Spherical Buckling Spring Thread

cods

16 Jul 2017, 04:05

G'day again. Signed up over at http://sbskeycaps.com so I can make sure I don't miss out on this when it goes live - or when more updates occur. Thanks for setting that up!

FWIW, a couple of thoughts after reading everything in the thread since about page 3.

I really like Zed's renders, particularly in the lighter colour combinations. I also like Zed's pronounciation of the letter Z...

Thanks rsbseb for your continued work on this project, as it really appeals to me. In many ways it's a path to going full circle (plus a bit) with mechanical keyboards for me. From Model Ms, to modern MX boards, to being a fan of SA / spherical profile and great creative keyset designs, to a couple of the new Model Fs, to... Model Ms and Fs with spherical profile keycaps in (hopefully) creative and classic designs and colours :)

Hats off to you people out there making, designing and creating cool things. Happy to support you by buying and hopefully helping you make a decent margin on your work!

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Zed

16 Jul 2017, 19:58

cods wrote: I also like Zed's pronounciation of the letter Z...
:lol:

I have been plugging away the last week putting the finishing touches on the Beam Spring font. I came to the conclusion that it is actually more of a 'real' font than I had originally thought. There are some tricks that typographers use when designing fonts to compensate for various optical anomalies and I think I see enough evidence of them in the scan from lot_lizard that I am now integrating them into my artwork. It's very subtle stuff (fractions of a mm), but doing things like making the rounded letters slightly taller than the square top/bottom ones so that they appear to be same height should really make SBS look great.

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Techno Trousers
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17 Jul 2017, 00:08

Great work, Zed. We really appreciate the attention to detail you're putting into this effort.

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

17 Jul 2017, 23:01

Zed wrote:
I have been plugging away the last week putting the finishing touches on the Beam Spring font. I came to the conclusion that it is actually more of a 'real' font than I had originally thought. There are some tricks that typographers use when designing fonts to compensate for various optical anomalies and I think I see enough evidence of them in the scan from lot_lizard that I am now integrating them into my artwork. It's very subtle stuff (fractions of a mm), but doing things like making the rounded letters slightly taller than the square top/bottom ones so that they appear to be same height should really make SBS look great.
:D :D :D

tigpha

18 Jul 2017, 16:33

Hi Zed, It's a pleasure to read about the degree of care and attention to detail you're lavishing on the design. The typographical "optical anomalies" actually make a difference, at least to my eye (used to be a graphic design and typography geek).

Related I suppose to the debate raging elsewhere on DT about the kerning of "SHIFT" vs. "SHIF T" because of limitations in plastics injection moulding technology.

Hi Rsbseb, would you accept orders from a Limey in Blighty? And what is the price-bracket you're aiming for?

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Zed

18 Jul 2017, 21:39

Long rambling stuff ahead warning. Read at your own peril! :lol:

The concept of making round characters slightly taller than flat ones is called overshoot. There is also another optical phenomena whereby horizontal strokes appear thicker than equally sized vertical ones. These articles have some nice visualizations.

https://frerejones.com/blog/typeface-mechanics-001
https://frerejones.com/blog/typeface-mechanics-002
http://typographica.org/on-typography/m ... type-work/

This latest round of revisions to the Beam Spring font came out of some template techniques I worked up while doing the F XT Quality repro legends for the Ellipse project. I now had a pretty accurate setup for getting all the stroke widths the same so I went about fixing things. I had just assumed that whatever kind of engraving machine IBM used to make the molds would result in consistent stroke widths but I started noticing stuff like this after fixing up the characters.
Beam Spring B comparison.PNG
Beam Spring B comparison.PNG (50.29 KiB) Viewed 3108 times
The left B is from the original scan from lot_lizard. The middle B is what things look like when you make all the strokes equal. Looks pretty good but the openings seem a bit small and the horizontal strokes now look too heavy when you compare it to the scan. When the horizontals are made a bit thinner, things start to look better as shown in the B on the right. Looking at the other characters with horizontal elements, I became convinced that I wasn't just seeing some distortion in the scan. This was how they were designed... like a real font.

