Keyboard Builders' Digest
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Issue 158 / Week 11 / 2024

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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Behind the scenes #158

Keyboard projects, quick news, in the mailbox, meetups, new vendors and discount codes!

Hey, what's up everyone!

Welcome back for another weekly recap and behind-the-scenes write-up.

If you are new to, you can read how this started out and what this is all about nowadays. If you like what you see, subscribe to the newsletter (free) and donate some bucks to keep this otherwise free and ad-free project alive.


Jeez, it's been already a whole year since I moved to Buttondown (from MailChimp).

Do you read the newsletters at all? Does it make any sense beside the blog, Twitter and now Instagram? Also weekly reminders on KeebTalk and r/mk or r/ergomk?

While the newsleter is free for you, I'll have to pay $145 in a few weeks.

I would be happy to hear your opinion.

(With all its faults, I like Buttondown a lot. Other services would probably cost much more with 3,000+ subscribers for a year.)

Some posts worth sharing

Pic: SpaceFN tutorial

SpaceFN tutorial

  • My write-up about the SpaceFN concept – setting up your space key as a layer switch when held. It's probably the most useful tweak on keyboards with standard layout. I owed this for a long time.
  • Reviews: Wrote two new ones (Synth Labs 060 and IROK ND75) but both are postponed. Nevertheless, I had some issues with the previous newsletter, so check out the WhiteFox Eclipse review if you missed it, along with last week's "on my desk" semi-issue.

Pic: JESK56: 56 keys without diodes

JESK56: 56 keys without diodes

  • Curiosity or game-changer? We'll soon see: T. G. Marbach's JESK56 is a diodeless 56-key ortholinear keyboard, using a single RP2040-based microcontroller thanks to some fancy math and graph theory.
  • Mangokitty published the files of the Tanto, a 40% with Katana-stlye symmetric layout.

Pic: Mangokitty's Tanto

Mangokitty's Tanto

Pic: glyphkbd


  • An open-source ortho TKL with on-board controller: glyphkbd v2 by _galile0.
  • A 20-key minimal split: Pepesweep by Volodymyr Petiushka. Low profile, wireless, open source.

Pic: Pepesweep


Pic: dance!


  • Dance! is a wireless-only split keyboard by chase-hunter.
  • Penk Chen shared his Haori36, a compact monoblock ortho with thumb cluster and optional Pimonori trackball.

Pic: Haori36 by Penk Chen

Haori36 by Penk Chen

Pic: Toad v2

Toad v2

  • This is an old project for reference: Toad v2 by TalkingTree, an open-source 70% keyboard from 2017.
  • Shared by Kea Workshop's Claude, the KW keycap profile is uniform, spherical, MX-sized, and compatible with Choc V1 switches.

Pic: KW Choc V1 keycaps

KW Choc V1 keycaps


Our goal was to create the lowest profile case we could for this PCB, one that gets out of your way while still adding functionality and beauty. A case that holds true to the goals of many split 30% users: lowest, smallest, and lightest possible – boardsource_xyz.

Pic: Photo: Ryosuke Kawamura

Photo: Ryosuke Kawamura



I've created keycaps that offset the stem to the left or right, allowing me to turn a standard keyboard into an ortholinear layout. By using this method, you can replicate various layouts on your existing keyboard simply by swapping out the keycaps – Leo.

Keyboard art

No Internet / Dino104:


Mantis builds by luckybipedal (and here is Felix's article if you missed it last December):


A 3D printed planter switch fidget toy by Creative_rooster00 (source):


Donut keyboard by QDP2D.



As already mentioned, I finished two reviews this week but still no posts published.

Synth Labs 060

That's because, firstly, Julien of keebwerk asked me to postpone the Synth Labs 060 review to a later date, simply because the shipment is still on its way.



So I hastily grabbed the IROK ND75, this compact gamer board with magnetic switches and rapid trigger settings, but MechKeys starts a springs sale tomorrow, so I didn't want to trick anyone into buying it when there may be a 10-30% discount next week.


