Off Topic "SFF" Keyboards

What's the smallest you'd go with a keyboard?

  • 100%

    Votes: 17 8.2%
  • 80%

    Votes: 21 10.1%
  • 75%

    Votes: 38 18.4%
  • 60%

    Votes: 96 46.4%
  • 40%

    Votes: 15 7.2%
  • Electrodes implanted into brain, effectively 0%

    Votes: 14 6.8%
  • Something else

    Votes: 6 2.9%

  • Total voters
    207

riposte

Trash Compacter
Dec 9, 2017
45
88

I just realized when typing on this keyboard, I never using my right thumb to press spacebar.
I think my habit from playing games (spacebar for jump) carried over to my typing habit.
The shift key size is small but I never pressing the right shift since I learned typing on PC keyboard.
So, this keyboard layout actually well-suited for me.
 
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Elerek

Cable-Tie Ninja
Jul 17, 2017
228
161

I just realized when typing on this keyboard, I never using my right thumb to press spacebar.
I think my habit from playing games (spacebar for jump) carried over to my typing habit.
The shift key size is small but I never pressing the right shift since I learned typing on PC keyboard.
So, this keyboard layout actually well-suited for me.
Yep, I do the same thing, so for my split keyboard, the left thumb key is space and the right one is enter and I don't have a shift key on the right half.
 

admirerden

Minimal Tinkerer
Apr 4, 2019
3
5
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annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
414
305
I was looking for a specific style keycaps for a while but I can't find anything that matches. Maybe do you know keycaps that have these kind of… flat areas around? Don't even know how to describe it properly. You can see exactly what I mean at old Bloomberg terminal keyboard, old Apple keyboard or even ancient Apple computer, or Jonathan Mac concept keyboard. I mean this. I know Apple's keycaps are made for Alps switches. But maybe there are ones for Cherry MX?
I can't say I've seen such specimens in the wild yet, at least not in modern keeb building circles. I also haven't traveled very deep into these waters, so maybe check out one of the more enthusiast sites?

What draws you to this cap style?
 
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nostyle

Caliper Novice
Jun 13, 2018
22
36
I was looking for a specific style keycaps for a while but I can't find anything that matches. Maybe do you know keycaps that have these kind of… flat areas around? Don't even know how to describe it properly. You can see exactly what I mean at old Bloomberg terminal keyboard, old Apple keyboard or even ancient Apple computer, or Jonathan Mac concept keyboard. I mean this. I know Apple's keycaps are made for Alps switches. But maybe there are ones for Cherry MX?
You’d likely run into clearance issues using caps like that on MX style switches
 

Treshy

Average Stuffer
May 4, 2019
65
48


Cooler Master SK621 is basically what I always wanted out of a keyboard. 60% size with a imo better layout than just chopping off 40% of a full size board, usb c, bluetooth, Cherry MX Red Low Profile RGB switches, sleek (but sadly ABS) keycaps and a relatively "affordable" pricetag... havent found anyone mentioning it in here so I thought I'd do it. The picture is the German key layout but US layout and others are available as well... what do you guys think?
 
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rfarmer

SFF Guru
Silver Supporter
Jul 7, 2017
1,440
1,385


Cooler Master SK621 is basically what I always wanted out of a keyboard. 60% size with a imo better layout than just chopping off 40% of a full size board, usb c, bluetooth, Cherry MX Red Low Profile RGB switches, sleek (but sadly ABS) keycaps and a relatively "affordable" pricetag... havent found anyone mentioning it in here so I thought I'd do it. The picture is the German key layout but US layout and others are available as well... what do you guys think?
I was looking at that the other day and looks very cool, the one I am thinking about getting is the ten keyless version.

 

Donut

Trash Compacter
Mar 15, 2019
47
29
Here's my Minidox:


It's closest to 40% keyboards in layout, but it's more of a 30-35% keyboard in the number of keys. I'm still getting used to using layers, but it's fun and comfortable to type on.
 
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ignsvn

King of Cable Management
Apr 4, 2016
785
661


Cooler Master SK621 is basically what I always wanted out of a keyboard. 60% size with a imo better layout than just chopping off 40% of a full size board, usb c, bluetooth, Cherry MX Red Low Profile RGB switches, sleek (but sadly ABS) keycaps and a relatively "affordable" pricetag... havent found anyone mentioning it in here so I thought I'd do it. The picture is the German key layout but US layout and others are available as well... what do you guys think?
A slightly different flavor in the same layout: GK64 (or iGK64)
- Programmable (although I heard the software is crappy - not QMK - It works but some of the settings are in Chinese)
- Hotswap PCB with Kailh socket, compatible with many MX style switches
- Per key RGB

I own the iGK64 kit ($50: PCB, stabs, alu plate, plastic case) but only plan to build it this weekend.
 
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lac29

Average Stuffer
Apr 1, 2017
66
40

Built my Noxary 268.2 Polycarb.

