The Keyboard Thread

Discussion in 'Offtopic Discussions' started by rygD, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    No, I am not trying to bring back discussion of the Pyra keyboard layout.

    I want to see and talk about your keyboards, especially custom ones. I will try to find a potato to take pictures of my black Unicomp with Linux layout. I might sneak a picture of the cheapish RGB backlit one with knock-off Cherry switches, customized with stickers.

    I have my eye on the new Model F keyboards that will eventually be manufactured. Anyone have tips on persuading someone to let you buy one that thinks that $300+ is too much for a keyboard?
     
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  2. Caine

    Caine Hardcore Member

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    [Homer voice]Hmmm...Model F *drewl*[/Homer voice]

    It is not a keyboard though. It is $300,- worth of sensory happiness and joy which happens to also function as a (really durable) keyboard.

    Give me buckling springs or give me death.
     
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  3. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    Has anyone here preordered one of those?

    For people like us it makes sense. Even after converting this person to mechanical keyboards (albeit, the Cherry blue type), I was told that even if we were millionaires it is too much for a keyboard. It isn't "a keyboard", it is "the keyboard", and between it and my Unicomp I shouldn't need another one during my life. Especially when you consider that I can reprogram the F, so if I eventually switch to Dvorak I just need to move keys around and tell it that it is a Dvorak keyboard (plus my other little changes).

    If I don't get one of those, maybe I can throw something else together for a little cheaper.
     
  4. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    I note amazon is flooding me with recommendations for super-cheap cherry clone MX keyboards, since I bought a keycap remover and o-rings for my old keyboards. The last keyboard I bought new cost 180GBP imported from Japan via Germany, which was a Cherry MX Brown keyboard made just before mechanical gaming keyboards became a thing, meaning you could buy a similar keyboard for half the cost, and they even allowed you to specify typing switches like blue and brown. I don't quite trust these clone Cherry keyboards which are under half the cost again, although if they're better than the nasty low travel Compaq PS/2 membrane keyboard I'm currently using on my build machine, because my USB keyboard is taken up with another project, they might be worth a punt at those prices.

    Over 300USD is a little much for me, even for a keyboard. I'm also not convinced by the ledge put on the case top above the f/keys, rather than the lip of the scalloped out scoop that the keys sit on on many old IBM keyboards, on the non-compact variants. I'd be interested to hear also how dye-sublimation lettering compares to the double shot moulding used on other keyboards.
     
  5. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    The Cherry clone keyboards I have encountered are ok. The cheapish one I mentioned has been used in a typing-heavy office environment for a year or two, and other than some wear to the keys it seems to be doing fine. (New keys have always been planned, just hasn't happened yet.)

    That ledge, where I will put my pen, is from the originals (Model F predates Model M, so the lip came after the ledge). I use the Model M lip in the same way, and did when I was a kid, too, as well as that area above the keyboard on Apple IIs. That, the weight, and the color (I would go for Industrial "Grey" most likely) is why I prefer that case over the aluminum one. Well, there is the classic look overall as well, but that is partially a result of the other things. Or the other way around. I wonder if the lip/ledge/etc. was put there so we could put our pens there.

    Dye sublimation holds up fine in my experience. I have seen some messed up keys, including some that have started to go shiny, and the markings were still there. If you push it to the extreme beyond that double shot is obviously going to last better, as it goes goes all the way through the top of the key. If my keys started to get slick I would probably replace them, although by that point I would probably know where all the keys are, so the replacement would be because of the feel, not the look. I would say dye sub < double shot. I would love double shot in some odd font for IBM style keyboards, maybe in an odd looking color combination. For me, the plastic used is far more important than how they mark the keys.
     
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  6. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    K-type
    In theory I have one of these on the way:
    Code:
    https://input.club/k-type/
    I qualify that because Mass Drop & Input Club are quarreling over ownership of Halo key rights.
    In theory this will be a truly 'open' keyboard - but the legal wrangling seems to contradict that vibe.

