Updates

July 2021 – Nue Shipping & more!

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Nue will start shipping to group buy participants in the next week or so! I’m very happy with the the quality of the units that were produced, from the color, to the machining and polish of the brass, and I hope you will enjoy using it as much as I do.

When you receive your units, please inspect for any issues that might have been caused due to shipping. Although I put great care in the packaging, there may be a chance that something could happen during transit. So, please contact me via email or discord before you build your Nue. I won’t accept exchanges if your unit has already been built.

Once everyone has received their units and some time has passed for the exchange period, I will start the extras sale. I don’t know when this will happen and what the sales format will be, so please stay tuned.

Project Toblerone

Prototype has been received and I’ve been testing it over the past couple weeks. I’m excited to share more after Nue fulfillment, and hope to get the interest check done this summer.

Project Varanus

Changes have been made to the top and plate and will undergo another round of prototyping.

PCB Projects

I don’t normally do CAD or PCB design commissions, but I make exceptions for people I’m close with. In addition to Cascade (60% variable hot-swap), I am working on a 75% hotswap PCB for RNDKBD’s PLA75. I am also prototyping a second round of PCBs for Nascent, and a secrit full-size project as well. More to come!

June 2021 – Project Updates

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Nue

Cases have finished anodizing and are waiting to be assembled, packed and shipped out. The backup in logistics is about a week and a half (as of today), so I’m expecting them to start shipping by the end of the month. Carrying bags are still on a boat as well. Beyond that, everything else is ready. PCBs, plates and accessories (screws, bumpons, foam etc) have all been QC’d and packaged. The current expected ship date is now sometime in July which is still within the original estimate.

I appreciate everyone’s patience and trust. For those of us that have participated in group-buys in the past, waiting is the least enjoyable aspect. I try to be as transparent as I can with my monthly updates, and as we get closer to delivery and fulfillment, I will be providing weekly updates (probably just in the discord server).

Project Toblerone

PCB prototypes have arrived, and case prototype should ship by the end of the month. Firmware has already been written alongside local VIA support.

I noticed a lot of FRL1800 boards pop up in IC lately, but I’m still really happy with how the design for Toblerone (*note: not real name) turned out. I hope there are some folks out there that will too 🙂

I’ve been trying to think of some fun ways to promote the board, for example guessing the real name of the board will win a GB spot. And the prototype will be sent out to someone for early review as well. However, I want to stress that nothing will be promoted externally until the initial Nue group buy orders are fulfilled.

Project Varanus

I have received prototypes from the vendor and while it looks pretty nice, the typing feel leaves much to be desired. I will be revising the mounting points and working on another round of prototypes.

Cascade

PCBs were QC’d by me before being handed off to Andy @ RNDKBD to fulfill alongside PLA60 kits. He may or may not have extras to sell, I would keep up on his discord server if you’re looking to snag one separately. If there is further demand, I may decide to open up orders group-buy style so folks can buy the PCB on its own.

May 2021 – Project Updates

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Nue

Last month I communicated that the cases would be delayed – that no longer seems to be the case as the CNC factory has been able to ramp up production. All units have finished machining and are now awaiting anodization. Final color samples have been sent to me and should proceed quickly after approval.

Aside from the cases, PCBs have all arrived and I have flashed and tested a few of them to make sure they are working properly. Carrying cases have shipped and should arrive in a couple weeks, QC cards are being designed and printed, and final packaging components are being ordered. We are on track for a late June delivery if all things continue to go well!

Project Delta

I have made the decision to shelve this design for now. I’m not satisfied with it in its current state, and with so many more interesting TKLs releasing this summer (F2 & Frog by Geon, Cloudline by Ustinj, RBB by zekk.works) I think Delta can wait a little longer. Thank you to everyone that expressed interest – Delta will be back soon.

Project Toblerone

I started playing around with the idea of an FRL (f-rowless) 1800 around the end of February this year, and I’m really happy with how it turned out! It’s a seamless design with no external screws. Case and PCB prototypes have been ordered and I hope to share more soon!

