I had taken quite the hiatus from Windows gaming while I worked on certification, but got a chance to have some quick Overwatch sessions last night, only to have one of the competitive matches interrupted by a popup that took me out of the game (I was able to alt-tab back in) that stated the following: “Updates Are Available. Required Updates need to be downloaded”.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is normally fine, but when you’re in the middle of something, say a movie, intense game, conference call or presentation, this behaviour is pretty awful.
No fear, however, there’s a fix, though definitely not obvious. Let’s disable the Windows 10 update notification. We’ll be using the cmd.exe tool in order to run the following script found on StackExchange:
cd /d "%Windir%\System32"
takeown /F MusNotification.exe
icacls MusNotification.exe /deny Everyone:(X)
takeown /F MusNotificationUx.exe
icacls MusNotificationUx.exe /deny Everyone:(X)
This essentially denies the system from running the app itself, which will stop the popup.
I’ve really been enjoying the programmable firmware on the Zeal60 keyboard PCB from ZealPC. It’s definitely not all the bells and whistles, this layout gives you 62 keys in total, though you might need a keycap set that supports all of these keys. I’m currently using the Originative Co Modern Beige set, though I hear most (if not all) GMK sets would also accommodate this.
This layout addresses something I sorely needed: the ` and ~ keys (used with Github, Bash and Slack on a daily basis).
In order to accomplish this, I need to edit the keymap.c and config.h files, which allowed me to generate a zeal60_rmac.hex file for use with the QMK flasher tool (Win/Mac/Lin).
In order to follow the Zeal example, I also made a zeal60_keymap_rmac.bat file, which can be used with Windows.
Hope you enjoy this! It took a bit of doing, but was well worth it 🙂
Note that the files in question do a good job of walking you through the mods, making it rather easy. The one caveat was the tilde key being on a different row, as there’s only 13 spots per row, but that’s covered in the comments anyway.
As for the batch file for windows, you can see that it’s really a combination of the config.h and keymap.c files, to a certain extent, so copying and pasting the modified bits did the trick.
After much research, I decided to assemble a keyboard using hand-picked parts.
The goals of this build were a bit lofty, but luckily I prevailed in the end:
Cold-swappable switches in case I change my mind later
Almost silent typing that would be safe for work
Tactile feeling on the keys when typing
The option to use backlighting at night
A small footprint so I could bring the keyboard home for the weekend
The board should be programmable and support multiple layouts
The keyboard should be as flat as possible
There should be no “ping” from the case
There should be no flex in the PCB when installing switches
Keycaps that fit Zealencios properly – Cherry profile thick keycaps
This led me to a few easy decisions: I would go with a ZealPC Zeal60 as it supported SMD LEDs, was programmable via QMK, was 60%. I’d also opt for Zealio 65g switches as they had great tactile response, and were fairly quiet when combined with Zealencios.
What I didn’t see coming was the arrival of the test Aristotle stems (via /r/mechmarket) and a last-minute purchase of JSpacers from The Van Keyboard. These were for two different projects, respectively: Gatistoles and Jailhoused Outemu blues. During those projects I got to wondering if I could mix the results, and sure enough, figured out a way to add JSpacers to Gatistoles. Not satisfied, I ended up trying this same mod in a Zealio housing, and then to seal the deal, put some Zealencios on top. This led to a tactile switch that was very quiet – more so than a typical dome keyboard.
In order to be able to cold-swap switches as with the TeamWolf Zhuque+ and PC Gaming Master Race Mechanical Keyboard, I’d need to sort out a way to replicate the recepticles each of these boards implement. After doing a lot of research into LED sip sockets that might work, I stumbled across a Linus Tech Tips forum post about something called “holtites” which were used for this purpose. A few Reddit searches later I found out that the TE AMP connectors would fit the bill, and made a spur of the moment DigiKey order.
Now that I had the switches and board picked out, I was left with a tough decision regarding the case and plate. Nothing I could find actually had the proper mounting standoffs for the Zeal60 PCB, most were of the “Poker” variety, which were missing top screw standoffs, as well as one lower-left. It looked like I had to compromise, and seeing as most 60% cases seemed to be incredibly similar, I ended up going with a Sentraq aluminum case and plate based on looks alone. I ended up getting a cyan case and plate, as well as purple versions of the same, intending to try and colour match the Zeal60. It later turned out that I preferred the cyan varieties, which you’ll see in the shots.
The Sentraq case with the Zeal60 is not without problems: both cases prohibited me from screwing in the leftmost PCB screw, and both seemed to have the wrong thread on the top left standoff. Nothing altogether impossible to get around, but disconcerting all the same. Furthermore, the fit and finish of the top plate in the case wasn’t great, causing the right side to be less snug than the left. All of this to say: I’m still on the lookout for a case and plate that fit well together, and have not ruled out making my own.
As for the keycaps, I searched all over, asked around and tried a few OEM samples and was not satisfied. I ended up purchasing an Originative Co Modern Beige purple set with kana legends which I am happy with in terms of looks, fit and sound, but am not sure they are fit for work. In other words – I’m still looking for a good set of keycaps. I’ve been told GMK might be the best call for the Aristotle stems, and as soon as I have a sample of them, I’ll report back.
Finally, regarding the LEDs: though I was not at all interested in RGB LEDs (preferring white when possible), I ended up actually really liking the default rainbow profile (fn1+2). This is a bit colourful for most, but as I have them turned off most of the time, the assumption is that I’ll be the only one seeing them.
Download the Atmel flashing utility “FLIP”: http://www.atmel.com/tools/flip.aspx
Grab the most recent Zeal 60 keyboard zip: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0490/7329/files/zeal60_v0_3.zip
Unzip the zeal60_v0_3.zip file to your desktop
Install the Driver
Plug in your Zeal60 to your computer via USB
Hit “Windows” and “r” keys together, then type “devmgmt.msc”
Right click the device with the exclamation point next to it
Click “browse for driver”
Navigate to C:\Program Files\FLIP\Drivers
Flashing the Board
Install the driver –
If you’ve not started assembling anything yet, press the golden button between the “A” and “S” pads on the board (if you’ve already assembled it, unplug it and hold the “space” and “esc” keys while plugging in the USB cable)
In FLIP, hit connect to the device, and select “ATMega32U4”
Hit “ctrl” + “U” keys to connect to the Zeal 60 PCB
Hit “ctrl” + “L” to load a file
Select the “default.hex” file in the Zeal 60 folder you extracted to your desktop
On the left-hand window, click “Run”
Once completed, then click “Start Application” in the right window
This tutorial will cover removing Outemu Blue switches from a TeamWolf Zhuque+ and applying the “Jailhouse Mod” – so-named as it stops the mechanical keyboard switches from “clicking” when depressed. What’s great about this mod is that it also retains the tactile feeling of the switch, and slightly increases the force needed to bottom out.
An interesting side effect was that these switches became very quiet! If there’s interest I can also post a video with a comparison of before and after, and compared to Zealios + Zealencios, Gateron Browns, Gateron Browns + Zealencios. Just leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do 🙂
Note that it took about 6 hours to do this for each switch on the board, though admittedly I was watching a movie at the time, and it was New Years Eve. Also be prepared for some eventual pain in your fingers: Outemu switches are a bit hard to pry apart in this fashion, but I’m open to suggestions for easier methods.
A “spudger” – available at Mac repair shops
A 2.5mm size flathead screwdriver
A switch removal tool (or a soldering iron, if the board is not hot-swappable)