Rabbit Holes

Which rabbit holes have you really fallen down? Which are you sneaking a peek at but haven’t gone spelunking into yet? And finally, let’s assume open minds and goodwill here, but which ones just don’t click for you personally and you doubt they ever will? No fights though, we’re all WAY down the path of diminishing returns here. :rofl:

As for me, I’m a sucker for modding cheaper than cheap gamer boards, for making my own hand-wired boards with layouts that don’t quite exist anywhere else, scouring AE and Amazon returns for deals, and defending the honor of clicky switches.

Vintage keyboards remain a temptation, but I haven’t yet pulled the trigger on getting one. Something Alps, buckling spring, or space invader will probably get ordered eventually. I still have fond memories of the Model F’s and Model M’s in our Junior High computer lab, though even then I balked at playing Burgertime on the Model F’s numpad with numlock turned off. Solenoids are probably going to be involved eventually too; anybody know of any inline external assemblies or plans?

Then, finally, just for the life of me I can’t muster of the desire to crack open 60-100 switches to lube them, to learn the difference between a hundred different varieties of linear switches, or to spend more than a hundred bucks or so on any one keyboard, regardless of how good it looks or sounds. What I haven’t decided yet is which is the chicken and which the egg when it comes to my preferences versus my "meh"s. Am I uninterested in linears because I prefer clickies, or do I prefer clickies because I’m lazy and want switches that don’t require modifications or maintenance?

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  • Trying to find all of the switch manufacturers that are out there and trying to solve some of the mysterious ones from the past. Zorro has been one of my rabbit holes for a long time, probably multiple years, until myself and others from the SwitchModders discord found out that their name is “Dongguan Zen-Tech Electronics Co., Ltd.”.
  • Buying cheap chinese prebuilt keyboards for fun and also for their Unique switches sometimes. I just bought a near full-size keyboard from Feker because it’s using his new Feker Magnolia switches that are only found in this keyboard only and not sold separately. They have TPS material stems so i just had to get them.
  • Buying and scouting for rare and/or interesting Vintage boards. Almost all of the ones i currently have were bought to harvest the Switches and/or Keycaps to use in custom builds, but when i received them i just felt too bad taking them apart so they are just sitting in storage until i decide what to do with them. Still looking for 90-100 SMK 2nd gen Orange on taobao but that one listing that used to be available is gone now.
  • Buying sketchy looking taobao stuff like 27usd full alu cases that appear to be too good to be true but then turn out to be legit or 2usd bags of 100 random switches with bent and defective pins just because they are 2usd only.
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LOL, there are certain supply chains where I’m sure the people actually involved would be absolutely befuddled by the interest some consumers have in them.

Love this entire list!

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Oh man. So many. :smiley:


  1. Case materials: The first rabbit hole I fell down started with the search for a solid-feeling, squeak-free case. I loved my Ducky One, but the flexible shell squeaked against itself, which drove me nuts.

    Thus began a long journey of learning just how much more there is to an enjoyable keyboard than how rigid its chassis is. At this point, I just get excited when I see folks trying new things like Hibi’s silicone case, the artsy wood-and-resin pieces, or even that cast-iron prototype one guy did.

  1. Silent switches: Nothing like using some clone Blues at work to make one see the value in a quiet keyboard. When I needed one, there weren’t that many MX-compatible options; in fact, I think MX Silent Reds and Blacks were it, full stop - Gateron’s clones didn’t exist yet - so I got Blacks, in a cheap Costar platform.

    The sandy mush left me wanting, and from there I’ve tried nearly every single new silent format in the MX space, which is now thankfully replete with quality options.

  1. North-facing interference: Aforementioned cheap Costar platform, a KBParadise V80, comes standard with North-facing switches. I found out the hard way why that matters when my new keys just felt off - humongous thanks to :3ildcat for making a video that clearly demonstrates what the issue is and how to test for it.

    I call this one a rabbit hole because I actually had to spend a hot minute trying to figure out what was happening back then - and these days it’s something I look for in terms of new housing designs. The issue is totally avoidable with a bit of clever shaping, and several manufacturers have given it a shot with varying degrees of success.

