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With a hardwood body, mechanical switches & custom-sculpted keycaps, it's a dream to type on. It comes with source code & a screwdriver
With a hardwood body, mechanical switches & custom-sculpted keycaps, it's a joy to type on. It comes with source code & a screwdriver.
With a hardwood body, mechanical switches & custom-sculpted keycaps, it's a joy to type on. It comes with source code & a screwdriver.
2,073 backers pledged $652,001 to help bring this project to life.

Model 01 case Quickstarter launch!

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Hello from Oakland,

We're pleased to announce that the Kickstarter campaign for the Model 01 travel case will go live at noon Pacific time today (less than an hour!). The campaign will run for two weeks.

You can see the campaign now at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/keyboardio/1025539803?ref=b57a84&token=ee374500

There are 400 cases available from the first production run, which should ship in January. When those sell out, we'll add an option to buy a case from the second production run.

<3 Jesse + Kaia

p.s. we'll send just one more email about the case campaign, shortly before it closes 

Day 1216: In which a record-setting typhoon is basically a footnote

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Hello from Oakland,

It’s been a few months since we last wrote, and lots has been happening! We've delivered (almost) all of the keyboards that had been preordered, had a couple hundred keyboards in stock, run out of stock, and started taking backorders for additional keyboards. We also have a bit of news about a travel case for the Model 01 and a mysterious teaser about our next product.

Model 01 Hardware News

Inventory

With the exception of about five folks we haven't been able to track down and some of the folks who ordered Mahogany Model 01s, we believe we've now offered a Model 01 to everybody who preordered one.

As of this writing, the Model 01 is out of stock. We managed to keep keyboards in stock for almost two months, running out on August 22. The next shipment from the factory is due at our warehouse in Hong Kong within a couple weeks. The factory had previously committed to having them ready by this weekend, but told us that they’re running behind because fewer workers than expected came back from the National Day holiday. As of now, they believe that they’ll have enough units to fulfill backorders ready for inspection by the 19th and the rest of the batch done by the end of the month. 

Keycap sets

This has become a big of a saga. Strap in, folks.

The factory assured us many months ago that the additional sets of keycaps they owed us (and you) would be in the mail within a few weeks. That turned out not to be the case.

The injection molding factory produced an entire run of replacement keycaps a few months ago. They were painted, UV-coated and some of them were laser engraved before being delivered to our factory for final QC. When the factory started to check the keycaps, they discovered that the paint simply wasn't adhering to the keycaps. Numerous theories about what could possibly have gone wrong were proposed to us. Eventually, we asked the factory to confirm that the injection-molding supplier hadn't accidentally or intentionally changed the type of plastic they were using for our keycaps. The next day, the factory confirmed to us that the problem was that the injection-molding supplier had... changed the plastic they were using to make our keycaps.

The entire production run of keycaps was destroyed at the supplier's expense.

After that, they made the entire run again. The factory rejected that run because the keycaps had various discolorations. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal because the keycaps were being painted. However, ordinarily, an injection molding supplier is able to injection-mold plastic without discolorations.

The entire production run of keycaps was destroyed at the supplier's expense.

The supplier blamed the painting jigs they'd designed for the discoloration issues, so they redesigned them and tried again.

After that, they made the entire run again. The factory rejected that run because the keycaps had various discolorations. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a big deal because the keycaps were being painted. However, ordinarily, an injection molding supplier is able to injection-mold plastic without discolorations.

The entire production run of keycaps was destroyed at the supplier's expense.

Author's note: The previous paragraphs were repeated verbatim because the production problem happened twice. In total, the entire run was destroyed and remade three times, with a delay of several weeks between runs.

After that, our factory sent an engineer to babysit the production process. They watched as the injection-molding supplier cleaned out their molding machine and finally started producing workable parts.

 project video thumbnail
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For cost reasons, we decided to have the factory arrange shipping of keycaps directly from Shenzhen. After some fairly significant back and forth, the factory recommended a local shipping agent who was willing to handle a few thousand sets of keycaps going out to more than 30 different countries. They offered us a decent shipping rate and cautioned us that shipping this way wouldn't get detailed tracking and could take 2-3 weeks. They told us that we had to buy insurance at what we thought was a slightly high rate of 5% of the cost of the goods. They told us that if any of the keycaps didn't arrive in a month, the shipping agent would pay to have the keycaps remanufactured and resent. At that rate, we'd have been better off self-insuring unless more than 1 in 20 packages got lost. Given how unlikely that sounded, we were a little bit annoyed.

On August 17, the factory confirmed to us that all preordered sets of QWERTY keycaps, all blank black keycaps and about half of the preordered sets of unpainted keycaps had been mailed out.

As of this writing, not a single set of keycaps has been received.

Last Friday, our factory rep met with the shipping company, who said that it was their fault, apologized and said they would take responsibility for remanufacturing and reshipping the entire order. As best we understand it, the shipping agent taped and labeled a few thousand sets of keycaps, paid the postage on them, accidentally put them back into the master cartons they arrived in from the factory and then... misplaced them. There are so many things about this that don't make sense, but that's the best information we have.

Pallets of boxed keycaps... last known photo
Pallets of boxed keycaps... last known photo

After telling us that engraving was in process about six weeks ago, the factory told us they finally have all the keycap sets QC checked, packaged and ready to send to the shipping company.