The overshoot is something I am not as sure about since it is very difficult to get exact height measurements given the resolution of the scan I have to work with. The fuzziness around the edges of the letters is pretty much the same thickness as the amount the overshoot would be so it becomes a judgment call. Given the confirmation of the horizontal strokes being thinner, I decided to go with it. If they went to the trouble to use the horizontal stroke trick, there is no reason why they would not also incorporate overshoot. If I am wrong, it is pretty harmless and at least it makes the letters look like they are equal in height.
Beam Spring overshoot 2.PNG
Beam Spring overshoot 2.PNG (2.4 KiB) Viewed 3108 times
When we zoom in a bit, it looks like this.
Beam Spring overshoot 1.PNG
Beam Spring overshoot 1.PNG (32.88 KiB) Viewed 3108 times
There are three different heights and three baselines to account for the flat stuff, the rounded ends and the big curves. Will any of this make a difference with letters that are less than 10mm high? I don't know, but I look forward to finding out.

BTW, IBM took all these tricks and pretty much threw them out the window when it came to the Model F font but that is a rambling diatribe for another time!
Last edited by Zed on 18 Jul 2017, 22:34, edited 1 time in total.

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emdude
Model M Apologist

18 Jul 2017, 21:52

This is wonderful, thanks so much for sharing (the links too) Zed! Very fascinating stuff.

I hope you'll write up a post on your observations and work on the Model F font at some point!

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

19 Jul 2017, 16:20

tigpha wrote: Hi Zed, It's a pleasure to read about the degree of care and attention to detail you're lavishing on the design. The typographical "optical anomalies" actually make a difference, at least to my eye (used to be a graphic design and typography geek).

Related I suppose to the debate raging elsewhere on DT about the kerning of "SHIFT" vs. "SHIF T" because of limitations in plastics injection moulding technology.

Hi Rsbseb, would you accept orders from a Limey in Blighty? And what is the price-bracket you're aiming for?
We plan on accepting orders from any location we allowed to ship to. UK is no problem. As for pricing I am not sure yet and do not want to speculate openly at this point as there are a few variables that will affect pricing such as material costs at time of production and overall demand. Initially we will open with what will amount to a group buy followed up with an ecommerce site to sell surplus sets and al-a-cart pieces. Group buy pricing will be cheaper.

The SHIFT VS. SHIF T is not related to limitations of plastic injection technology, there is no reason not to do it correctly. In my opinion SHIF T is sloppy and is probably related to a tooling process someone was unwilling to sort out.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

19 Jul 2017, 18:06

Zed wrote: I have been plugging away the last week putting the finishing touches on the Beam Spring font. I came to the conclusion that it is actually more of a 'real' font than I had originally thought.
Do you plan to release this as a TTF/OTF file font with a reasonably open license when you're done? I've been using a font called "Technic" in my documentation and other things for some time now, and I'd like this better.

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Zed

19 Jul 2017, 18:34

XMIT wrote: Do you plan to release this as a TTF/OTF file font with a reasonably open license when you're done? I've been using a font called "Technic" in my documentation and other things for some time now, and I'd like this better.
I haven't really looked much into what it would take to turn it into a real font yet. Right now, it is just an .svg file but I have seen references to several programs that would allow it to be converted. There would not be any lower case letters and I haven't done any other glyphs/characters that are not directly keyboard related so it's utility may be limited. Definitely something to think about doing after I finish this and the XT font.

str8away

16 Aug 2017, 00:54

Any updates on this? Sorry just super excited about it.

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

22 Aug 2017, 17:45

Sorry for not updating, I haven't had much to update on. Real life has demanded a lot from me over the last few weeks as it has for my son. Now for some good news, We have started the millwork on the die sinks for production tooling, this is actually a very big deal. Attached is a picture of one of the dies for the single unit keys. We plan on setting time aside to get some traction this week so hopefully there will be something more substantial to report soon.
grdie.jpg
grdie.jpg (318.16 KiB) Viewed 2778 times

Jampu

23 Aug 2017, 02:13

Very exciting! Just want to make sure - these are going to be only one profile, right?

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

23 Aug 2017, 02:59

Yes they are all the same profile and are very close to the originals in dimension. The big difference is the spherical top, and colors, and really cool fonts and .... ?

