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Mechanical Keyboards

1ae6e1afb4c147a4634a505c8e284625?s=47 nickhall
February 23, 2018

Mechanical Keyboards

@m3 inaugural English tech talk



February 23, 2018


  1. Mechanical Keyboards A gentle introduction

  2. About me - Hi I’m Nick - From Chicago, USA

    - M3 since August 2016 - Consumer, AI team
  3. Mechanical what, now? A keyboard design embracing high quality componentry

    using mechanical keyboard switches with an emphasis on providing a pleasant typing experience. - Durable - Customizable, programmable - Mode of artistic expression - A philosophy - A lifestyle choice - A cult a social experience
  4. Keyboards today suck - Cheap - Flimsy - Mushy -

    Largely an afterthought - Touch screens are worse, so we settle for the bare minimum
  5. So what makes your keyboard suck? - Cheap keyboards use

    rubber dome membrane switches! - Cheap to produce, cheap to replace - Key presses a rubber dome with a contact against a membrane to register a keypress (some variation, but common in cheap ones) - Creates a soft, unsatisfying feel and is generally less reliable
  6. Your laptop is not spared Scissor switches: same concept, less

  7. There has to be a better way!

  8. Mechanical switches, baby! Oh yeah Once you go mechanical...

  9. Mechanical switches: the basics Mechanical switches have a variety of

    advantages over membranes and domes: - Discrete components: individual switches can be replaced, repaired, mixed and matched - Variety of types: linear, tactile, clicky - Spring-based design that allows for adjustable weight and typing feel - Actuation point mid-keypress: no need to bottom out keys - True n-key rollover (nkro): press as many keys as you need (*limited over USB) - Durability. Switches rated for upwards of millions of presses!
  10. Hail to the Chief: Cherry MX switches - Produced by

    the Germany company, Cherry - Six main on two dimensions: tactile feel and weight - Identified by color Linear Tactile (quiet) Tactile (clicky) Light Red Blue Brown Heavy Black Green Clear
  11. Linear switches Smooth keypress. Resistance is does not change dramatically

    across the travel of the key. Cherry red and black.
  12. Tactile switches (quiet) Keypress has a small tactile ‘bump’ near

    the actuation point, giving a firmer button feel. Cherry brown and clear.
  13. Tactile switches (clicky) Same action as the quiet switches, but

    produce an audible click past the actuation point. The click can be satisfying, but it might be difficult to use in shared spaces.
  14. And the rest! - Cherry is the dominant force in

    the market, but can be expensive - Chinese Cherry clones: Gateron, Kailh, etc. - Topre: Japan-made switch type combining rubber dome and spring based designs - Buckling spring: IBM Model M keyboards and their retro throwbacks. The original clicky keyboard! - Many other smaller or more niche brands
  15. Pick your size Mechanical keyboards come in a variety of

    shapes and sizes, from full-sized keyboards down to tiny novelty boards and macro pads.
  16. Full size

  17. Tenkeyless (TKL)

  18. 60%

  19. 40% and below?

  20. Ergonomic!

  21. Ortholinear!

  22. Keycaps: another money sink Things to consider when getting keycaps:

    - Type of plastic: ABS (cheaper, less durable) vs. PBT (stronger, more expensive) - Shape and profile - Backlighting and transparency - Switch type and stems
  23. Keycap printing You also need to consider the quality of

    the printing on the keycaps! - Pad printing: Cheap but wears out quickly - Laser etching and engraving: Durable but can be rougher, can feel because of cutting into key - Dye sublimation: Adds dye to plastic. Effective but costly - Double-shot injection molding: clean and highest quality; two pieces of plastic molded together
  24. Pad printed

  25. Laser etched/engraved

  26. Dye sublimation

  27. Double-shot injection molding

  28. Keycap sets Add a touch of personalization, but can be

    very expensive
  29. None
  30. Artisan Keycaps Individual keys with style. Can also be very

  31. None
  32. None
  33. Build your own! Building a mechanical keyboard does not have

    to be hard. Get a pre-made PCB and solder on the switches for a relatively simple build.
  34. Or take a more hands-on approach...

  35. Programmable! Get open source keyboard firmware or get a pre-built

    board. Mechanical keyboards can have many layers of customizable keys and macros.
  36. “But wait!” you might say... My 500 yen keyboard from

    daiso works perfectly fine! Do I really need this fancy hunk o’ junk?
  37. No.

  38. You do not need to get a mechanical keyboard. There

    are plenty of reasons not to get one. - Expensive - Too many choices, hard to know without trying in person - Another peripheral to worry about - Honestly, cheap ones work just as well for most use cases
  39. But on the other hand... - Invest in your primary

    tool as a software professional - Personalize as little or as much as you want - Possible to find solutions that don’t break the bank - Learn more in depth about the inner workings of a piece of hardware you probably haven’t given much thought - Participate in a thriving community of mechanical keyboard enthusiasts - Go to mechanical keyboard meetups!
  40. Shut up and tell me where I can learn more.

    There are plenty of places online to learn more. Google will take you far. Personally, I recommend Reddit’s /mk/ community. https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/ For purchasing the latest from big names in the community, I suggest massdrop (usually ships to Japan) https://massdrop.com
  41. That’s all It’s over now