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[Official] Mechanical Keyboard Guide - Page 1138

post #11371 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by ripster;12664655 
Infinite number of hubs? How about 127x104=13,208KRO?

Frankly the 6KRO of USB is fine. I don't even need the extra 4 modifiers since I don't play those weird games with both hands on the keyboards.

13,208 would be a nice number for the OP though.

Well I occasionally need 7KRO. I'm not willing to concede rollover until 10, which is enough for both hands. I don't believe in playing games with my face. 12KRO is good because it's double the default 6.
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post #11372 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chunky_Chimp;12662643 
I think fssbzz did a video showing that one of those WAS NKRO over USB. I'll need to find it again. Edit; I knew it. http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:13825

I don't think he got to 26 where the Windows/USB/Application bug starts appearing. Let alone 104. Needs mo fingahs!
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post #11373 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by ripster;12665009 
I don't think he got to 26 where the Windows/USB/Application bug starts appearing. Let alone 104. Needs mo fingahs!

41 seconds in he's pressing about 40 keys. Enough to debunk the 26 theory at least.
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post #11374 of 14567
Not conclusive. The issue is you get GHOSTING, not BLOCKING in some situations above 26 keys.

Does anybody really care about 26KRO?

Oh, that's right, the baby with those 13 fingers and toes. Eww......
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post #11375 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by seesee;12664503 
I thinking of converting to a Noppoo Choc Mini (Brown) keyboard from a regular keyboard.

I'm worried about the keyboard layout, is there any learning curves? I am a software programmer, would it reduce my coding efficiency and comfort level?

upp!!
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post #11376 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by ripster;12665266 
Not conclusive. The issue is you get GHOSTING, not BLOCKING in some situations above 26 keys.

Does anybody really care about 26KRO?

Oh, that's right, the baby with those 13 fingers and toes. Eww......

I'm with you, I can't imagine why anyone could even possibly care. I'm all for changing the definition of NKRO to being 10+ keys, since that's effectively "N". If you can't press more, then it's basically got infinite rollover. Maybe 12 keys just for some headroom, but 26 should definitely fly.
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post #11377 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tator Tot;12658017 
More guide updates today.

New keyboards added, some errors correct (thanks to those who pointed it out.)

If there is anything else I need to do, please post or PM me and I will get to changing it ASAP.
I feel that it's time I stepped up to the plate and become the editor that I promised I would be. I mean, I think that it's long overdue and it has ended up seeming like I was just blowing smoke. So, here are my proposed changes for only the first three posts so far (I ran out of energy) that I made in order to maximize the readability concerning spelling, grammar, style, paragraph separation, and sentence structure. I literally went over these first three posts word-by-word.

Post #1 (Click to show)
Fact: Nearly all keyboards sold at retail stores or bundled with computers are rubber dome keyboards (which can also be called "membrane" keyboards). This is the same cheap low-cost design used things in TV remotes and telephones (including cell phones and other mobile devices). So this design is used to maximize profits. Yes, this even includes high-end keyboards like the Logitech G19. So, why settle for something that is essentially no better inside than some generic $5.99 keyboard? Even though something like the G19 looks awesome on the outside, it's still just a rubber dome keyboard on the inside.

Tator Tot: what happened to those pictures that showed what the rubber dome-over-membrane looks like as well as what the individual rubber domes look like?

I'm talking particularly about this one:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8b/Keyboard_Construction_Button_Press.JPG

This 1600x1200 image can also be linked for those interested to see the overall usual construction of rubber dome keyboards:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/97/Keyboard_Construction.JPG

Unfortunately, this is the only image I could find to show the original type of rubber domes:

http://www.freeopenbook.com/upgrading-repairing-pc/FILES/18fig05.gif

End of line. smile.gif



So why should you consider a mechanical keyboard?

For most people it's all about the feel: they just make you want to type. But with rubber dome keyboards, you have to press the key all the way down to the bottom to get it to register. This wastes a lot of energy and causes fatigue because most of your effort is spent pushing against a solid piece of plastic (this becomes very clear once you experience a good mechanical keyboard).

But mechanical switches are designed so that they register before you bottom out. This means that you don't have to bottom out in order to get a keystroke to register. Plus they use actual springs! So all of this adds up to the keyboard working with you, and not against you. Except, this difference is usually only truly understood once a mechanical keyboard is finally experienced first-hand.

In addition, there are several different types of mechanical switches from which to choose! So you can choose which one you think you'd be the most comfortable with because each one has its own feel (and the "clicky" ones add mechanical click sound). But almost all rubber dome keyboards feel the same, generally speaking. Granted, there are differences between many rubber dome keyboards, but the differences are not as noticeable (or as big) as the differences between the various types of mechanical switches.

