"This project emulates the sound of my old faithful IBM Model-M space saver bucklespring keyboard while typing on my notebook, mainly for the purpose of annoying the hell out of my coworkers."
I think there was some stuff that bucklespring does that mine doesn't, but once I'd got it basically working, I found I didn't really like it all that much. So I didn't bother doing anything more with it.
Thank you for trying it, at least ;)
If you need any debugging info, just leave another comment here as a reply. I go through my replies every so often.
(Hmm... I wonder if I could add binaural positioning...)
(Oh wait, that already exists! I bet it'll sound great with my soon-to-arrive, head-tracking Audeze Mobius.)
I'm also glad that it is trivially turned off... :).
Thanks for sharing!
And before everyone downvotes me:
- yes, I own a mechanical keyboard (more than one, actually).
- Yes, one of them is a Model M. I also own an Unicomp Endura Pro (the one with the TrackPoint).
- Yes I have used some other Cherry-based keyboard (cherry blue and another color I didn't care remembering)
- Yes I have used a Topre-based keyboard.
Well, here is my two cents: mechanical keyboard are pointless.
It's one of those memes of this industry (like stickers on laptops). While I acknowledge that some membrane keyboard typing experience are atrocious, sometimes it's just a matter of brand/model. For example the "Dell Business Multimedia Keyboard" typing experience is remarkably good (link: https://www.amazon.com/KB522-Dell-Business-Multimedia-Compat...).
Quite frankly, I'd throw my Endura Pro in the trash can if that Dell Keyboard was available with the addition of a TrackPoint.
Mechanical keyboards offer no real typing aid, no speed-up, they are heavy, noisy (the "hey everybody look at me" kind of noisy), they have unnecessary accessories (rgb lighting wave effect? but why?) and above all they are unreasonably expensive.
Quite frankly, the best keyboard I have used so far is the ThinkPad USB Keyboard (1st gen, basically an X220 keyboard within a nice enclosure with a decent palmrest). It's light and checks all of my boxes. And it's not louder than a regular keyboard.
* lots of mechanical keybards are awful though
In my own, singular/personal experience, this has never been a problem for me, even with the much maligned MBP keyboard. When the key stops traveling, you have pressed the key.
Not discounting anyone who doesn't have the same experience - just offering my own.
I was glad to get rid of my Model M not only because, like you said, it was obnoxiously loud, but also because the keys were so damn heavy. Every mechanical keyboard I've used, I feel the same way on. I end up feeling like I'm forcing my fingers down, which tires out my wrists and forearms. Typing on a previous-generation Macbook keyboard, the keys respond almost the second I touch them, with barely any pressure needed at all. It feels a lot nicer and more responsive. I'm sure eventually I could find a really nice mechanical keyboard I like, but yeah, they're really expensive so I don't want to buy a bunch of them.
I personally don't like the feeling or the sound of typing on a typewriter, which mechanical keyboards feel like to me. I'm very happy with my current laptop's keyboard. Along the same vein, my 2013 MBP with the mechanical trackpad click is awful and hurts my finger over time when I click it. I much prefer the new force touch trackpad that doesn't really click, since it takes a lot less pressure to activate.
To make a analogy, a professional car racer is likely to have a strong opinion on the sound of the car engine, the behavior of the car and how much pressure is needed to turn the wheel. What would happen if you put a race driver in a car with noise cancellation so they can't hear anything, change the turning strength of the wheel so you need a fraction of the strength, and removed any "tactile feel" from the car (increased suspensions and so on). I would suspect that in the short time their racing ability would drastically drop, and possible long term. Hearing and feel are very core senses and gives ques to muscle memory, and it make some sense that cutting them off would likely harm performance in a competitive environment.
Personally I know that when I go and type on a membrane keyboard I tend to type with more mistakes, hammering the keys way too hard and have to look down more often at my hands. I suspect that 90% of that is down to muscle memory, but I am yet to be convinced that it is 100%.
