Saturday, September 5, 2015

Mechanical Keyboards

As a programmer, my main interface with the computer is through the keyboard. I’ve used many different types of keyboards over the years. My favorite from the old days have been the IBM mechanical keyboards. They were heavy, loud, and required a hard stroke to type a letter. But I loved it probably because I learned how to type on the IBM typewriters. There’s a certain satisfying click to the keys when you hit it. You can tell by the feel of the keys whether you hit it or not and makes typing faster easier.

Although over the years, as we moved different technologies such as PS/2 and to the current USB keyboards, I’ve lost my IBM mechnical keyboards. One of the reasons has been ergnomic keyboards. Finding a good quiet ergonomic keyboard was easier finding an equivalent mechnical keyboard. I remember when I had the IBM keyboards, my roommate could hear me from another room even though the doors were closed and there was quite a bit of space between the rooms. Luckily, I was able to find a good keyboard that had most of the features I wanted and is pretty quiet, the CODE keyboard from WASD. I have the full-size keyboard and I love everything about it. There are only two additional wish lists I have: bluetooth wireless and ergonomic design.

There’s one other thing I really love about mechnical keyboards: the keys are replaceable. Literally, you can take a key off and replace it with another key as long as the keycaps are designed for the type of mechnical striking mechanism for your keyboard. I have the Cherry MX clear keyboard which are the quietest versions. There’s still a bit of a click to the keys, but I’ve trained myself to hit them only as hard as necessary to recognize the keys without hitting the keys all the way down to the bottom.

And lately, we’ve been on a navy blue phase. My iPhone case is the midnight blue case. As are our iPad cases. So I ordered a set of navy blue keycaps for the keyboard. What I’ve learned is that replacing most keys is not hard at all. There are some that are wider/longer such as the backspace, shifts, spacebar and the longer keys on the numpad have a stability bar on them so that when you hit off center, the key does not come flying off. Replacing these keys are a pain and requires a labor of love. It took me about 2 hours to replace 32 keys out of 104 on my keyboard. Most of that time was spent on the longer keys because the stability bar makes these keys so hard to replace. But I love the look and now that I know what it takes, it probably won’t take me nearly as long to do it again. Since I really love the look, it was well worth the time.