blank rectangle. I have seen the Feker ones around so that makes sense. And aye, was apparent it'd been lubed to some extent or another because it's smooth as hell compared to the Mysterios Zealios, which sounded and felt like sandpaper by comparison. The horseshoe cloppy sound of the Phoney Pandas (Holy Fekin' Pandas?) bottoming out tickled me, which I wasn't expecting, and I liked how easy it was not to bottom out if desired: the latter is something I specifically want out of whatever switches I end up using here, ideally. It's part of what drew me to BOX Pink. It would almost be a shame not to bottom out on these though, because I really like that sound for some reason.
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
The bad news is that, yes, you do like Zealios. Your guestimates of the weighting are correct if my invoice is anything to go by.
Damn, I'm not bad at this! Hahah.
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
I like both of them too. Both are stock, along with all of the switches I sent you, save the Fake Holy Panda and the Razer Orange. I found both of the Zealios to be nice, particularly the 65. I'd find it hard to suffer the cost of Zealios but depending on where I settle with my switch tastes across different form factors/use cases, I may go there one day.
I think from what I've liked so far I'd be tempted to get the 65 g Zealios (are these the V2 btw?) but lube them to smooth them a touch, maybe just the sliders and springs or something, I dunno... but I don't feel like they justify their price tag, tbh. The Phoney Pandas might, but I suspect I find them more of a novelty than anything else and I'm still probably looking for a click bar switch, which may end up being exactly what I started with, BOX Pinks.
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
What did you think to the Razer? I'd imagine it'd be too light for your taste from what you have pointed to so far but I like them (when lubed).
If I recall correctly I think I said something to the effect of "that's sort of like a crap version of [the knockoff Holy Panda]" so that probably tells you I wasn't keen, hahah. EDIT: Just meaning key feel / tactility, not the sound, of course. (I was more or less blind testing them myself, I intentionally stuck keycaps on without paying attention so I would be as bias-free as reasonably possible.) You're correct in that the weighting wasn't my thing but I didn't like how slight the tactility was either, especially seeing as it sat so high up. It more or less felt linear because you clear the bump basically instantly. Similarly, I was amused to find that I am in the MX Browns Are Bad Club after all (again, despite the fact I would have revelled in being a contrarian bastard). I'm almost disappointed in myself. Incidentally, my partner had the exact same response to both the Gateron and BOX Browns that I did, which was basically revulsion, hahah. She was playing something as we were doing this, which I was taking advantage of by letting her test stuff independently without seeing which switches I was pressing while she was distracted by the game so that she'd come to her own conclusions, and yet we came to many of the same. Neither of us knew which switches we were pressing when we landed on the Zealios and Holy Pandas and I was annoyed when I found out hahah.

I think my theoretical "ideal" switch in this MX-y style would have a teensy pre-travel, then a giant tactile event, then a resistant bottom out. The trouble is that it's evidently difficult to achieve all that with balance: if you get one thing right, it screws up another. Too much resistance at the tactile event and you have to push so hard to clear it that you thump into the bottom out because of momentum and not having time to stop exerting pressure (BOX Navy); too much spring resistance and you are already pressing so hard before you get to the tactile event that you clear it and barely notice (e.g. BOX Heavy Pale Blue imo); loads of tactility but not enough spring resistance and you end up with that horrid sticky upstroke (BOX Jade). In other words, I feel like it's more or less impossible to get what I want from an MX type design. In fairness, even buckling springs don't quite tick all those boxes! I honestly don't buy that buckling spring Model M boards are a viable way of learning how not to bottom out, because you need to use just enough force to buckle them with ease such that you really don't have enough time to pull back after the actuation so bottom out is inevitable. The only way I can see it being possible, and still not even easy, would be to type stupidly slowly. I'm nowhere near the fastest typer around but I'm fairly consistently going over the 100 wpm mark (as daft a metric as that may be) and often reaching into the 110s, which is fast enough that I really am not going to have the requisite response time on each keypress to stop exerting pressure at precisely the right instant to prevent the key bottoming out. I think that knockoff Holy Panda might be the first switch I've tried that might actually make that a realistic possibility, as I found it quite elementary to push past the somewhat-but-not-entirely rounded tactile bump and then stop, even when pressing the key repeatedly and very quickly. But of course it might be different if I loaded up a whole board with them and started typing in a real world scenario (I don't actually think so in this case though).
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
As for all that clicky non-sense, I can't stand the sound of them so I've never really invested time to discern whether I like the key feel of any of them!
Here's the thing: I honestly don't give much of a crap about clicky switches being clicky, as in noise. It's a side effect that serves me some purpose, in that it makes my job a teensy bit easier because it's bloody obvious I'm busy typing in the background and if I fall quiet for a moment people don't assume I fell asleep or the line dropped or whatever. For me, it's all about the tactility: I just want a giant big lump in between me and switch actuation to tell me in no uncertain terms that I have indeed pressed a key and should now stop pressing it. It just so happens that the clickiness seems to coincide with the tactility a lot of the time, which suits me just fine. That's why I don't think I can hack the Pale Blues, they basically only have the clicky noise and the tactility is minimal. Unfortunately, it would appear that the MX world is somewhat tactility-starved, if things like the only-just-tactile Phoney Pandas are any indication of what's popular atm. I like them but they're nowhere near as tactile as I'd like, especially after using buckling springs. This search for an acceptable MX derivative is for me purely an exploratory thing to avoid wasting an otherwise perfectly good keyboard that I've repaired but don't actually want to use because I hate the switches; I am so far fully confident that I'm very much a buckling springs guy, but I am deeply intrigued by Topre as well now. I am not, however, intrigued enough to spend the kind of money that those boards cost. I'd rather drop that sort of cash on a vintage Model F or an especially nice/rare Model M or something than a RealForce or whatever.

