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Mechanical Keyboard Guide


This discussion is about "Mechanical Keyboard Guide" in the "Computer Hardware" forums.
The Mechanical Keyboard Guide Fact: Nearly all keyboards sold bundled with computers or at retail stores use rubber domes under their keys. This is the ...

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    Default Mechanical Keyboard Guide


    The Mechanical Keyboard Guide

    Fact: Nearly all keyboards sold bundled with computers or at retail stores use rubber domes under their keys. This is the same technology used in cheap TV remotes. They're made to be as cheap as possible to manufacture in order to maximize profits. Yes, this even includes "high end" keyboards. So why settle for something that is made as cheap as possible?

    So Why do YOU want a Mechanical Keyboard?

    For most people it's all about the feel. With the keyboard you're typing on right now you've got to press the key all the way down to the bottom to get it to register. This wastes a lot of energy and causes fatigue, as most of your effort is spent pushing against a solid piece of plastic. Mechanical keyswitches are designed so that they register before you bottom out, so you only need to apply as much force as is necessary to actuate it, not wasting any. And with as many different types of switches as there are you can pick and choose which one you're the most comfortable with, as each one has a different feel to it. And most people who try one can never go back to using rubber domes, as they realize just how "mushy" they really feel.


    Index:




    Credits:

    Original Guide Created by Manyak @ Mechanical Keyboard Guide
    Frequent Updates done by Tator Tot
    Alps Section & Input on Buckling Springs thanks to ch_123
    Animated Pictures of Cherry MX Switches in action are thanks to Lethal Squirrel on Geekhack
    Animated Picture of the Buckling Spring Switch thanks to Qwerter's Clinic
    Pictures of Keycaps thanks to Ripster on OCN & Geekhack
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:14 PM.
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    Default Terminology

    Terminology

    Key Blocking & Ghosting

    Ghosting is when you press two keys on the keyboard, and a 3rd key - which you didn't press - gets sent to the PC as well. This is very rarely seen on even the cheapest modern boards, because manufacturers have the habit of limiting the rollover so that ghost keys are always blocked.


    Key Blocking is as simple as it sounds; you experiencing it when you reach your maximum key roll over. So if you press 2 keys, and the third key is blocked on your board; then you just experienced blocking because your keyboard is only 2KRO.

    Key Rollover (#KRO & NKRO)

    NKRO is when you can press as many keys as you want at the same time, and all of them go through. This is similar to what some 'gaming keyboards' incorrectly market as "anti-ghosting", even though Logitech and Razer only apply it to the WASD cluster. Note that right now only PS/2 keyboards can exhibit full n-key rollover; though Microsoft and Ducky are just two companies who have already looked at designing NKRO over USB.


    #KRO, where # = Any Number, is the key roll over of your board; and stands for the maximum number of keys you can press without experiencing any key blocking.


    Many USB mechanical Keyboards are labeled as 6KRO, meaning any 6 keys can be pressed at once without the user experiencing blocking. This is generally enough for most users. Though a limited number of games may have a problem with 6KRO.

    USB keyboards with 6KRO also allow for a maximum of 4 modifier keys to be used with those 6 normal keys. These modifiers include CTRL, ALT, Shift, & Super (Windows, Command, or Meta Key.)

    Sometimes this also includes the FN key present on select keyboards.

    Key Bouncing

    All types of key switches - including rubber domes - do this. When you press a key, the switch "bounces" on and off very quickly as it sets into place. This causes keys to register multiple times for each press. Because of this, keyboards need to implement some sort of debouncing delay - so that once you press a key, the controller waits a certain amount of time before registering a keypress. As an example, Cherry MX switches need 5ms of debouncing time, while rubber domes need longer (exactly how long depends on their quality).

    Polling Rates and Response Times

    While it is very useful for mice, it's just about meaningless for keyboards. Let's assume for a minute that all switches have the 5ms debouncing time of Cherry MX switches (which is being very generous). Even if you had super human speed and reflexes, every single key would be delayed by at least that much. So really, any polling rate over 200Hz (at best) is absolutely useless, and nothing but market hype. It may even be a bit detrimental, because you'd be wasting CPU time polling the keyboard unneededly. And unlike USB keyboards, PS/2 boards aren't polled at all. They simply send the signal to the PC whenever they are ready to, which causes a hardware interrupt, forcing the CPU to register that keystroke.

    PS/2 or USB?