The ND75 is definitely on the list when you click the link, but not named in the spreadsheet I received. Anyway, I'll rather post the review later when the discounts are already active – prices will be updated only then.

We're planning a Spring Deal from March 17th to March 27th […] The sale offers up to 30% off! – MechKeys.


For all the donation options check out the donation page!

In the mailbox

Can it be true? Some new offers, but nothing showing up in the mailbox this week.

Meetup database

Upcoming events in the meetup database:

Right now

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.

Vendors & Discounts

New shops and updates to the database of keyboard vendors this week:

Not much progress with updating the vendor database and contacting every single shop. I'm still stuck at "S".

Some vendors marked as closed in this round of attempt to make the list up to date: Qoda Studio, Rainkeebs (no product listed), (last week), and SquashKB, Standard Keys (really?! TWS), Steel Apes (cables, Spain) since issue 157 and half.


  • Search: autofocus the damn input box on pageload – after more than three years… :D
  • Title to link. Sometimes it would be useful to be able to point to specific parts of an article, so I implemented this: headers get an id and can be turned into links automatically, so you can reference specific parts of posts. E.g. this link takes you deep into the SpaceFN post. I may have to do a little conversion for this to work for all the past write-ups where I used a different markup. Yep, and I'll have to put the links out for you so you can share links pointing to these sub-page anchors. At the moment they only appear for me. :) I have to test formatting so it won't break any layouts.


That's all for today. Thanks for checking by. As always: Keep learning and building!

Until next time,

On my desk (Issue 157½)

An unusual editorial since there were not enough projects for a proper issue: what happened around my desk this week.

Hey, what's up everyone!

Not many projects shared this week so I'd postpone Issue #158 a bit. That said, I wanted to mention a few things anyway so instead of reporting on the keyboard hobby in general, here is a recap of what happened on and around my desk in the recent days.

Let me know and feel free to comment e.g. on Twitter on if this format makes any sense to you so I can continue this series or ditch it for good. :D

By the way, I'm working on a couple of articles and features, and a lot of parcels have arrived too. But let's start with this week's review.

Whitefox Eclipse review

I like to dedicate enough time for every keyboard I test, so this past few days I've been using the Whitefox Eclipse (review this way).

Pic: Whitefox Eclipse

Whitefox Eclipse

Designed by Project Eclipse / Alpaca Keyboards and sold by Apos (now 10% off!), this pre-built wireless Whitefox Eclipse is the latest take on the classic Whitefox, which has a 10+ years history.

We are talking about an extremely well built screwless 68% keyboard with handy magnetic case and gasket mounting.

Pic: Side profile of the Whitefox Eclipse high-pro case

Side profile of the Whitefox Eclipse high-pro case

The high-pro aluminum case is… heavy as hell. :D 2.4kg. Read the full article here to figure out if it's for you.

In the mailbox

Toshiba T3200

I bought this retro Toshiba T3200 laptop after a successful bid at a local classified site. It's huge and bulky, but I couldn't resist the siren call of the beautiful orange plasma display. This is a photo from the listing:

Pic: Toshiba T3200

Toshiba T3200

…because, unfortunately, I'm not able to take such a photo anymore. :( The poor laptop didn't make it through the journey in perfect condition: I can hear it booting, but can't see anything on the display.

Anyway, it has these cool Alps SKFL switches with the relatively low-profile oval slider and classy metal lid. (Sorry, this beast is dirty as hell, will have to clean and disassemble it.)

Pic: Alps SKFL



Then an IROK ND75 came from MechKeys – an affordable compact Hall-effect keyboard, mainly for gamers I guess. (Sorry for the stock photo, I left the board in my office.) It comes in a mesmerizing orange box.

Pic: IROK ND75


The ND75 is very light and portable, but maybe I feel that way only after tossing around the chunky Whitefox for a couple of days, which required two hands and some real effort. :)

Plastic case this time, but surprisingly pleasant typing experience. My first encounter with this kind of magnetic switches. Since I was doing the Whitefox review this whole week, I will get back to the ND75 later. Not sure if next week, because a real curiosity landed on my desk, among a lot of stuff from keebwerk.