Cascade

Cascade hotswap PCBs are in production and should arrive to me by the end of the month. There will be an allocation of units for the PLA60, and the remainder may be sold individually – nothing sorted out with RNDKBD yet. I will make an announcement on the discord server once they are available.

April 2021: Project Updates

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Nue

Not so great news this month – aluminum case production has been pushed back and may see a delay of 4-8 weeks. There was some miscommunication between myself and the factories – last month, I was in the machining queue, not the actual process. Due to the spike in the hobby, there has been a massive backlog of work for the manufacturer to get through.

On a positive note though, I’ve been told Nue will finally start machining next week, and more anodization samples will be sent for my approval soon. PCBs, daughterboards, and plates have been finished and are shipping to me this month, and carrying cases are still in production with no hiccups so far.

Project Delta

I am currently finding a new factory to prototype Delta and another unspecified project, due to delays with my current manufacturer. Stay tuned.

Cascade

Cascade is a universal 60% PCB that I designed for friend and local vendor RNDKBD.com. It’s a hotswap PCB that supports multiple layouts, currently available for pre-order alongside the PLA60, which is a great budget gasket keyboard that sounds really nice, check it out! More information about Cascade can be found here.

Project Varanus

Prototypes are in the hands of the vendor and will undergo testing this month.

March 2021: Project Updates

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Nue

Production is underway! Cases are being machined, PCBs, carrying cases and microfiber cloths have been ordered, and gaskets and case foam have already arrived! Color anodizing samples for Light Rose have been sent to me, and long story short I’m still not satisfied with the coloring. Another sample will be requested and re-sent for my approval before we move into the anodization phase, which luckily is still a few months away.

Project Delta

This is the next project I’m hoping to run after Nue. It’s a TKL and the goal is to provide a plateless typing experience while still being able to accommodate most off-the-shelf PCBs such as the H87c. Design is being re-worked and will be prototyped next month.

Project Varanus

This is a 660 layout design that I’m working on with a vendor. Prototypes are being machined this month and will be ready soon. Hope to share more when we’re ready!

February 2021: Post-Raffle Thoughts, Production Commencement

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The raffle for Nue has concluded and all invoices have been paid for. The final variant breakdown is:

  • 15% Light Rose Winkey
  • 30% Light Rose Winkeyless
  • 20% Slate Blue Winkey
  • 35% Slate Blue Winkeyless

Extras will be ordered in proportion to the breakdown above. I’m hoping that the quality control coming from the manufacturer will be good, and that I can make most of these available as in-stock extras after group-buy fulfillment.

I’d like to address the raffle briefly. There were 873 total raffle entries. 42 were flagged as duplicate entries and removed. That’s still 831 entries for a 60 spot raffle. I had no idea the amount of attention Nue would receive. I owe a lot of the success to alexotos for reviewing the proto and providing his feedback on the board. If you haven’t, please check out his twitch for wholesome keyboard content.

I know that a lot of people are disappointed that they didn’t win the raffle. I hear you and I want to share my designs with everyone who wants one. But Nue is my first group-buy and I want it to go smoothly, understand the complex logistics of managing a group-buy, and eventually ramp up to larger releases. Frankly, I am surprised that people have not been deterred by the fact that this is my first group buy. This means a lot of trust has been placed in me and I intend to do my best to make Nue a success.

There will be a R2. When? I don’t know. I want to focus on the success of the first round before even thinking about the second. But I have some ideas in mind, like collaborating with artists on a new engraving design (for those that don’t know, I didn’t design the back engraving for Nue, it was licensed). But the first round needs to be a success in order for there to be a second, we’ve all seen group buys fail and I don’t want to be one of them.

I will be contacting manufacturers to start production of all parts soon. As the majority of the factories are in China and they happen to be celebrating the Chinese New Year holiday this month, production will be slightly delayed. I’ve accounted for this in my original shipping estimate of June-July 2021.

Thank you to everyone that supported me in this release, it means a lot to see Nue finally make it to group-buy. Take care and I’ll be back next month with another update!