Finally, most people who try a mechanical keyboard can never go back to using rubber domes because they realize just how "mushy" they really feel. Some people have even reported that their typing speed increased because of their mechanical keyboard. Others report a dramatically increased desire to type which is what we mean when we say that good mechanical keyboards make you want to type!


Index:
Post #2 (Click to show)
Terminology


Key Blocking & Ghosting
Ghosting is when you press two keys on the keyboard, and a 3rd key - which you didn't press - gets sent to the computer as well. This used to be a problem that required true anti-ghosting, but today this is very rarely seen on even the cheapest modern boards because now manufacturers simply limit the key rollover in order to prevent ghosting (it's a modern form of anti-ghosting that costs less to implement). So the term "anti-ghosting" is being used incorrectly today.

Key Blocking is as simple as it sounds; if you were to press 3 keys simultaneously but 1 or 2 of those keys don't register, then you just experienced blocked keys. This is dictated by the "matrix" (the circuit layout on the membrane or PCB) which dictates the keyboard's "key rollover", or "KRO".


Anti-Ghosting
This is an old term that most of today's manufacturers are now using to describe what we know as "key rollover" (or perhaps "improved key rollover"). For example, Microsoft says that the Sidewinder X4 has Anti-Ghosting for up to 26 simultaneous key presses. But that's not anti-ghosting: it's just 26KRO.

Of course, many other manufacturers (like Razer and Logitech) mention "Anti-Ghosting" too, but they're usually just saying that they have designed the matrix so that we never get blocked keys when using the WASD cluster. It's like saying that their keyboards can seem to have NKRO when using the WASD.

Even Steelseries is doing it: both the 7G and 6Gv2 have NKRO, but they call it "Extreme Anti-Ghosting" instead.

The reason why they are all using this term (even though it's being used incorrectly) is because it sounds cool and therefore it does a better job of selling. It would sound boring if they used the correct terminology because then they couldn't say "Extreme Anti-Ghosting". Perhaps they could use "Extreme Key Rollover", but that obviously doesn't sound as cool and obviously wouldn't sell as easily.


Key Rollover (#KRO & NKRO)
Key Rollover refers to blocked keys when pressing 2 or more keys at the same time. The most common key rollover is 6KRO due to the USB spec limit which means that 6 keys can be pressed simultaneously along with 4 modifiers such as Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Meta (WinKey), Fn, Home, End, etc.

NKRO (or "N Key Rollover") means that the key rollover is unlimited. This means that there will never be any blocked keys when pressing multiple keys at the same time. Up until recently (as of 3/8/11), true NKRO was only possible through PS/2 (that is, when it's a specified feature of the keyboard). But now there are two USB-only mechanical keyboards that feature true NKRO through USB: the Noppoo Choc Mini, and the Ducky DK-9008-G2. Unfortunately, the DK-9008-G2 is not available yet (again, as of 3/8/11).

#KRO: where "#" is the amount of key rollover of the keyboard. It generally represents the maximum number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously without having any of them get blocked. For example, some keyboards are strictly 2KRO while most others depend on the "matrix" (which again is the circuit layout on the membrane or PCB) that is described in detail at the bottom of Post #9 (inside of the "hidden text" box).

In addition, many USB-only mechanical keyboards are labeled as 6KRO which again means 6 keys plus 4 modifiers (Ctrl, Shift, Alt, Home, End, Fn, Meta, etc.). Fortunately, this is generally more than enough for most users. Although, a few games may have limitations with the typical 6KRO matrix (e.g. StepMania), but it can also depend on the keyboard due to that matrix layout. But generally, having NKRO is more about the peace of mind than the actual practicality. But obviously, there are some obvious practical reasons to have NKRO.

Finally, there is one rubber dome keyboard out there right now (as of 3/8/11) that has 26KRO, thereby overcoming the USB spec limitation: it's the Microsoft Sidewinder X4. But since this is a mechanical keyboard guide, we won't go into further detail about this keyboard. But it's worth mentioning because it's additional evidence (along with the Noppoo Choc Mini and Ducky DK-9008-G2) that we could be looking at a future where most modern rubber dome keyboards have true NKRO through USB! Or, it may even become standard some day!


