The cheaping out:
1) 2 layer board with two modules (one of them a DIY arduino board). Given the price tag they could have spent $2 in going 4 layers and add some ground planes.
2) Charging extra for N-key rollover? Seriously? Who though that would look good?
3) No cable?
1) Fully machined two part case. There’s a LOT of excess everywhere. More weight doesn’t make thins stronger. There were easier ways to build a case like that.
2) Every single piece aside from the switches seems to be fully custom made. “Custom” is only good if it brings value, for a lot of the pieces involved there seems to be little if any improvement.
3) from the pictures it looks like they surface finished the insides of they case, and even the support plate. Why would I care to add a brushed look to an internal part?
Here it's being used to mean that the item was customized for the manufacturer, which is completely different. Any color of keycaps you want as long as they're black, no printing available on the non-querty keys, but six types of switches.
Also bad if I need any spare parts, because they're nonstandard, and would be hard to source and expensive.
These are more like exotic cars than working tools.
The custom keyboard community includes people who indeed care about such details.
Also it's not unusual to get no cable with such kits; Custom cables are popular too.
I'm not sure how this compares to known brands in that price range as I'm not exactly an expert in case manufacturing, but I've seen designs that I find more appealing.
I like to consider myself part of that community. I don’t have the cash to spend into a collection of keyboards, but mine still cost me around $300, which I think is fair given the customizations.
This is the fist time I see a brushed support plate.
Can you pull it of with two layers? Yes, of course, but if you are charging $1000 for the thing I expect you to go 4 layers.
>I see a lot of red flags here. They claim it’s “over-engineered”, but it looks like the opposite.
Fair criticisms for some of it, but parts of it are over-engineered and the term over-engineered is usually a marketing gimmick anyways. This keyboard was a labor of love for the creator. He wanted a thing to exist and he went about learning, making, testing, and tweaking for many years. He makes everything by himself besides the PCB (which would be foolish to do).
The majority of the cost of this keyboard is in the keycaps, which are the part that is over-engineered IMO. They are possibly the best keycaps on the market by a long shot. Each key is hand-poured by this one guy (at least when it was first on the market) and it takes a very long time to make a set. People begged him to sell just the caps but he said given the labor intensive process he thinks a lot of people would laugh at the price he would have to charge.
This case was specifically designed for Alps switches. Vintage alps switches are considered by many people to be the best mechanical switches ever created. The case here might not be milled from a giant, solid block of metal, but with Alps switches you don't necessarily want that. Most people are looking for something with acoustic properties that make Alps sound as good as the vintage boards from which they came. The Keymacs case isn't the most expensively manufactured case in the world, but it has great acoustics and sounds better than most modern Alps cases, which in turn means it sounds better than almost all modern keyboards period to those who like the clicky/clacky keyboard noises. I happen to think it still looks very nice though.
There's a lot of people that are obsessed with old Lisp machine keyboards, specifically Symbolics keyboards. This isn't an exact replica, but it is more a reimagining of a specific model of Symbolics keyboard, only with the added benefit of it being compatible with a much better mechanical switch than the original (although some of the old ones had very good switches too).
The creator is well aware that at the price he's not going to sell these to anyone aside from die hard alps/Symbolics fans. Last I heard he was looking into options to manufacture things in a less labor-intensive way but the cost is pretty justified given the amount of work he puts into it.
Fair point but the people buying a board like this are probably using a $100 custom cable with aviator connectors.
>Every single piece aside from the switches seems to be fully custom made.
For this keyboard layout the PCB and keycaps pretty much had to be custom made. The whole point of the board is using the Symbolics layout. My understanding is that if you try to get a set made by GMK/EPBT/ the other big keycap manufacturers they are limited by the molds they have for specific sizes/profile and the price being reasonable is based on being able to move a large number of sets. The switches are basically the only thing that didn't have to be custom made as a matter of necessity.
IMO its fairly faithful to the one its actually based on:
Quick edit: FWIW, I'm not knocking the keyboard, I just have no attachment to the Symbolics board and was hoping this was a poorly labeled post talking about the spacecadet instead.
It has the sublegends on the top like the original but not the ones on the front side of the keycap (I don't think modern manufacturers are even willing to try that).
If you don't want to go with KAT Space Cadet, GMK has a similar set that should be shipping soon, if not now. Once again there will be people selling them on the aftermarket.