Synth Labs 060

A Synth Labs 060 – one of the two reviews units out there! (I'll include links later, the keebwerk site seems to be down at the moment. At least for me.)

Designed by Synth Labs and sold by keebwerk, the Synth 060 is probably the most beautiful keyboard I've ever seen. This is a white one with black grill and rose gold decoration piece:

Pic: Synth Labs 060 case

Synth Labs 060 case

Pic: Synth Labs 060 grill

Synth Labs 060 grill

I will have to send it back so others can review it too, but I'm already missing it. ("My precious!")

Pic: Synth Labs 060 USB

Synth Labs 060 USB

Yeah, you see it right: the USB connector is vertical.

In the box there were some clean and simple, industrial style keebwerk artisans and two trays too. The trays are stackable btw:

Pic: Keebwerk artisans and trays

Keebwerk artisans and trays

Pic: Stackable


Qwertykey deskmats

I want a little variety in my photos so ordered some deskmats from qwertykey (Romania) – not to be confused with qwertykeys (China).

Haven't bought anything from this shop yet despite they being relatively close to my home, on the other side of the border, and also being one of the 137 stores offering a discount via the KBDNEWS coupon code. Anyway, this was a really positive shopping experience what I wanted to share with you.

Pic: Qwertykey loot

Qwertykey loot

First of all, everything was delivered in less than 3 days. (Since I placed the order in the evening, it was more like two days.) Sure, the store is relatively close to me physically (it would still take me a 6 hours round trip to show up in their showroom, collect the package in person and then get back home), but it's still in a different country, so I'm pretty impressed with the speed.


Very cool packaging too. A bit battered and bruised in my potato photos, but looks very professional in real life.


The icing on the cake: some stickers, and free caps with the qwertykey logo in each box.

All in all, I can recommend the shop to anyone, especially if you are located in the EU.




Tai-Hao low-pro caps

Finally, I got some more low-pro caps from Tai-Hao. After the initial selection of samples they sent me some more Choc ones so now I have enough for most of my split keyboards.


Left them in my office too, but they are the same magenta and pale green color like the previous batch, coming in the same cool little boxes.

Vendors & Discounts

I went through the coupons, removing some inactive ones. Feel free to use the KBDNEWS discount code at 138 keyboard shops now!

New shops and updates to the database of keyboard vendors this week:

  • RNDKBD's Andy offered you a 5% discount (on any in-stock non-GB item, basically anything except the alu Boston atm).
  • Apos set up the KBDNEWS coupon too, 5% off of everything I guess, however, there's an auto-apply 10% coupon for the Whitefox these days.
  • Space Cables is on board as well (5% discount).
  • finally, Pantheon's Lester offered you a 3% discount ("storewide, without minimum purchase").

I continue monitoring who's alive and kicking, contacting each shop listed in the database. Finished shops with names starting with Q-R this week, doing S, which will take some time.

Some vendors marked as closed in this round of attempt to make the list up to date: Qoda Studio, Rainkeebs (no product listed),


That's all for today. Hurry up guys and gals, share your projects so I can get back with a proper issue soon. ;)

Thanks for checking by. Until next time,



Mangokitty published the files of the Tanto, a 40% with Katana-stlye symmetric layout.

The Tanto 40 is a 40% keyboard PCB designed and shared by Mangokitty27. Inspired by RominRonin's Katana, it comes with a symmetric layout – which makes a lot of sense.

Just like the name: Tantō is a Japanese short sword, so smaller than a katana.

Inspired by the Katana 60, [here comes] the Tanto 40! […] It's of my own design, so a lil' scuffed – Mangokitty27.

The build in the photos sports Redragon low-profile red switches and XVX low-profile keycaps.


  • 46 keys, symmetric arrangement
  • Redragon low-pro switches, soldered
  • Pro Micro

Pic: Tanto PCB

Tanto PCB


Glyphkbd V2

An open-source ortho TKL with on-board controller: glyphkbd v2 by _galile0.

