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Thanks for coming! This drop marks the launch of two important projects, each many months in the making. The first is a new RGB, Hot swappable, fully configurable, Massdrop custom TKL. The second is a system of electrical engineering, firmware, and configurator software which this TKL is built on. This framework simplifies the experience for owners, and dramatically reduces the barrier to entry for community members with keyboard design aspirations.
In 2017 we worked with IC to launch the K-Type. I'm immensely proud of the project and what we delivered to the community, but with any product, there are ways it could be fundamentally improved. Using our experience from the K-Type project with IC, we built the CTRL from the ground up to meet the evolving community mandates around custom keyboards. Per the description, the CTRL has all the features the mech keys community wants in a custom keyboard (swappable switches, rgb back/under lighting, shine-through pbt keycaps, USB C hub, etc.) but we want to call out a couple less obvious areas of improvement:
Here’s a quick demo we recorded to compare the noise levels: http://bit.ly/2FEBceIReliability: When you’re making 3000 custom keyboards, you discover problems. Adhesives fail when they aren't applied in the same conditions, keycap sorting doesn’t scale linearly. We removed adhesives on our magnetic parts, instead opting for countersunk magnets (magnets secured with screws rather than adhesive). Sorting keycaps for thousands of keyboards also resulted in errors. We've made improvements to our partner’s sorting process and anticipate a 95%+ reduction in sorting errors.
Firmware/Software: This encompasses the firmware on the keyboard (the software controlling the LEDs, and routing all the signals to your computer) and the software used to configure the keyboard. Historically, software for custom keyboards has been messy. It’s easy to buy three custom keyboards and have to learn three different firmware systems and configurators. Further, for most keyboard designers, firmware and configuration is an afterthought relative to the industrial design so often the solutions lack long-term support. Finally, it’s easy for a community firmware designer to add features that record inputs or execute other shady functions without oversight.
At the start of the CTRL project, we knew we needed to establish a system of software + electrical engineering that would allow for reliable and easy use of this keyboard. Originally our plan was to create a new firmware system for Massdrop keyboards, but in our research we found the QMK project, the firmware system created by an all-star team of Mech Keys Community contributors. QMK had most of the features we needed, but not everything - it lacked support for the MCU (CPU of the keyboard) and LED controllers we needed to use, it lacked support for USB Hub functionality, and it didn’t have a robust configurator front-end to support a TKL layout.
To solve these problems, Massdrop has invested in engineering resources to add support for all of this to the QMK firmware, and to build a configurator on Massdrop which will support CTRL, and eventually all popular QMK keyboards. We will be committing our work to the open source QMK project, making it possible for any community designer to utilize our system of electrical engineering (readily available and highly capable MCU + readily available and highly capable LED controller + QMK firmware + MD configurator) as the back-end of their keyboard project. Does Massdrop make money here? No, it cost us ~$50,000 to build this system, which I believe is one of the larger (if not largest) contributions a company has made to a project in the mech keys community and we are not looking at firmware/configurator licensing as a source of profit.
With this system, every Massdrop custom keyboard (and hopefully others as the QMK firmware continues to grow in popularity) you purchase going forward will be configurable in one place, allowing you to save layouts to your Massdrop account and create links for sharing that don't require a Massdrop account to use.
Here’s a quick look at our alpha-state configurator: http://recordit.co/3m6Dy5LjUb
For community members, this simplifies the experience of owning a custom keyboard, for community designers, this solves the hardest parts of your technical back end. This solution for designers means more projects will make the leap from concept to production, increasing the diversity of designs available to the community at large.
Overall, we’re very excited to launch CTRL. It marks the start of a series of keyboard releases we have planned over the course of 2018, it marks a big contribution to the mech keys community, and it marks the start of a new stage in community keyboard design process.
Thanks for your interest and support, none of this would be possible without you and the continued support of the mech keys community at large.
