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Product Knowhow

A beginner’s guide to keyboard modding – and why everyone needs the Das Keyboard

My keyboard is by far my most important working tool. So of course, I wasn’t ready to settle for the first keyboard I tried. What may not be as evident is the fact that I’m not necessarily happy with expensive stuff. This is the story of how I managed to get more performance out of a gaming keyboard.

On my first day at digitec, I was met with a keyboard that I instantly knew wouldn’t be my friend. It’s not that the Logitech K120 does anything wrong, as such. If you want a keyboard that works, withstands a fair bit and isn’t unnecessarily taxing on your wallet, this is one of your best bets. I even use one for my server system at home where I only have to enter something once every few leap years. So why not do it using remote access?

Keyboard K120 for Business (USB, CH, Cable)
CHF 19.–
Logitech Keyboard K120 for Business (USB, CH, Cable)
A USB keyboard for frequent writers seeking a comfortable typing experience.
43

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 14:30
  • Geneva: only 1 piece(s)
  • Kriens: only 1 piece(s)
  • Lausanne: only 1 piece(s)
  • St Gallen: only 1 piece(s)
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Wohlen: only 2 piece(s)
  • Zurich: 7 piece(s)

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

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But I want more from a work keyboard that I use to write articles, instant message and all the other things you do with a keyboard. I want an exact pressure point. I want keys that are the perfect distance apart. I also want a bit of clickety-clack when I type.

That’s why I tried out the Das Keyboard.

4 Ultimate (USB, EU, Cable, MX-Brown)
CHF 189.–
Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate (USB, EU, Cable, MX-Brown)
A blank high-end keyboard with a premium finish, gold contacts and Cherry MX Brown switches.
11

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  • approx. 2–3 weeks
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

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The problem was the keyboard was simply too loud. My colleagues in the editorial team weren’t so keen on the noise that emerged when I put my fingers on the keys. Something quieter then became a must. Product manager Yves Sahli recommended I try the Corsair Strafe RGB Silent.

Gaming STRAFE RGB SILENT (USB, CH, Cable, MX-Silent)
CHF 189.–
Corsair Gaming STRAFE RGB SILENT (USB, CH, Cable, MX-Silent)
Cherry MX Silent key switches
18

Availability

Mail delivery

  • only 4 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 14:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Kriens: tomorrow at 11:20
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 15:40
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 15:30
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

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Although the keyboard passed the test, I had already fallen in love with the idea of unmarked keys at the time of testing. The reason being that I thought I typed blind and didn’t look down at the keyboard any more. And yet I kept doing just that – something that cost me valuable time. If there isn’t anything on the keys, there is nothing to look at. As a result, I don’t look down any more and have become a lot quicker at firing out articles.

The solution: keycaps

I took advantage of a feature specific to mechanical keyboards, namely that all the keys work independently of each other. In other words, the keyboard has over 100 component parts for the keys alone. Each key consists of two parts:

  1. Switch
  2. Keycap

Broadly speaking, the switch is the part that sends the signal from the keyboard to the computer and in doing so creates the letter on the screen. The keycap, on the other hand, is just a cover that you press on. All the caps can be removed and changed. Now this is where the fun really begins.

You can buy keycaps from our shop or browse elsewhere.

King Mod Metal Keycaps-Set innere Tasten unbeschriftet, silber
CHF 87.30
King Mod Metal Keycaps-Set innere Tasten unbeschriftet, silber
35 unbeschriftete innere Tasten für das DE / UK Layout.

Availability

  • approx. 2–3 weeks
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

If ordered immediately.
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King Mod Metal Keycaps-Set innere Tasten unbeschriftet, silber
CHF 87.30
King Mod Metal Keycaps-Set innere Tasten unbeschriftet, silber
34 unbeschriftete innere Tasten für das US-Layout.

Availability

  • approx. 2–3 weeks
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

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There is one thing to bear in mind when changing keycaps. Like any other standard-size Swiss keyboard, the Strafe RGB Silent has 105 keys. But what sets this keyboard apart is the length of the spacebar. On the Strafe RGB Silent it is 6.25x. This means the spacebar is the length of 6.25 normal keys. It’s easy to count this yourself.

