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 Post subject: Switching USB & PS/2 on Legend, Simultaneous Arrows
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2007 9:53 pm 
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Hiya,
I'm in the market for a new keyboard, and I'm *almost* 100% sold on the Deck Legend. However, I still have some questions...

First, time for a fun and indecently lengthy backstory (read if you're interested - I thought this would be quick, but I'm always way more long-winded than I expect to be - my actual questions are at the bottom, so you can skip there if you want, but after typing all of this out, I couldn't bear to outright delete it):
__________________________________________________
For years, I've used a black Microsoft Internet Keyboard to game/type without incident (using the arrow keys, no less - I'm weird...no esdf or wasd for me!). It doesn't have full n-key rollover, but it's good enough that I've never had problems with it (I'm using it right now, actually).

Recently, I had to get a second computer, meaning I needed a new keyboard. The black MS Internet Keyboard can only be found on ebay now, so I decided to move on and get something else. After doing some research, I learned that recent MS, Logitech, etc. boards have only 2-key rollover throughout much of the board, and that it regularly interferes with gaming. After doing some more reading, I settled on a Belkin Enhanced Keyboard, thinking it would be at least as good as my old Internet Keyboard. Well...I was wrong.

Using the arrow keys to move, right-control to jump, and numpad-0 to crouch, I noticed I could not crouch while walking diagonally in games (I can't remember now if I can jump or not, but it's irrelevant now). This shocked me - while I had done some minor research to avoid this problem, I didn't take it quite as seriously as I should have, since I was under the impression that it was relatively rare, and that *most* keyboards didn't have it. In addition, while I can "live with" most of the keys on the Belkin, the damn backspace key has the mushiest feeling in the world - I have no idea when it's even being pressed without watching the on-screen characters get backspaced over.

In short, I got burned, and I decided a few days ago that I never wanted to buy another iffy keyboard again - it's too much hassle to spend several days waiting for a keyboard to ship only for it to turn out to be a dud. I could get my MS Internet Keyboard again from ebay, but if I decided to change to esdf or wasd someday, I might start having problems with that one as well - there's no guarantee I won't. Therefore, I decided to look for a keyboard with full n-key rollover - and it's only now that I know *just how rare* that is.

I know of only a few boards in the world that are still made today with full n-key rollover:
- Raptor K-1 clearly advertises it, so it definitely has it (but I can't deal with the non-standard layout - I play with my arrow keys currently, after all)
- Kinesis Maxim clearly advertises it, but it has the same layout problem
- I've *heard* the Unicomp keyboards have it, but I have no definite confirmation - and since their antiquated looks bring me back to the beige-box days of yore (like pre-2004 for me ;-)), they're kind of a last resort (though I may like to buy one someday, just to say I did...).
- I also heard about the Happy Hacking Keyboard 2 (non-lite), but it has a non-standard layout and the price is exorbitant (like $250 or something?)
- Then, I heard about the Deck Legend, which also purportedly has n-key rollover. However, I became uncertain once I read the post at http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=1351&sid=46c2260e3999b88424fafa89ea129584. Since I know for a fact that most keyboards do *not* have full n-key rollover (even PS/2 ones), I took the confirmation about the Deck Legend with a grain of salt. Combined with the $150 price tag, I thought, "Forget it."

A lot of people have said that the Logitech G15/G11 boards have full n-key rollover, and for a while, I was thinking, "FINALLY! I FOUND IT! It comes with a bunch of other gimmicky bs that I don't need, but I can live with that." After all, it also has a standard layout in the arrow-keys area of the board, and as an additional plus, it comes with a palm rest (which I've grown quite accustomed to). However, as I started doing more research, I realized that these people are mistaken - the G15 does not in fact have full n-key rollover, and people who use the arrow keys (like I do) have reported problems. Apparently, Logitech is still dealing with a scan matrix design, and they gimped the arrow keys to increase rollover in the area of their lame programmable macro g-keys. Oh well...for various reasons (including because I run dual-boot with Linux), I kind of have something against input devices with friggin *driver discs* anyway.