Key Bouncing
All types of key switches do this, including rubber domes. Key bouncing is when you press a key and the switch "bounces" up and down very quickly as it settles back into place (it happens for a very brief moment). This would cause keys to actually register multiple times for each single key press, but manufacturers implement a debouncing delay to prevent that. When you press a key, the controller waits a certain amount of time before registering a keypress. For example, Cherry MX switches need 5ms of debouncing time, while rubber domes need longer (but exactly how long depends on their quality).

Tator Tot: do you mean that the controller opens up for 5ms or so just like a noise gate in order to only let the intended keystroke signal go through while blocking any of the key-bounce signals? If so, then here's my proposed version for this:

Key Bouncing
All types of key switches do this, including rubber domes. For an extremely brief moment after a keypress, the switch bounces up and down a few times while it is settling back into place This would cause multiple keystrokes to appear for each single key press, but manufacturers implement a "debouncing delay" to block those additional signals sent by the bouncing switch. So it is like a physical gate that opens and closes very quickly when a key is pressed: it stays open for only a very brief moment (such as 5ms) to only let the intended keystroke signal through while hopefully blocking any of those additional signals sent due to the switch settling back into place. In a sense, it's like a digital version of a camera's Shutter. Only this "shutter" needs to close quickly enough to block the extra key signals while staying open long enough to only let that first signal through.


Polling Rates and Response Times
This is done through USB, and it's only useful and beneficial for mice. For keyboards, any polling rate over 200Hz (at best) is absolutely useless and so it's nothing but market hype. It may even be a bit detrimental because it would be using CPU cycles in order to constantly poll the keyboard. But PS/2 keyboards (and USB keyboards that function with a USB to PS/2 adapter) aren't polled at all; they simply send the signal to the computer when a key is pressed. This performs what is known as a "hardware interrupt", meaning it forces the computer to register that keystroke the moment it happens.

There are two types of USB transfer modes:

Interrupt Transfer (polling)
The USB controller constantly polls the keyboard (it's constantly monitoring it) so that when a key is finally pressed, the USB controller sends the interrupt request.

Isochronous Transfer
This reserves a certain amount of bandwidth for the keyboard with a guaranteed latency on the bus. Unfortunately, there are absolutely no keyboards being made today that use this because a special controller has to be used which makes such keyboards very expensive to manufacture.


So, what's better? PS/2 or USB?
For keyboards, PS/2 wins on three fronts:
  1. Currently, it is the most common way to get N Key Rollover (but NKRO must be a listed feature of the keyboard). It used to be the only way until the Noppoo Choc Mini and the Ducky DK-9008-G2 came along.
  2. Keyboards connected to the PS/2 port aren't polled; they are completely interrupt-based.
  3. It's possible for a keyboard connected to a USB port to be delayed by other USB devices (such as a mouse).


So if you happen to have a keyboard that supports both PS/2 and USB and if your computer has a purple PS/2 port (the one for keyboards) or even one of those dual purple & green ports, then there's no reason not to use it.
Post #3 (Click to show)
Common Key Switches

Introduction - A Switch is Not "Just a Switch"

Generally, most mechanical switches feel better than rubber domes. However, a switch is not "just a switch" (it's possible to be comparing two switches that feel dramatically different from each other). You see, the switch is the heart of any keyboard; it's what dictates its feel and sometimes even its sound. So if you're interested in a mechanical keyboard, then the first step is to decide on the switch type.

Mechanical switches are rated by force using either Grams (g) or Centinewtons (cN). But the proper unit of measurement is Centinewtons (cN) because we're talking about force, not weight. Fortunately, 1g of weight applies about 1cN of downward force which means we can use Grams instead of Centinewtons for the sake of familiarity! So we will use Grams in this guide.




Cherry MX Blacks
picture.php?albumid=3859&pictureid=22301
Type: Linear (non-tactile, non-clicky)
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: No
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 60g (40g-80g from the top of the keystroke to the bottom) (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottom
The Cherry MX Blacks are considered by most to be the best mechanical switch for gaming. When gaming, having a tactile response is actually unnecessary because you're going to be bottoming out anyway. So linear switches like the Cherry MX Blacks give you a very smooth feel throughout the entire keystroke from the top of the keystroke all the way to the bottom.

With the Cherry MX Blacks in particular, both the actuation and release points are at the exact same height in the key travel which means double-tapping is never a problem. The stiffer spring in this switch also helps to prevent accidental key presses (like when gaming) due to "fat-fingering".

However, this relative stiffness in combination with the fact that it's a linear switch makes many people consider the Cherry MX Blacks to be the "worst" mechanical switch for typing, comparatively speaking. Although, many still consider it to be superior to rubber domes.