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Techno Trousers
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23 Aug 2017, 04:00

If you're working on production tooling, does that mean the prototypes all went well, or is this work that's not specifically related to the shapes of the molds?

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

23 Aug 2017, 04:57

Techno Trousers wrote: If you're working on production tooling, does that mean the prototypes all went well, or is this work that's not specifically related to the shapes of the molds?
There is more to the production tooling than just the mold cavity itself. All the caps excepting the space bars use the same mold base. The die you see above is for a 1u cap and will be used to produce a cavity insert for the caps in the evaluation sets (prototypes). Because this project is intended to be a direct replacement for an existing profile I'm not expecting there to be any serious issues and the initial tooling will likely rollover into use for the production sets. To be safe we are focusing on just the 1u cap right now, but all the tooling engineering will carry over to the rest of the keycaps. The mold cavities will be replaceable and if we need to make any changes we won't be starting over from the beginning. This approach is going to help keep costs down as we tool up.

:D

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

23 Aug 2017, 05:18

So cool! Thanks for the detailed explanation.

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Techno Trousers
100,000,000 actuations

06 Oct 2017, 04:08

Wow, I can't believe I was the last one to post In this thread. Do you have any updates for us, rsbseb? This is one of my most anticipated projects in keyboardland!

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

08 Oct 2017, 04:03

Sorry I should have posted here as well as in the off topic section. I am recovering from a serious car wreck. (I got hit by someone driving on the wrong side of the road). It's taking me longer to get back up to speed than I expected. My son has been busy with a new baby as well as a new position at work. I am hoping to have the evaluation sets out by Thanksgiving, By then we should be in a better position to lay out a path for scheduling a production run.

This is Josephine, my first grand child, a little ray of light in a challenging time. ;)
Spoiler:
Josephine..jpg
Josephine..jpg (72.17 KiB) Viewed 2217 times

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Zed

08 Oct 2017, 05:07

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and congrats on the new grand daughter!

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Techno Trousers
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08 Oct 2017, 05:13

Oh, wow. Bad news and good news together! I'm so glad to hear you're recovering, and that girl is just adorable.

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ramnes
ПБТ НАВСЕГДА

08 Oct 2017, 19:45

Congratulations rsbseb! And please do take some rest. ;)

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

13 Nov 2017, 16:28

Closing in on 2 months since my wreck and my recovery is taking longer than I expected. I am considerably behind with pretty much everything right now. SBS is probably going to have to remain parked for a couple of months. I'll keep everyone informed.

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Techno Trousers
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13 Nov 2017, 17:28

Thanks for the update. Take care of yourself!

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Techno Trousers
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04 Jan 2018, 03:09

Happy New Year, everyone! rsbseb, I hope you're doing much better, and that 2018 will be the year of Spherical Buckling Spring goodness.

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Scottex

10 Feb 2018, 19:56

Take care and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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rsbseb
-Horned Rabbit-

15 Feb 2018, 21:10

UPDATE: I promised to keep everyone informed on the status of SBS and I know it's been a bit of a moving target. I am out of physical therapy and going back to work full time next week. This milestone should soon provide me with the cash flow to move forward with SBS once again.

My son and I are currently reviewing our capacity to make a short production run on the 1u caps for testing and have negotiated a suitable space to do so. This will not happen overnight and will take 2-3 months to get set up at earliest as this is still a hobby venture. If everything goes smoothly we could possibly see a full production run later this summer.

If along the way it looks like the project is going to be unfeasible to pursue in the short term we will consider releasing all our digital work as open source so anyone wanting to print one-off sets or do short runs of their own can do so. I'll keep in touch with any updates. For the next several weeks I will be focused on settling in with my new employer so I will probably be MIA.

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Techno Trousers
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15 Feb 2018, 22:39

Great news! I'm so glad you are recovered. Best of luck in your new job, and I'll look forward to future updates.

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FXT
XT

15 Feb 2018, 22:59

Fantastic news, I love spherical keycaps and a set for my Fs would be amazing. Glad to hear you are doing better too.

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ekeppel

15 Feb 2018, 23:01

Thanks for the update! Very glad to hear you are recovering well. :-)

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