    I also call this one a rabbit hole because I think its reason for existing is pretty interesting, as far as trivia goes.

  1. Stabs: Silent keyboards make stabilizer imperfections all the more easy to hear - you can see where this is going. I’m also not great at balancing wires and tend to over-lube, so I’ve always had my eye out for easy-mode stabilizers. TX AP are easy favorites so far, but in some situations Staebies can be great.

    I still feel stabilizers are far behind switches in terms of development, but they’re catching up. I’m less eager to try all the stabs these days, but I’m no less eager for silent stabs as good as today’s silent switches.

  1. Keycap profiles: Each time I tried a new one I learned something, and often either found something I wanted to avoid or that I wanted more of. One of my favorite things in the hobby has been watching the ever-more populous landscape of profiles continue to evolve.

    Cherry-likes are still probably my practical favorite, but I love all the variations and styles that are out there. Tall, short, flat, sculpted, rough, smooth, minimal, detailed - just endless choice here. I gave up trying them all just like with switches, but I remain fascinated.

  1. Mounting: Gotta try 'em all! Okay not really, but I do thirst for a comprehensive understanding of it as a design and user experience consideration, so… gotta try 'em all!

  1. Acoustics & Haptics: A focused extension of #1, and also a condensation of many subcategories - this has become my main driving interest behind all my other priorities and choices about keyboards. How does it sound and feel - and why?

    For me, a lot of this centers around materials and their properties. Plastics, metals, fiber composites, and so on - a whole universe of sense-tuning to explore there.

  1. Switches: This is honestly the big one, and I’ve talked about it a lot already. Let’s just say there’s a perfect storm of minor iterative variety here to keep my brain heckin’ fixated.



Honorable mention goes to upgrading cheap commercial boards, something about it really satisfies me :man_shrugging: That said I don’t make as much time for that as I used to.


Aside; stuff that’s neat but whose rabbit holes I avoid:

  • Artisans: for the same reason I don’t play MMOs, I think I’d like it too much. Variety here is even more endless than with switches! I have a few that I love, but I resist starting a “collection”.

  • Top-shelf customs: I love these and do have one or two, but for me to go down that rabbit hole with my sense of OOH SQUIRREL curiosity would entail financial sacrifices I am not prepared to make :upside_down_face: This is a big part of why I love hanging out in the budget and middle market zones; I get to try lots of stuff.

  • Split / ergo / custom form factor: These absolutely fascinate me but I gotta at least try to keep my scope narrow here. I used to be a cyclist, and this realm of keebs reminds me of recumbents: everyone making them does it a little (or very) differently. As someone who loves to optimize, I think I’d be drawn-into the design aspect of these like many users in the space are, and I only have so much time. There are some real artists at work in this space, and I’ll leave it to them.

  • Retro keebs and out of production switch formats: Again, fascinates me to no end, but only so many trips around the sun to work with.

  • Cup Rubber: Okay, this one’s only a matter of time - but I am looking to avoid it as a rabbit hole specifically. My goal is to have one, maybe two well-executed EC keebs for their own sake as fantastic input devices, not so much as a fiddly hobby.

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I choose to blame everyone else. We just need an entire office FULL of people using loud keyboards.

But yes, I did use silicone ring damped blacks when I was last in an office regularly.

I am starting to realize that the design and full fabrication (rabbit hole!) is what appeals to me more than anything else. I have WAY too many layouts in KLE that are literally a few keys different from each other, and my laser and woodshop and 3D printer all pre-date (most of) my keyboards. I dipped my toe into ortholinears (rabbit hole!) and split (rabbit hole!), partly because they’re easier to build, but the fact is I don’t properly touch type (rabbit hole!) and don’t have a strong enough desire to learn it to dwell in that space; no wrist issues yet, and I’m into my mid-40s. Nine-finger spider dancing will do well enough for the foreseeable future.

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:open_mouth:
So pretty tho…

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So pretty tho…

Wait 'til you get a load of my ikea basket with instant coffee jars half-full of commodity reds and leftovers!