* No arrow key cluster
* Alps rather than Cherry switches, which in my opinion means much less choice of switch and keycap.
* No QMK firmware (I think?)
I'm really looking forward to getting my Keyboardio Model 100. Going to have fun customizing the keys and getting used to a split keyboard. I'm definitely going to get another small macro pad so I can have arrow keys.
* It does support QMK.
If someone is trying to get rich quick there are far more effective ways then selling a handful of keyboards to a few nerds with disposable income.
Also, custom keyboards are basically fashion accessories (and I'm typing this on a $1200 fashion accessory so that's not a criticism of people who like fancy keyboards). After you get above a few hundred dollars the diminishing returns hit hard and fast and at that points 99% of what you are getting is aesthetics unless you're talking about some kind of rare vintage board. Luxury items are frequently priced different from practical items. Lots of people will pay 10-100x the price of an item because it was "made by hand" just because they want to enjoy the expertise of the person who made it rather than just have an object that was produced by a machine.
It hits a lot of checkboxes for high-end custom keyboards, but combined with Alps-type switches and totally custom-made keycaps, this really sets a new precedent.
Personally, I'd rather use something with ortholinear or column-staggered keys. If I was a row-staggered person however, then this would be it.
That said the board looks seriously under-engineered. It's a bit ridiculous to invest so much in high quality switches and an enclosure built like a tank without spending any time on designing the board to withstand any forces, passing the buck onto their customers to make sure everything is soldered correctly...
I'd be confident the enclosure survives a fall and lasts a lifetime but certainly not anything inside it.
There are no suppliers IIRC. He spends like 2 weeks making a set of keycaps by hand and that's why its so expensive.
He also manufactures the cases himself.
The fully machined aluminum case probably plays a part in there too.
Manufacturing things is expensive because of the fixed costs. To make it cheaper you need to make enough sets to dilute the fixed cost among N buyers. If at N=20 the price is already something people will pay, that’s not expensive IMO.
The problem is that the case doesn’t work that way, because the costs of machined aluminium are pretty much linear with N.
While I like the layout and the keys and the legends, I don't love the case; this, I think, has more character:
Whether the Alps are "best of the best" is a matter of personal preference.
Matias' switches are modern clones of the vintage Alps switches. They have a poor reputation for reliability though, sadly.
I've tried modern and vintage and even modern ones modded to feel like vintage in various boards and the real vintage ones are far superior.
These appear to not be Matias though based on the stems https://deskthority.net/wiki/Matias_switch
36000 keyboard were all Hall-Effect like their predecessor Space Cadet and Knight keyboards.
All of them (Knight, Space Cadet, Symbolics) used linear switches.
I think some of the space cadet keyboards used hall effect switches which were supposed to be pretty good too.
This board is modelled after a non-space cadet keyboard which I don't think used either hall effect or Alps.
These days I'm using a Kinesis Edge with lifters: comfortable, ergonomic, and, likly, reliable.
Anyway I would probably get a Kinesis Advantage or Maltron 3D keyboard for these prices. Fully assembled, with a warranty. :)
I look forward to another iteration of a symbolics keyboard...
I have heard that Betty Crocker cake mix initially wasn't very popular. Housewives didn't like it. They reformulated it so that it wasn't "just add water" - you had to add an egg as well. That made it a lot more popular, because people could still feel like "I made that cake".
I wonder if this isn't the same. "I built that" gives more pride of ownership than "I took it out of a box.".
It's excessive in every single aspect. I'd prefer it to have a plastic shell around all that aluminum, but, even as it is, I want it.
I don't even have the desk space to put it, but, still, I want it.
If you’re calling your board keymacs it should have exceptional ergonomics for default emacs style binds. They did get the parentheses right though which is nice.
I want to see this small family business succeed and I would consider low four figures for the perfect emacs board so I hope they iterate on this.
It's a newer version of the early 80s keyboard from Symbolics:
The Symbolics computers used an editor called Zmacs.
Perhaps the company will come up with a resolution though.
Personally I'm using the Mini Tactile Pro for the Mac; I don't love the look, but the feel is fine and I haven't had any reliability problems. (Others have reported Matias switches and/or keyboards as being a bit flaky, but personally my MTP has been fine.)
There are other keyboards which use Matias switches occasionally, but they're few and far between. KB Paradise is the other big user, I think.