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2021, 12:39

an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 00:57
I am so far fully confident that I'm very much a buckling springs guy, but I am deeply intrigued by Topre as well now. I am not, however, intrigued enough to spend the kind of money that those boards cost. I'd rather drop that sort of cash on a vintage Model F or an especially nice/rare Model M or something than a RealForce or whatever.
Wannabe contrarian bastard discovers The Ancient Wisdom Was True All Along. The horror, the horror! :D

Defo try Topre. It's the only keyboard variety I don't automatically bottom out on either. Absolutely a thing unto itself.

While I love me some buckling and even beamspring, I do still bottom out on those habitually. The tactile event is indeed sharp and crisp, and the post-travel light and smooth. You just trapdoor right on into it. I find lousy condition Model Ms the easiest IBM not to bottom out on, but that is not a compliment! No, the whole gestalt of buckling spring is right there in the name. You really have to jam on the brakes right there if you're determined not to follow through the keystroke.

But round tactility, on silky smooth sliders, that's Topre. <chef's kiss>

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 13:04

Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 12:39
Wannabe contrarian bastard discovers The Ancient Wisdom Was True All Along. The horror, the horror!
Accurate
Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 12:39
Defo try Topre. It's the only keyboard variety I don't automatically bottom out on either. Absolutely a thing unto itself.
Shows what I know, I thought with Topre being a variety of rubber dome you'd *have* to bottom out.
Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 12:39
While I love me some buckling and even beamspring, I do still bottom out on those habitually. The tactile event is indeed sharp and crisp, and the post-travel light and smooth. You just trapdoor right on into it. I find lousy condition Model Ms the easiest IBM not to bottom out on, but that is not a compliment!
Aye, that battered 1990 one had some messed up springs that were all mushy and crap, which are the first buckling springs I could not bottom out on, hah. Replacing those.

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2021, 13:08

an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 13:04
Shows what I know, I thought with Topre being a variety of rubber dome you'd *have* to bottom out.
Nope. It's capacitative, like Model F. Just look at the sense pads on the PCB. Topre triggers nice and early in the stroke as a result. It's no ordinary dome. You should also just feel how frictionless the sliders are. Superb, right out the box.

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 13:41

Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 13:08
Nope. It's capacitative, like Model F. Just look at the sense pads on the PCB. Topre triggers nice and early in the stroke as a result. It's no ordinary dome. You should also just feel how frictionless the sliders are. Superb, right out the box.
Oh sure, I knew it was capacitive, but I still expected you'd need to bottom out to complete the circuit (frankly I know little to nothing about the Topre mechanism of action other than knowing that it's capacitive, a fancy rubber dome of some sort, and extremely rounded and smooth).

The trouble is, I think with my current preferences even the best rubber dome board in the world wouldn't get much use. So hundreds of pounds on a Topre is nuts for my likely use case (using it as a backup/mobile board and using a Model F/M the rest of the time). If it were more affordable I'd jump on it, but I don't even know if they still sell the Type Heaven (never mind an ISO UK one) and I suspect I'd rather the 55 g than 45 g weighting, which might not have been available on the Type Heaven in the first place.