This "ortho TKL" called glyphkbd was designed and shared by galile0. The 5x13 ortholinear layout is extended by a navigation and arrow cluster, largely inspired by drFaustroll's m65 as well as the Stucco.

The glyph v1 was handwired and used sealing strips as a mounting method, something the author learned from KotteCE's Batoid. Glyphkbd_v2 uses a custom PCB with integrated STM32F072 controller running QMK, with 3D printed top mount case.

Pic: glyphkbd PCB

glyphkbd PCB


  • 74 keys (13x5 + arrow and navigation cluster)
  • MX, soldered
  • on-board STM32F072 controller
  • QMK, VIA
  • 3D printed case (top mount)



A 20-key minimal split: Pepesweep by Volodymyr Petiushka. Low profile, wireless, open source.

Ukrainian software engineer Volodymyr Petiushka (aka XaycMD/AdFabulous) released his Pepesweep, a 20-key wireless split keyboard based on David Barr's popular Sweep. Layout inspired by Ben Vallack's The Piano.

After 8 months and 4 iterations I made my endgame keyboard. Based off of Sweep, 20 keys wireless keyboard is what I found to be the most comfortable thing to daily drive – Volodymyr.

The PCB is basically a modified Sweep PCB, the author cut out keys he doesn’t need, plus adjusted the overall shape.


  • 20 keys (8+2 per half)
  • Choc, soldered
  • reversible PCB
  • wireless via nice!nano
  • SplitKB tenting puck



With regards to inspiration, naming and the design process, let's pass the mic to Volodymyr himself:

"I got inspired by Ben Vallack’s videos. It started from me purchasing Planck EZ and I saw a review from him, and then I got into the rabbit hole. The first low profile keyboard I tried was a Ferris Sweep, I liked it very much, but I wanted to go smaller. I built the Kunst by Fu_Lan, which was also inspired by Ben’s Piano, but I felt like I needed more than 18 keys it had and it lacked stagger on index, middle and ring fingers.

I remembered my pleasant experience with the Sweep. I took the PCB schema from the open-source Sweep repo and just deleted keys I didn’t need. That’s how I came up with the shape.

I wanted to add some logo to it and didn’t think of any better than silly Twitch emote: Pepega. Hence the name, Pepesweep. I built the first version and it felt really cool. I got used to Ben Vallack’s layout he made for Piano and it really increased my typing speed. Still it’s pretty slow due to 2 alpha layers, but now I am pushing 50-ish WPM with it. The only thing I lacked was tenting. I added SplitKB’s tenting puck imprints to the PCB and on the current version I am using SplitKB pucks with camera tripod holder as base for the keyboard.


The coolest software feature Ben made is possibility to use split keyboard with three nice!nanos in dongle mode that allows using this keyboard without Bluetooth connection, so it can be used on PCs without Bluetooth or in Bios, when Windows is not booted yet, by connecting a third nice!nano to PC via USB.

So, basically, I achieved what I was looking for: a super comfortable ergonomic keyboard. My fingers never move more than one key in any direction and tenting gives me the wrist comfort I wanted. As a software engineer, it cannot be any better for me: daily driving this for 8+ hours a day is a very enjoyable experience."


Dance! keyboard

Dance! is a wireless-only split keyboard by chase-hunter.

Derived from the Temper, chase-hunter's dance! is a wireless-only split keyboard designed for nice!nano + nice!view.

Basically Sweep column stagger (with some minor adjustments) meets Corne thumb cluster.


  • 36 keys (3x5+3) split keyboard
  • Choc hot-swap, Choc spacing
  • Sweep column stagger (minor adjustments) + Corne thumb cluster
  • reversible PCB
  • nice!nano support
  • nice!view support

Pic: dance! build by wizurdkhalifa

dance! build by wizurdkhalifa



Penk Chen published his Haori36, a compact monoblock ortho with thumb cluster and optional Pimonori trackball.

Our good old friend Penk Chen – creator of projects like the Penkesu deck, Rasti64 keyboard for his Rasti computer and Mobop caps – has published a new keyboard.

