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Author Topic: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?  (Read 479 times)

Jason Knight

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Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« on: 12 May 2020, 10:26:24 pm »
For years I was a Model M or GTFO kind of guy. Can't stand the modern "low travel" approach, and I generally found alternatives lacking. I hoarded model M's for parts as I could even burn those out. (yes, that's a thing).

For near on 30 years, it was my first and often only choice for a desktop keyboard.

For the younglings unfamiliar with it:


Uht, uht uht ut, here we go: IBM Model M. The very best there is. When you absolutely positively got to type every mother-****ing letter in ASCII 7, accept no substitutes.

But about three years ago I was forced off of it due to parts scarcity and support waning. Build 1903 of Win 10 in particular doesn't like PS/2 interface keyboards even with a USB adapter, but even prior to that they were getting unreliable and problematic at both the OS and motherboard level.

I had switched to a G-Skill with cherry green switches on my workstation, but I already blew that thing out. Oddly I think the switches are ok, but the cable is iffy. Someone needs to explain to G-Skill that a solid non-flexible piece of plastic is not a strain relief.

I was like "fine, I'll settle for blues". Blue switches have weaker springs, but still have the tactile and audible feedback I EXPECT a keyboard to have. These soft mushy no-feedback keyboards for the "wah wah, its bee teh noizy" pansies ranks right up there with the "let's starve the computer or air" fan-haters on the derpitude scale. They can all sierra the foxtrot up until they've spent a few weeks seated ten feet from a DEC LA-50 printer.

I managed to snipe off e-bay a cheap mechanical for $25 new (half off sale last month, normally goes for $50 which is still absurdly cheap) built around outemu switches. I've done a few gateron and outemu builds for other people, in brown, red, and even blue switches and they seemed "acceptable', so for $25 the worst that happens is it lasts me six months and I grab another.

I have to say, I'm rather impressed with the build quality given the price. It feels crisper than a cherry blue I have here that I'm customizing the keycap colours for, and despite being smaller with the backplate "open" to the front (so the switches stick up with no hood around them -- easier to clean) it seems heavier and more durable than the G-Skill. I mean, it's not model M weight, but it's got some heft to it.

... and unlike a lot of today's little girly-men who cry about how heavy things are, I actually equate higher weight with better quality construction. A likely contributor to why I think crApple products are rinky poorly made artsy-fartsy crap!

Did I mention I do custom cap colour layouts? I but stacks of colour sets regularly from a factory in china on the cheap, and put them onto mechanical keyboards for people.

Used that in this case for a mix of black, grey, and white... with the prerequisite red escape key. The black are OEM for Aukey which I like over the ones this came with as they have alumimum powder in the inner-shot that makes them reflective lighting off, but sill allowing the backlight through. The white and grey are the usual chinese mass vendor, though these are thermoset not the cheaper PVC.



I'm not sure about the white, since it's backlit. I mean, it's not like I need to read those keys, but it might look nicer. Arguing with myself about that as I was aiming for the look/feel of a TRS-80 Model 16 (or a rev 1 model II). I might swap them out for part of a purple set I have.

You folks out there have any preferences, or do customization of your own?
« Last Edit: 12 May 2020, 10:30:22 pm by Jason Knight »
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

coothead

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #1 on: 13 May 2020, 04:22:13 am »
Hi there Jason,

this is my personal  keyboard...

Das Keyboard 4 Professional

Whether this choice of tool makes me a snob, I cannot say.

Like you though, I do prefer my keyboard to be weighty and robust.

I am also certain that this little bugger will outlive me.

coothead
~ the original bald headed old fart ~

Jason Knight

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #2 on: 13 May 2020, 07:40:03 am »
this is my personal  keyboard...
Browns (linear) or Blues (clicky)?

