Massdrop was looking to make some improvements to their metal HHKB case, and send the test sample my way. CAPTBadAss, a well known and respected member of the GeekHack community is working with me, and had the case for the past few weeks. The case never managed to tip on Massdrop, and I’m glad it didn’t now that I have it in hand. I can tell there is a huge amount of potential, and I’ve always wanted to see a solid aftermarket aluminum HHKB case made, but this case is more of a proof-of-concept than anything.
Things the case got completely wrong:
- The “ping” of the caps hitting the metal top plate is insane. This alone makes the case unusable. It is not a pleasant sound at all.
- The case aesthetics just look bland, there is no character to the case. It looks and feels like a brick.
- The case needs to be angled, right now it is extremely uncomfortable to type on.
- The screws are a custom size, and don’t fit.
Things the case did well:
- Internal milling was good, the controller was held in place very well.
- The screw on feet were milled aluminum, good quality, and worked perfectly. (Black/Silver/Case Color options would be nice.)
Now, changes I intend to see implemented in the next version of the case:
- Full aluminum case, but with a plastic top plate.
- Angled, designed to look very close to the original HHKB case in terms of size and style.
- Dark Grey option first, possible other colors.
- Using standard size torx screw.
- Possible inclusion of foam in the bottom of the case, to further reduce any ping.
The reasoning behind my changed are all pretty simple. The plastic plate will not only help deal with the absurd “ping,” but also lower the cost of the case (first version was up for around $200). I don’t think a metal case will ever be as quiet as the stock plastic case, but if the keyboard still sounds bad with a plastic plate I will continue to look into options to fix this. There is also a possiblity that it will sound fantastic with a plastic plate in the metal case, as the case could emphasise the natural “thock” of the keyboard. Depending on how much multiple options affect the price, I will suggest going with a dark grey as the main/only color.
To hear more about the plans for this case, and see what the community feedback was, check out the video of the LiveStream I did specifically to see what the community thought of this case. There are lots of typing sound comparisons, teardowns, etc in the video as well.
For more reading, here is the original GeekHack thread that started after the case launched, and here is the new thread specifically centered around getting feedback on the case/fixing it that CAPTBadAss started.