Cherry MX Browns
197803d1298910971-mechanical-keyboard-guide-cherry-mx-brown-animated.gif
Type: Tactile, Non-Clicky
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 45g (55g at the tactile "bump") (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottom
The Cherry MX Browns are considered by many to be the perfect middle-ground between typing and gaming. They have a light tactile feel (or "bump") half-way through the key press which basically lets you know that you pressed the key down far enough to actuate. So this "tactile feedback" gives you an indication that you can feel in your fingers regarding when you can release the switch.

The reason why the Cherry MX Browns are considered by many to be a "middle-ground" is because both the reset and actuation points are close enough together in the key travel that you can "ride" the actuation point. This means that you don't have to release the switch all the way back up in order to double-tap; you can keep the switch pressed down right beneath the tactile bump, "riding" the actuation point.


Cherry MX Blues

197802d1298910971-mechanical-keyboard-guide-cherry-mx-blue-animated.gif
Type: Tactile and Clicky
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes; precise
Clicky: Yes
Actuation Force: 50g (60g at the tactile "bump") (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottom
The Cherry MX Blues are considered by most to be the best switch for typing that Cherry makes. The tactile bump has a precise feel that is almost crisp, and the resistance (actuation force) is similar to the average rubber dome keyboard; but of course, the feel is noticeably quite superior.

But this switch makes it harder to double-tap for some gamers because the release point is above the actuation point (see the Force Diagram). This means that it's nearly impossible to ride the actuation point. Instead, the only real way to double-tap with this switch is to let the switch come all the way back up before the 2nd press (that is, during the double-tap).

So if you are a gamer, then definitely take these things into consideration. However, most casual gamers have no problem double-tapping with the Cherry MX Blues because they simply hit the key two times in a row very quickly anyway (which means that they always fully release the key in between the two keystrokes).


Cherry MX Clears
197804d1298910971-mechanical-keyboard-guide-cherry-mx-clear-animated.gif
Type: Tactile, Non-Clicky
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 55g (65g at the tactile "bump") (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottom
The Cherry MX Clears are often called "stiffer browns", but the tactile "bump" is a bit more pronounced than the Cherry MX Browns. So this can be another "middle-ground" switch. The force required to press the switch down is comparable to most rubber dome keyboards.


Cherry MX Red Switches
197801d1298910971-mechanical-keyboard-guide-cherry-mx-red-animated.gif
Type: Linear (non-tactile, non-clicky)
Link: Datasheet
Tactile: No
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 45g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2mm to actuation, 4mm to bottom
The Cherry MX Reds basically a 45g version of the MX Blacks. And like the Blacks, it can be considered to be good for gaming. However, some people find that this switch is not as good as the Blacks, Browns or Blues for either gaming or typing because they opine that it's too light. But others people consider this one to be the "poor man's Topre". Some keyboard manufacturers even use it for "Special Edition" keyboards.

Note: it very difficult to find keyboards with this switch.


Buckling Springs
picture.php?albumid=3859&pictureid=22295
Type: Tactile and Clicky
Link: Patent
Tactile: Yes; very precise
Clicky: Yes; loud
Actuation Force: 65g-70g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 2.3mm to actuation, 3.7mm to bottom
The "Buckling Springs" switch type is very simple design: when the point of actuation is reached, the spring buckles under pressure thereby causing the hammer at the bottom to make contact with the membrane sheet which completes a circuit in order to send the keystroke signal. This membrane sheet is basically identical to the type of membrane sheet that is underneath the sheet of rubber domes in a rubber dome keyboard: when the hammer makes contact with the membrane sheet, it's the same as pressing a rubber dome down to make contact with the membrane sheet underneath the big sheet of rubber domes.

The buckling action of the spring provides this switch's tactile feedback along with a satisfying "click!" when it hits the shaft wall. This is also the only mechanical switch where both the tactile and audible feedback happen at the exact moment of actuation. So, it makes for a very precise feeling!

Note: "Buckling Spring" keyboards are actually "membrane" keyboards, but we place it in the Mechanical Keyboard category because the switch is very mechanical.


Black Alps
picture.php?albumid=3859&pictureid=22298
Type: Tactile, Non-Clicky
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: The "Simplified" model is 60g, and the "Complicated" model is 70g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 3.5mm
Black Alps are one of the two most common Alps switch types. But many people do not like them because they are stiff, they bottom out hard, and they tend to develop friction in the key travel over time. However, they are still considered by many to be better than rubber dome keyboards.