Thursday, we sent email to everybody who ordered Dvorak, Colemak or Linear A keycaps to double-check your shipping addresses before the factory hands them off to the shipping company.

The runic / Linear A keycaps look good
The runic / Linear A keycaps look good

Later on Thursday, the factory sent us the final proof photos of packaged Colemak, Dvorak and Linear A keycaps packaged up and ready to go. We noticed that the “Space” label on the Colemak set was misprinted and asked the factory if that was a one-off error. Four hours later, they said they’d checked enough sets to decide that it was a widespread problem and that they were having the sets (or possibly just the Space keys) remade again. The factory says they’re going to start the injection molding today, send the new keys to the paint and laser shop on Monday, and that if all goes well, the corrected keysets will be ready in about a week and a half.

The Dvorak and Colemak sets are almost good, but once you see the "space" misalignment you'll never be able to un-see it
The Dvorak and Colemak sets are almost good, but once you see the "space" misalignment you'll never be able to un-see it

Barring another catastrophe, all the blank black, unpainted, QWERTY and Linear A sets will be delivered to the factory’s shipping partner on Tuesday for labeling and handoff to China Post. Our factory’s sales person has promised to personally oversee the handover to the postal service.

A record-breaking typhoon interrupted production for a few days, but somehow that ended up being a footnote despite looking like this:

Yeah.

Mahogany keyboards

During the Kickstarter campaign, we offered a few special edition units with a mahogany enclosure. The keyboards have the same keycaps and electronics. The only difference is a fancy enclosure. We originally expected to be able to deliver the Mahogany keyboards early, since it’d be a much smaller batch. That didn’t happen. We weren’t happy with our ability to get the fit and finish right ourselves in our home shop. Our first few wood suppliers in China weren’t willing to do a very short run with a “special” wood, and we ran into some literal translation issues with “mahogany.” In the U.S., “mahogany” can refer to several different species from the same family. In China, only Swietenia wood from South America seems to be sold as mahogany.

Oddly enough, we had multiple suppliers try to convince us to switch to Brazilian Rosewood. Brazilian Rosewood is very, very nice. They used to use it for Eames chairs. They used to use it for lots of stuff. So much stuff, in fact, that it’s now endangered and trafficking in it is a crime. At one point, we got curious and asked a supplier if they could give us paperwork for this “Brazilian Rosewood.” The next morning, they sent us full sourcing paperwork for several containers of the “Brazilian Rosewood” they wanted to sell us. The paperwork identified it as Bubinga from Africa. When we pressed them, the supplier said that in China, Bubinga is sold as Brazilian Rosewood. We tried to explain to them that they might not want to be advertising that they were trafficking in endangered wood when they weren’t, but ultimately don’t think they believed us.

The good news is we’ve eventually managed to explain ourselves with one of our newer wood suppliers. They’ve now delivered to us fifteen absolutely gorgeous enclosures made from sapele, a beautiful African “true mahogany” wood that’s more sustainably grown than its Latin American cousins.

We're now in the process of checking and individually numbering the Kickstarter Limited Edition sets, and are starting to reach out to the folks to whom we owe them to arrange shipping.

Replacement wooden enclosures

A handful of people were shipped keyboards in wooden enclosures that shouldn’t have gotten through our QC process (wood warped or cracked, or the finish on the wood really poorly done).

It took us a while to get good-quality enclosures in stock to do warranty replacements, but over the last month we finally got there. Our newest wood supplier delivered a batch of good-quality enclosures to us in the U.S., and we’ve been checking them and boxing them up. In general, we think they’re amongst the nicest enclosures we’ve seen. We’ll be continuing to work with this supplier going forward.

Doing warranty replacements from home means we get to order person-sized rolls of bubble wrap
Doing warranty replacements from home means we get to order person-sized rolls of bubble wrap

We believe we’ve reached out to everyone who has told us they need a replacement enclosure. In case you haven’t gotten back to us yet: if we owe you a warranty replacement enclosure, we need to double-check your shipping addresses and make sure we’ve correctly captured what went wrong with your current enclosure. If you’re expecting a replacement enclosure, please fill out this Google Form:

https://goo.gl/forms/URtfl4J3scPReR2m1

Since we’re collecting photos, Google requires a google account to fill in that form. If you don’t have a Google account, this form is the same, minus the “send us a picture” question:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdy68t_pTvpREVhW302TSWWs0cBDWVAH8_Kfv6mMl6594PbXQ/viewform?usp=sf_link 1 –

If you use that second form, we may need to check in with you to confirm the issue before sending the replacement. 

Join us on Discord

Over the past few months, the Keyboardio IRC channel, like much of the Freenode IRC network, has been overrun by spammers, making the channel almost completely unusable. Consequently, we've moved real-time discussion over to Discord. If you're not familiar with Discord, you can think of it as "Slack for communities", with a historical focus on gamers. It has a mobile UI, as well as pretty, modern GUI clients for desktop and mobile operating systems.

Discord is the right place for real-time chat about Keyboardio, Kaleidoscope, and the Model 01. If you'd like to join us on Discord, this link will let you sign up: https://discord.gg/4az77sf

For non-real-time chat with other Keyboardio fans, the best place is: http://community.keyboard.io

While we do our best to help out with Keyboardio-related issues anywhere you can find us, our official support channel is still help@keyboard.io.

