manufacturing

2020 Jul 21

Key cluster molds are ready

By |2020-07-21T21:47:19+00:002020-07-21 19:42|manufacturing, modules, news|1 Comment

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The molds of the key cluster module are ready. Machining of the right-side module molds is in progress. The design of the module plastic parts has taken more time than anticipated, and as a result, we expect to start shipping the modules in September.

The key cluster molds are finally ready, and the molded plastic parts look great:

Now, our contractor is working on the right-side module molds:

The right-side module molds are expected to be ready around the end of August, and we plan to start shipping the modules in September.

We’ve been working on the modules as hard as we could, but despite our best effort, the ETA had to be updated because the design of the module plastic parts has taken more time than anticipated. We believe that the updated September ETA is realistic, and we’ll do our best to hit it.

We’ll be keeping you updated on a monthly basis, and feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Reviews and tweets

Wildcat’s UHK review is a special one as he doesn’t say a single word, and yet, he tells much more than most reviewers. It’s an unusually enjoyable video which I highly recommend watching.

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets and posts, and we're always eager to read and feature them. If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-08-14.

2020 Jun 20

Key cluster molds and PCBs are almost ready

By |2020-06-20T21:31:54+00:002020-06-20 21:31|manufacturing, modules, news, tech talk|5 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The molds of the key cluster module are almost ready. The PCBs are finalized and being panelized. Module parts are pouring in from our suppliers.

Our contractor is almost ready with the key cluster molds. This is how they look:

The testing of these molds is slated for the end of June, meaning that we’ll soon have key cluster plastic pieces to show you.

As for the right-side modules, András approved the design of the latest 3D-printed parts, and injection molding simulations have been made:

Even more importantly, our contractor started fabricating the right-side module molds:

As for the module PCBs, I’ve been making some small improvements to them. Their shape and layout have been finalized, and I don’t expect any more changes, so we’re in the process of panelizing them.

I’m very pleased with the overall design of the modules, as they do their job well, they are as simple as possible, and they’re highly optimized for production. In my book, this is good design.

Parts have been pouring in from our suppliers, and most have arrived – including the mini trackballs of the key cluster, the balls, optical sensors, and lenses of the trackball module, FPC cables, and FFCs (flexible printed circuits).

We’ll be keeping you updated about the modules. Feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-07-14.

2020 May 23

Module schematic and BOM finalized

By |2020-05-23T17:58:20+00:002020-05-23 15:06|electronics, manufacturing, modules, news, prototype, tech talk|20 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: The schematics and BOMs of the module PCBs and FPCs (Flexible Printed Circuits) have been finalized. Every part has been ordered for the modules.

Our contractor keeps making progress with the key cluster mold. This is how it looks:

As for the right-side modules, András has been refining their mechanical design, and I’ve been tweaking their PCBs accordingly. These are some of the boards I’ve redesigned recently:

I consider the schematics and BOMs of each PCB and FPC to be fully finalized. András and I will meet over the next week and check how well the new 3D printed module cases fit with the new PCBs. Chances are high that everything will fit well, at which point the machining of the right-side module molds will begin.

I recently visited our EMC tester, TÜV, and we put the modules into the test chamber. The modules did not affect the measurements, which is exactly what I expected based on their small power consumption and small size. Given these results, the modules should pass the EMC tests with flying colors.

We’ve ordered every part of the modules from our suppliers. No parts shortages or delays are expected.

These days are unusually eventful due to the modules, hence this fabulously late monthly update. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date in a timely manner going forward, but I’ll keep prioritizing module development and production over the monthly updates for everyone’s sake.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-06-16.

2020 Apr 18

The key cluster molds are being made

By |2020-04-18T23:44:46+00:002020-04-18 23:44|manufacturing, modules, news|6 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: Key cluster mold manufacturing is well underway. We’re getting close to the final design of the right side module molds, too.

Since our last monthly update, the design of the key cluster molds has been finalized, and now they’re under production. It’s always quite an experience to witness hunks of steel taking shape.

In the meantime, András and our contractor have been working hard to finalize the design of the right-side modules. As soon as this design gets finalized, our contractor will start to get these molds machined.

