Beam Spring 104+SSK Reproduction Project! First Batch In Stock, Shipping early next year after New Model F Project

Ellipse

07 Aug 2021, 07:19

Today is the public launch of the Brand New Beam Spring Keyboards Project! For those not familiar, I also coordinate and continue to mail out all of the Brand New Model F Keyboards, a project which has more than $1.6 million in orders so far, and will continue to mail them out before the beam spring project continues.

To repeat, the new beam springs don't ship and are not a focus until I've sent out the new Model F Keyboards.

This project is based on reservations. You need to sign up on the interest form to reserve your Beam Spring Keyboard so please sign up if interested. I expect to offer these keyboards first come, first served based on the timestamp of when you signed up on the interest form!

Interest form link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIp ... sp=sf_link


Details on the features and pricing are below. This was designed to be announced after the new Model F project ended but there was another project in the works to reproduce the beam spring module exactly (good for the purposes of spare parts for the original keyboards), so I thought it would be a good time to post.

With some down time a while back before orders started going out for the Brand New Model F Keyboards project, the very first beam spring keyboards in probably four decades have been successfully manufactured and assembled. Injection molded tooling, no 3D printed parts!


2021-08-06_23-38-40.jpg
2021-08-06_23-38-40.jpg (677.92 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-38-53.jpg
2021-08-06_23-38-53.jpg (911.13 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-40-18.jpg
2021-08-06_23-40-18.jpg (529.84 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-40-30.jpg
2021-08-06_23-40-30.jpg (543.19 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-41-05.jpg
2021-08-06_23-41-05.jpg (300.59 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-42-10.jpg
2021-08-06_23-42-10.jpg (731.74 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-42-41.jpg
2021-08-06_23-42-41.jpg (776.94 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-44-58 - Copy.jpg
2021-08-06_23-44-58 - Copy.jpg (670.13 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-44-58.jpg
2021-08-06_23-44-58.jpg (334.2 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
2021-08-06_23-45-34.jpg
2021-08-06_23-45-34.jpg (408.5 KiB) Viewed 7878 times
STATUS

* 150 Keyboards completed and in stock now. The next batch of 150 will be on the next container ship, expected to arrive later this year.

*Please note that although the first batch of 150 Brand New Beam Spring Keyboards (a mix of 104 Key and SSK style) keyboards is assembled and in stock, nothing is shipping until I get out the new Model F keyboards (except maybe a "beta tester" sample or two).

* In no way has the beam spring project caused a delay of the Model F project. The beam spring project was only completed as the factory was either waiting for stuff before continuing the Model F assembly or finished assembling the Model F parts on hand.

SUMMARY OF EVERYTHING THIS BUY INCLUDES

*Reproduction IBM 104-Key Full Size and 84-Key SSK style Beam Spring Keyboards, made to the exact original parts specifications with some key (pun intended!) exceptions:

* New feature: Uses regular Cherry MX compatible keys. The keyboard uses your Cherry MX type key sets! No need to be limited to special IBM sets. The key module design has been updated to be MX compatible. See below for the expected double shot Cherry MX style key set offering.

* New ultra-low height capacitive beam spring modules to allow for the most compact Beam Spring keyboard design! Since we did not need the metal bar for the old style IBM keys in each beam module, I was able to keep the exact IBM design but cut out only the space in the module that did not affect the key press distance. Key travel distance is the same as IBM; the two critical metal parts in the modules are the same (the fly plate and the rectangular piece of metal it attaches to). Besides that, the beam modules still are the exact same design and dimensions as the originals, so it is a 100% reproduction in the performance sense, with one improvement: the two small posts inside the beam module have been enlarged slightly for an even snappier and louder sound when the flipper moves up to hit the inside of the module as the key is pressed. This means however that they are not drop in replacements for the originals. In addition, I scrapped the inner foam and contamination shields above the modules; the beam modules friction fit directly to the case tops using a locked/keyed connector (see photos below). There is some foam below the PCB as a noise shield for the capacitive sensing as well as an aid to help ensure a tight fit of the beam modules against the PCB. The keyboard will not win any design awards but it is a modern beam spring keyboard which is what counts the most! The keyboard case uses countersunk Torx style screws.

* Each keyboard is expected to include a small first aid kit of a few spare fully assembled beam modules for future usage.

