Building a Keyboard 7: Kailh Master Switches, GK108 kit, Silicone + PBT Keycaps 17

Building a Keyboard 7: Kailh Master Switches, GK108 kit, Silicone + PBT Keycaps

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Epomaker Skyloong Silicone Keycaps

About six months ago, I had my first experience with silicone keycaps. It was effectively a pre-order gift with the Kickstarter-backed Epomaker AK84S and came as an 84-keycaps set that intrigued me. Clearly it also intrigued others since Skyloong decided to make a full set for aftermarket use, and in the same three color combinations as before. Packaging for the retail silicone keycap set is identical to the one for the 84-key set, except of course longer and thicker as there are more keycaps inside. A sticker on the side confirms I have the black/gray/red set, a take on the Dolch theme. A plastic window gives us a sneak peek at what is inside, with side flaps opening up to help take the contents out. This time around, three plastic blisters hold the keycaps, and each layer has individual sections to hold them.

The keycaps are split by sections of use, with the top layer containing 61 keycaps for a typical 60% keyboard, including with Esc replacing tilde (~). The colors are certainly DSA Dolch inspired, although there's more red, and in a brighter shade from what I remember. Layer two contains the rest of the keycaps needed to fill a full-size keyboard, but only for a 104-key unit in the US ANSI layout. Layer three simply has some color and size replacements to meet the needs of a few different form factors, including the 80% 84-key AK84S, but the GK108 will obviously find this set wanting for the four extra keys above the numpad. There are 140 keycaps in total thus, and be aware of the size and units provided lest you be caught off guard. We also find a nice metal wire keycap puller to assist with keycap replacement.

The composition of these keycaps is quite unique to anything else I have reviewed, with doubleshot injection molded medical-grade silicone in two tones for a darker base and lighter legends. There are three base colors in the form of gray, black, and red. The legends are white on the first two bases, and black on the red base. General secondary legends are above the primary ones, and we also see how these are effectively covers going over a harder blue ABS plastic base with notches to secure the fit. The base is identical across all of these, and it is the silicone that is sculpted differently that provides different contouring for the rows on the keyboard. This results in a fairly unique keycap profile we will examine more on the next page, but Epomaker/Skyloong refers to it as "GK2." It goes without saying, but these are completely opaque.
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May 16th, 2022 19:12 EDT change timezone

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