GMK Minimal
5mm brass plate
Drop x Holy Pandas with clear switch film 3403 lube and TX 70g springs

This was my first time cleaning off lube from the stock Drop x Holy Pandas (used qtips and alkaseltzer bath). It took 5 hours for 90 switches ... kinda grueling. The results in terms of the feel and sound are very noticeable and better imo than my stock MX Clears on my Whitefox. The switches feel very consistent (which I would imagine they should if I took each apart, cleaned, lubed, and film switched, all by hand and tested afterwards each individually by hand). The sound is also very satisfying (very crisp and fairly deep sounding). I think you have to be very particular and nonutilitarian to appreciate these aspects since they add a lot of money to custom kb builds and are not utilitarian feature upgrades.

I also had trouble soldering the LEDs and had to desolder every single one of them which was a HUGE pain in the neck. The PCB is a bit of a mess and I ordered some backups in case I want to redo it with LEDs (I mean that's one of the highlights of clear/frosted polycarb ... to highlight the lighting).

The 5mm brass plate is really cool and I kinda cannot imagine going back to the more standard thinner plates. The way they sandwich with the plate is so solid and satisfying. There are some really nice details to the thicker plates that accomodate the stab parts (milled underneath) that typical thinner plates do not have.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
414
305

Built my Noxary 268.2 Polycarb.

GMK Minimal
5mm brass plate
Drop x Holy Pandas with clear switch film 3403 lube and TX 70g springs

This was my first time cleaning off lube from the stock Drop x Holy Pandas (used qtips and alkaseltzer bath). It took 5 hours for 90 switches ... kinda grueling. The results in terms of the feel and sound are very noticeable and better imo than my stock MX Clears on my Whitefox. The switches feel very consistent (which I would imagine they should if I took each apart, cleaned, lubed, and film switched, all by hand and tested afterwards each individually by hand). The sound is also very satisfying (very crisp and fairly deep sounding). I think you have to be very particular and nonutilitarian to appreciate these aspects since they add a lot of money to custom kb builds and are not utilitarian feature upgrades.

I also had trouble soldering the LEDs and had to desolder every single one of them which was a HUGE pain in the neck. The PCB is a bit of a mess and I ordered some backups in case I want to redo it with LEDs (I mean that's one of the highlights of clear/frosted polycarb ... to highlight the lighting).

The 5mm brass plate is really cool and I kinda cannot imagine going back to the more standard thinner plates. The way they sandwich with the plate is so solid and satisfying. There are some really nice details to the thicker plates that accomodate the stab parts (milled underneath) that typical thinner plates do not have.
What a beauty! It's super clean - all that work you put in clearly is paying off huge. I've never tried opening one switch, let alone a whole keyboard's worth for cleaning. I barely had enough patience to solder in my board (which explains why the left shift key is misaligned, the Enter key sticks, and the Space bar wobbles). Even without the LEDs, the case looks gorgeous. How's that layout working for you? Mine is a pure 60% layout, so to get arrow keys, I laid them all out on the bottom row right hand side and it's working out okay.
 

lac29

Average Stuffer
Apr 1, 2017
66
40
What a beauty! It's super clean - all that work you put in clearly is paying off huge. I've never tried opening one switch, let alone a whole keyboard's worth for cleaning. I barely had enough patience to solder in my board (which explains why the left shift key is misaligned, the Enter key sticks, and the Space bar wobbles). Even without the LEDs, the case looks gorgeous. How's that layout working for you? Mine is a pure 60% layout, so to get arrow keys, I laid them all out on the bottom row right hand side and it's working out okay.
I have experience with 60%, 65%, 75% and full size kbs. 65% is my favorite all-around layout. 60% is great for a travel kb for your laptop. I am still figuring out if 75% is comparable to the 65%. I like having the blocker and arrow cluster as well asn pgup/down and those couple of keys. I know some games require dedicated f1-10 keys and that's why I'm still considering 75%. I have also fully converted to split spacebar layout and having the backspace be closer to your right hand for all 65% and even 60%.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
414
305
I have experience with 60%, 65%, 75% and full size kbs. 65% is my favorite all-around layout. 60% is great for a travel kb for your laptop. I am still figuring out if 75% is comparable to the 65%. I like having the blocker and arrow cluster as well asn pgup/down and those couple of keys. I know some games require dedicated f1-10 keys and that's why I'm still considering 75%. I have also fully converted to split spacebar layout and having the backspace be closer to your right hand for all 65% and even 60%.
I've never quite understood how the split spacebar works. Do one of them become another key?

Technically, the PCB I have is Bluetooth-capable but I've never installed the battery nor looked into the manual to find out how it controls. The capabilities for traveling would really open up though! I should probably get on that...

Any 65% PCBs you'd recommend building on? I'd personally be looking for best value since expensive hobbies find a way of finding me...
 

CountNoctua

(no relation)
Jul 11, 2019
215
262
I've never quite understood how the split spacebar works. Do one of them become another key?

