If you clicked on this post thinking that it would be Physics related stop right here!
The journey to planck
I started my mechanical keyboard journey purchasing a Crosair QuickFire Rapid (cherry mx blue) ten keyless. I was really into the clickyness of the cherry blues. Quickly after moved to Pok3r as soon as I learned about it. The 60% percent form factor appealed to me. It made a lot of sense because in the tenkeyless I hardly used the F-keys or the arrow keys or utility keys corner1
While I was playing around with the keyboard form factor I went on adventure to improve my typing (speed wise and accuracy). As I got into this process I started exploring/learning about new keyboard layouts: Dvorak, Colemak, Programmer Dvorak, Workman. I decided to go with colemak
Pok3r had me all hooked into the idea of having a keystroke do more than just typing out a character. Pok3r had 3 layers and on the fly macros which I was super stoked when I found out about it.
I had created macros to type my passwords and repeatedly typed texts. During this time I learned about mechanicalkeyboard subreddit and in the process learned about QMK. My interest faded out of Pok3r as soon as I learned about the ability to program and flash keyboards to my needs with the QMK firmware.
I then got a board from KBDFans (GH60 Satan) to replace my Pok3r. Yes! another 60% keyboard. At this point anything beyond 60% was a no go for me. I was convinced that I didn’t need a separate row for the ‘F’ keys. I didn’t need the numpad or arrow keys nor the utility keys corner
From there I learned about 40% and ortholinear mind blown immediately caught my attention. Initially, wasn’t fully convinced that 40% was anything beyond just eye candy but I wanted to get in on the fun but at that time there was no massdrop run for planck nor was the planck in stock at olkb.com. Closest to planck at that point was Niu 40 from KBDFans, and I purchased it.
I was alternating between using GH60 and Niu mini for work/home. I would keep the GH60 at home for a week and take Niu mini to work and vice versa the other week.
It was fun but typing on these 2 different types of keyboards. But as with most people who get into this hobby I was drawn by the different keyboard sizes, and shapes that were out there. I learned about split keyboards and purchased ErgoTravel. Keeping true to my anything above 60% is a no go policy. Although at this point I was partially convinced that I lied the 40% layout. I got the ergotravel out of a group buy in r/mechmarket. While I enjoyed the small form factor and split I wasn’t a big fan of the Gateron browns that it shipped with. I used it as my carry along to work keyboard. During the travel I somehow managed to break the micro usb port on the board. I got my feets wet by desoldering the pro-micro chip and soldering in a new one to revive my ergo travel and hopped that I would be doing more soldering in my keyboarding journey. Soon after the keyboard-ing world came up with Hotswap keyboard which negates the need for soldering switches. I went on a mission to replace all my keyboards to be hotswap keyboards.
I purchased Ergodox-EZ and PlanckEZ from /r/mechmarket. I know right, what happened to anything beyond 60% no go policy. Well I gave that a pass because I wanted to try out the Ergodox-EZ and thought more keys == more possibilities turning them into more useful macros keys via QMK. While I liked split Ergodox-EZ I felt the thumb clusters were wasted on me. I just couldn’t find a use for them and I couldn’t reach the keys conveniently with my thumbs. Also, I was using my Niu 40 layout on ergotravel as well as the ergodox-ez.
Then I got a rhymestone, CRKBD, 4x20 Low profile keyboard from Boardsource. CRKBD was nice to use, closer to the form factor I like which was 40% and split. After using ergotravel, Ergodox-EZ and crkbd I think I can conclude that I just don’t like splits. It is comfortable no doubt but for some reason when it comes to typing faster it just didn’t work out for me. Perhaps I needed to spend more time typing on them because splits where keyboards that I used for only a month each. Rhymestone was 4x10 ortholinear split, also something I couldn’t get on board with. I was way too used to 40%(4x12) layout at this point that there was massive inertia from my brain to attempt to even give rhymestone a decent try (only used it for few hours, least time spent on a keyboard).
After spending alot of time + $ trying a lot of keyboards it dawned upon me that I was a OLKB guy. And I liked the 40% keyboard (Niu 40 and Planck-EZ). I got planck from OLKB from UKKeycaps and planck case from drop, because I kind of wanted to try grid 40% keyboard. I can safely say now that there is no looking back for me now.
Finally after acquiring my planck I kind of decided that this was it. The keyboard that I am most comfortable with and the keyboard I like the most. The end game of keyboards for me - THE PLANCK KEYBOARD.
Yes! I spent quite a lot on acquiring and trying all these different keyboards but unlike other things, mechanical keyboards don’t depreciate in value. In fact I was able to sell all the keyboards for much higher price than what I got it for at /r/mechmarket.
So now I have only one keyboard Planck rev 6.1 grid layout from OLKB with Cherry MX Brown switches. But I am wondering if I should get PlanckEZ just for RGB since Planck rev 6.1 doesn’t have support per key led.
I have also been contemplating on whether to try a preonic, but I think I am so used to my planck layout that I might end up having the same set up of that of my planck and never actually use number row on it so unless I hit a limitation with my planck I think I am not going to get any other keyboard other than a planck.
Why I like Planck?
- Form factor- it is perfect form factor for me.
- As advertised by Jack Humbert, in the planck your fingers don’t stretch far from home row or I like to call the planck constant. All keys are one row from the home row.
- I am so used to layers and keep constantly trying to opitmize my workflow with it using QMK firmware.
- As programmer I think for me it makes a lot of sense to use layers to access the keys that I most frequently use. I know you can do that in any keyboard and that is my point, since I did that in most of the keyboards I never felt the need to use other keys on it. So for me planck is the perfect size with the right amount of keys on it.
Things I learned while trying out different keyboards
- There are so many beautiful looking keyboards.
- You need to spend enough time with the keyboard before you decide whether its for you or not.
- Have an open mind! When I first started getting into keyboards I would have never thought that I would like a 40% keyboard this much let alone make it my default keyboard. I mean with each step down (Tenkeyless-> 60% -> Split -> 40%) I was just proven wrong about my preconcieved notion towards the keyboard size and its utility value.
- Keyboard hobby is expensive but is alot of fun too.
- You can always sell your mechanical keyboard for the same price you bought it for in some cases even more.
- I thought if I had hot swap keyboards I would be able to try out and have a mix and match of keyswitches. This never happened! I like the cherry mx blue switches but due to its clackiness my next favorite (actually now my favorite) is Cherry MX brown. It is in my opinion best switch for everything(gaming, typing, randomly just clicking :P ).
- I didn’t go experimenting on different key switches- I am very happy with Cherry Browns at the moment. Maybe at some point I will put the hotswap capability on my planck to use and try out different key switches but not right now.
- Its fun to try out different keyboards, you kind of understand what you are missing or what you don’t miss. You learn new uses for the key positions and figure out if certain key positions are useful to you or not.
- Keycaps are way way way more expensive than keyboards.
- There are different profile keycaps and after trying quite a few of them I like OEM/Cherry profile the most. But if you want votes on mechanicalkeyboards -SA profile is the way to go. The keyboards look just way cooler with them.
- Mechanical keyboard community has a lot of cool, intelligent, artistic people who come with new and unique PCB/keyboard designs, keycaps, cases.
My once keyboard Gallery
My one and only planck with black blank OEM keycaps
I am calling the small rectangular section to the top right of the tenkeyless the utilies key corner.↩︎
This pic earned me my first reddit award :) Reddit Post↩︎