In the past couple of days I received the parcel from the Canvas XDA manufacturer containing the kits offered in the group buy with reviewed and adjusted legends. I took my time to carefully inspect each and every keycap, taking notes, measuring the strokes and lines with a scale meter and inspecting the prints which were the result of dye sublimation process on PBT plastic.
The numbers I obtained were satisfactory and precise upon comparison with the original files designed by me and the manufacturer. Some very minor adjustments and corrections were requested regarding overall quality control and printing procedures. I provided both Massdrop and the manufacturer with a lengthy official report containing instructions and feedback so we can deliver a pristine product to the customers!
Therefore, me and Massdrop authorized the manufacturer to go ahead and produce the group buy order on totality – it’s going to take 50 business days for manufacturing conclusion and the kits should be shipping to customers by late October.
I put together a prototype case with some switches installed in it to hold keycaps in place, and shoot some photographs to give enthusiasts an idea about what the official Canvas XDA keycap set will look like. Bear in mind the following photos were shot using a mobile camera and no color correction took place what so ever. The legends are crispy clean and sharp looking in real life but unfortunately my camera couldn’t fully capture that and presented some aberration. I tried to counter that by using a magnifying glass, aiming for closeup pictures.
The thumbnails below are a bit messed, please click on the photos for proper resolution display.
Alphas + Text Modifiers -> please click to expand
Official Batch installed vs First Batch on top -> please click to expand
Magnifying Glass Closeups -> please click to expand
Magnifying Glass – W keycap from the first batch -> please click to expand
Alphas + Bauhaus Grey/Beige + O -> please click to expand
Alphas + Icon Mods -> please click to expand
Betas + Icon Mods -> please click to expand
Dieter Rams + Icon Mods + Mono (sorry for the shaky hands) -> please click to expand
The improvement from the first batch is remarkably noticeable and working with this manufacturer was amazing. The legends came out sharp as I envisioned and the entire keycap set is very calm, aesthetic and pleasing to look at in real life. I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the group buy supporters for the patience and contribution to the discussion and I apologize for the delay. This project wouldn’t come to fruition without your support, so thank you very much for sticking with us!
Hope you enjoy the keycaps once they find your way!
Me and the manufacturer are currently sampling keycaps in the official colors of the keyset, I expect to see the initial results in the near future. That’s very important because some of the commissions and collaborations I’ve got lined up can’t progress without the official colors figured out. In case there’s anyone curious about the color codes, they don’t actually exist. Pantones were initially used as a general reference but now we are going to match the renders, so a precise code does not exist. The colors are what you’re seeing on my renders and they have some accuracy.
As requested by many users, there will be a 2u wide Shift keycap present on the Base Kit in order to cover layouts such as the XD60.
The current selection of Novelties seem to be injection friendly and I don’t expect to have issues with any of the particular designs. I’ve got a list going on with simpler designs/references to act as replacements in case we encounter difficulties and I’ll be sharing those with you if needed. As a side note, some of the legends borrowed from Carbon might be replaced, more notably the High Voltage symbol which I’ll swap for the Akira pill and the Skull, to be replaced by a Robocop reference of some sort.
Japanese Legends, D/C Kit and ErgoPlanck
Regarding the Japanese kit, you don’t have to worry about pricing as I’ve got it sorted out. Speaking about the designs presented, I closed the last poll once it reached about 2k votes and we all know the results. I released a new poll featuring the two winners and now we must decide which one will make into the actual keyset. Please go ahead and drop a vote in the poll at the top of this post, even if you voted before. Some people brute forced the last poll in favor of the monolegends, so I added an extra layer of security to the new poll – I ask you guys to be honest and vote just one time. There will be a Dvorak/Colemak kit added to actual the group buy. The ErgoPlanck kit will remain blank, but I’m going to offer some extra keycaps on it for extra color options.
I’m working on super cool stuff behind the curtains to ensure this will be a remarkable project to all of you. Due to the magnitude of the project and all parts involved, I can’t provide you with a solid launch date just yet. But expect it to happen between the conclusion of Nautilus and November, 2017.
Godspeed SA & Canvas XDA
The Godspeed keycap production is about 99% concluded according to the manufacturer and it should ship to Massdrop further for sorting and distribution to participants very soon.