By this point, I became convinced that there was no way I was going to find full n-key rollover in a $50-ish or less keyboard (though I originally wanted to spend less than $20 anyway).

After hours and hours of haggard frustration, several nights of staying up until 5 in the morning googling before having to go to work the next day, and almost sleeping through my alarm at least twice, I grudgingly decided to come back to this site (after all, if I had spent all of that time working instead of agonizing over what keyboard to get, I could've gotten at least two Decks by now with the extra money...). After reading more and more about the Deck Legend, its durability, its longevity, people's satisfaction with the keys, how many keys people can press at once, etc., I started to consider that paying such a high price for a keyboard might not be such a bad thing. After learning about the generous warranty and seeing how the reps here interact with the customers, I decided that regardless of price, you guys have a company that I *want* to support. Besides, the thing is beautiful. In short, I want a Deck Legend, and I want one really, really badly. (And who knows...if I really like it and can stomach the change to esdf, the Deck 82 looks like an appealling second purchase, as well...my "mood swings" between wanting el cheapo and wanting the best of the best are seriously a danger to my wallet! ;-)).

_______________________________________________



However, I still have a few questions and uncertainties about the Legend:

1.) In this post, deck guy mentioned that if you have both the up and down arrows pressed simultaneously, the left and right arrows cannot be pressed (due to the matrix layout): http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=83. While this obviously isn't an issue for most games I would play, it does seem to imply that the keyboard doesn't have 100% n-key rollover. Do you know what the deal is here? Is this merely a past issue (like the soon-to-be-fixed issues with the Fire Deck 82?), or is it still occurring? Does this issue apply only to the Deck 82, or to the Legend as well? Most importantly, are there any other "nono" key combinations (whether they're with 2, 3, 4, 5, 50, 100, etc. keys)? Finally, how can a keyboard technically be considered to have full n-key rollover and still have this issue?

2.) In this post, Guttenaffe mentioned that the Legend can be switched back and forth between being a USB and a PS/2 keyboard, and Amy replied with, "Yes, the Legend has both the PS/2 and USB capabilities by switching the connection inside BUT, dont forget, there is a diode change, too. ......" : http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=233
Amy seemed to imply that the diode change is something that users should already know about - does the user's manual for the Legend explain exactly how to switch back and forth between USB and PS/2 mode (and if it can be done more than once?)? The reason I ask is this: I'd really like to get the PS/2 version, since both of my computers support PS/2 and I'd like to avoid the USB 6-key limit for as long as possible. However, I'd also like to keep this board for as long as possible, which means it may outlive the PS/2 format. Is it easy to switch the Legend from a PS/2 to a USB interface if need be? Are there any drawbacks to doing it this way, as opposed to buying the USB version outright? If there are drawbacks, then: If I purchased the USB board and used one of the PS/2 converters that works, would the keyboard be limited to 6 simultaneous keys (USB behavior) or unlimited simultaneous keys (PS/2 behavior)? (I guess the answer to that depends on whether the keys are limited on the sending side, receiving side, or somewhere in between...)

3.) What are your feelings about palm rests? I've grown accustomed to them over the past decade, and I guess I'm a little bit nervous to buy a keyboard without one. Obviously I can get a gel pad for just a few bucks, but now I'm wondering why Deck decided to forego one in the first place (especially since most are removable). Since the Legend costs $150, I know that the palm rest wasn't left out just for cost reasons, so...do most people just not like them, or what? Is there an important memo I didn't get? hehe

4.) You'll like this one, because it involves selling two boards instead of one:
http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=359
http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=358
In these threads a couple months back, Amy said you guys have decided against manufacturing any more gold boards (of either type, 82-key or Legend). Has this decision been reversed for the 82-key models? If not, how many are left? For my Legend, I'm planning on picking up the red model, but I was considering snagging a gold 82-key as well - I really like the layout of your 82-key boards, since the F-keys are directly above the number keys (without gaps). That may be enough to get me gaming with esdf (more weaponswitch keys to hit without stretching my fingers far to the left or right ;)). The colors in my room are red and gold, so I'm just so sorely tempted, especially if the gold is on its way out. Anyway, if there's a limited amount and I have a very short time to make a decision, I have to doublecheck: Is the gold being discontinued because of LED availability or popularity problems (etc.), or is there something wrong (and/or unsolvable) with the actual boards? I can't imagine that being the case, but...out of paranoia, I have to ask, given that the red Deck 82's has some issues (that are now being fixed).