We’ve also ordered various parts, such as the optical sensor of the trackball, the mini trackball of the key cluster, and the FFC cables. This is quite an intense process for everyone involved, and we’re doing our best to hit our July ETA.

Feel free to change your shipping address any time.

Your tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-05-11.

2020 Mar 18

Module ETA announcement

By |2020-03-18T11:42:46+00:002020-03-18 11:42|manufacturing, modules, news|5 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to the monthly UHK status update!

TL;DR: We expect to start shipping the modules in July, and we’re making rapid progress.

As mentioned in our previous monthly update, there are a number of tasks to be done to mass produce the modules, but the most time consuming of all is the creation of their molds. The good news is that our mold making supplier just provided us an ETA: June 2020. This means that we should be able to begin shipping orders in July, likely completing all orders in August.

Our supplier is almost ready with the design of the key cluster module mold:

András has been working a lot on the 3D models of the modules recently, and all the modules should be finalized soon.

In the meantime, I’ve been busy optimizing the PCBs of the modules for manufacturing. It’s not rocket science, but there are a ton of details involved, and small tweaks can go a long way.

We’ve also started the procurement of the parts for the modules. Most of them are not very urgent, but there are exceptions like the optical sensor of the trackball module which can take up to 14 weeks to arrive. Luckily, we’re just in time to hit our ETA.

We’re knee deep into getting the modules manufactured, everything is going well, and we’ll be keeping you updated on a monthly basis as usual. You can change your shipping address any time.

UHK ninja belt

Special shootout goes to Hubert Łępicki who amused us with his UHK ninja belt (for the lack of a better term).

Hubert wouldn’t be a true ninja without demonstrating his belt in action. Check out the following video.

3rd party keycap sets

Some of you are on a never ending journey of pimping up your UHKs, and we’re excited to see your creations!

Further tweets

You guys keep sending your awesome tweets, and we're always eager to read and feature them! If you got your UHK, please share your love!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and are looking forward to talking to you on 2020-04-10.

2019 Apr 18

Catching up with pre-orders

By |2019-04-18T23:49:46+00:002019-04-18 21:01|manufacturing, modules, news|0 Comments

TL;DR: We’ve been making rapid progress with manufacturing. We’ve shipped six mini batches since our last monthly update, two additional mini batches are assembled and we will ship them next week. Afterwards, only three mini batches remain to be shipped, and we’ll be caught up.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Ready for warp? Let’s punch it!

Manufacturing progress

Since our last monthly update, we’ve shipped mini batches 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64, which is decent, but not as many as we had expected.

Mini batches 65 and 66 (the latter is not displayed on the delivery status page yet) are already assembled, but we’re waiting for palm rests. Our palm rest supplier is behind schedule, and is expected to ship enough palm rests next week to complete these mini batches. (We ship individual packages as quickly as we can, so no need to email about this, folks.)

Afterwards, we’ll only have to assemble about three mini batches. Should the Keyboard Gods show their support, we’ll catch up then.

That is, excluding orders which contain non-black cases. Those may take a bit more time. Which brings us to the…

Non-black case shortage

Due to a temporary shortage of non-black cases including non-black UHKs and non-black extra UHK cases, orders including such items are delayed until non-black cases roll into our factory. We emailed the affected customers, and offered them the option to switch to black cases to expedite shipping. So the opportunity is there. If you want to switch to black cases, just let us know along with your order id.

This shortage is expected to be resolved in about a month, and we don’t expect that a similar shortage will happen again. We ordered literally tons of colored plastic pellets, so we may not run out for years.

Module progress

András has refined the mechanical design of the key cluster module and ordered a 3D printed version of it which has yet to arrive. Then we’ll evaluate the robustness of the new design. Based on the CAD models, the design looks good. We shall see soon.

The mechanical design of the right-sided modules is being finalized, too. Some details are still unclear, but András made major progress recently, and we’ll get them 3D printed, too. The bottom part of these modules look very similar, and we want to have a shared bottom part for them in order to minimize tooling costs and increase reliability.

The design of the modules is rapidly shaping up, and I’ll have to develop the key cluster firmware soon.

Your feedback

Twitter was noisy, which has become usual when we ship a decent number of orders. Thanks everyone for sharing your nice tweets, and please keep them coming!

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-05-16.