    Vortex Core
    I have one of these. Switching over to it proved to be... difficult.
    Code:
    https://www.amazon.com/Vortex-Core-40-Mx-Brown-Aluminium/dp/B01N6N6TJL
    Typing sentences on it is pretty easy. Gaming on it - wow is it difficult with anything that requires F1-F12 keys.
    The firmware update fixes the Tab/Capslock key to put Tab on the top layer.
    Overall quality - fantastic. Novelty & nerd factor - off the chart. Actual usability - Fn layer isn't printed on the keys - even the key mappings in the manual are wrong. Mine has Cherry MX Brown keys and I've installed double o-rings to lessen the bottom out clack to see if I could make it 'tolerable enough' for an office environment - close, maybe - if I could ever get used to the super-compact layout.
    If you search hard enough you will find that there is someone out there developing an open source firmware for it - I haven't tried it yet.

    Unicomp EnduraPro
    Code:
    http://www.pckeyboard.com/page/product/UB40PGA
    I bought one of these to see if it would be a viable replacement for my Thinkpad Ultranav keyboards. I was wrong.
    The pointer stick is like a floppy joystick stuck between the keys - not at all like the IBM Trackpoint mechanism.
    The whole keyboard is plastic and more than a bit flexy. Key feel is -ok-, but nothing like the quality of an IBM type M.
    If you're looking at these expecting a steel chassis - nope. Removable chord - nope. It was a $100 disappointment.

    Thinkpad Ultranav
    I actually own 5 of these in various flavors. Excellent keyboards to fit the compromise of a quiet office environment where anything that clicks is seen as offensive.
    Code:
    https://www.geek.com/chips/review-lenovo-thinkpad-ultranav-keyboard-724321/
    I have:
    2 'full sized' with the number pad on the right with 4 symbols per key & 3 of them in Chinese.
    2 'compact' without the number pad with 2-3 symbols per key with 1-2 of them in Tiwanese (?).
    1 'compact' without the number pad and the trackpad & trackpad buttons dumbed out to a flat dumb pad - not really an ultranav at that point.

    IBM Type M
    Code:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_M_keyboard
    I have several full sized type M PS/2 port keyboards. Wicked fast to type on once you get used to them. Unacceptable in most quiet offices now due to the insanely loud but great feel tactile click mechanisms.
    I also have one 'Type M Compact' that came from a PS/2 Model 25 (monochrome, no HDD) computer I used to own. The best compact keyboard I've ever owned - but again, unusable in any modern office environment.

    IBM Model F
    Code:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC_keyboard#/media/File:IBM_Model_F_XT.png
    I have one of these - and the IBM 5150 PC to connect it to. It doesn't get much use these days.

    Quad Folding Keyboards
    I own 3 of these. One with a Palm Pilot / TRG Pro connector, one with a USB connector, one with bluetooth.
    Code:
    https://www.amazon.com/PalmOne-Portable-Keyboard-Palm-Handhelds/dp/B00004WHF9
    I also have a smattering of other keyboards & wireless keyboards, but those get even further from the topic here.

    The @rygD link above to a 'Brand New Model F' keyboard - those aren't model F. If it doesn't have F1-F10 on the left and a bi-level enter key, it isn't a model F.
     
  7. dracmas

    dracmas Still Fresh

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    Any opinion on the razor ornata chroma keyboard? I've had mine about a month and it's been pretty decent for me so far.
     
  8. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    I don't know what officially qualifies a keyboard as a Model F, but I think it not being made by IBM would be the most obvious point. On that note, they are Model F keyboards because the manufacturer calls them that. Even if it would be otherwise technically incorrect, it could be like the case of misusing the name RJ45, people know what you mean even if that isn't really what it is.

    I do wish they had F keys, especially if I play games where I need to use them frequently. I miss the big L shaped return/enter keys. What ever happened to those, and where did I encounter them?