I’m receiving messages asking if/when extra kits will be available and there will be a first come first served sale with instant shipping on Massdrop at some point in the future. I don’t have extra kits of any sort and for now I recommend you guys to stick with /r/MechMarket and Geekhack Classifieds in case you want to grab Godspeed kits.
Regarding Canvas XDA, I received extra kits displaying the dye sublimation legends a couple weeks ago and several adjustments were done. The manufacturer is working at full steam on the changes we requested and I expect to have very positive news to share soon.
Thank you very much for the support and all of the messages you’ve been sending. I’m having a bit of a hard time answering promptly so please be patient – you have not been forgotten. Lots of cool stuff coming up this year still and I hope you are enjoying to ride 2017 with me!
The Godspeed keycap set project suffered from two manufacturing delays since Massdrop placed the purchase order last year – as unfortunately, Signature Plastics is having issues with their SA ABS keycap set production line. The demand for spherical profile keycap sets for mechanical keyboards has been increasing at a steady pace since 2015 and without improving their manufacturing capabilities, Signature Plastics has been struggling to keep up with the hobbyists demands.
Last night I finally received the first production pictures of the Godspeed set. The good old cardboard templates (#tbpulse) are getting filled as some keycaps are still being sourced. I was informed by Signature Plastics that production will finish in 5 weeks and they will ship the keycaps to the Massdrop warehouse as soon as they’re done. Nine months from placing the purchase order to having a SA profile keycap set from Signature Plastics delivered to our doorsteps sounds almost reasonable these days… I’m afraid that the upcoming SA projects will unfortunately take longer to conclude.
I hope you’re as excited as me to see the actual keycaps for the first time! However, I’d like to point a couple things about these pictures. First of all, they were shot using a mobile phone camera, in the manufacturing plant, without any proper lighting or care what so ever. So, in order for you to visualize the keycaps better I’d like you to pay attention to a couple things:
The alphas you can see in the Norde kit, UK kit, PhD Planck and Blanks are the closest representation of the actual white/beige color tone that was used – the keycaps aren’t as creamy as Colevrak, Cockpit, Solar Alphas and Calculus suggest them to be;
The blue and yellow keycaps present on Dr. Blanc von Dox, PhD Planck, 40s, Blanks and Modifiers represent the blue and yellow tones more accurately – as the blue is very subtle and the yellow is very smooth.
In conclusion, I believe there was an odd bright light source positioned directly at the upper part of the cardboard templates, therefore the color accuracy is kinda messed up. The PhD Planck is the kit that, for some reason, displays the keycaps’ colors more realistically I’d say. Use the picture below as a parameter if you wanna imagine what your keyboard will look like with official Godspeed colors.
Speaking about Canvas, a couple weeks ago I received dyesub samples from the manufacturer with the official typeface used! I believe we materialized the vision and the legends look crisp. Again, please disregard the color accuracy of the pictures – they were shot on mobile and I don’t have adequate equipment to capture the colors more accurately than this.
If you want a parameter, the portrait photo (first picture) displays the colors a little more accurately than the other ones. I have the keycaps on my hands and I can tell that the beige is in reality less creamy and the grey is cooler than what me and the camera managed to capture.
In order to improve the visuals and make it perfect, I requested some adjustments for the following glyphs, though:
The $ character;
The % character;
F1 – F12 vertical alignment on the keycaps.
Production seems to be on track and I hope to be able to share more pictures soon. Please keep an eye to the official drop discussion tab and your e-mail inboxes for updates. I’ll keep updating you guys as soon as I have more information, hope you’re excited!
As always, thank you very much for the support. I appreciate that you took your time to check this update! Since you’re here anyway, I’d like to ask – what do you think about the Laser project? Join the discussion if you haven’t already and make sure to vote for your favorite Hiragana legends!
As a follow up to the intensive community contribution, so we could improve the design of Hiragana and both Novelties Laser GMK kits, I’d like to present an update and gather feedback about the current version of said kits!