    PS/2 wins on three fronts: First, it supports full n-key rollover. Second, PS/2 keyboards aren't polled, but are completely interrupt based. And third, it is impossible for it to be delayed by the USB bus being used by other devices. There are two types of USB transfer modes - the interrupt transfer mode (USB polls keyboard, when key is sensed the USB controller sends the interrupt to the CPU), and the isochronous transfer mode, which reserves a certain amount of bandwidth for the keyboard with a guaranteed latency on the bus. Unfortunately, there are absolutely no keyboards made that use the latter, because special controllers would have to be used, thus making it cost prohibitive.


    So if your keyboard supports both PS/2 and USB, and your PC has a PS/2 port, there's no reason not to use it.
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:10 PM.

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    Default Common Key Switches

    Common Key Switches

    Introduction - A Switch is Not "Just a Switch"


    Many people ask for recommendations about switches without knowing exactly what they are looking for, but instead only with an idea of what their needs are. Fortunately, this is not always a problem because most mechanical switches will always feel nicer than rubber domes. However, the final choice is very important because a switch is not just a switch; it is the heart of what makes your keyboard have its feel and your personal tastes can make or break a keyboard for your uses. If you don't like the switch when you type on it, most likely, you won't ever like the keyboard.


    Switches are generally rated by force using the weight measurement of Grams (g). Although force is more accurately described using Centinewtons (cN) However, 1g of weight applies about 1cN of downward force, so we can use "55g" when describing a 55cN-rated switch because that is sometimes easier to understand. For this fact; we'll use Grams as a measurement of force; though either term is correct.

    For perspective, it would be wise to remember that your average rubber dome keyboard requires between 55g and 60g of force to actuate.


    Cherry MX Black Switches


    Type: Linear Switch
    Link: Datasheet
    Tactile: No
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: 60g (40g-80g overall) (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX-Black switches are linear (non-tactile) switches, these are considered one of the best switch types for gaming. When gaming, having a tactile bump does absolutely nothing because you're going to be bottoming out anyway. So these give you a very smooth feel. The actuation and release points are at the exact same position as well. So games that require a lot of double tapping become easier than on any other keyswitch. However, most people don't enjoy typing on them that much do in part, to their linear nature.
    If you're a person who tends to hit a wrong key every so often while gaming, these will be beneficial in that the high actuation force will help prevent many of those accidental presses.
    Cherry MX Brown Switches


    Type: Tactile Switch
    Link: Datasheet
    Tactile: Yes
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: 45g (55g Peak Force) (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Brown switches are considered a middle ground between typing and "gaming" switches. They have a light, tactile feel half way through the key press that lets you know the switch has activated. This gives you an indication of what you can release the switch. The switch is considered a middle ground because the reset point & actuation point are close enough together than you can "float" at that point, enabling you to double tap faster.


    As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 55G, it is 45G at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.
    Cherry MX Blue Switches


    Type: Tactile & Clicky Switch
    Link: Datasheet
    Tactile: Yes, precise
    Clicky: Yes
    Actuation Force: 50g (60g Peak Force) (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Blue switches are the best cherry switch for typing. The tactile bump can easily be felt, and the resistance is similar to your average keyboard.


    Although many people find them just fine for gaming, some don't like the fact that the release point is above the actuation point. This can cause some trouble with double-tapping. This is usually the case with someone who has experienced other mechanical switches before hand.

    As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 60g, it is 50g at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.

    Cherry MX Clear Switches


    Type: Tactile Switch
    Link: Datasheet
    Tactile: Yes
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: 55g (65G peak force) (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX Clear switches have often been called "stiffer browns" though some users note that they have more of a tactile feel than browns do. This really can be a subjective topic, though this is another switch that could be considered "ballanced." The force required is comparable to most rubber dome keyboards, with a nice tactile feedback to tell you the key has actuated. These switches are harder to find on keyboards.

    As a note: this switch actually has a peak force of 65g, it is 55g at the point of actuation. This is due to the design of the Cherry switch itself.
    Cherry MX Red Switches


    Type: Linear Switch
    Link: Datasheet
    Tactile: No
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: 45g (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottomCherry MX-Red's are another switch that can be considered a "gaming" switch. It's essentially a lighter version of the MX Black, requiring less force to actuate. Some people do not find this switch that good for typing or gaming because it is so light, but others rave for this fact. Light or Stiff is always a matter of preference. This switch was hard to find; and was reported as EOL, but it is still in limited production with a higher than average MOQ leading to higher cost to board makers. Marketed with high demand, boards with this switch are becoming more common, but are generally more expensive as well.
    Buckling Spring Keyswitches:


