Keyboard

A collection of mechanical keyboards that I have at my disposal, including information on all the accessories like keycaps, switches and cables.

Keyboard

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

RAMA M60-A

RAMA M60-A LNY20 Kuro

My primary keyboard is the RAMA M60-A LNY20 Kuro. I built it with the internal silicone dampener, using Durock V2 screw-in stabilizers that I lubed with Super Lube 21030.

The switches that I use with the M60 right now are the Anubis, spring-swapped with intensely lubed Flashquark 67g two-stage extension springs and overall lubed with Tribosys 3204.
I decided to give them a try on my main board and I’m very pleased by the feel and sound. On the space bar I use an Anubis switch with an 80g symmetric long spring to make it more snappy and compensate for the heavy MT3 bar with dampening foam.

If you’re eyeing for the Anubis but weren’t sure because of their noticeable spring ping and their light weight, I can recommend modding them with lubed 67g long springs. The feel as well as the sound is significantly better and will definitely make Boba U4T users jelly.

RAMA M60-A LNY20 Kuro + modded Anubis 67g

As for the keycaps, I’m using the MT3 White-on-Black. The space bar contains the Kbdfans 3.5mm 7U space bar foam. I have an Archetype KAT Iron Kolkrabba artisan that I use for the escape key. The height of that artisan fits the MT3 numrow height perfectly and the Kolkrabba, paired with the M60-A gold back weight gives it a very unique pirate look.

The M60 is my end-game keyboard, as it combines purism, simplicity and beautiful aesthetics with a very deep/heavy sound and feel. Even though it’s typical RAMA, meaning it is not the most sophisticated engineering, it completely suits my needs for a solid yet minimal HHKB keyboard that’s not too flimsy but neither a heavy tank.

I’m using the M60-A as my daily-driver on the Linux workstation.

The album shows photos of the RAMA M60-A LNY20 Kuro with the following key cap sets:

  • Drop MT3 White on Black
  • Archetype KAT Iron Kolkrabba

RAMA KARA

RAMA KARA Iced

My secondary keyboard is the RAMA KARA Iced. Just like the M60-A, the KARA is a HHKB layout keyboard and I also built it with the internal dampener and Durock screw-in stabilizers, that I lubed with Super Lube 21030.

On the KARA I use JWK Harimau 67g. They sound pretty good on the dampened keyboard and give it a very premium feel, even though it’s only an ABS case.

I change the keycaps that I use on the KARA every now and then. At the moment I’m using Matt3o’s MT3 3277, because they fit the look very nicely. Before, I had biip’s Extended 2048 custom key cap set with glyph modifiers and Katakana alphas.

Even though I prefer the rougher PBT structure of the biip 2048, I don’t particularly like the off-white of the biip set.

Look at that subtle off-white coloring; the tasteful thickness of it… Oh my God, it even has a watermark.
– Patrick Bateman

I find KAT as well as MT3 perfect for typing and observed that my precision and speed with these two profiles are way above any other profile, including Cherry. After trying all sorts of different profiles, I found that the Cherry profile is my least preferred one and feels very awkward to type on. Additionally, the sound of the bigger MT3 keycaps is significantly thockier.

I have a silver 藤原とうふ店 (Fujiwara Tofu Store) decal on the back of the keyboard, simply because I liked how perfectly it fit the back plate. Obviously it only makes sense on a KBDfans Tofu60 or Tofu65 case, though, and I have it purely for the aesthetics.

The album shows photos of the RAMA KARA Iced with the following key cap sets:

  • KPrepublic PBT Gentleman
  • Kbdfans NP PBT
  • Kbdfans KAT BoW 226 PBT Blank
  • biip MT3 Extended 2048
  • Drop MT3 White on Black

Kbdfans DZ60 rev3

60% Kbdfans DZ60

My backup keyboard is a frankensteined Kbdfans DZ60 rev3 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 Kbdfans NP PBT Blank set.

I’m undecided whether sell this board or re-solder it to an actual HHKB layout. I would need to order the required plate as well as an HHKB case, since the one that I have it in won’t cover the corners. If I should find a used Sangeo60 or D60 HHKB I might give re-soldering a try - unless I haven’t got rid of it before.

The album shows photos of the Kbdfans DZ60 with the following key cap sets:

  • KPrepublic PBT Gentleman
  • Kbdfans NP PBT
  • Kbdfans NP PBT Blank

Vinpok Taptek

The Vinpok Taptek is another 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, even though they weren’t lubed at all. It’s a better typing experience than on the integrated butterfly keyboard though.

Keychron K1

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.

Keycaps

KAT Iron Kolkrabba Artisan

The following list is an inventory of all the keycaps I have available. While I stick to the MT3 White-on-Black for my primary keyboard, I usually play around with different combinations on my secondary.

