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jtk

WASD Keyboard

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I've been entertaining the the idea of getting my first mechanical keyboard for about a year. After seeing the availability of the Commander X16 Deluxe Keyboard on WASD I think I'm inspired to finally commit. Even if the project doesn't make it for some reason, I still think it's a cool looking keyboard and the key labels don't matter to me, I can touch type on a blank keyboard.

Since I have never owned a mechanical keyboard, and it's a rather pricey purchase, I'm hoping some people here might have some answers and suggestions.

1. I absolutely need a Scroll Lock key, it's the shortcut key for my KVM. Does the 40/80 Display key function as a Scroll Lock key on a standard PC?

2. I don't need perfect silence but I code all day and game all night in an area often occupied by other people. I'm thinking of going either Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Silent Red. This comparison video has me leaning towards Silent Red. Does anyone have a experienced opinions on the difference between these 2 or suggestions on why another type might be better?

3. Does purchasing this particular keyboard support the Commander X16 project directly?

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Hi,

  1. Yes I believe so, it should behave normally in that case. Only the keycap text is changed.
  2. Silent Red is a good choice. Others may have other opinions.
  3. A very small amount goes towards the development costs of this keyboard. The majority goes to WASD for manufacturing & profit. So the answer is yes, but minimally.

Your friend in retro, Perifractic

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To answer your question about different key switch types, I would highly recommend taking your next move carefully lol.  Once you feel mechanical switches under your fingers, you can't ever really go back and enjoy membrane keyboards 😂.  For somebody that types all day, I would actually recommend a switch that allows you to feel the tactile point of actuation such as Blues.  It's much more satisfying in my opinion and they generally are regarded as the best to type with.  Red switches don't have a tactile feel for the actuation point and so they just slide until they bottom out.  A more silent version of the Blue switch would be Brown switches and are sort of a happy medium between the two as they aren't super clicky clacky, but still have that tactile feel when depressing the key.  However, regardless of the switch type, if you are plunging the keys hard enough to bottom out with every stroke, no mechanical keyboard will be truly silent.  When at home I use Blue switches as the sound makes my heart happy and the feel is the best out of any switch type I own.  I personally use Brown switches when in an office environment and I have never gotten any complaints from co-workers.  I know that this is a lot of words to not really answer your question, but I hope to give you some things to think about that videos sometimes don't convey about different keyboard types since mechanical keyboards aren't inexpensive. Hope this helps!

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I recently bought a Cherry MX Red keyboard, I don't really know much about keyboards but I can say that the big difference between Blue and Red from having tried both is that the mechanism on the Blue makes a click when pressed down while the Red don't, but they're stiffer. Brown is kind of a compromise between both. So the noise on Reds comes more from the keycap clacking against the body than anything, which is kinda loud, but if you try to type softer it gets better. Maybe if there's cushions inside the caps, but eh, I don't really know how it works. And I don't really know how Silent Red makes it silent, so yeah.

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@Dani That's the #1 reason it's taken me so long to commit. I'd love to be able to physically test all of them before choosing.

This sound test video from WASD is hopefully helping me get a good idea of the different sounds (listening through a Bose Wave Radio). Seems like Brown vs Red isn't much difference, but Brown vs Silent Red is pretty big, and Silent Red sounds like it would be the least distracting, but I'm really torn on that tactile feel. I game a lot, Reds seem to be suggested for that, but I don't think I'm good enough at any FPS to warrant optimizing for it, so the sound is the only appeal for me there.

Maybe I need another year to decide.

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There are switch test boards you can buy with a single switch of different color types to give you a feel.  It's difficult to get a real feel though until you use a full keyboard for an extended period with them.  What I personally did was get inexpensive mechanical keyboards with different switch types to use for different computers in my home, which then let me know what I prefer for future purchases.  

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I'll second the use of Brown in an office environment.  If you get the Brown with some key dampeners , it's easily quiet enough for an office environment while still providing reasonable tactile feel.  I get my clicky-feeling keyboard without my coworkers being annoyed by the clicking.

That said, I wish there was a buckling spring option for the x16 keyboard.  I may have to just get a custom set of key caps for a Unicomp.  I don't mind subjecting others to the machine gun fire sound of those keys!

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@Jestin I think I'm leaning towards Brown now, is the +$25 to add the dampeners on the WASD site kind of ridiculous? The ones in your link are pretty cheap and I can't imagine adding them yourself is too difficult. I'm not even sure I'll need them right away, I can type lightly and my friend says Browns are dead silent if you don't bottom out.

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Posted (edited)

$25 does seem a little steep.  My guess is that it's manual labor to put them all on for you.  Doing it yourself isn't a big deal at all, so that's the way I'd go.

You may want to try out the Brown keys first.  While still tactile, I can't say it's the same as Blue or even Red.  It's still miles above membrane keyboards, however.  I don't want you to be disappointed.

Edited by Jestin
Typo
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If you have a Best Buy or similar store nearby, they have Corsair keyboards on display that you can try out.  Granted, you'll want to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards (or wear rubber gloves), due to COVID.  But the Corsair keyboards will use Cherry MX switches of some sort, and you can get an idea for how they feel. If it's not evident, just pop a keycap off and look at the color of the stem, and you'll know what kind of switch it is.

