A collection of mechanical keyboards that I have at my disposal, including information on all the accessories like keycaps, switches and cables.
I’m a huge sucker for HHKB keyboards, because their layout is minimal, yet functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The 60% form-factor for me is the perfect middle-ground for a compact and transportable keyboard that’s still comfortable to use for a wide variety of tasks. Also, if you’re in the r/mk game, the fewer amount of keys usually translates to cheaper key sets, although it tends to be harder to find sets that come with the 1.75u control key and a 7u space bar.
From a technical perspective, the HHKB layout is ideal for performing command line magic, dealing with vi shortcuts and obviously writing software. Especially on Linux there’s little to no need for a function key row or other dedicated special keys. Most sane Linux/Unix apps let you work without such keys.
For every application in which it’s possible, I use
hjkl navigation – usually
combined with the
ctrl key – since the HHKB lacks of arrow keys. However, I
do have actual arrow keys mapped to
;/[', just like the original Happy Hacking
Keyboard has. In addition, I also have arrows mapped to
aswd, in order to have
them available on both, the left as well as the right hand, simply because there
are still too many programs that require arrow keys.
“Because keyboards are accessories to PC makers, they focus on minimizing the manufacturing costs. But that’s incorrect. When America’s cowboys were in the middle of a trip and their horse died, they would leave the horse there. But even if they were in the middle of a desert, they would take their saddle with them. The horse was a consumable good, but the saddle was an interface that their bodies had gotten used to. In the same vein, PCs are consumable goods, while keyboards are important interfaces.”
– Eiiti Wada
My primary keyboard is the RAMA KARA (ICED). It’s a HHKB layout keyboard that I built using Durock screw-in stabilizers – lubed with Super Lube 21030 – and kailh BOX Jades.
I change my keycaps every now and then. Right now I’m using blank Kbdfans KAT BoW keycaps. Previous to that I used the Kbdfans NP PBT keycaps. I prefer the rougher PBT structure of the NP keys, but I can type faster and more precise on KAT.
Look at that subtle off-white coloring; the tasteful thickness of it… Oh my God, it even has a watermark.
– Patrick Bateman
Kbdfans DZ60 rev3
My secondary keyboard is a frankensteined Kbdfans DZ60 rev 3 in a 60% plastic case with a soldered WK layout, programmed as a HHKB layout. It has a 2mm case foam, GMK screw-ins and a poly-carbonate plate.
The switches are kailh BOX Jades and the keycaps are the KPrepublic Gentleman set.
I’m using this keyboard on my MacBook. I’m undecided whether to re-solder it to an actual HHKB layout – and order the required stab and poly-carbonate plate – since my current case won’t hide the HHKB corners.
The Vinpok Taptek is my backup keyboard. I got it a few years ago when I was used to the Apple keyboard layout, since it has a nearly identical layout like the MacBook.
However, the switches it comes with are awful. They are mushy and feel like they were lubed with glue. It’s a better typing experience than on the integrated butterfly keyboard though.
Like with the Taptek, I got the K1 a few years ago when I was mainly working with the Apple keyboard layout and needed an external keyboard that was similar to what I was used to back at the time.
ICs & GBs
Here is a list of interest checks and group buys that I’m excited about:
- ePBT BoW Hangul
- ePBT Travelling
- ePBT TA Origins
- ePBT Divine Plan
- ePBT Wapuro
- PBT Graydient
- SLK Dessau
- JTK Tanjun
Unpopular opinion: I neither recommend GMK sets nor look forward to get any. GMK is highly overrated and the current situation they’ve willingly put themselves (and their customers) in is a mess. In addition, I’m not a fan of neither their expensive ABS keys – a.k.a. The Shining – nor the Cherry profile. Instead, I prefer a good PBT key cap with a noticeable texture and a nice KAT or MT3 profile. While colors and lettering on PBT is hit-and-miss, when you do find a good quality set, it usually lasts a lot longer with little to none aesthetic degradation.
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