The Bakeneko65 is an excellent build kit that offers strong competition to boards like the KBD67 Lite and NK65
Today we have the Cannon Keys Bakeneko65 for review. You might be familiar with its smaller brother, the Bakeneko60. Not only are these boards affordably priced, but they are sold as in-stock items on Cannon Keys. The price for this unit ranges from $135 to $165 depending on your configuration. The Bakeneko65 is an O-Ring gasket mount board that comes with an FR4 plate and Cherry clip-in stabilisers. The Bakeneko boards are characterised by their bright and poppy sound profile.
So the build kit comes in a nice carrying case, and the packaging is very thorough and tidy on the inside. The chassis even came wrapped in a microfiber cloth. You already feel like you’re getting great value here.
Before we start our build, let’s have a look at all the parts. The case is made of cast aluminium as opposed to CNC machining, which allows Cannon Keys to keep the price down. The case has a painted finish instead of being anodised, and on the latest Bakeneko boards some of the colours are actually powder coated, including the Black version I have here today. I was quite impressed with the outside finish of the case, and it has a smooth and consistent feel. While there is some roughness on the edges, I couldn’t find any obvious defects or inconsistencies. You’d have to put this case under a microscope to notice the minor flaws on the finish. Just note that this is the A Stock, which goes for $10 more than the B Stock. There are a few more noticeable marks on the inside of the case, but this won’t be visible on the final build so it’s no dealbreaker. It does give the board a slightly less premium feel though. Cannon Keys offers a weight in zinc or silicone, and I chose silicone as it should provide some extra sound dampening, however the zinc will add a nice chunk of weight. So while this isn’t CNC quality, it’s more than acceptable at the price.
The PCB is designed by Cannon Keys and it features TTC hot-swap sockets with a south facing configuration. It’s QMK and VIA compatible out of the box. It really doesn’t get any more convenient than this. There is per-key backlighting, but it’s only white so no RGB. The Bakeneko65 comes with an FR4 plate, which again is designed by Cannon Keys. I feel like this is the perfect choice of material for this keyboard, as something like polycarbonate would have muted the sound too much. Then the kit includes a daughterboard and JST cable, which must be installed by the user. By default the Bakeneko65 comes with a 50A silicone O-Ring, however I also got the 30A that should give us an even softer and bouncier typing experience.
The build is very straightforward and this is definitely a beginner-friendly kit. Our first order of business is stabilisers, and we have the Cherry clip-in stabs here. Cannon Keys included their own wire for space bar, which is a nice touch. Cherry clip-in stabs might not be the first choice of most keyboard enthusiasts, but they offer very solid performance with some modding. Due to the mounting style of the Bakeneko, the board doesn’t actually support screw-in stabs, and Cannon Keys recommends sticking with the stock stabilisers.
Once the stabilisers have been installed, we turn our attention to the assembly. I’ll be using my Gateron Black Inks for this build, one of my favourite linear switches. It’s best to start with the corners, and then work your way around. When you install the first few switches, just try and hold the mounting plate up with your fingers, otherwise it might just drop flat on the PCB. You want to maintain the space between the PCB and plate. Our final step (for the assembly) is to add our silicone O-Ring. Next we attach the daughterboard using the included screws and hex key. It’s best to have the JST cable already connected before installing the daughterboard.
Before we go any further, I think it’s worth looking at the mounting style of this board, because it is quite interesting. So you’ll see that the case has six mounting points, and then the PCB actually has matching cutouts. These cutouts expose the O-Ring, allowing it to rest on the mounting points, making this a friction fit. So there is no direct contact between the assembly and case, and no screws are used.
Our final step is to connect the JST cable to the PCB, and insert our assembly. The first thing to do here is push the assembly down by the blocker, then you gently slide it into the case. It sat very snug and didn’t feel loose at all, however it’s also easy to remove for future modding.
The typing experience is where the Bakeneko65 really shines. This keyboard feels amazing to type on, and I used the 30A O-Ring for some extra flex. It’s a really soft and forgiving typing experience, yet still has enough firmness. There is no vibration like on a tray-mount. Most keyboard hobbyists look for that deep and thocky sound, but I really enjoyed the bright and poppy sound of the Bakeneko. It isn’t obnoxiously loud either. The 30A silicone O-Ring gives you a slightly louder and more poppy sound than the 50A, although the difference isn’t huge. FR4 is the perfect choice for the plate, and it gives the keyboard a distinctive sound, while not smothering it like polycarbonate may have done. The board has a very even and consistent typing experience and sound. I was immensely satisfied with the final build.
The PCB supports white backlighting only, but I think most users buying a kit like this won’t be too bothered by the lack of RGB. I didn’t end up using the backlighting, as it didn’t really add any aesthetic value. This is a very simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing case. The bezels are of medium thickness and it has a right side blocker next to the arrow keys.
What’s nice about this PCB is that there is QMK and VIA support out of the box. It’s as easy as installing VIA, and you can immediately start editing your keymaps with an easy to use GUI. I did my usual remappings here, such as putting Delete on Caps Lock and adding dedicated volume controls.
In conclusion, the Bakeneko65 is an excellent build kit that offers a unique typing experience. It’s a strong competitor to the KBD67 Lite and NK65, but I wouldn’t say it’s on the same level as the QK65 and Zoom65 Essential Edition, at least as far as case quality is concerned. Keep in mind, this is an in-stock item, which is a big bonus. I think this is a great entry-level kit for beginners or even more experienced users.