[GB] R2 Zephyr 65% Custom Keyboard

Hey KT!

Thought I’d advertise the Zephyr GB here as well. :slight_smile:

GB is open from July 1, 2018 to July 31, 2018, 23:59 PST. Estimated shipping time frame is November, 2018.
Transparent Screw-in Stabilizers are included in this kit. Switches extra. You have the option to add 70x Zealios/Zilents/Tealios to your order for +$40 (Zealios & Tealios), or +$50 (Zilents).

What’s included?
Zephyr Black & Gold Box
Zephyr 65% Aluminum Keyboard
5mm CNC PVD Brass Plate
PVD Brass Nameplate
Zeal65 黑金 Special Edition RGB PCB
1x 7u, 3x 2u Zeal Screw-in Stabilizers
Custom Bumpons

Specs:
USB C
QMK
In Switch RGB LEDs
Black & Gold “黑金” PCB, Gold Traces
PCB Fully Factory Soldered
5mm Plate, CNC Cut to Support Switch Snap Fit
Polished PVD Brass Plate & Nameplate
ANSI WKL only (1.5/1.5/7/1.5/1.5/1/1/1)
Regular/Stepped Caps Lock Support
Split Backspace Support
Dovetail Inspired Interlocking Construction
Anti Stabilizer Wire Popping Out Technology
Total kit weight before PCB: 2kg
Assembled weight: ~5.2lbs / 2.36kg

Color Options for R2:
Eggplant Purple (Anodized ring sample only)
Midnight Blue
Onyx Black

Gold PVD
Silver PVD

Price: Starting at $600



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It’s boards like this that make me wish I enjoyed a 60% layout.

2 Likes

Me wait 80% Alps Zephyr, me buy. But maybe me buy this too.

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… But this is a 65%?

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Very nice Zeal, will be placing an order before the cut off! Love the complete final product, presentation, and design.

Still wish we could get aluminum plates that match the case color. That would be an instabuy for me. Please consider!!

I got in on the R1 Zephyr and it is amazing. This thing is an absolute tank. I wish I could afford a second one so soon because that purple is gonna be :fire:

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That’s fair, wise guy :laughing:.

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an example of purple?

KMK Labs.

If I could afford it I’d be in, lovely kit.

Won’t have a prototype sample of purple unfortunately, the colour ring is the best we have. It really does look like a dark eggplant purple though. :eggplant:

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Hope you make a 75% someday Zeal. I love your stuff but 75% for life.

Using one right now and it’s lovely!

If anyone has an extra $600 to spare, let me know because this looks gorgeous.

As someone relatively new to the keeb-scene, could someone explain to me why this particular keyboard is $600? I recently put together a Clueboard for a grand total of ~$350 and I thought that was pricey. What makes this board that much more premium?

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A lot of it is the 5mm brass plate. Brass is expensive, that’s a lot of brass, and it’s all milled out. Plus you’re paying the zeal tax on top of it, too. If rumors are true, then R1 sold for basically the same price and it was roughly at-cost. Volume will likely be higher this time though, with less waste on prototypes and such, so zeal is almost certainly turning a profit on this round.

Every time I read about Zephyr people bring up the “Zeal tax” and I don’t get it. I simply can get it because this keyboard is good at every single level and it’s definitely one of these products that lives up to its expectations.

I was recently told when discussing about custom keyboards on a discord and they told me that paying $500 was OK because of the designer’s attention to detail, so I don’t get why when Zeal sells a product the topic of the Zeal tax is always brought up just to devaluate the work the designer of this board (Wilba) has put into this. So please, give me a moment because I want to rant about Zephyr.

Right now, Zephyr is the best custom you can get. Period and maybe there are some other customs that have LED indicators or other features, but let’s break down what is inside this piece of machined metal.

Let’s talk about what’s inside Zephyr first, because Wilba is known for his PCBs for a good reason. The PCB isn’t just good, it’s fantastic. If you want the pure definition of “attention to detail” Wilba just smashes other people into the hard ground and come with his PCBs. This PCB has been custom made for this keyboard, and you are not only paying for the PCB, but for the work that Wilba has put into this. Adding these RGBs it’s just a lot of extra work, or just the fact that he has written the firmware for it. You are paying for that.