    Type: Tactile & Clicky Mechanical Switch
    Link: Patent
    Tactile: Yes, very precise
    Clicky: Yes, loud
    Actuation Force: 65g-70g (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 2.3mm to actuation, 3.7mm to bottomBuckling springs are pretty straightforward once you see them in action. After pushing the key down a certain distance the spring buckles under pressure, causing the hammer at the bottom to hit a membrane sheet and create an electrical contact. The buckling of the spring also provides tactile feedback and a satisfying click as it hits the shaft wall. And you might also notice through the force diagrams that this is the only mechanical switch where the tactile and audible feedback correspond to the exact moment the switch actuates.
    Black Alps


    Type: Tactile Mechanical Switch
    Tactile: Yes
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: Simplified 60g, Complicated 70g (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 3.5mmBlack Alps are one of the two most common Alps switch types. Many people do not like these switches due to the fact that they are stiff, bottom out hard, and tend to develop friction in the travel as they wear. Nonetheless, they are an improvement over most rubber dome keyboards.


    There are two different types of Black Alps switch - an older type known as the "Complicated" due to the large number of parts in the switch, and a newer type known as the "Simplified", which was manufactured by Alps and some other companies. Complicated switches are common in many older keyboards, particularly the Dell AT101W, which is a very common mechanical keyboard from the 1990s.


    The most well known Simplified Black switch is made by a company called Fukka, and was used in the ABS M1. The Fukka switch has less resistance, but many claim that it provides less solid tactility than the complicated switch.

    White Alps


    Type: Clicky & Tactile Mechanical Switch
    Tactile: Yes
    Clicky: Yes
    Actuation Force: 60g-70g (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 3.5mmWhite Alps are one of the most common Alps switch types. These are far more popular than the Black switches due to more pronounced tactility, and the lower force requirements of some versions. Like the Black Alps, White Alps are much easier to bottom out on compared with other mechanical keyswitch designs.


    As with the Black switch. there are Complicated and Simplified White switches. The two most popular Simplified White switches are the Fukka and the XM. The XM is almost universally considered to be a terrible switch, it was used on some older Filco Zero models, and some vintage keyboards. The Fukka switch is quite popular, and some people prefer them over the Complicated switch. It is used on some current production Alps keyboards such as current production Filco Zeros, Matias keyboards and some others. Complicated White switches were used on some well made keyboards from the 90s such as the Northgate and Focus keyboards.


    There are also a variety of White Alps-like switches of varying quality. Some, like the SMK Monterey, are considered very pleasant to type on.
    .
    Topre Key Switches:

    (larger image)

    Type:
    Tactile Capacitive Switch
    Link: Patent
    Tactile: Yes
    Clicky: No
    Actuation Force: 30g, 35g, 45g, 55g depending on model (Force Diagram)
    Key Travel: 4mmTopre switches are somewhat of a hybrid switch, and are capacitive by nature. The Topre mechanism uses a spring underneath a rubber dome, and the depression of the spring causes a change in capacitance between the underlying capacitor pads. With this change in capacitance; the switch activates.


    Topre Switches are considered some of the finest switches available, as they offer a very enjoyable typing experience with a quieter experience compared to a Cherry MX, Alps, or Buckling Spring switch. The reason is Topre switches have the smoothest force gradient even compared to Linear switches like MX-Reds and MX-Blacks.
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:11 PM.

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    Default Keycap Plastics & Design

    Keycap Plastics & Design

    Keycap Plastics:

    The two most common keycap plastics are ABS and PBT plastics. Each has their own price to performance ratio; though in a general sense, PBT Key Caps are generally a better buy. We'll go over why:



    PBT Plastic (Polybutylene Terephthalate)
    • Can Survive up to 150*C (or more in some cases)
    • Resistant to solvents
    • Mechanically Strong
    • Does not "shine" as fast
    • Expensive

    ABS Plastic (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene)
    • Solvents will "melt" the keys
    • Keys develope "shine" faster
    • Low Cost
    • Light Weight


    Keytop Shapes:

    Cylindrical - Almost all keyboards today use this shape. This is often referred to as sculpted design. The shape is meant to cradle the finger tip.




    Flat - Frequently found on laptops and "laptop style" keyboards. These are also found on PointOfSale (POS) keyboards because of the replaceable legends.




    Spherical - This shape is normally found on vintage keyboards and type writers

    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:11 PM.

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    Default Keycap Printing Methods

    Keycap Printing Methods

    Pad Printing


    This is the type of printing you'll find on 99% of keyboards. It is the cheapest method possible, short of leaving the keys blank. Pad Printed letters are kind of like stickers, or decals, and you can feel the letter raised above the key surface.


