The Panda History?


#1

Whats the panda story ? There seems to be a new IC and people are freaking out over it, the GH thread and the Reddit thread on this topic is filled with hope, disbelief, drama and anger. As someone who has heard about holy pandas and Invyr pandas mostly as casual references, the IC threads read like a thriller !

Would someone explain the origins, when/who ran this first, why it was a good switch, why moulds were destroyed, etc ?

PS : I’ve always only paid as much attention to panda chatter as a Honda Minivan owner would about Rolls Royce owners swap stories :slight_smile:


#2

I’ll take a stab at it because it seems no one else has yet.

Pandas were supposed to be “super linear” switches, and they were produced by a dude/company named Invyr (u/zisb on reddit; hence Invyr Pandas). As far as I can tell, they’re made in the same factory that produces BSUN switches, and seem to be most similar to some offshoot of outemu switches (say this because pandas fit in outemu hotswap sockets, which cherry mx/gateron/kailh do not).

As a group buy they weren’t super popular, although about 10,000 of them definitely sold according to GH MOQ (hence, rarity). Now keep in mind they were billed as linear switches, and as linears they weren’t extremely successful. Pretty scratchy, and nothing to write home about although idk what was available in the community at the time as I just got into this scene a few months ago.

However, I think it was the peeps at top clack that first had the idea to put the stem of a Halo switch (which comes with its own fair share of drama) into the Panda housing, and the holy panda was born. Moulds were apparently destroyed because the switch was never really supposed to get a R2, and Chinese manufacturing isn’t big on keeping useless things just lying around. It wasn’t until the Holy Panda hype train left the station that it was discovered that the molds had been destroyed, and although Pete at 1Up has been collaborating with Invyr to try to get r2 to market, their efforts have been unsuccessful.

Hope this helps; I bought mine when the market was a little bit less scarce, and highly recommend you at least try them out. Or don’t, because you’ll then have to drop $300+ to build a keyboard of them. :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, having perused the reddit post, the guy seems to be full of snake oil. If dedicated dudes like the OG creator and Pete can’t get them made/remade, then it seems pretty suspicious that old molds were found, out of the blue, more than a year later. Someone’s being fed some poop, whether the IC OP or the community at large.


#3

thanks @dofboke ! This makes sense now. I belive it might have been @Quakemz at TopClack who put the halo stem in the panda housing. At least the GB thread says that he will be receiving some to test.

Anyone knows why these are hard to reproduce ? Wouldn’t molds have some CAD files to make them? I have heard that its inherently hard to make things that are small (sorry not a maker myself). so is this something like small variations in tolerances having a big impact on the final product ?


#4

I think the primary difficulty in replacing the molds was that the molds were a happy accident.
As mentioned they were probably a BSUN or an Outemu mold at first. When they were machine the result was a switch housing that was just a little tight - tight around the slider, top and bottom fitting together snugly, etc…

The repaired mold (and any subsequent molds used for samples sent to Pete and zisb) haven’t produced switch housings with these same characteristics.

There’s room to speculate, wonder about language barriers, etc… For example, Walkerstop has a video testing the top of the R1 panda housing. The claim was that R1 panda top housing is POM. But Walker showed that it isn’t purely POM (how it burns, melting point, etc…). So it could be that zisb has exact notes on how the R1 Pandas were made… and his notes are based upon misinformation. This could also be contributing to the inability to reproduce.

All the community really knows is the mold was damaged (the community doesn’t even know the plastics used in the R1 housing as Walkerstop demonstrated).


#5

Thanks - Yesterday’s top clack also addressed these…


#6

Yeah it’s a shame the usefulness of the Panda housings did not show through till way after Pandas themselves were disregarded. Although personally I don’t see the reasoning behind all the drama, headaches, etc. with trying to reproduce the Pandas.

As others have said Pandas by themselves are nothing to write home about. I think the community would be much better served if someone would create a tight fitting housing similar to the Panda’s housings, then just have them produced & sold by themselves. No stem, no springs, just top & bottom housings. Then we could kiss all the drama & price gouging surrounding Pandas goodbye & have an affordable, easily gotten alternative to them.