I’m going to offer a special alphas only hiragana kit, for the people who appreciate the japanese culture and it’s ties with the Cyberpunk genre. I’d like to request feedback about what’s your preferred version:
Gaijin – Latin Legends & Hiragana Sublegends
Hybrid – Hiragana Alphas & Latin Number/Punctuation
Hiragana – Hiragana Monolegends
You can see renders displaying each of the versions below, don’t forget to vote!
We initially had two different novelty kits and after extensive community feedback and design contribution I merged both kits into one. The balance between 1980’s and Cyberpunk references was kept and the included novelties (as you can see in the render above) are as following:
Classic retrowave sunset
A cyberdeck terminal
Brazilian DEX pill from Neuromancer
Ghost in the Shell Major’s neck neuralink
Bowl & chopsticks
Skull – same mold from Carbon GMK
Laser beam – same mold from Carbon GMK
Biohazard mycotoxin sign – same mold from Carbon GMK
Ghost in the Shell Tachikoma (spider tank) eyes
Rick Deckard’s Police ID logo from Blade Runner
Ghost in the Shell Individual Eleven logo
Blinky, Pinky, Inky & Clyde
Space Invader’s alien
Toyota AE86 (Hachi Roku) logo
Stranger Things Eleven’s forearm tattoo
DeLorean’s flux capacitor from Back to the Future
There’s also a magenta sunset and a dashboard green Esc. A fuel orange WASD cluster was added in order to complement the Esc/Enter dashboard green keycaps, together with a magenta arrow cluster and the iconic pair of 1.25u 88 digital keycaps to ressemble the classic Windows logo while referencing Back to the Future as well. There’s also a pair of 1.25u DMC DeLorean keycaps.
Please take a moment to express what you’d like to see on Massdrop Talk Tab and/or Geekhack Interest Check discussion pages! If you have a vision, or an idea that you’d like to see implemented, please express and we can try to design it together!
While you’re here, in case you enjoy my creations feel invited to subscribe to my official Newsletter so you won’t miss a thing! You can also connect with me via Instagram, Reddit, Geekhack, Massdrop or just send me an e-mail at email@example.com – I’d love to hear from you!
Speaking about the Canvas XDA keyset group buy, on my last update I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with the grey/beige combo we had while the colored (Bauhaus) colors were spot on. This morning I received many different samples and shades of beige/grey from the manufacturer and I chose the tones that truly represent our project and are true to the concept. Photos aren’t great but I experimented looking at the keycaps in various lighting environments and I came to the conclusion that the combination below, out of everything we possibly have as an option, is perfect.
I also noticed that the color samples are very close to the Godspeed SA keycap set that we created last year – shipping should begin in just a couple weeks, hopefully you’ll be receiving the set soon! Due to some similarities between Godspeed and the samples I’ve got for PBT, I’d like to research if there’s any interest for a PBT/XDA version of Godspeed. Some people missed the keycap set group buy, others aren’t too fond of ABS so I think that it could be a good combination. Let me know what you guys think, if there’s enough interest I’ll go ahead and start a regular interest check in the platforms you’re already used to. Leave a comment below telling me what you think about it! I mocked it up using the Klown Keeb layout, hope you enjoy it.
I’m also going to be hosting a small keyboard giveaway next week, bundled with a couple items that I believe starters in this hobby would love to own! I love the mechanical keyboard community and I’d like to giveback with this small giveaway. I’ll share the specific rules when I announce it in a couple days, but for now I’d like to invite you to sign up to my newsletter so you won’t miss a thing.
After a little over two years gathering parts, consulting community friends and planning what I wanted, earlier this month I finally managed to put together my ultimate build. I wanted to build something that would help me in my everyday tasks and it had to be beautiful! Interacting with all of the guys who assisted me in the process was a great journey and I enjoyed it a lot.
During these years, multiple times I purchased parts that would either get lost in transit (due to my horrible local customs) and receive replacements that didn’t quite work together. Cases that didn’t work with the PCB, plates that got bent or didn’t work with either the case and/or PCB, etc. I had a couple problems but I slowly managed to gather everything and conclude the project! The final result is exactly what I had in my mind.
