Brand New Model F March Update – printed key sets start shipping, second container shipment, and more!

Project status summary – what has been going on lately:

This section is nearly the same as other recent updates: For those who have not been following recent updates and frequent postings over on the Deskthority and geekhack project threads, I will note that there is still time to customize and order your Brand New Model F Keyboard and/or any accessories like the First Aid Kit for future repairs, extra key sets, inner foam, extra flippers/springs, Model F key pullers, custom made 3 meter USB cables compatible with these keyboards, and other parts. Also I will note that the keyboards have started shipping – it does not mean that your keyboard will be shipping right away! There is still a ways to go to get everyone’s keyboard out.

The major news is that I’ve QC’d and shipped out 700+ keyboards so far and am continuing to send out keyboards. Now that the shipping is going into full speed mode, please hold off on split shipping requests which were designed to fill in the down time and reduce the backlog before the printed keys arrived.

The key sets came out even better than expected! So good that I have decided to sell off two spare original IBM F107 key sets on eBay in the coming weeks because I believe the new sets are of better quality.

The very first batch of new Model F dye sublimated key sets arrived on 2/9 and they look great! It is great to say that finally, printed XT quality new Model F key sets are shipping out!

In early February the factory sent approximately 200 XT-quality production sets of each type (~200 ANSI US, ~200 HHKB, ~200 Mac). This was far more than expected (the expectation was ~50). This means that an even larger number of “all in stock” single digit and low serials were able to start going out, so long as there were no other printed keys besides those three types of sets in the order. In the interest of honoring the original priority from the beginning of the project (where feasible: single digit, then low serial, then all remaining keyboards), no one can order now any of the first batch of printed sets that are shipping. Everyone who’s joining the project has to wait in line like everyone else!

Last month all of the “all in stock” single digit and custom/low serial keyboards shipped with the new dye sublimated keys, including the new Model F Keyboard ordered by Lazy Game Reviews!

To finish out the first batch of keys, the earliest non-custom/low serial orders should now go out starting this week. Not to worry, the factory resumed production after returning Chinese New Year break late last month, and another batch of keys will arrive in 1-2 weeks!

B Stock Sets – most sets are gone but some sets are still available to order! See the previous update for more details. Link to order

Some more details on the sublimation of keys:
A whole team at the factory is required to run the sublimation process including inspection and quality control. Each key set is inspected by more than one person as an extra precaution.

It may take several months more to get out the rest of the orders. The priority is the standard color pearl/pebble full sets first, and then the other sets (this was noted at the start of offering the additional colors). They have figured out how to ramp up production efficiently and expect production up to about ~180 jigs’ worth of sets per day (main set + two accessory sets for example), so it will take several months to finish sublimation of the thousands of key sets and keys ordered so far.

As noted before, the fastest way to get your keyboard is to request the separate shipping option detailed on the project web site blog, and have other keys or order blank keys to use in the mean time. This option will be dropped in the near future in order to fully focus on getting out the remaining keyboards in the originally noted sequence of priority (custom/low serials first, then the remaining orders, oldest first).

At the end of this update post are photos of the very first keyboards with the sublimated new Model F key sets to go out, along with the inner assemblies moved to other case colors for the purposes of photographing additional keyboard variations.

All this week’s photos are available in the continually updated imgur album of keyboard variations – a selection of these photos is below. The imgur album has the full res photos:

The layouts in the photos include F62 Split Right Shift and Split Backspace, F77 ANSI with 0-9 and Cursor keys, and F77 ANSI with Ins/Del/etc. keys and cursor keys. Case colors shown include Off-White/Beige, Industrial Gray, Black, and Silver/Blue Gray.

Also below are photos of the standard US ANSI layout, and the Apple/Mac Command/Option 6 key sets (the factory sent the US, Mac 6 key, and HHKB 6 key sets as part of the first small batch).

These are the first photos of all these variations with the new Model F caps installed.

Below is a high resolution scan of the new Model F sublimated keys on my Epson V700, along with a detailed crop of the same image to show the quality.

For the printed key sets, a batch of orders went out for all of the “all in stock” custom/low serials with the separate shipping option (keyboard shipped previously)!

Later last month, the remaining “all in stock” custom/low serials that did not choose separate shipping (I’ll be shipping keyboard+keys etc.) went out. As noted before, these will go out in sequence of the date that someone’s earliest keyboard was ordered.

After that the B stock orders ordered so far went out (there are still some B stock key sets remaining if anyone’s interested in helping cover the dye sub cost overruns – see the “extra set of keys” store item for details).