    Example: (Microsoft Ergo Keyboard)





    Pros:
    • Low Cost
    • Can print multiple colors on a single key
    • Can be used on any face of the key


    Cons:
    • You can feel the lettering
    • Wears out quickly


    Laser Etching

    Laser etched keys are...well...the name says it all. They feel a bit scratchy. The process works best on light colored keys because the letter always comes out black, since that's the color of burnt plastic. So when it's used on black keys, a paint filler is poured into it, as is done with the keyboards like the Das Model S


    Example: (Dell AT101W)





    Pros:
    • Doesn't wear out easily


    Cons:
    • You can feel the lettering
    • Blurry


    Dye Sublimation

    Dye Sublimation produces much nicer keys than either of the other two printing methods. A dye is set into the plastic, and seeps a tiny bit into it. So even as the plastic starts to wear off from use, the letter remains as good as new. Unfortunately, because of its cost, the only companies left that use it are Topre, Cherry Corp, and Unicomp.


    Example:





    Pros:
    • Doesn't wear out
    • Can't feel the lettering
    • Can print multiple colors on a single key
    • Can be used on any face of the key
    • High Visibility


    Cons:
    • High Cost
    • Can only print letters that are darker than the plastic (no white lettering on black plastic, for example)


    Double-Shot Injection Molding

    With this method, the keycap actually consists of two pieces. The first piece is the outside of the keycap with the letter basically cut out of it, and the second piece is placed inside it with the lettering embossed to fit into the top piece. You can see it in this diagram:



    This method of printing results in the highest quality keycaps possible. The edges of the letters are perfectly sharp, and it achieves the highest contrast, clearest lettering possible. Unfortunately, because of the very high price, only TG3 Electronics (Deck Keyboards) still uses this method on their keyboards, and Fentek and Signature Plastics can create custom caps with it.


    Example: OCN Keycap




    The easiest way to verify if a key is double shot molded is to check from underneath. You will be able to see the two different colored plastics.



    Pros:
    • Doesn't wear out, ever
    • Perfect edges
    • Highest contrast and visibility


    Cons:
    • Highest Cost
    • Limited to two colors per key
    • On worn keys you can sometimes feel the edge where the plastics meet
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:11 PM.

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    Default Modern Mechanical Keyboards Part 1

    Modern Mechanical Keyboards Part 1


    This is a small overview of easily available Mechanical Keyboards in the US, please do not use it as the end all be all resource but I hope it is helpful in reference material and choosing a proper keyboard for your needs.


    Overclock.net Edition Ducky DK9008


    Link: Overclock.net
    Price: $110 ($140 for special edition)
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blues or Cherry MX Browns
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printing (standard) Laser Etched and dye filled (special edition)
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 or USB
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6+4 key (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Detachable USB Cable, Fn Media Keys, Swappable Caps Lock & Control, Windows Keys Disable, 4 macro keys, Windows Key & Alt keys switchable.
    Drawbacks:

    Unicomp Customizers


    Link: Unicomp Store
    Price: $69 - $99
    Switch Type: Buckling Springs (60-65G)
    Switch Mounting: Steel Plate Backed
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 or USB
    Rollover: 2KRO
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Trackball, Terminal, Point of Sale, & Trackpoint versions available
    Other: SpaceSaver 104,Pearl White 104, Customizer 101, On The Ball 103/104, On The Ball 101, On The Stick Model available, Point-of-Sale, & Terminal Keyboards available Linux Keycaps Available, Blank Keycaps Available(At Checkout)



    Das Model S


    Link: Das Keyboard
    Price: $129-$135
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blues (Professional, Ultimate), Cherry MX Browns (Silent)
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched (Professional, Silent), Blank (Ultimate)
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 or USB
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6+4 key (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: USB Hub
    Drawbacks: Shiny case attracts fingerprints, USB hub requires separate port


    Rosewill RK-9000


    Link: Newegg | ChiefValue
    Price: $80-$100
    Switch Type: Cherry MX-Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2 (adapter not included)
    Rollover: 6KRO (USB) | NKRO (PS/2)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: None
    Drawbacks: No PS/2 adapter included.
    Other: Red plate under keys looks sharp in normal light.

    SIIG JK-US0112-S1


    Link: Newegg
    Price: $70-80
    Switch Type: White Alps (Fukkas)
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: 2KRO
    Layout: Modified ANSI Layout
    Extra Features:
    Drawbacks: Switches are susceptible to dirt in them causing problems.
    Other: Lifetime Warranty

    ZOWIE Gear CELERITAS


    Link: Newegg
    Price: $120
    Switch Type: Cherry MX-Brown
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser-etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: 6KRO (USB) | NKRO (PS/2)
    Layout: Modified ANSI Layout
    Extra Features: Multimedia Keys, Swappable Windows & CTRL keys, Real Time Response function (only works on PS/2)
    Drawbacks:
    Other: Reported as Nylon keycaps, durability may be a concern?