2019 Mar 14

Coming up to on-demand manufacturing

By |2019-03-14T21:10:18+00:002019-03-14 21:00|manufacturing, news|7 Comments

TL;DR: We’ve been making steady progress with manufacturing, and we’re about to switch into high gear. We expect to deliver every non-module pre-order by the end of March or the beginning of April. Afterwards, we’ll transition to on-demand manufacturing.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!

Manufacturing progress

On February 27, we finally received the product boxes which were necessary to resume production, and we’ve shipped mini batches 55, 56, 57, and 58 since then.

Production has been mostly uninterrupted, except for a small shortage of foam parts that reside in the product boxes and protect your UHKs extremely well from any damage on the way. Luckily, we received plenty of foam parts today.

With the above issues out of the way, we expect to deliver every non-module pre-order by the end of March or the beginning of April, at which point we’ll transition to on-demand manufacturing.

On-demand manufacturing means that we’ll assemble orders as they come in. This translates to about a 0 to 5 working day delay from order to shipping depending on the actual demand.

Our current focus

Right now, our primary focus is to deliver every non-module pre-order, and streamline our operation. András is busy with the former, and I’m busy with the latter.

Improving our backend systems will allow us to devote the smallest amount of time possible to operational issues, and focus on R&D in general, and specifically the modules. So even though it’s not directly related to development, it will accelerate development, which is a prospect I’m really excited about.

Your feedback

Jez Cope, an awesome backer of ours has written a short review about his UHK, and so has Melinda Wyers on her blog. Thanks so much, Jez and Melinda!

The Twitterverse was eventful as usual featuring the following tweets:

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-04-18.

2019 Feb 14

Shipping is about to resume

By |2020-02-29T20:33:01+00:002019-02-14 21:14|agent, manufacturing, news, tech talk|0 Comments

TL;DR: Delivery temporarily stopped due to the shortage of packaging material which should resume around February 20. We expect to ship every non-module preorder by the end of March. Regarding the ETA of your order, please check out the delivery status page, including its FAQ section.

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!

Manufacturing progress

Since our previous monthly update, we’ve built plenty of UHKs, but we couldn’t ship most of them due to a temporary shortage of packaging boxes.

It’s taken more time for the printing factory to get up to speed after new year, and they expect to deliver the packaging boxes to us on February 20. We’ll make quick progress once the boxes arrive, and expect to deliver every non-module preorder by the end of March.

We didn’t simply ask for another batch of packaging material to be honest. We redesigned the boxes because they weren’t sufficiently robust. The new boxes are not only fancy, but more robust (and more expensive).

I added a news section to the top of the delivery status page which you’re welcome to check any time. This way, you can keep informed about delivery status the easiest way possible.

DeveloperWeek cancelled

In our previous monthly update, we told you that the we’ll exhibit at DeveloperWeek in the Bay Area on February 21-22. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make it.

The reason is that our marketing contractor was fired, because I found his work ethics to be poor. Without him, we can’t staff our booth, so I ended up cancelling the event.

With the event cancelled, we won’t be able to give away the free passes offered in our previous monthly update. I’m sorry about this, but now that we have cancelled the event, we can’t do anything. I’ll email all of you who asked for free passes shortly after publishing this update.

As far as the project is considered, I think not attending to DeveloperWeek is actually a good thing. We should fully focus on the delivery of preorders at this point. We’ll have plenty of time to do expos later.

Module progress

Robi has implemented the kboot bootloader protocol natively in Agent. Previously, Agent used the external blhost command line utility which was unreliable. This will make firmware updates more reliable which is very important because the modules will require a new firmware version flashed to your UHKs. We have yet to release a new Agent version that contains this improvement.

In the meantime, András advanced the mechanical design of the key cluster module, so it’s closer to the final design to be mass produced.

As stated in earlier updates, we can’t fully focus on the modules yet. Only after shipping every non-module preorder and transitioning to on-demand manufacturing will be able to make heavier progress regarding the modules.

Your feedback

Mikko Ahlroth wrote a very nice UHK review on his blog. I love reviews like his which go into details and capture many facets of the UHK.

In the meantime, Brett Terpstra has been exploring the wonderful world of custom keycap sets. He pimped up his UHK, and wrote a blog post titled The addictive hobby of customizing mechanical keyboards.