Anyway, this post has gone on WAYYYY too long. Way too long. Congratulations for reading through it, and thanks for your time :) Hopefully I'll like the answers to my questions and my quest will be over!

Thanks!


Last edited by Mini-Me on Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:21 am 
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Whew...my eyes need a rest now! :D But anyways I will try and answer your questions to the best of my abilities, I think you will be rather pleased:

1) This is a past issue. The PS2 version does have full n-key rollover, meaning you could press all the keys at once with no problem. The USB versions, however, are limited to 6 keys plus all modifier keys (10 total keys). This limit is due to the USB specifications and will hold true for any USB keyboard you buy that doesn't have something gimmicky and/or expensive in place to bypass this artificially (i.e. the Logitech and it's macros, some other boards also claimed internal memory that would allow up to 10 keys + modifiers but I have yet to see this work well). Basically all Deck boards are at the limit. And yes the Deck 82 - Fire is soon to be fixed, we will have it taken care of during the next production run.

2) The user manual for the Legend does explain how to convert from PS2 to USB and vice versa. To view the user manual, click the 'Your Support' link on the left side of our main site; from there you can view all of our user manuals. It can be done more than once but possibly not with the same resistor depending on how the heat from soldering/desoldering repeatedly affects it.

In regards to USB to PS2 converters you need to be careful, please see the following threads for more information. At the time it applied to the 82 key as it was our only product but now applies to any USB Deck product:
http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=148

3) Regarding palm rests: if you like them then use them. We do not offer one because in our market research we found that only a small percentage of people preferred to have an attached palm rest. We would have also needed to change the tooling for the plastic housing to accept a palm rest add-on which would have increased the final price of each Deck so we went against it. Like you said you can get an aftermarket one for a few bucks, we thought this was acceptable against the alternative of charging more for our already expensive products.

4) Yes we have decided not to manufacture Gold versions of our Deck products after current stock is exhausted. Right now we have about 10 of the 82 key Gold boards left and have been out of the Legend for several months. The reason we decided to axe the Gold color is lack of popularity. There is nothing different between the Gold products and any others (save the LEDs and a few resistor values) so there is no technical problem, just the popularity issue.

Also don't forget we have a 30 day money back guarantee and a one year warranty that is valid even if you mod your Deck! This means you have the option to try it risk free, and when (not if) you keep it you will have the best customer service in the business. No other company can give you that. We stand behind our product 100% and I hope by now you see that you will get what you pay for with Deck.

_________________
Deck Guy Adam
http://www.deckkeyboards.com - The best backlit keyboards on Earth
http://www.tg3electronics.com - Parent company of Deck, leaders in custom industrial keyboards


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:15 pm 
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Thanks for the quick response! You just earned yourself two sales - one Fire Legend and one Gold Deck :) I'm typing on the Belkin right now, and it's truly getting on my nerves - I never thought I'd get excited about something as "mundane" as a keyboard, but I seriously can't wait for my shipment to come in.

By the way, it seems I misread your earlier post at http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=320. I was initially skeptical when you said "This should hold true for just about any keyboard..." because I thought you were implying that just about any PS/2 keyboard has full n-key rollover and that just about any USB keyboard can register 6 simultaneous keys. Rereading it after seeing a lot of your other posts, I now realize you were referring to the fact that all USB keyboards have an absolute 6-keypress limit unless you use some kind of internal buffering technology (such as on the Razer Tarantula, for instance). Anyway, I just wanted to apologize in case you felt insulted by my initial skepticism. :oops:

Oh yeah, and sorry for forgetting to encode my links as URL's in the first post...I was originally planning on doing that, but I totally forgot. I'll fix them right now in case this thread might help anyone else.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:29 am 
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Glad to hear you are excited about our mundane keyboards! Hehe, just kidding, you will love them :)

Also sorry that my earlier post wasn't as clear as it should have been, I have edited it to make it easier to understand. Thanks for being skeptical, it helps us to give more concise answers! And thanks for encoding your links as urls so they get that nice green color, most people don't (which is fine) but it does help so that links stand out a bit more.