DAS has always seemed overpriced to me, given that my equivalent G-Skill was effectively half the price with the same switches, and 80% the price with greens. (that I can't even find advertised anymore)

More so given how cheap the gateron and outemu switches can be, or the superior build quality of brands like Aukey. Though Aukey got out of the business of keyboards :( the market was flooded briefly with some of their highest quality designs at bargain basement prices.


« Last Edit: 13 May 2020, 07:47:14 am by Jason Knight »
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

coothead

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #3 on: 13 May 2020, 10:40:10 am »
Browns (linear) or Blues (clicky)?

Browns.  8)

Quote from: Jason Knight
DAS has always seemed overpriced to me...

Oh well, perhaps I do have a  snobby tendency
of which I was hitherto unaware.  ???

Thinking about keyboards though, reminded
me of my first home pc ...

Commodore 64

... and my love/hate relationship which I had
with it back in the early 1980's.

I can't remember how old it was when the
keyboard started behaving oddly but I do
know what triggered it's demise.

Every time that I typed a "t" it output a "q".
This  so infuriated me that I punched the
keyboard with all the might that I could
muster. Seeing  the result of my actions
spurred me on to then jump on it just to
make sure the fcuker was dead.  >:(

It was some twenty years before I allowed
another p.c. to cross my threshold.  ;)

coothead
« Last Edit: 13 May 2020, 11:22:00 am by coothead »
~ the original bald headed old fart ~

Jason Knight

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #4 on: 13 May 2020, 06:54:25 pm »
Every time that I typed a "t" it output a "q".
Laugh is a lot of times that failure on a 64 isn't even the keyboards fault, but that of a dying PIA chip. The MOS 6281 was a breakout/relay for all the various I/O devices including the keyboard. Misreported keys is a common side effect when that chip starts to break down, and even back in the day they were hard to find replacements for.

I've been really lucky with mine in that it's still working 100% fine, as are both of the miniature space heaters masquerading as floppy drives.

Yes, I still have a -64 in my collection... along with a minus 60.
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

coothead

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #5 on: 13 May 2020, 07:58:04 pm »
Yes, I still have a -64 in my collection

Wow!!

Do you keep it under lock and key?

It must be worth a fortune now.

coothead
~ the original bald headed old fart ~

benanamen

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #6 on: 13 May 2020, 09:51:50 pm »
The problem with most keyboards is that they are missing the Any key.

« Last Edit: 13 May 2020, 09:53:29 pm by benanamen »
To save time, let's just assume I am never wrong.

Jason Knight

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #7 on: 14 May 2020, 01:42:01 am »
It must be worth a fortune now.
Typically they're worth less than they were new at retail. If you're selective and wait, or get lucky bidding on e-fence you can have a working base unit for around $100, if you're impatient it's double that. Same for each of the floppy drives.

The hard thing to get is the official monitor -- I'm using a 20" Dell 4:3 1600x1200 LCD that has an excellent scaler and SVHS inputs instead. The old mono-composite and separate chroma of the C64 is compatible with SVHS (at least for NTSC) if you add a resistor (I used a mini pot) to the chroma line to bring the voltage down. Folks in the UK can make similar cables for use with SCART.

The "real" monitors are often the hard part of vintage machines. A lot of them used custom monitors with unique frequencies and custom connectors, CRT's murder you on the shipping, they often don't survive shipping if they're not packed properly, and of course capacitors blow in them all the damned time. With most people being too timid, ignorant, or lazy to do a re-cap, and the general negative view towards CRT's these days, they tend to go to landfills instead of being put up for sale.

Thankfully most -- but not all -- vintage machines are either CGA compatible, can run through a CGA/EGA/Arcade to VGA converter box, or have composite/RF output.

Even so it's often nice to have a COMPLETE machine -- like my Tandy 1000 SX with the matching CM-11 monitor,



But my cup doth runneth over when it comes to Tandy CM-11's, you'd think I was living in "Wayne Green Country", where both Byte and 80-Micro magazines were published just over the hill in Peterboro, NH.