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Go-Kart

14 May 2021, 14:04

Muirium wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:41
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
As for all that clicky non-sense, I can't stand the sound of them so I've never really invested time to discern whether I like the key feel of any of them!
Correct attitude regarding Cherry MX clones and subsequent improvements. But the kind of talk that’ll get you a head butt in certain parts of Scotland. You are warned, sonny! ;)
Certainly! My statement does only refer to MX type switches. I love the sound of other clicky switches, my pride and joy is my Focus 2000 Plus with Pine White Alps. It sounds brilliant. I think I would enjoy clicky MX variants if the high pitched click was produced in concert with the deeper tones of good caps and chassis. However, I have not heard any yet that do it for me.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 00:57
Go-Kart wrote:
13 May 2021, 23:12
As for all that clicky non-sense, I can't stand the sound of them so I've never really invested time to discern whether I like the key feel of any of them!
Here's the thing: I honestly don't give much of a crap about clicky switches being clicky, as in noise. It's a side effect that serves me some purpose, in that it makes my job a teensy bit easier because it's bloody obvious I'm busy typing in the background and if I fall quiet for a moment people don't assume I fell asleep or the line dropped or whatever. For me, it's all about the tactility: I just want a giant big lump in between me and switch actuation to tell me in no uncertain terms that I have indeed pressed a key and should now stop pressing it. It just so happens that the clickiness seems to coincide with the tactility a lot of the time, which suits me just fine.
I do often feel my stubbornness holds me back from enjoying more. I'm really looking forward to my first meet-up, whenever that may be, as I'd like to have a go of a decent Box Jade board or something of that ilk. I do favour key feel above all else.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 00:57
I think from what I've liked so far I'd be tempted to get the 65 g Zealios (are these the V2 btw?)
I believe so.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 13:04
Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 12:39
Defo try Topre. It's the only keyboard variety I don't automatically bottom out on either. Absolutely a thing unto itself.
Shows what I know, I thought with Topre being a variety of rubber dome you'd *have* to bottom out.
One of the most surprising things I've found while learning to love Topre, type in a more relaxed fashion and not bottom, is my appreciation of this linearised Black Alps Bigfoot I'm currently typing on. I do bottom out but very lightly and occasionally not at all. Topre has done this too me and it makes using this keyboard real pleasant for work.
I've found quite a difference between 45 g silenced Topre on a R2 and a HHKB too. I realised this on Tuesday and remembered what Muir said about the Topre key feel working nicest with the plastic/mounting plateless chassis on a HHKB some weeks ago. It elongates the tactility slightly as far as I can tell. Only slightly but noticeable to where I'd argue that the best way to experience the textbook Topre key feel that people talk about is on a HHKB. The difference is noticeable enough that I actually returned my Realforce! (I know I'm beyond fussy.)

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 14:19

I feel like the click sound off the BOX Navy is pretty nice tbh, just not so keen on the rattly click jacket ones and the BOX White etc. with lighter click bar are relatively high frequency too. The Jade might have been ideal in theory but I hate that delayed upstroke where it sort of sticks on the bar on the way up. I quite like the *feel* of the Acer 6312 boards but not so much the sound, which isn't a kick in the arse off MX click jacket noise tbqh. Yet to be bless'd with a clicky Alps board, sadly.

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2021, 14:24

HHKB vs Realforce is definitely a taste thing. Some folk around here *cough* Elrick *cough* would wrap your knuckles for your shameless thoughtcrimes against Feeling of Oneness with Steel Plate. From what I gather, my softer HHKB preference puts me in the minority of Topre afficionados, but I'm gathering a posse… :lol:

Re: capsense. It's an analog sensing system. It can do magic like capture keys at different heights—the R2 Realforces let you choose actuation point, I think on a key-by-key basis across the keyboard—and even measure key velocities, if anyone ever fancies building a Topre piano! All this while NKRO throughout. Capsense is sweet. So much better than metal sliding over metal; how plebeian! ;)

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 15:12

See, layout auto-disqualifies HHKB by default for me, 'cause I'm simply not going to use anything with so few keys and nothing resembling a num pad block. RealForce R2 with the Japanese layout is probably the most realistic option for me, but it's just too damn expensive. If I had that cash I'd be spending it on another Model F, I think.

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2021, 16:04

I hear you. Topre's weakness isn't so much the price—though that hurts!—but the lack of options. It's a much smaller ecosystem—really just a single manufacturer—than the ever expanding world of MX.

