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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.

Day 1021: MP4 coming soon!

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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

Day 907: Update on wood suppliers and MP1 field reports

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Hello from Oakland,

We're going to miss Christmas deliveries for most, if not all unshipped Kickstarter and pre-order keyboards. There is an outside chance that we'll be able to ship out about 500 more keyboards before Christmas, but we'd rather not mis-set your expectations (again).

We feel horrible about this. We're really, really sorry. Please know that we're not slacking off. We've been continuing to have nightly conference calls with the factory and have been pushing the suppliers as hard as we can to try to catch up. If you want to know what's been happening, read on.

Markus Fix paired his Model 01 with his Novena open laptop
Markus Fix paired his Model 01 with his Novena open laptop

 

The first wood supplier

As we wrote in the last backer update, we're stuck waiting on the wooden enclosures for the Model 01. The initial supplier had blown through their promised date for the second thousand enclosures. They told us we should expect our 1000 sets of pristine-quality enclosures by "the middle of November."

Well, a few weeks ago, the middle of November rolled around. Unsurprisingly, the wood supplier delivered zero sets of wooden enclosures. On the 20th, they said they'd arrive by the 25th. On the 27th, they said they'd arrive on the 28th. On the 28th, they said they were "just packing them up now" and that they'd arrive on the 29th. On the 29th, they said "some" would arrive on the 30th. On the morning of the 30th, the wood supplier said that they would deliver the enclosures that afternoon.

On the afternoon of the 30th, the wood supplier did indeed deliver some enclosures. On friday, the factory reported that they had 500 sets of wooden enclosures for the Model 01 in their warehouse. Our factory reported that having checked the first 100, about 90% of the enclosures were good quality and that only 10% of them had issues. This is dramatically better than previous deliveries which saw 40-80% defect rates. On Monday, we got a note from the factory that they had checked samples from the remaining 200 enclosures and found a 30% defect rate.

Tomorrow, the team from our factory will be visiting the original wood supplier to find out what went wrong and to make sure they really understand the gravity of the situation.

We still don't know when the wood factory will deliver the 500 sets they still owe us from this first order. We found out on Monday that they aren't even working on them, despite previous assurances that they were almost done. Based on previous experience, we think it may or may not be sometime before the heat-death of the universe. They did tell us they had 400-500 sets of discolored but otherwise high-quality enclosures that they want to dye with a dark stain. That number seems...implausibly high. We've asked for clarification, but we’re not holding our breath.

Have no fear - The Model 01’s unique shape and layout is cat-approved.
Have no fear - The Model 01’s unique shape and layout is cat-approved.

 

Backup plans

As we also wrote in the last update, we haven't been sitting around waiting for the first wood supplier to deliver. From an initial list of more than 20 possible wood suppliers, we got quotations from about 10. Of those 10, we got samples made by three. Of those three, we've signed contracts with two and are waiting on an updated sample from the third.

Last month, we brought some Model 01s to the Northern California Mechanical Keyboard meetup.
Last month, we brought some Model 01s to the Northern California Mechanical Keyboard meetup.

 

Wood Factory A

The factory signed a contract with the first supplier (hereafter 'Wood Factory A') on November 9th. When the contract got signed, the supplier quoted a 21 day lead time for delivery of 1000 sets of enclosures. After contract signature, they delayed production of the "golden sample" by about two weeks for reasons we still don't understand. As of this Wednesday, they had finally begun mass production of the enclosures, but said that the work was going slower than they'd planned on and that we should expect delivery of 1000 sets of enclosures on December 22.

Enclosures from this factory will be marked 'A' somewhere on the inside. (You won't be able to see the markings without disassembling your keyboard.)

Our factory is pushing hard on Wood Factory A to explain and resolve the slowdown and is reaching out to their management team to try to get them to devote more resources so they can deliver sooner.

We suggested that our factory ask Wood Factory A if they could deliver half of the production run at least a week earlier. They said this should be very doable.

Wood Factory B

Contract negotiations with the second supplier (hereafter 'Wood Factory B') were a little bit more complicated. For reasons that we can't really get into, we ended up having to contract directly with Wood Factory B, rather than having our factory act as a pass-through. This isn't anybody's ideal scenario, but should be workable.

Talks with this supplier almost broke down over issues related to schedule and cost. At the point where we were pretty sure it wasn't going to work out, they took it upon themselves to FedEx overnight us the sample enclosures they'd made. They were nice. They were really nice. They were the nicest enclosures for the Model 01 we've ever seen.

We got the contract for Wood Factory B sorted out late on Thanksgiving night and wired a deposit to them the next day. They started preparing the materials for mass production this past Monday. Their lead-time estimate is 21 days, putting the delivery of their 1000 enclosures sometime in the December 19-21 range.