_________________
Deck Guy Adam
http://www.deckkeyboards.com - The best backlit keyboards on Earth
http://www.tg3electronics.com - Parent company of Deck, leaders in custom industrial keyboards


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 5:33 am 
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Well, now that I've had my keyboards for about a few days, I feel like it's time to give some initial impressions and feedback, as well as ask for a bit of advice. I've primarily used my Legend so far, just to see if I can get it "broken in" a bit. It may just be my imagination, but it does seem that keys may be giving slightly less resistance than they did at the beginning of the week.

There are several things I love:
- They're pretty much the coolest things I've ever seen
- Build quality/construction...they just look and feel like quality keyboards
- Full n-key rollover on the PS/2 board, which is pretty much the rarest keyboard feature on the face of the Earth (and the 6-key + modifier rollover on the USB keyboard is pretty sweet, too)


Unfortunately, there is something pretty major that bothers me: the linear keyswitches...

PART I: WHAT I'M HAVING TROUBLE WITH
____________________________________
I can tell that the keyswitches nice, high-quality, etc., but I'm not so sure that they're for me. Everyone says that membrane keyboards feel like mush, don't have any tactile feedback, etc. Since membrane keyboards are all I can remember using, I didn't really have anything to compare them to, but I was under the impression that any mechanical keyboard, even one with linear switches, would have more tactile feedback than a membrane keyboard. However, I was very much mistaken - these linear switches are exactly that: completely (or almost completely) linear, without any indication that a keystroke was registered until hitting the bottom. This causes a three problems for me:
1.) If I nudge a key on accident, I can't tell whether the keystroke actually registered or not. Similarly, if I intend to hit a key but I don't press it all the way to the bottom, I also can't be sure whether it registered or not. I touchtype, and I can tell when my keystrokes are registering with membrane keyboards (or at least with my MS Internet Keyboard), since there's a small "hump" to get over at the beginning of each keystroke (and after that, the key offers much less resistance). Since I'm so used to this, I've developed a bit of a reflex: Whenever I hit a key I without meaning to, I can feel that it was "wrong" before my eyes even have a chance to check on the screen, and I quickly hit backspace with my pinky. I make enough mistakes that backspace is probably one of my most-used keys, but because my reflex is so fast, I still type at a decent rate anyway. With the linear keyswitches on Deck keyboards though, I only know *for sure* that I hit a key if it hits rock bottom...which means I've been spending a lot of time thinking, "Oh crap, did I hit that letter or not?" Ironically, it happens very often when I'm backspacing and I accidentally nudge the backslash key (or did I?).
2.) When I'm playing games (mainly Unreal Tournament and similar games), it's tough to tell when an arrow key is about to be released (or has been released). Someone previously posted the same comment somewhere on the forum, but when I read it, I had no idea I'd be in the same boat. In Unreal Tournament, you have to double-tap an arrow to perform a quick dodge. I never realized I was doing this, but apparently, I had subconsciously trained myself to double-tap as quickly as my old keyboard would allow: As soon as the first keystroke lifted, I hit the key again. The linear switches give no tactile feedback when a keystroke actually begins or ends, so I noticed that sometimes, I'll try to begin my second keystroke before I've terminated the first, resulting in a missed dodge.
3.) Finally, I'm actually experiencing some finger and wrist fatigue/pain, especially in the fingers on my left hand after a few hours of gaming. I never, ever remember having any pain before (maybe stiffness after a whole night of fragging, but never pain). Now, this could be because I don't have a palm rest (a situation I'm planning on remedying ASAP with a gel palm rest), or it could be because the keys are offering so much upward resistance that I'm tiring my fingers out keeping the arrow keys depressed (or it could be some combination).