Software and firmware

Kaleidoscope

The past few months have seen a fair amount of work on Kaleidoscope. For us, the biggest is that we’ve finally moved to the new plugin system designed by noseglasses. The "exciting" thing about the plugin system is that it's now much easier for Kaleidoscope plugins to do more stuff and to use fewer of the controller's limited resources while doing them. This means that Kaleidoscope can run just a bit faster and more efficiently and that you now have a more free space on the microcontroller for layouts, LED effects, and things like that.

This change did require us to rejigger how Model 01 firmware "sketches" work. We've tried to include good error messages about what you need to do as you update your firmware and have posted additional details on the forums. If you run into trouble, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at help@keyboard.io.

We've squashed dozens of bugs and made numerous other changes and improvements under the hood since the last release of Kaleidoscope, too. In particular, we believe we've solved issues some folks were seeing when pressing and releasing bracket keys quickly, as well as a bunch of numpad and BIOS interaction issues.

If you want to switch to the new version of the firmware, you can use the Arduino IDE to install it. Follow the instructions here: https://github.com/keyboardio/Kaleidoscope/wiki/Install-Arduino-support-on-a-Mac and select "v1.92-beta" when installing Kaleidoscope.

The next thing coming down the line for Kaleidoscope is the ability to update your keyboard layout without having to compile firmware or 'flash' the keyboard yourself.

Chrysalis

The desktop app that you'll use to customize your Model 01 is called Chrysalis.

The first version of Chrysalis was mostly complete over a year ago, but it was both brittle and written in.... Clojurescript, which isn't widely used. Over the summer, we ended up making the decision to start from scratch. Throwing away something that's close to working is never fun, but it had become clear that Chrysalis would always be hard to build unless we started over, building a React app in an Electron shell.

algernon and Jesse (but mostly algernon) have just updated Kaleidoscope's support for storing key layouts in EEPROM. (EEPROM is essentially a tiny, tiny 1000 byte SSD inside the keyboard.) At the same time, algernon has rebuilt Focus, the serial control protocol for Kaleidoscope. (Focus is the bit that lets a program on your computer talk to the keyboard.) These two bits were the last of the code that needs to run on the keyboard to support Chrysalis.

The new version of Chrysalis lives at https://github.com/keyboardio/chrysalis-bundle-keyboardio. As of now, it starts up, detects a keyboard and can read and write keymaps. It's not at the point where it's pretty or user friendly, but it's finally a solid base to build on top of.

At the same time, Simon-Claudius has been working with the folks at Dygma to prototype what a version of Chrysalis themed for their keyboard, the Raise, might look like. You can see their demo video here

We're hoping to be able to release a first working alpha of Chrysalis in the next couple months.

Software ports

Since we last wrote, Kaleidoscope has been 'ported' to run on a few keyboards we didn't create. If you have an Ergodox EZ or an Atreus by Technomancy and have Kaleidoscope 1.92 or later installed in the Arduino IDE, you should be able to select your keyboard in the "Boards" menu and flash Kaleidoscope onto your keyboard. We're not currently able to provide commercial support for Kaleidoscope on hardware we didn't make, but if you're interested in the details of the ports, you can find them on GitHub for both the ErgoDox EZ and Atreus.

If you're interested in porting Kaleidoscope to another keyboard, join us in #kaleidoscope-dev on Discord and we'd be thrilled to talk about it.

Kaleidoscope is, of course, not the only opensource keyboard firmware out there. Another popular and featureful option is called QMK. The QMK project has wide hardware support, but somewhat different goals than Kaleidoscope. Last month, James Laird-Wah added support for the Model 01 to QMK. You can read more about it here: https://community.keyboard.io/t/qmk-ported-to-model01/2015

Kaleidoscope Plugins

In the past few months, we've seen a few new community-created Kaleidoscope Plugins

Kevin Riggle created a "fire" LED effect for the Model 01 based on Selene Scriven’s Wavepool effect. If you'd like to add the Fire effect to your keyboard, you can grab the source code here: https://github.com/kevinr/Kaleidoscope-LED-Fire

Kevin Riggle's fire effect in action
Kevin Riggle's fire effect in action

In the past couple months, we've seen two completely different approaches to adding Emoji support to Kaleidoscope. The first, from Burke Libbey, is a technique for creating a Slack-specific Emoji keymap layer using Kaleidoscope Macros. You can find Burke's implementation here: https://github.com/burke/Model01-Firmware/blob/master/Model01-Firmware.ino

Jochen Pfeiffer went in a slightly different direction. Building on Kaleidoscope's core Unicode support, he created Kaleidoscope-Emoji, a plugin that makes it easier to type Emoji into any app. You can find his plugin here: https://github.com/jjochen/Kaleidoscope-Emoji

Future Keyboardio products

Why we stopped selling "loud-click" Model 01s.

We recently stopped offering the "loud-click" version of the Model 01. A few folks have asked us whether we expect to stock them again in the future. As of now, we don't expect to stock a loud-click version of the Model 01 again.

The reason we made the (surprisingly difficult decision) to discontinue the loud-click Model 01 was that a significant minority of the folks who got them reported that they found some keys hard to press. Initially, we couldn't reproduce the problem folks were describing, but eventually we figured out what was going on using our handy-dandy digital force meter.

