Looking for a very specific setup

Hi everyone,

I do apologies if I’m asking something that was already covered in the forum but I didn’t exactly know how to effectively word search keywords based on my requirements. So, to the point in subject. I’m currently an input club k-type owner but I feel the need to go more compact and I’m looking to move to a 60%/65% ANSI layout. In the off the shelf market my eyes went to the ducky mecha mini or their SF but I’m weighed more towards the mecha because of the aluminium construction which is a nice to have requirement for me. But what am I really looking for? Here a bullet points list:

  • I use OSX as operating system so the keyboard needs to be compatible more on this in the next point.
  • I mainly use the keyboard for coding and typing which means the backtick and the tilde character are equally important to me as the ESC button (with the exception of vim where I can use other escape combinations to get out of insert mode); keep in mind that, being an OSX user, the combination CMD+backtick has an important place in my productivity workflow and I don’t want to lose that one.
  • Arrow keys, and thus a 65% layout maybe my preference, but I suppose I can learn to have them on a dedicated layer.
  • An aluminium metallic case build would be very welcome and preferably I’d like to stay in the white/silver/space grey colour tones for my theme.
  • Hot swappable switches would be a nice to have too.
  • I’d like some backlighting it doesn’t need to be RGB, ice/white will do (not a deal breaker also because in that case the keycaps choice is highly reduced).
  • it would be nice to have mac os themed key caps but especially standard caps so to broaden my pool of choices.
  • If there is nothing out there of the shelf I can consider go the DIY kit route.
  • Last but not least, “easy” to get in the UK.

I think that covers pretty much all the things I have in mind at the moment of typing and I will kindly and genuinely welcome any info you could share with me.

Thanks a lot in advance for your time and help.

I guess the closest thing I could think of would be the RAMA M60-A whenever they’re running next. It doesn’t have dedicated arrows, but they’re under function layers. It can be ordered with hot swap and and an aluminum case, and also has the option of RGB if I’m not mistaken. Also, R1 Del can be very easily swapped for tilde and I often see it as such.

Also, the name is escaping me right now, but there’s an SA(?) set of grey keycaps based on the early Apple IIe keyboards (I think… hard to remember without them in front of me) that have MacOS legends on them that I see from time to time. Those will definitely be harder to find because I don’t think the GB ran recently nor plans to run again.

I’m not sure what shipping to the UK would look like, but maybe the Clueboard LP could meet your requirements? It’s got hot swap, comes in the colors you’re interested in, white backlighting, and pretty much a 65% layout. I had an older version clueboard for quite some time, it was great, and their support is very good if you need any help.

Thanks a lot for your input @noteveneric! When you say closest what do you mean exactly? I saw the Rama site and yes, their products tick pretty much all the boxes, they are beautiful but quite expensive and also super sold out :slight_smile: I think I’ll try to get in touch with them and see what hey say in terms of future availability.

What about the like of kbdfans? Or what about keyboards/kit that are compatible with QMK for example? Could those be worthy options? I’m starting only now to geek out on the topic so I apologies in advance if I ask newbie/silly questions.

MacOS legend aren’t a must have, I think the must have is more, no win legend… I won’t have function keys on the 60/65 layout so it’s more the win cmd button that I don’t want, I just don’t like the logo :stuck_out_tongue:

Hi @dwarflemur, thanks for your input too! Coincidentally enough I think I stumbled upon their side last night when I was looking at the QMK firmware page, so I’m pleased to read you had a positive experience with them.

At first site, yes it does, I’ll dig a bit further into it but it seems a solid choice for sure. About shipping it depends where they are based, also when I said easy, I put it between quotes on purpose; with easy I meant I can get it delivered within maybe a couple of weeks time given it’s available and that I pay my import duty rather than silly drops which takes months and months, I’d rather avoid the pain I had with my k-type.

I believe Skully, who runs clueboard, contributes a lot to QMK. I didn’t notice before, but it does look like it’s sold out right now :confused:

They’re in Santa Cruz, California

KBDfans has a lot of solid options, if they’re in stock, and as far as programmability QMK is the best and more or less the standard, although VIA is also becoming a solid option.

Another maybe option is the novelkeys NK65, I believe that one is supposed to be back in stock soon. I think it only came in black though.

