PBT keycaps and switches

(Siew Yi Liang) #1

I searched the forums and I’m surprised that these topics don’t seem to have come up before, but:

I understand that there are a lot of issues right now regarding manufacturing that have resulted in tons of delays for existing backers and that the focus is on getting those orders squared away first. However, will there be an option in the future to choose the material that keycaps are made of, specifically, using PBT keycaps instead of the current ones (which feel like ABS to me)? Same goes for switches and using Cherries instead of the Matias switches. If this was already a decision made a long time ago, could someone just re-state what the reasons were?


(Gergely Nagy) #2

I can’t provide an official answer, the information below is my recollection of current affairs:

  • To use Cherry-style switches, the PCB would need to be redesigned, keycaps likewise. With the amount of effort it takes, and the delays with keycap production, I don’t see this happening for the Model01. Future keyboards from Keyboardio might use Cherry-style switches though.
  • Keycaps: the current caps are ABS-PC. Custom sculpting PBT and labelling them would be far too expensive, as far as I remember. Again, future keyboards may have PBT keycap options (especially if they use MX switches, and standard profiles, in which case you’ll have many options).

As far as I remember, the reason for going with Matias switches was the feel and the sound (or the lack of thereof, to be precise). None of the MX options at the time had the tactility and quietness of the Quiet Click.

Again, these are just my impressions.

(Siew Yi Liang) #3

Do we have access to the CAD files for the keycaps? I couldn’t find anything on the Github. It might be interesting to see at least how much it would cost to do a custom set of PBT keycaps for the keyboard.

(Jesse) #4

At the time we made the decision about switches, Cherry had a > 18 month lead time and the Chinese options were…not good. The Matias switches were by far the best available option. Since then, the Chinese switch manufacturing landscape has matured dramatically. Because ALPS switches are a different physical form-factor than Cherry switches, changing to them would require redesigned PCBs with different LEDs, re-certification for FCC and CE, different metal key mounting plates, new keycap tooling. It’s entirely possible that we’d have to change the physical layout of the thumb arc, since ALPS switches can be placed more densely than MX switches. It’s…not a small change.

Can you talk about -why- you want PBT keycaps? The current ABS+PC caps are the best option we’ve found for durable, translucent keycaps, which are necessary to get LED shine-through.

As of now, we haven’t published the keycap models. Getting custom tooling done to make keycaps is going to be a tens-of-thousands of dollars proposition, at the low end. :confused:

(Siew Yi Liang) #5

Ah, OK, the Cherry thing seems to be a thing for boutique keyboard manufacturers…a pity.

I’m a big fan of the texture on my PBT keycaps for my Mistel Baracco (which also have LEDs and shine-through keycaps, for what it’s worth) and I find it also seems to withstand getting dirty from oils a lot better than ABS keycaps (I’ve mostly had PBT keycaps for my keyboards over the years with the exception of my Ultimate Hacking Keyboard).

Also, tens of thousands of dollars? That seems crazy…but still, it would be nice to have the keycap CAD models available so that at least I could see if someone might be willing to do a one-off sculpt or something and see how much it would cost. Or are they actually meant to be proprietary (Although I was under the impression that the keyboardio was meant to be an “open source hardware” project similar to the UHK)?

Thanks for clarifying the reasoning behind the decisions though!