After we completed the design of the Model 01, our keyswitch vendor redesigned their switches to reduce what's called "wobble." The stems of classic Matias switches have a fair amount of back-and-forth play as they're pressed down. Matias figured out a way to tighten up the keyswitch tolerances to reduce wobble and to provide what most folks say is a cleaner feeling keyswitch. On most keyboards, this worked out just great. On the Model 01, however, it worked out less great. Because on a Model 01 you are not moving your hands as much as on a traditional layout, some people’s hands end up hitting the keyswitch at a bit of an angle, which causes the new sliders to bind against the edge of the switch and the clickleaf.

Once we understood the theory of what was going wrong, we were able to measure the increased force of hitting a loud-click Matias switch at an off-angle. Instead of requiring about 55 grams of force to press, the required pressure spiked to over 100 grams. (The quiet-click switches have a slightly different design, which is largely immune to this issue.) We tried a bunch of lubricants. None made any significant difference. We discussed the issue with Matias. As of now, their best solution would be a redesign of the Model 01 to rotate all of the keyswitches 90 degrees. This issue is something we'll keep in mind when we eventually revise the Model 01. Unfortunately, the change suggested by Matias would require new circuit boards, new aluminum keyplates, and new keycap tooling; this makes it cost prohibitive for us to do just for the sake of offering loud keyswitches.

Travel cases

One of the most frequent questions we get about accessories for the Model 01 is whether there's a travel case we recommend for the Model 01. Until now, the best answers have included laptop cases or keeping one Model 01 at home and another at work.

We're pleased to report that we've completed the design of the Model 01 travel case. Our manufacturing partner (who have nothing whatsoever to do with our keyboard factory) expects to finish assembly of the first batch of cases by the end of October. That means that it's time for us to start selling the new case. We're planning to run a "quickstarter" (a short 3 week Kickstarter campaign) to sell the first batch cases. At some point after that, we'll make them available from https://shop.keyboard.io.

As of now, we're planning to sell the case for about $35 + shipping from our Hong Kong warehouse.

Before we launch the campaign, we need to take some nice pictures of the final sample, record a video and double check our shipping pricing. To tide you over, here are a couple of quick cameraphone pictures:

We’ll send a short email update or two when the Quickstarter launches. 

The next keyboard

We know what keyboard we're going to make next, though we aren't quite ready to show the world. Some aspects of the design have been kicking around in our heads for the past couple years, and some early prototypes have been collecting dust for almost as long. However, as we've finally gotten to turn some attention to the new keyboard, things have been coming together nicely over the past month.

It’s not so much a successor to the Model 01 as a keyboard that fits in a slightly different niche. You may even want both :)

We've been posting work-in-progress teasers about the industrial design to Twitter. This is what it might look like with the top cover on:

(it probably won't be purple)
(it probably won't be purple)

After we do a little bit more design and testing, it'll be time for Jesse to get back on a plane to Shenzhen to visit potential manufacturing partners. Once we're all set to make the keyboard, it'll be time to spin up the Kickstarter hype machine again.

<3 j+k

Day 1081: a brief status update (with cats)

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Hello from Oakland,

Since we last wrote, we've been working with the factory to finish off production of preordered keyboards and extra keycap sets. Our shipping partners have delivered our fourth production run ("MP4") to customers, getting a few hundred more Model 01s out into the world. We've been working with the factory to coordinate delivery of MP5 keyboards, extra keycap sets, and replacement wooden enclosures. We had a long call with the factory last night. As of today, this is the latest status:

Keyboards

The factory started production of the 500 unit MP5 run on Saturday. 100 units in, they discovered that about 30% of the enclosures (from supplier 'A') had warped enough that they weren't perfectly flat. On Tuesday, they sat down with factory A's sales person, sales manager, engineering manager, and QA manager. They told our factory that the issue was due to the heat and humidity in southern China this summer. On top of that, they reported that they were seeing an approximately 50% failure rate of the 500 enclosures they'd already produced for MP6. They agreed that this was a really serious issue and that it was their responsibility to resolve it.

Until it's sorted out, we don't expect to be able to get our hands on more than a handful of replacement enclosures.

The upside is that between the 500 enclosures they'd made for MP5 and MP6, there appear to be enough good sets for MP5, which our factory tells us they now expect to have ready for inspection on Tuesday, June 5.

As of this moment, we believe that MP5 will fill all outstanding orders and that we will have some keyboards in stock for immediate sale in early June.

To be clear, we did NOT ship any kittens with the Model 01. If you received a cat along with your keyboard, it may have been intercepted by an unknown actor.
To be clear, we did NOT ship any kittens with the Model 01. If you received a cat along with your keyboard, it may have been intercepted by an unknown actor.

Keycaps

On the call, the factory also gave us some frustrating news about extra keycap sets. When they were inspecting the blank and QWERTY keycap sets to prepare them for shipping, they discovered that the paint...just sort of didn't stay on the keycaps. They've sent engineers to the keycap painting facility and are digging into the root cause of the problem. When we pushed for a revised estimated delivery date, they told us that until they've figured out what went wrong, they can't really commit to a delivery date. While not really what we wanted to hear, we can't really fault them for that.

As we have further updates, we'll share them here.