Note: there are two different versions of the Black Alps switch: an older one known as the "Complicated Black Alps", and the newer one known as the "Simplified Black Alps". The "Complicated" version was so named due to the larger number of parts in the switch as compared to the "Simplified" version. The "Simplified" version was manufactured by Alps and some other companies.

The "Complicated" version is common in many older mechanical keyboards, particularly the famous Dell AT101W which is a very common mechanical keyboard from the 1990s.

The most popular Simplified Black Alps switch is made by a company called Fukka (pronounced "Foo-kah") which was used in the ABS M1. The Fukka version of this switch has less resistance, but many claim that its tactility isn't as solid as the Complicated Black Alps.


White Alps
picture.php?albumid=3859&pictureid=22381
Type: Tactile and Clicky
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: Yes
Actuation Force: 60g-70g (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 3.5mm
The White Alps switch is one of the most common Alps switch types. These are far more popular than the Black Alps because the tactile response is more pronounced, and some versions even require less force to actuate. But like the Black Alps, it's much easier to bottom out on these in comparison to other mechanical switches.

As with the Black Alps, there are "Complicated" and "Simplified" White Alps. The two most popular Simplified White Alps switches are the Fukkas and the XM. The XM is almost universally considered to be a terrible switch; it was used in some older Filco Zero models and some vintage keyboards as well. But the Fukka switch is quite popular, and some people prefer them over the "Complicated" version. The Fukka White Alps are used in some current production keyboards such as today's Filco Zero. The Complicated White Alps were used on some well-made keyboards from the 90s such as the Northgate and Focus keyboards.

There is also a variety of switches that are similar to the White Alps, but of varying quality. Some are considered very pleasant to type on, such as the SMK Montereys. Some even prefer the SMK Montereys over the Cherry MX Blues!



Topre Capacitive
picture.php?albumid=3859&pictureid=22304(larger image)
Type:
Tactile, Non-Clicky
Link: Patent
Tactile: Yes
Clicky: No
Actuation Force: 30g, 35g, 45g, 55g depending on model (Force Diagram)
Key Travel: 4mm
The Topre Capacitive switches are capacitive by nature, and they are basically a hybrid switch between mechanical and rubber dome. This switch type uses a spring underneath a rubber dome (side-view diagram); the depression of the spring causes a change in capacitance between the underlying capacitor pads. So actuation occurs as a result of this change in capacitance.

Topre Capacitive switches are considered by many to be the finest switches available because they offer a very enjoyable typing experience with a much quieter sound, even when bottoming out. These switches also have the smoothest force gradient, even when compared to linear switches like Cherry MX Reds and Blacks!


But I just spent the last several hours on this, so I think I need to take a break. smile.gif

Edit: The Noppoo Choco Mini has proven true NKRO as shown by that common keyboard testing utility everyone here loves. However, I'm not going to spend the time trying to find that post!
Edited by TwoCables - 3/9/11 at 12:52pm
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post #11378 of 14567
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoCables;12665423 

Edit: The Noppoo Choco Mini has proven true NKRO as shown by that common keyboard testing utility everyone here loves. However, I'm not going to spend the time trying to find that post!

I think Ripster is saying that Microsoft's keyboard will register more then 26 keys, but it gets "real ghosting" after that, where keys you didn't actually press are registered. If that is the case, that test does not prove it's any different then the microsoft rollover over USB.
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SUPERPWN
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post #11379 of 14567
In order to achieve NKRO, it does something mad and hacky like emulating three separate keyboards. This causes it not to work under Mac OS X.
Daedalus
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Daedalus
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post #11380 of 14567
Hi,

I posted on this forum a couple of pages back to ask for advices and directions (Page 1132 if I recall correctly). Obviously concerning mechanical keyboards.

Anyway, after computing all the elements my mind is now set. I know what I want:

Deck Legend Ice Tactile PS2/PC Windows.

Only problem:
Impossible to buy this from France! (where I live)

1) Deckkeyboards.com sells/ships only to US
2) Still waiting to hear from their Canada resellers, not much hope though
3) European reseller seriously lack some refs (including the one I want of course), and the price tag skyrocketed after the products hoped the atlantic (+85%, not including S/H). I would understand a price bump considering profit margin, taxes and the like, but 185% of the original price?? Are you kidding me?! So with this in mind I'm not really inclined to asking them for the ref I want. To afraid they might be able to get it at even a higher price wink.gif.

What are my options? Anyone having to deal with this kind of issues? Only alternative I found so far is a site like ishopUSA.com. But (1) I don't really trust it and (2) price would be even higher than from the European reseller.

Please do help a fellow typer in need,
--Jay
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