Enclosures from this factory will be marked 'B' somewhere on the inside. (You won't be able to see the markings without disassembling your keyboard.)

Our factory asked them if they'd be willing to deliver the first half of the order at least a week earlier and they agreed. 

Wood Factory C

We've been continuing to work with the third supplier (hereafter 'Wood Factory C'), but have not yet signed a contract with them. We've been really happy with the interaction with their team, as well as their communications and the attention they've payed to our design. Unfortunately, the first samples they sent us weren't at a quality standard we'd be willing to ship to a customer.

When we rejected the first samples and asked if they would try again, they told us that they were sorry they couldn't meet our needs and withdrew their bid. We wrote to them to ask what was going on and to see if we'd done something wrong. As it turned out, the issues were that they could no longer meet our initial deadline (because it was now only about 10 days out) and that their initial quotation was based on using less expensive production techniques that...just weren't very good.

They've made a new set of samples for us. We expect them to arrive on Monday or Tuesday. At this point, we don't expect that Wood Factory C will be making enclosures for any preordered keyboards, though if their quality is good enough, we'll likely have them make enclosures for some of the additional keyboards we're ordering for later sale.

If we end up contracting with them, enclosures from this factory will be marked 'C' somewhere on the inside. (You won't be able to see the markings without disassembling your keyboard.)

More wood factories

Our factory has also had a sample made by another supplier, Wood Factory D. We don't know what their price or lead time is (and haven't seen the sample), but we're hoping to get all that information soon.

We also reached out to an old friend we've worked with in Shenzhen previously. She's been working with two more factories (E and F, respectively) to get quotations and have samples made. We've seen photos of E's sample, though F is still working on theirs. We're pretty sure that E won't be workable.

MP1 Post-mortem 

Cats are also comfortable working with the Model 01 in a tented configuration.
Cats are also comfortable working with the Model 01 in a tented configuration.

 

 

On the whole, it sounds like those of you who have received keyboards have been enjoying them. As of now, the fastest typing speed we’ve heard of is 110 words per minute (up from that typist’s 80 words per minute on a MacBook keyboard.) If you can beat that, definitely, let us know.

When you ship any physical product, some percentage of the units that arrive in customer hands will be defective. This is true for just about everybody. As a general rule, the more complex your product is, the higher your failure rate will be. Moving parts, in particular, are prone to failure. (Google 'Butterfly Keyboard Defect' and you'll see that even the biggest computer makers in the field are not immune ;)

It’s relatively uncommon for manufacturers to publicly disclose defect rates, or even to disclose defects if they don’t absolutely have to. Customers or potential customers might misinterpret it as an admission that the product wasn’t well made and it might deter future sales.

Unsurprisingly, we think about things a little bit differently. We’ve decided, at least for this first mass production run, to publicly catalog the issues that have been reported to us. It’s an important part of what anybody shipping hardware goes through and we think you might find it interesting.

NOTE: If your Model 01 has any of the issues we describe below (or some other problem), please email help@keyboard.io. Kickstarter comments and forum posts aren't easy for us to use to track problems and it's really important that we 1) resolve the issue for you and 2) are able to keep an accurate count of the keyboards affected by a given problem.

Key chatter

The keyswitch factory added too much grease to some switches. This picture shows one of the electrical contacts from a misbehaving switch.
The keyswitch factory added too much grease to some switches. This picture shows one of the electrical contacts from a misbehaving switch.

By far, the biggest issue that we've been working with our MP1 customers with quiet switches to fix has been key chatter. Chatter manifests as duplicate keystrokes, even when you only press a key once. For example, a chattering "f" key might result in "f" "ff" or "fff" when pressed. Key chatter is often intermittent and is caused by the electrical contacts inside a switch making and breaking an electrical circuit repeatedly in a short period of time.

Many mechanical keyswitches may chatter a little bit as they're being pressed. Because of this, keyboard firmware often includes a feature called 'debouncing', which ignores changes to a key's state unless the state doesn't change for a relatively long period of time. In the case of our firmware, the default debounce period is about 4.5ms, which is roughly the amount of time our switch manufacturer recommends.

As of now, we’ve had reports of 48 quiet-click Model 01 keyboards with key chatter. This represents nearly 5% of the quiet click keyboards we’ve shipped. That number is unacceptably high. Both we and our suppliers take this very seriously and we are all working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future. We’re thankful that in most cases, the problem has been easy to resolve and that in every single case, the customer who ran into it was incredibly patient and understanding as we’ve helped them get sorted out.

In all but a handful of cases, we've been able to step the affected customers through an easy at-home resolution. In two cases, we've mailed replacement keyswitches to customers who wanted to replace the misbehaving switches at home. In about a half dozen cases, we've sent out replacement keyboards or replacement electronics to customers with recalcitrant switches.

