We’re extremely excited to announce the return of the Kei.
The Kei (2020) was first conceived around its namesake, 軽 meaning lightweight and portable.
The Kei was designed to be a seamless keyboard, with screws carefully hidden within, leaving the external facade of the keyboard clean. We loved our Kei v1 but we’ve always explored better ways to bring about the spirit of the name.
The Kei v2 includes an incredible amount of new ideas presented in a beautiful package. We think that building a keyboard should be fun and easy; that we should spend more time tweaking our builds rather than fiddling with the assembly of parts.
We started work on the Kei v2 in January 2022 and designed the new system around a screw-less philosophy. We wanted the keyboard to be easy to disassemble and designed parts that could be quickly taken off and swapped into another kit. Switches and keycaps are the heart and soul of a build, and we wanted to allow for quick core swaps for all occasions.
We’re fans of magnets, from the TGR ME series to the new Kei. We think that true hot swap capability should include the parts that form our keyboard kits. The new magnetic mount system is an attempt at simplifying the build process. The magnet system is pre-installed on all top and bottom parts of the case with silicone covers to simplify the swap process.
We think that a simpler build process makes building keyboards even more fun.
The new Kei is a celebration of our indecisiveness regarding colour choices, materials and layouts. The Kei uses gasket socks to secure the core to the chassis, allowing for a softer typing experience while retaining the fun of changing different coloured socks and dampeners. We’re starting with some of our favourite colours and materials and we’re already planning new colourways that will be sold separately in the future. The silicone parts are interchangeable so you can choose to use the feet and socks for 60, 65 and other layouts that will be introduced in the future.
We’re introducing two new materials / finishing for this round of Kei. We’re offering copper as a top case material as we enjoy the look and texture of copper in contrast to the other colours offered in this round. A full copper top also provides a deep sound signature that is clean and pleasant. We’re also introducing a raw finish for the first time ever, allowing users to process it via secondary processes if they prefer to do so. The raw finish will patina over time if it is left uncoated.
The new Kei also includes a wireless system designed from the ground up. We’ve offloaded Bluetooth functionality to the daughterboard, allowing us to maintain compatibility with QMK / VIA based PCBs while offering great wireless features. The BT daughterboard & battery will be FCC, CE and IMDA compliant.
We’re fans of electro capacitive input systems and we’ve worked with Cipulot to bring the world’s first wireless EC custom keyboard kit, as far as we know it. Our EC kit utilises plate mount MX stabiliser for the spacebar (sold separately) and we’ll include 1x EC switch housing designed for the spacebar. You’re still able to use OEM style 2u parts for the rest of the build.
Be one with the cup rubber.
The new Kei comes with a complimentary Kaban in our new black and copper-toned colours. You may also choose to purchase it separately. We’ve also finally included a velcro patch that comes with a Kei patch. We like em’ a lot and will probably offer more patches in the future!
We’ve partnered with our good friend, Elaine of SINGAKBD to offer an optional backplate for this round of Kei. These backplates allow for greater customisation and collaboration with friends of MONOKEI in the future. We foresee smaller drops of these backplates of varying designs in the future.
We’ve been working hard at optimising our supply chain in the past year, and our efforts have resulted in vastly improved production lead times and shipping prices. We’ve worked in the background to implement better supply chain practices widely used in the consumer electronics industry. This has helped us to gain better control over production quality and processes. With these improvements and many more in place, we’re taking small steps towards bringing good things for everyone.
This means better product prices, and better shipping options for almost everyone.
We’re also increasing the number of international vendors we’re working with for the Kei pre-orders to better serve folks from different regions.
The Kei has been a long journey for the team at MONOKEI and we can’t wait to get these out to everyone. In the meantime, work has begun on other layouts as part of the Kei series of keyboard kits.
We hope you enjoy using the Kei as much as we had fun designing and building it.