A Word On Mechanical Keyboards
I’ve been using mechanical keyboards for nearly as long as I’ve been using computers. When I was a still a little boy, my parents got an IBM PS/1 with a 486, and most importantly the ubiquitious IBM Model M keyboard. I still have that keyboard and used it for years until I was no longer able to use a keyboard with a PS/2 connector. For as long as I’ve been using computers, part of the visceral nature of putting thought to page or writing code was connected with the tactile feel and clicky sound of a mechanical keyboard.
As I got older and entered the workforce, I suffered through many years of being stuck using whatever keyboard was made available to me in the office, but soon realized there was a world out there of a new generation of mechanical keyboards made by and for enthusiasts and connectable by USB. I soon dived into this, and began collecting various keyboards while using some as daily drivers.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of what is currently in my collection, and I will try to update this post periodically. The purpose of writing all this is to get my thoughts down and provide me something I can link from Deskthority and similar communities.
I will be using the following format below
- System/Purpose(if any): Keyboard Make/Model, Keyboard Switch Type, Connectivity Type, Notes (if any)
- New Model F F77, Buckling Spring, USB, Serial #169
- Deck Legend, Cherry MX Black, USB, Purchased 07/28/2012
- Vortex Pok3r VTG-6100, Cherry MX Clear, USB, Purchased 04/15/2015 has Drop x Tomb3ry Carbon SA Keycaps
- Ducky x Varmilo Miya Pro Panda, Cherry MX Clear, USB, Purchased 11/05/2020
- Ducky DK9008 Shine II, Cherry MX Brown, USB, Purchased 09/18/2012
- Ducky Year of the Horse, Cherry MX Brown, USB, Serial #0701/2014 Purchased 04/15/2015
- Drop x ErgoDox Kit, Cherry MX Clear, USB, Purchased 08/27/2013
- Unicomp Customizer 104, Buckling Spring, USB, Purchased 07/13/2010
- IBM Model M, Buckling Spring, Detachable Cable w/ Soarer’s USB Mod, ID# 8806659 MFR 08-06-1993
- IBM Model M, Buckling Spring, PS/2, ID# 0360834 MFR 09-NOV-94
- Gaming PC: Deck Legend, Cherry MX Black, USB, Purchased 7/28/2012
- Work MBP: Vortex Pok3r VTG-6100, Cherry MX Clear, USB, Purchased 04/15/2015
- Drop x Tomb3ry Carbon SA Custom Keycap Set, Purchased 08/12/2015
- Hacking/Writing MBP: Ducky x Varmilo Miya Pro Panda, Cherry MX Clear, USB, Purchased 11/05/2020
- Writing: New Model F F77, Buckling Spring, USB, Serial #169
This just arrived earlier this week, and I’ve had to do a bit of tuning/repair on it, thanks to being jiggled a lot in shipping, but once I got it going, it’s been a dream to type on. I typed this entire post using this keyboard and I’m really loving getting a usable modern buckling spring keyboard that harkens back to the hey-day of computers that were built to last. This thing weighs over eight (8) pounds and you really could probably murder someone with it. It’s about twice as heavy as a full-size Model M and has only 75% of the keys (77 vs 104). It’s been a real dream to type on, although I’m still working out a few quirks wiht the firmware.
I hold a special place in my heart for the IBM Model M and buckling spring keyboards generally. If it’s a realistic option, this is always what I prefer to use and I associate the unique sound of buckling spring typing at speed with productivity and getting things done. As much as other mechanical switch designs have managed to take advantage of technical advances to bring down costs, improve reliability, and to customize feel, nothing sounds as uniquely like buckling springs, every other clicky type switch available is a mere attempt at a fascimile.
When not using a buckling spring keyboard, you’ve probably noticed a trend in what I own in that I really like the Cherry MX Clear. I like it for the weight, the feel (which I discovered is far superior to the Cherry MX Brown), but also for the fact it’s not trying to be anything but what it is. When I’m not using buckling spring keyboards I actually prefer non-clicky switches, because they seem more real and honest to me in what they’re trying to achieve. I know many many many new switches have entered the market since I first started buying Cherry MX based keyboards, but I’ve stuck to the Cherry MX Clear and it’s never done me wrong.
When gaming, I prefer linear switches, and because I’m used to heavier keyswitches I tend to have a heavy hand on the keyboard. Linear switches tend to be especially punishing when bottoming out over time, so I run Cherry MX Blacks because they’re the heaviest available. I’m open to alternative linear switches that might be an improvement, but for the most part I try not to type with linears.