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Finally the DLD77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs begin arriving!

Finally the DLD77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs begin arriving!

We just received 8 of the 10 DLD 77 Rev 02 pre-production PCBs. The remaining 2 are expected to be in the week after next. Comparing DLD 77 PCB outlines, we managed to shrink the Rev 02 PCB outline so that it is smaller than the Rev 01 PCB. The outline shrinking did come with a trade-off. The Rev 01 design supported the capability to accept PCB mount type key-switches which have an additional 2 alignment holes. Those alignment holes proved to be too much for the areas where the routing is 'busy'. So the key-switches have been changed in Rev 02 to be panel mount.

Reset assured however the key-cap stabilizers still remain PCB mount for Rev 02!
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DLD77 Rev 01 prototype

DLD77 Rev 01 prototype

It truly is a satisfying experience to see top panel, bottom enclosure and PCB assembly come together on the first try! The anodized gold is quite pleasing.

Feedback has been very positive. However there have been a couple of questions which did arise from multiple parties:

- Where's the key cap back lighting? Well, in this revision, rev 01 there is none. It came down to time and what we needed rev 01 to accomplish. Rest assured back lighting will be addressed with rev 02.

- Will there be other colors offered besides gold? Most certainly yes!!!

- The unit sits flat, are there no footers? For this revision, rev 01 it does. Like the key cap back lighting the footers were a casualty. Rest assured footers will be addressed with rev 02.
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In the Beginning there were Clicky sounds, and it was good...

In the Beginning there were Clicky sounds, and it was good...

Lesson 1: Tasty Beverage Bad (when mixed with keyboard)

My mechanical keyboard journey started more than 2 years ago when my trusty Microsoft Natural had an unfortunate meeting with a beverage. The lesson learned was that liquid and keyboards don’t mix; I was unable to repair my trusty membrane after several attempts. With a heavy heart I embarked to find a suitable replacement...

1st Microsoft Natural 4000 – It was available from Amazon and, the form factor I was familiar with. However when compared with my original Gen 1 Natural it felt cheap, and more mushy. Over all it was acceptable but as someone who spends 6 Hours a day on a keyboard I was left with an unsatisfied and empty feeling every time I used it...

 

2nd Microsoft Sculpt – It  was sleek and sexy, and I was weak. This was a very short lived relationship. I actually didn’t mind this board as much as the 4000, I had become accustomed to chiclet keys on my laptop, so the travel was not much of an issue. However the dongle disappeared after less than a month. Microsoft was unwilling or unable to send a replacement dongle… so that was that...

3rd DAS Keyboard – On travel to a jobsite a colleague of mine allowed me the pleasure of using his DAS Keyboard. I was immediately taken with the way that it “felt”. It was a solid keyboard. I decided to get one for the office, but a funny thing happened on the way to the market…

I started looking into the DAS, and I somehow ended up on our friendly Massdrop homepage, from Massdrop to Desk Authority, from Desk Authority to Geek Hack, etc. Lo and behold, there was a world of keyboards out there. More options than I had ever imagined. More passion than I ever expected. I took a few weekends to deep dive into what I wanted, then a few more. After all if I was going to spend “that much” on a keyboard I was going to make sure it was going to get everything I needed.

Lesson 2: Switches, Switches, Switches

Finding switches to test and try out was a bit of a pain. To make a long story short, I had to beg borrow and steal to test the different types of Cherry, Topre, and Alps switches. I found myself preferring Cherry Blues. My co-workers preferred to use clears, but that’s a different story all together. I will not dwell on the great switch debate other than to observe the debate is on level with OSes, religions, and politics.

Lesson 3: Less can be more.

I am left handed. There is a level of frustration that cannot be expressed to the right handed world pertaining to having to use standard software, standard keyboard, and a standard right handed mouse. Being left handed one key frustration among the frustrations was that 85% of the shortcut keys in the programs I use are single handed; left handed in fact. Totally awesome right? … Wrong.  Left is my “mousing” hand. Switching back and forth a couple thousand times a day is tedious. There were 60% keyboards out that had arrow keys that were also left handed. That meant that I could navigate most of my programs without needing a mouse, with my dominant hand which seemed like a good thing. I settled on finding a good 60% keyboard.

4th The Tex Yoda

I finally settled on the Tex Yoda. It had a pointing stick, which; while not my first choice in pointing device, it would supplement my mouse. This keyboard has been my daily driver for about a year now.

It is solid but almost immediately I realized that when running simulations and such I used a keypad much more than I realized. This was the drove me to start designing my own keyboard.

Brain Storming:

The Idea: I wanted a 60% with a numpad.

  • I dove into even more research:
  • I started looking into the community designed keyboards.
  • I read about the experiences of others.
  • I poured over points and counter points made about various design tradeoffs.
  • I tested every mechanical keyboard I could get my hands on.

I decided my custom board needed to feel Solid, it needed:

  • Switches that are plate (aka panel) mounted.
  • A metal top plate (panel) and metal bottom case.
  • PCB mounted stabilizers.

It needed a few features that existed already:

  • Programmability. The board needs to be fully programmable, macro enabled.
  • Back lighted Keys. (I actually do work in the dark when possible).

It of course also needed features that I desired:

  • 60% + Numpad.
  • Low/thin profile.
  • Anodized finish.

Lastly, it needed two versions:

  • A version for right-handed users.
  • A version for left-handed users.

I call it my DLD77. The conceptualized iteration for the 'right-handed' version is shown below.

 

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