Percent Volt 80% Keyboard - Thoughts?

Just curious if anyone has had any past experience with percent studios and if they deliver quality products? This keyboard looks amazing and is available for Pre-order at the moment. $400 for no switches or key caps gives me some pause as this would theoretically be my first custom mechanical keyboard.

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For anyone curious

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Some of the early canoe runs has PCB issues iirc but the most recent ones and the maze have all been pretty good I afaik. I got a canoe in the first run they did through the website and it came with no issues.


This is normal, there are so many switches and key sets out there that it’s assumed that you will want to provide your own preference.


Thanks! Alone the preview inside here looks great. I love the color orange. :slight_smile:

I was really like thinking “shit, I need to buy another rather expensive keyboard”, but then I noticed that it unconditionally includes Bluetooth — which is a no-go for me, even if I don’t have to use it.

Further it seems to be only able as WKL but I use the Windows/OS key as meta key for controlling my tiling window manager (i3), so a WKL layout would require me to change the position of the key which I use most often.

So despite that nice orange color I probably won’t join here and just wait for my Rama Works U80-A to arrive. It’s a moon-grey one since there was no orange available, but it has hotswap, QMK, OS keys and no Bluetooth. :slight_smile:

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Looking at this one I do have some questions/things that I find questionable:

  • Bluetooth 3: This is a ten year old spec, and very few consumer products are coming out with it. Bluetooth 4.0 has been renamed to Bluetooth legacy at this point (although 4.2 is still pretty popular). New stuff coming out should be using the Bluetooth 5 spec. For a keyboard maybe it is fine, but you should be able to get much better range with 5.
  • Bluetooth performance: Building on the last one, what will the performance be like? Have they done real qualitative tests with RF test equipment (very expensive) or just tested it and said “hey it works”. Another concern here is the Antenna, the best option here would probably be to use a module that includes that antenna, so that it is tuned properly, otherwise bad stuff can happen (radiating noise outside of the band, etc). This brings me to the next question;
  • Certification: Technically all keyboards should need to pass an FCC radiated noise certification afaik, but since they’re mass produced it’s not as important/the FCC doesn’t know/care. You can get modules with an antenna inside that are pre-certified, but otherwise it is much more complicated and more illegal. If you’re radiating noise it could cause issues with other nearby bluetooth stuff.
  • Battery: This is the scariest one to me. What is the battery? Is it from a reputable vendor? Is it certified? Does it have a PCM (protection circuit)? Is it charging safely? Exploding batteries are scary scary scary.
  • Thermal Safety: to go with battery, I would hope there is at least one, preferably a few sensors on here to make sure the battery is not overheating.
  • EDIT One more thing: How will it be shipped? There are strict restrictions on how devices with batteries can be shipped. This is why some bluetooth custom boards come without a battery.

Maybe I should send Percent some of these questions… I’m not really interested in this board though so ¯\__(ツ)_/¯


Thoughts? I wish Percent would run Canoe again.

OK really. I’ll look it over, but I’m not sure I’m going to replace my one TKL (RF87U) with this specific board.

I doubt they’re in a hurry to run the Canoe again, there have been so many rounds at this point and the last one wasn’t capped so instead of fifty there were a few hundred orders. Who knows though.

I suspect you are right. And I was seriously bummed to find out I missed the last round by like 10 days.

You’ve asked. Warning: Long rant ahead. :wink:

TL;DR: they need more maintenance (charging, replacement batteries); new security issues are found regularly and don’t get always fixed; additional complexity; unreliable.

There are many reasons. And while each of them might not be annoying enough alone, all together are way too annoying for me. (But alone the regularly found security issues already suffice for me nowadays.)

The Reasons

Issues specific to wireless keyboards, touchpads and trackballs

  • You don’t move them around as you do with a mouse, so the cable doesn’t hinder you in using them. Hence wireless connectivity is unnecessary — unless you connect to device at the other end of the room, like a “smart TV” or so. (And no, I don’t care about having cables laying around on my desktop, in contrary, I want to see them.)

General issues with Bluetooth input devices

  • Many desktop computers (from my point of view luckily) don’t have Bluetooth support. Accordingly I’d need to buy an additional dongle. (Granted, its price won’t matter if I buy $400 keyboards, but still.)

General issues with wireless input devices

  • They contain batteries which might leak (or even explode) and unnecessarily damage the device. I don’t want to risk that for a $400 keyboard. (Granted, some devices where wireless is optional might work wired if you remove the battery. But with most such devices, removing the battery seems not possible.)
  • If the batteries are rechargeable, they might wear out after a while, requiring you to buy new batteries. Unless standard batteries (AAA, AA, etc.) are used, you might not find new fitting batteries anymore in say 10 years. A common issue with mobile phones. And you commonly use keyboards longer than you use mobile phones. (Although mobile phones are usually more expensive…)
  • I have to care about charging or exchanging the battery regularly. And according to Murphy’s Law, it’s empty when I need it most urgently. (Yes, this might not apply to devices where wireless usage is optional.)
  • Wireless input devices have a long trace of security issues, independent of the actual protocol. Even if those might get fixed (in contrary to those with Logitech’s still insecure Unifying technology), new attacks against wireless input devices are found several times a year. (And except for open source firmware, I can’t really verify that wireless part of the device is off if I use it wired.)
  • Additional complexity adding more single points of failure.

Specific experiences with wireless devices

Sorry for this slightly off-topic rant, but I’m getting angry about it every time I have to think about this.

Because for a while the Logitech MX Ergo was the only easily available thumb-controlled trackball model, I have two of them. They costed around $100 each. One was for work, one I used at home. I don’t use them anymore, because they were unreliable and because their protocol/dongle has unacceptable security bugs of which some Logitech even refuses to fix.

  • One of the MX Ergos had to be charged every other day.
  • As soon as I plug the Unifying dongle into the back of my PC (instead of its front whose USB connectors I need for other stuff), the reception is really bad and the mouse cursor lags and jumps a lot. I can’t work that way.
  • Plugging them in permanently (solely for power!) made some of the connectivity issues less severe, but they didn’t vanish completely. So I needed a cable permanently connected anyway.
  • After earlier this year the security bugs in their Unifying protocol became public, I replaced them with cheap-ish Mod-IT PX-4985-919 wired trackballs (available at pearl.{de,at,ch,fr}) which I discovered only recently. (And the ball is exchangeable with the one from the Logitech MX Ergo! :slight_smile: )

I just picked up a full set C3 Tangerines from TheKey.Company as I’ve read some great things about them. I think i need to purchase some lube and possible replace the springs? Idk… I’m new to the whole custom keyboard scene. I’m loving it though. Such a exciting rabbit hole to go down.

I’m tired of purchasing ugly / gamer-style keyboards. I had my eye on the RAMA Thermal but I’m not sure how I feel about dropping to a 60-65% layout. I see RAMA is re-releasing the U-80 soon. I hear great things about the build quality from those guys.

You make a great point here with 3.0 being outdated. It raised questions for me as well. I really dont plan on using the Bluetooth. As with Clankgy1, I really love the Canoe layout and miss the group buy by two weeks or so. The Volt seems like a great substitute though until they run the Canoe at a later date at which point i can either sell the Volt or move it over to my keyboard at work.