* xwhatsit, QMK, and Via compatibility. Full NKRO. USB-C connectivity with an externally accessible USB-C port for easy cable removal. PCB has been designed so that it uses the same open source xwhatsit Model F controllers (16 columns x 8 rows)

* LED lock lights on the 104-key model. They come with just holes as the factory default so you can see a bit of the LEDs through them, but you can put an overlay that can be purchased from Unicomp to make it look like the Model M keyboards (tan brown overlay or the modern looking black color overlays.

* Layout Customization options: Two choices only, besides the fact that you can choose your own Cherry MX key set. As opposed to the vast customizability of the Model F offerings the New Beam Spring Keyboard Project only has two choices: 104 Key ANSI or 84 Key ANSI. Every keyboard has an aluminum ultra-compact case and black powdercoating. If interested in ISO please let me know in the interest form but that's not a likely possibility.

* Solenoid possibility. There is room for a solenoid, though the New Beam Spring Keyboards are too thin to accept the extra beefy custom solenoids offered with the Model F project. A slightly smaller solenoid is expected to be made available for the beam spring keyboards, closer to the smaller solenoids originally offered by IBM in many of their beam spring keyboards.

* Possibility of offering Double shot keys: I may order a small batch of them to include as an add-on option - the color schemes may be limited to the pictured color scheme or black/white like the beam spring originals. Please express your interest in the interest form

* Cost: Approximately $500 to $600 each for the early birds - about $4 or so per module if you think about it (plus the cost of every other part of the keyboard)! Rather than the made to order model of the Brand New Model F Project, for this one I have already purchased two batches of 150 keyboards each at a higher expense than expected due to project cost overruns. Instead of increasing the price for everyone I expect to offer the first 100 keyboards at one price as a reward to the early birds. Then the next group will be offered at $100 or so higher in pricing, and the final remaining units will be offered $100 more than the last group.

Notes and Disadvantages of Beam Spring Modules

* Many of you have heard of the beam spring keyboards but have never tried one. They are very different from Model F keyboards in several ways.

* First, the beam spring keys wobble noticeably, just like old fashioned typewriter keys if you've ever typed on one. However my reproductions wobble much less than the keys in my two original beam spring keyboards as I made the tolerances tighter. It may take some time to get used to typing on it but not too much stands up to the uniqueness of the IBM Beam Spring typing experience! MX stabilizers are expected to be included but I've found that the beam mechanism actually works better without stabilizers for the most part - only the space bar needs a stabilizer. The modules are wide enough to allow an extra wide key, even like the right shift key, to work 100% even pressing it on the edges. IBM's beam spring keys were kept not too big so they did not require stabilization outside of the space bar, to my knowledge.

* Next, the beam spring modules require more work to maintain, though the keyboard comes fully assembled (besides you having to install the keys themselves). Documentation and videos will be provided in the future. The main issue is that the fly plates (the metal parts that connect to the flippers) can easily separate and require opening up the keyboard for repair. The advantage with the new Beam Spring keyboards is that the keyboard case opens up and you have direct access to the beam modules - just open up the bottom of the keyboard. For this reason the beam spring keyboards are only for those willing to learn how to repair and maintain these keyboards, not for those who just want a keyboard with 100% uptime.

* Given the smaller case made of aluminum, and the slightly snappier beam modules as described above, the sound is not going to match IBM's 40 year old beam spring keyboards exactly. Please don't expect that. These are not exact reproductions of beam spring keyboards, case and all; these are reproductions of the IBM beam spring modules (with some upgrades noted above). There is far less case, inner foam, and other materials to deaden and dampen the sound of the new Beam Spring Keyboards compared to the originals.

* I want to reiterate again that in no way is this project being prioritized over the new Model F project, for which I am continuing to mail out orders and will continue doing so for the remainder of this year into early next year. Nothing's happening with the beam springs for now: the beam spring keyboards are going to sit in their boxes until the Model F keyboards have gone out. Although the first batch of keyboards are in hand I will note that these specifics are all subject to change and subject to typographical error.
Last edited by Ellipse on 07 Aug 2021, 09:27, edited 18 times in total.