It appears that in almost all cases, the problem was caused by excess lubricant applied by the keyswitch factory. As we dissected misbehaving switches, we found that the lubricant migrated from the plastic slider to the electrical contacts, trapping grit and causing unreliable connections when the affected key was pressed. We believe that the problem was exacerbated by our packaging vendor adding extra foam to the keyboard box. This extra foam pushed some keyswitches down part way during transport making it easier for dust to get inside them.

The factory has spoken with the packaging vendor and they’ve promised to correct the foam issue before the next production run.

The lubricant, which is only applied to the 'quiet' switches, is supposed to make the switches slide more smoothly, though after investigation neither we, nor the switch designer have been able to feel any difference at all between lubricated and unlubricated switches.

We've developed an at-home technique that resolve this issue for almost everybody. Because it's really, really important that we know who this is happening to, we've decided not to publish the technique for now.

If you're running into this problem, please email us at help@keyboard.io and we'll step you through the at-home solution. If that doesn't work, we'll get a replacement keyboard or replacement parts out to you ASAP.

The switch manufacturer has been helpful and proactive as we've been working through this issue. After we first diagnosed the potential cause, they had our factory send them about 2400 switches to evaluate. They took each of them apart and confirmed that the problem was that the lubricant was misapplied or overapplied. (It turns out that the lubricant is applied by hand during assembly.)

They offered to replace all unused quiet switches with newly manufactured unlubricated switches. We've asked them to go ahead and start manufacturing those new switches. They expect to begin deliveries in the middle of this month. Depending on on how things shake out, new switches may or may not arrive before the next batch of keyboards is manufactured.

Because almost all of the chattering switches we've seen can be easily repaired at home, we've decided NOT to delay manufacturing in the (relatively unlikely) event that we have enough enclosures before we have new keyswitches.

We have enhanced the Model 01's built-in 'test mode' to be very aggressive about detecting potential chatter issues and have started to train the factory to help them catch more of these issues on the assembly line.

If we end up producing more Model 01s with the old keyswitches and one of them is earmarked for you, we will contact you before it ships and give you the option of waiting for a keyboard with the new keyswitches.

Loose USB cable connections

Seven customers have reported loose-fitting USB cables. This is due to a CNC milling error by the wood factory. They didn't make the cutout for the USB jack quite big enough, which causes the wood to push the plastic cover for the USB jack out of alignment.

There are a few potential solutions for this issue. The simplest is to slightly loosen the bottom screws nearest the USB jack. In most cases, this relieves the pressure on the plastic USB jack cover and fixes the alignment. A slightly more advanced solution is to remove the left hand wooden enclosure and lightly sand or file down edge of the wood near the USB jack.

If your USB Type C cable feels loose and these solutions don't work for you (or you aren't comfortable trying them), please email us at help@keyboard.io and we'll figure out a solution that works for you.

Going forward, all the wood suppliers have been advised to verify the dimensions on the USB jack cutout of each enclosure they produce. At the same time, the factory's QC team has updated their procedures to reject any keyboard that shows an out of alignment USB jack.

Cracked or warped enclosures

So far, we've seen seven cracked wooden enclosures and 3-4 warped enclosures. Two enclosures were cracked coming out of the box. The rest cracked after several weeks of use. (As yet, nobody has told us about an enclosure that cracked due to a drop, though we're sure it must have happened.)

A few customers have reported that one half of their keyboard doesn't sit flat on a table. In the cases we've seen, this appears to be caused by the wooden enclosure warping and pulling the baseplate out of true.

If your Model 01's enclosure has cracked or warped, please email us. We have some replacements available, though we may recommend that you wait until after we have enclosures from the new batches on hand. If your enclosure cracked due to accidental or intentional damage, we may still be able to help you out. (We have a few unsaleable enclosures that may be better than what you have.)

These problems are something we expected and, at least as of now, the failure rate we've been seeing is not a huge worry. Some of the issues are likely caused by wood that hadn't been dried well enough before being milled, though some of it is just what happens when working with wood.

The factory has advised all of the wood suppliers of these issues and they've all vowed to be careful about drying and shrinkage going forward.

Warped stands

Somewhere on the order of a dozen customers have reported to us that one or both of their keyboard stands aren't perfectly flat on the bottom side. This is likely due to a slight misconfiguration of the injection molding machines used for producing the stands.

The factory has talked to the supplier who makes the stands and they've said they'll pay more attention as they produce the stands going forward. At the same time, the factory's QC team will check each stand on a sheet of glass (or some other perfectly flat equivalent) to make sure that the supplier is doing what they said they would.

If your stands seem to wobble on their own (without the keyboard attached), please email us so we have an accurate count of who needs replacements once we have them available.

USB Cables

Three customers have reported that the USB cables we've shipped them didn't work at all or didn't work with the Type C connector in a particular orientation. As far as we can tell, these were all due to defects in the cables. The factory has said that they'll push the cable supplier to do more thorough testing of each and every cable (which they were already supposed to be doing.)

