Keyboard Builders' Digest
10% off of spaceship themed keyboards at Keysme! Code: KBDNEWS

Issue 103 / Week 46 / 2022

This is a hand-picked selection of last week's content from a keyboard enthusiast's perspective. Posts that may teach you something, make you think and contribute to the common knowledge of the DIY builder community.

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Contents

Editorial

Behind the Scenes of Issue 103

Anniversary giveaway, advent calendar, new vendor, meetup, etc.

Hey y'all,

Welcome back for another edition of Keyboard Builders' Digest (this time Issue #103), a weekly roundup of this DIY keyboard focused newsletter and blog from Tamas Dovenyi – that's me. If you are new to this, you can read how this started out and what this is all about nowadays. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to the newsletter (free) and donate some bucks to keep this otherwise free and ad-free project alive.

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Monstre Giveaway – apply now!

These are the last days you can apply for the giveaway organized to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of this blog.

Don't miss it: raffle day is Nov 20!

With Justin's (TEX Electronics), Sig's (X-Bows) and FalbaTech's last-minute offers there are 111 prizes in the pool – offered by 50 awesome vendors! (Holy #@°%!)

Pic:

Sorry, I haven't even had time to update the page with all of these latest offers. Will do it soon.

KBD.NEWS Advent Calendar

I can't wait to do the raffle and close the giveaway to be able to focus on another seasonal surprise, a series of longer form articles published as an MK advent calendar. ;)

For those of you who are not familiar with the format, it's been done in the Japanese MK community for years. (You can find this year's Japanese calendars here and here). Other than shamelessly copying the format, we'll try to take it a step further.

The authors will sum up their whole year in the hobby/industry, introduce a specific project in detail, or come up with tutorials.

I've been working on this for some weeks now with dozens of revered members of the community. I hope you'll like it, however, there's still a lot of work to do.

More on this next week.

Seeed competition update

There are still no winners announced, probably next week.

I was asked to help with that, and among other rigorous members of the board of judges I will rate, evaluate and rank your submissions this weekend. ;)

Vendor database

Meetup database

I'll have to get back to this video, there are so many cool/crazy/sick designs!

As always, this meetup database is both a calendar and an archive so feel free to send me upcoming events or even ones from the recent past to make this collection as comprehensive as possible.

Donors

  • A new generous donation from Andy Piper. I really appreciate your support!

And I'd like to give a big shout out to all the supporters who have donated some bucks during these two years. I couldn't have done this for two years without you.

That said, maintaining this project takes a lot of time. If you can afford to help, here is the donation form.

Small developments

  • Updates to the giveaway page
  • Meetup database: indicating sold out events (temporarily hiding location and time details on request of organizers)
  • And I've worked a lot on the new and exciting surprise due to be published in December and to be announced next week. Stay tuned!
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That's all for today. Thanks for reading.

Feel free to comment in this issue's r/mk thread, and as always: keep learning and building.

Cheers, Tamás


Projects

Kolibrimini

Kolibrimini is a 40% Alice-style keyboard with arrow cluster – designed by kreme11.

Shared by kreme11 aka kreme123, the Kolibrimini is a 40% Alice-style keyboard with arrow cluster.

Kolibrimini uses a Pro Micro, is plateless, PCB isolated from case using rubber plugs and o-rings. Mjf printed case with rgb underglow. Built with KNC Green Jacket switches and TX stabs – kreme11.

Resources

Github repo with Gerbers and case step files:

https://github.com/kreme123/Kolibrimini


4x4 keyboard

4x4 is a modular ortholinear keyboard/MIDI controller design with per-key LEDs – shared by key-yack.

Fellow redditor key-yack aka nezumee shared a modular 4x4 PCB with per-key RGB intended to be used as a base for prototyping MIDI controllers with QMK firmware.

It's using PCB pieces that are small enough to be cheap to order from PCB prototyping fabs but are soldered together to make a bigger one-piece keyboard. 4x4 macropad, Planck and a few other layouts are supported; it allows for 16 to 64 MX switches with hotswap and per-key RGB – key-yack.