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an_achronism

14 May 2021, 16:51

Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 16:04
I hear you. Topre's weakness isn't so much the price—though that hurts!—but the lack of options. It's a much smaller ecosystem—really just a single manufacturer—than the ever expanding world of MX.
The cynic in me, having worked in tech sales for more years than I'd care to admit, would say that the price has probably helped rather than hindered. If it were not priced as premium as it is, I wonder if it wouldn't be taken as seriously by enthusiasts with somewhat less information who don't exactly know what they are, if that makes sense. People who've never tried Topre boards still buy Topre boards because they're reputed to be amazing and unique things to use, and the price helps bolster that reputation for quality. If it were less expensive, someone who has no direct experience with them might be more inclined to lean toward "Well... it's rubber domes, it can't be *that* good", as opposed to, "Bloody hell, if it's that pricey then it must be good". Even *after* using one, opinion might arguably be coloured by the pricing on a subconscious level, to a certain extent. Premium pricing carries a certain amount of prestige, creates desire, blah blah. Apple shouldn't be able to make the kinds of astonishing margins that it does on its hardware, and yet it manages because it's built that sense of prestige around its products better than just about any other brand in human history.

For a curmudgeonly auld s****bag like me, however, it has the effect of shoving me out of the target market because I'm struggling to justify the cost against what I perceive as going into the hardware, though I freely admit that I don't know as much as I could about the details of the mechanism, as I said before. Again, Apple products are sold on the experience rather than the hardware, and it works; I feel like Topre stuff is also sold on the basis of the experience as opposed to the hardware that creates said experience, although they are more intrinsically connected than with the Apple example, so it isn't quite a true equivalence. I'm reasonably sure Topre's manufacturing costs for a HHKB is a mere fraction of what IBM would've spent making a Model F back in the day, after you adjust for inflation, but they'd cost me similar money to buy right now (although admittedly the Model F would be used and I expect IBM's scalability was orders of magnitude greater back in the day compared to the consumer market for Topre stuff). I'm a practical kinda guy from a distinctly working class background so when I see things with huge price premiums I get crabbit about what I essentially perceive as corporate greed instead of just enjoying the product for what it is, hahah. I expect I'll probably never buy anything Topre brand new unless they significantly drop the pricing, but I might eventually grab something second hand from somebody who's upgrading or whatever. (Unless you convert me by making me type on one of yours and I'm so blown away by the key feel that I throw caution to the wind!)

Certainly though, the smaller ecosystem is a problem from my point of view because I'm so picky about what boards I'll buy. Specifically, I don't want to spend large amounts of money on anything I don't think I'm going to use regularly, and I know I don't want to use anything non-ISO regularly because I can't stand typing on ANSI boards, no matter how nice the key feel is. Which means I'd need to buy Japanese ones, which cranks the price even more.

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Go-Kart

14 May 2021, 23:03

Muirium wrote:
14 May 2021, 14:24
HHKB vs Realforce is definitely a taste thing. Some folk around here *cough* Elrick *cough* would wrap your knuckles for your shameless thoughtcrimes against Feeling of Oneness with Steel Plate. From what I gather, my softer HHKB preference puts me in the minority of Topre afficionados, but I'm gathering a posse… :lol:
:D It makes me reflect on the current Insta-Keeb™ trends for these fancy gasket mount boards. The plate flex changes the feel of Topre switches significantly enough. Maybe it's not all bright lights and lipstick.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 16:51
[...] (Unless you convert me by making me type on one of yours and I'm so blown away by the key feel that I throw caution to the wind!)
That'll do it. I never thought I'd spend Topre money ...on Topre. But after I tried one, I was willing to spend the cash. I will normally angle for a second hand board but I've found Topre to be a little more challenging to reassemble correctly so I ended up stumping for new. It ain't like when you try something like clicky Alps for the first time, "Oh this is tactility," but if they're your jam, they'll get you in the end.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 16:51
See, layout auto-disqualifies HHKB by default for me, 'cause I'm simply not going to use anything with so few keys and nothing resembling a num pad block. RealForce R2 with the Japanese layout is probably the most realistic option for me, but it's just too damn expensive. If I had that cash I'd be spending it on another Model F, I think.
an_achronism wrote:
14 May 2021, 16:51
Certainly though, the smaller ecosystem is a problem from my point of view because I'm so picky about what boards I'll buy. Specifically, I don't want to spend large amounts of money on anything I don't think I'm going to use regularly, and I know I don't want to use anything non-ISO regularly because I can't stand typing on ANSI boards, no matter how nice the key feel is. Which means I'd need to buy Japanese ones, which cranks the price even more.
There are a few great RF JIS (and HHKB) boards I've seen floating about. Different space bar lengths on some. Even little 3U pieces are great, so long as they're centred. Though, you could go ultimate ...BFK. Mine arrived this afternoon I believe. Collecting it tomorrow. Then for work, HHKB + BF10, magic.

