M100 arrived - not working like I would expect and not user-friendly at all

Yesterday my M100 finally arrived and I think the concept is really good, but on the other side the online documentation is really lacking and not guiding a new user enough. It was said that the keyboard can be configured, but will work right out of the box. This is not true in my case.

  1. Does that make me a geek, using zero-based indexing or was I just to lazy to renumber the points…!? :wink:
    Before even being able to use the keyboard one needs to update buggy firmware. :frowning:

  2. Keys do not seem to react always. This does not seem to be a problem of faulty keys, but I have the impression that this is a software / firmware problem. Honestly I do not understand this. After many years on the market I would expect that a keyboard, which just has the task to send a few codes to the PC when a key is pressed, would work flawlessly out of the box.

But when I press the command-key (“Windows-key” under Windows 10 or 11) nothing happens. I “admit” I press the key quickly – why not. When I do this on every other keyboard I own (external or laptop, cheap or expensive) the windows menu will open immediately. Not so with the M100. It does not react at all. I need to keep the key pressed for about a second till the Windows menu appears or disappears (when it is visible). Bummer :frowning: Interestingly a shortcut like Win-R works like expected, without any delay.

Then I wanted to type a text, but the input speed or reaction time is all over the place. I was pressing Enter for a few times and the keyboard did not react immediately, but then “jumped” and put in the missing Enters. Then I was pressing the a-key one time or a few times (I am not sure about that). Then the keyboard produced aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… without stopping. Even hitting Escape did not stop it. I had to unplug the keyboard. Come one. Serious? Everybody thinks I am crazy spending that amount of money on a keyboard. Not even considering that it forces you to spend a significant amount of time to configure it to be usable for plain German (because keys are missing and no explanation how to alter the layout to German or how/ where to find the missing characters like + or # or <.

But then the keyboard is not even working and doing it’s basic job. I find that very frustrating!

I now tested the keyboard with another PC (Windows 11) and the slow cmd-key is still a problem. I could not reproduce the problem with the lagging Escape-key. The other PC is running Windows 10 btw. In both cases I had my old Fujitsu-keyboard attached at the same time and it works on both PC’s like it did for years, without any problems, without lagging, without double input or other problems whatsoever.

  1. I really like the wooden enclosure and think that after some practice I will love the sculpted keycaps and how the keyboard will “feel” in daily use. The Ocean silent tactile seem also to be fine (although not really ‘tactile’ IMO - the bump is extremely soft)

  2. What I do not like is the lack of documentation and user friendliness. The one-page online help for first-timers is by far not enough IMO. Also Chrysalis is not self-explaining in the sense that it is not clear when one needs to use it and what needs to be customized elsewhere. For example I changed the layout in Chrysalis to German, but that did not alter the keyboard in any way. That just seems to be the displayed keyboard in the Chrysalis software. No information how to actually change to another language layout or make some basic customizations (assignments of chars to layers). No hint how/ where to find missing keys (INS for example). Also the layers in in the software do not make sense to me. I am told that there would be three layers. That is not true, because the Shift-Layer is not displayed at all and I do not see which chars are there and also not how to customize the Shift-layer, which clearly is another layer in addition to the displayed 3 ones. :frowning:

  3. A minor nuisance is that the left and right part of the keyboard do not match perfectly from the wood. They come clearly from different wooden parts. Luckily it still somehow fits more or less and is not horrible, but is not like advertised (I have read that somewhere that it is taken care that the halves would match).

First impression is that it is a hacker’s keyboard and surely not for the average user – even when one would be willing to adapt to new ergonomic hardware. It needs to be customized to get basic functionality but almost no (compact or introductory) help is given for that… :-o Might be o.k. for someone using an English layout, but when one uses another language and / or wants to use a custom layout one is left alone. The statement “just write an e-mail” or post in the forum to get help does not cut it. A product, which I assumed would already be majored, needs to include the documentation to be able to use it without digging in forums and so on.

I guess I sound unsatisfied and frustrated. And that is surely the case to some extent. On the other side the right half of the keyboard is looking stunning and the build quality as such seems good. :slight_smile:

Yours sounds defective. Make sure you have the latest firmware.

I reached the opposite conclusions around hacking and customization because this forum is so dead considering how many sold. QMK seems way more active. I really don’t understand. A lot of the best “hacker” features aren’t available unless you compile the firmware yourself.

