DSS Late Harvest is a custom keycap set in the DSS profile that combines a classic grey & white pairing with a muted, autumnal approach to vintage RGB mods. It consists of a large base kit that provides physical compatibility for a wide range of mainstream and exotic MX-compatible boards along with three child kits for additional color & language options.
DSS Late Harvest keycaps will be made with doubleshot ABS plastic and manufactured by Signature Plastics.
This keyset will be my second custom keyset GB (Group Buy), following the success of KAT Napoleonic. Misono, who is currently preparing for her own SA Magica GB, created all renders for DSS Late Harvest and designed the deskmat.
The Group Buy for DSS Late Harvest is expected to run from April 12th to May 12th, 2021.
|Geekhack||Interest Check Thread|
DSS Late Harvest preorders should be open from April 12th until May 12th. Because DSS tends to have a faster manufacturing turnaround than many other popular keycap profiles, it is hoped that these keycaps will be shipped to most customers before the end of Autumn, though a more accurate estimate should be available before the Group Buy begins.
- United States – MKUltra
- Europe – mykeyboard.eu
- Canada – Ashkeebs
- UK – Protozoa Studio
- Singapore / SEA – HEX Keyboards
- Chile – Fancy Customs
- Ukraine – Funkeys
The following represents the approximate prices planned for the kits. There have been some questions about the size of the base kit and its cost, so I want to share these earlier rather than later to emphasize that the set will be affordable. While these numbers are not final, they are based on actual quotes from Signature Plastics.
|Kit||Estimated MOQ||Estimated US Price (USD)|
|Spätlese Kit (NorDe)||25||19.00|
Kits & Contents
DSS Late Harvest will be sold as a base kit with three optional child kits. Using a combination of both popular and agnostic modifier legends, the base kit should provide wide physical compatibility with a large array of keyboard types, including:
- US ANSI & UK ISO alpha layouts
- Split / Alice
- Ortholinear (e.g. Planck & Preonic)
- 40% (e.g. Minivan & Cajal)
- Ergo (e.g. Ergodox, Boardwalk, & Sol)
Two child kits for Late Harvest focus on additional aesthetic options, and one provides wider localization support.
The Grey Kit contains grey-colored versions of the accent-colored keys from base along with an additional R3 Stepped key with an agnostic legend.
Spätlese Kit (NorDe)
The Spätlese Kit provides “NorDe” support. It provides the additional legends used by the the German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian, & Fareoese layouts.
Spätlese, which literally means “Late Harvest” in German, is a wine grown along the western rivers of Germany. Legend has it that this wine’s invention came about by accident. A courier carrying orders from the Bishop of Fulda to begin the harvest was delayed by 14 days; the grapes succumbed to “noble rot” before the late harvest and yielded an unexpectedly good wine (Spätlese on Wikipedia).
The Novelties Kit for Late Harvest is intentionally small and should be priced very competitively. The novelty designs themselves are still a work-in-progress. Just two designs are planned, both following the theme of Late Harvest wine, with the intent of making them viable replacements for the Escape key or Windows/Super keys.
Obtaining Further Spacebars
The kitting for Late Harvest does not currently offer a distinct spacebar kit for alternative spacebar sizes. Signature Plastics does not currently manufacture convex spacebars in the DSS profile that are typically used in split and nonstandard keyboards. Because of the uniform nature of DSA and its structural similarity to DSS, concave DSA blanks are provided in the base kit as a reasonable alternative for several common sizes.
If you require other sizes of bars, please refer to Signature Plastics’ own Pimpmykeyboard storefront, where a wider range of DSA blanks and DSA spacebars are regularly available.
All renders performed by Misono.
M65A in rose gold by Rama Works.
MOLLY (M0llY) by TheKeyCompany.
Prime_E PCB by Prime Keyboards. Custom case by Misono.
SP-111 split full-size keyboard by BlindAssassin111 and TheKeyCompany.
A pair of Karina keyboards, as designed by Misono. These renders feature a bottom-row layout possible in the upcoming Karina Rev. 2. (DSS Late Harvest is also compatible with the original Karina.)
Klippe S / Boardwalk
Ribbon keyboard by Misono (upcoming project).
This autumn-themed deskmat was designed by Misono and features the Late Harvest accent colors on a neutral background. It is anticipated that it will be offered in two sizes: 900x400x4mm and 700x300x4mm.
DSS Late Harvest Color Standards. Grey and white will be Signature Plastics’ stock colors GSZ and WA. The red, olive, and blue colors will be matched to RAL 8015, RAL 090 30 20, and RAL 260 30 20.