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I like this topic! For me my major rabbit holes in this hobby have been,
1 - SKCM/L (complicated) ALPS switches. They’re the only tactile switches I truly love the feel of & the challenges of restoring vintage ALPS boards or building modern customs with them really scratches an itch for me!
2 - Vintage keyboards. I’ve mostly stuck with vintage MX based boards, vintage ALPS based boards, & vintage Cherry boards. Although I really want to start expanding my horizons here. Space Invader switches are super interesting to me, I only have one Model M right now I’d like to add a few more of them & a good condition Model F to my collection sooner than later. Then I’d love to get a beamspring board, but that’s gonna be a tough one to get as rare & expensive as those have become. I’m missing a ton of other vintage switch types I’d like to have a board with here, but I think you guys get the ideal.

There are a few other ones I could mention that I’ve dabbled with, but those 2 on top of the modern mid to high end boards that brought us all to the hobby are my the rabbit holes I’m down deep in right now!

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In lieu of an intro, saw this post and thought I’d add my own obsessions to the catalog :crazy_face:

For me, mechanical keyboards were a rabbit hole I’d been avoiding until mid-2023, in part because I knew how ridiculous this sort of thing could get. But, coming to it late has its advantages – I picked up soldering, PCB design, and firmware fiddling skills before I got here, and those have proven useful with this hobby.

My personal rabbit holes:

  1. Silent tactile switches - Gotta catch 'em all. I have at least one of pretty much every silent tactile I’ve been able to get my grubby hands on. Currently that’s 55 (counting different spring weights as different switches, and at least one recolor (Bushi)).
  2. Tactile switches - Not quite as bad as silent tactiles, where I have to try literally every one of them, I’ve managed to amass a ridiculous collection of regular tactile switches. Current count is 351 there.
  3. Layouts/sizes - I have at least one each of the common sizes (40%, 60%, 65%, 75%, TKL, 96%, 100%), and usually a few different layouts. I have a weird preference for a hybrid ANSI swaps in an ISO enter and R3 |\, in addition to the typical ANSI, along with a couple of standard ISO boards. Probably the weirdest is the 2U Lshift ISO board I just built. Somehow I have 3 different 60% ortholinears and I’m not entirely sure why. Lack of things like a 3D printer (see below) keep this from getting TOO deep right now.
  4. QMK compatibility - After buying a closed source board and not realizing it, I try to make sure pretty much any keeb I get these days is QMK compatible (or other open source framework). Being able to flash the firmware myself deeply appeals to part of me that worked information security.
  5. Profiles - Newest rabbit hole, still collecting various kits. Just recently got DSS, HSA, MAO (heh), and MT3. Still need to find a decent full-size, double-shot DSA kit, MTNU, and maybe XDA?

Ones I’ve avoided (so far):

  • Stabilizers – the sounds annoy me but I am not a mechanical engineer and so am basically a caveman when it comes to understanding them
  • Rubbre dome (though I would say I’m Topre-curious)
  • Artisans, as they are too expensive (though I did buy the Keeb Key because it is just too delightfully meta)
  • Linears - Not a gamer and absolutely need tactile feedback (that’s not bottoming out)
  • Custom cables - Oh, I’ve made plenty of my own USB cables, but mostly out of existing ones or to get the connector minimized to fit somewhere. I don’t get the aviator connectors?
  • 3D printing - Probably WILL fall down this one some day, but currently don’t have the space or ventilation for it.
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I hate to tell you this, but PLA barely makes any fumes at all, and tends to smell a bit like caramelized sugar when you do get close to it while it’s heated. I have it in my home office, though I do scrupulously avoid any other filament types. You probably need four square feet of bench/desk space, and decent sized drawer or two for “stuff”.

That’s a good point about PLA, though part of it is I literally don’t have that kind of working space free, especially considering I’d need cat barriers of some kind when it’s not in use.

When I do get into it, I’m going to have to deal with ABS. PLA works great indoors, but the heat where I am is definitely enough to deform it in the summertime (“left on a car dash on a hot day” metric). Next place will have a separate work room with ventilation for both soldering and 3D printer fumes.

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