Firmware

Jesse and algernon (but mostly algernon) have been working on a fairly major firmware update, reworking the plugin system to be faster and more extensible. Algernon has been working on issues that prevented the keyboard from working in BIOS or macOS' FileVault mode. Jesse's nearly done with a major update to the keyscanner firmware, which we believe will dramatically reduce the chance of keychatter and reduce (our already pretty low) keypress latency. When everything is ready to go, we'll push out a new stable keyboard firmware version, along with straightforward instructions about how to update your keyboard without needing to compile anything or edit any text files.

If you're interested in what other folks are doing with their Model 01s, there's lots going on over at community.keyboard.io.

If you have trouble with your keyboard, or have questions about your order, emailing help@keyboard.io is your best bet.

If you just want to chat, you can usually find us on Twitter.

<3 

j+k

Day 1021: MP4 coming soon!

21 likes

TL;DR: Kickstarter units have almost all shipped;most post-Kickstarter pre-orders have shipped; extra keycap sets are expected to ship sometime in April

Hello from Oakland,

When we last wrote a public update on January 25, we told you that assembly of MP2 keyboards had been completed and that assembly of MP3 was in progress.

Our factory was due to close for Chinese New Year on February 8. We were concerned that, if anything at all went wrong, no MP2 keyboards would ship out until the end of February, so Jesse got on a plane to Hong Kong for a last-minute trip to help the factory work through any issues.

MP3 keyboards being assembled
MP3 keyboards being assembled

In the end, the factory shipped out about 1000 keyboards as part of MP2 and about 700 keyboards as part of MP3. Originally, they had planned to ship 1000 keyboards as part of MP3, but they ran out of time. More accurately, they ran out of workers—by the time Jesse left China on the evening of February 6, most of the factory's assembly and QC workers had already gone home. Three hundred keyboards were left partially assembled and waiting for testing. Those keyboards will ship as part of MP4.

As of early March, we have shipped keyboards to every Kickstarter backer who had completed their survey as of March 1, with the exception of "Mahogany Limited Edition" backers and our one customized ten-pack backer. (We're still pushing on our wood suppliers to get the mahogany enclosures made, but are starting to explore other options.) We've also filled the majority of post-Kickstarter orders.

As of now, we're within 600 orders of being caught up with preorders.

We're currently currently expecting the MP4 production run to be ready for our third-party quality control agency to check on April 12. This is a bit later than we’d expected, but the factory has told us that they’re doing some work to improve circuit-board assembly and would rather slip a few days than ship a few more defective keyboards. Right now, MP4 is estimated to be about 500 keyboards. When we know exactly how many keyboards we're getting, we'll be in touch with everyone getting an MP4 keyboard to reconfirm your address. The factory has told us to expect MP5 before the end of April.

Keycap sets

The factory has told us that the injection molding shop responsible for the keycaps have been dragging their feet on the replacement keycap sets, claiming that they have a significant backlog of orders from before Chinese New Year. They've been telling us that they promise to have the extra keycap sets ready to send to the painting shop by the end of March. From there, they'll be laser engraved and packaged. Once the factory starts packaging the keycap sets, we'll be in touch with everyone expecting keycap sets to reconfirm your addresses.

Right now, we're expecting to ship out keycap sets by postal mail, either from Hong Kong or directly from China. (Sending them by an express courier would likely cost as much as, if not far more than, the keycaps.)

Spotlight: user-created keycaps

One intrepid user, Stefan Eichberger, has actually designed and 3D printed two of his own custom keycaps for the Model 01. One of his keycaps is functional. The other is just fun.

His first keycap was a modified function key with a custom cutout, designed to be a little bit more comfortable for how he types on the Model 01

Stefan's second key was an updated Prog key, featuring a very important productivity tool that the Model 01, as shipped, was seriously lacking.

You can read more about Stefan's work here: https://community.keyboard.io/t/3d-printing-keycaps/1151/2 

If you're thinking of crafting custom keyshapes for your Model 01, please do heed Stefan's warnings about damaging your keyswitches. It's very, very easy to destroy an ALPS-style keyswitch by snapping off a 3D-printed keycap's stem inside the switch's slider.

Update on wood suppliers

MP2 keyboards shipped with a mix of the best enclosures from the original wood Supplier and enclosures from Supplier C. MP3 quiet-click keyboards shipped with enclosures from Supplier A. MP3 loud-click keyboards shipped with enclosures from Supplier A.

When Supplier C's first 500 enclosures arrived at our factory in the middle of December, the factory discovered that the supplier had not sized the cutouts for the USB C jacks correctly, so sent the parts back to be reworked. In early January, Supplier C delivered the second 500 sets they owed us. Later in January, they redelivered the first 500. Between MP2 and MP3, we shipped about 600 keyboards with enclosures from Factory C. There are about 200 more known-good enclosures from Supplier C in the factory's warehouse, which will be used for MP4.

Sitting in our factory's storage, there are currently 191 sets from Supplier C which we believe do not meet our quality standards. 60% of them appear to have warped slightly. 30% of them have significant discolorations. 20% of them still have USB C cutouts that aren't sized correctly. Over the course of the past month, we've been negotiating with Supplier C to try to get them to rework or replace the defective enclosures.