The spacebar is the length of 6.25 keys

If you want black keycaps, I’d recommend MaxKeyboard.

How to remove keycaps

Handy hints: You’re best to start with the keys F and J. This is where the knobs are located for blind typing and aligning your hands. I also suggest taking a photo of your keyboard before you replace the keys so that you know where everything goes – even if you’re attaching black caps.

In this DIY project, as with all such ventures, there are at least two possible methods. To remove keycaps you can use a

  1. Pocket knife
  2. Keycap remover.

The pocket knife is the more primitive method. At a pinch, a screwdriver or something similar would work, too. Although you can remove keycaps in a way that is more elegant and appealing to the eye, the pocket knife method does work. Simply slide the flat part under the key and gently push upwards. The key will come away. Then repeat for the remainder of the keys.

A pocket knife gets the job done

No matter how carefully you work, the pocket knife is the most crude way to remove a keycap. I would advise against it, unless you have a feel for it. If you are looking for a more gentle and sensible method, I’d recommend using a keycap remover.

King Mod Keycap Remover – black
CHF 9.–
King Mod Keycap Remover – black
4

Availability

Mail delivery

  • 7 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 14:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Kriens: tomorrow at 11:20
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 15:40
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 15:30
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

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Here’s how it works. Slide the clasps under the key, pull up and voilà. Do that 105 times and you’re sorted.

Keycap removers come in different shapes and sizes

Then just press the keycaps on and you’ll be left with something like this.

The Strafe RGB Silent with some inspiration from the Das Keyboard

Your keyboard should now look like a clone of the Das Keyboard. You may notice that my arrow keys and spacebar are still the ones from the Strafe RGB Silent. This is because a) I’m sometimes a bit lazy and b) the keys don’t particularly give any visual clues. So in the end, I decided to just leave them.

More about the Das Keyboard

Let me take you back to the Das Keyboard that I initially tested (what may seem like many moons ago) in this article. I bought the keyboard from digitec because I didn’t want to live a day more without that bit of kit. Honestly. You want a Das Keyboard, too. Perhaps you just don’t know it yet.

In any case, back at home, the machine gun-style clickety-clack typing I mentioned earlier didn’t annoy anyone. But I was still determined to find a way to make the keyboard quieter. That’s when O-rings came to the rescue.

King Mod Noise Dampener for Cherry MX Switches – 125 pieces
CHF 15.–
King Mod Noise Dampener for Cherry MX Switches – 125 pieces
3

Availability

Mail delivery

  • approx. 2–3 weeks

Collection

  • Basel: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • Bern: approx. 2 weeks
  • Dietikon: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • Geneva: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • Kriens: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • Lausanne: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • St Gallen: approx. 2–3 weeks
  • Winterthur: approx. 2 weeks
  • Wohlen: approx. 2 weeks
  • Zurich: approx. 2 weeks

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Noise Dampener for Cherry MX Switches – 125 pieces
CHF 17.–
Noise Dampener for Cherry MX Switches – 125 pieces
2

Availability

  • approx. 2–3 weeks
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

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O-rings are rubber rings that you attach under the keycaps. To do that, you remove the keycap, place on the O-ring and put the keycap back on the keyboard. You then have to press the key firmly a few times or give it a bit of a bash to get the O-ring to sit in place. You won’t notice when you look at the keyboard but you will hear the difference. The keyboard is noticeably quieter – even the Das Keyboard becomes bearable.

Can you see the black O-ring?

Now you’re all set and ready to go. If you want to type faster, you’re better with black keys. If you want to type more quietly, I’d recommend either the Strafe RGB Silent or O-rings. Happy typing.

Update: 15 May 2017

User spl4tt posted the following picture of his keyboard in the comments. I was so impressed I had to add this update. He started out with a Corsair K70 Rapidfire keyboard and modded it with transparent key caps from MaxKeyboard.