I'm typing this on a keyboard with MX Reds.  I'd prefer Blues, but I spend too much time on conference calls for the noise level to be acceptable. I used to get comments from coworkers when I was on calls and typing on an old IBM keyboard with buckling springs (best keyboard ever).

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@Jestin @troj Thanks, I've got a friend nearby with Brown and Blue I'm gonna try before I buy, but I don't think Blue is really gonna be an option. Maybe I'll try to sample a Red before, but I don't want to drive myself crazy and cause analysis paralysis again 🙂

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@jtk If you like the feel of the blues, but they're too noisy, then the reds will be a good fit for you.

Yep, don't over-think it.  I've yet to use a mechanical keyboard that I didn't like the feel of. One of my kids has a Razer keyboard (they use their own switches) and it's still a nice feeling keyboard.

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Reds are a good choice. With dampeners, they're not annoying. I use a Kinesis mechanical keyboard at work, with dampeners and red switches. So far, no one has complained (although, to be fair, I do have a few other neighbors that use mechanical keyboards. So they're less likely to complain than someone who doesn't understand the One True Way.)

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@troj one of my kids has a Razer too, that's one of reasons I realized I need to upgrade, I get jealous every time I use his. I'm on an Amazon Basics 🙂  I know no matter what switch I choose I certainly won't be any worse off than that.

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When I bought my X16 keyboard, I wanted it *now*.  Though I wanted MX Brown or MX Red, I got an MX Clear.

And I love it.  But I'm sure I'd love the other ones too.

 

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On 9/5/2020 at 12:57 AM, rje said:

When I bought my X16 keyboard, I wanted it *now*.  Though I wanted MX Brown or MX Red, I got an MX Clear.

And I love it.  But I'm sure I'd love the other ones too.

 

I mostly have boards with Browns, but the Clear ones are really great (like browns, but a little crisper/harder). Good choice!

 

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OMG $200 ?? that is insane. What is in there? Gold ?

What is the specific Design that has gone into it? The PETSCII caps? If they would be alike the C64 (graphics on the front, not on the top) I might consider it .. but to be honest ... that is by far too much for a standard keyboard without Num block.

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@SerErris I had the same sticker shock.  Since @Perifractic has stated that only a small amount goes to the the x16 team, it makes me question whether I will bother with this keyboard at all.  Ideally, I'd prefer a set of keycaps that I can put on the keyboard of my choosing.  I own several mechanical keyboards, but only one has hit even the $100 mark.  Unless this keyboard is really something special, I'd feel like I'm paying $200 for a set of keycaps.

Edited by Jestin

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From experience, mechanical keyboards for keyboard enthusiasts goes upwards of C$100, and the keyboard on sale now is designed to be a deluxe keyboard, and the keyboard that would come with the X16 will be more low-cost. I guess it's the one that would give the team the most profit.

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40 minutes ago, Juju said:

From experience, mechanical keyboards for keyboard enthusiasts goes upwards of C$100, and the keyboard on sale now is designed to be a deluxe keyboard, and the keyboard that would come with the X16 will be more low-cost. I guess it's the one that would give the team the most profit.

Yes, and custom printed keycaps is another step up from all mechanical switches. An 87-key "custom keyboard" from WASD costs $170, and "customizing" there is choice of six key switches and a choice from one of their 23 standard designs or upload your own, so not really paying any appreciable fee for the design IP.

That makes the gross margin after fulfillment at equal or less then $25 (there might be more fulfillment costs I've not included ... it's extremely optimistic to assume a cost is $0 just because you didn't think of it!)

And it's by "8-Bit Productions and Chloe", so Chloe might be getting some cut as a license fee ... and working with Chloe is, after all, what let the project go ahead without a long delay to "clean room build" an alternate Kernel and Basic ROM (thanks Chloe!!).

I can't afford the deluxe keyboard by any stretch of the imagination (with 8 grandkids to buy presents for and twins on the way in October) ... but if those of you who have generated enough NET revenue to "8 Bit Productions LLC" to help offset prototype production costs and the like, that makes me happy, so big props to y'all.

Edited by BruceMcF

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Oh I had serious, painful sticker shock, and I don't think about it.  I funneled profits from my Kickstarter project to buy it.

 

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I would consider buying it, IF there was substantial funding for the X16 project. But as I understood from @Perifractic there is very limited money flowing into the project from a sold keyboard. So I would prefer a kickstarter or whatever to help supporting the project  - maybe even a patreon page and get the money directly to the developers instead of funding someone else.

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IMHO, if you are the type of person who prefers mechanical key switches, the price of the WASD keyboard is okay for what you get.
If you can live just as well with a rubber dome keyboard, it's probably not worth it.

Unfortunately (for my wallet) I just recently found out that I appear to belong to the first group.

Edited by Fnord42
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1 hour ago, Fnord42 said:

IMHO, if you are the type of person who prefers mechanical key switches, the price of the WASD keyboard is okay for what you get.

That's the beauty of what the team has done - for those of us who like mechanicals, we have the option to buy one. But there's an affordable keyboard option out there for everyone, and it's the standard keyboard.

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