Last, a few administrative notes on this drop:
The drop is set to end on Mar 31st at 10pm so we can lock in the production for this keyboard, but depending on the success of the first drop we may re-open for a limited time in April.
Will the configurator you are building work for the K-Type you sold as well, seeing as this keyboard is based on it?
This sounds awesome. And the board looks great! I'm so in.
How will configuring the LEDs work?
Any chance of making those improved stabilizers available for those of us who purchased the K-Type drop?
I originally wanted to post my initial perspective that this looks to be a k type clone, but the well worded commentary helped highlight the improvements and differences. Still wont opt in this time but like the steps massdrop is taking to try to help the broader mech community.
I have a hard time keeping track of the different switch pinouts.
Would I be able to drop Zealios/Tealios/Zilents onto this board down the line, or are the pinouts different?
Yes, any MX compatible switch should work.
Awesome, thanks for clarifying!
Oh, another question: how exactly does retention work for the hot swap switches?
Is it purely the tension holding the pins? is there a plate that mounts over the socketed switches and holds them in place?
I did see it has something called a switch plate, but I'm not entirely clear on exactly what that is.
The switches snaps in the the hole, they have two little flaps keeping them in position. In fact if you look at a switch puller (not a keycap puller!) you'll see that it has two sort of teeth, that are obviously made to grasp the switch, but also to press those two flaps that keeps it in position.
perfect, thanks for the info!
This keyboard seems to check just about all the boxes I wanted then~
Seeing as the preview shows it being used for a Planck, its very likely that it will work for most mainstream QMK keyboards in general.
Well... this QMK configurator is way more exciting than the keyboard itself to be honest. That will be a game-changer for the many that don't dare step into the coding world of QMK.
The K-Type is built with MCUs and LED controllers which are only supported (afaik) in the KLL firmware. I know they're not supported in QMK firmware.
If someone in the community wants to add support for those MCUs and LED controllers to QMK, our configurator would be able to support the K-Type, but not by default.
There is very initial support for the KType in QMK though. There was a commit adding the support. Not sure where it went from there though.
Yea we looked into it, the support is not complete and the MCU used in the K-Type (selected by IC) is being discontinued by the manufacturer, so I would be surprised if that support was expanded.
Hopefully somebody makes that happen, but it doesn't seem super likely.
How much did you implement in addition to the default features of the kbfirmware.com configurator? I remember it lacked some basic features like single color/rgb led support and newer features from QMK like tap dancing.
I'm stoked they are contributing back some new hardware support, but I kind of wish they'd integrated this into QMK toolbox instead.
By the way, @YanboWu you mentioned that there is going to be a line up of keyboards MD is going to release, curious if you could provide some sneak leak info on those? Thanks so much!
If the K-Type is a dead project at least add QMK support to it.
Also you forgot to mention that the K-Type had problems with drawing too much current when the LEDs were set in certain ways, like fully lit white. Hope that you fixed that and properly limited the current draw of the LEDs.
Can I choose the Portugal layout when buying?
Provavelmente não Bruno. O mercado não é grande o suficiente para isso
É pena mas obrigado na mesma
@YanboWu With this drop, and the available switch options, are the Kailh box switches available with this? Also, with Box switches, would the LED shine through the key caps still? I'm debating between the Kailh and Cherry Browns for this drop. Thanks!
cant u just use the configurator by Ruiqi Mao? Keyboard Firmware Builder
or even the one recommended by kbdfans which is basically almost the same thing
Yeah, using https://kbfirmware.com is very easy, no programming skills required.
Also the one MD are showing in that video is the one from Ruiqi Mao with a reskin.
yeah but it doesn't even come close to including all of the features of QMK, not to mention compatibility issues. The hope is that massdrop will keep theirs updated
the kbdfans one is slightly more updated with more feature , i don't think it supports tap dance and some other but what compatibility issue? you can just make your own layout on keyboard layout editor.com then copy it
Ah, another amazing keyboard, with an equally incredible price tag..