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Yeah. I’ve used a dz65rgb for a while and that really ticks all your boxes. RGB, hotswappable, can be ordered with an alu case, fully programmable (through Via, which is like QMK for dummies). I ended up binding age up / page down / that entire right row to volume controls and F13 (my discord mute). If you wanted to go that route, though, you would have to DIY and make sure knew what you were doing, though building with hot swap is basically just adult legos :wink:

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Thanks both for the infos, really valuable. I’ll check those suggestions out.

To reply to you @noteveneric, absolutely up for it, maybe I should have been clearer in my initial message, I’m not necessarily looking for an off the shelf product, actually I’d rather get my hands dirty a bit but build something as close as possible to what I want and with a decent quality. I’ve been a developer for quite a while and I have a background in electrical engineering so hopefully some firmware and, in the extreme case, some little soldering won’t defeat me, so if this newly provided information opens more options, please keep them coming. Hot swappable as you said would be the easiest route of course possible preferred particularly in lego format.

PS: who said lego are for kids?

Aside from the good options already mentioned, you might take a look at the Durgod Hades 68. It’s not hot-swappable, but the associated software lets you remap keys however you like. It’s less deep than QMK but possibly more convenient depending on familiarity - and it does have lighting and an aluminum case. I’m not sure about UK availability but it’s a Hong Kong company so I’d be surprised if you couldn’t get them there.

Thanks a lot for your suggestion, I’ll check that one out too. What about pick and mix though? How does one go about it? I think the best route here instead of going for off the shelf ready made products might be to just find nice individual components and build it. Thoughts?

You can get a whole lot more precise if you decide to build with specific parts, but you also start to encounter new problems, such as the lack of hot-swappable 65% PCBs, which there are very few of (at least, there were when I built in October) and with a very expansive list of things you want, you might have trouble narrowing it down. But again, this hobby is entirely based off preference, and building a keyboard is generally going to be more fun albeit a bit more complicated :slight_smile:

What about 60% instead? I think I can afford to go down that route, it’s not like I don’t have a mechanical keyboard, as you said it’s now hobby/long term project time so I’m happy to scout it’s just that I don’t know what and how I guess.

You have a couple more options for hotswappable LED PCBs if you went the 60% route, but this is a double edged sword, as almost no 60% keyboard will have tilde not bound to FN+Esc, and there are 60%s with and without arrows. Also, generally speaking, the smaller form factor you get, the cheaper it will be in terms of case and PCB and plate prices, though there are some exceptions.

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It’s true tilde is always mapped that way on 60% boards, but if the PCB supports QMK or has its own remapping software, you can change that. 65% is getting popular, but 60% does enjoy a lot more compatibility for parts.

Everyone is different, but for me 60% is the ideal layout. 65 just seems kind of silly to me, it’s like 60% for people who don’t actually want to commit to small form factor. But it’s also a nice compromise I think and still really is much smaller than like a TKL. For 60% there are tons of options out there.

1upkeyboards has Klippes in stock from the most recent round, and I can definitely vouch that it is a very nice case. There are plenty of 60% PCBs out there, cannonkeys’ instant60 comes to mind as a solid one, hot swap with white backlighting, but I think it’s not available right now. KBDfans probably has one. Put in a plate of you choice (pretty much every material is available for tray mount 60%) and switches of you choice and you’ve got a bangin build.

When you can remap any key does it matter? You could put tilde and make FN tilde escape, you could make it so you double tap tilde to escape, etc etc, the options are definitely there

I’m gonna be honest: I totally forgot about that. Good idea.

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I think maybe I wasn’t too clear or maybe I prioritised my needs wrongly in the initial list, although they weren’t in order of importance really :smiley:

Arrows are not fundamental, I already use hjkl regularly because of vim so happy to use a layer for that and maybe use ijkl for example or else, which means that 60% is definitely a layout I would be comfortable with, as of the four maps, escape, tilde, back tick and CMD+backtick, if I can map those with some not too crazy combination, like I don’t know CMD+escape = CMD+backtick, SHIFT+escape = tilde, Fn+SHIFT+escape = backtick then I think I’m pretty much good to go because especially the latter and consequently a nice customisable firmware like QMK are the things that are more important I suppose. Oh and yes, standard keycaps which I understand are easier to find on 60% where the right side doesn’t need to be squeezed.

I hope that clarifies a bit