What's next Ryan?

I’m curious to know what we can expect next from Norbauer? Is it the end of the line for Topre cases?
cheers
D.

1 Like

I have absolutely nothing to back this up, but I’m positive it’ll be an entire electric vehicle.

6 Likes

Tesla x Topre EV

2 Likes

I thought I remember seeing a twitch stream where they were discussing prototypes of a new EC switch that Ryan was making. Did I dream that?

I figured custom EC boards with MX compatible sliders were headed our way

1 Like

Yeah, I’m pretty well convinced it’s full custom norbauer EC

5 Likes

I would love to see accessories, lol. Imagine a matching Veracity Steel wrist rest for the Heavy Grail (not that I could afford a $1000+ wrist rest, lol)!

Mabey during the summer, but generally you(I) don’t want to rest the blood pumping veins on cold metal. :thinking:

Sorry, all. I didn’t see this post until just now because nobody actually tagged my username. :blush:

This is likely going to be the next new thing I release. I’ve been working on retro-futurist keyboard stands for people with collections of boards. These will be cast in engineered stone, kind of like the work that Brazen Studio has been doing lately.

I’ve 3D scanned a bunch of popular boards to ensure wide compatibility.

I’m also working on a TKL keycap set in the MCR profile, mildly inspired by the Xerox Alto. I’m calling it R&D 1973.

I’m not sure that I’ve exactly said this anywhere public yet, but: yes. And when you say “full custom,” you probably aren’t imagining quite how “full” that’ll be.

I’ve been working on this moonshot project for over three years, with components coming from companies that supply Apple, Leica, etc.—all designed from the group up consulting with acoustic, electrical, and mechanical engineering experts. Every single component is custom and Norbauer-designed, to a rather long list of design objectives that optimize a keyboard from the ground up around the things that we as a community have discovered make keyboards better, particularly in the domain of acoustics and materials/finishing. The internals are so hyper-optimized around my wacky design goals that even the screws have to be bespoke.

The final thing to be solved is the stabilizer problem. I’ve been experimenting and iterating on this puzzle for two years now, and I do have a mechanism that behaves rattle-free without lubrication. It’s better than anything else on the market, but I’m still not happy. I think we can do better. So I’m still working on it. Hopefully in the next few months I’ll have something I consider production-ready, but I’m not rushing it.

Stay tuned. But I wouldn’t expect anything for sale around the new switch platform until 2023.

24 Likes

I’d like to see more attention paid to a sort of cradle for keyboards that can alter acoustics of the keyboard placed on them. Basic idea is to explore how deskpads affect sound of keyboards and design a cradle that changes the sound in pleasant ways.

For bonus points, design a case with open bottom, expanding the acoustic effect of the cradle through different shapes and materials. Such a case would also address the problem of extra height added by the cradle. The problem of how to secure the case on the cradle needs to be resolve of course. Some sort of clamping mechanism used by suitcases should work.

I like your thinking @donpark :smiley:

If I understand you correctly, it’s something I’ve been experimenting with while designing my cases. At first, the idea was to save on materials during development and printing. Then I experimented with various hardness of TPU and looked for different acoustic properties.

I also went so far and printed a plate with TPU A85 shore for my 40%, and I love how it silences the switches.

So yes, please, more options to shape the acoustics of keyboards.

Have a great weekend.

9 Likes

It all sounds amazing. Looking forward to seeing what you have worked on.

2 Likes

Well this is one of the most exciting confirmations I’ve recieved. Looking forward to seeing more :grin:

1 Like

Throw it in the freezer to ice your wrists while you type, then toss it in the oven for heat. Actively treat RSI as you work. :sweat_smile:

3 Likes

We all know that deskpad affect keyboard sound. It’s a promising side trail worth exploring.

Looking at your photos, I think yes. The goal is the same whether it’s a replaceable insert into case bottom, a deskpad that bottom-less case can clamp onto, or something else entirely: ability to change sound of a keyboard very quickly.

Not unlike the HHKB silencing mat, but quickly removable?

Rather than offering more options for tuning acoustics, my goal is to create a keyboard that is my curated statement on what good acoustics are. To cite one example, consider how greater keycap wall thickness profoundly affect acoustics—DCS compared to GMK. I’ve applied that observation to my switch housings. Not only has the geometry been meticulously optimized to deaden sound reflections internal to the switch, but the wall thickness is much greater than stock Topre or Niz, which is a harder design challenge than it sounds given the small space available. The result is that, if you intentionally drop one of my switch housings on a table along with one of the other stock ones, mine has a very obviously deeper pitch, which also manifests itself during normal typing. I’ve also engineered in mitigations for spring ping, spring crunch, slider wobble, slider lubricity, internal sound reflections, external sound transmission, etc.