- You can program most mechanical keyboards (https://github.com/qmk/qmk_firmware) and move any key whenever you like and use additional features like assigning different actions on key 'tap' and 'hold'
- You can customize keycaps
Not a big thing, but it's a small improvement.
Dell has history of making some of the best membrane keyboards. I had a SK-8115 for 3 years, then used one of their Taiwan RT7D5JTW Quietkey keyboards for 7 years and then I went through my mechanical phase for a year. Only to end up back on a Dell membrane.
Maybe the whole industry can reach the true typing nirvana: that Dell keyboard, with trackpoint.
Does anyone know why so few keyboards come with a TrackPoint. Having a trackpoint in the middle of your keyboard saves so many extra movements. Is it because of some IBM licensing costs?
Not that it's the right view at all. Who knows what "most people" prefer but the lack of them might indicate a general cluelessness of how to use them.
It's possible other manufacturers don't add it because when they've tried it doesn't move their sales needle at all. Those who want it are particular about usage and eg just use Lenovo?
I got an IBM one years ago when I bought a T22. No idea of model, it wasn't mechanical, but it was the best keyboard I have ever used. Mostly because of that trackpoint, the buttons were exactly where you'd rest thumbs under the space bar anyway. Tackpads and mice always feel second best to me.
Even the key feel was great (and I have a UK made Model M and tried a selection of mechanical gaming keyboards that have all been disappointing apart from the M).
Also, the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard has a couple of addon modules for trackpoints and trackballs: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/
And for the record my coworker's Model M drives me insane.
After using a modern mechanical keyboard, I would never switch back to a Model M. Probably because of time, on the Model M every key has a different feeling. You never know where the activation point of the key is, because it is a little bit different for every key. The same is for the feedback the keys give you when pressing them down: those old springs just don't give you that reliable feeling the Cherry MX Blue keys give you.
Ironically the only thing I found that I liked as a replacement was the Apple keyboard, and that couldn’t be more different.
Or touch keyboards, they’re also much more differenter than Apple keyboards!)
I can tell you why I like the Apple keyboards, including the newer butterfly ones. As much as I loved the Model M i never used it correctly as I always bottomed out the keys instead of relying on the tactile feedback to know when to stop. As a result what I really want to feel is the satisfying thunk at the bottom of every keystroke. Something about the travel distance and feel of those Apple keyboards is just close enough to comfortable that it became good enough.
I think it's similar to people who like the audio quality of vinyl records, but play them on a classic 1960's record player, negating the actual benefits. It's not really about the better quality, it's about the nostalgia and retro feel. I know a guy at work who types his personal notes on a mechanical typewriter. Not because it's easier or better, but because he likes the way it makes him feel to use a mechanical typewriter.
When you extract the audio by literally scraping a piece of metal across the surface- every time you play a vinyl, you degrade it. The "warm" quality of the audio proponents talk about is just noise introduced by the degrading material.
When CDs were new, many of them were mastered poorly. So there is a very specific few years where you want the vinyl instead of the CD. That's the most you can say for vinyl.
In terms of pure measurements, absolutely. In terms of experience? Well, it really depends on the person (and I am someone who much prefers modern digital music formats over analog).
You’re not scraping metal across the surface unless you’re using a phonograph with steel needles to play 78’s, which are not “vinyl”, and you hit the arm such that it goes perpendicular to the grooves, which is not a good idea, because it will make an unpleasant sound and badly damage the surface.
Digital material is still often mastered poorly. Some older material is still not properly mastered, despite multiple “remastering” releases.
The sound does annoy me, though.
The cherries I've tried (mechanical keyboards - though I don't know the model names) felt like cheap toys in comparison. I think the inexpensive Dell SK-8115 is much better than those. The Dell has distinctively shaped keys and a solid activation point. Not a mechanical keyboard, though, and probably wears off quicker.