Gaming K70 RAPIDFIRE (USB, CH, Cable, MX-Speed)
CHF 139.–
Corsair Gaming K70 RAPIDFIRE (USB, CH, Cable, MX-Speed)
Die K70 RAPIDIFRE verfügt über 100% Cherry-MX-Speed-Schalter für die schnellste mechanische Tastaturleistung der Welt.
13

Availability

Mail delivery

  • more than 10 piece(s)
    in our warehouse

PickMup

Collection

  • Basel: tomorrow at 13:10
  • Bern: tomorrow at 12:45
  • Dietikon: tomorrow at 14:30
  • Geneva: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Kriens: tomorrow at 11:20
  • Lausanne: tomorrow at 15:40
  • St Gallen: tomorrow at 15:30
  • Winterthur: tomorrow at 13:30
  • Wohlen: tomorrow at 11:00
  • Zurich: tomorrow at 12:30

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Carcharoth modded the Das Keyboard Model S Ultimate Silent Edition with MX Brown Keys featuring a Panic Button and Nyan Cat.

4 Ultimate (USB, EU, Cable, MX-Brown)
CHF 189.–
Das Keyboard 4 Ultimate (USB, EU, Cable, MX-Brown)
A blank high-end keyboard with a premium finish, gold contacts and Cherry MX Brown switches.
11

Availability

  • approx. 2–3 weeks
    Currently > 5 piece(s) in stock at the supplier

If ordered immediately.
Information subject to change.

View details

Here’s an idea. You add photos of your own keyboard in the comments and I’ll make a bit of gallery here. What do you reckon? Are you in?

User

Dominik Bärlocher

Journalist. Author. Hacker. My subjects generally revolve around Android or Apple’s iOS. I also feel strongly about IT security. In this day and age, privacy is no longer a minor matter but a strategy for survival.

38 comments

User carcharoth

Wie kannst du nur nen Artikel über die Austauschbarkeit von Keycaps machen und dann so Sachen wie "Novelty Keyboard Caps" vergessen?

Geht z.B. nix über Nyan Cat :)
i.imgur.com/xOsgwjY.jpg
i.imgur.com/fh390EA.jpg

13.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Wenn das deine Tastatur ist, dann bist du mein Held des Tages. Die ist ja zu gut.

15.05.2017
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User ivoborer

Es gibt auch eine hervorragende Seite, die ganz spezielle Keycaps verkaufen. Die Seite ist: massdrop.com/mechanical-key.... Sie verkaufen nicht nur Keycaps sondern auch Tastaturen.

15.05.2017
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User carcharoth

Dominik, yep, ist meine. Gibt immer wieder merkwürdige Blicke von Mitarbeitern. *g*

15.05.2017
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User impagkralik

Nasty

15.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Carcharoth: Wenn du mir jetzt noch sagst, worauf du die Caps gesetzt hast, dann mach ich ein Update im Artikel.

15.05.2017
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User Sascha88

Beim Bild mit dem Sackmesser wurde mir etwas übel

15.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Wäre ein flacher Schraubenzieher besser?

Aber du hast Recht. Sackmesser funktioniert zwar, ich rate aber davon ab.

15.05.2017
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User Sascha88

neee das richtige werkzeug hast du ja noch gezeigt:) der wire keycap puller ist mein favorit:)

15.05.2017
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User joestew77

Aber leider gibt es bei Digitec immer noch keine Wire Keycap Puller im Sortiment, schade... Naja, hab jetzt trotzdem welche =)

15.05.2017
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User yannkra21

Auch der Plastik Key-Puller ist nicht gut, da dieser die Keycaps verkratzen kann. Gleiches gilt für die Metallischen Werkzeuge (Schraubenzieher, jegliche Messer, etc).
Entweder der professionelle Keycappuller mit den doppel Metall Schleifen, den du noch in einem Bild gezeigt hast oder eine verbogene Büroklammer

17.05.2017
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User Justretry31

Mit einer nicht beschrifteten Tastatur wäre ich voll aufgeschmissen. Aber toller Beitrag

15.05.2017
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User yannkra21

Es gibt auch Sideprinting auch genannt Ninjaprinting
Dabei ist die Schrift auf der Vorderseite
google.ch/search?q=keycaps+...:

17.05.2017
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User riocrioc

erstens mal: reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyb...

zweitens, muss dann schon erwähnt sein dass die meisten Corsair, Logitech und Razer (und ein paar andere) Keyboards keine standard Tastengrössen haben auf der untersten Reihe und daher beim kauf neuer Caps darauf geachtet werden muss.

