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Polaris: my quest for the perfect keyboard

Custom mechanical keyboards and the never-ending pursuit of end-game. Here’s my latest, the Polaris, with RGB, QMK, acrylic, pudding, and silent switches.

My quest for the perfect keyboard started with a Vortex Gear Race 3 (Rac3) and has ultimately led me down the path to a BM60 Poker GH60 RGB USB-C board. I am using the KBDfans Diamond (5 degree) acrylic case and HK black pudding keycaps with Cherry MX Silent Red RGB switches. The PCB has an aluminum plate per the kit I purchased. I also picked up some GMK screw-in stabilizers. And, it uses QMK. I call this keyboard “Polaris”. It is my Northstar. It has everything I want. But is it my end-game? Read more after the jump.

First thing’s first, you have to understand one important point. Those enthusiasts who enter into the world of mechanical keyboards often joke about the never-ending pursuit of end-game. There appears to be no one keyboard out there that will suit all of your needs and desires. Sure, some keyboards come close. But, I have found, you end up discovering some shortcoming that leads you to find the next best board. That was the case with the Carina.

So, I set out to build my own and make it the way I wanted it. I wanted a beautiful keyboard like the Carina but with a thicker case like the Diamond from KBDfans (5 degree). I wanted silent switches and the full QMK RGB Matrix experience. As a result, I picked out my components from KPrepublic (PCB and plate), mechanicalkeyboards.com (switches), 1up.com (stabilizers), amazon.com (keycaps), and recycled some parts from KBDfans.com (case).

I wanted a 60% board with RGB. But, I was not looking for underglow only, nor did I want a board solely with per-key RGB backlighting. No, I wanted both. This BM60 Poker board is a GH60 PCB from KPrepublic. It has both keyboard underglow and per-key RGB backlighting.

I am using the acrylic case to highlight the RGB underglow and also some of the per-key RGB backlighting. Although lighter than the aluminum counterpart, it still stays planted.

And the PBT doubleshot translucent black pudding keycaps also enhance the per-key RGB backlighting experience. The plastic is solid, making it a nice typing experience, but the pudding style acts similar to acrylic and takes advantage of the RGB.

The switches are silent but not mushy. Nor are they tactile. They are only linear, and they feel great. They installed easily with the PCB hotswap sockets, which was also a great feature in and of itself.

The stabilizers are GMK screw-in from 1up. Clipped, lubed, and bandaid mods applied, they are quiet!

It also supports QMK. The big test is the RGB Matrix. It does not support the RGB Light Christmas pattern, but it can be programmed. For now, I am content to utilize the index system to assign colors for layer indication.

(Check out my keymap to see how I created the RGB layer indication within QMK.)

This system works great! Not only do I get layer indication, but I also can highlight which keys actually function within each layer. Because it uses the index, I can easily add to it later without having to calculate any bitwise numbers.

And the RGB Matrix default programs are fun. I like the blue myself, but I can just as easily set blue main with pink or orange mods, or I can set a rolling blue stripe, or create reactive blue typing, etc. It does allow for custom RGB Matrix programs, but I don’t know how to code. My goal will be to create one that imitates the Christmas RGB Light program but for the Matrix. Time to learn to code!

So, I did it. I found my end-game. Polaris, a custom build that I designed and put together using parts from several retailers, meets all of my expectations. It includes a wonderful typing experience, it looks and feels great, it has QMK and the RGB Matrix, and, well, it’s mine! I do have to thank all of the previous keyboards. Without them, I would not have learned what I wanted and needed. In the end, it’s the Polaris that stands out above the rest as the clear winner.

Happy typing!

Polaris

2 replies on “Polaris: my quest for the perfect keyboard”

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