Ellipse

07 Aug 2021, 07:21

And here are some various manufacturing photos and parts photos. The first photo shows the very first prototype beam metal parts, with a little extra metal where it shouldn't be! This was fixed of course for the production parts.
beam metal parts.jpg
beam metal parts.jpg (306.88 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (1).jpg
beam (1).jpg (92.33 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (2).jpg
beam (2).jpg (44.87 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (3).jpg
beam (3).jpg (93.26 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (4).jpg
beam (4).jpg (241.74 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (5).jpg
beam (5).jpg (181.32 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam (6).jpg
beam (6).jpg (630.63 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam barrel mold - Copy.jpg
beam barrel mold - Copy.jpg (309.69 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
beam flipper mold.jpg
beam flipper mold.jpg (114.46 KiB) Viewed 7870 times
Last edited by Ellipse on 07 Aug 2021, 08:09, edited 1 time in total.

John Doe

07 Aug 2021, 07:23

OMG

User avatar
ironicmoustache

07 Aug 2021, 07:36

I've been telling people that I no longer have an upgrade path (so to speak) after this F77 but looks like I was... very wrong.

User avatar
Bjerrk

07 Aug 2021, 08:36

Great work, very impressive!

Just wanted to note that I would much prefer an ISO layout - would be a great option to have available.

User avatar
Bjerrk

07 Aug 2021, 08:47

Ellipse wrote:
07 Aug 2021, 07:19
* [...] The main issue is that the fly plates (the metal parts that connect to the flippers) can easily separate and require opening up the keyboard for repair. The advantage with the new Beam Spring keyboards is that the keyboard case opens up and you have direct access to the beam modules - just open up the bottom of the keyboard. For this reason the beam spring keyboards are only for those willing to learn how to repair and maintain these keyboards, not for those who just want a keyboard with 100% uptime.
How worried should we be about this - do you expect it to be a common occurrence? Reliability is one of the things I really appreciate about mechanical keyboards.

pveentjer

07 Aug 2021, 09:43

What is the height of the keyboard (including the keys) compared to the F77?

User avatar
Scarpia

07 Aug 2021, 10:13

Holy crap Ellipse! I thought my F77 was the ultimate endgame board and then you go and do this?!!?

RIP my wallet.

One thing: could you clarify if the Interest Form is a binding order? I submitted myself but I am not 100% sure I can defend coughing up $600 on another luxury keyboard in the short term. But I want to, I really want to :-)

mode1ace

07 Aug 2021, 10:49

Nice.

I'll only be interested if ISO layouts are offered though, so I hope that'll be a thing.

Heisenberg122

07 Aug 2021, 12:10

ISO layout will be available, right?

User avatar
webwit
Wild Duck

07 Aug 2021, 12:48

No chance of hhkb layout?

User avatar
thefarside

07 Aug 2021, 12:53

Wow. That’s amazing! I submitted an interest form just in case it didn’t make it through. As always, thanks again for recreating these amazing keyboards! I’d be interested in a demo video if you have one.

RaoulRod

07 Aug 2021, 14:25

I second the request for a demo video! (Already submitted my info on the form!)

User avatar
wobbled

07 Aug 2021, 14:49

This is extremely impressive, definitely interested in one of these
Nice to see the cost was kept sensible too, at least compared to current beamspring prices.

User avatar
darkcruix

07 Aug 2021, 15:03

Jaw Dropping

goofy9x

07 Aug 2021, 15:18

Extremely interested. :D

nickg

07 Aug 2021, 16:06

And here I thought the f77 would be my endgame...

With the ssk style board have a numpad as an extra layer like the ibm ask did? And well basically any chance of am hhkb/f77 layout beamspring? Be still my wallet..

If I order one now how hard would it be to change the shipping address later? Planning to move next year

inozenz

07 Aug 2021, 16:29

Impressive work indeed and all praise to you, but I think for such an impressive Projekt the case design is very pale and boring...

User avatar
raoulduke-esq

07 Aug 2021, 17:09

I love you, man, but this REALLY needs a typing demo video…

User avatar
zrrion

07 Aug 2021, 17:46

I put this in the form but I'll put it here as well, standard ANSI bottom row is very unappealing and I would much rather see it use something like tsangan or WKL, the latter of which could be achieved with blockers. Additionally a split right shift would be very nice and would alleviate any possibility of stabilization issues on a long shift key.