For the eagle eyed, yes that's a Sega Master System next to it... and a hand carved (by me) Macross Tomahawk / BattleTech Warhammer game mini sitting atop it. Yeah, I make my own mini's.

Speaking of keyboards, that T1K has great linear switches, but damn that layout. Especially since the back-slash is shift-numpad 7 which breaks some software and is awkward in DOS. Even so it's a joy to use compared to my PCJr... though thankfully I have the full-travel keyboard for that and not the goofy chiclet one.

Though thinking of chiclet keyboards, keep meaning to add a Speccy -- or as its' jokingly called in the states, the Sinclair Speculum -- to my collection. Tough as they were never sold here officially and almost all of them are PAL and not NTSC.

World: "The PCJr keyboard sucks"
Uncle Clive: "Hold my beer."
« Last Edit: 14 May 2020, 01:49:30 am by Jason Knight »
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

fgm

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #8 on: 28 Jun 2020, 07:38:59 am »
My daily driver is a PS2 IBM Model M from 1990... I really love it. In my experience, USB keyboards are a pain because some times it's not recognized by the OS until a hard reboot... this happens to me with all kind of OS and computers, so I stick to PS2 whenever possible.

That's the reason why I ditched this beast, a 122 keys Model M:



Jason, maybe that converter is the problem? these keyboards are a bit problematic to convert to USB. I've had success (not tested with W10) using a Soarer's converter featured by a Teensy board.
« Last Edit: 28 Jun 2020, 07:44:35 am by fgm »

Jason Knight

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #9 on: 28 Jun 2020, 08:33:10 pm »
Jason, maybe that converter is the problem?
Am I not clear enough, or do people not understand English? "Even using" implying I also tried using it without out? Both my Z97 1150 mobo's and my new X570 have PS/2 ports on them. Still doesn't work reliably in Win 10 1903 or 2004. First thing I suspected was the mobo so I tried a USB adapter, no joy. IT just hates PS/2 now. The change in reliability lines up exactly with the OS update, and I tested it still works fine on a machine running 1809.

I've been having that a lot lately where one or two words I use seem to go unnoticed. Like on Medium I had a guy who missed a simple word: AS. By ignoring that one word it completely changed the meaning of the sentence. Guy thought I was having troubles WITH a consultant, not that I was having troubles with clients AS a consultant.

Your issues with it not being recognized by the OS until a hard reboot... with USB? That's back-assward. PS/2 is hot pluggable and should do a full reset and recognize when you simply plug and unplug it. Would make me think either the PS/2 to USB adapter was faulty, or the USB port/drivers were junk. USB has many faults -- lack of proper rollover unless you register 1 separate "keyboard" over USB for every 4 keys you want to register presses on, etc, etc...  Though I have to ask... what OS? Linsux, right? RIGHT?

Since the behavior you describe sounds a hell of a lot like my issues with the shit-show of cripple-ware that is Linux audio.

... as to that 122 key IBM, since those NEVER came in USB I'd assume whatever converter it has is at fault. Hell I'm not even sure those came in AT or PS/2 since every one of them I've seen has a RJ-11 at the end.  That's definitely NOT an IBM cable either.
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

fgm

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #10 on: 29 Jun 2020, 04:09:10 am »
I mean that I'd try to connect the IBM Model M with Windows 10 using a different PS/2 to USB converter like Soarer's, but I'm not sure if this may fix the problem.

I have experienced this problem with USB devices like pen drives and mouses with Windows 7, OpenBSD and Linux. Sometimes just some ports don't work until next reboot, or when booting the USB mouse doesn't work until I connect it to other port. I use refurbished computers from more than 10 years ago, that may be the cause, or just bad support from the OS.

That's right, the keyboard had a DIN connector. I replaced its cable and converted it to USB using a  Soarer's converter.
« Last Edit: 29 Jun 2020, 08:31:46 am by fgm »

robby

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #11 on: 9 Sep 2020, 05:10:36 am »
I've always wanted to try one of those old IBM keyboards, but they're pretty expensive to buy these days!