If the cable that came with your Model 01 is wonky, please email us. We don't yet have replacements from the factory, but can figure something out for you (and would like to be able to report accurate numbers to them.)

Baseplate stand mounts and stand screws

We've had two reports of baseplates without screw threads on the threaded inserts for the stands. This is due to poor quality control at the factory that makes those inserts.

Our factory has pushed the supplier to pay a bit more attention to quality control and added explicit checks for those screw threads to their own quality check procedure.

At the same time, we've seen a few of the black screws used to attach the stands to the keyboard with...less than ideal milling or finishing. The factory says they've switched suppliers for this part going forward and will keep a close eye on the quality during assembly and test.

Cats find the Model 01’s split configuration useful and convenient.
Cats find the Model 01’s split configuration useful and convenient.

 

 

DOA Keyboards

Two almost completely non-functional keyboards were delivered to customers. In both cases, we believe that the issue was caused by a MIC2019-YM6 current limiting chip that, for some as-yet-undetermined reason, failed.

Since each and every keyboard went through a 72 hour burn-in test before leaving the factory, we don't know what happened. Nobody has, as yet, reported that a working keyboard has failed in a way that would indicate a problem with the MIC2019-YMC.

We've advised the factory of the issue, but are somewhat stumped about what went wrong here.

While we'd expect that anyone whose keyboard was DOA would have already contacted us, please email us at help@keyboard.io if yours is, so we can fix it.

Low quality milling around the thumb keys

In the last update, we talked about how a number of the enclosures the wood supplier sent us for the MP1 run had really, really poor edges around the thumb keys due to ham-fisted hand finishing work at the wood factory.

We've had about a half dozen reports of embarrassingly-bad edges around the thumb keys.

Going forward, we've made it very clear to the factory that we will reject any keyboard enclosure that has low quality edges.

If the milling around your keyboard's thumb keys is distractingly bad, please email us at help@keyboard.io to tell us, so we can get you fixed up and give the factory an accurate count of these issues. As with the cracked enclosures, we'd recommend waiting until we have new stock of enclosures before swapping yours out.

A weird LED issue

One customer reported that a block of the LEDs on the right side of his keyboard were misbehaving. We've swapped out his keyboard and suspect that this issue was caused by a bad solder joint, though haven't had spare cycles to dig into this yet.

If your LEDs are misbehaving, please email us at help@keyboard.io

Other minor issues

We've had one or two reports each of scratchy feeling keyswitches, non-clicking clicky keyswitches, missing screws on the stand, beaten up-looking screwdrivers, distractingly bad keycap paint jobs, and incomplete adhesive on the rubber feet for the stands.

We've advised the factory of these issues and they've said they'll update their procedures to make sure they don't happen again.

If your keyboard has any of these issues (or any issue we didn't mention above), please email us at help@keyboard.io.

Additional keycap sets 

We finally got our sample Linear A keycaps onto a keyboard
We finally got our sample Linear A keycaps onto a keyboard

 

The factory confirmed to us this week that the keycap injection molding factory has started work on the additional keycap sets. (This includes both the sets we've already promised to you and additional sets that we'll have for sale later.) After that, they'll be painted and engraved.

Once they're done, we're looking at having the keycap sets sent to you directly from China, rather than running through a fulfillment center in California. We've gotten some quotes from local vendors there and, after some initial miscommunication, they're...a lot more affordable than bringing everything to the US first.

Firmware and Software

Bart Nagel created a matrix-like ‘digital rain’ effect for the Model 01
Bart Nagel created a matrix-like ‘digital rain’ effect for the Model 01

 

The past month has seen a ton of forward progress on the Model 01's firmware. And there's a very good reason for that: We're very pleased to report that Algernon is now officially working for us part-time to make Kaleidoscope better.

You can read about what Algernon did in his first week here: https://asylum.madhouse-project.org/blog/2017/12/02/kaleidoscope-progress-report/

Generally, we've been fixing bugs and improving compatibility. The Numpad mode works much better than it did before, we've almost finished up support for 'Boot Protocol' mode, which will make the keyboard work correctly in your BIOS, as well as letting you type in your FileVault or BitLocker password at boot. We've put a bunch of effort into improving the Model 01's hidden test mode to help the factory catch more issues before keyboard roll off the assembly line.

Simon-Claudius Wystrach, James Cash and Algernon have been continuing to push Chrysalis (the GUI) toward release. Jesse's been working on a small cross-platform "recovery" GUI and flasher for folks who don't want to mess around with the Arduino IDE or command-line tools.

