The WhiteFox shall run!

This is the post you didn’t want to read and the one they didn’t want me to write, but I owe you an update on the WhiteFox next drop, so here it comes. I won’t be able to tell you 100% what is going on, but please try to read between the lines.

Every marriage has its ups and downs and the WhiteFox is a menage a trois: Massdrop, Input Club, myself.

Massdrop is a huge platform. They are great people willing to release great products. They are probably doing more than any other company in this market and they are putting hard cash on the table, in advance, no question asked. Still, they are bullies.

Input Club is a small reality made by enthusiasts with a great vision. They don’t do it for the money or for the glory, they work on custom keyboards because they love them. They also believe in freedom of information, they release every of their creations under a very permissive open source license and in that we are kindred spirits. There’s something that I can totally relate to: you can’t ask an enthusiast to give up his/her work.

And then there’s Matt3o, your friendly neighbor. At this stage I’m mostly a spectator in this comedy. I created something that totally slipped out of my control and despite I imagined, named, designed the WhiteFox I have absolutely no saying in its future.

But you know what? I don’t care!

As long as we can keep improving it and releasing more of it, I don’t care who owns what. I don’t care if my name is before or after the others. I honestly don’t even care about the money, I just expect to be given what is fair so I can keep doing more things. Because it’s all about making more amazing stuff.

As of now we are in a sort of limbo waiting for people (all parties) to come to their senses and I’m a spectator as much as you all, guys.

So, when are we expected to see more WF?

I’m sure there will be more WhiteFox in our lives, I just don’t know when. The options are as follow: 1) the marriage is salvaged and we can probably have a new drop by the end of June; 2) we can’t keep working with Massdrop and we’ll try to manufacture the WhiteFox by some other means (kickstarter?!) pushing the next drop to the end of the year.

So from your point of view little changes. From my stand point, well, since all I want is to just make things, I will consider alternative ways for releasing new products in the future.

Sneak preview of the Black WhiteFox (aka NightFox)

Thanks for staying with me this far, stay tuned for more updates.

Impromptu MT3 profile hands on video

I just received the first full set of MT3 prototypes and I couldn’t hold myself, I had to show you they beauty of this things :) Bottom line is: they are better than I anticipated, and I’m usually very critical about my work.

Sorry for bad quality audio/video I just rushed it out.

Video poster image
About MT3 profile and /dev/tty set

About MT3 profile and /dev/tty set

By now you should know that I’m a retro-junkie. Signature Plastics SA keycaps are the closest we can ask to a vintage looking set but I’ve always seen it as an “hack”, not to mention that it is mostly an ABS set.

Few years ago Topre released the Hi-Pro keyboard which featured a wonderful set of high profile keycaps in a retrolucious beige colorway. I knew it had to be mine!

The keyboard was indeed sexy but the keycaps seemed still wrong, too high, too sharp and anyway still limited to topre switches. That got my maker-sense tickling and it is basically how the MT3 profile idea was born.

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High Contrast Granite

High Contrast Granite

Did you think Granite had nothing more to say? Well, think again :) With the collaboration of Signature Plastics I’m happy to announce the immediate availability of Granite High Contrast.

All kits from the previous batch of Granite are available in the new dark gray + white color scheme, including the international kit and monologends. Even better you can mix and match the new keycaps with any previous gray Granite you have: they go wonderfully together!

I hope you like them and Happy Holidays!

Go grab HC Granite!

Retro goes GMK!

Retro goes GMK!

Something I thought impossible just few years ago just became reality: Retro finally goes GMK and it’s ready to be purchased on Massdrop.