I used a Cosair k70 keyboard with blue switches:


But honestly it's just too loud. I recently switched to a logitech mx keys keyboard and really like it:

mmerlinn

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #12 on: 9 Sep 2020, 03:40:42 pm »
Personally, I hate all of the modern keyboards. They are simply overkill and too big. Put 3 of them on a desk and there is no room left for anything else. When I can, I use old Apple USB keyboards.  When I can't, I use whatever works and cuss them out constantly.
The soul purr pus of a spell cheque cur is two valley date hour ignore ants.

Jason Knight

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #13 on: 10 Sep 2020, 06:16:59 am »
Personally, I hate all of the modern keyboards. They are simply overkill and too big. Put 3 of them on a desk and there is no room left for anything else.
You should try some of the small-profile layouts that do away with the num-pad. You can pick up a AJAZZ 82 key mechanical for around $30-$45 these days depending on lighting, case/cap colour, and so forth, in either gateron blue or black switches.

I actually really dig the black with white back-light.


IF you're looking for decent high durability switches in a small form factor, the 82 to 87 key layouts are likely for you. Likewise newer keyboards -- even the 104 layouts -- are doing away with a lot of the extra "crap" around the keyboard. They're giving you the aluminum backplate the switches fit into as the face, without any extra / excess border around the keys. It's a trend I applaud as they're easier to clean (just take an airgun to it) and do consume less space.

For example, these run $45 to $50 or so:



With no extra wasted "space" around the keyboard at all. It's kind of like how bezels on displays keep getting smaller and smaller, with some having no border about them at all.

More and more cheaper mechanical keyboards flooding the pipe now as Gateron and Outemu have upped their production numbers to meet demand. Early on neither brands switches were quite as good as real Cherry's, but over the past two years they've reached the point of being "close enough", particularly with the prices going down.

When I can, I use old Apple USB keyboards.
I've never seen a crApple keyboard where the switch mechanism wasn't useless crap. Their switches -- all the way back to the Apple ][ -- have always been junk.

Which is a shame as they had a LOT of really good ideas... like the "let's put a USB hub in the keyboard so you can plug the mouse in there".

But they have a lot of bad ideas too like the crappy low-profile designs, cheaping out on switch quality, over-engineering switches in laptops, etc, etc, etc...

But what do I know? I want a laptop filled with either buckling spring or blue mechancial switches. Hell, I'd settle for Cherry "speed silvers" since those feel like the old TRS-80 Coco 2 "melted" design.

The "melted" coco 2 keyboard being the only low profile keyboard I was ever actually pleased with, even if they were capacitive foam based.

Hmm... the case on my coco3 is disintegrating (literally, the plastic turns to dust when you touch it?!?)
. Was thinking on making a custom case for it, why not do a custom keyboard of speed silvers whilst at it? Just need to get a backplate cut for it.

Side note, anyone else ever do a COMPLETE custom with wiring the switches into a backplate yourself? That's on my to-do list the coming year for another... project.
Sorrow hides well in your shell. A fellow man with hurt to spare.
Dear one, here I am to share the fear. An act of kindness, without an amen.
Come in, the fire's warm. Burn the rope and dance some more.

mmerlinn

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Re: Anybody else here a keyboard snob?
« Reply #14 on: 10 Sep 2020, 06:57:17 pm »
1) I absolutely MUST have a keypad. Well over half of all keystrokes for me are numbers.

2) The only problem I have ever had with Apple keyboards is the thinness of the plastic keycaps. I have literally worn out spacebar and tab keys on several keyboards where the top separates from the stem going to the switch. Never a problem with any other keys.

3) Most of my keyboards are 97 keys with no junk between the main keys and the number keys. Even then since I never use the function keys, the keyboards are overkill.
The soul purr pus of a spell cheque cur is two valley date hour ignore ants.

 

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