Documentation

For that past couple weeks, Jennifer Leigh has been writing and coordinating a heroic documentation effort for Kaleidoscope. You can see the fruits of her labor over on the wiki: https://github.com/keyboardio/Kaleidoscope/wiki

Community

Benji Shine has been experimenting with foam and alternate key layouts to find the most comfortable possible personal setup
Benji Shine has been experimenting with foam and alternate key layouts to find the most comfortable possible personal setup

 

https://community.keyboard.io has been active over the past few months. Folks have been sharing everything from thoughts on clever new mounting options for the Model 01 to new firmware plugins and LED effects to a friendly, reasoned discussion of the merits of various key layouts.

We’ll be continuing to post micro-updates to Twitter and as Kickstarter comments as we work toward getting the rest of your keyboards shipped. We’ll be traveling a bit over the holidays, but don’t expect that to have any significant impact on the schedule.

As always, if you have questions, feel free to drop us a note on Kickstarter or email us at team@keyboard.io.

<3 Jesse + Kaia

Day 868: A thousand steps forward...

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TL;DR: We've shipped 1000ish keyboards to backers; we expect to ship the rest in Q4, despite some supply chain issues.

Hello from Oakland!

It's been about five weeks since we last wrote. To say that the past month has been eventful would be a bit of an understatement. As of this week, we've now shipped about 1000 keyboards to Kickstarter backers. (If we shipped you a keyboard from MP1, you should have received a shipping notification from us last week.) We're working with the factory to get the rest of your keyboards built and shipped as quickly as possible.

On that note: If you’ve moved since July, please update your address in BackerKit (or email us at team@keyboard.io and we can update it for you)!

Shipping and fulfillment

Many of you have been refreshing FedEx's website a bunch lately. So have we.
Many of you have been refreshing FedEx's website a bunch lately. So have we.

To date, we've shipped out just over 1000 keyboards to backers. For a variety of reasons, we ended up not being able to fulfill keyboards in strict backer number order. This time around, the factory sent us 200 loud-click keyboards and 802 quiet-click keyboards. This was a little heavier on the 'loud' keyboards than we'd expected. At the same time, many of you backed us for a pair of keyboards. We decided that it didn't feel right for some of you to get two keyboards from the first mass production run, while far more of you got none. So, we decided that anybody who backed us for a pair would get a single keyboard from the first run. Nobody will get charged any extra shipping fees due to the split shipments.

 

If you backed us for two keyboards and chose to get both a loud and a quiet keyboard, we randomly selected which one you'd get from this run. (Fun fact: We had to run the random sorter about a dozen times before we got numbers of loud and quiet keyboards that matched the available inventory.)

 

As of now, we believe we've sent one keyboard to:

  • Anybody who backed us before midnight US/Eastern on the first day 
  • Anybody who backed us for a two-pack on Kickstarter 
  • Anybody who backed us for a single loud-click keyboard on Kickstarter 
  • Anybody who volunteered to help us test out the 'PVT' (pilot run) keyboards

We're working hard to get the rest of your keyboards produced and shipped as quickly as we can.

Visiting China

In the last update, we told you that Jesse was on his way to China to train up a new Quality Control contractor, since the previous one told us that he wasn't going to be able to spare any time for us.

The new contractor has been working out great so far. His process is a whole lot more rigorous than the old vendor. Jesse spent a full day with him working through 5% of the first 1000 units one by one, building a new quality standard. After that, he worked directly with our factory's QC team to re-audit all 1000 keyboards fixing a number of issues, mostly related to the quality of the wooden enclosures. At the end of each day, we got a report about what he'd found and worked together to figure out where to draw the line on "marginal" items.

One thing we discovered during the first day of QC testing was that the RJ45 cable vendor had made every cable 1cm longer than we'd specified, which made the keyboard a bit harder to put together than it ought to be. In the end, we decided to accept these cables for the first 1000 keyboards, but to require that they be fixed for future production runs.

There were also, still, a couple of small infelicities in the laser engraving for the MP1 keyboards. Our team from the factory took Jesse to the new laser engraving supplier's workshop and we spent a couple hours moving individual key labels by a millimeter or so until things looked the way we wanted them to. Overall, we really like the new laser engraving supplier. The engineers working there seem to take great pride in their work and seem to really know what they're doing. Changes that took an hour at the last supplier took minutes for these folks to sort out.

Our wood supplier

At some point, one of us remarked to someone that the wooden enclosures for the Model 01 had turned out to be less heartache than we'd expected. Well, we spoke a bit too soon.

The wood supplier we've been working with for more than two years has been having a really hard time meeting their commitments to us. The defect rates we've been seeing for the wooden enclosures have been really, really high. The factory has rejected between 50 and 80 percent of all enclosures delivered by the wood factory.

(We wish it weren't so, but we need to leave some detail out of this story for business reasons.)

