URSA Samples Update


2023 flew by, and 2024 is there already! It has been a year since we got in touch with 23_Andreas to start discussing bringing URSA profile to production. We've gone a long way and here is where we stand today, on the 16th of January.

TL;DR: we don't have all the samples approved yet, but new ones are on their way already. We started a bunch of side projects to run alongside the URSA keycaps themselves: metal artisans, drop-in replacement PCBs and a custom EC keyboard with an HHKB layout!

Let's dive in!

URSA samples

Samples status update

As you may know, a "test mold" is undergoing production, and a few round of samples happened already. That mold includes only URSA R1 1u keycaps, and is designed to test the manufacturer's ability to produce high quality shape, texture and stems for the keycaps.

Here are the latest samples of the test mold:

URSA R1 1u samples URSA R1 1u samples

The good news first, the texture has been approved. It looks and feels premium, and we are happy with the result!

Second, the stem is the hard part. Our manufacturer is not used to this kind of stem, and in our experience, it always takes a few iterations to get stems right, especially when you are not going for standard MX switches. They are the most fragile part, require just the right fit "tightness", flexibility and therefore have to be engineered wisely. Progress has been made between each round of samples, but we are not there yet. Here's to hoping the next one will be the final one!

Last but not least, the overall shape of the keycap is a work of art and 23_Andreas is making sure the final product reflects it in all its glory. His 3D prints feel absolutely great and have set a high standard that is not easily translatable in a mold designed for mass production. Again, it's not there yet 100%, but getting very close.

New samples have been ordered, and should reach Andreas in the next weeks. We'll keep you posted!

Color chips

While the test mold is being finalized, both designers have received color chips to check out. These chips use the same plastic mix that will be injected for URSA, so it's important that we get them right, and are able to make some proper photos to show for before starting the GB.

These have not all been approved, but it's being worked on. We'll post beauty shots as soon as we have the final ones. We expect another round of samples for the missing colors to be sent this week.

URSA artisans

We also ordered some samples for CNC metal artisans, and the result is gorgeous!

URSA metal CNC artisans

Those prototypes have shown that brass material might be challenging because they tend to be too heavy, they didn't work well with the switches. It may be something we can fix in the future, for to keep things simple (or rather, not complicate things furthermore!) they'll be made with aluminum.

3 different finishes will be available, all PVD (highest durability) with a mirror effect (similar to #2 and #3 in the photo, 3rd option will probably be a shade of silver), because it just looks too good. If they are a success, we'll offer other finish options.

We are also in talks with a maker to offer handcrafted URSA artisans, but are still waiting for the R1 prototype to be finished so they can use it for the base mold. More about that as soon as we have something to show for.

More EC stuff

If you are reading those lines, you probably don't need to hear from us about the good feeling of oneness with cup rubber. You may also know how very few options exist to mod your keyboard when you're into rubber domes.

Alongside URSA keycaps, we are also starting sibling "EC" projects. It's time to disclose a few of them.

Drop-in replacement PCBs

Cipulot is the one man pushing almost single handedly the EC PCB open source scene. He also preaches at the Conical Thock Temple and builds EC keyboards on his Twitch channel. He is most importantly an amazing human being, and deserves a lot of credit for all the new EC PCBs that are/will be popping in the next years.

So we will be offering his drop-in PCB options for the following keyboards:

  • HHKB (obviously, Hybrid, Classic or Pro versions)
  • Leopold FC660C
  • Realforce R1 TKL

We are also looking into bringing to market other PCBs, and if you want to design EC PCBs, get in touch with me on Discord (username: kartsims)!

"DOO" Keyboards

We are collaborating with Sleepless Labs on this EC keyboard with an HHKB layout. Here are some specs:

  • Aluminum CNC 2-parts body
  • Brass seam
  • Stainless steel plate
  • Cipulot's PCB (of course)

The first prototype actually arrived a couple weeks ago, and it exceeded our expectations! The design itself is mostly final, I (kartsims/Simon) am waiting to receive it tomorrow but it looks very good already, check it out:

Doo keyboard Doo keyboard
Doo keyboard Doo keyboard

It will be part of a product line called "DOO", that may expand to other options if this one gets some attention. "Doux" (pronounced doo) is a french word meaning "soft", referring to the soft touch that is specific to rubber dome switches.

We have 3 goals for the final product:

  • Fully assembled: comes in a sealed box, including keycaps, plug and play
  • No group buy: ready to ship when we receive payment
  • Affordable price: this will not be the usual $500 custom keyboard that doesn't come with all parts and keycaps

Please note that the first round of keyboards will not include URSA keycaps, as there are no EC slider available on the market 🙃 You'll be able to either use any other compatible MX set, or find yourself some EC sliders (on r/mechmarket?) and mount URSA.

As for the manufacturing/CNC process, that first prototype was good enough to check out the design, and we have a list of minor adjustments to make as well as work on a QC checklist to make sure they come out perfect for you.

These are big statements, so take them with a grain of salt as we already have, hem, history on doing a GB while we didn't want to 😬 However this one is different in the sense that it doesn't require a 6-figures investment to purchase a set of keycap molds! Based on the quotes we have received so far, we believe to have good chances to deliver on those high expectations we are setting for ourselves.

This is also a different project than URSA, that will happen on its own timeframe. So we won't discuss it furthermore in this feed, but feel free to join the discussion on our Discord server. There is a dedicated channel and you can get yourself a role to get a ping when it's live.


Well this was yet another packed (and belated) update. I'll try to make the future updates more concise and frequent. So expect less text/photos, but something more dense and hopefully on a regular basis!

We are not far from starting the GB, and rest assured that we are not getting lost on those "side projects", it's just that the main one takes some time.

Thanks for reading so far, cheers!

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