I would be super interested in something like this, but more along the lines of the Z-88 (87 key?) layout... That particular keyboard (e-element z-88?) also includes hot swap switched, removable cable and RGB at around $45 (w/ prime on amazon). Not for everyone, may not itch the TKL layout scratch for all, but I would be willing to drop some additional $$ if MD where to make something like that, but with the side/ground lights and more switch options... and not $200 x.x
i had this exact same experience, for sure.
wow thats like comparing a economy class civic to a ferrari.. they will both get ya from point A to B... but bottom line is the build quality and options on the Ferrari are going to blow the doors off the Civic every single time. Those cheap board's like the Z-88 are mass produced typically use knock of switches and are made from low quality components.
Where the CTRL will least be made from higher quality parts and use genuine switches most likely have a bit higher quality to it overall.
You get what you pay for.
Your comparison is a bit flawed, as a Ferrari will break down sooner and more often than a Civic. guaranteed.
Considering its 200 bucks and comes with khali switches not really...
That's an option, but not the only one. And I guess you haven't kept up with developments in switches; Kailh has actually been the switch manufacturer that has been most innovative and reliable recently.
You're right I haven't. To me Kailh switches were always switches people put in cheap keyboards to keep them cheap or switches manufacturers replace Cherries with to cut costs.
I am excited about this project.
I encourage you to invest some serious effort in this design to make the keyboard less susceptible to ESD problems. I had 2 K-types fail and I think they were both because of ESD shocks. But I like the K-type so much that I'm using my third one.
Is there any chance that the new PCB would fit in the K-type aluminum frame? If yes, would you consider selling a bare PCB as an upgrade option for us K-type owners?
You mention "marks the start of a series of keyboard releases we have planned over the course of 2018". Can you please provide more details on what you have in mind? If this was the only keyboard you were going to do, I'd buy it for sure. But I already have a TKL with my K-type, and I worry that I might prefer one of the later keyboard releases, so your comment makes me hesitate about buying. I'd rather have a TKL and something else, than two TKLs.
I am excited about the software work you are doing. The K-type software was great for customizing keys, but customizing the LEDs was a bit difficult.
I'm confused about the "RGB" listed in two of the keyswitch options. I think that the RGB LEDs are standard, but the way the Cherry switches are listed makes me worry that RGB LEDs only come with the +$25 keyswitch option.
I mean, good point, but who wouldn't buy an encono class car from Ferrari if it wasn't price like an f40? Is it too much to ask for something like that to be considered? Just say'n.
Indeed you do, otherwise it'd be theft. lol.
Look into any Kailh switches and you'll see people praising them. I'm using Kailh box pale blues and they're awesome.
Considering any other CNC aluminum, fully programmable, RGB TKL would be 300+...
You're getting your money's worth here. This board is a steal, as was the K-Type. And comparing it to some OTS Chinese retail board (which is what @KM1337 was doing) is flipping HILARIOUS.
There are more than just Kailh switches in the drop, by the way.
Lol I think you're interpreting my comment as being MUCH more malicious than intended. All I was saying is that I wanted to see one in a smaller footprint and more budget oriented perhaps.
Quality is a thing, and that's why I would much rather have a higher quality collaborative build vs the 'OTS Chinese retail board', hence my comment/suggestion/request. :)
Not everyone is here to troll lol.
I only do that sometimes.
I don't know about that either car properly maintained should last a life time. I don't think you can say a Ferrari would break down first. Due to tighter tolerances and overall better build quality if anything the Ferrari should outlast the civic easily if maintained properly.
Yes, I think people would have liked to see the WASD drop without switches for example. That's an inexpensive but nice TKL. Hopefully MD will provide a lowish cost, <100usd, TKL custom platform and then upsell us on better cases.
I wish there was a modifier kit for these and the ones that came w/ the K-Type. Not all of us work on a Windows machine. :(
The K-Type is already supported by QMK, at least basically (RGB doesn't work fully afaik).
