I always seem to be exploring a new hobby. Whether it digital/electronic or more offline, I love learning new things. My latest adventure has brought me to an intersection of my enjoyment of building physical things and programming. I’ve been lightly interested in exploring mechanical keyboards for a few years, occasionally glancing into the r/MechanicalKeyboards sub-Reddit, but I finally decided to pull the trigger and buy one a little over a week ago. I did some research on all kinds of boards, but I ultimately decide to just buy a cheap one to give it a try first.
It seemed like Amazon was taking forever to deliver it. (Mainly because I’m impatient.) But my new ACGAM AG6X finally arrived. It’s a fairly solidly built board for it’s reasonable ~$45 price tag. Nothing super fancy. Plain white backlighting, only one choice of switch type, and plain black keys. I had a few hiccups that are mainly related to my use of macOS, which isn’t widely supported by the companion software provided with most boards. I highly suggest at least having access to a Windows machine, as the companion software allows you to remap the keys. The main downside to not using Windows is that the macros you set in the companion software are not saved to the board, thus they only work on Windows. As side from the OS related issues, it’s a great board for the price point. I’m still surprised how solid the construction feels. It was enough to make me want more. I really wanted to explore the world of macros. After some more research, I decided that I wanted a board (or keeb as the cool kids call them) that would run the QMK firmware.
I headed over to MechanicalKeyboards.com to order my new board. I decided on a KBParadise V60 Type R Polestar… yes, it’s a mouthful. I have jokingly called it the keyboard with all the names. It’s been great so far. It’s a bit fancier than the AG6X, as the V60 has RGB LED underglow lighting. I’ve also had fun poking around at QMK and setting up custom layouts for my board. Plus, I’ve gotten to explore macros. I’ve set up macros for everything from a full HTML boilerplate to ASCII art. It’s really interesting to have this base level of customization just built into the board automatically no matter which device I connect it to, as all the info is store on the keyboard. Need to whip up a quick HTML page on the go? Just plug it into whichever device is closest (even an iPad or iPhone), and in just a couple keystrokes, I can output a full HTML boilerplate. Need a basic jQuery onDomReady statement? Just another keystroke. Maybe I need a ROFL Copter? Yep, I can program that in too. The customization possibilities are virtually endless.
And speaking of customization, you can really make these keyboards your own. With tons of different color options for keycap sets plus artisan keycaps, your board can really be a reflection of you personality. As my other half put it, “it basically a charm bracelet for geeks.” I’ve picked up a couple cool 3D printed caps from Shapeways, and I’ve got a few Artisan made caps on the way too.
I’m sure I’ll be sharing more, as I dive into this ever growing industry of “keebs”. With everything from pre-built boards to hand wired custom made boards, it seems like it’s a hobby you can get really deep in. I’ll leave you with a glamor shot of one of my new caps that’s on its way.