    The cheap RGB keyboard user wanted something like that K-type, so maybe I can use that as a way to get the one I want. The Vortex Core would not work for me. I like my keyboards big, and would rather have too many keys than too few. Unicomps have a lot of areas where they are inferior to the real deal, especially that joystick thing, it seems. Did IBM ever make something like that, and if not what were Unicomp thinking? I am content with mine, and might get another if they ever make those smaller/compact ones they were talking about.

    If you don't plan on using the 5150 and keyboard, try to find them a nice home with someone that will use them. I should probably do the same with some of my underused hardware.
     
  9. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    I generally like compact keyboards - full sized layout in a compact case. I find myself carrying keyboards around quite often to plug into things, and the less you have to carry the better. Also, compact depth makes them easier to fit on any small ledge where you're working.

    I guess that ledge is there for pens, and it also looks a good depth for keeping business cards on, although I don't know if they were today's standard size back in the 60s when the model-F was new.

    I wonder also if those $300 keyboard allow you to specify ctrl on the left where caps lock currently is. I've grown accustomed to swapping those on modern keyboards - or should I say reaccustomed, because that's where it was on the Acorn machines I grew up with. I also find I tend to clash with it quite often when typing a, and a quick click of ctrl is far less disastrous than a quick click of caps lock, although that's more of a problem on laptop keyboards and cheap membrane ones with minimal travel.
     
  10. Kippykip

    Kippykip BFG 9000

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    Despite what people say, I reckon the Rubber Dome keyboards can be really nice to type on >IF the keyboard was made in the 90s.
    I've got this Gateway 2000 keyboard that feels amazing to type on compared to this chinese gaming keyboard from ebay, despite both being dome-switch.
    I have yet to obtain a mechanical/model m keyboard.
     
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  11. DaMummy

    DaMummy Soldier Paste

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    I suddenly understand the weird looks I get when I mention my headphones, AMP/DAC, DAP, and FLAC collection....
     
  12. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Probably on non-US (international?) keyboards - they've pretty much all got the L shaped enter. I'm not sure if any designed for US layouts ever had that feature, although the original model-F did have the vertical two row enter, just it was the same width on both rows.
     
  13. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    I was doing that for a while. At one point I figured my Pandora could be used to avoid being to lug around a laptop or keyboard. Ultimately I chose to go with the reason I originally started carrying around my keyboard: comfort and familiarity. The Pandora was still better than having a laptop with me if I want planning on doing a lot of typing or work, to fill the gap until I was sitting in front of a proper computer. I wanted to get a smaller keyboard for a while to make it easier to use it in tight places...unfortunately I was spoiled by having a num pad for typing in IP addresses after years of primarily using a laptop without one, and I still prefer it. If a lack of space becomes a problem again I will look at using my Pandora again, or my Pyra if I have it by then.

    Good choice that makes a lot of sense to me (UNLESS YOU DO A LOT OF TYPING IN ALL CAPS). You can indeed. If that, and my other preferences (escape instead of ~, and F keys available somehow, amongst others) I wouldn't really be interested. I can't remember atm, but I think early IBM layouts used ctrl there. If I get one of those keyboards I would get ctrl printed on that key since that is what I would always have assigned there. One of my favorite little things about Linux before I got my Unicomp keyboard was that you could swap those keys (maybe only in the DE/GUI). The switch seems odd to me, but there is probably a completely logical reason for it, and just like Qwerty, now we are stuck with it.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 26, 2017, Original Post Date: Sep 26, 2017 ---
    I mean the one that is actually shaped like an L, not that weird thing you use over there. Lemme grab you a pic.
    --- Double Post Merged, Sep 26, 2017 ---
    Big ass enter key, courtesy of https://deskthority.net/wiki/Return_key
    [​IMG]
     
  14. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Hmm, that still looks non-US having a quote and @ key there on the left of enter. US keyboards have quote and double quote on the same key, and @ above the number 2 (where we have double quote, pleasingly symmetrically).

    It's very similar to my UK keyboard layout, except # and ~ are there on a key where half of the double width backspace should be, rather than being next to ' and @ which makes the return key a bottom heavy left L rather than the upside down lumpy one that we actually get.
     
