For those just catching up on the updates, much of the delay in this project is a result of trading more time for high quality output and not settling for the first samples presented to me. Retooling, reformulating paint and powdercoating processes, and cancelling substandard subcontractors have contributed to the delays. I want these keyboards to be good enough for me to use – equal to or better than the original Model F’s I’ve restored and typed on over the years. I will not ship a substandard product to meet original expected timeline predictions. Production has successfully completed on most of the components – the controller boards, die cast zinc powdercoated cases, ribbon cables, and the tens of thousands of barrels and flippers, We are waiting on the compact cases, springs, key molds, inner assembly steel plates, and inner foam to finish up, and then for assembly to start.
For this project, an equal or better quality reproduction of the original Model F is the most important goal, especially since there are nearly $400,000 in orders so far (originally I was in talks with the factory to sell maybe 100 keyboards total!). Production has taken a lot longer than expected. A saying I’ve heard definitely applies here – fast, high quality, or at a good cost – but you can only pick two of the three. A sampling of some of the issues: https://www.modelfkeyboards.com/4-11-17-major-update-catch-up-how-close-are-we/
The factory made less than expected progress in recent weeks due to a national holiday where everything shuts down for some time.
The factory is now back from their national holiday break and hopes to resume production soon on the compact cases, foam, and inner assembly steel plates. Production is approved and ready to go from my side.
Following up from the September update, I received some PCB material samples from the factories but none was a match. They were on the good but not perfect sound level of the PCBs that already finished production.
I am now in talks with a longstanding US PCB material manufacturer who identified some specific characteristics of the old PCBs from photos I sent them – he will look into this some more this week. It seems like both the PCB substrate and solder mask of the old PCBs may have contributed to the sharp click sound. I asked about a custom vintage style PCB formulation just for this project – with near 1,000 PCB orders this may be possible. If the better PCBs produce a noticeable improvement I hope to go out of pocket and give everyone a free upgrade to these new PCBs if costs allow (or pass along the costs if required). Then we would move from great to even greater with these new Model F’s.
I am still sourcing the special spring material that was successfully identified by the material analysis lab a few weeks ago (I had the original Model F XT springs analyzed at a material analysis lab). It is an old standard that is no longer as widely available in such a small diameter but will hopefully have good news from some wire manufacturers this week. Better spring materials have taken market share since the 80s but they miss out on the classic Model F sound in my opinion. The pitch will hopefully be just right with this classic spring formulation.
There were some questions about the low/custom serial option – it’s is a way of supporting the project and skipping several hundred people in line when these keyboards arrive and I start testing them one by one and mailing them out. The default “no” option on the drop down menu still gets you in the early bird round however.
Pricing may change a little in the near future as raw material prices have increased significantly since last year. Probably a price change of no more than $20 to $30 extra. If you get in your order before the prices go up you will not be asked to make up the cost difference.