All started with DSA Retro. It was the first community organized group buy in DSA family. To tell all the truth Koreans had some DSA before us but it was limited to their market. DSA Retro was one of the most successful group buy of the time (we are talking 3-4 years ago). It was so popular in part because DSA was a novelty at the time, in part because we included a hell lot of options. It wasn’t so easy back then to cover less common or custom keyboards and Retro was basically compatible with all of them :)

commodore-64-computer

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First steps in 3D printing with an Original Prusa i3 MK II

First steps in 3D printing with an Original Prusa i3 MK II

I’ve been skeptical about consumer grade 3d printers for long time. They were expensive, slow, required a lot of maintenance and quality was less than optimal. Things are moving rapidly, though and we’ve reached such a nice sweet spot between quality and price that I couldn’t simply resist the temptation.

First of all I had to understand if I wanted an FDM (fused deposition modeling) or SLA (stereolithography) printer. Without going too much into it, SLA generally produces higher definition prints but it is also more expensive to start with and maintain. You can find very cheap FDM instead and while the print quality is not as good, it is exceptional for quick prototyping. So FDM it is.

Only few months ago Prusa released the second generation of what is probably the most famous filament 3d printer in the DIY realm: the not-so-originally named Prusa i3 MK 2. It comes in kit or fully assembled, I was convinced to get an assembled one but it wasn’t available at the time so I went for the kit because “it can’t be that difficult, right?!”

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The cardboard keyboard case

The cardboard keyboard case

How much does a custom keyboard cost?

That is one of the most common questions I’m asked. There’s definitely a lot of interest around DIY keyboards and the main concerns are: 1) the technical/practical aspects, 2) costs.

Sometimes you just want to try an idea you have in your mind but you are not sure it is really going to work. Building a prototype may end up in the $150-200 range, but big part of the budget goes into the case.

Trying to cut prototyping expenses I wanted to test the feasibility of a cardboard case. Is it stiff enough? Do the switches fit nicely? Is the keyboard actually usable? Let’s go find out.

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WhiteFox take two!

WhiteFox take two!

You never know when a WhiteFox is going to strike! Stealthy and deadly she comes unexpected and hits with no mercy.

Honestly I myself wasn’t expecting her for another couple of months, but –you know– you can’t really tell her what to do. She comes and goes when she wants.

So, I’m pretty happy to let you know that the WhiteFox is available again on MassDrop.

How does round 2 differs from the initial release?

First of all there’s no “WhiteFox Prima” laser etch on the bottom and it is not possible to buy the Jack of All Trades and Winkeyless layouts anymore.

Apart from that we just fixed the issues we had with the manufacturers and optimized the production process. Nothing relevant is going to change, so don’t worry.

The sad news is that we are not going to have a gold anodized case this time around no matters how much I begged for it.

If you get the DIY kit or the barebone remember to check the How to assemble your WhiteFox. It might save you some headache later!

About ownership of keycap sets

I feel that I failed to explain why I care so much about the work I’ve done for Granite. Many new members of the community haven’t witnessed the creation of the set and the argument about intellectual property of a keycap set comes out every now and then.

Please do understand that the following is my personal opinion, likely a copyright lawyer would see things very differently.

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The future of Granite

The future of Granite

UPDATE: Granite in currently on sale on PimpMyKeyboard.

Honestly, I had enough of Granite. We had four uber successful batches, everybody got a chance to grab a set by now but it seems I have no control over Granite after all. It lives a life of its own.

There’s still too much interest around the two-shades-of-gray keycaps and many are eager to take advantage of the success of this set. At the point where I thought we could have moved on to the next project I’ve been basically blackmailed: either I run more or someone else will. It already happened to other of my works and I don’t want Granite to pop up on Alibaba with some shady bootleg name (Graneat? Cranite?) and poor overall quality.

I talked to Signature Plastics (the manufacturer) and MassDrop (that sold the last three batches) and I believe the best course of action at this stage is not to have periodic drops of Granite but keep a continuous supply of the beloved keyset. Basically you’ll get Granite as long as you buy it.

So I’m delighted to inform you that starting a few weeks from now Granite will be available indefinitely on Signature Plastics KeyShop. We won’t run any special kit (Elven, Russian, …) as those were limited editions, but we may introduce some fancy novelty every now and then.

Hope this makes everybody happy. Now onto the next project!