It's by the community, though.
Depends on the switch type, from what I hear the Brown/Blue/Red Cherry clones are the cheaper-feeling ones. (Though I have a budget board with Kailh Browns and I kinda like it) Their original models (Box, Speed, Burnt) are apparently good.
Jesus, 3 k-types? Did you try to get them to replace it? I can't imagine buying the same $200 keyboard over and over when it breaks through no fault of your own.
kailh box puts cherry to shame. really, buy a switch tester. i even spent money to buy a new custom just to get to use kailh switches over my mx blues lol
im using pale blues for alphas and numeric, box white for shift ctrl and tab , and navy for the rest. they're awsome, but recently ive been experiementing with modifying to make something between pale blues / navies , came out pretty well
Yes, but maybe they can add full support for it at the same time they develop for the CTRL. In my opinion they owe us that for being their beta testers.
So this seems disingenuous
> No, it cost us ~$50,000 to build this system, which I believe is one of the larger (if not largest) contributions a company has made to a project in the mech keys community and we are not looking at firmware/configurator licensing as a source of profit.
QMK is GPLv2 software and IANAL, but I do work in software, but pretty certain any modifications you made would have to be released alongside this product, https://choosealicense.com/licenses/gpl-2.0/
Additionally, the configurator appears to have been forked from a community derived one not a fully custom built solution that itself has an ISC license, https://choosealicense.com/licenses/isc/, which to me basically means that someone could bring those modifications into another project itself unless you architected a solution to isolate custom Massdrop features from the current set of features and license those files differently.
TLDR; QMK changes would have to be released. Configurator changes to the original code would be forkable. IANAL applies.
It seems like they're acting in the spirit of open source; this reply is just whiny.
The reliability of the K-type for me was questionable, but Massdrop customer support was exceptional. They replaced the first K-type after it failed. They did a return and refund on the second when it failed because they were out of stock and couldn't ship a replacement. I liked the K-type enough that I bought a third one on Reddit from someone in /r/mechmarket.
During winter months (I think because of lower humidity) ESD discharges seem to happen more often. I've felt ESD shocks on all 3 K-types when I walked up to my desk and first touched the keyboard. Sometimes this did nothing, sometimes it caused the keyboard to reboot itself, sometimes I had to manually power cycle the keyboard to get it to work, and I think (but can't be 100% sure) that this is what caused the first two keyboards to fail.
I've experienced the same ESD shock events with my MacBook too, but it never had a problem dealing with the shock. I have experience in the consumer electronics industry, so I can tell you from personal knowledge all products have to be designed to deal with ESD shocks. There are specific things that you need to do in the design to help protect the product, and there are specific tests that you can do during prototyping to find out if your design is good enough. Of course my MacBook went through all of this so it will be very robust to ESD, but the K-type I'm not so sure.
" We will be committing our work to the open source QMK project, making it possible for any community designer to utilize our system of electrical engineering (readily available and highly capable MCU + readily available and highly capable LED controller + QMK firmware + MD configurator) as the back-end of their keyboard project. "
It is clearly stated that they will give back to the QMK project and the community all the changes they make.
It's alpha. They don't have to reintegrate into tge master until released
You're not beta testers. You received a complete, production version of the product. This is an iterative revision of said product. I bought the S8 last year, and they've released the S9 a bit less tgan a year later. I dont expect anything fro. Samsung other than reasonable support and updates to the baseline they implemented. You bought it on the basis that it was KLL and the bonuses and limitations of the MCU included. This development is outside of that scope in my opinion.
When you buy a Samsung S8 you know there will be a 9 following up soon, but the K-Type was supposed to be a luxury product, with an advanced firmware. Instead it was a complete, production version of a product with stabilizers problem, current overdraw problems and with a limited buggy FW that was somewhat fixed after release and abandoned in December. The stabilizers, well I fixed them myself by buying original Cherry ones and the current overdraw I fixed by changing the backlight from white to lighter colors.