The Haori36 is a low-pro 36-key hot-swappable monoblock split ortho keyboard with Pimoroni trackball support.

The naming is silly and its design is very ordinary, but just in case, here’s my new (fully open sourced) build :-) – Penk.

Driven by an RP2040-Zero, this board features a pretty common 3x5 layout, but with offset halves. A 3D printed case and multiple plate options are available in the repo.



  • 36 keys (5x3+3 per half)
  • low-pro Choc switches, hotswap
  • Choc spacing
  • RP2040-Zero
  • various plate options
  • Pimonori trackball (optional)
  • VIA support


To continue our unintentional language curse, the haori is a traditional Japanese formal jacket worn over a kimono. I think the name is peculiarly suited to its owner:

Pic: Source: wikipedia

Source: wikipedia


Toad v2

This is an old project for reference: Toad v2 by TalkingTree, an open-source 70% keyboard from 2017.

Nothing new here, the Toad v2 was designed in 2017 and released the next year, so still in times. It was brought to my attention by this recent post by HubertTheMad (top photo), and being open source, I thought it belonged here.

The Toad v2, originally designed and shared by TalkingTree/RealLaugh/farmakon, is a 70% board: 60% plus F-row. You can see similar boards on the market nowadays, often with an F13 key.


However, the Toad is fully open source: PCB, case, everything.


  • 70% layout (various options)
  • MX, soldered
  • top mount case
  • on-board Atmega32U4
  • QMK support
  • about 1,900 grams

The PCB supports split Backspace, Shifts and ANSI or ISO Enter. Bottom row could either be standard or winkeyless (with or without the actual winkey).


LEDs are predisposed in either a dedicated spot or in-switch in the Esc and Caps Lock's pads.

The author used his TOAD with EasyAVR v3.00.01 by David Howland/metalliqaz, but it has QMK support as well. With regards to QMK compatibility: Toad shares the same matrix with the XMMX, so it's considered a variant. Make sure you're choosing the correct keymap and layout.


About the build in the top photo:

Purchased from Emils/Funderburker as he was helping TalkingTree/RealLaugh sell his keeb collection since he is leaving the hobby. Decided to keep it and use it in this current config to honor them both. Threw on some CRP and snapped some pics – HubertTheMad.


The project is available in a bit messy way:


T. G. Marbach's JESK56 is a diodeless 56-key ortholinear keyboard, using a single RP2040-based microcontroller thanks to some fancy math and graph theory.

The diodeless ortho JESK56 by T. G. Marbach aka triliu utilizes a new type of circuit design stemming from graph theory and mathematical design theory. Using some fancy math, this diodeless approach allows the author to use 56 keys without diodes, while still keeping a good rollover.

Ghosting is prevented to some reasonable degree by the arrangement of the matrix, rather than by diodes. And the approach doesn't even need a special matrix scanner.

Usually, in diodeless keyboards, you need one GPIO pin per switch. […] So all such keyboards must be split into two halves to function as a regular keyboard, and must use two microcontrollers over the two halves. This makes the JESK56 the first non-split diodeless keyboard – triliu.

JESK is an acronym of a scientific paper's four authors' surnames: Janssen, Exoo, Salamon, and Kolokolnikov who studied graphs of high algebraic connectivity (Attainable bounds for algebraic connectivity and maximally-connected regular graphs).


In short: in graph theory, it is possible to make graphs (analogous to the key matrix) that do not contain small cycles (ie. the three keys pressed simultaneously, causing a fourth ghost key registering). Each graph can be converted into a new type of matrix, with differing characteristics. Researchers found a graph of girth 6 (no 3-, 4-, or 5-cycles) with 28 vertices and 56 edges that triliu used as a basis for the matrix of 56 keys.

So what exactly does graph theory have to do with your keyboard matrix? In the common grid pattern of switches, there are these cycles of three or more keys pressed together, potentially causing ghosting. If no diodes were used and three keys of a four-key cycle were pressed, the keyboard would act like all four keys were being pressed. By adding diodes to the matrix, the keyboard becomes "n-key rollover", meaning that the keyboard can theoretically distinguish all combinations of keypresses. Which is an overkill: you don't press dozens of keys at the same time.