15.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Habe ich da einfach Glück gehabt? Weil das war so ein Thema mit dem ich mich recht auseinandergesetzt habe, bevor ich mir KeyCaps geholt habe. Am Ende war dann der Gedanke "6.25 und gut ist" und das hat easy geklappt.

15.05.2017
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User yannkra21

Logitech hat eigene Keycap Standards, also nicht das Kreuz. Gilt aber nicht für alle.
Die mit dem Kreuz kommen von Cherry, nun gibt es einige Konkurenzprodukte aus China...

Logitech:
google.ch/search?q=logitech...:

Cherry:
google.ch/search?biw=1680&b...

17.05.2017
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User Enlo

Interessant dass die 6.25 so schön passte, auf der MaxKeyboard Seite wird das Corsair Strafe mit 6.5 angegeben.
maxkeyboard.com/mechanical-...

19.06.2017
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User aazimm

Bitte mehr!
Mein Traum ist es, die all das Tastaturzubehör nicht mehr in der USA bestellen zu müssen. Also bitte mehr Keycaps, Keyboards, Switches, Boards, ALLES :)
Ausserdem, schaut euch mal das Ducky Pocket an - das wäre doch mal was fürs Sortiment :)

15.05.2017
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User ivoborer

Da hast du Recht alles was man über Keycaps und sonstiges findet kann man in der USA oder im Fernen Osten bestellen (Asien).

15.05.2017
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User Spl4tt

Ich hab die Schwarz-transparenten Tasten von MaxKeyboard im Einsatz bei einer K70 Rapidfire: imgur.com/a/u83Cj
Die MX-Speeds sind übrigens einfach genial.

15.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Ich bin beeindruckt. So beeindruckt, dass ich meinen Artikel mal kurz upgedatet habe. Danke für das Bild.

Wenn andere User auch noch ihre Tastaturen zeigen wollen: Her damit!

15.05.2017
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User Sascha88

imgur.com/a/AsJfI bilder vom keyboard meetup in zürich lezter Monat, sind auch ein paar boards von mir dabei :)

15.05.2017
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User Fabio_28

Wenn es solche Keycaps hätte wie die von Corsair aber in weiss, würde ich es direkt kaufen

16.05.2017
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User yannkra21

Von China importieren (Google ist dein Freund)
oder für spezielleres WASDKeyboards (wasdkeyboards.com)

17.05.2017
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User duerstsool1

Die einzig wahre Tastatur ist diese hier:
unicomp.com/

ist ein Nachbau des IBM Modell M aus dem Jahre 1984. Unter jeder Taste eine Springfeder, die die Taste auslöst. Das Ding ist so schwer, dass man damit jemanden erschlagen könnte. Ich habe 4 Stück davon, davon 1 im Büro und 1 zu Hause

17.05.2017
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User yannkra21

und die anderen 2 als Ersatz?

17.05.2017
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User floflo96

Sympa l'article!

Sinon, niveau modification mon clavier est pas trop mal -> goo.gl/photos/BbP8AhNXuQipE...

22.05.2017
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User Dominik Bärlocher

Salut! Quel clavier as-tu modifié?

23.05.2017
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User floflo96

Malheureusement il ne vient pas de chez vous... il vien de chez wasdkeyboards.com...

24.05.2017
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User hennibbale

Hey, just wanted to share my BlackWidow Chroma.
After seeing a modding project on YouTube I chose to sand the keys - didn't regret it at all.
This was a great article btw!
imgur.com/a/TCUIx

25.05.2017
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