And it was the product that was intended with problems. This is not the same product. The k-type is usable and by no means obsolete. And hopefully I:C will continue to support it. This is a different direction.
Beta Testers implies something completely different, and incorrect.
Flaunting how much money they are spending to improve the firmware and configurator that in turn improves their product in turn making them potentially more money in the long run, (over 600 sales is 120k and doesn't account for the years of leveraging this initial investment), has nothing to do with the spirit of open source.
The entire thing is phrased in a way that confuses anyone unfamiliar with open source licenses to think Massdrop has spent all this money and will now graciously give it away when GPL requires that they do this very action. The spirit of open source is that they did all this work and because of the GPL will have to give it back to the same community that helped make their product better by giving them a place to jumpstart this product's firmware.
You're missing what I was trying to say. They make it seem like they don't have to do this when by the terms of the license for QMK they had to do this regardless of if they wanted to.
In other words, they can't take GPLv2 code, release a product built on it without also releasing the code back to the public. Their phrasing makes it seem like they are doing the community a solid out of the kindness of their hearts when they had to do that.
I never implied they had to release it before the product released.
That is indeed how the GPL works, but I don't think MassDrop is attempting to pull the wool over anyone's eyes with that claim. The real point is that QMK is not the only option available. It would certainly have been cheaper and easier to use firmware provided by a manufacturer in China with limited, Windows-only configuration software, like most keyboards. They could have also funded sophisticated proprietary firmware/software from scratch and kept it for themselves. They could even have done so as open source.
By building on QMK, MassDrop does benefit the community (assuming the code is broadly applicable, accepted into mainline, etc), regardless of their motivation for doing so.
It probably would have been cheaper to use some other firmware, but at the cost at quality of the firmware.
The mechanical keyboard community seems to be made up of largely enthusiasts and not using QMK overall seems to be a ding against a keyboard at this price. If you're trying to make the ultimate tkl, which this might qualify for if it doesn't suffer like the k-type, then to spend 50k nets them far more in the long run. They no longer have to be at the mercy of others to provide a quality firmware for this product and their future products that will likely leverage this investment. At the same time, the qmk community will continue to develop and enhance it without further Massdrop investment, a double win.
A proprietary firmware would have had to exceed what qmk could offer, be cheaper to develop, faster to develop, or some combination before that would have made sense.
I'm not saying Massdrop isn't benefiting the community rather that they imply they didn't have to give this back to the community.
It literally has everything to do with the spirit of open source. The entire point is that it's cheaper, faster, and better to use and contribute back to open source. They accurately described how and why they're using open source.
Hey, sorry to hear about your K-Type. To answer your question about ESD protection on the CTRL, I checked with our EE and he has the following information:
"we have added transient voltage suppressors to signals that are exposed to the connectors, namely 5V, SWD programming port, reset switch, and configuration control lines of the USB connectors. In addition, the USB data lines are buffered via components that have appropriate ESD protection. That said, should a user open the housing and dry-finger the PCB without appropriate ESD protocol, bets are off as we cannot practically protect all internal nodes."
I don't really interpret it that way. The way I read it is that they were aware that if they modify QMK they would need to either make public their fork or open pull requests for it to be merged back into master and they made the decision to go ahead and do it.
Also don't forget that there were issues where the LEDs could draw more power than the board provides, for example when fully on white and the board would reset/stop working intermittently. I still have this issue on mine. Luckily I don't use it that way, but still, you would think that an engineer would add that worst case scenario as a test case.
OK, good. It sounds like you guys are doing the right things on the USB ports. And yes of course, all bets are off if I open up the case and shock the PCB directly (although you should still care because that could affect your production yield, and maybe even cause you to ship bad units if your production test doesn't have 100% coverage).