The system consists of two parts:

  • Head PCB with MCU and other connectors
  • Key PCB having 16 hotswap Cherry MX switches in 4x4 layout

Pic:

Resources

Github repo:

https://github.com/nezumee/4x4


Lagom

Lagom is a through-hole 65% keyboard shared by mojibber.

Lagom is a 65% board designed and built by Moses Hoyt aka mohoyt or mojibber.

In Sweden, where I’m based, Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ - not too big, not too small: just like this board – mojibber.

(This may be a reference to the author's other design, the 40% litl.)

It uses only through hole components for easy soldering, it’s Pro Micro (or equivalent) compatible, has an OLED screen and 2 rotary encoders.

In addition, demultiplexers and a custom matrix are used to enable the size and features of the board with the limited number of pinouts of a Pro Micro.

Resources


Litl

Another through-hole keyboard project published by mohoyt: the 40% litle.

Litl is an easy to build 40% keyboard using only through-hole components.

Just like its big brother, the Lagom, it uses a separate daughterboard for microcontrollers with Pro Micro footprint.

Features

  • Only through hole components for easy soldering
  • Supports Pro Micro, Elite C, Nice!Nano or equivalent development boadrds with compatible footprint. (So micro USB, USB-C or Bluetooth are all options!)
  • 1 or 2 rotary encoders
  • OLED screen (though only 1 rotary encoder is possible if using OLED)
  • Multiple layout options including split space (2.25u + 1u + 2.75u), split left shift (1.25u + 1u), split enter (1u + 1.25u) and stepped capslock
  • Open and visible components (in the style of Plaid, Romac etc.)
  • Simple and flexible case options

Resources


Zerosprey42

Leo Lou's Zerosprey42 is an open-source 40% travel keyboard – remix of the Ospray.

The Zerosprey42 keyboard is a 42-key, wired, low-pro (Choc v1) hotswap monoblock split with a daughterboard rather than an onboard MCU – remixed and shared by Beekeeb's Leo.

It balances between portability and ergonomics with a sleek 3D printed travel case. This is a remix of ebastler‘s Osprey with a low cost yet powerful RP2040-Zero – Leo.

(For a case, check out ebastler's Osprey.)

Resources


Osprey

Osprey is an low-profile open-source monoblock split by ebastler.

This Osprey (we already had another one) is a 40% wireless monoblock keyboard with onboard MCU – designed by ebastler.

The PCB and 3D-printable case are both open source.

The board was designed to be an elegant and sleek unibody keyboard, without sacrificing typing comfort or portability. While the enclosure has raised edges to hide the keyswitches for a more refined look, it is still as slim as possible with Choc v1 switches, leading to a total thickness of about 16 mm from bottom to keycap top, if used with MBK keycaps – ebastler.

If you'd prefer something with a daugtherboard rather than the onboard nRF52840 chip, Leo published a remix of this design with an RP2040-Zero: the Zerosprey42 (wired).

Resources


ScottoSplit

Joe Scotto built a split keyboard that uses VGA cable and connectors: ScottoSplit.

Joe Scotto's ScottoSplit is a 36 key column-staggered split keyboard that uses VGA interconnects.

I teased this idea of using VGA cables as interconnects for a split keyboard a while ago and finally did it. Like all my other boards, this one too is handwired – Joe Scotto.

Build video coming soon.

Pic:

Resources

https://github.com/joe-scotto/keyboards/tree/main/ScottoSplit


Tips & Tricks

Mcorne c5

Release of the wireless magnetic Corne case by weissbieremulsion: Mcorne c5.

After teasing his magnetic case system, Runningtarrens aka weissbieremulsion published the files of the Mcorne-c5.

A few days ago I showed a short video of my case for the Corne keyboard. Lots of people asked me for the .stl files to print it. I said I will provide them, so here we are. All the necessary files are on there. Also a complete guide to print the case and all the needed parts for it are on there, too – weissbieremulsion.

This particular case is part of the magnetic case family consisting of five different models at the moment (two of them published thus far).

Its easy to lose track of all the different versions, so the author has set up an overview with a quick summary of the features of the different cases.

Resources


Kunai

Koenigspiel designed the Kunai, a case for the Corne based off the Am Hatsu.