And I’m not even talking about the gold and black finish, because that’s purely aesthetic or that the work Wilba does with traces.

Now, let’s go to the case, not just the plate, but the case itself. It’s an 8 degree 65% case, and if you want attention to detail there you have it again. The case is fantastic, the anodization finishes are top notch, I haven’t seen anyone being let down because of the case, or complaining about anodization problems, hooking marks, scratches. The case comes with a PVD coated brass weight which looks good, but it also costs more, but that’s the price you pay for not having those ugly oxidation marks that many other keyboards end up having.

And now, we can talk about the 4.75mm brass plate. It’s a very well done plate, PVD coated, with an excellent finish.

What do we have left, custom packaging. I don’t care that much about it but it’s nice, and it certainly is more expensive than just some regular box. But hey, it’s a premium board, you should expect the best of the best.

So we end up with a very expensive board, and people expecting to get the very best. What’s the Zeal tax of this product then? Because the quality check for these is excellent. I haven’t seen anybody complaining about a dead PCB, scratches, bad anodization. People are expecting the very best, and they are receiving the very best.

16 Likes

I agree with everything you said. But I think you need to explain how exactly the PCB details are better/nicer/more functional if so. If it’s all aesthetics and that’s what you mean by attention to detail then people understand. If it’s about better materials being used that’s understandable. Simply saying more attention to detail doesn’t really inform people who have no knowledge of PCBs and why one might be better than the other, other than, this PCB offers QMK vs bootstrap, or individual RGB lighting vs backlighting, or very functional and easy to understand features that might make one PCB better than the other.

Ultimately what does one mean when they say “this PCB is better designed than this other one”?

Sounds like I struck a nerve there. I was mostly just memeing about the zeal tax, as I think of everything he sells this probably has the least zeal markup on it. If you read more than the first three sentences of my reply, I even said

The zeal tax is very real on some other things, though. Zealios/Tealios/Zilents, for example, were all pretty reasonably priced the first few rounds because he had to pay back molds and stuff, but those are surely long paid-off by now. I don’t even really care if he is making a fat margin on things, because IMO they are still some of the best MX switches out there. The mandatory $15 minimum shipping on any order, no matter the size is actually absurd though. I live close enough that I could drive up to zeal to pick up in person, but I still have to add 25% to my the cost of my switch orders just to have em shipped 150 miles or so. I actually have started ordering my zealios from kbdfans because they do preorder pricing all the time and have free shipping, so they end up being way cheaper for me.

Again, I definitely think the Zephyr is worth what Zeal is charging (even if it is more than I’d pay for a board). The M65 is retailing for almost that much and the Zephyr quality is way higher (though the M65 has a fat markup on it, because GB pricing was under $300). I’m sure Zeal is actually turning a profit on this round, but I think his margins are way lower than they are on some other stuff he sells (like lube and switches). I have some pretty strong (mostly negative) feelings about some of the choices Wilba and Zeal (mostly Wilba) made on the RGB handling in the firmware (basically hard-forking QMK rather than working with Jack and the rest of the QMK gang on defining a real spec that other people can use, locking things into a janky one-off windows-only config tool), but I would still much rather drop $600 on a Zephyr than on some shitty Duck board or something.

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In this case, it is the only 65% pcb with individually addressable RGB backlighting, it uses QMK (sort of, mostly), unlike most of the other high end customs coming out of asia, Wilba (despite some disagreements I have with choices he has made) is a fantastic PCB designer (and has finally started using USB C stuff!). Honestly, the only thing I could hope for this PCB to do in the future is merge back in to using the RGB stuff that is in QMK now to support the Planck Light and a few other boards, and attempting to negotiate USB C Power Delivery in order to (if negotiated successfully) pull additional power from the host in order to run both the backlighting and underglow without blowing fuses or dimming.