Some of the issues are related to the wood itself. We don't allow knots with wood filler on visible surfaces of the keyboard. Similarly, "weird looking" discolorations on visible surfaces are something we've been pretty clear we can't ship to you. This is the sort of thing that is a straightforward consequence of using natural materials; both we and the factory expected a certain reject rate. That hasn't stopped the wood CNC factory from shipping those over.

Enclosures with visible wood filler like this one are something we can't ship to you.
Enclosures with visible wood filler like this one are something we can't ship to you.

 

The bigger quality issues are related to how the wood factory has been doing the 'finish' work on the enclosures. The factory found a large number of enclosures where the nice curved edge of the palmrest had been sanded to an angle. Worse, a bunch of enclosures looked like someone had dremeled the cutout around the thumb keys, leaving it pitted and uneven.

Once we'd come up with the new internal quality standard, the factory's QC went through and pulled out keyboards with enclosures exhibiting these issues. A few that Jesse personally thought weren't very noticeable got left in; otherwise we wouldn't have been able to ship even the 1000 keyboards we did ship. So far, we've had one backer report of something that should not have passed QC making it into the wild. (We'll be shipping that backer a replacement enclosure.)

It was pretty clear that there was a disconnect between what the wood supplier thought was acceptable quality and what we were willing to accept, so Jesse, along with a team from the factory, paid them a visit.

We spent the better part of the day with the factory boss and their sales guy working through every class of defect we'd found, trying to determine the cause of the issue and an acceptable mitigation or resolution.

When we asked why the production enclosures didn't match the 'golden sample' we signed off on last year, the sales guy told us that they were produced using a completely different process, by a different team, on different machines.

We asked them to walk us through the production process. That's when we found out the first 'fascinating' detail. They haven't been CNC machining both sides of our enclosure. They've only been CNCing the bottoms. Then, they've been applying the fillet (rounded edge) on the outside edge of the keyboard on a router table. After that, the enclosures get sent down the street to their finishing workshop.

A wooden enclosure we rejected due to uneven milling around the thumb keys.
A wooden enclosure we rejected due to uneven milling around the thumb keys.

 

At the finishing workshop, we found out why some of the thumb key areas looked like they'd been dremeled by hand.

The factory had been dremeling them by hand.

After that, we learned why it seemed like the fillet on the top of the keyboards sometimes ended sharply, almost like the tops of the enclosures had been sanded down too aggressively.

Examples of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" edges on enclosures, as picked by our QC contractor.
Examples of "acceptable" and "unacceptable" edges on enclosures, as picked by our QC contractor.

 

The wood shop was smoothing the enclosures' top surfaces on a giant belt sander, before they were sent to the next room to be sealed with polyurethane.

After the production tour, we returned to the wood shop's business office to talk through what we could do to reduce the defect rate and get the schedule back on track.

We proposed that they could rework enclosures that had over-sanded fillets by simply increasing the fillets on those units, so long as the two sides of a keyboard match. (After all, with the over-aggressive sanding, we'd already been shipping fillets that didn't match the design we sent them.) This doesn't impact the sturdiness of the keyboard and, if anything, a more aggressive fillet will be a little more comfortable.

For the keyboards with discolored wood, we proposed that they try a dark 'walnut' stain and that we would be willing to buy some quantity of those pieces from them, though we couldn't ship them to any of our pre-order customers as a "surprise".

For enclosures that were simply scratched, we suggested that they just refinish them.

The only things we said we absolutely couldn't accept under any circumstance were enclosures with visible wood filler or over-aggressive dremeling.

When we left, the boss of the factory had promised to get the second 1000 enclosures to the factory before the National Day holiday started on October 1 and to get the next 1000 enclosures to the factory by the middle of October. They promised to start milling new enclosures for the third batch of 1000 on October 4.

The proposed schedule

Before leaving China, Jesse discussed delivery dates with our factory. They made us promise not to share those dates with you unless we included a disclaimer along the lines of “This is the best possible scenario. If a supplier does not deliver on time or some other problem comes up, we will not be able to meet these dates.” In literature, they call that “foreshadowing.”

If everything had gone to plan, the second 1000 keyboards would have been ready for us by October 18 and the third 1000 should have been ready… now.

What actually happened

Everything did not go to plan.

On October 4, about 500 sets of enclosures showed up at our factory. The factory's QC team audited them, rejecting about half of them out of hand. As far as they could tell, they hadn't been reworked at all. About a week later, this happened again.

So we thought, "Hey, we've got 400+ good enclosures. That's something."

The wood shop promised to rework the rest and deliver them to our factory, along with an engineer to work with our factory's QC team about a week later.

Once again, they showed up with only a couple of hundred enclosures, most of which didn't meet the quality standard they'd agreed to, in writing, with our factory. When, at the same time, they reviewed the "good" enclosures in our factory's warehouse, they found that about half of them had unshippable defects.