Supplier A delivered their 1000 sets a little bit behind Supplier C, which is why their enclosures didn't ship until MP3. As the factory started to assemble keyboards with their enclosures at the beginning of February, they discovered that nearly half of them had significant amounts of glue inside the screw holes used to attach the enclosures to the baseplates. After a quick meeting where we talked through mitigations and how to rework the defective parts, Supplier A picked them up from the factory and worked over the weekend to repair as many as they could. The next week, they delivered 300 'good' sets back to our factory. The remaining 200, they deemed unsalvageable and promised to replace as quickly as possible after Chinese New Year. In the end, those 200 replacement sets were delivered to our factory at the beginning of this week.

The original wood supplier has, we've been told, completed 300 more sets to mostly fulfill their original obligation to us. However, our factory reports that the quality of these enclosures matches what they've shipped us in the past and that we shouldn't expect to see more than a very small number that pass inspection. While Jesse was in China, he finally got his hands on a "dark-stained" wooden enclosure from the original supplier. The coloring looked ok, but when we looked carefully, we realized that the supplier hadn't stained the parts like we talked about. Instead, they'd airbrushed them with a red-brown paint. That, as they say, was the end of that.

Update on manufacturing defects

In the last update, we wrote about the various issues with MP1 keyboards that customers had reported to us. We don't have any significant new issues to report on that front, though the mix of issues has changed somewhat. As you might expect, we've seen fewer wood issues with MP2 and MP3 keyboards. At the same time, we saw more keyboards from the MP2 and MP3 batches non-functional on arrival than we had during MP1. We believe that there are a few potential causes. First, workers were likely a little bit more rushed in the leadup to the holiday and may not have been as diligent as we'd have liked. Second, at least in the case of MP2, surface-mount assembly of the circuit boards was completed along with MP1, but wave soldering was done months later. There is a chance that the long delay before running through the second oven could have damaged some chips. Going forward, they will make sure they tightly control the time between surface mount assembly and wave soldering. Third, we found out after the fact that the factory had not put every MP2 and MP3 keyboard through a 72 hour aging test as they had for MP1. For MP2 and MP3, they only tested a small percentage of the production runs. They've promised that, going forward, every keyboard will be run through a full 72 hour aging test.

We previously wrote about 'warped' Model 01 stands. At the time, we believed the issue was caused by plastic parts that came out of the injection molds slightly deformed. Since that time, we've discovered that in almost all cases, the problem is simply that the factory's assembly line workers overtightened the screws inside the stands. We've developed an at-home procedure for repairing a defective stand. You can read about it here: https://community.keyboard.io/t/a-possible-fix-for-wobbly-stands/1143/8

We've previously written about keychatter that some customers have seen with MP1 and MP2 quiet-click keyboards. Starting with MP3, all quiet-click keyboards have shipped with new Matias switches lubricated with a dry teflon instead of the old jelly-like grease that had a tendency to migrate to the electrical contacts.

We've been working with MP1 and MP2 customers whose keyboards develop keychatter (the form of either repeating keystrokes or missed keystrokes) to repair or replace the defective switches. We've also been experimenting with a software solution that changes how we read and process the electrical contact data from the keyswitches. We've got some more work we want to do on that front, but so far, it does seem to greatly reduce keychatter problems.

Spotlight: Captain's chair

We've been waiting for this one.

Chris Vincent (no relation) posted about his custom Model 01 setup earlier this week. It's awesome.

Chris built custom mounts to connect his Model 01 and an Apple Magic Trackpad to his desk chair. He spent time running extension cables overhead to keep them out of the way while he works, and added articulating arms to allow him to adjust the position of the Model 01 on the fly.

You can read more about his setup here: https://community.keyboard.io/t/my-captains-chair/1297/4

We love to see how people are using the Model 01 and making it their own. If you’ve done something neat or have ideas for a Model 01-related project, please post about it at http://community.keyboard.io

Shipping MP2 and MP3

We shipped PVT and MP1 keyboards from California. Due to a number of delays and expensive shipping errors, the experience was… not as smooth as we would have hoped, so we resolved to see if we could do better for MP2. Overall, we like the new shipping partner a lot better, but there are some things we’re hoping to improve for MP4.

When he landed in Hong Kong in late January, Jesse visited one potential new partner's warehouse and liked what he saw. It took a few days to get the paperwork sorted out and a week later, 1000 keyboards were loaded on a truck in Shenzhen for a quick journey across the border to Hong Kong.

One of the advantages of our new shipping partner is that they allow us to choose between more than a dozen shipping options on a per-package basis. Most of our customers are in the US, so we ended up with a special hybrid solution for keyboards destined for the States. Each keyboard was individually labeled for delivery in Hong Kong, then all the US orders were consolidated onto pallets and shipped by air to a warehouse near Chicago, where they were handed off to DHL, who brought each keyboard to a Post Office near its eventual destination and handed it off to USPS for last-mile delivery. On the whole, this went ok. Not amazing, but ok. We ran into a couple of problems. First, we sent you shipping numbers too early. In the past, we've sent out shipping numbers only after keyboards had been handed off to FedEx. In this case, we sent you shipping numbers before your keyboards left Hong Kong. Our shipping partner's package tracking page didn't take into account the time needed to get your keyboards from a warehouse in Hong Kong to a warehouse in Chicago which set an… unreasonable expectation of when your keyboard might arrive. On top of that, MP3 keyboards were handed off to the international carrier just before Hong Kong had their Chinese New Year holiday, so boxes sat in Hong Kong for longer than we expected. Once packages got to DHL, a small number of them took an unreasonably long time to get to USPS. The worst problem only affected about 4-5 people who had mistyped their zipcodes. Due to a design flaw in our shipping partner's software, city names that didn't match the entered zipcodes were silently "corrected" as shipping labels were printed, leading to packages being marked as undeliverable and being "returned to sender." We're still trying to find four of them.