In software, 6-key rollover is typically used, meaning the software assumes that if more than six keys are being pressed, then keys were pressed on accident. The USB keyboard protocol is limited to a 6-key rollover – triliu.

All in all, with the graph approach, ghosting is prevented by the arrangement of matrix, rather than by diodes. As of my understanding, every single layout case requires a dedicated graph, e.g. the JESK56's graph is this one.


Triliu is already working on other diodeless layouts, like the Corne derivative 42-key split Heawood42, and the JESK70, a 70-key variant of the JESK56.


  • Getting rid of diodes makes soldering faster and easier.
  • Reduced time burden and risk of error
  • less cramped design, more room for other components/functionality



Whitefox Eclipse review

The WhiteFox Eclipse by Project Eclipse is the latest take on this classic model: a prebuilt 68% board with magnetic assembly and a whole ecosystem of modular cases. (Now with 10% off!)

Designed by Project Eclipse and sold by Apos, the Whitefox Eclipse, this latest take on the classic Whitefox, is a family of keyboards rather than a single model: you can have it with an impressive high-profile aluminum case, a low-pro one with posh feet, and there's also a budget plastic option.

The WhiteFox Eclipse is built for versatility, allowing for the effortless swapping out of cases, keycaps, and switches – Project Eclipse.

We are talking about an extremely well built screwless 68% wireless keyboard with magnets and gasket mounting – very handy if you open your case relatively often, e.g. to support hotswap sockets when replacing switches, or simply to clean your keyboard.


But this handy mechanism is just the first sign that as a successor of the historic Brown/WhiteFox projects incepted back in 2013, the heroic age of the mechanical keyboard hobby, Alpaca's Eclipse couldn't be more refined compared to Matt3o's original DIY handwired board.


The review unit was sent to me by Apos. You should be familiar with this store by now, but in case you've missed my recent editorials: despite their main focus being audio, Apos is expanding to mechanical keyboards and already offers an impressive selection of keyboards, keycaps and related accessories.

I'm not being paid to write this review, but as always, getting a free sample may result in all kinds of bias, both positive and negative in my experience. Take everything I write with a grain of salt.

First impressions

I received the high-pro aluminum case, which looks gorgeous.

Whether you're into stormtroopers or Stanley Kubrick's cinematic world, Zen desktops or simply an all-white working environment, you'll love the Whitefox Eclipse.


It's common that official materials are full of exaggerations, buzzwords and marketing mumbo-jumbo, and the Project Eclipse/Alpaca/Apos pages are no exception. (Sorry :D) BUT! There are facts I can't argue with: elegance of the case and overall design, great out-of-the-box typing experience, and the incredible ease of "disassembling" and putting the parts back together – the screwless magnetic structure.

That said, if I had to describe the Whitefox Eclipse in tree words, I would still go with: Heavy, massive, and fat – Did I mention it weighs a lot? :D

Honestly, you don't even have to open the box to admire the 2.4kg aluminum slab, experiencing the sheer mass is pretty astonishing right when the courier hands over the parcel.

But there's much more to the Whitefox than the impressive machined aluminum case.

Pic: Whitefox Eclipse side profile (6 degrees typing angle)

Whitefox Eclipse side profile (6 degrees typing angle)


  • pre-built, works out of the box
  • 68% layout, 71 keys
  • case options: CNC alu high/low, plastic
  • hotswap, pre-lubed Gateron Yellows
  • dye-sub PBT Cherry keycaps
  • magnetic assembly
  • per-key RGB (south-facing) & underglow
  • wired/Bluetooth connection
  • 4000mAh battery
  • weight: 2.4kg

Origin story

The Whitefox, starting out as Brownfox in 2013, is a piece of keyboard history.

In today's thriving and overcrowded keyboard scene it's pretty hard to imagine how difficult it was to source compatible keycaps for a unique layout in those early years of the mechanical keyboard renaissance, so Matteo Spinelli ended up designing the DSA Retro for his custom DIY board.