    Deck Legend


    Link: Deck Keyboards
    Price: $149-$176
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blacks with MX Grey Spacebar, or Cherry MX Clears
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimation
    Key Shape: Flat
    Interface: PS/2 or USB
    Rollover: NKRO
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Backlit using a single industrial grade LED on each switch with controllable brightness. Controllable Brightness for the Caps/Num/Scroll Lock LEDs as well.
    Drawbacks: Requires the addition/removal of a resistor on the controller PCB to switch between USB and PS/2. Is also larger than other mechanicals.
    Other: The warranty allows for modding, and they encourage it. Deck is a subsidiary of TG3 Electronics, which also makes mechanical keyboards.


    Deck 82


    Link: Deck Keyboards
    Price: $119
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blacks
    Switch Mounting: PCB
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB default, PS/2 Capable
    Rollover: NKRO
    Layout: Tenkeyless Modified US ANSI
    Extra Features: Backlit using a single industrial grade LED on each switch with controllable brightness
    Drawbacks: Requires the addition/removal of a resistor on the controller PCB to switch between USB and PS/2
    Other: The warranty allows for modding, and they encourage it. Deck is a subsidiary of TG3 Electronics, which also makes mechanical keyboards. Backlight colors other than blue are no longer in production.

    Thermaltake Meka G1



    Link: Newegg
    Price: $130
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blacks
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Flat
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: USB Hub, Pass through Audio Ports, Detachable Wrist Wrest, Multimedia Keys
    Drawbacks: cable is really thick
    Other: 1000hz polling not known to benefit the board in anyway.

    Filco Majestouch 104


    Link: Amazon
    Price:
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Brown, MX-Black, MX-Blue, or MX-Red
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: None
    Drawbacks: Not available in the US right now
    Other:

    Filco Majestouch Tenkeyless


    Link: Amazon
    Price: $140 ($165 for the Cherry MX Red version)
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Brown, MX-Black, MX-Blue, or MX-Red
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: None
    Drawbacks: Pricey for what is offered
    Other: Cherry MX-Red, Brown, Black, & Blue versions available

    Leopold FC200R


    Link: EliteKeyboards
    Price: $110
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX-Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Lazered with white infill ABS
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 17+8KRO (USB) (reported)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Detachable USB cable
    Drawbacks:
    Other: Available with MX-Blues or in "Otaku" form with blank keys & MX-Browns


    iOne Scorpius M10


    Link: http://www.max-geek-llc-amazonwebstore.com
    Price: $59
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blues
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 2KRO
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: None
    Drawbacks: Cheap Construction
    Other: Older keyboards have soldering problems, so avoid buying used


    Steelseries 7G


    Link: http://www.newegg.com
    Price: $139
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blacks
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: NKRO
    Layout: US ANSI, Large Enter Key, Small Backspace, Relocated Slash
    Extra Features: USB hub, pass-through 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, detachable wrist-rest
    Drawbacks:
    Other:


    Steelseries 6Gv2


    Link: Newegg
    Price: $89-$100
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blacks
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI, Large Enter Key, Relocated [ /? ] key
    Drawbacks:
    Other:
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:11 PM.

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    Default Modern Mechanical Keyboards Part 2

    Modern Mechanical Keyboards Part 2

    ACK-6600


    Link: SmartKeyboard Sales
    Price: $65
    Switch Type: White Alps (Fukkas)
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: 2KRO
    Layout: US ANSI, Large Enter Key, Small Backspace, Relocated Slash
    Extra Features:
    Drawbacks:
    Other:

    DSI Big Font


    Link: DSI Store
    Price: $45
    Switch Type: Yellow Alps (XM) (Linear)
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: 2KRO
    Layout: US ANSI, Large Enter Key, Small Backspace, Relocated Slash
    Extra Features: Large Font is very easy to see.
    Drawbacks: Build quality is only so-so, switches can be wobbly.
    Other:

    Topre RealForce 103U



    Link:[/B] EliteKeyboards
    Price: $215-$245
    Switch Type: Topre Capacitive 55g (103U 55G) or Topre Capacitive Variable (103U)
    Switch Mounting: PCB
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 6KRO (PS/2 doesn't work)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features:
    Drawbacks:
    Other: Numpad can be purchased separately. Topre Realforce 23U


