Vas' reviews and other stuff2020-10-17

MeToo mechanical keyboard with super blacks (MemeToo)

The MeToo is a very cheap keyboard that you can buy on AliExpress. There is not much to be said about those keyboards, as they're usually marketed towards gamers and have very loud blue switches and gratuitous RGB. While they serve as good entry point into the mechanical keyboard market, they aren't very good and they tend to sound terrible, as if they use a special batch of blue switches that are even more intolerable than normal. As it so happens, one of the things I like the most is taking junk and improving it so that it's amazing, or at least significantly better. To that end, I bought the MeToo memeboard with the explicit purpose of spring swapping it and lubing it. I call it the MemeToo and it is here to #metoo your fingers.

the memeboard itself

Some context for those unaware: super blacks are an extremely rare member of the cherry MX family of switches characterised by their extremely stiff spring. I assume they are meant to be used for special keys, like the escape key, or the spacebar, which you usually press with additional force and thus would appreciate the extreme spring weight. To my knowledge they haven't been used for an entire keyboard, only for a select few keys, hence their rarity.

Naturally we live in the glorious age of China Master Race, so you can order whatever weight of spring you want from AliExpress. I've always had an affinity for stupid spring weights, so after making a keyboard with stupidly light 30g switches, the obvious progression was stupidly heavy 150g switches. Those aren't exactly super blacks, but who's counting anyway?

I bought a MeToo keyboard with red switches and RGB, because I couldn't find it with linear switches without RGB. Some notes about the keyboard itself: so long as you avoid the blue switches, they are actually passable and comparable to Gateron or Outemu reds, which is great considering this is a $25 keyboard with keycaps, plate, case, and PCB included. As expected, the stabilisers rattle like hell and the switch sound is kind of hollow. I found the switches a bit heavy compared to the Gateron clears that I've been using, but I had no idea what I was getting into.

The first step was disassembling the keyboard. It uses 12 screws for stability which is all kinds of overkill. It would have been fine with, like, 6, but I guess you aren't supposed to disassemble itself. After that comes the desoldering. I consider myself lucky in that I didn't have to desolder the LEDs as well. It took me 2 hours and it wasn't very fun, but it was definitely easier than my first try with the Ajazz keyboard.

Next, I used a flat head screwdriver to open up the switches and placed their components into separate jars. I reassembled them using the 150g springs from China Master Race and lubed with printer lube, also from China. Finally I resoldered the board and tested everything. I only damaged one switch, which isn't a problem, and I replaced it.

On that note, these boards are soldered by robots, and in this case, the robot that lubed mine had bent like 10 or 20 pins because it pressed down on them with too much force. It was a pain straightening them carefully with a flat head screwdriver, since I couldn't remove them otherwise and I didn't want to damage the switches or the PCB, but it all worked out in the end. The switch I damaged beyond repair was due to a bent leaf, which I couldn't put back into place despite my efforts. This is also an improvement compared to the 10 switches I damaged in my first modding attempt with the Ajazz keyboard.

With everything done, I took the keyboard to my office at work, and I've been using it as my primary keyboard ever since. As you can tell, my fingers haven't fallen apart yet. For context, the springs are 5 times heavier than my Gateron clear build, and twice as heavy as my jailhouse blues in the Ajazz build.

They feel… incredibly heavy. The resistance is comparable to the spring of a pen, though those are much heavier, over 200g. Every keystroke must be typed with commitment: you can't half-ass anything.

Because they are very heavy, the resistance of friction is relatively less noticeable than with a lighter spring. The lube also helps reduce the friction. As a result, they are incredibly smooth, and you basically feel like you're typing on a force field: zero friction, only resistance.

It is painful bottoming out. I've used 80g clickies as my main before, and I always bottomed out on those. I've considered myself a heavy typist. I must say the super blacks put everything into perspective, and this is the first keyboard that I've used where I'm not bottoming out. In fact, I'm kind of forced not to bottom out, because otherwise typing is physically taxing and I can't type more than a few hundred characters before I have to stop.

For the first couple of days of using it, I was afraid that I had made a huge mistake. My forearms felt stiff after a whole day's work. Moreover, my typing speed took a 30 WPM nosedive since it was so difficult actually pressing the switches. I also had less accuracy as I was pressing hard on the keys, but not actuating them since the springs are so heavy.

Believe it or not, I got used to them. To explain what that means: it's not like I think the switches are lighter. They still require a ton of force. However, I no longer feel fatigued, or at least I don't feel any more fatigued than I would if I had been using a different keyboard. In other words, I grew some forearm muscles, which are mainly responsible for how hard you can press. My accuracy and typing speed also recovered and now I'm at my usual 120 WPM peak.

I also found that it helped a bit with my cubital elbow syndrome. I have been prescribed various exercises and I think the indirect exercise that I get from typing synergises well with them. So unless you type at your maximum speed without breaks for rest, I don't think there is anything to worry about with repetitive strain injury. Taking breaks and proper posture are more important towards preventing injury than keyboards.

I've grown to kind of like the forcefulness of the super blacks. They aren't something everyone can appreciate and they are difficult to recommend. However, if you are the kind of guy who thinks MX blacks are too light, and you love hammering down on your keyboard, you can have some fun with those.

I definitely wouldn't game with them, though.

Since each keystroke is so difficult, I've learned to use keyboard shortcuts and autocompletion more so as to avoid the unnecessary motions. This isn't the same as typing slow. It's not that I can't type fast on this keyboard. It's that it requires a lot of conscious effort for me to type fast with it, so I avoid it as much as I can. For that alone, it has been a positive experience.

The sound, though. Holy shit, the sound. Say what you want about the rest of the build, but because the springs are so heavy, and because you rarely bottom out, and because they have been lubed, they sound as if it's a $500 build and not a $30 build. It's thick, bassy, and remarkably silent. The average membrane office keyboard is louder than the MemeToo with super blacks, proving you can have a mechanical keyboard that doesn't annoy everyone around you. If sound is the most important thing for you, you should try lubed linears and avoiding bottoming out.

In the end, I would rate this build 7/10. It is very unique and hard to appreciate, but all the better if you are the type of person who can learn to love it. As for me, this is far from my last insane memeboard. Coming up next, from my most silent build, to my loudest: Kailh jades with thickbars… plateless. That's right. 3 pin switches mounted directly on a PCB, without the alignment pins or a supporting plate. They say it can't be done, but that's what they said about electing a paedosexual in the White House and look who's leading in the polls. No taxation without representation, proud and out, wave the MAP flag, no justice no peace, give me memeboards or give me death.