As for the keycaps, I would only really be interested if you offer a BAE, in which case I'll buy not only sets for the boards I'd like to purchase, but also at least 1 additional set. A BAE could be stabilized exactly like an ANSI enter with the fly plate of the |/ key removed to act as a dummy switch for the upper portion so it should be very easy to implement.

The case is super boring, easily the weakest part of the project. Its a just rectangle. If the case covered the switches so that it didn't have floating switches I think it would be much better. Doing something like that could also allow for a switch plate that isn't integrated with the top case, and would make supporting multiple layouts (or the creation of aftermarket plates with different layouts) much easier.

Hanslau

07 Aug 2021, 20:28

Please make a different case. No seriously, it looks too cheap and bad.. I'm sure for cheap you can still make a decent looking case !

User avatar
darkcruix

07 Aug 2021, 22:06

Hanslau wrote:
07 Aug 2021, 20:28
Please make a different case. No seriously, it looks too cheap and bad.. I'm sure for cheap you can still make a decent looking case !
I personally like the design very much. It has something nordic or modern Japanese style. Not at all cheap, imho

User avatar
thefarside

07 Aug 2021, 22:23

darkcruix wrote:
07 Aug 2021, 22:06
Hanslau wrote:
07 Aug 2021, 20:28
Please make a different case. No seriously, it looks too cheap and bad.. I'm sure for cheap you can still make a decent looking case !
I personally like the design very much. It has something nordic or modern Japanese style. Not at all cheap, imho
I agree. Looks great. Sometimes less is more.

User avatar
Bjerrk

07 Aug 2021, 22:44

While I am not a huge fan of floating switch designs in general, I think the understated aesthetic of the case has something going for it.

I would love to see a beige version, by the way,

nickg

08 Aug 2021, 00:43

honestly i care more about the color of a case than its look. long as this one feels the same as the beam spring sitting about 2 feet from me I'll be happy. especially in an ibm ssk layout. Extra especially if I can mod it to a unix layout or there becomes an option for a unix layout.

hopefully the lower height and weird mount wont affect the feel

Hak Foo

08 Aug 2021, 02:41

I wonder if some of it is a placebo-style effect on appearance though.

I know there's something about the gestalt of a keyboard design-- an Omnikey feels durable and premium and an AT101W feels flimsy, even with the same switches installed. How muhj of the appeal of a beamspring is the switch feel alone, and how much of it is the heavy case, the relatively high typing angle, and the experience of the tall, spherical caps? I guess we'll have some real data now to find out.

I built something pretty close to my MX-mount endgame last year. It looks a lot like this, because it was a simple, cheap design that promised a solid build. But I feel like I'd love it more if it looked like a real ancient battleship, or even a Focus 9000.

User avatar
raoulduke-esq

08 Aug 2021, 04:49

Hak Foo wrote:
08 Aug 2021, 02:41
I wonder if some of it is a placebo-style effect on appearance though.
It’s almost like a “sleeper”- like who would suspect that inside this simple case that could have come from assDrop or kbdfans is a repro of one of the most beloved switches of all time.

Liopleus

08 Aug 2021, 09:30

Does it have trouble registering keys pressed in quick succession like the original beamspring boards?

xxhellfirexx

08 Aug 2021, 09:41

Liopleus wrote:
08 Aug 2021, 09:30
Does it have trouble registering keys pressed in quick succession like the original beamspring boards?
If you are talking about Thomas' original review video, that problem was because the solenoid extend/retract time was too slow to keep up with the keypresses. Once that setting was changed, it is fine. Beamsprings have no trouble keeping up with 100+ WPM.

ZyBeR

08 Aug 2021, 11:26

This is very exiting and I would very much like to get my hands on a board -- but as already been pointed out, the case (in my eyes) looks terrible and should be given some more attention. How about looking for an already proven designer to help you, like ai03 for instance? I'm sure it wont be hard to get someone onboard a projekt as unique as this!

If you want to keep cost down I wouldn't mind a layered acrylic case or even just a stl-file so we can print it ourselves.

If somehow possible, please try to use pcb mounted stabs.

FANTASTIC WORK I'm really looking forward to a typing test video 8-)

Post Reply

Return to “Group buys”