My Keyboard Story #2 – CM Storm Quickfire Rapid

I bought this hefty little guy god-knows-how-long-ago from (now bankrupted) NCIX in Vancouver. Considering I picked this over others purely based on price (less than $70 on sale!), I really lucked out that it sports genuine Cherry-MX BLUES. Time over time, I became convinced these clicky, tactile blues are my go-to switch unless I have a special need. The build quality is simply amazing. After many years of abuse, there is no sign of wear or slightest hint of crack on the case. Heck, even the detachable USB cable is so thick and stiff to the point that it gets mildly annoying. It will outlive any USB cable out there though.

I changed a few things over the years. Obviously, the keycaps starred in the picture aren’t stock. I don’t even know where my original caps are, but let’s just say I don’t miss them at all after putting on those GMK Carbon caps. The controller, which can’t be seen above, has been replaced with the Frosty Flake by Bathroom Epiphanies.

Although I have used it as a daily driver here and there, I now use this board mostly for gaming. The rawness of blue switches accentuates gaming experience by complementing booms and bangs with clicks and clacks. Over the years I have tried other gaming boards, but this championed every time. No, it does not have a narrow profile, fast switches. And no it does not have a backlight. I keep it around nonetheless because it does the very basics so well.

Miuni32 dimensions and missing labels

The latest version of Miuni32 PCB lacks labels on some key components, especially around the MCU. It was partly because I didn’t see it was necessary as the assembly was done automatically with pick-and-place machines., but mostly also because I was lazy. Well, I have owned up to myself and have uploaded a completely labeled image to the repository. I also made an image with important dimensions for anyone who’s working on a custom case.

Miuni32 Submitted to MassDrop

Ok I gotta do something about the case situation for Miuni32. I wanted the cases to become available organically with time, but there still is no affordable and readily available case option! I have been trying to work with some oversea manufacturers for polycarbonate cases, but the upfront risk is a little too high to put my money down. I will still work on the higher-end CNC machined aluminum cases with the community, but I am hoping to make Miuni32 available on MassDrop as a kit. If anything, it should put more Miuni32 PCBs in circulation and help build ecosystem including cases. So fingers crossed. Let’s see what I hear back!

My Keyboard Story #1 – HHKB Pro 2

I bought this HHKB Pro 2 when I was still in college 8 years ago (that is nearly.. 10 years!). It was a BIG money for a student (well, it’s still a lot of money). I’ve bought and sold many things for many reasons since then, but I could never let go of this little guy. It just has been through so much with me – graduation, multiple jobs, and moving between countries, health issues, mental issues, relationship issues, as well as a happy marriage among other life changing events. Sure I’ve tried many other keyboards along the way, but for work and school, nothing comes close to this layout. The Topre switches are pleasure to type on, but for me the layout is the killer feature. I *love* how I don’t have to move my hands around.

Miuni32 GB#2 Reflection

Hello 2019

The GroupBuy #2 has been wrapped up with the last shipment dropped off last week at the postal office. It was exciting but not 100% frustration free. Here are some thoughts from me.

Things that went well:

  • Design improved with ESD protection.
  • went above and beyond to make things go smoothly, even when I was at fault. I cannot express how grateful I am with the help and assistance I received:
    • No less than 100 emails for this Group Buy run. Mostly short one-liner emails, but the conversations were quick and clear.
    • On making component selection for the ESD protection update, promptly responded with the cost of the components and availability. I am just glad was able to source my top component choice – ESD212 ICs.
    • I selected wrong plating color on the initial order submission. This was a major f*ckup on my part. I still can’t believe I did this! It is almost as stupid as the mistake I made with the Group Buy #1 where I reversed the orientation of the USB circuitry. The PCBs were to have gold plating, except I must have left it as the default in silver. Of course, when I received the samples, I was in shock! I tried to tell myself the color does not matter, but I didn’t want to disappoint the group buy participants even if the majority of them did not care indeed. So I reached out and asked them to produce the PCBs again with the correct color, and asked for another invoice. To my pleasant surprise, Daphne waived the extra charge and re-made the PCBs at NO CHARGE.

Things that didn’t go so well:

Delay of 2+ months

Delivery was delayed by good 2+ months. It was a daunting responsibility to hold so many people’s money at my hands while trying to steer the GB towards success. I’d do it again of course, but I must manage the logistics better to avoid a lengthy delay (such as design changes… cough ~ESD Protection~ cough)

Mental Fortitude (lack thereof)

I must admit I felt paralyzed on every big decisions I made with this group buy. This includes submitting the design files, checking the feedback, re-submitting the deign files, submitting the final design, making the payment, deciding whether I want the testing done at the assembly line or get samples sent over to me for hands-on testing. I must grow some balls…

What Now?

Budget Friendly Case

It’s about time I spend some quality time at least thinking hard about a budget-friendly case. Miuni32 being a unique 30% board means it is severely lacking a proper, easy to approach case. Ideally a case can be shipped at less than $35, but it probably will take time for me to figure out the design, material, logistics and such.

Amazing Premium Case

You know what I mean here ;). Ingot is being picked up by our liaison this week. Hope to see some photos soon from u/Haaaaaandrew.

Miscellaneous but important stuff

I need to keep on working at Miuni32 repo. Dimensions of the board has to be added. Layer detail needs to be posted along with default configuration.

Group Buy #3 (with no design changes period)

Doing the math, I did not at all make money on this round (yet). I actually lost money on shipping the orders since USPS wasn’t as cheap as I once calculated back a few months ago. The consolation is that I have some spare boards to sell and that I have a robust and tried-and-true design that is ready for production. So I will do another round of group buy in the Spring / Summer 2019. And no, there will be absolutely no design changes! Too painful to do it so soon.