My ESD problem happened when I touched the metal case, and nowhere near the USB port/cable - there must be some electrical path from the case to the sensitive stuff. At my job, we used to have a test device that could deliver a programmed ESD shock - you want something like that, hold it up to the case, shock it, and see what happens.
I'd be happy to help, but we should probably not do this in a public forum. Is there any way you can contact me directly? I looked to see if I could send a personal message on Massdrop, but I can't find it.
I think a lot of people took the same read I did. Why even state it if you weren't attempting to say something about their contribution? It was clear to begin with.
You're charging 200$ usd for aboard that doesn't even work as intended?
I really hope QMK will be “easy” to figure out for the mass consumer who use Windows and with no programming experience.
I’m currently drowning and struggling in QMK and all the environments needed to make it work such as Msys2, github,QMK toolbox, sublime text etc. The over all process for me so far has been very challenging like trying to turn on my LEDs on my Preonic I bought here in Massdrop. It feels like QMK goes beyond being an enthusiast for consumers who don’t have any programming under their belt. Support from sites in reddit is challenging since a lot of the people there assume you have some knowledge of programming.
Hopefully it will be easier since I’m learning QMK now, but for those consumers with no knowledge of programming I’ll be afraid for them of what lays ahead unless there is an easier interface reachable for non programmers being developed. Looks like maybe, but I’m still afraid how difficult it will be.
Why even state what?
I did say something about their contribution in that they make it seem like this isn't a forced contribution and it is purely their generosity driving the contribution. The implication is that they invested all this money and now will give it all away when they legally had to do so. It comes across as PR spin post IC & K-Type. They could have just wrote, we found QMK, the community standard firmware and decided to improve it and we found a gui that we've continued the development on. They never had to throw money into the discussion. Massdrop invested money into their "core competency" and try to say it doesn't make them money. The firmware is a core piece of a keyboard. So does it make them money? Directly, no, but in reality yes. Some people may not have been interested in a drop without their favorite firmware and it should improve the quality of the product when they can update and fix it.
They showed they have a GUI for it?
Yes for CTRL but I’m wondering if this GUI will accommodate all other keyboards sold here like Preonic,Tokyo60 etc. Im unsure.
Why even state " TLDR; QMK changes would have to be released. Configurator changes to the original code would be forkable. IANAL applies. " The only reason to state it, would be if you thought they were not going by the standard for the license. And since you were responding to Yanbo, it seemed that you were trying to call him to the carpet. Many other people reached the same interpretation just out of those that answered.
No matter what, they spent the money and development effort to contribute to QMK. That's something to be applauded, not denigrated, as it would help the community. Any other read is, as someone else said, whiny. And I might add, this is also why many developers and companies are hesitant to jump on the OSS bandwagon, and it's had such an uphill battle. Instead of welcoming the expenditure and contribution, many try to pick at it.
The TLDR; was for people who didn't want to read what I wrote. And no, it is not the only reason to state it. How many people here are software engineers versed in open source licenses? A standard reading of what Massdrop wrote without knowledge of the GPL sounds hella impressive and nice without knowing the details of the license.
OSS doesn't have an uphill battle. Where have you been in the last 10 years? Pretty much all of the world's tech is ran on a large assortment of OSS projects. Linux? Docker? Kubernetes? The variety of programming languages? There's no uphill battle to use and support OSS.
There is in the corporate world. I tell you from experience. It is getting better, but there are still concerns from those that don't know, i.e. the VPs and CEOs of several companies. And it would have happened earlier without that negativity.
You keep trying to backpedal on your reasons for stating it. That ship has sailed, as you said " Flaunting how much money they are spending to improve the firmware and configurator that in turn improves their product in turn making them potentially more money in the long run, (over 600 sales is 120k and doesn't account for the years of leveraging this initial investment), has nothing to do with the spirit of open source. "
It's not about informing from anyone that has read your statements.