For the rest of the world, shipments went out by a mix of UPS, DHL, Aramex, DPEX, SF Express, and, in a very few cases, HK Post.

Many of the MP3 UPS shipments took far longer than we'd been promised. As it turned out, UPS was dramatically over capacity around Chinese New Year and we drew the short straw. More than 100 keyboards sat in a warehouse, unable to enjoy the New Year's festivities. UPS shipments to Europe also suffered from confusing tracking updates—UPS now offers electronic customs preclearance. This means that package information is sent in advance of the actual package. This is great because it can save multiple days of transit delays due to customs agencies. This is...less than great...because UPS reports the customs-related tracking updates as having happened in the destination country, which leads to an update history that suggests that a package got to you and was then sent back to Hong Kong to begin its journey again.

A number of shipments to France, the Netherlands and the UK went by Aramex. We're sorry. We didn't know. They won't be getting any more of our European business. They charged you extremely high handling fees, failed to contact you to arrange delivery, claimed they had attempted delivery when they hadn't, and have still failed to figure out that they've finally delivered all the packages we entrusted to them.

Shipping and fulfillment is one place where first-time creators can really blow their budget. While the ability to ship just about anything to ato just about anywhere on earth in undoubtedly one of the wonders of modern life, the costs can be staggering. So far, despite getting huge discounts from our shipping partners, we’ve spent over $115,000 on shipping alone. This averages out to a cost of a bit more than $40 a keyboard.

Once pre-orders have been filled, we intend to ship most of our inventory by ocean freight to a U.S. warehouse, and then fulfill U.S. orders from there. International orders will probably still ship from Hong Kong. This should lower our total cost of shipping a little bit, but most importantly it will give us the capability to get keyboards to U.S. customers a few days after they order.

What's next

We're still pretty focused on getting the rest of your Model 01s (and your keycaps) shipped and helping you resolve any issues you find as you get up and running, but we're starting to think a bit more about what we're going to do next.

Right now, we're leaning toward something more portable, a little bit more approachable and just a tiny bit easier to manufacture. We’re also contemplating a few accessories for the Model 01. As we figure out what we're doing, you can rest assured that we'll tell you all about it ;)

<3 Jesse + Kaia

Day 956: MP2 keyboards should leave the factory within the week

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TL;DR: MP2 keyboards are assembled and almost ready to ship out. (This should cover all remaining regular Kickstarter backers.) MP3 assembly has started. Jesse is on his way to China to expedite things. We're working to improve the shipping experience going forward.

Hello from Oakland,

When we last wrote in December, we told you that because the new wood suppliers hadn't hit the dates they'd promised, remaining orders wouldn't ship out until after Christmas. Both new wood suppliers have delivered and the factory has completed assembly of more than 1000 keyboards. They're working on the next 1000 now.

Wooden enclosures

Factory workers doing QC checks on MP2 and MP3 enclosures
Factory workers doing QC checks on MP2 and MP3 enclosures

The two new wood suppliers (Supplier A and Supplier C) each delivered 1000 enclosures in January. The first 500 delivered by Supplier C needed to be reworked to add a bit more space around the USB port. The old supplier also delivered about 500 enclosures that passed our factory's new stricter QC checks.

As of now, the old supplier has delivered a total of about 1500 enclosures that passed QC. Supplier A has delivered 1000 that (we believe) have passed QC. Supplier C has delivered 489 that have passed QC (and 11 that were rejected) and delivered another 511 that we expect to pass QC later this week.

MP2 (Mass Production run #2)

Final assembly of 1080 keyboards, which should be enough to fill the orders for all regular Kickstarter backers, was completed this Monday. Our third-party QC agent visited on Tuesday to do spot checks. Typically, a QC agent will check some percentage of a production run. They'll randomly select keyboards and evaluate them according to the quality standard. While they'll record 'minor' and 'major' issues, what they're really looking for are showstoppers, what are called 'critical' issues. These are issues that make the product unusable or might cause a customer to return their keyboard for a replacement. If no (or very few) critical issues are found, the whole run is deemed to have passed. If enough critical issues are found, the order is rejected and the factory has to recheck every single unit. 

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(Above: a keyboard that the QC agent found to be a bit wobbly and rejected.)

The QC agent checked 80 keyboards. In general, the QC agent said that the quality seemed higher than from the first mass production run. They found relatively few issues, but the defect rate for the wooden enclosures supplied by the old wood supplier was just high enough that we asked the factory to 'rework' them, checking to make sure that USB ports weren't being pushed out of alignment, and that every keyboard lay flat when checked on a sheet of glass.

One page of the QC agent's work-in-progress MP2 audit record
One page of the QC agent's work-in-progress MP2 audit record

The factory began that rework yesterday. They've been sending us photos throughout the day and we're pretty happy with what we're seeing. They said they weren't 100% sure they'd finish today, but that they expect to finish today or tomorrow.

