I said we needed half a miracle to have Susuwatari ready before year’s end… well, apparently we’ve been naughty and Santa gave us coal… or rather he didn’t (coal. Susuwatari. Got the pun?). Since last time I’ve received two rounds of prototypes, but we are still not there. Let’s see together where we stand after two months from my last update.
Surface texture is something that comes out often. “But you said Susuwatari had a smooth surface” (4yo kid upset voice).
Okay let’s make things clear, I did not say such a thing. I said that Susuwatari would have been smoother than /dev/tty. When Drop asked me to quantify the smoothness, I told them to start from 15% smoother than /dev/tty and if not enough we’d go further. In my experience 15% for a Chinese factory means anywhere between 0 and 200%. So let’s be cautions here.
After months (a lot of them) I got a first prototype. The surface was still a little rough, so I asked to go smoother and… “no, can’t do”. They basically already had all the tooling done, the surface can’t be made smoother. Prototypes my ass.
ANYHOO! Does that mean they are bad? Heck no! The surface texture is really good. The sides are rather smooth, a little satin; the top is just lightly textured. They are nothing like Signature Plastics DSA, they are very close to Topre keycaps with probably smother side.
They are incredibly nice to type on, if you wanted absolute smoothness they are not for you, but if you settle for nicely calibrated and insanely pleasing, you won’t be disappointed.
This is a tough one. Every single color was a subject for dispute and frustration.
Apparently they don’t use the final resins when producing prototypes, so you will never actually know how a color will look like at the end. I don’t know if Drop is not able to have the factory understand, or if they are just incompetent or if they do it on purpose because they like to make me feel miserable… anyway the end result doesn’t change. Every color needs to go through half a dozen reiterations.
The latest “funny story about colors” is when I asked to make the dark gray a little darker to enhance contrast. They ended up doing both grays darker so we had the same contrast as before. Don’t get me wrong, in production it is very common to have to go through these kind of misunderstandings, it’s just frustrating when they are so systematic you can predict them.
Finding the right yellow for the main legends was also “fun”. We starter from some pantone but the color never seemed right. Part of it maybe was because they used a different plastic each time, or the prototyping resin was not very pigmented. At the end we were able to lighten up a pantone color and the result pleases me much :)
Legends are generally sharp and readable. All red legends still need some work, though but all in all we are pretty close.
The thing that bothers me most is thickness inconsistency especially in complicated letters like “N”. They are working on it, I feel it’s just a matter of calibrating plastic injection pressure, but they are aware of the issue and we are waiting for a last round of prototypes that should fix just about that.
Glad you asked. I’m said we can expect one last prototype before the end of January. I feel that it will be the last chance we have to fix the issues before production… well, unless something terribly wrong happens.
As you are well aware February is a no-no month in China, the new year celebrations go well over the official one week, so that brings us to March-April as a release date. Don’t hold me on that, I will deny if asked!
Next update should be in 2-3 weeks and I hope I’ll finally be able to show you a full set on a keyboard. It’s easy to lose track of the whole when you deal with the minutiae every day. The set looks gorgeous already and it will be the foundation for more amazing sets in the future… so one more time I’m asking you to hold tight, we are almost there.