The Kunai is a Corne case inspired by the Am Hatsu and designed by mell0w aka Koenigspiel.

Ergonomic Corne case designed to work with acrylic and FR4 Corne plates. I printed it in PETG with a 20% infill, triangle pattern – mell0w.

The STL files are available on printables.


Inspiration

Timothy

Timothy is a tented split keyboard with lowered thumb cluster – designed by geek-rabb1t.

Timothy is a split keyboard designed and sold by @geek-rabb1t.

The author works as a programmer developing business applications. Since he's using a keyboard all day long, designing his own keyboard to be able to work comfortably made sense.

The model's main features are the case with a slight (4°) tilt and the lowered thumb cluster.

I used to use a split keyboard that I assembled myself. I liked it, but there were two things that bothered me. One is that my thumbs get tired when I use it for a long time. The other is the shape, which has a strong handmade feel. I wanted to solve these problems, so I started designing my own – geek-rabb1t.

As a result of his efforts to make the thumb cluster more natural, a quite unique design with a low thumb position was born.

Pic:

By the way, the name comes from the timothy grass that rabbits eat.

As timothy is essential for rabbits, I hope that this keyboard will be essential for users – geek-rabb1t.

Unfortunately, the keyboard is not open source at the moment, you can buy it on booth.pm.

As geek-rabb1t told me, he's planning to release it as open source in the future to make it available to as many people as possible.


Promotion

Elecrow MK promotion

There's a special promotion for mechanical keyboard makers going on at Elecrow. Check it out for 50% discounts and even $1 plates.

Elecrow reached out to me asking if I could share their mechanical keyboard special promotion.

Sure, it looks promising, however, the details displayed on the landing page were quite confusing initially. I was told the specs will be clarified later, and I can already see them being updated, so what I write below may refer to a previous state.

The gist is, at least as of my understanding: you get a 50% discount even in the worst case scenario.

In addition, if your design checks some boxes, you may end up with:

  • free PCB assembly (≤50 pcs)
  • $1 acrylic plate (≤10 pcs, <1515cm, 2-3mm thickness, transparent material)
  • $1 3D printing (≤10g, <5 pcs)

As you can see, this may work for split plates, but even larger plates are eligible for the 50% discount.

Duration

This promotion will be available from Nov 17 to Dec 17, 2022.

From the landing page:

It's Elecrow's special promotion for mechanical keyboards. You will enjoy big discounts like free PCB assembly service, $1 for 3D printing mechanical keyboard cases and acrylic laser cutting service. Make your mechanical keyboards at much lower cost at Elecrow!

How to apply

These discounts are not automatic. You have to apply for them. As Nicole told me:

For DIY mechanical keyboard projects, customers need to send their files to our project department (email address: pcb at elecrow.com) for manual review and inquiry. After the review, my colleague will provide specific links for customers to place orders.

Don't forget to reference kbd.news in your application! ;)

And if you register via this affiliate link, I may earn some points.

Another $50

If you place a mechanical keyboard related order, the Elecrow project department will record a video of the production process. Once you share this video on your social media platform or in the maker community, you get an extra $50 coupon for any PCBA order (after sending the link to the Elecrow project manager for confirmation – service at elecrow.com).

Sponsorship

You can apply for a sponsorship as well.


That was Issue #103. Thanks for stopping by.

This issue was made possible by the donations of:
splitkb.com, MoErgo Glove80, PCBWay, Aiksplace, u/chad3814, @keebio, @kaleid1990, MKUltra, Sean Grady, Cyboard, cdc, ghsear.ch, u/motfalcon, KEEBD, kiyejoco, Bob Cotton, FFKeebs, Richard Sutherland, @therick0996, Jacob Mikesell, Joel Simpson, Keebstuff, Lev Popov, Christian Mladenov, littlemer-the-second, Spencer Blackwood, Christian Lo, Yuan Liu, Upgrade Keyboards, Daniel Nikolov, u/eighty58five, Davidjohn Gerena, Caleb Rand, Skyler Thuss, Fabian Suceveanu, anonymous, Arto Olli, Hating TheFruit

Your support is crucial to help this project to survive.

Discussion over at r/mk!
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