But I really can't stand most Cherry keys; blues are the most tolerable of the lot but they sound so 'tinky' because of the little click jackets.
Now Kailh Box switches, that's where it's at. Less wobble, better dust (and even some water) resistance, better tactility, a better click mechanism... Cherry isn't remotely the best game in town.
As far as the feeling, it could be that the plastic rivets holding your Model M's internal "sandwich" together have failed. If you do a bolt or screw mod to put the pressure back on the parts that failed you'll have a much more consistent feel.
Because people like different things. I've grown to love cherry blues, but buckling springs are still my favorite.
I also own a topre hhkb and it’s a totally different experience - specially the model S with the additional rubber rings.
The keys are quieter than mechanical switches (they make more of a soft ‘thunk’ than a ‘clack’). Typing speed and accuracy are quite good. I only use it for work, though, so I have no idea how well or poorly it would perform for gaming or other tasks.
Sadly it's apparently impossible to buy those switches by themselves (for a custom build) without desoldering from a donor board.
I had an office neighbor who used one of these things. Obnoxious and loud. Personally, I fought back by playing the teletype sound effect that would play in the background on 1010 WINS in NYC at moderate volume to improve my cognitive function.
The Falcon Z-77 87 Key Mechanical Keyboard is my most recent acquisition. Being left handed I don't need the num pad as it is on the wrong side, however, due to moving away from Vim I did want those home/end keys, hence the 87 key keyboard with novelty programmable backlit keys. I can grey out the useless Windows keys and get the important Vim keys in green!
This I do get tired of though, so, if writing words rather than code I swap over to my Logitech K810 where there are no home/end keys. This is a soft touch keyboard with backlighting and no 'noise pollution'.
Then there are the built in laptop keyboards to use too.
IMHO the Chromebook keyboard layout is the future.
Variety in keyboards is an accidental discovery, with the Logitech K810 it works across devices - up to three - and with Synergy it works across more. I had thought that getting the optimal keyboard was the way to go, whereas in use I prefer the occasional change.
The keyboard that does get the most questions is none of the above, it is the 'Tron' style flat keyboard on my Lenovo Yogabook that doubles up as a drawing tablet.
Disclosure: I’m not the one you responded to
Cargo cult (which could also be on the inverse side).
Nobody measures anything in this industry -- like the relative RSI or typing speed between the two kinds of keyboards. So people can go around and stick to their personal preferences (even while they could slow them down compared to the other type of keyboard), and insist of their superiority, what actually holds true be damned.
The new macbook pro with the touchbar is the worst keyboard that I have ever used and I ended up buying an old model Macbook just because of the keyboard.
I wish Microsoft or Google releases a good developer oriented laptop with proper keyboard (Preferably licensing the old IBM thinkpad keyboard style) and full-size buttons for arrow keys, boatloads of extensible RAM and a gorgeous screen. Apple seem to not care anymore about macbooks :(
Still, the build quality and keyboard are absolutely second to none. Hardware- and build quality-wise the best laptop ever made. It's 7 years old, and the hinge is still as tight and smooth as a new one.
I wish I had gotten one of the full-size desktop Thinkpad-style USB keyboards, back when they still made them.
They stopped? That's a shame, I was hoping they'd work out their quality issues. I really liked mine except that it seldom registered the letter j. Which was a real problem for me as a vi user. Not to mention typing passwords. I have the endura pro now, mainly for the pointing stick, but I find that the implementation is nowhere near as good as trackpoint. Also the endura pro seems to draw a heck of a lot of current.
They used to make one with the old-style Thinkpad keys, with a full 104/105-key layout, trackpoint and touchpad.
I've been using a Logitech Ultra Flat for almost a decade now, and while it seems to be holding up fine, it won't last forever (unlike a Thinkpad keyboard).
Laptops with flat keys, yes, but laptop keyboards are a last resort.