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-03-14.

2019 Jan 17

Churning out UHK webshop preorders

By |2019-06-29T19:53:34+00:002019-01-17 19:55|manufacturing, modules, news|7 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update! Let’s get right to it!

Manufacturing progress

Since our most recent monthly update, we have shipped mini batch 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, and 55. As stated in our previous update, we had already shipped every Crowd Supply non-module pre-order, so all of the above orders were made in our own webshop which is a huge step forward.

We knew that transitioning from Crowd Supply orders to UHK webshop orders wouldn’t be easy, and in reality, it’s been way harder than anticipated. Compared to the fulfillment of Crowd Supply orders, the big change is that we don’t just ship to the EU anymore (we used to ship to non-EU countries via Crowd Supply), but worldwide ourselves, and we have to generate invoices upon shipping.

We learned a lot. For example, we learned that DHL, UPS, and FedEx are unwilling to ship to Russian individuals, but fortunately EMS is willing to take the job. We learned that the City field is not mandatory for Singapore which makes the DHL API unhappy. We learned that ZIP codes are not mandatory in Vietnam which made our invoicing system not create invoices. We learned that we have to validate order data upon checkout to avoid contacting some customers when trying to create waybills.

The above is a short glimpse of the issues we’ve been encountering. I’ve been tweaking our fulfillment system since our previous update, even during holidays, and András has been taking more than his fair share of these issues. We have now dealt with enough international packages that I can finally see the matrix, and I know what needs to be done to streamline our international fulfillment operation. When done properly, and it will be done properly, it’ll end up being a highly streamlined, and low overhead operation, but until that point, it kind of feels like we’re walking in mud.

Estimated delivery dates

TL;DR: If you order now, your UHK order is expected to be delivered by the end of February (barring modules, of course).

Right now, we’re held back by a temporary shortage of various components, including product boxes and plastic cases. We could foresee this shortage, and did our best to mitigate it, but companies were closed during holidays which slowed our progress.

If everything goes according our plans, this shortage will be resolved in two weeks, at which point production will get back to normal. We’re doing our best to deliver every one of your orders as soon as possible.

Module progress

We’ve had a get-together with our injection molding supplier and his mold designer specialist to finalize the mechanical design of the modules and optimize them for mass production.

Each module has its own set of challenges. Some are complicated from an electronics standpoint, others from a mechanical standpoint, and there’s also a significant difference in the firmware complexity of the individual modules.

We agreed that we will start with the key cluster module. The main reason is that its shape completely differs from every other module, so no parts of its mold can be reused for other modules. It’s also the most complicated module mechanically.

We had a fruitful discussion, and now we have a much better idea how to optimize the design of the key cluster module for mass production. The most challenging aspect of the key cluster module is its tiny trackball, and the compact design of the module in general, but all in all, it’s doable.

Please note that the aforementioned mud regarding international fulfillment is clearly not helping us accomplish heavy R&D on the modules, so right now we’re primarily focused on streamlining our fulfillment operation and transitioning to on-demand manufacturing. Once that’s done, the modules will get our full attention.

DeveloperWeek

We’ll exhibit at DeveloperWeek in the Bay Area on February 21-22, and you’re welcome to visit us! We happen to have 3 x EXPO PLUS passes ($795 value each) and 25 OPEN passes ($295 value each) to give away. Speakers at the DevWeek include:

  • Cal Henderson, Slack CTO and Co-Founder
  • Renaud Visage, Eventbrite Technical Co-Founder
  • Chet Haase, Google Lead, Android Toolkit

And many more… Check out the full schedule!

Want to get one of these passes? Please retweet this tweet. We will draw the winners on January 29th.

UHK reviews

If you’re into keyboards, the name of Xah Lee probably sounds familiar. He’s a hardcore keyboard geek who’s seen it all, and he recently reviewed the UHK.

According to his verdict:

  • “This is one of the best ergonomic keyboard on the market. I'd say, among top 3.”
  • “Among compact keyboards, this one is the best, period.”
  • “The programing capabilities of this keyboard is the best out there. The software, is also best on the market, bar none”
  • “The keyboard is highest quality built.”