  • Kbdfans NP PBT Latin/Katakana
  • Kbdfans NP PBT Blank
  • Kbdfans KAT BoW 226 Blank
  • Kbdfans KAT BoW 226 Katakana Alphas
  • KPrepublic PBT Gentleman
  • biip MT3 Extended 2048
  • Matt3o MT3 3277
  • Drop MT3 White-on-Black
  • Drop MT3 Black-on-White

Additionally, I have the following artisans:

  • Clear Gen.s Monitor Screen V2
  • KAT Iron Kolkrabba Rust
  • M89 Kolkrabba
  • RAMA LNY20 Artisan

Switches

Switches

I have the following switches around and swap them on my secondary keyboard from time to time. On my primary keyboard I usually stick to a switch for a long period of time.

  • kailh BOX Jades 50g, factory lubed
  • kailh BOX Pale Blue 60g, factory lubed
  • kailh BOX Burnt Orange 60g, factory lubed
  • kailh BOX Dark Yellow 70g, factory lubed
  • ZealPC Zilent V2 80g (Flashquark long two-stage), lubed with Tribosys 3204 Spring-swapped
  • Gazzew Boba U4T clear top 68g, lightly factory lubed
  • Gazzew Boba U4T, *nixdork tops, 65g Gazzew springs, lubed with Krytox 205g0 Frankenswitches
  • Gazzew Boba U4 bottoms, Outemu Sky stems, *nixdork tops, 72g (Gazzew multi-stage), lubed with Krytox 205g0 Frankenswitches
  • Mechs on Deck Anubis 67g (Flashquark long two-stage), lubed with Tribosys 3204 Spring-swapped
  • JWK Harimau 67g, lubed with Tribosys 3204

Some of the switches are modded, filmed and/or lubed, usually in order to achieve smoothness and weight.

I’m looking forward to try further (Franken)switches:

  • Soju switches, made from C3 Equalz Kiwi bottoms, Lumia stems, Boba U4T tops
  • Zykos, made from Zilent V2 bottoms, Halo True stems, Invyr Panda tops
  • 43 Studio OpGrey Tactile 65g
  • Shogoki Tactile 65g
  • Sp-Star Meteor Orange 67g
  • Lilac 65g
  • Durock Cerulean 65g
  • Durock T1 Dark Amber 65g
  • JWK Taro Ball 65g
  • Amethyst Tactile, 68g symmetric long
  • Durock T1 or Durock Silent T1 housing bottom, Gateron Ink V2 housing top, Gazzew Boba U4 stem
  • Tecsee Sapphire, 68g symmetric long
  • AJAZZ Kiwis, 68g symmetric long

Deskmats

I have the following deskmats and I honestly regret getting them.

  • Chenyi Keyboard Switch Teal
  • Chenyi Keyboard Switch Gradient
  • Archetype Kolkrabba Kolorbeast
  • Archetype Kolkrabba Abyss

The Chenyi deskmats are quite okay in regard of their print quality and materials. They do not have any distinct odor to them and are comfortable to use. However, the actual design is very sluggish and not good at all. The black outlines are skewed, have different thicknesses and all in all the whole switch looks rather badly drawn. On top of that there are many details that hit the eyes, like the teal spot on the very last “H” in the first line of the text. It seems the designer simply smashed the next best thing he came up with on a deskmat and gave it a go.

As for the Kolkrabba deskmats, I was surprised by how bad they turned out. The mats were marketed as being distinctively different from one another in their colors and tones. However, they’re not. Unlike shown on the groupbuy posts and all the vendor images, the Abyss variant does in fact not have a grey-ish color tone but is as blue-ish tinted as the Kolorbeast. The tint of especially the Abyss deskmat is so far from grey that when I put it on my dark grey desk it in fact appears to be a dark navy blue mat.
It’s a similar story with the Kolorbeast mat. The colors look oversaturated, so much so that it lowers the overall impression of the deskmat’s quality significantly.

When I flagged these obvious differences in marketing and end result on Archetype’s discord, excuses were made like black being hard to print right and then again the color being just as it was intended. All in all the story wasn’t really checking out and especially the Abyss mat did not look at all like what was marketed. In fact, I took one of the Abyss images they have online, scaled it to a usable size and ran it through Adobe Color only to find out that none of the colors depicted on the image had more blue than red and green in them.

Adobe Color

In addition to that, both deskmats continue to have a very intense smell to them. A manual wash did not help get rid of that, neither did a machine wash. It is in fact so intense, that after having it on the table for a while and removing it, the area it stayed on on the table smells similar. To this day I can’t use the deskmats for extended periods of time.

ICs & GBs

Here is a list of interest checks and group buys that I’m interested in:

However, since most of them are Cherry profiles I don’t believe I’m going to get any of them. I would however be interested in a good quality WoB KAT set.

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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