Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard

Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard

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Product Description
To put it simply, the CTRL mechanical keyboard has it all. Constructed with a solid aluminum frame with a built-in switch plate, it’s stable and fortified Read More

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Hey Friends, 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:
Stabilizers: Here’s a quick demo we recorded to compare the noise levels: http://bit.ly/2FEBceI
Reliability: 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.
Mongoxbl
8
Nov 5, 2018
I've lost one of the magentic feet to my ALT. Is there anywhere I can buy a replacement?
jimmyplaysdrums
17
Dec 12, 2018
Any updates on when the configurator will be updated to let us edit the LED modes of the CTRL Keyboard?
Hi everyone, We’re glad to announce that the Massdrop CTRL Mechanical Keyboards have arrived at our warehouse. Our team is wrapping up quality control checks and we expect the keyboards to begin shipping to members in the next few days. Thank you so much for your patience in spite of the delay. We’re looking forward to you receiving your keyboard soon.
krishpy
1
Sep 1, 2018
Ahh gotcha! That makes sense. Does the RE:Type allow me to select them or do I have to get them separately?
Based on what Xylem is saying. Does the keyboard come with Hako switches by default or can we just order the plain board or like I stated above I can pick MX Brown RGB switches when ordering?
Keth
756
Sep 3, 2018
No idea, the board isn't available yet. My guess it it will come with the Hako switches, with the option to buy a bare board and insert your own switches.
atomicus
193
Mar 14, 2018
CTRL Keyboard: The CTRL mechanical keyboard has it all. ME: Does it have an ISO option? CTRL Keyboard: It allows you to change switches whenever you want with no soldering required. ME: You said it "has it all" so shouldn't it have ISO? CTRL Keyboard: It is constructed with a solid aluminum frame with a built-in switch plate, it’s stable and fortified. ME: OK, great, but you said it "has it all" but I can't see anywhere stating that it has an ISO option. CTRL Keyboard: It’s also fully programmable via QMK. ME: Yes, I know, but I want an ISO keyboard, and you said this keyboard "has it all", so really, you shouldn't be saying that if it doesn't. Does it? CTRL Keyboard: The keyboard comes with your choice of switches so you can get just the feel you like. ME: OK, I don't think you're listening. I want an ISO keyboard. You said this keyboard "has it all", but if it doesn't have ISO then it clearly doesn't. Can you answer my question? CTRL Keyboard: There is optimized per-key lighting with millions of colors. ME: [shoots self]
moijjo
29
Mar 28, 2018
ISO is like 100% of Europe. Nobody likes Ansi here.
SaudA
3
Oct 8, 2020
Yeah split spacebar would actually have some utility for me. I'm still trying to figure out why someone would want ISO. Not saying they're wrong[it's just a preference], but I don't get it.
Aoli
49
Mar 15, 2018
Instead of updating and supporting the K-Type, Massdrop bundles the updates into a new product for us to buy. That's not how you build trust and respect with your customers.
abrakspear
39
Apr 11, 2018
k-type is being updated its just being done by input club instead of mass drop because MD are useless. Join the I:C discord and you can keep up to date with it. https://discordapp.com/invite/9tpgDGS
Specte
131
May 10, 2018
"we're working on something for the early K-Type adopters as a show of appreciation."
Any update on this? I have a K Type now, but would personally rather have a Ctrl after hearing you will be doing a matching numpad. That was one of the main reasons I went with the K Type. Someone from IC or MD in the K Types comments said that there was potential for them doing a matching numpad later, but clearly that won't happen now. Really disappointed with how this all turned out. Probably would have backed the ctrl and sold my K Type if I heard of it sooner. You can't even have the leds set to white and max the brightness on the k type or it spazzes out (and I know this isn't a problem with mine only, as I've seen several comments about it). Seems like it draws too much power and there's nothing built in to prevent that.
Hey everyone,
Thank you for your interest in the CTRL keyboard. We're excited that, beginning on September 10th at 9:55 am PT, we now have 1,110 units on hand that ship in 2-3 business days.
We’ve put a lot of work in making the best tenkeyless keyboard on the market with features that aren’t usually found together (namely: Kaihua hotswap sockets, dual USB C connectors that function as a hub, RGB backlight, RGB bottomlight, QMK firmware and CNC uni-body design).
In addition, we’ve launched our QMK configurator with the aim of making customizing keyboards more accessible to everyone in the community: https://www.massdrop.com/mechanical-keyboards/configurator
Lastly, we’d like to address the color discrepancy issue experienced in the first run of this product. We want to assure all of you that the images now on the drop page are actual photos of the CTRL keyboard. These images accurately depict the final version of the keyboard and are what purchasers in this second run can expect to receive. All rendered images have been removed to clear up any potential confusion.
We’re excited to present the CTRL keyboard to you and look forward to hearing what you think. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to let us know.
9/10 EDIT: Hi everyone,
Now that the first run of this drop is over and all of the units have been dispatched, we wanted to provide a post-drop update. The goal of this update is to give more transparency on the success and failure rates on this drop, along with clarity on what we're doing to resolve any issues that came up in this drop, especially as the CTRL is again available for purchase. Stats:
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-LED Issue/Switches Not Working/Color Render Issue: Based on current member details, there does not appear to be a systemic issue on this drop. Members who experienced/are experiencing an issue with any of the functions above function are either being issued refunds or full replacements. Our team is taking a closer look at problematic keyboards when they’re sent back in so we can assess them for any core issues. -Missing Keycaps/Missing screws: Units missing parts are being replaced in full for all members who are experiencing this issue. We’ve taken steps to minimize this from occurring again and are looking into our processes to further minimize this issue. -Damaged: While we conduct 100% QC checks at 3 different stages of the manufacturing process, damage during shipping does happen and, rarely, a few units may slip through the cracks. For those who receive damaged keyboards, our Community Support team would be glad to assist you in arranging a replacement. As always, if you have experienced an issue with this drop and haven't already written in, please contact our Community Support team via your transactions page so we can help you out.
Thank you!
GHETTO.CHiLD
16
Sep 26, 2018
@JaleesaG I just talked to Christian at support and she said keycaps were not forthcoming.
Specifically, I was told I would be given a partial refund. I would prefer the corrected keycap instead since it cost me $200 for the keyboard. What do I need to do to change a QWEPTY keyboard into a QWERTY keyboard?
Urano_Metria
637
Sep 27, 2018
Christian at support got back to me this afternoon, and I have a replacement board headed my way soon. This is the outcome I wanted all along. If there is anything wrong with the replacement, a refund will be fine. The point is that they actually tried in this case, that's what counts for me.
UPDATE FOR MAY 20th-MAY 28th PURCHASERS Hi everyone,  We’re reaching out to let you know we’re tracking a bit behind on production for your CTRL keyboard and now expect to ship around July 1st. We’d like to offer our sincere apologies for the delay in sharing this information.  If you’d prefer not to wait the additional time, you can cancel your order on your transactions page: https://drop.com/transactions. Thank you so much for your patience. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our Community Support team at drop.com/support.
Nightmarian
78
Jul 8, 2020
But.... why? That just sounds so incredibly stupid; it would make much more sense to send the Drop one back and just keep the Amazon one since you're already using it.
HydroHomies
3
Jul 8, 2020
Technically I could return the drop one to amazon if they're identical (no serial numbers). Two reasons why I would process the return through Amazon: 1. The Amazon keyboard costs about $20 extra (shipping and tax included) and 2. I was reimbursed for the drop order through work, so preventing that order from being refunded is more convenient
Hi everyone,
We’re checking in to let you know the Massdrop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard is making its way through production! We’ve received the latest CTRL keyboard from the manufacturer and we’re very happy with the outcome. Look below for some photos of the sample: https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-ctrl-mechanical-keyboard/talk
We’re on track to meet our estimated ship date of August 15, and we’ll update everyone in early August with the status of the shipment.