Wow, somehow I had missed that. It also comes in Space Grey with black caps. Needless to say, going to grab one!
Of course, we have private offices. I would not advise using these great keyboards in open floor plan offices or coworking spaces.
That says more about having open floor offices than having to restrict personal use of the single most important input device in many offices.
To your second point, when it came time to get a mechanical keyboard for a open plan office, I bought a firm, but non-clacky Cherry switch keyboard. I quite like feel of it... there’s something satisfying about the Unicomp / Model M, but I can’t help but think the actual typing experience of the Rosewill generic Cherry keyboard isn’t a bit better.
I then took those components and either sold them as is or in the case of Model M keyboards - I could make them USB compatible and sell them for $100 - $150 (as opposed to $40 unaltered). I still have a few laying around, which I used through college.
Having worked with innards and written a few controllers for conversion(s) of keyboards. I have to say, unlike many, I see the appeal.
I'm currently writing this comment on a Corsair keyboard, and although there is tactile feedback - I can tell it is not a mechanical keyboard. "There's a clickety-clack, but not a snap" When you have a model M your keys (as shown in the article) essentially, buckle - and it requires more force. To be honest, after using the model M for a bit, you actually get stronger fingers...
That feeling is often preferred, I personally can work on a mac fine, but flat keyboards I can find irritating because I like the feedback mechanism.
In German the word "das Keyboard" refers to the musical instrument.
My reason for preferring mechanical keyboards is due to spinal nerve damage I have as a result of a dual disk fusion some years ago. I have limited sensation in over half of my fingers and the additional tactile and audio feedback of a mechanical keyboard makes a real difference. I tried one of the current MacBooks in the Apple store and it was awful. There is far too little feedback for my damaged hands. I use my current 2014 MacBook with an external Das Keyboard normally, but it is usable when I take it on the road. I'm not convinced that would be the case with the current MacBooks. Not to pick on Apple too much, the standard throwaway mushboards that come with the Dell systems at work are similarly unusable for me.
Arch Linux: “… um, no. The new is good. Why do you think I left Ubuntu in the first place?” (Having more control is one aspect of it, but rolling releases and not having to add a PPA to get a newer-than-five-years-ago version of a package is rather compelling too.)
There's a company at least claiming to do that (but I don't know how true to the original these capacitive switches actually are): https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/
Ordering seems to have closed yesterday, but given it's a weekend, maybe you can still sneak one in?
"A small fun fact is that a guy is intending to remake the Model F keyboards, you can check out his site here. Hope you look at your keyboards differently from now!"
The issue is that I want my full size layout like the Model M and modern keyboards. He does not seem to be making that version.
You can keep ordering until you can't; it's an illusory deadline.
Typewriters are still worse, though.
Being a curious and tinkering individual, I was presently kicked out of the class. (Insert here rant on rewarding curiosity in schools, rather than punishing it.)
Today I have a bizarre, hybrid typing style, somewhere near touch-typing with a lot of error correcting, and occasional hunt-and-peck. It's odd... the hunt-and-peck occurs more when I'm typing nonsense like passwords. Words (and quasi-words in code and the shell) seem to come out just fine.
That said, it's nice to see that even in my 40s, I can improve at something over time.
A lot of the improvements in my typing, I owe to returning to mechanical keyboards. (I think... this is completely unscientific.) First, I switched to a Das Keyboard Ultimate, without labeled keycaps. This really forced myself to get away from the crutch that was the labeled keys.
Lately, I've switched to a Kinesis Advantage 2 ergonomic keyboard. This has helped more with my hand positioning, which seems to have improved even going back to a "default keyboard" -- I've noticed that when traveling and using my laptop keyboard, my typing has also improved.
I will fully admit that in addition to attempting to improve my typing and treat/prevent RSI in a non-scientific manner, I bought these keyboards for the eccentric nerd factor. As one does.
