[vcf-midatlantic] OT: Modern keyboard question

Chris Fala chrisjpf33 at gmail.com
Wed Nov 21 21:06:39 EST 2018

I have one of the key “samplers” that Dave mentions. It only has 9 keys but gives you a good idea. I agree about Cherry Blue, great stuff. Too loud for me though but that gives it a nostalgic feel. Tried Red because it was on sale. Very soft touch with no tactile feel at all. Nice keyboard but too soft for me. Got Cherry Brown which is almost as soft as Red but has a slight tactile “bump” that helps my brain know I actually struck a key.

Just a little detail from my experience that I hope is helpful. SOooo many more options. Good luck!

On Nov 21, 2018, at 3:11 AM, Dave McGuire via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

 I would add to this the suggestion of getting a key switch "tester".
This is essentially a collection of different types of key switches, not
connected to anything, on some sort of a mounting board. (usually not a
PCB)  This will allow you to evaluate each one, as they're very
different, to see which one you like best.  Then you can go find a
keyboard built with that type of key mechanism.  This is a pretty common
thing, they're all over Amazon.

 I live on my keyboard, and I'm a big fan of Cherry MX Blue key
switches.  These are loud as hell, but I work in a private lab so
there's nobody to disturb with noise.  I can *fly* on this keyboard,
with much less hand fatigue than I'd gotten from my previous keyboards.

 I have never been a PC person; I grew up on workstation-class
hardware.  When you're using a VAXstation, you used a DEC LK201 or LK401
keyboard.  Nothing else would work on those systems.  Likewise when I
moved to Sun systems, starting with the Sun "Type 2" keyboard on a Sun2
(not SPARC-2) system.  Again, nothing else was compatible.  It's a good
thing that these were, with very rare exceptions, very good keyboards.
But the point is, all my life I never really had the notion of
"choosing" a keyboard, like PC users have.  I got what the vendor
provided, because nothing else would work with those systems.

 Now with an i7 on my desk (now that these crappy PeeCee processors are
almost as fast as a decade-old SPARC!) it suddenly occurred to me that I
do in fact have a wide range of options, when for the past couple of
years I had just bounced back and forth between a Sun Type7 keyboard and
an Apple aluminum keyboard, both USB, and both excellent.  I went with
the Cherry MX Blue, TKL (ten-key-less, just a main keyboard and a cursor
pad), with nice thick heavy key caps.  Unlabeled key caps, because I
know damn well where the keys are after 40+ years at a keyboard.

 The specific keyboard I chose (but with different keycaps) is a HyperX
Alloy FPS Pro, purchased via Amazon.  It's built like a tank; the
keycaps are seated in a thick, heavy metal plate.  This is marketed
toward the game crowd, but that's essentially irrelevant.  I do not play
games.  Heavy software/hardware development is a very similar use
case...albeit with less shouting, grunting, and unemployment.

 Choice of keyboard is very personal and very important.  It can truly
make the difference between hating sitting at a machine and loving it.
Do yourself a favor, take the time to evaluate what's out there and pick
the one that works best for your usage patterns.  You won't get out of
it for less than $100, but that keyboard will likely last most of the
rest of your life.

 Sorry for the long-windedness; this is a big subject.


> On 11/21/18 1:08 AM, Mark Whittington via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> Generally a decent quality mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches will
> cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $100.  You can go a lot higher, and
> occasionally you'll find something a bit lower.  There are a number of
> variants of the Cherry MX switches with different characteristics (tactile
> response, audible click, etc).  Here's a primer on the various types:
> https://www.keyboardco.com/blog/index.php/2012/12/an-introduction-to-cherry-mx-mechanical-switches/
> Since you're looking at silicone keycaps, you probably want a non-click
> switch like the Cherry MX Brown.  Something like this perhaps:
> https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823126445
> You're not likely to find a keyboard with those keycaps preinstalled, so
> figure out what type of key switch you'd like and then find a keyboard with
> those keys.  Any of the Cherry MX "colors" should work with those keycaps.
> Massdrop doesn't seem to be running that drop right now, but as usual
> there's a seller on aliexpress that can sell you some.
> https://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-Arrival-104-Silicone-Keycaps-Blank-Keycaps-OEM-Height-For-Wired-USB-Cherry-MX-Switches-Mechanical/32794525459.html
> Let me know if you have other questions.
> On Tue, Nov 20, 2018 at 11:50 PM Evan Koblentz via vcf-midatlantic <
> vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:
>>>> I'm thinking about getting a new keyboard for my modern PC.
>>>> I want to use squishy keycaps such as these:
>>>> https://www.massdrop.com/buy/silica-gel-keycap-set
>>>> It says they're Cherry MX compatible.
>>>> Does that mean they only work with official Cherry-branded keyboards? Or
>>>> is there some other search term to use (etc.) for keyboards that are
>>>> Cherry-compatible?
>>> It suggests that those keycaps will fit on Cherry MX key switches.
>> But how do I know what keyboards have such switches?

Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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