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Gurmukh
32
Mar 1, 2019
Looks great! In the next drop, please could you add ISO UK support?
Data
2003
Data
Mar 1, 2019
ISO-CTRL would be a new board with a unique SKU. When the switch plate is integrated with the case top as it is in CTRL, you can't just add ISO support and call it good. It would leave huge holes in the case and destroy the aesthetic. This board is designed for a very specific layout. Given the historically poor community support for ISO on Massdrop, I doubt they would take the risk on a new design with a fixed ISO layout. But stranger things have happened... This might be a better fit with the high-profile version, where the raised case edges can help preserve the sightlines of the board. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-ctrl-high-profile-mechanical-keyboard?mode=guest_open
Hey everyone, Appreciate all your patience while we worked through the double input issue (i.e. chattering).  The good news is that we've found a promising solution that can be applied via a firmware update. I also wanted to give a shoutout to @skytz for putting us on the right path to getting this addressed. We've updated the Drop Keyboard Configurator such that any newly generated firmware will have the fix built-in. For those that need help with flashing a new firmware, @Elbert created a more indepth guide with screenshots. We are still doing additional root causes analysis on other parts of the keyboard that could be contributing to the issue. If anyone runs into issues after applying the update, do let us know!
(Edited)
KonaSaurus
10
Nov 29, 2020
I have flashed my Massdrop Alt High Profile keyboard twice now. Each time the issue appears to go away, but then it'll slowly start creeping back again. Its not double typing as bad as it was before, but it is definitely still double typing. Is there any further fixes to try? I downloaded the firmware from the configurator fresh again today, the flash was successful, and its still double typing occasionally.
Kiefofpolice
152
Feb 6, 2021
I have a brand new set of 90 RGB cherry mx Browns, and just received two new keyboards that came with 75 Gatereon Brown switches each that I pulled out and switched for switches I already had so I have a bag of at least 150 brand new Gatereon Brown switches as well. (Both the Cherry MX Browns and Gatereon Browns have clear housings and are SMD backlit LED compatible and they are all plate mount (3-pins...which is compatible with all the CNTRL and ALT keyboards and any other Hotswap PCBS). But you're welcome to any of them if you still need them. Also Have a new set of Cherry MX Blues that came in my ALT if you'd like those.
Hey everyone, wanted to address the concerns regarding the color of the keyboards and LEDs that some members have brought up.
  1. Anodization color: The original space gray anodization shown when the drop initially launched was a render of the intended final product. Going forward, we’ll include a disclaimer for products still in development to make it clear that the final product may vary slightly from the renders. Typically, the changes are minute, but we always aim to improve on our transparency and want to set appropriate expectations.
  2. That said, we understand this variation in color is unacceptable for some and will give you 45 days from this post to send your keyboard back and receive a refund. This is to allow 30 days from the average package delivery, and an additional 15 days for our out-of-country members. If the 45 day mark is approaching and for some reason you still haven’t received your keyboard, then please reach out to Community Support and we’ll work to figure out a solution. .
  3. Lastly, for any technical issues including LED colors etc, please post in https://www.massdrop.com/talk/9382/how-to-configure-your-ctrl-keyboard and we will be sure to address your issues.

