Retk(Shake)1800 Build Log
The Retk1800 is a compact 1800 layout from the CannonKeys Brutalist line. It is a simple yet attractive design. No extra weights, brass, etc. (though it is hefty for sure).
What I found most interesting about this board were its size and the burger mount.
Let’s take a step back, what is a burger mount? Unlike a traditional top mount where the plate or PCB are screwed into the top of the case, a burger mount uses silicon o-rings, which sit between the case and the mounting screws. The o-rings effectively isolate the plate from the mounting screws and the top of the case.
The burger mount, coupled with the flexibility of the FR4 plate, provides an enjoyable typing experience.
I have to admit; I was not expecting such a pleasant typing experience from this board. I bought it intending to try an 1800 layout without having to break the bank. I rarely use the numpad, but I find myself grabbing this board off the shelf more mornings that I would have guessed.
I also made a lucky choice on switches. I have had a couple of sets of Deskeys switch films sitting here and decided this was the board to give them a try.
I find the sound from the Deskeys switch films slightly behind TX films. However, they more than makeup for this in an improved feel. Mix this in with the burger mount, and you have a pleasing typing experience.
Finally, the last interesting thing to mention is sound control. The Retk1800 is a large board and hollow case with no additional weighting. There is a quite a bit of ping/echo if you assemble it all and start typing away.
CannonKeys recommends using polyfill to control the echo, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well it works. You can pick up a massive back for a couple of dollars. Going forward, I will keep this in mind, especially for boards like the Matrix Noah that have large spaces that are complicated to fill.
In the case of the Retk1800, the space the case was a perfect rectangle and was quite deep. I took the opportunity to do some tests with my my favorite cheap foam (4mm).
I found both the polyfill and foam worked equally as well well for cleaning up the sound. Neither stood out well ahead of the other, so I would recommend using which ever you have on hand. If I had to pick one, I would go with foam simply because it is easier to manage (especially if you are the type who opens your cases regularly).
- Retk1800 - Blue
- FR4 Plate
- Durock smokey stabs
- Alpacas lubed with 205g0, filmed with Deskeys, and spring swapped with Sprit 72g Slow Extremes.
- Cabinet shelf liner (cheap foam) or polyfill
Things of note about the build:
- 98 switches is a bear. 😛 I typically build 60-65%. It seems minor, but even just lubbing all of them was exhausting.
- I love this switch combo. The 72g Slow Extremes are so nice. My favorite "progressive" switch to date.
- I somehow got a nasty ding on the corner. You can only see it when it is upside down. I am not sure if this happened during shipping or sitting on the floor in my office. I could have sworn I checked it when it arrived.
- FR4 has probably moved into the lead for my favorite plate material. I still have not used a carbon fiber plate, so no absolutes yet. However, for the price, ease of use, feel, and sound, it will be hard to beat.
My only real issue with the board is the 1800 layout. It has taken me some time to adjust to the spacebar extending past the X key. I do not see a fix for this without a massive space between the alphas and numpad (WKL?).
The Retk1800 is a great board and not just for the money. It targets the cost-conscious market with its overall simplicity. It will undoubtedly be a significant upgrade over something like the NK65 and Tofu, but I think even experienced members of the custom mechanical keyboard community will enjoy the overall experience.
I am going to be on the lookout for the Savage65 and Devastating TKL. I am hopeful they both have the same overall experience with same mounting style and FR4 plates.
The full Milkshake shot
Alpacas lubed with 205g0, Sprit Slow Extreme 72g springs, and Deskeys films
Love this blue
A little more Milkshake
PCB with nice smokey stabs
Mr. Sleeves. OSA sounds quite nice.
The FR4 + Alpacas + smokey stabs looks quite nice.
Tried on some nice white PTB keycaps. Love the look, but too much white.
I did a lot of sound tests for this board. With foam, polyfill, and neither. You can certainly hear the differences locally, but it never came through clearly in the audio recordings. ↩︎
It should be noted the NK65 and Tofus are much smaller boards. I am ignoring the overall size differences. You get everything that is in a 65% + F-row and a numpad. If you can ignore the extras, then go for it. I am generally assuming the Savage has a similar experience, but I do not know that for sure. There is a chance that some of the flex I enjoy with this board goes away when the board's outer dimensions are not 16x6 inches. ↩︎