For those keeping score, this was now about when we'd been promised the /third/ batch of 1000 enclosures. The factory sent someone out to the wood CNC factory's workshop to check on those new enclosures. It turns out there weren't any.

When pressed, the wood CNC shop told our factory that they'd changed their mind and that, due to the high defect rate, they wouldn't be taking the contract for the remaining 3000 enclosures, including 1000 of the units that were now overdue.

They did say that while they were committed to delivering the second 1000 enclosures, they didn't have a date on which they thought they would deliver them, just yet.

Our factory spent some time working with the wood factory and got them to say they'd honor the promise they'd made earlier to deliver at least the third 1000 sets of enclosures. (This is the part where we can't talk about some business details we really want to talk about.)

What happened next will amaze you.

Ok, fine, it probably won't amaze you, because this wouldn't be a Keyboardio backer update without multiple, cascading catastrophes.

The next day, our factory told us that the wood shop's finishing and painting operation had had a fire and would be out of commission for weeks. To the best of our knowledge, nobody was hurt.

We don't think they made this up.

Finally, this past Thursday, the wood factory told us that the finishing and painting workshop was going to be back in operation by this coming Monday and that we could sleep easy and should expect our 1000 sets of pristine-quality enclosures by "the middle of November."

(As an aside, it sounds like there's an opportunity for us to buy a gorgeous looking historic bridge between two of the boroughs of New York City. If we did a Kickstarter, would anyone want to get in on it?)

Plans B, C, and D

About two weeks ago, when we first found out that the wood factory hadn't been making the enclosures they'd promised to, we started a search for backup suppliers, reaching out to more than 20 other suppliers mostly in the Pearl River Delta area (near our factory) that looked like they might be a good fit.

We got quotes from 10 wood factories ourselves. Our factory found a few more suppliers and the folks who have been helping us with project management found another couple.

At this point, we have at least five potential suppliers who will finish samples of the enclosure for us this coming week. At the same time, the factory is working through site visits at each supplier, to make sure they appear to be on the up and up.

Most of the suppliers are within a few dollars of the original supplier in one direction or the other. Most of them have quoted a lead time of around 20 days for the first 1000 sets.

Our current plan is to place orders for 1000 sets of enclosures with two or three of these new suppliers. We'll ask each one to deliver their first 500 sets as soon as possible.

If the original factory somehow manages to deliver 1000 high-quality enclosures, we'll ship 'em. If the new suppliers deliver before the original factory, we'll ship those.

Once we have 1000 sets of good quality enclosures, the factory can turn a 1000 unit mass production run in 7-10 days. After that, third party QC will take a few days, then air shipment to the US for distribution should take somewhere between 5 and 8 days, depending on a bunch of factors.

Once it got to our fulfillment partner, this first mass production run took about two weeks to ship out. That’s a good deal longer than we’d expected or planned for. We're working on a few ways to try to cut this down and get things shipped out much faster than happened for MP1.

As soon as the factory has another set of 1000 good quality enclosures, they'll do another mass production run again. We believe that third set of 1000 keyboards will cover all existing pre-orders, possibly leaving us with a few units in stock to sell for immediate fulfillment.

After that third batch of 1000 keyboards gets shipped out by the factory, the factory will keep working on the remainder of our order: MP4, the fourth mass production run. (These are keyboards that nobody's bought yet.) We've come to terms with the fact that we won't have new keyboards in stock to sell on Black Friday this year.

We're well aware that we're poster children for Murphy's Law and that making the following assertion has a decent chance of invalidating it: As of today, we still believe that everybody who has pre-ordered a keyboard will get it before December 25, 2017.

Extra keycap sets

As we've mentioned before, all keyboards are shipping with QWERTY keycaps. Any extra keycap sets we owe you will ship later under separate cover. The factory says that the tooling for the packaging for the extra keycap sets has been completed, but we haven't seen samples or photos of it yet.

The factory really doesn't want to produce the 'extra' keycap sets until keyboard production is properly in hand.

To help control shipping costs and shorten timelines, we're looking at shipping your keycaps to you directly from the factory. As we know more, we'll definitely tell you.

The Keyboardio community forums

If you haven't already checked out our community forums, head on over to https://community.keyboard.io. There's plenty of interesting discussion about code, mounting options, keyboard layouts, and all sorts of other things.

 

What to do if you're having trouble with your Model 01

Generally the reports we've been getting from the field are overwhelmingly positive, though, as with any physical product, a few backers have received units that weren't as perfect as they should have been. We've been working with the factory to make sure that issues found with MP1 keyboards won't be repeated during MP2.

If your keyboard isn't behaving as you'd expect, please drop us a line at help@keyboard.io and we'll make it right.

Seeing us in person

We're taking part in the big Bay Area Mechanical Keyboard Meetup that's happening on November 11th in Palo Alto. There will be a lot of keyboards there, ours and others' and old rare ones, plus some talks and good times. The event is free, but requires advanced sign-up. Hope to see some of you there!