Technically, the PCB I have is Bluetooth-capable but I've never installed the battery nor looked into the manual to find out how it controls. The capabilities for traveling would really open up though! I should probably get on that...

Any 65% PCBs you'd recommend building on? I'd personally be looking for best value since expensive hobbies find a way of finding me...
Pretty happy with my first 65% (also first custom keyboard) PCB, Tada68. I have another one in the works, using an SMK65 PCB from LFKeyboards (SMK 2nd Gen are quite good, if you like tactile switches like I do: very Alps-like, but a little more resilient to dust/dirt, and has Cherry MX -compatibile stems). So far I've preferred full keyboards, but I am making a separate numpad (maybe with function keys?) so I can have the benefits of full portability by just taking a 65% when travelling, but also having a nice numpad with it at home.

"Moka" specs: Tada68 PCB, Tofu 65% Case (Chocolate), DSA Coffee House keycaps, and Novelkeys/Kailh Cream switches.


 
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lac29

Average Stuffer
Apr 1, 2017
66
40
I've never quite understood how the split spacebar works. Do one of them become another key?

Technically, the PCB I have is Bluetooth-capable but I've never installed the battery nor looked into the manual to find out how it controls. The capabilities for traveling would really open up though! I should probably get on that...

Any 65% PCBs you'd recommend building on? I'd personally be looking for best value since expensive hobbies find a way of finding me...
Yep, it can be any key. I have briefly tried split spacebars but not for an extended amount of time. You can make one of the spacebars into a layer/fn key so that you'd hit it using your thumb and maybe have full access to say a numpad layer all using your left hand for example. Easy access to modifier keys with your thumb is why split spacebars were a thing.

However, what I mentioned before is split backspace (not split spacebar). This moves the backspace down to where the tab would be on the right side and is and "ergonomic" layout modification ... easier access to backspace via right pinky ... less stretching.

https://kbdfans.com/collections/diy-kit - Any of those kits are good values in general. If you're into 60% the Polaris groupbuy is a really really good value $200+ though. It has some unique features and is really nicely thought out compared to a lot of other stuff out there. The cases of course cost the most (the thick high walled cases made of metal or polycarb) as well as those keyboards with weights in them.
 

annasoh323

Master of Cramming
Apr 4, 2018
414
305
Pretty happy with my first 65% (also first custom keyboard) PCB, Tada68. I have another one in the works, using an SMK65 PCB from LFKeyboards (SMK 2nd Gen are quite good, if you like tactile switches like I do: very Alps-like, but a little more resilient to dust/dirt, and has Cherry MX -compatibile stems). So far I've preferred full keyboards, but I am making a separate numpad (maybe with function keys?) so I can have the benefits of full portability by just taking a 65% when travelling, but also having a nice numpad with it at home.

"Moka" specs: Tada68 PCB, Tofu 65% Case (Chocolate), DSA Coffee House keycaps, and Novelkeys/Kailh Cream switches.


That's pretty great! Perfect thematic concept. Actually made me go and brew a cup of coffee just to fully appreciate it. How do you like the DSA profile?
I'm rocking tactile switches in the form of Kailh Box Burnt Orange switches I got off of Drop (Massdrop at the time). I also picked up a numpad kit from them which I have yet to assemble. I don't have much data entry to do at home so a numpad isn't generally a necessity for me (unless I can get approval from work to bring in my own keyboard...)

Yep, it can be any key. I have briefly tried split spacebars but not for an extended amount of time. You can make one of the spacebars into a layer/fn key so that you'd hit it using your thumb and maybe have full access to say a numpad layer all using your left hand for example. Easy access to modifier keys with your thumb is why split spacebars were a thing.

However, what I mentioned before is split backspace (not split spacebar). This moves the backspace down to where the tab would be on the right side and is and "ergonomic" layout modification ... easier access to backspace via right pinky ... less stretching.

https://kbdfans.com/collections/diy-kit - Any of those kits are good values in general. If you're into 60% the Polaris groupbuy is a really really good value $200+ though. It has some unique features and is really nicely thought out compared to a lot of other stuff out there. The cases of course cost the most (the thick high walled cases made of metal or polycarb) as well as those keyboards with weights in them.
My apologies on the misunderstanding. I need to better investigate what layouts are allowed on my PCB (can't remember the name). I thought I'd be able to stick the up arrow next to a short shift but evidently the switch diagram didn't line up the way I thought it did and I ended up with 1U shift keys. However, since I messed up the left shift (stabs in the wrong hole and glued into place 😞) I had to use the right shift key there.

Things I need to fix (more of a list for myself than anything):
- Acquire new stabs (anyone have a recommended source?)
- Remove left shift stabs and secure into proper holes (without breaking the PCB)
- Reconfigure right shift switches
- See if there's room in the case for the battery
- Check how to run Bluetooth

Worse comes to worse I'll probably end up with one of those kits... this assumes I have money left over after the other hobbies and life are done with me 🙃