Honestly if I had the know how & connections to pull it off I’d give it a shot. Unfortunately, I do not.


#7

Yeah, I’m sure you got to try out the Holy Pandas at KeyCon (and thank you whoever brought that in!). I didn’t think they were oh-holy-shit-on-a-cracker like I did the first time I got to try out a brown Alps board. They were very nice, but not six bucks a Panda nice. If someone ever dupes the Holy Panda feel, I’d pay a buck fifty apiece. And that’s premium money there. I wouldn’t even bitch about it.

There’s a way to go in switch design.

I’m still a die-hard Box Navy boy, but hey, I can REALLY get a tubful of those for next to nothing especially since I tend to pair them with PBT /dev/tty and those caps shrug it off like a San Francisco hooker. I’m good to go on Navies.

Two switches that taste great together, but not individually. What’s up with that? It’s almost like switch feel is an art not a science.


#8

Hahaha, that quip about dev/try taking the old BOX stems like a champ cracked me up! I agree though, Holy Pandas while damn nice, don’t hold a candle to brown or orange ALPS & are not justifiable at their cost right now when those switches are available cheaper (even browns at around $4 per switch). Hell I just picked up an old apple M0116 with over 70 SKCM oranges for $100, which will be for my next build.

Still I gotta wonder why no manufacturer has jumped on the tight MX housing train. They could make a killing!?


#9

Outemu Sky housings have a stiffer contact leaf specifically because people were looking for a Panda alternative. But they feel really unrefined, and I’m not sure how Panda housings feel in comparison to them.


#10

This is exactly what you are looking for: Invyr Panda Report


#11

This is awesome !


#12

I would agree that holy pandas aren’t worth their cost, but it’s a big jump to say they don’t hold a candle to brown/orange alps. It’s a lot like comparing MX to Topre, apples and oranges as they say. Personally, I like many MX switches way more than orange alps.

It’s not really the housing that makes the holy panda; its unique leaf is the most important part while the tight housing is an added bonus. They were completely disregarded until halos were put in there. Zandas were pretty hype, but holy pandas became their own esoteric cultural phenomenon from being the combination of two limited switches. Don’t get me wrong, holy pandas are great, but I bet there’s some interesting social psychology at play here.

With Halos being readily available now though, people have been finding some alternatives that are getting pretty close. Retooled blues (holy chickies), Outemu Sky (holy skies), and Greetech RGB clicky/Razer Green (holy razer) all have tactile leaves as well. I’m waiting to receive the latter 2, but I was very impressed with holy chickies (and personally prefer them over holy panda). We also have Zealios v2 that I bet people will make interesting combos with. Holy Zeal anyone? Paul (of Outemu) usually has stuff in the works, too.


#13

Yeah you’re right, saying brown/orange ALPS are better than Holy Pandas is a big jump to apply to everyone. Really that’s just my personal opinion. I do agree that there is some social psychology at play with Holy Pandas seeing what some people were willing to pay for them, but again I guess that really comes down to personal preference.

We are seeing some pretty cool combos now that Halos aren’t super rare. I actually got my batches of Halos with the plan to make some Holy Skies, unfortunately I am still waiting on the Outemu Skies. That’s what drove me to trying the Halo stems out with V1 Zealio (rd. 8 I think) housings (I got post up about it on here if you’re interested). The combo is actually pretty nice IMO. Not Holy anything levels of tactility, but more tactile than the stock Zealio stem, super smooth, & the bump has a really nice rounded feel to it. Although if Zeal made the bulk of the changes to the housing for V2 Zealios I think you’re right that they may become the go to housing after Pandas.


#14

I believe that board belonged to @choobies


#15

If it was a Canoe with silver top and gray bottom, outfitted with the GMK Penumbra Solarized keyset, then yes, that was my board! I was overjoyed to hear that many people got to try out the revered Holy Pandas.

@Zambumon, that report you linked- when was that written?