PART II: WHERE I ASK FOR HELP:
_____________________________
So now that I've stated my issues with the keyboard, here's the part where I ask for a bit of advice:
I *really, really* want to keep my Deck and my Legend, and I have no intentions of returning either, unless there's nothing I can do to make the experience more pleasurable. In short, I either have to
a.) Get used to the keys as they are, or
b.) Mod my boards and switch out all of the keyswitches for more tactile ones. This will cost time and money, but it's something I'm willing to do if it'll land me with my dream keyboards - even if the tactile switches do have "only" 25 million keystrokes ;-).

At the moment, I'm leaning towards option b. I know that tactile keyswitches will solve my first two issues with the keyboard (tactility-related), but I'm not positive about the third one (the wrist/finger fatigue). Here are my questions/concerns:
1.) Assuming for the sake of argument that we can rule out the lack of a palm rest as the cause, my fingers seem to be hurting from putting so much sustained pressure on the keys. Do you have any idea how much more resistance linear keyswitches give compared to the average (brand new) membrane keyboard? On Cherry's website, the click tactile switches seem to have a slightly lower operating force than the linear switches, on average: http://www.cherrycorp.com/english/switches/key/mx.htm
Even if the click tactile's had the exact same resistance, they might help anyway, since I wouldn't feel such a need to keep the arrow keys bottomed out while gaming...still, this would be very helpful to know how they compare with membrane keys.
2.) Could the longer full travel distance (to rock bottom) on mechanical switches than membrane keyboards be contributing to the discomfort? In short, questions 1 and 2 can be summed up as, "Will click tactile keyswitches possibly help with the fatigue?"
3.) Assuming I decide to go all-out and mod my boards, it would be my first soldering job ever. Would you consider this task too difficult for a first-timer? For instance, is it really easy for me to accidentally melt my circuit board or something else important? Also, considering I'd be buying soldering stuff specifically for this, what kind of tools would you recommend as being the best for this particular job? In order to remove the keycaps, will I need the special tool you guys sell with your keycap sets? And, uhh...has anyone found any English-language walkthroughs? ;-) I found some that various people said were Korean, Chinese, or Japanese, but no English ones.
4.) Finally, assuming I want to go with the click tactile Cherry MX switches shown at the above site, exactly which ones do I need to buy? I know I need switches with the LED holes, but I obviously already have the LED's themselves, so I'm not wanting to buy any more of those. I read at http://www.deckkeyboards.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=387 that you guys use the MX1A-11NW switches with a 1-pole w/LED PCB layout. Does this mean I should be looking at the MX1A-E1NW switches with a 1-pole w/LED PCB layout? Do I need the version with or without "fixation pins?" Is there anything else I need to know? And, err...what about the spacebar? Heh



PHEW. That was long. Bedtime. Thanks in advance!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 7:41 am 
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1) If you find resistance specs for a particular keyboard you can compare it to the specs on the Cherry site. The linear switches we use have an operating force of 2.1oz while the industry standard seems to be about 2.0oz whether it is a membrane or mechanical switch keyboard.

2) I am not sure what is causing your discomfort. I can say it may be contributing but more than likely it is not the cause - bad finger or wrist position combined with long durations (your multi hour gaming sessions) is more likely the root of the problem.

3) I can solder very well and I would not look kindly on the idea of swapping out every key switch (and LED) on this board, it is alot of work! If this is your first time, I would highly recommend finding something else to practice on first as bad soldering will void your warranty. I would recommend acquiring a decent solder sucker (we use this one), a good soldering iron and alot of patience.

4) The MX1A-E1NW would work. The 'W' in the part number can be referenced to the table on Cherry's site that indicates it will have the fixation pins (these are just two small plastic pins molded into the switch so it can be easily affixed into holes on the PCB). The spacebar uses the same switch but it also has a leveling mechanism (read: small metal rod); dont worry about this as it can be reused for any switch you want to put in the board.

_________________
Deck Guy Adam
http://www.deckkeyboards.com - The best backlit keyboards on Earth
http://www.tg3electronics.com - Parent company of Deck, leaders in custom industrial keyboards


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