Chrysalis gives you access to an easy to use subset, and is likely one of the best tools out there. You need to use the lower left “save” icon to write the changes to the keyboard.

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I purchased 2ea Model 100 keyboards and recently received them. I’m typing on one now. I am also highly experienced in keyboard customization issues, so that’s a factor.

First, I also had to work through the defective firmware they shipped with in both of my keyboards. The first one I failed once before looking for docs, then easily found the extended forum post explaining the first-time-flashing issue. I was of course a bit miffed at the extra hoops but pleased with the level of documentation that explained exactly how to get started the first time around. Having followed those once for each my boards both work normally.

Second, I have difference switches than you so I can’t comment much on that front, but not triggering at all sounds like bad switches.

Third, I think your evaluation of Chrysalis shows a weakness, but maybe not the one you think it is. They could document a bit better what the keyboard is actually doing, but your main misunderstanding seems to be on the front of what a keyboard does at a very basic level. They keyboard is not (nor can it be) responsible for sending keycodes for any language or layout. It can only send a certain set of keycodes, and no matter what keyboard you use it will always be up to software what to make those keycodes to in terms of letters and languages. As such it was no surprise to me that the UI selecting a “layout” is not changing what the computer outputs for a keycode but what the software renders for that code.

The same issue applies to SHIFT. They keyboard is not responsible for a “layer” representing SHIFT+, it only sends SHIFTDOWN, then a key, then SHIFTUP. As such it is not a layer at all. “A” and “a” or “7” and “&” are not two different keycodes that the keyboard could send something different for, they are the same keycode but used with a modifier key or not. Modifiers are handled by the OS as opposed to keyboard layers that are handled by the keyboard. You can configure keys in a layer to automatically wrap a key in a modifier, but that’s not the same as being a layer.

I can see how the limitations of what a keyboard can do at all could be better documented, but I’ve been impressed by how much millage Chrysalis and their keyboard firmware gets out of those limitations to the point of enabling me to map my keyboards almost any way I want

I don’t think any customization was necessary out of the box to get the 3 languages I work with working as expected, and getting my customizations from a previous (Kinesis) programmable keyboard moved over were likewise pretty easy.

Thanks both to you for the response and help.

I have installed the latest firmware (I think now 4 or 5 times and always selected to wipe the keyboard at the same time). I do not have the impression that my keys are not working o.k., because the keyboard reacts otherwise fine. It seems a software issue and / or my lack of understanding. But that is exactly my point. I can hand a standard keyboard to any person and they are able to use it after a half minute “instruction”. For the Model 100 this is not the case and one needs some kind of documentation and help to get started – understanding the basic concepts. Caleb’s response helped in that regard for sure!

I see also that I am not the only person, but you find different postings from people who have similar questions. And that is my point. I should not need to search through forums and so on to be able to use the basic functions of a new keyboard. I am not talking about fancy stuff, but just getting access to the characters you have on a full-size keyboard in your language. The model 100 is sold with German keycaps, but it is not provided with a German keyboard layout which can be loaded. One has to look which keys are missing and where / how to get the functionality (±key <-key…). Every buyer has to start this search… This is not how you approach a markt in a customer-centric way!

Then when looking into Chrysalis. What is “warp” meant to do? And so on… Just too many questions not answered at all!

Also basic explanations or examples how to setup the keyboard are missing. How do you find a good working position? How is the standard setup meant to be used? The middle column keys are neither easy to press with the thumb nor with the index finger – at least not when you have smaller or middle sized hands. Is it suggested to use the enter-key with the index finger or thumb? Or is it good practice not to use the dedicated Enter-key at all, but use the Fun-space combo instead (which I see in Chrysalis)? If so, why is there an Enter-key at all? Yes, of course one can configure everything to one’s liking and that is great. But there should be a well thought default layout and approach how most people will likely be happy to use the keyboard and that needs to be implemented and documented, because the M100 is too different from a standard keyboard to be self-explaining in that regard. When one sells a product for many years already, and in the thousands, that kind of documentation should surely be available. Other companies with non-standard keyboards provide that kind of documentation.

Finally how to use a custom-layout (like Colemak, but one which is not provided, for example Neo, XOY…) is also not described at all (related to that is what does it alter [or not] when you choose a language layout in the Chrysalis preferences).