Pic: The original Brownfox from 2013. Photo by Matt3o.

The original Brownfox from 2013. Photo by Matt3o.

Yep, we are talking about Matt3o, who, beside being a contributor, is known as the designer of your favorite keycap sets and profiles like MT3 and MTNU.

But back in 2013 his deskthority post describing the design process of the Brownfox, originally a handwired project, became an invaluable resource for newcomers to the scene for years.

Riding the wave of success, the board went into production as Whitefox in collaboration with Massdrop. Basically a 65% kit (although there were a handful of different layouts), and because of the DIY approach still with lots of visible screws.

Pic: Massdrop Whitefox

Massdrop Whitefox

Fast forward to 2023, when the project by Alpaca Keyboards (now Project Eclipse), led by ex-Massdrop manager Kunal Kumar, went through a successful Kickstarter phase, and now this fully fledged ecosystem of readily available, pre-built boards has arrived: the Whitefox Eclipse with the magnetic case without a single screw.

Unboxing & Contents

In the white cardboard box you have the prebuilt Eclipse with switches and caps mounted, along with a matching cable, spare caps, tools, and a quickstart guide.


Don't let the innocent look deceive you. The pure white keyboard with its friendly curves is the kind of tool you can use as a weapon if needed. Maybe a license should be mandatory because of the sheer mass of this hefty slab of aluminum.


Dropkicking it, what was a great way to demonstrate the durability of the Alphasmart, would land you in a hospital this time for sure.


While the original Whitefox came in a plethora of different options, all being variants of the 65% layout, Alpaca's Eclipse is the closest to the Aria arrangement – plus an extra column on the right, thus a 68%.

The origin of this layout name is that in Italian "Aria" means "Air", and there's "some air" (a gap) between the right control and the arrow cluster – Matt3o.

If you have difficulties with cramped layouts without any clue for your fingers while touch typing, you will agree that this small gap makes a lot of difference when reaching over to the arrow cluster.


However, the FN key is in a rather strange position. (Above the right arrow.) This is a legacy of the Brownfox, and you can reprogram it any time. No problem for me because I always set up Space as FN anyway (SpaceFN concept). That said, I wonder if there's anybody out there who can use FN in that default position.


The Whitefox comes with dye-sublimated PBT Cherry caps. Pretty thick, 1.5mm, and beside the default all-white set, the bundle contains some spare caps and blue accents too.


That said, the neutral white case is a great background for many caps and keycap sets, be it industrial artisans…

Pic: Whitefox Eclipse with keebwerk artisan

Whitefox Eclipse with keebwerk artisan

… or sets with more busy pattern:

Pic: Whitefox Eclipse with some KDS Splatter caps

Whitefox Eclipse with some KDS Splatter caps

Sourcing compatible keycaps is much easier nowadays than it was back in 2013. The only minor incompatibility may be caused by the position of the keys in the rightmost columns – i.e. mismatched sculpt.


Pre-lubed 50g Gateron Yellow Pro 2.0s. Decent and affordable linears, no wonder they are still among the community favorites. That said, the PCB of the Eclipse comes with hotswap sockets, so you can easily replace the switches if you prefer something else.

Pic: Whitefox Eclipse with Gateron Yellows

Whitefox Eclipse with Gateron Yellows

Build quality, structure

The case is not simply hefty and seemingly indestructible, but I would call it the new gold standard of sturdiness. Except the sloppy Bluetooth switch. I got the impression that you have to be careful when putting the case back together to not to break it.

Easily open, customize, and clean your keyboard, no matter where you are. No tools, no trouble. Just lift up and get to work – Apos.

The screwless design only means there are no screws required for the case. Don't be surprised if you run into some screws here and there. E.g. there are the screw-in stabs of course, then two screws holding the PCB and plate together, and a bunch of magnetic poles too. This means modding is easy until you don't want to replace the plate.


Magnets are everywhere. They hold the top and bottom parts of the case together, and keep the core (plate/PCB) in the bottom case. Sorry, no magnetic levitation, although it would be cool. :D But snapping of the magnets is still neat to hear and feel every time.