  15. rygD

    rygD Nihilistic Mystic

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    I was showing you the key to illustrate what I was talking about. I encountered those in the US when I was young. The layout of the other keys could be someone's custom one. I know there were at least minor variations with early keyboards. That is still the case.

    I just learned that some Japanese keyboards have tiny space bars.
     
  16. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Yeah, fair enough. It just without seeing a US variant with back-L shaped enter, it's harder for me to imagine how it works.

    That said, I've just found an image on wikipedia with a backwards-L shaped enter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Qwerty.svg

    It's done versus the US ISO keyboard by taking the | and \ key which is normally 1.5 key widths wide and above enter (below the 2 wide backspace), and putting it where backspace is shrinking backspace down to a single wide key. That leaves a 1.5 wide hole which enter can grow up into, giving you the backwards L.

    It claims it's the layout used on the original PS/2 machines, but looking at images I can't see one that works like that.
     
  17. Grench

    Grench Forum Addict!

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    I actually -hated- anytime I've ever had to use the big L shaped enter key keyboards. I touch type and every time I go for \ I get Enter instead.
     
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  18. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    Ah, do you remember where you've seen those enter keys then?
     
  19. MrConfusion

    MrConfusion Very Active Member

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    If I hadn't already taken care of my keyboard needs for the rest of my life I'd buy one of these in an instant! Assuming they work as advertised I'm sure they are going to be lifelong workhorses for some lucky people.
    The thing about keyboards is you don't "get" what a good keyboard is until you find one, like one and eventually start to rely on one. And that's not going to happen to people who update their keyboards along with their laptops every 2 years like most do these days. Trying keyboards out can be expensive - I for example benefited from being able to try them at work and then make an informed purchase. For trying a keyboard, a week of 8 hour workdays can be quite a short time period...

    As it is and in case you wondered:
    I got HappyHacking lite, black, works without a hitch after I don't know how many years. It's covered in grime, but since it works, why clean it? I'm annoyed by the brownish keys, but luckily it never had any markings on the keys so the brown grime is not as easy to see as it would have been had it had those white labels on them. This is a PS/2 device, but with adapters it speaks USB and Bluetooth. I expect it to never die. Not as good as those old mechanical typewriter related old IBMs though - this also has a "soft" response rather than the clear "click" response. But then again if I type very slowly and quietly my wife can sleep in the next room without problems. In the mid 90's I gave up on a mechanical IBM keyboard because my roommate complained!-)
    I think the HH is the best portable Vi-keyboard ever made. Anything smaller gets difficult to type with. Loose more keys and Vi gets difficult to use. But this is really a "toss it in the bag on a whim"-board. Superb!

    Besides, the HH is only the "casual" keyboard for me. If I know I'm going to do a typing session that lasts a couple of hours in one go at home I got The Tool: Datahand :). Now that one was a 500 dollar investment back in the day (a "relative smuggled import" from the US as prices would have been far higher in Europe). And I think that was at a discount! But that one is also something I hope will last forever. It has a very curious mechanism for detecting keyclicks: it uses light, the same way old mechanical mice did. Only mice had this rotating disc with holes whereas this keyboard simply blocks (or does not block) light. I noticed that, because the sensors need cleaning every 5 years or so :-(. The thing used to be brownish white in color (i.e. beige, like the Amiga 500 and most computers at the time)... mine is simply turd coloured these days and I'm not sure it would be compatible with the bacteria of anyone other than me's hands anymore. So it's kind of got this "genetic DNA safety" like some guns in games and movies sometimes do?-) Yay! My keyboard is genetically encoded, unless you want yourself a nasty rash ;-).
     
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  20. levi

    levi Still fresh, damnit!

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    The benefit of switches that adhere to the Cherry MX standard is you can get replacement keysets quite cheaply. The steel backplate of a decent keyboard will probably go rusty after a few years, but should still last a lifetime or two.

    I'll just note that the drawing of a keyboard switch on that +$300 keyboard didn't look like a drawing of a cherry MX interface.
     

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