Colors shown in keyboard renders and diagrams should not be treated as accurate representations of final keycap colors. Manufacturer samples of the three custom colors will be checked against physical color decks of the RAL standards above. Be aware that some variation is always possible, and these colors are not guaranteed to be exact.
Comparison to DSS Honeywell
DSS Late Harvest has drawn some comparisons to Honeywell for the use of grey, white, and red. DSS Honeywell is an implementation of the classic Honeywell color scheme in DSS profile. It was produced by Prime Keyboards, and it consisted of a comprehensive kit for a variety of 40% keyboards.
Below is a comparison of the two colorways’ specs.
DSS is a keycap profile created by the company that would become Signature Plastics. It was designed in the mid-80s to meet the DIN standards (Deutsches Institut für Normung). While DSS was not initially very popular, it became the basis of the successful uniform DSA profile (Source).
DSS keycaps have spherical top surfaces nearly identical to those of DSA. However, as seen in the images above, the heights and angles of the top surfaces vary by row. The overall pattern of these heights and angles resemble Cherry profile, though in practice DSS feels quite different.
DSS Late Harvest will use an R3 bottom row, which matches the overall angle and height of the convex spacebars and is not as sharply angled as R4.
DSS keycaps are only available in ABS plastic. DSS tends to be more noticeably textured than other keycap profiles. The somewhat rougher feel of the caps may not be a common preference, but personally I find that texture quite enjoyable. The unique feel and sculpt of DSS make it one of my favorite keycap profiles, and I am excited about the possibility of more DSS group buys on the horizon.
Rendering DSS via KeyV2
One of the reasons that DSS custom sets have been so sparse is that until recently, there wasn’t a way to render them in a reasonable fashion. The original DSS moulds had been created long enough ago that Signature Plastics haven’t been able to provide digital models and geometry for the profile. However, in the past year, DSS rendering has become possible using KeyV2.
KeyV2 is an open source project that uses OpenSCAD to generate keycap STEP files parametrically. As part of a collaboration with github user colegleason, I assisted with porting the Signature Plastics’ specifications for the DSS profile to KeyV2, and I used the tool to produce 3D models for most of the sizes of keycaps available for the profile.
Misono has been one of the first 3D artists to create renders using these often-difficult-to-work-with models. They are the best digital models of the DSS profile currently available, but it is important to note that they are still approximations. Likewise, the legends shown in renders are based on common text mods and alphas for DSA / DSS as manufactured by Signature Plastics, but they too contain several inaccuracies. For better examples of how DSS legends and keys look in reality, please check out the product listings DSS Dolch and DSS Tecla (note that Dolch uses a different bottom row than Late Harvest).
About RGB Mods
Modern custom keysets tend to follow a few common patterns in regard to which keys are colored in which way. Alpha keys have one colorway, modifier keys have yet another, while other keys receive optional accents. Accent keys tend to include Escape and Enter keys by default, with accented spacebars and arrow keys provided as further options. There are other common patterns that break these conventions (particularly with regard to gradients), but the paradigm of accented Escape & Enter holds strong and is likely to continue.
DSS Late Harvest came about as part of an experiment to try and follow an alternate accent paradigm. It was based in part on the concept of “RGB mods,” whereby the Shift, Control, and Alt keys are all color-coded. Per Originative Company, which sells several variations on RGB mods in Cherry profile, this accent scheme was introduced by the Desko BMLO series of keyboards.
Starting with the BMLO series in the late 1980’s, Desko produced vivid red-, green-, and blue-colored modifier keys in order to help airline employees learn to use their computer systems. Since then, RGB keysets have become one of the most popular and sought-after items for modern keyboard enthusiasts.Product Description for Desko Blank RGBY addon. Originative Company. Last accessed: 26 Jan 2021.
There have been other custom keysets that take a new spin on the concept of RGB mods, sometimes adding color to the Windows/Super/Command keys as well. For example, GMK Prepress (designed by HungHingDaiLo) provided an optional Tradition Kit containing custom-legend Shift, Control, and Alt keys (with custom legends) in yellow, magenta, and cyan.
DSS Late Harvest follows the original Desko RGB paradigm but with more muted, autumnal tones: red-brown for the Control keys, dark blue for the Alt keys, and olive for the Shift keys. Additionally, one olive-colored Function key is provided to keep this color scheme intact on HHKB-style boards.
Links & Contact
The best way to get in touch with me is via my Discord server (linked below). Please feel free to ask questions and provide suggestions there or on the linked Geekhack thread.