I requested Hojin to pre-assemble it (there’s an option in the checkout), so all of the diodes, RGB underglow pads (it has 16), resistors and the controller as well were soldered by him. My soldering equipment isn’t very accurate and my lack of skills wouldn’t be enough for such small components. All I had to do was solder the switches of my preference and install the stabilizers (which are required for long keycaps such as the space bar, enter and others). If you’re looking to solder, I recommend getting a soldering iron 25W – 30W since they work in the 360 °C – 375 °C range, which I find to be the optimal temperatures for 63/37 fluxed solder. Getting a soldering sucker is also recommended in case you want to desolder things later down the road.
Space bar switch: Gateron Yellow (lubed 62g gold spring) in Zeal housing
In my experience, swapping stems into Zeal housings is great way to improve the smoothness and downstroke of the switches. The clicky sound generated by the Blue stems also became crispier and less high-pitched, which is a feature that I love. I used to have Gateron Yellows on my previous board and they were fantastic, but I wanted to experience clicky switches and I instantly fell in love with them. I decided to have a Gateron Yellow for the spacebar and fine tuned it to avoid fatigue and improve it’s sound – it’s amazing. I don’t enjoy tactile switches and I like to think that Blues are clicky linears, since their tactility is so subtle. Much less pronounced than Browns and Zealios (all variations) as far as I can tell. The swap for Zeal housings is also something that I was really looking forward, because it allows the light from the underglow effect to come all the way up through the plate. So the underglow shine also acts as a backlighting (which is further improved by the mirror finish of the plate). Couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Plate: Local sourced mirrored 1.5 mm thick stainless steel
Because I use the ANSI layout I didn’t want my plate to have that huge ISO enter gap. But I wanted to have some universal features implemented in the design. That’s exactly what me and Brian achieved. First of all all of the cuts allow for easy switch top opening, in case I wanna swap stems or mod the switches. Then we came up with a standard bottom-row and an option for either 1.75u right shift + Fn or 2.75u right shift. It also has a universal cut for caps lock, so I could pick between stepped or non-stepped (I decided to go stepped) when soldering that switch. Finally, this amazing plate provides me with the option for either 2 x 1u or the regular 2u backspace at the top left corner. The mirror finish is beautiful and shines like a beauty.
The opinion on these are vastly different, but speaking from my experience I think they are amazing. I wanted transparent stabs in order to have the underglow to backlighting effect (provided by the transparent switches’ housings, as I previously explained) on my stabilizers as well, and they do exactly what they are supposed to in this regard. I also lubed the stems, housings and the gold plated wires and I definitely recommend doing so. After using the keyboard for this past couple of weeks I can tell that they are much superior to my old KBP V60 stabs and the regular Costar stabs. The Zeal stabs feel very smooth up and down, and I’m not being able to notice any rattle. Despite it’s price tag, which is a bit of a turn down, I think it’s fair to say that they are not even comparable to normal stabs and worth the upgrade.
Case: Clear Zhao case
I acquired this case from brand new from a friend that I met along my journey but it required a bit of modding, in order to properly flush with the B.Face X2 PCB. The case seems to be an injection clear version of the Poker II case so it has some structural horizontal bars that had to be removed – as they were colliding with the underglow pads. I carefully removed each one of them using a cutting blade and pliers, it took me quite a while to get it done. I wanted to go slow in order to prevent scratching the case, so if you happen to go through the same process I recommend that you take your time and go slow. During the planning phase of the build I considered purchasing a Rust Oleum Frost Glass spray can in order to apply the frost finish to the inside of the case, in order for it to diffuse the RGB better. But to be entirely honest I don’t think it’s worth it, because the case already diffuses light pretty well. Much better than I thought it would be.
Cable: Hand made
Braided coiled paracord with gold plated connectors and clear heatshrink, by Sam. A great friend who is in charge of MechCables also known as /u/90N1NE from Reddit. His work is just incredible and the coil looks super. The paracord has an amazing texture and the coil feature is very robust. I can tell it’s gonna last for very long, possibly a lifetime. His customer support is fantastic and turnaround time for orders is always blazing fast from what I’ve seen. I have no clue how this cable managed to travel all the way to Brazil in only 8 days, untaxed, via regular USPS. Pure wizardry.