Then on top my keyboard sometimes does not react at all – or was acting weird, like outlined above. When I then unplug the USB-cable and reconnect it seems to work again. This is not keyswitch related, but either a hardware defect and/ or firmware problem. The question is how do I find out if I need to return the keyboard or a firmware update or “just” using the keyboard and software in the right manner?

But enough words, I just do not understand why you seem to defend the current situation. Keyboardio seems to be a nice company and I like a lot what they do and how they do it, but just see that IMO very serious documentation gap.

To understand how the keyboard works, is there an introduction I might have missed? I understand that the Shift-layer is not a layer in that sense. But then the fun-layer is neither, right? Or what would make the fun-layer different from the Shift-layer?

I know that (virtual) keycodes are sent to the PC and then translated to whatever the operating system language layout tells. The keycodes are not visible in Chrysalis unfortunately and the custom codes one can enter are different from VK_xxx codes or the relevant hex codes Windows expects …

One part is probably solved. The not working Ctrl-key (when pressed quickly) and the not good reacting Windows-key where caused by choosing sticky modifiers in Chrysalis. In practice that makes the otherwise good option not usable. I would like to have then only sticky shift, but that is not an option in Chrysalis. :confused:

It does not get better. Just tried to compile the firmware like described in the Kaleidoscope docs. The docs are also seemingly not up-to-date and therefore following the descriptions left me with a non-working keyboard. One has to invest hours to get this thing working. And when searching the forum I see that of course I am not the first with the same problems and questions, and questions often do not get answered sufficiently :-1:

The fun layer is a separate layer, with a different mapping of key positions to key values, stored in the keyboard. Unlike the shift key (and other modifier keys), the fun key does not transmit anything to the host computer. We usually use the term “layer shift” to describe this type of key, distinguishing it from a “layer lock” key, which causes the target layer to stay active after the key is released. The overloading of the terms “shift” and “lock” are usually helpful because they do behave very similarly to the shift and CapsLock keys, but unfortunately they do sometimes cause confusion.

If that explanation wasn’t clear enough, I would be happy to elaborate.

It would probably be helpful if you share more details about what you’ve done, and what the results were. There are multiple ways to build Kaleidoscope (whether you’re using the CLI or the Arduino IDE, which operating system you’re building on), and multiple ways to flash the compiled firmware to the device. While it’s unlikely that I can help you myself (I have neither a Model100 nor a Windows computer, and build and flash Kaleidoscope from the command line), there are others who could help you get it working, and improve the documentation, but they will need more information in order to provide that assistance.

Thanks a lot Michael. Very helpful! When you explained the difference between Shift and Fun I just thought “of course”, totally logic. But before it “clicked” it wasn’t. :blush:

Regarding the problems with Kaleidoscope. I explained the details in a separate thread – thought it does not fit here.

To everyone. It is not that I do not appreciate what keyboardio does offer. I think I will love the model 100, because I think the hardware design is really great and works mostly very good. [1] What I find disappointing is the partial lack of documentation and that some things do not work as one would expect from a “simple” keyboard. Simple here means that when you just use the keyboard as is – without wanting or needing to customize. I still have not found out why the keyboard behaved weird some times by either not reacting at all or lagging behind. Happend just a few times. But for a keyboard I expect to work 100 % reliable! That is in itself nothing so spectacular and not such a strange wish, is it? And when a keyboard does offer additional functions – that is great of course and highly appreciated – this must not mean that the basic function of the keyboard is compromised – which to me it has been.

Last not least from a business point of view. A better documentation and more information would help getting more customers. What Dygma does on their YouTube channel is at the same time giving help to existing users as well as informing potential customers. Documentation and videos do not need to be flashy or produced in such a way like Dygma does – although it does not hurt and might attract an even larger audience. A video with a smartphone recorded on the desk of Jesse or someone else could already explain a lot. And the number of views does not depend on the technical or production quality of a video first, but mostly if the content is unique, relevant and presented in an easy to follow way.

Hardware-wise I think another inner thumb key on the arc is a missed chance and would give more options to every user and allow people with smaller hands to better adapt to the keyboard as well. Also the inner center keys I am not really sure right now what to think of those. For blind 10-finger typing they are not really suited, at least for my middle to somewhat smaller hand size.