The UHK was also reviewed by Frank Müller of Euronics. According to the article, Frank has a high opinion about the UHK, especially its configurability.

Your feedback

We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking to you on 2019-02-14.

2018 Sep 13

Lunar UHKs, Unicorns, and the Freeze bug

By |2018-10-23T20:00:41+00:002018-09-13 22:37|agent, features, manufacturing, news, tech talk|0 Comments

Hi there, and welcome to our monthly status update!

TL;DR: Please update to the latest UHK firmware for macro support, and to help us fix the freeze bug that plagues recent firmware versions. Agent now visualizes secondary roles. We’ve churned out 6 mini batches since our last update. The development of the modules is going slowly while delivering the pre-orders, but we’ll switch to high-gear afterwards.

Update to the latest firmware!

If you’re reading this and already have your UHK, please flash the latest 8.4.5 firmware by selecting the .tar.bz2 file from the "Choose firmware and flash it" option in Agent > Firmware. This will result in many goodies over the factory-flashed 8.2.5 firmware, including macro support and numerous bug fixes.

The only gotcha is the freeze bug. Recent firmware versions cause occasional freezes on some UHKs. This is a longstanding bug, and the only reason we haven’t yet fixed it is because we can’t reproduce it. That’s why we need your help! The more people who use the most recent firmware, the easier we can fix the freeze bug based on your feedback.

If your UHK freezes, please be sure to report it according to the freeze bug issue. No worries, you can always downgrade to 8.2.5 to regain stability.

Fancy UHKs

If you’re a regular reader of our monthly updates then Max is no stranger to you, as he’s on a never ending quest to pimp his UHK. This time, he used the Godspeed Cockpit keycap set to customize his UHK and in his true style, he shared the gory details on Reddit.

In the same spirit, Richard was also busy, and ended up creating the most unicornish UHK with extra rainbow flavour!

Secondary role visualization in Agent

Dual-role keys are powerful. When tapping them they trigger their primary role. While holding them and pressing other keys, the secondary role kicks in. The UHK has always supported dual-role keys, but Agent hadn’t visualized them. Thankfully, this has just changed with Agent version 1.2.9.

Now Agent can render quite complex scenarios, such as a scancode featuring modifiers and a secondary role. This makes the rendering engine of Agent complete, so you can take a look at any layer and know exactly what each key does based on its visual representation.

As an added bonus, we’ve made modifiers show up according to your OS, so for example, Super is Command on OSX and it’s the Windows key on Windows.

Production progress

The 6 mini batches we have produced over the last month have not constituted our fastest pace, but they’re in line with our recent progress. Manufacturing progress occasionally suffers a bit due to a number of factors. For example, our palm rest supplier was on vacation recently, and had to catch up with production. Such cases only cause temporary hiccups, and they can occasionally affect the sizes of mini batches positively or negatively, but we always manage them quite well.

In the meantime, we’ve already pre-ordered the parts of the second large batch of UHKs. The first large batch contained 2,000 UHKs, and the second large batch contains 1,000 UHKs. We’re not VC-funded and fully rely on your support, so being able to pre-order the parts of a large batch is a big achievement for us. This means that production will be uninterrupted in the future, even after delivering the pre-orders. A sincere thank you to every one of our backers for making this huge milestone possible!

Development progress

As you can see, we keep pushing Agent and the firmware, but it’s quite a challenge to do heavy R&D these days because production and related tasks are so demanding.

Customer support is time consuming, as well as developing and fine-tuning backend systems. These tasks are not visible from the outside, but they’re absolutely necessary to keep things going.

Transitioning to our own webshop did end up heavily affecting our backend systems, including the integration and implementation of the webshop, factory automation, order fulfillment, and invoicing systems. Pre-ordering the parts of the second large batch also called for a procurement system which is up and running, but it has taken quite some time to set up.

Due to the above, we could only make a little progress with the modules. András has further refined their mechanical design, and will hand them off to a mold designer to finalize their mechanical features. I figured out how to optimally panelize their PCBs and factory-flash their firmware the most efficient way. We’re mindful about the modules, and will switch to high-gear once the delivery of the pre-orders is over.

Thank you for reading this update! We’ll be keeping you updated on all things UHK, and we’re looking forward to talking with you on 2018-10-12.