Keycaps: Cherry White Blanks 1.5mm thick PBT from Feng
I was looking for a complete keycap set that would cover both ANSI and the fancy HHKB variants. Feng’s version of this keyset was exactly what I needed. Spongy bright white, directly delivered to Clay also known as /u/CRJ3012 in the USA so he could hand dye. We went with purple for the alphas and candy pink for the modifiers. By the time this was ordered, Clay couldn’t achieve the cyan tone I was after which was unfortunate. I was ready to get some GMK blanks to highlight the keys I wanted but a couple months later he informed me he had cracked the tone. Fortunately at the time, he had extra blanks – including short right shifts, R4 Fns, bottom row modifiers, a couple R2 1.5us and a ton of R1 1us – exactly the highlights I needed. This extra order was quite the steal and I’m super happy with how it turned out.
Keymap: 60% with dedicated arrow keys and numpad
There’s a myth in the mechanical keyboard communities that the endgame keyboard does not exist. But after interacting with all these guys, meeting incredible people and building this project, I believe that endgame is a journey, rather than a destination. In other words, I don’t think I’ll be building another keyboard anytime soon!
Today I’m happy to officially announce the release of an all new keycap set project that I’ve been working on recently, conceived to rethink some rules and expand new routes that I felt were unexplored in our community. For the past couple of years I’ve been experimenting with theme implementation – like Godspeed and optimization for customization possibilities using logic – as seen on Overcast. The result of this work is Canvas – a XDA profile keycap set for MX stem mechanical keyboards.
I decided to go further and step beyond some boundaries and limits that I had, for some reason, previously established in my head. This time I attempted to dive deep into the brain work of designing, implementing a meaningful theme while rethinking the standards for this niche – Why are the legends always like this and why are the icons always like that? I’ve kept asking myself, while questioning how could I create something classy and at the same time, innovative.
So I studied, watched and read. Canvas is the result of weeks of a work strongly influenced by Braun aesthetics, the work of Dieter Rams and the iconic Apple mechanical keyboard from the 90’s – AEK.
From the beginning it was hating the sixties American way of styling. Especially the cars. They changed their cars every two years to sell new ones. Which has nothing to do with good design. – Dieter Rams
The font – Readability, elegance and aesthetics
A balance between lower case and upper case characters is not a feature exactly present in the keycap sets available in the market. The AEK made such a good use of it, but ultimately it’s a style that disappeared. I’m bringing it back. The stroke, radius, scale and spacing of every character was carefully developed and created by hand as a result of strong typography influences such as Univers from Apple, Kostić’s Mongoose, Mariya’s Kizo and others.
The proportions between alphanumeric characters & modifier legends were mathematically conceived, and precisely adjusted, to the factor of 1.35 in height. The kerning was adjusted to 1.61. Tall characters like f, g, t, etc. were calibrated accordingly – stroke first & then height (for proper alignment), while all of the legends were positioned to the visual center of the top left surface position of each keycap.
Iconography and kits – Recreating the convention
Dieter Rams’ 10 Principle of Good Designs is the cornerstone of Braun, and I wanted to apply its concepts on Canvas. The icon convention implemented had to be aesthetic, innovative and honest –no more valuable than it really is. The language created was thorough down to the last detail and no aspect of it was arbitrary or left to chance. To make this tangible, unobtrusive and understandable symbols were hand drawn, using either two or three geometric elements – as little design as possible.
An example of the thought process behind the Control icon. Every symbol was developed after the same concept – immediate correspondence to an object that relates to the original legends.
The kits offered provide useful keycaps and the balance between affordability and customization was again preserved. Good design is environmentally friendly and a palette with pastels & colorful strikes was conceived – so the spectrum ranging from office cubicles to gaming rigs could be properly covered. The long lasting PBT material was selected for this project and its ever lasting polymer characteristics were combined with the never fading dye sublimation process for the legends.
Coming next there will be a post detailing the child kits that will be offered in the group buy – which is going live 19th, January 2017 at Massdrop. I hope you are excited about this project because we have a wonderful drop in the works, so feel invited to visit the drop discussion page and contribute with your criticism! I appreciate your visit once again, let me know what you think about my work! You know where to find me.
Special thanks to Wu, Spinelli, Almuiña, Tobias, Cook, Liu, RMK, GH, MD and Slack.