<3 j+k

Day 827: A surprise trip to Shenzhen to QC the first 1000 MP keyboards

22 likes

TL;DR: QC of the first 1000 keyboards starts tomorrow. They should be on a plane to the US by Monday; The wood factory is working on the second 1000 enclosures, but hasn’t promised a delivery date yet; Jesse’s in China for an unplanned trip to do QC; Bay Area meetup November 11th.

Hello from Oakland and Shenzhen,

(Right now, Jesse’s on the ground in Shenzhen for an unexpected factory visit. More on that later.)

When we wrote last month, we’d been pretty certain that keyboards for all Kickstarter backers would be on their way by now. That did not come to pass.

As of today, the factory has completed assembly of the first 1000 Model 01 keyboards. They’re currently going through a 72 hour burn-in test.

Why only 1000? Our wood factory was having trouble meeting their deliverables schedule, so we decided to split the Kickstarter manufacturing into two batches of 1000 units. The hope is to deliver as many high-quality Model 01s as we can, as soon as we can, even if that means they won't all be delivered at the same time.

Overall, the latest delay has primarily been due to quality issues with the wooden enclosures. As the factory checked the enclosures that had arrived from the wood CNC shop, they found a number of defects.

These defects ranged from discolored "spots", a few cracked pieces, mis-installed brass screw nuts, and several hundred pieces where the wood seemed to have been over-milled such that there was a big gap between the baseplate and the enclosure.

The wood factory is taking responsibility for the issues and has been working overtime to rework and replace the bad enclosures.

Obviously, we're pretty frustrated at the slowdown in production, but in the end we recognize that we'd much rather have caught these issues now rather than shipping out bad keyboards.

Now that the wood factory has delivered 1000 good enclosures, they’re working on the next 1000. After that, they’ll deliver another batch. Once those keyboards are built, we’ll be caught up on preordered keyboards.

There are a bunch of factors that will influence the order in which we send out keyboards, but one important one is the BackerKit survey. If you have not yet filled out the survey confirming your address, you should do that. If you didn’t get the survey, please write us at founders@keyboard.io.

Inspection

Typically, the way pre-shipping quality inspection for a consumer item works is that a third-party inspector does a spot check of a small number of randomly selected units from the upcoming shipment. (This is in addition to controls the factory has implemented internally.) If no serious issues are found, the shipment goes out the door.

We were not terribly happy with some of the quality issues that made it out the door on PVT keyboards. Since then, we’ve been working with the factory to help them figure out process improvements to reduce or eliminate the kinds of issues we saw. We've also been beefing up our documentation of the quality standard and test procedures.

The factory does significant testing as part of the assembly process. At the same time, we decided that we’re going to do a relatively expensive "100% check" of at least the first few hundred units in the first mass production run. Based on the results of that check, we’ll decided whether to continue with the 100% check or back down to random sampling.

When we contacted our third party QC firm a week ago to schedule their inspection of the first 1000 keyboards, they told us that they might have one day for us next weekend, but are otherwise unavailable. They also told us that they won’t be available for most of October.

That was... unexpected and somewhat disappointing.

Since then, we’ve been scrambling to find a replacement quality inspection firm. If the Model 01 were a ‘regular’ keyboard, we’d be comfortable letting a QC firm use their standard quality check procedures without any special training. But the Model 01 is not a regular keyboard.

Since the quality inspectors Jesse trained to check the Model 01 aren’t around, we didn’t see any other option than to put Jesse on a plane to Shenzhen. On Wednesday Jesse will start the quality inspection, along with a freelance quality inspector recommended by a friend of ours as a sort of trial run. At the same time, we’re continuing to talk to a few other options to see if one of them might be a better fit.

Keycap sets

While in Shenzhen, Jesse should be approving the plastic packaging for the ‘extra’ keycap sets. If the packaging looks right, the tooling to produce it will take about two weeks. There’s a decent chance that the extra keycap sets will ship with some keyboards, but we’re pretty sure that we’re going to end up shipping some Model 01s to customers and then shipping your extra keycap sets as a followup as soon as they’re available.

Box of crap

If things go well with the factory, Jesse may have a few days in Shenzhen to do another run of our “box of crap from Shenzhen” project. If you think you might want a box of crap from Shenzhen, keep an eye on http://twitter.com/keyboardio. We may try shipping everything to ourselves in California and doing fulfillment from the US time around.

Bay Area Meetup

We're taking part in the big Bay Area Mechanical Keyboard Meetup that's happening on November 11th in Palo Alto. There will be a lot of keyboards there, ours and others' and old rare ones, plus some talks and good times. The event is free, but requires advanced sign-up. Hope to see some of you there!

<3 j+k