There isn't in the corporate world. I tell you from my experience. The only companies today that have concerns are pretty much those that are irrelevant. Even Microsoft has open sourced many parts of their offerings, a company the poster child for being anti-OSS for the longest of times.
I've backpedaled on nothing. On the other hand, you used a strawman to change the argument to one of nonsense and irrelancy about impacting OSS.
It is about informing. I'm glad you knew that QMK had a GPL beforehand and that Massdrop had to give them their contributions regardless of if they spent a dollar or a billion, but anyone who doesn't work in software has 0 idea what a GPL license is or what it means. I personally thought it sounded impressive, since licenses like MIT and similar allow them to maintain ownership of the modifications; except, that wasn't the case and the money was thrown in to make it sound amazing.
Most of the people that are getting in on this are already in the know about QMK. I'm not making it about a 'strawman', I think that perhaps you don't know what the word that you're using means. I added a codicil about the ills of trying to pick at someone who at the end of the day is contributing to a project.
And how long have you been in the industry? To say that there was never a hesitation in the corporate world? That's just pure fallacy, and if you look back before this century, you will see that's the case.
Perhaps it's time to just let this drop.
every unibody macbook seems to shock you! even in the summer, but i'm in scotland so summer is sort of just a name :P
but macs have a lot of esd and overcurrent protection in. like, youtube videos where ppl try out those "usb killer" capacitor things, sometimes the usb socket stopped working, but the rest of the computer survived. on most other laptops (and many smart tvs and phones) the entire system got fried.
Where is the ISO layout?
Where is the optional internacional keycaps keyset , with Portuguese included?
ISO users frequently don't buy enough keyboards or key caps to make it worth the extra cost to accommodate them. Maybe if you guys participated in more group buys then the market would adjust to include better ISO support. But history has proven that it's not worth the trouble. If there's any question, look at the last few custom key cap drops and you'll see what I mean. Also, it might help if there weren't a dozen different ISO layouts. This makes ISO key cap support incredibly expensive!
I have nothing against ISO users but you guys need to figure your stuff out and SHOW UP on group buy day if you want things to change. I'm rooting for you...
You are wrong on so many levels.
Fundamentally, it's about an extra key between a shift and Z letter (for e.g. <|> symbols) and different kind of layout near Enter (https://deskthority.net/wiki/ANSI_vs_ISO). So telling that ISO is incredibly expensive is misleading at best. I can source my own keycaps but I can't change the board to be a white person one tho.
And no, I will not buy never ever ANSI keyboard, cuz it's useless.
OK, let's be clear on one thing: I don't know if the board physically supports ISO. It's possible that the PCB AND the plate could allow it (doubtful), but support likely ends there. What about stabilizers? You know how wildly different the stab placement is on the Enter key, right? Did you forget about that? What about the SMD RGB LEDs? It's significantly more involved than you're letting on. Merely having the holes/contacts on the PCB to support an ISO switch layout isn't enough. CTRL retains the hot-swap capabilities of the K-Type, but K-Type DID NOT support ISO. So it's not looking very good for you.
Moreover, @Markuswitch also asked about ISO key caps, and that's mostly what I was responding to. I have a ton of screenshots and examples of routine, comically poor participation from the ISO community on this site if you want to talk about that.
I'm happy to read, if not for anything else, just to educate myself, so I would not be stupid in the future.
There's nothing to really educate yourself about. ISO is not popular amongst the enthusiast community, most Europeans that are deep into the hobby use ANSI for several (most of which have been shown in your back and forth with Data) reasons - it's really simple, if you don't want an ANSI board, you're going to be disappointed and it'll be a arduous road ahead.
That's factual, there's not enough support for ISO numbers-wise to warrant most designers (of both boards as well as key sets) taking the time to cater to it. If you'll never ever buy an ANSI board because it's useless (to you) but you want to buy cool stuff then good luck, it's not impossible but it's definitely a pain in the ass.
