- Type: 65%
- Vendor: Graystudio
- Designers: Airpotter
- PCB: DEMO
- Interest check: Geekhack
- Group buy: Geekhack, 30th December 2018 to 14th January 2019
- Price: $225 (base kit)
- Units: around 280, unknown number of extra special editions
- Shipped: May 2019
- Community: Discord
- Firmware: QMK, PCB configurator, VIA
- Connector: USB Type-C
The Space65 is a custom mechanical keyboard from Graystudio, offered in a number of different configurations and in a relatively large number compared to most group buys. The interest check for the board was launched on Geekhack in November 2018, showing the clear paths of inspiration in the design leading to strong interest from the community.
The board has a top-mounted switch plate, and the top case features a number of interesting design elements including the Apple II inspired overall look, Voyager-1 related engraving, and a pair of LED light diffusers, one on the top and one on the side. It has a relatively shallow typing angle at just 5°, and supports a number of fairly standard 65% layout options.
The bottom case has a number of good looking design elements too, from the chamfered cutouts that run alongside the engraved GRAYSTUDIO and SPACE65 logos, to the hidden screws underneath the really nice rubber feet. There's also a really unique design touch at the back in the form of the board's badge, which has VOYAGER-1 engraved and attaches to the board with magnets, so it can be swapped on and off without disassembling the board.
The Space65 was offered to group buyers in a number of different configurations, allowing group buyers to put together a board to their exact specification. Buyers could even choose different colours for the top and bottom case, something Graystudio used themselves when creating some of the special editions that were sold in January 2020 after the Think6.5 group buy had completed.
Notable customisation options on top of that included a bottom case without the cutouts for the side LED acrylic diffuser, brass or aluminium rear badges, and aluminium, carbon fibres and brass switch plates.
The Space65 is now incredibly popular with its users because of its unique design and the way it sounds with particular combinations of plate material, switch and keycaps, and prices on various second markets are strong as a result at around $600, well above group buy price.
Graystudio have been active since early 2018 and designed 3 other boards prior to the Think6.5. The COD67 is a 60%-ish with a unique layout, innovative RGB underglow and a striking angular case design. Limited to 75 units worldwide, the group buy started in February 2018 and started shipping in June that year. The HB85 is a proper chonker with an almost full-size layout that began manufacture in late 2018 and was shipped via ZFrontier starting in January 2019.
The Think6.5 is Graystudio's most recent board.
Group Buy Options
The Space65 was available in a number of different configurations and with a range of extras. The carbon fibre plate
- Extra PCB ($40)
- Aluminium badges (all $15 each)
- Black, Gray, Silver, Dark Blue, Red
- Brass badge ($25)
- Badge collection ($52 for the other 4 colours not in your order)
- Extra carbon fibre plate ($25)
- Extra aluminium plate ($25)
- Extra brass plate ($35)
The case colours offered during the original group buy were black, silver, gray, dark blue and red, but other colours were also offered as special editions in early 2020. While the group buy data is publicly available, the spreadsheet isn't easily downloadable so the stats aren't available as in the Think6.5 guide.
Most buyers opted to match the top and bottom case colours in their orders, but a number of users did put together different colour top and bottom combinations, with black, gray and silver the most common colours put together in some way. Buyers were much more ambitious with their badge colour choice however, with most users opting for something different compared to their top and bottom case colour, as an accented colour for their builds.
The Space65 was shipped in a really nice looking custom Graystudio branded cardboard box, and the board and its contents were packed very well inside. At least in the extras sale in early January, the PCB was packed separately in its own paddged bag and cardboard sleeve.
Alongside the case, plate and weight, which came preassembled, you also got a set of hex wrenches, a set of 6 rubber feet giving you 2 spare in case you need them, and a set of replacement acrylic LED light diffusers just in case you lose the originals.
The Space65 has a distinctive look compared to lots of other 65% custom boards, with its wide side bezels, case chamfers, removable magnetic badge and stylised engraving for the top case, bottom case and badge.
The shallow typing angle — just 5° — makes the Space65 also stand out given the stance it has on the desk when built.
The bottom of the board shows off the partially chamfered edges alongside the logo engraving, and the really nice rubber feet. Using feet like that, instead of the more traditional bumpon, is a small feature but one that looks a lot nicer on a board.
Lastly, a really nice touch especially since it's not an exterior detail: the bottom case has an engraving one of the diagrams on the Voyager Golden Record, which explains to any alien friends out there how to decode the video data on the disc.
It's pretty popular in the Space65 user community to infill the engraving on the top case, the interior, the VOYAGER-1 logo on the badge, and the SPACE65 and GRAYSTUDIO logos on the bottom case. Most people follow the Top Clack method that uses water-based acrylic paints.
The PCB was designed by DEMO, and features an Atmel/Microchip ATmega32U4 MCU and a USB Type-C connector. The board doesn't support a Type-C connector being used on the host side, unfortunately, which was something DEMO fixed on the Think6.5
The PCB features a novel lighting solution, with 3 WS2818 LEDs for the top case lighting in the top left of the board, near the escape key, and three more side-mounted WS2818 LEDs on a separate small PCB, soldered to the main one, to diffuse through the side acrylic piece.
There's a pair of reset pins accessible from either side of the board, near the side LED PCB, marked RE on the bottom of the PCB.
The board diffuses the 6 LEDs — 3 on the side and 3 on the top — diffuse through removable acrylic pieces that sit in the top and bottom case pieces. You got a set of spares with the board.
The Space65 supports a handful of different layouts, all supported by the same plate design. Regular ANSI and ISO support are present, along with split backspace and three different bottom row layouts including triple-split space.
All of the layouts are supported by the VIA keyboard configurator.
The build procedure is really straightforward for the Space65, irregardless of the layout you want to achieve. Retaining the plate to the top case is simple, and assembling the whole board doesn't require any gymnastics to stop the acrylic pieces falling out, since they stay in quite nicely even if you separate the case halves and move them around.
VIA support for the Space65 was added in
v1.2.5, so download VIA for your preferred operating system and install it. Make sure your board is flashed with the firmware listed on the VIA website, then launch VIA, where you can switch to the Configure tab and configure your layout.
If you want to enable split backspace, ISO Enter, split left shift or any of the different bottom row layouts for your board, depending on how you've set it up, check the Layouts section in the Configure tab.
There is one fairly big issue with the Space65 unfortunately, and that's the PCB's lack of ESD protection. If you deliver any kind of sizeable static shock to your board then the shock tends to kill the LEDs.
They are replaceable if that happens, but because of how fiddly WS2818 LEDs are to desolder and solder again, they're not that easy to replace. If you're at all uncomfortable with fine tip soldering, desoldering and reflowing, please get help from someone with experience.
Support and Community
The Space65 has an active community on the Graystudio Discord in the
#space65 channel, where you can find many likeminded users who have built their boards ready to help out.
- Taeha Types - YouTube channel, Twitch channel, Discord server.
- Top Clack - YouTube channel, Twitch channel, Discord server.
- Mathew Teague - Holy Pandas on a carbon plate
- wildcat - lubed Tealios V2 on a carbon plate
- MrKeebs - lubed Gateron Black Inks on a carbon plate
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