I got to spend some time with a Clueboard from the last Massdrop sale, and I must say that I was damn impressed. Skullydazed, the creator of the clueboard and designer of the Nantucket and Modern Selectric keycap sets has done an outstanding job making the most out of the 660 layout. The Clueboard will be available again starting this Thursday on Massdrop (6/22)!
The sample unit I received was already put together, so I’m saving a full review for when I get to build one from the ground up and can get solid pictures of all the components. This drop will have a few differences than past drops, notably that the acrylic spacer is being replaced with a full polycarb bottom case to allow the optional RGB LEDs on the bottom of the PCB to show. My full review will reflect the newest version of the Clueboard, as that is the one I’ll be buying.
The Clueboard comes as a kit that allows for users to completely dictate exactly what they want in numerous ways. The drop starting on Thursday will come as a kit that includes CNC machined top and bottom cases, PCB with pre-soldered controller and diodes, 70 switches of your choice, and GMK screw-in stabilizers. The kit also includes keycaps, with an option to upgrade to a custom set of GMK caps made specifically for the Clueboard. The decorative pack includes RGB LED’s pre-soldered to the PCB and a polycarb bottom case instead of the aluminum bottom, where the deluxe decorative pack includes both.
For people that like the idea of the iconic 660 layout, but want to further tweak the layout to perfectly fit their needs, this is the best option on the market. Personally I love being able to have Winkeyless and HHKB layouts together.
In my opinion, one of the best features about the Clueboard is how the top plate and case are milled out of a single piece of aluminum. This gives the keyboard an exceptionally rigid feel, and really brought the linear switches in my unit to life.
Another very interesting aspect of the Cluboard was the internal mirror that helped reflect the light from the LED’s on the underside of the PCB out through the acrylic layer in the center. I thought this was a rather ingenious solution to a problem that nobody else has really tried to tackle. The end result was that the lighting through the acrylic spacer was much more even than other keyboards with a similar design.
I really enjoy under PCB lighting when it is confined to a thin acrylic layer. It lets me add a little bit of flair to a keyboard without making it look too ridiculous or out of place in a professional setting.
The PCB is very nice as well. It comes with LED’s to provide the underglow already installed, and supports the layouts mentioned. Another thing that I really like about the PCB is how well it is labeled, making it very easy to determine what key is what from the underside of the PCB.
The Clueboard may not be sold in small batches like many customs, but on quality levels I can attest that it is right up there with the best of them. I have never been a huge fan of the 660 layout personally, but the Clueboard totally sold it to me. The integrated top plate/case is brilliant, and makes the Clueboard feel very distinct in a way that I loved. I also am glad that I can build a board with Winkeyless and HHKB combined layouts, something the 660C/660M never offered. My sample unit actually had a short left shift which was very interesting, but honestly something I really grew to enjoy. I had the layout mapped like this:
It was actually pretty intuitive to have Caps Lock/Shift right beside each other, something that also freed up the standard Caps Lock position for a more useful key. Having physical layout options is something that is extremely important to me when spending $200+ on a keyboard, and I think the Clueboard really supports every layout I could ever want from a 660 style keyboard.