    Topre Realforce 86U


    Link: EliteKeyboards
    Price: $265
    Switch Type: Topre Capacitive Variable Weight
    Switch Mounting: PCB
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 6KRO (PS/2 doesn't work)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Swappable Caps & CTRL Keys
    Drawbacks:
    Other: Numpad can be purchased separately. Topre Realforce 23U


    [SIZE=6][U][B]Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional II


    Link: EliteKeyboards
    Price: $275
    Switch Type: Topre Capacitive 45g
    Switch Mounting: PCB
    Keycap Printing: Dye Sublimated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 6 KRO
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Switchable Caps Lock and Ctrl Key
    Drawbacks: Altered layout
    Other: Numpad can be purchased separately. Topre Realforce 23U

    Matias Tactile Pro 3.0


    Link: Matias
    Price: $149
    Switch Type: White Alps Strongman
    Switch Mounting:
    Keycap Printing:
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 or USB
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI with Mac keys
    Extra Features: Media Keys, Mac keys, Extra printed symbols to help find them on a Mac ( £ ¥ © ...)
    Drawbacks:
    Other: Some production runs of older versions (2.0 and 1.0) have a ghosting problem, so avoid buying those used unless the seller can confirm he has a fixed one.



    Adesso MKB-135B Pro


    Link: Amazon
    Price: $58-$71
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: NKRO
    Layout: US ANSI MK-135B
    Extra Features: USB Hub, headphone jack
    Drawbacks: Lesser quality construction
    Other: Cheaper and smaller version available, the MK-125B


    Adesso MKB-125B


    Link: Provantage
    Price: $55
    Switch Type: Cherry MX Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Pad Printed
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 2KRO PS/2 or USB
    Layout: Altered ISO
    Extra Features:
    Drawbacks: Lesser quality construction
    Other: Altered layout can be hard for some to use.

    Cherry G80-3494



    Link: Taobao
    Price: Email obook@yahoo.cn for inquiry
    Switch Type: Cherry MX
    Switch Mounting: PCB
    Keycap Printing: Laser Etched
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: NKRO
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: None
    Drawbacks: "Flimsy" build, casing is not as durable as other keyboards listed
    Other: The white model has a Polystyrene casing with PBT keycaps, the black model has an ABS casing with POM keycaps.


    iOne Xarmor U9BL


    Link: Amazon
    Price: $150
    Switch Type: MX Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: Dye sublimation, overlaid with a rubber coating with the letter laser engraved from it
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: PS/2 and USB
    Rollover: NKRO (PS/2) | 6KRO (USB)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Individual LED backlight for each key, USB hub, pass-through 3.5mm audio/mic jacks, media keys, detachable wrist rest
    Drawbacks: Some concerns about keycap durability


    Razer BlackWidow Ultimate


    Link: Razer Store
    Price: $130
    Switch Type: MX Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: ABS, translucent key painted, then lasered.
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 2KRO (USB) (but has a gaming optimized matrix around WASD)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: Individual LED backlight for each key, USB hub, pass-through 3.5mm audio/mic jacks, media keys
    Drawbacks: Some concerns about keycap durability, glossy surface holds dust and oil (fingerprints) easily.


    Razer BlackWidow


    Link: Razer Store
    Price: $80
    Switch Type: MX Blue
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Keycap Printing: ABS, Lasered with infill, coated
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Rollover: 2KRO (USB) (but has a gaming optimized matrix around WASD)
    Layout: US ANSI
    Extra Features: media keys
    Drawbacks: Some concerns about keycap durability, glossy surface holds dust and oil (fingerprints) easily.

    Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboards


    *Being Reworked*

    Kinesis Advantage


    Link: Kinesis Store
    Price: $299
    Switch Type: MX Blue or MX Brown
    Switch Mounting: Plate
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB
    Layout: US ANSI QWERTY or DVORAK
    Extra Features: Foot Switches available
    Other: 2 Port USB Hub

    Maltron Dual Hands 3D


    Link: Maltron Store
    Price: £375
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Layout: US ANSI QWERTY, DVORAK, Maltron-QWERTY, Maltron-DVORAK, or Maltron
    Extra Features: Foot Switches available
    Other: 2 Port USB Hub

    Maltron Dual Hands 2D Flat


    Link: Maltron Store
    Price: £295
    Key Shape: Sculpted
    Interface: USB or PS/2
    Layout: US ANSI QWERTY, DVORAK, Maltron-QWERTY, Maltron-DVORAK, or Maltron
    Extra Features: Foot Switches available
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:12 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Keyboards By Switch Type

    Keyboards By Switch Type

    ----Common Switch Types----
    • Buckling Spring
      • IBM Model M - All Pre-1994, Some Post-1994
      • Most Unicomp Keyboards