Visual aesthetics have also been optimized. While I still use my characteristic steel rear cover plate design approach (to avoid a visible seam down the side of the housing), the board no longer has any external visible fasteners. Achieving this required devising a tricky internal gantry system, with lots of custom hardware—a pain, but totally worth it.

I want this to be a ready-to-type board that is amazing as it arrives, with no tinkering required, because I’ve spent years doing that for the user instead. It’s going to be an opinionated—and, as a result, maybe polarizing—design, but for those who share my quirky aesthetic predilections, it is meant to be the ultimate, no-compromises endgame.

I’m naming it after one of my favorite writers from the ancient world.

I’m working on such a cradle, but not for acoustic purposes. I’ve always felt (and many ergonomists agree) that typing angles are bad for your wrists, so my first board around this platform will be designed primarily for use flat. I also find bolt-on risers aesthetically gross. So, to accommodate the folks who still aren’t used to typing on a flat board, I’ll be making an optional wedge-like typing platform, possibly in different angles. The keyboard is already so highly acoustically dampened and vibration-isolated, however, that I doubt the material of that stand will have much affect on the sound of the board. Setting aside the (perhaps optional) silencing rings on the switch sliders, the keyboard has five dampeners of different materials in it, four of which are gaskets.

Eventually I’ll build other boards around this platform that are more akin to the Heavy-9 and Heavy Grail, which will have inherent typing angles for those that prefer them. But the flat TKL, like my Norbaforce, will always be what I consider the flagship. :slight_smile:

17 Likes

Yup. Typing angle was part of the trail that lead to cradle idea. A flat case with a cradle could in theory allow even negative angles for standing-desk. My informal tests of negative angle with keyboard on my lap, typing experience was amazingly comfortable. Blocker for me was the distance to mouse/trackpad.

Re acoustics, I do agree that curated acoustics is good enough for most people. But for folks like me, ability to experiment with sound by changing material, sound channel shape, and diffusers would just kick the door open to endless tinkering fun. Sadly, I do realize there may be too little demand to warrant market attention.

1 Like

Thanks for the sneak-peak Ryan, sounds exciting! Sorry for not tagging you in my original post :wink:
Please remember us ISO users with the keycap sets :pray:

2 Likes

I’m actually in favor of negative angles, especially for standing desk use. The goal is generally to avoid extension torque on the wrist joint, keeping the palm roughly in line with the central axis of the forearm. So, yes, the idea of having generally flat-brick board that can be mounted in different ways is the core premise I favor. The slight downside is that each can move independently, so it makes transporting one’s set up a bit more cumbersome, but that’s what owning two keyboards is for. :blush:

I’ve been focusing on the DIY/tinkerer crowd (which includes myself) for as long as I’ve been doing this, and my experience is that, to my sorrow, it’s hard to build a sustainable business around that alone. Despite ever-growing revenues, Norbauer & Co. has never turned a meaningful profit, and last year actually lost me quite a lot of money. If I’m going to be able to continue trying to solve interesting problems and making new designs, I need to find some way to have the business at least pay for itself reliably. (At present, my company is now effectively a charity project serving the keyboard community, paid for out of my personal bank account. And one that takes like 12 hours of unpaid work out of my life every day.)

The Seneca is an attempt to make the best keyboard obtainable, something that a “normal” human (with admittedly deep pockets) can buy, plug in, use, and enjoy for years without having to acquire any technical skills. It isn’t designed to resist tinkering and I have no doubt it’ll provide many such opportunities for creative community members, but it also isn’t optimized for that either. It is designed simply to be good, out of the box. My goal is to try to use this more approachable, super-high-end experience as a way to bring a new crowd of people into the keyboard world while also delivering something awesome to people already deep into keyboards and with very honed sensibilities. It’s the only way I can figure to make a plausibly sustainable business around my somewhat rarefied, over-the-top approach to making keyboards. :sweat_smile:

13 Likes

This is so exciting, wow. I’m glad you have the time and resources to pursue something to this extent. As for polarizing, I think an interesting product needs to express opinions, for what it’s worth. Anything, keyboard, product, or work of art, that attempts to please too many audiences is usually a total drag.

4 Likes