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raoulduke-esq

14 May 2021, 23:11

Goodness. Where did you find a BFK for sale?

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an_achronism

15 May 2021, 01:48

Go-Kart wrote:
14 May 2021, 23:03
There are a few great RF JIS (and HHKB) boards I've seen floating about. Different space bar lengths on some. Even little 3U pieces are great, so long as they're centred.
Yeah, I have no issue with small space bar. I only ever hit it very near the middle anyway, so I shouldn't ever be hitting neighbouring keys by accident, theoretically at least.

Go-Kart wrote:
14 May 2021, 23:03
Though, you could go ultimate ...BFK. Mine arrived this afternoon I believe. Collecting it tomorrow. Then for work, HHKB + BF10, magic.
Hang on... you found a BFK?!
raoulduke-esq wrote:
14 May 2021, 23:11
Goodness. Where did you find a BFK for sale?
Yes, indeed!

Image

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Muirium
µ

15 May 2021, 09:44

Japanese layout? Business Fscking Keyboards? Good old fashioned European style ISO Realforces are also a thing. I used to have an ISO NovaTouch actually. Here it is in the Round 5 heyday:

Image

Yes: MX mount SA doubleshots on Topre switches. Pretty nifty. Well, when damped. I sold it to Phinix last time I was keyboard trading in Glasgow, actually. :lol:

I'm the other way around on ISO vs ANSI. So I kept the ANSI NovaTouch for myself instead. Another one to bring along for the try-on? I've got it properly damped, just like my Realforce and HHKB.

As for ISO Realforces, they used to be easy to source in these parts: England based Keyboardco was* Topre's only European distributor for many years. (Their piss-poor product photography makes their white Realforces look hideously yellow, we've been through this before. :roll: ) Apparently the R2 Realforces are taking a while to show up in ISO. I haven't asked Keyboardco about this myself, but their Realforce stock has dwindled down to zero for most models (all of which are the original version) so they're not so easily found right now.

*Don't know if Topre is still so exclusive about who they sell to, now HHKBs and R2s are on Amazon. But I do see all those "nopre" boards come up when you search Keybco's site for Topre. How times change.

And as for the bit about Apple hardware? One word: software. If Apple just made Windows PCs, I wouldn't buy them either. But this MacBook Air runs the OS I've been into for most this century now—plus Mac specific apps I adore like Logic, Pixelmator, Scrivener and BBEdit—and I've no complaints at all about the M1 it's all running on. Honestly, this thing is mental fast, and nary a hint of heat! Who needs cooling when you're designing your own chips and building them on 5 nanometre? It's a beaut! :D

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Go-Kart

16 May 2021, 19:11

raoulduke-esq wrote:
14 May 2021, 23:11
Goodness. Where did you find a BFK for sale?
Right here on DT! I cast out my line on WTB and caught a fishy! Yellowed to buggery as you can see but overall in good condition. Alas, the beast was dusty so it was 20 minutes on the desk before I had the guts spilled out across my work bench. Fully dismantled and cleaned. Probably won't get around to lubing and reassembling it for weeks unfortunately. Time to contemplate dampening at least. And maybe retro-bright?
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The B10 num/nav pad module is however perfectly serviceable in it's current state so once my bloody HHKB finally arrives, I'll be ready! (I ordered one from Japan over three weeks ago, the seller cancelled my order this morning...)

There was someone else selling BFK on Reddit about a month ago. He wanted top dollar though. $450 + shipping from the States. Mine came from Spain so the shipping wasn't too bad.
Muirium wrote:
15 May 2021, 09:44
I used to have an ISO NovaTouch actually. Here it is in the Round 5 heyday:

Image
Dude, that Honeywell set is beautiful.
an_achronism wrote:
15 May 2021, 01:48
Go-Kart wrote:
14 May 2021, 23:03
There are a few great RF JIS (and HHKB) boards I've seen floating about. Different space bar lengths on some. Even little 3U pieces are great, so long as they're centred.
Yeah, I have no issue with small space bar. I only ever hit it very near the middle anyway, so I shouldn't ever be hitting neighbouring keys by accident, theoretically at least.
I'm happy to report that the short 3U BFK space bar is just enough to the right that it doesn't hinder me at all; unlike the odd miss-hit on the HHKB JP I briefly owned. That board was otherwise perfect.

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