I ended up learning to touch type by 1) switching my keyboard to dvorak in software 2) printing a paper dvorak map that I taped just below my monitor (aside: a big surplus HP CRT with BNC connectors in those days) 3) Forcing myself to use only the correct finger to hit each key, then returning to rest in the home row.
This was back in college. I was a journalism major at the time, and so my inability to touch type had become a liability. It took me about a week of slow suffering before I was off to the races.
If RSI is a problem for you, you might consider training yourself to type on a dvorak layout. There are lots of claims about dvorak (some true and some hyperbole), but one thing that is absolutely true is that the amount of finger travel is much lower. Back when I learned dvorak, I actually measured finger stretch distances from the home row on my keyboard, and compared a corpus of my emails to figure how much travel would have been required in qwerty vs dvorak. Dvorak was substantially less.
There are theoretically better layouts than dvorak, but I think dvorak strikes a great balance between ergonomics and being available and easy to switch to on every operating system.
I disagree, and I'm a Dvorak typist. In any modern OS, Colemak at the least should be commonly available. Workman is a very good layout too, and should be pretty commonly available.
Dvorak's main advantage is that it's been around a long time, but it's not really the best layout IMO. One day I want to learn Workman as it seems to correct the flaws I see with Dvorak, and it should also (just like Colemak) be easier to learn for Qwerty typists than Dvorak.
Again, this is coming from someone who's proficient in Dvorak, but not Colemak or Workman, but right now I would not recommend Dvorak to someone interested in trying an alternate layout; I'd point them to these newer alternatives instead.
Actually one of the reasons password manages are recommended is that entering passwords is never as fast as typing normal words so it's easier to shoulder surf.
It has to do with mental grouping . Words aren't a bag of letters, their order has a particular meaning. The mental overhead of "tbwvpcrwx" is 9 letters, while "WrtCdEvrydy" is, for me, 5 things: "w" "r" "t" "cd" "evrydy" (and I assume based on the capitalization, 3 things for you).
With regular use, your mind creates a mapping of "thing" to "keypresses". As long as a password remains a 9-thing bag of characters in your head, those 9 things will be slower to type than a 3-thing set of letters. But if you can create mental meaning from them, your password-typing speed will increase to where it's indistinguishable from normal words.
(Quick edit: "WrtCdEvrydy" just dropped to "3 things" for me right after posting, I now have "Wrt" in my head as the fake-word "wirt".)
Thankfully, a friend gave me another Model M recently, and it's now awaiting a clean and a cable
For those of us that spend a majority of our working (and leisure?) time typing, it only makes sense (ha!) to customize and optimize the tool you use to accomplish that.
This is apparently a love/hate thing for some, but I really like the feel (and sound — THOCK) of Topre keyboards. They use electrostatic capacitive switches and are super satisfying.
Also it’s kinda fun to build crazy customized stuff :)
Shameless plug - check out /r/mechanicalkeyboards to catch a glimpse of the depths of obsession that exist...
I took two, spray painted one black and switched over every second keycap so I had two keyboards with every 2nd key completely black.
Today I use a Logitech G413 mechanical keyboard at work, it's descent, but I still miss the old battle-tank Model M sometimes :)
Here's a link to his results for keyboard keys (they all initially looked like the control key): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZYbchvSUDY&t=780
and for an computer case (essentially everything was as brown as that rectangle you can see): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZYbchvSUDY&t=1120
If you can find an old one for sale - that is more likely to have Cherry MX.
Can someone explain to me what advantages draw them to mechanical keyboards?
Not hating, just trying to understand the phenomenon.
2. They are often very well built
I have a ortho chiclet keyboard which I think is pretty nice, and miles ahead of any membrane keyboard. But 99% of the time I still end up using mechanical keyboards.
Ok, I guess this is as subjective as it gets, but don't you think that flat keyboard with small key depression and quick reaction time beats mechanical in terms of typing speed?
So it (almost) all comes down to what feels nicer.