    • Topre
      • Happy Hacking Pro 2
      • Realforce
      • Epson InterKX IKXFKB

    • Cherry MX Blue
      • iOne Scorpius M10
      • iOne Scorpius M10 BL
      • Leopold FC200R
      • Ducky DK-9008
      • Ducky DK-9000
      • Ducky DK-1008
      • Ducky DK-1087
      • Ducky DK-9008-G2
      • Cherry G80-3000 LSCRC-2
      • iOne Scorpius 35
      • Das Model S

    • Cherry MX Brown
      • Filco FKBN104M/EB
      • Filco FKBN87M/EB
      • Leopold FC200R
      • Ducky DK-9008
      • Ducky DK-9000
      • Ducky DK-1008
      • Ducky DK-1087
      • Ducky DK-9008-G2
      • Filco FKB104M/EB
      • FKB22MB
      • Compaq MX 11800
      • Compaq 11802
      • Cherry G80-3000

    • Cherry MX Red
      • Cherry G80-3600LYCEU-0

    • Cherry MX Black
      • Deck Keyboards
      • Leopold FC200R
      • Ducky DK-9008-G2
      • Ducky DK-9008
      • Ducky DK-9000
      • Ducky DK-1008
      • Ducky DK-1087
      • Steelseries 7G
      • Cherry MX 11900
      • Cherry G80-3000LPCEU-0

    • Simplified ALPS Black
      • ABS M1

    • Simplified ALPS White
      • Matias Tactile Pro 2.0
      • Solidtek ASK-6600U
      • Solidtek KB-6600ABU
      • SIIG Minitouch
      • Kinesis Evolution

    • Original ALPS Black
      • Dell AT101W

    • Original ALPS White
      • Focus 2000
      • Focus 2001
      • Focus FK-5001
      • Unitek K-258
      • Nan Tan KB-6551





    ----Uncommon Switch Types----
    • SMK "Monterey" Switches
      • Chicony KB-5181

    • Cherry ML Black
      • Optimus Maximus
      • Cherry ML4100


    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:12 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Replacement Keycaps & Maintenance

    Replacement Keycaps & Maintenance

    Keycap Pullers:



    Extra Keycaps:

    Cherry MX Keycaps

    Alps Keycaps

    Topre Keycaps



    Cleaning

    Every once in a while you may want to clean your keyboard. There are many ways of doing this, and can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours depending on how much dirt you're trying to get out of it and exactly what needs to be cleaned. If you've just spilled a can of Pepsi on your board and don't know what to do, you've come to the right place.


    A good PC tool to have right now is the DataVac as it can replace canned air and compressors.

    Quick Cleaning

    Keyboards can get dirty pretty quickly. I mean, let's be honest here; it's not like most of us actually wash our hands every single time we're about to sit down at the PC. And on top of that there's always dust and hair that can fall in-between the keys. So it's always good to give your board a quick cleaning every week or two.
    <ol style="list-style-type:decimal;">[*] Use canned air (or an air compressor if you don't care for convenience) to blow out any loose dust or dirt from underneath the keys.[*] Wipe the keytops and casing down with a clean cloth, dampened with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. Pay extra attention to any keys that you might be using the most frequently, such as WASD.
    • Note: On Filcos, use water instead of Alcohol. Filcos have a special coating on them that gets ruined if you use it.

    [*] If you're a heavy smoker and the casing seems to be yellowing, wipe it down with Windex.


    Doing these things on a regular basis will keep your board looking great.

