Did you seriously buy another keyboard? or; The Planck
As I mentioned in my previous story: Let’s Split… A Love Story in Two Parts, I had pre-ordered the Planck Rev 6 on Massdrop. This fell through, and I was delighted to hear that OLKB.com would be selling the Planck Rev 6 directly. This meant I was free to find my own switches, my own case, my own keycaps, etc.
I had decided pretty quickly that I wanted a purple case. Unfortunatly, the options for purple Planck cases were limited. (They just added a Purple Preonic on Massdrop a month after I found one for the Planck.) I ended up ordering the APX case from Woodkeys.click. It was then stated to be shipping around the same time as the Planck Rev 6 PCB in early July. I also noted a ZealPC group buy for Zealios and ordered myself 50 of their 78g switches. For keycaps, I was humming and hawing and never actually settled. What would look good with my purple case?
Mid July came and went. Jack from OLKB.com was able to keep us fairly up to date on Reddit with his weekly updates. Him and his “shop” ran into several difficulties that pushed them back by a few months. As frustrating as this was, Jack was very helpful. I often waited up just to hear from him on Monday nights.
Woodkeys, however, only sent an update out at the beginning of August, claiming they would start production around August 20th. Okay. Fair enough, delays happen. August 20th came around and I messaged them for an update. The response was that they hoped to have news in the next week.
Delays happen, I get that. The difference here are how those delays are being handled. The last update I got was on September 28th after messaging them on Discord. Now it’s moved to end of October/early November.
While I waited for my keyboard, I had started doing a lot of remapping on my KBD75. Most of the modifications had been around reducing hand movement or increasing functionality. As the Planck was to have so few keys, increasing the functionality per key is quite important. As the theory of not having to move fingers far was part of the Planck’s genetics, I decided to focus on this as well. Behold:
As is common with Plancks, I am using the QWERTY row as numbers and symbols on the raise and lower layers respectively. This works out wonderfully. Several common brackets used in programming have found their home—no pun intended—on the home row, albeit on the lower layer.
Where the arrow keys were, I now have media controls. I moved the arrow keys to the function layer where they are located the same as VIM’s HJKL. I also added in next and previous tab buttons here, and F1 to F10 where 1 to 0 are, but continuing with F11 and wrapping around with F12.
The four main thumb buttons: Lower, Function, Shift and Raise are capable of actions when tapped and activate layers (or shift) when held. In this case, they are delete, space, return and forward delete. This makes it quite easy to correct mistakes or submit commands without doing too much extra work. They are hard to get used to, though.
Additionally, the Caps Lock button and the Control button are both Press for Esc and hold for Control. The default return key has been converted into Press for Enter, hold for Shift.
Around the start of September, Massdrop had a sale of B-sides for Planck Rev5 cases. They fit the Rev 6 and were shipping at the beginning of October, so I decided to get a black one while I wait for my APX case. It required a low profile top plate which was not available most places. I found a Carbon Fibre one on KeyCapsss that actually matched my wedding band.
Then, in early October, OLKB.com added a set of keycaps to their site: The Big Bang, an MDA profile set. They were fairly inexpensive and I had a shipment on the way already. I decided to add them to my existing order.
The Zealios actually came in back in June. They were pretty quick. The Top Plate was the next piece to arrive, landing in early October, followed swiftly by the Massdrop case and finally, the Planck Rev 6 PCB and the Big Bang keycap set. Bad knolling photo for emphasis:
As you might have guessed, this did not stay this way for long. I quickly assemebled the keyboard and started typing away. Overall, the assembly was fairly easy. The only real difficulty I faced was that the pins on the Zealios tended to bend when being put into the sockets.
I like it. The keymap is taking some time to get used to. Things I like: I really don’t ever have to move my hands. I didn’t realize how much I hate the DSA keycaps on my KBD75 until I started using MDA. I expected the ortholinear to take time getting used to but the DSA seemed to be the real downfall of my KBD75.
The things I don’t like: About 10 times writing this article, I made a new line instead of holding my thumb shift button. Additionally, my D key seems to miss every once in a while. I’m still waiting for the damn APX case.
Another thing I found I wasn’t fond of was the switches. I was in contact with a friend who had some BOX Navy switches that he claimed were too loud for in his office. I knew he liked my much quieter Zealios so I offered him a trade. Having hot swappable switches has paid off. I really like the feel of the BOX Navy switches although I think they might be too stiff. Time will tell!
If you’ve found this interesting
You may also want to check out my tips for being productive with your keyboard.