I think part of the reason is that I never use the right-hand shiftKey - which has always seemed obnoxiously large (because I never use it). Also not a keyboard junkie, I always type on whatever keyboard the computer/laptop comes with. To this day, I do miss the larger [Enter/Return] key but can't justify carrying an extra keyboard because of a single annoying key.
Buying this keyboard was one of the best purchases I think I've made in my life. It's just a joy to type on and brings a love for computing hardware back that I feel I've lost as computers have become commodities.
If you're on the fence, pull the trigger.
I got mine from https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/store.
I guess I'll have to look for alternatives in a few years when used ones in good condition will be hard to find, but as of now, I'd still purchase them. That's the thing with tactile tools you use every day - you just get attached to them.
I had a co-worker with a Model M. It was certainly nice (and heavy), but I had a hard time justifying paying 3x the price for it when my $40 generic mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX switches (or maybe they were "Blue" Cherry-like switches, come to think of it) were nearly as good.
I suppose if my keyboard starts to crap out in three years then maybe the Model M would be the more prudent investment, but, for the moment, it's holding strong, and I didn't need to break the bank to get one.
The layout of Model M and the tactile feedback is simply the best.. I type much faster on it than anything else.
While I know there was a bit of a reboot-project a year or two ago, other than that there really hasn't been anything that quite matches the feel of the Model F, and it's an absolute joy to type on. It's also a wonderful tool to make a lot of noise and annoy coworkers, so it's great on two fronts.
The way I figure it is that I spend a majority of my day typing on a keyboard, so it's worth it to me to have the tool that feels right to me.
It's funny that the author compares the expensive mechanical keyboards with the Logitech K120, which I have found to be the best and most comfortable keyboard that I have yet to try.
It's even more funny as it is one cheapest ones you can find (10-15USD), almost makes the keyboard even better!
The keystroke is short, but gives a sound/click response that's very subtle.
6USD is real cheap :) I might even get a few to just have backups.
Right now my biggest whinge is there are too many meta keys. Ctrl+Fn+Win+Alt+Shift is just overkill. Bring back home and end (switching to Mac years ago this was my biggest gripe), down with the Windows key, larger space bars for all! Often I find myself trying weird meta combos to get the functionality I need, I feel like I use so much different software on so many platforms it's basically easier to brute force search the meta-space than remember the damn platform-specific hotkeys half the time :)
Hint: If you think you "need"a Model M, or even a Cherry MX blue board, YOU'RE TYPING TOO HARD. Get an Apple keyboard and practice typing with a light touch.
Nothing is like that Model M IMO. It is probably straight nostalgia thinking about it. I've tried nearly every keyboard type due to working in consulting and using all kinds of laptops and desktops but I have a new personal favorite: the Chromebook Pixel keyboard. It feels like sex to type on.
Today, my prefered keyboard (for coding) is the one on my Lenovo X1 carbon. Silent, precise but "fault tolerant". Very impressive. Only issue is the layout a full keyboard would be way better.
For some reason I find that I like keyboards somewhere in the middle -- boards with good key travel but also a fair bit of mush in the key presses. Currently rotating between Topres and MX Brown switches this year.
Although, I would love doubleshot PBT caps for the colemak layout, but that is not available. Other caps tend to fade quickly.
I'm also interested in trying other switches.
Only for the record, there are guys specialized in procuring, restoring and reselling Model M's:
But then I'm a nostalgic.
Behind you, there are rows of demons eating apples, crisps, pretzels, nuts, and other crunchy things. Maybe some of the demons should be working Model M keyboards, as well.
For me, if the "digging in" distance and spring-out resistance is satisfactory it's a good keyboard. I only can't stand the laptop flat ones
But NOT older than me. I am old.
I'm typing this on a Model M I picked up from my keyboard corner just now. As I recall, this one doesn't work well; pretty soon, it will stop registering some keypresses. Never have been able to work out why :/