    Deep Cleaning

    If you've just gotten a used keyboard off of ebay that looks like it was used at a mechanic shop, or just spilled your drink right into it, your board needs a deep cleaning. If you do ever spill anything into it, make sure you clean it immediately. The longer you wait, the worse the cleanup is going to be - and may end up being next to impossible.[*] Take the keycaps off of the switches (see the next section for details on how to do this)[*] Open up the casing and take the PCB/membranes out. Each keyboard is different, but normally there's a combination of both screws underneath the board and tabs on the sides holding the top and bottom pieces together.[*] If you don't have a dishwasher or prefer not to use it, put both the keycaps and casing in a bath of warm water and dish soap, and let them soak for at least a good 30 minutes.[*] The process for cleaning off the circuitry varies depending on what sort of switches you have:
    • Cherry, Alps, and other similar switches: Place the entire PCB+switch assembly into a container of distilled water. Shake the board around vigorously so that the water can clean out the inside of the switches as well. To dry it out, shake it until you no longer hear any water stuck inside the switches. Then set it either on it's side or upside down to dry. Using a blow dryer to dry it is safe as long as you don't stick to one spot for too long, and canned air can help get the water out of the switches very quickly.
    • Membrane boards, including Rubber Domes and Buckling Springs: Separate the layers of membranes, and wipe them down with a damp cloth (distilled water only), and then again with a dry cloth. If the layers are fastened together, dip them into distilled water and flex and shake them around until they are as clean as they can get, then flap them around to get the water out. You may also be able to slip a cloth or paper towel in between them to dry them, but remember to check for any lint that gets stuck. Rubber domes should only be rinsed using distilled water at or close to room temperature (give or take a few degrees) - anything too hot or too cold can permanently alter their feel. The springs, hammers, steel plate, and plastic cover of Buckling Springs shouldn't need more than a quick rinse or wipe-down, but you can always use soap or isopropyl alcohol on them if they need it.
    • Rubber Dome on PCB, such as Topre: Rinse the domes in distilled water at or close to room temperature, rubbing with your fingers if anything is stuck badly to them. If it's a Topre capacitive board, the springs can be cleaned the same way or with a light concentration of dish soap or isopropyl alcohol. Wipe the PCB down with a cloth dampened with distilled water.

    [*] Whatever sort of internals your keyboard has, put them aside to dry at least overnight. If there were any ICs or other surface-mount electrical components that you had to get wet, a good way to speed up the process significantly is to use canned air to blow the water out from under them.[*] By the time you're done with the internals, the casing and keycaps should be ready. When taking them out of the dishwasher or soap bath, take them out and dry them with a towel one by one. If there is still any amount of dirt on them, rub them down with isopropyl alcohol and/or Windex. Isopropyl normally works better, but Windex gets certain things out without any effort that the dish soap may not have caught in a still bath, such as cigarette smoke residue.[*] Once you're absolutely positive that everything's dry, put it all back together.
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:12 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Miscellaneous Resources

    Miscellaneous Resources

    Keyboard Customization Guides
    Dye Your Old White/Grey Keyboard


    General Keyboard Information
    Sandy's Keyboard Page\\
    Deskthority
    GeekHack Wiki
    Official "Removing Stabilized Filco Keys" Directions

    Switch Technologies
    Qwerter's Clinic Cherry MX Info
    NKRO on Microsoft Sidewinder x4 - Resistance method
    All About Scissor Switches

    Programming
    SharpKeys - Basic Keyboard Programming
    Autohotkey - Advanced Keyboard Programming

    Interfaces and Protocols
    Interfacing the AT and PS/2 Keyboards
    PS/2 Keyboard Interface
    PS/2 Keyboard Protocol
    XT Scancodes
    AT, PS/2, and USB Scancodes
    USB in a Nutshell



    Switch Matrix and Actuation Design


    Keyboards use a matrix of wires, in rows and columns. Each key is a switch that connects a row to a column, where each key has it's own unique position, or address, in the matrix.


    This is a very simple 4-key matrix. You won't ever see something this simple in a keyboard, but for our purposes it's more than enough.





    To detect keypresses, the keyboard will scan column by column and check to see which rows have been activated. In the image below, when the keyboard activates C1, R1 goes hot and therefore it knows that A has been pressed. When it activates C2, neither R1 nor R2 go hot so it knows that B and D haven't been pressed.





    Multiple key presses work in the same way. In this image you can see that when C1 is activated, R1 goes hot, giving the letter A. Then when C2 is activated, R2 goes hot, giving the letter D.





    But the problem in this matrix shows up as soon as you press three keys at once. In this image A, B, and D are pressed. The B and D switches short R1 with R2 because they are both closed; so when C1 is activated, both R1 and R2 go hot and the keyboard thinks that C has been pressed, and sends it to the PC even though you didn't really press it. This is what's called a "ghost" key.





    There are two methods used to prevent ghosting. The first and cheaper option is for the controller to block that third keypress that causes the ghost key. So after pressing A and D, it ignores both B and C because pressing either one will cause the other to ghost. This gives this board 2-key rollover, because only 2 keys can be pressed at once.


    The other option is to install a switching diode in series with each switch. The diodes only allow the current to flow in one direction, so the rows no longer get shorted to each other. In the image below you'll see the A, B, and D keys pressed again, but this time there are diodes to control the flow. Notice how R2 no longer goes hot when C1 is activated.





    This method allows for each and every key on the board to be detected independently, giving it n-key rollover (NKRO). It's called n-key because n is a variable, representing the number of keys on the keyboard.
    Last edited by andz; 08-15-2012 at 10:12 PM.

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