A reminder for those wondering why some sets can ship before others: I am first shipping orders that are 100% in stock for what someone ordered. To keep things simple I am not doing any “split split” shipping, where some printed keys ship and other printed keys ship later. To maximize the number of sets completed before CNY, the factory printed only one group of keys in the few days remaining before Chinese New Year break. Upon their return, sublimation of all the various key sets and colors will ramp up. Not to worry, it won’t make much difference in the wait times because it looks like every single key set ordered will be able to be completed in about two months of production time once they are fully ramped up, beginning around mid-March (they estimate production capacity of about 180 jigs’ worth of key sets per day, with each jig being a full key set and a couple extra sets).

On an unrelated note, below is a report of the number of keyboards each person has ordered, as of a few weeks ago. For privacy reasons I have hidden the numbers for a number of those who have purchased more than 5 keyboards. It is interesting that quite a few people have ordered 3, 4, 5, and more than 5 keyboards. Some people have told me they purchased the keyboards specifically to keep new in box and to sell down the line, or to resell an “in stock” keyboard locally in another country, in their company’s online store.

# KB’s—–# People ordering that quantity of keyboard

Second container ship update:

The second container ship arrived at port and delivery is being arranged for some point in the next week or so. Container shipping demand has skyrocketed in recent months, along with delays. Normally shipping is about 45-55 days but it’s much longer nowadays – a little over three months including shipping and processing time, making arrangements, etc.

I have been preparing to send out all of the “all in stock” keyboards from the second container shipment (first the custom/low serials and then the remaining all in stock orders).

Separate shipping requests are not available for the second container shipments just yet as those were designed to help fill in the down time and reduce the number of keyboards I have to ship after the key sets arrive. I will post an update if and when the separate shipping requests are available again.

Can you help – Linus Tech Tips:

I’ve gotten a few recommendations to find someone who was in touch with the team over at Linus Tech Tips?  Hopefully they might want to maybe make a new Model F video like their Model M reborn video.  

If anyone can help with this please do let me know over PM.

Or maybe one of you tweeting at LTT might do the trick! If I remember correctly, Notch is a fan of the Model M’s and found out about the project through a DT forum member’s tweet!

Can you help? Official naming of IBM terminal keys:

I am trying to determine the “official” naming of the keys especially for the terminal / symbol keys, most of which are being made available to get through the below link.

Not sure if IBM had a reference document on this or if there is another source. Any ideas? … d-keycaps/

A reminder about the product manual:

A brief manual covering almost all of the troubleshooting steps and installation setup instructions is available by clicking the “Manual” page on this project web site. An excellent, comprehensive manual is being created by forum member darkcruix; the latest draft is available at

Recent updates to the manual: I have updated the project web site manual with an additional way to reduce key binding (some 2.25U and larger keys requiring a little extra pressure if you press at the edges): Troubleshooting, section J

“Gently wiggle the key post (the part that goes into the stabilizer insert) a few times in the direction of the left and right sides of the key if you were to look at the key as oriented on a keyboard – seems to eliminate binding when the extreme edges of a key are pressed.  Be very gentle as this is the easiest part to break on a key!”

This is in addition to the other methods described on this thread and in the manual, including the method to squeeze the key stem and hold for 30 seconds, and wiggle it a bit while holding – it sounds odd but these two methods have fixed the keys 100% of the time so far in my experience!

Another interesting addition – “Another way of reducing the space bar force slightly is to squeeze the stems of the key as described in the Troubleshooting section, point J, but please be careful as you could break the space bar.”

Confusion over keyboard firmware:

The keyboards that have gone out since last summer have all been preloaded with QMK, so you would not need to do anything with the firmware unless you want to modify the default layout noted on the product pages. The process of switching to QMK is the same as loading a new layout – with QMK you have to flash the firmware new each time you want to update the layout, or each time you switch from another firmware to QMK.

If you try to load the old xwhatsit ibm_capsense_usb_util program, it will not load and it will show an error because there is no xwhatsit firmware running on the keyboard.

New Model F Keyboards traveling all over the world!

The new Model F project keyboards are going out to 51 countries so far (including the US)! Here are the international orders by country code per ISO 3166, ranked by order value:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)
Netherlands (the)
Hong Kong
Korea (the Republic of)
New Zealand
Russian Federation (the)
Taiwan (Province of China)
Saudi Arabia
Philippines (the)
Viet Nam
South Africa

Ingenious layout mod – thinking outside the box spring (!):

Someone sent me an ingenious layout modification with the HHKB style split right shift – did not think this was possible! Using the full 2.75U right shift key on the HHKB style split right shift board, with one key to the right of the shift key. Posting their photos with their permission:

And below are the photos of the new Model F XT-quality dye sublimated key sets that went out last month: