What was the most difficult aspect of getting into keebs for you?

What was the most difficult aspect of getting into keebs for you?

Do you still encounter that issue today?

How did you overcome the difficulty?

What advice, if any, do you have for others?

3 Likes

Cost.

No advice, it still hurts.

:dizzy_face:

A secondary is figuring out keycap kittings. Man some of these can be baffling and then the nature of a lot of these group buys is such that if you determine later, after the GB is over, that you really want something different you’re SOL.

So what I tend to do is focus on keycaps that are always available. Yeah, it’s not as exciting, but I don’t have to be as nearly strategic, or spend gobs of cash ordering every option as a just-in-case.

8 Likes

1.) Rattly stabs.

At least, this is the one that still plagues me and the first real difficulty I had with customizing keebs. Advice? Patience and lots of youtube, I guess. Invest in a syringe or two.

2.) The North-facing thing

I hit this earlier - much less of a problem after I bought a whole bunch of compatibility washers, but it drove me half nuts when I was trying to figure out why my new CTRL felt like assbutt with nice new Cherry profile caps on it. The issue is pretty well-known these days, but I had to learn about it the hard way. Advice? Pick a South-facing board and never worry about it again - or find some of those washers.

4 Likes

Mechanical keyboards never appealed to me, because they were too high, which not only was very inconvenient to me, but also against all the rules of ergonomy that I knew.

The problem was solved by using low-profile switches.

First I got a cheap low-profile mechanical keyboard. It was so good for me, that I immediately bought a second one, in case the first one broke and was unavailable to replace anymore.

Then I saw a minimal split keyboard at a keyboard meetup — I bought the PCB and assembled it, and then I started experimenting with my own designs.

After 4 or 5 tries, I have a keyboard that I have been using for almost a year now, and am still extremely happy with. They say it’s either Model M or you never stop searching, but it seems I have found my endgame keyboard.

7 Likes

Soldering has been the biggest hurdle for me (other than costs… I only have so much “fun money” after rent, bills and food lol)

Before joining this hobby I’ve never soldered anything but now I’ve soldered about 5 boards (granted one of them doesn’t work ;-; ) I’m still getting used to soldering but honestly I’d recommend taking your time, get a decent soldering iron and a few inexpensive boards and switches to practice with. Also trust me, get a fume extractor… I soldered with my head over a board for a few hours and had a massive headache the next day.

5 Likes

It’s less to do with keyboards and more about me - I tend to become frustrated when things don’t work the way I want or expect them to on the first try. This hobby is uniquely suited to poke at that specific character flaw, especially if you’re coming to the hobby with none of the necessary mechanical or technical skills. Bad solder joints! Misaligned stabs! Badly lubed stabs! Badly lubed switches! Pings! Rattles! Low quality kits with fitment issues! Driver issues on your PC! Firmware problems! More than enough stumbling blocks to drive a right-on-the-first-try perfectionist mad.

My advice, and I know it’s often hard to follow given the price points that participation in the hobby seems to demand: embrace the problems. Revel in them. When you figure them out (and the very high likelihood is that you will figure them out, in no small part due to forums like this one), it’s really satisfying.

6 Likes

Yes!

If a commercial one isn’t in your budget, you can just zip-tie a piece of carbon filter to a strong fan of some kind - like a high-cfm PC fan or a cooling fan from some discarded equipment.

My fume extractor is made from an exhaust fan taken from a de-commissioned MRI machine (heavy and stronk), with a bit of aquarium filter slapped onto the intake side.

Aquarium filters aren’t quite as good as the ones designed for fume extraction as they aren’t as dense, but it’s otherwise the same stuff and will definitely help if you can’t find the other kind in your area or at a good price.

1 Like

Cost.

Yep…to a certain extent. I remember watching Chyrosan22 and Linus Tech Tips 4-5 years ago when I was shopping for my first mech.

I saved up enough college money and bought my first mech lol

For beginners, go to your local electronics store and try out any mechs they have around before you make your first purchase or ask a friend if they have one and try it out.

I got a cheap one off amazon (which also came with extra filters) and it’s doing a good job so far. I’d love to get one of those crazy ones that have an adjustable intake on it but I feel like I should work on my soldering first lol.

1 Like

Get a flux pen! Even if your solder has a rosin core, that is not enough. Flux makes everything so much easier!

2 Likes

Would that help with soldering smaller components on boards, like leds and small SMDs? I have a board that I want to build but god I’m not looking forwards to soldering it

Yes. I recently soldered a QFN chip by just placing it in the right place, drowning it in flux and drag-soldering all the sides. Flux makes the solder behave more like a fluid than a paste, and flow into the correct places on its own. It’s like magic.

1 Like

Awesome, im sure even with that I’m going to have fun soldering lol. Originally I was trying to find someone near me who can do it but I think I can give it a shot

For this a hot air gun (the soldering kind, not the paint stripping kind) is very helpful, since it lets you re-do the parts as many times as you want. A hot plate works too. A hackerspace near you might have them.

1 Like

Love this comment! Happy you found your thing :grinning:

2 Likes

When I first got into mechanical keyboards, it was finding and getting keycaps- sets were pretty scarce back then. Now I have too many, and so many come up (especially GMK) that I’ve pretty much given up and decided to be satisfied with what I have… for the most part. Same thing with keyboards. It’s just overwhelming now, so I tend to stay on the periphery.

The only advice I have is to go slow and enjoy rather than rushing in- it gets overwhelming fast, and I’ve seen people get burnt out. And don’t spend a lot of money on unicorns- once you get it, it’s never as good as what you thought.

5 Likes

Terminology. It took me awhile to figure out what stabs were. Same with a bunch of other buzzwords thrown around often.
I still haven’t soldered a keyboard PCB, but that will change soon. Yikes!
Exploring all of the switch types and weights has been fun and rather easy with all of the testers available.
With covid the wait times on group buys has been a problem. Between joining and receiving I have, a few times, completely forgotten why I something caught my eye: KAT Drifter. (I think for the Preonic, but still not sure. It found a temporary home on the Corne until KAT Refined arrives.)

4 Likes

For me, it’s not just Covid. Even before the pandemic, wait times were crazy, and I’d forget after I received something why I even wanted it. It’s one of the reasons my backlog on keyboards and keysets to use is so long- I don’t even know why I wanted it in the first place, so I can’t be assed to put it together.

1 Like

Just curious, what were the wait times like pre-covid?

It varied. By the time I stopped paying attention, it was up to a year or a bit more.