MP3 (Mass Production run #3)

At the same time, the factory has begun assembly of the next 1000 keyboards. These keyboards will fill most, but not all, post-Kickstarter preorders. Initially, the factory thought that this production run would be done by Tuesday, January 30. Yesterday, they told us that the schedule has slipped a bit and that they expect the run to be ready for final inspection on Monday, February 5.

Ordinarily, we wouldn't be too worried about a one-week slip. But February is a particularly fraught time because of the Chinese New Year holiday. Like just about every factory in China, our factory will be closing for a few weeks. Chinese New Year is a time when most people go home to visit their families. Historically, it's also when labor turnover is highest. So for factories, it's a one-two punch: production is shut down for a few weeks, and when you start up again you might find yourself training up a number of new staff.

For us, this means that if we were to discover serious issues when inspecting the order on February 5, there wouldn't be enough time (or staff) to resolve those problems before the factory closed on February 7. To minimize the chance of something going off the rails, the factory suggested we station a QC agent on their lines to supervise production and to inspect the keyboards as they come off the assembly line. 

Well, we thought about it for about ten minutes before deciding that the right thing to do was to send Jesse back to Shenzhen and put him to work at the factory. So, Jesse's getting on a plane late Saturday night and will be in Shenzhen until the factory closes their doors on February 7. He'll be providing on-the-ground updates at https://twitter.com/keyboardio.

Shipping

If you're a Kickstarter backer and haven't yet received the keyboards you're expecting, you should see email from us / BackerKit today or tomorrow asking you to double-confirm your shipping address sometime in the next day or two.

If you're one of the first 950 or so folks who preordered from https://shop.keyboard.io, you should get a similar email over the weekend.

We're looking at changing up how we do fulfillment. When we did the first mass production run this fall, we shipped everything to a US warehouse by air freight before sending it onward to you by FedEx Ground or FedEx International Economy. For U.S. customers this worked ok, but wasn't terribly efficient. For customers outside the U.S., this quickly gets pretty expensive, both for us and for you. We heard from many folks based outside the U.S. that they'd strongly prefer a solution where the local postal service is responsible for customs clearance and delivery. We think we have something that's going to work better for you. 

When Jesse gets off the plane on Monday, he's headed straight to a fulfillment operation we've been talking to in Hong Kong to double check that we're a good fit. There's also a particular Hong Kong postal service shipping option we're hoping to use, though our package may be a couple of grams too heavy. If our package is deemed light enough, the total time-to-delivery for MP2 keyboards will be about the same as it was for MP1 keyboards, but the experience will be, we hope, much smoother. If we don't squeak by, the experience will be similar to MP1, but delivery should be much speedier. And, of course, if the new fulfillment partner doesn't work out, the experience will end up identical to MP1.

Keyswitches for MP2

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(Above: a worker checks the keyswitches on an MP2 keyboard.)

As we wrote in the last backer update, a small percentage of folks with keyboards from MP1 have run into issues with 'key chatter' due to an issue with how the internal lubricant was applied to some of those switches. (Key chatter is when pressing a key once leads to multiple keystrokes registering, so you end up typing words "liiike thiis".) Most folks have been able to resolve the chatter issues at home following simple instructions we've sent them. To date, we've had to replace 0.5% of shipped keyboards for chatter issues that customers weren't able to resolve on their own.

For MP2, we modified our hardware test program to detect key chatter on the assembly line. This won't catch all chatter issues, but should catch many of them. At the same time, we've also been working on a software fix (which we'll talk about in detail in a future update) that we believe will completely eliminate this issue in almost all cases.

Our key switch manufacturer has also been at work creating a version of the switches with a different lubricant such that the chatter issue oughtn't come up at all. While we would have preferred to use newly-manufactured replacement keyswitches for MP2, the switch factory wasn't able to get them made in time. 

Because we've been able to resolve most instances of this issue without the hassle of a hardware swap, we ended up deciding to let the factory manufacture the quiet-click keyboards from the MP2 run with the same batch of keyswitches used for MP1. If you run into a key chatter issue, we'll work with you to resolve it under the terms of your warranty.

If you'd rather wait for a keyboard with the new version of the keyswitches, we'd be happy to ship you a keyboard from what we're told will be a mid-March production run. Just drop us a note at help@keyboard.io.

Replacement parts

We've promised some of you replacement stands or enclosures for issues you've found with your MP1 keyboards. In both cases, we want to make sure that the issues have been resolved for MP2 before we ask for extras. Once we have the replacements, we'll be in touch.

Special edition keyboards

About 12 of you (hi mom!) backed us for 'Limited Edition' Mahogany keyboards. One of the wood suppliers in Shenzhen is currently making us samples of the Mahogany enclosure. Right now, it's a toss-up whether they'll be able to get it to us before they leave for the holiday. When we've confirmed the sample with them, we'll contact you directly with the details.

Extra keycap sets

3000 sets of keycaps. (Admittedly, these are the QWERTY keycaps that will be preinstalled on your keyboards, but we needed a picture here.)
3000 sets of keycaps. (Admittedly, these are the QWERTY keycaps that will be preinstalled on your keyboards, but we needed a picture here.)

The factory told us that they expect to be able to ship us the full production run of extra keycap sets in March. Even though we'd already signed off on the current versions, they've been pushing hard to improve the quality of injection molding and painting for the keycaps. (More on that in a future update.)

<3 j+k