January 2021: Nue Group Buy Details

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The group buy for Nue is live! RAFFLE LINK

Details

Countdown: Link

Date/TimeJan 29 2021 10AM to 10PM EST
Format12 hr Raffle
Number of Units60
Price$450 CAD (approx $350 USD) + shipping
ColorsLight Rose/Slate Blue
TopsWK/WKL
ExtrasPCB, gaskets, FR4 plate
  • One entry per household. All duplicate entries will be removed.
  • Raffle will be open for 12 hours. After that, winners will be selected and invoiced via email.
  • You will have 24 hours to pay your invoice. After that, winners will be re-drawn.
  • Please only enter if you are genuinely interested in purchasing the Nue. If you are entering just for “fun”, it’s unfair to those who really want one, and unpaid invoices really suck.

Questions? Please send me an email support@studiokestra.ca, shoot me a DM on discord kbye#8963 or join the discord server here.

December 2020: Preparing for Group-Buy

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It’s been a while since the last update!

The 2nd prototype arrived a week ago, alongside a revised rose gold top. I’ve finished my testing and there are only a few minor things I will change for production. One more color chip containing yet another anodized rose gold color has been ordered before I can finalize the colorway. Rose gold is always the trickiest color to nail and I want to make sure I get it perfect before going into group-buy.

I also ordered a polished brass accent this time around, just to see how it would look. I think I’ll add this to the final IC form for GB participants to decide, because I really like both options so it would just be up to whoever is interested in receiving one of these boards.

The 2nd prototype will be built on Twitch by one of my favorite keyboard streamers, announcement to come in the New Year. Happy holidays everyone and stay safe!

October 2020: PCB Testing, Second Case Prototype Changes

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Testing of the 2nd PCB prototype is underway which features a 1.2mm thickness and modified leaf-spring style cuts on the tabs.

Typing experience is much better than R1 since the lack of full-row flex cuts prevent the whole rows of keys from bouncing around too much, (something you normally wouldn’t experience with a full/half plate). At the same time, the gaskets allow for a soft bottom out and the thin PCB provides a firm but flexible feel.

IC Feedback

  • Some people have asked about whether the side tabs are really necessary since you never see side mounts on plate designs. Without them, the modifiers don’t have as much support and the typing force feels very uneven, especially with gasket mount. So yes, they are necessary.
  • In-switch LEDs: at this time I won’t be adding them in just to keep things simple. If I decide to run another round, it will be included
  • Split-spacebars: it would require a PCB re-design so unfortunately that is also out of the picture for this round
  • Lighter rose gold color: the first prototype was a custom pantone that the factory had never worked with before so color matching was a challenge. Adjustments are being made to a more reproducible, lighter rose gold color.
  • Only 20% polled like HHKB so unfortunately that is out of the picture
  • Green PCB: sorry but it will be black.
  • Polycarb case: maybe for R2!

Next Steps

2nd case proto has been ordered with a couple changes:

  • Removed the text logo at the back based on feedback
  • Slightly increased the space between PCB and case to provide more room to flex
  • Added alignment tabs for the brass accent piece
  • Polished brass just to see if I like it
  • Changed the rose anodization color to a lighter one

Updated to-do:

  • Sound test
  • Design and order custom packaging (samples in transit)
  • Look into reasonable intl shipping costs (30% of IC is outside North America!)
  • Prepare for GB – hoping for 2020 but we’ll see

In the final stages of the group-buy, hopefully everything goes well and we can be on track for a December release.

-kbye

Website Launch

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Welcome to my new website for my design projects, studiokestra.ca. Here I plan to provide project updates, design resources for released boards, as well as a future storefront for group buys.

My mechanical keyboard hobby started in 2011, when I had just graduated university and my girlfriend gifted me a Razer Black Widow Ultimate. I never really got into customs until 2017, when I purchased a Filco keyboard and “modded” it with a crappy set of laser printed ABS keycaps. I’ve been hooked since then, and now my interest has turned to designing and creating my own keyboards.

All of my group buys will ship from Canada. As many from the CMK community know, buying in USD sucks for us. I hope that myself along with the many Canadian vendors can help bring some cool stuff to market that is attainable and doesn’t break the bank for Canadians.

Thanks for reading, take care and expect some cool things in the future!

– kbye