Of the four most recent drops - /dev/tty, 2077, Red Samurai, and Laser - all of them demonstrate lackluster interest for ISO. But /dev/tty is by far the best (worst?) example. Matt3o is somewhat famous for his ISO/euro support (he's Italian after all), and always does extensive ISO and international kits in his designs. So you'd think he would get a lot of interest from the ISO community...
Base Kits: 1,382
That's about 9% participation, and you could argue the UK kit isn't even close enough to meet MOQ. I'm sure Massdrop would have stepped in to make the kit tip in this case, but the Chinese producer of MT3 might have easier order quantity requirements. Either way, somebody had to eat the cost of producing a kit with so little participation. And those who DID participate paid more because there were so few of them.
Massdrop doesn't share their sales metrics with us very often, but it's easy to extrapolate this phenomenon to other areas of the Mech Keys community on Massdrop. Frequently, when a drop has good ISO support I've seen Euros complain that the cost is too high, or that Massdrop's shipping is too expensive. There's always some excuse. It's frustrating because it creates a sort of negative feedback loop.
Again, I have nothing against ISO users or ISO layouts and I'd love to see more support for them. But you can't ignore these simple market forces. The ISO community has to step up.
Here are the other 3 drops I mentioned if you're interested.
Tbh did not know those drops or the keys did not fit my keyboard. Atm using fnatic rush gear keyboard and it has funny bottom row sizes. If I was not watching LinusTechTips I would probably have missed this keyboard drop.
this keyboard was first of costum keyboards I was interested other than plank because of the firmware programmability. I bought plank keyboard, I can live with totally different keyboard. But for something like regular keyboard I love ISO layout that I have used for over 20 years.
I understand that ISO orders have not been up to expectations (and thank you sincerely for data) but thats mostly because Massdrop is virtually not known in Europe rather than lack of interest By consumers.
If you have no issue with complete custom layouts like Planck, there shouldn't be a problem deviating from ISO. Especially when you can still just as easily reprogram it to output whatever you need for your additional languages.
Massdrop being less known in Europe isn't entirely relevant, as this is just one of many group buy outlets for the mechanical keyboard community as a whole. It has always been an international community, spread across relevant sites like /r/mechanicalkeyboards, Geekhack, or deskthority for example. Only difference is this site contains a lot of other various enthusiast communities who happen to overlap hobbies.
The takeaway from the examples Data posted is that even Ergodox and other exotic layouts (Any kit marked Ergo, Ortho, 40, Exotic, etc) are more popular than ISO. Unfortunately ISO is not universal enough (i.e. AZERTY or QWERTZ) and only relevant in select European markets.
There is this something special feel about having a proper ISO keyboard. I can write on any angle, not looking at it and still hit every key I want on fist try. For plank, it's ortholinear and complete relearning (not gonna use qwerty layout at all there).
Now the problem with ISO/ANSI is that there is no way of getting <|> symbols in ANSI layout with EST scheme. When I change to US layout, there is no way to get ö ä ü õ letters. I could probably live with slim enter key and the layout irregularities it poses but missing an extra key between shift and z makes it extremly uncomfortable noway how you map it (and is even more uncomfortable when you decide just to switch layouts hundreds of times per day).
I will not give up on ISO. Will continue to support and buy the proper keyboard layouts. So anyway, it seems that I will be buying Corsair K65 instead, as it has RGB lighting and ISO layout with mech keys. Half the price aswell. Unless of course there is some better option?
Not sure why you bring up the <|> symbol; it is right above the Enter key, unless that specific symbol has some other function but still looks identical within a Windows environment.
The thing about custom keyboards like this is that you can program the output to be whatever you want. The only way you could miss certain keys is if you forget to add it to your layout in the software. I mention this specifically because the normal way to get those symbols is either ASCII codes or adding an additional WindowsIME configuration for your language.
But hey, to each their own. Enjoy your Corsair K65, as its pretty good for a consumer board.