We appreciate all of your feedback and love to hear everyone’s thoughts. If you have any other comments, concerns, or anything else feel free to let us know. Thanks,
Annan
49
Sep 5, 2018
"Going forward, we’ll include a disclaimer for products still in development to make it clear that the final product may vary slightly from the renders. Typically, the changes are minute, but we always aim to improve on our transparency and want to set appropriate expectations."
Having just received my keyboard, as others have said, this is no 'slight' variance. I'm unsure whether the option that no- one cared the finish was so markedly different to what was marketed to us is worse than no-one in Massdrop even noticed. Either way, it shows a complete indifference to the community. Personally, I can't see any way of trusting any drop that is not already a finished/3rd party product from now on. Just to be clear, this is not a commentary on whether the actual keyboard is nice or not, simply how it reflects what was marketed.
For those of us in Australia, are Massdrop covering the return postage (it's unclear from your post)? It's been a bridge too far in my dealings with Massdrop to date over the years.
For those yet to receive their keyboard, for comparison it's pictured next to a Space Grey MBP, the base of a Dell U2718Q monitor and a Varmilo VB87M keyboard.
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Delduwath
15
Sep 5, 2018
I appreciate the return window (although I also feel like that should be considered a given, considering how different the final product is from what I was promised when I was handing my money over).
I'm still a little shocked at the differences in color and finish; the original renders showed a dark grey almost-matte surface, while the final product has a silvery, metallic surface. Is the color from the renders simply impossible to achieve with anodized aluminum? Or, was a design decision made at some point in the design/manufacturing process to go with a different surface (whether for financial, artistic, or efficiency reasons)? Or, was it just never the intent to create a case with the dark grey surface?
If it's possible to produce a case in the same color scheme as was originally promised, is there any chance that Massdrop would sell such a case in the future? If I can eventually get a case in my desired color, I might keep my CTRL (even if I have to wait a while for the case to be produced). If there are no plans to make such a case - or if there's no comment on this subject from Massdrop, which seems like the most probable scenario - I will have to strongly consider returning my CTRL.
At any rate, I don't see how I can - from this point forward - trust the renders for any upcoming Massdrop-produced products, since it appears that what is sold and what is actually delivered can be so drastically different from each other. I know, I know, a product like this doesn't exist yet when the drop initially runs, so they can't show me actual photos of the thing - but precisely BECAUSE the product doesn't exist yet, I can't base my purchasing decision on reviews of it, so the renders play a huge role in selling me on it. $200 is quite a bit of money, and I would expect Massdrop to try their absolute best to match what they initially promised. And, if they can't, for some reason? I would expect them to send an update that very explicitly says "Hey turns out we ***CAN'T deliver the product as promised***, here are the specific changes/compromises we had to make, see if you still want the item". The photos of the production sample that they sent out some time ago aren't really enough; I thought the case looked lighter, but I assumed it was because it was under a bright light for the photos.
Hey everyone, We’d like to address the reports we’ve been receiving on ghosting / double tapping on the CTRL keyboard (i.e. pressing ‘f’ but ‘ff’ shows up). For those of you who are having issues, one of the more common fixes we’ve found is 1) pulling the switch from the PCB, 2) clean the metal contacts with a piece of cloth, 3) reinsert the switch. Sometimes, dust and particles will cause double tapping to happen. However, there are instances where the above method does not work - for those, we ask you to please go to your transactions (https://www.massdrop.com/transactions) and open a ticket with our support team and we’ll help you out. For those who are more curious about our findings - in instances where the cleaning method failed, we’ve found replacing the offending switches takes care of the problem. In the few instances where this has happened, we’ve found the offending switch to be a Halo switch. We are working with our suppliers to undertake various tests to determine the root cause of this problem. Once found, we’ll be able to find an effective path to remedy this. I hope this puts everyone’s mind at ease. Apologies for anyone experiencing this. Rest assured we take these issues very seriously and will be working hard to resolve it.
haider_bari
1
Feb 5, 2020
Looks like it still a issue only last month I brought the keyborad and I already got double tap issue on two keys but it only happens sometimes. Halo clears ALT board
pxtang
115
May 15, 2020
@YanboWu any updates?
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