The PCB does have horizontal flex cuts, but I can't reproduce the extreme flex seen in official reels. Probably because of the stiff alu(?) switch plate. But the typing experience is pleasantly soft anyway. A little softer and it would be too much for my taste.


The per-key RGB makes sense, but underglow? LEDs pointing downwards are the sign of the universal PCB I guess. It doesn't make much sense with the high-pro case and alu plate, perfectly sealing off any light. Probably more with the plastic case or other future options.


There's only one bottom row layout, no stepped Caps Lock or ISO support, really just a single layout.


The magnets sitting in the bottom case are "vibration isolated", meaning there's a thin layer of poron between the top and bottom magnets (PCB and case).


Sound dampening

3 mm poron switch foam, and a similarly thick layer in the bottom case too.


It's funny that the product pages stress wireless freedom. Sure, the Eclipse is wireless, but the chunky high-pro Whitefox is probably one of the last keyboards I'd consider for the job when brainstorming in bed or working in bustling cafes. The lighter low-pro alu and acrylic versions would be definitely better for these use cases.

But who am I to tell you what to do with your Eclipse? It all comes down to circumstances and dedication. :D My personal favorites, the 20-30kg luggable computers of the early '80s were marketed as portable too.


QMK and VIA compatibility? Awesome. No more questions. But if you'd like to learn more, there's a whole blog post dedicated to this topic here.

Otherwise just head to and start messing up your keymap. :D (I think the quickstart guide should mention this.)


Reproducing my custom layout and setting up SpaceFN was easy-peasy. Whether you are the type who set it once and forget about it or keep tweaking your keymap on a daily basis, the Eclipse won't disappoint you.

Other features

The low-pro case comes with cool magnetic cone feet (6.5 degree tilt). I'm not sure why these feet disappeared, similar designs where everywhere a few years ago, and they look pretty awesome.

Pic: Magnetic feet

Magnetic feet

I'm not into RGB, but as already mentioned, you have per-key RGB and underglow too (don't expect any light escaping the high-pro case though).

Pic: Dressed in RGB

Dressed in RGB


The WhiteFox Eclipse is an incredibly well build wireless keyboard (save the Bluetooth switch). With the cool magnetic case and excellent out-of-the-box sound, feel and typing experience I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who likes the 68% layout. If portability matters, go with the lighter cases though.


  • Build quality: feels indestructible
  • Screw-less magnetic case
  • Modular design


  • Bluetooth switch looking vulnerable (comment by Project Eclipse: "we have made it better on the hardware side and the switch is more robust")
  • Portability is not its strength


Right now there's a 10% discount in effect (auto-applied at checkout), so the WhiteFox Eclipse is available from $126 (plastic case):

Other products in the photos above:

Tips & Tricks

The SpaceFN concept

The SpaceFN concept - setting up your space key as a layer switch when held - is probably one of the most useful tweaks in the keyboard hobby. Let me explain it.

On my imaginary top list of the best and most useful keyboard features, tweaks and hacks, SpaceFN would deserve a podium finish for sure (probably preceded only by a proper split thumb cluster). But what makes it so special?

In short: SpaceFN is easy to implement, easy to learn, costs nothing, can be used with any keyboard, and can improve your productivity instantly.

I could (and will) go on and on about its benefits, but can state right at this point already that the SpaceFN concept is clearly one of the most useful tweaks in the keyboard hobby. On a basic level it means setting up your space key as a layer switch when held. Why? How? Let me explain it so you can start boosting your productivity right away.

Embrace the undisputed greatness of Space FN

The mechanical keyboard hobby is full of personal preferences and subjective opinions, but if there are any absolute, universal truths, one of those is the undisputed greatness of SpaceFN. If you already use it, you may read this article as a self-justification. If you heard about SpaceFN but haven't tried it yet, let me convince you and show you some implementations. And if you're not sure about what SpaceFN is, read this write-up because it may change your life – well, at least that part you spend in front of monitors.

Setting up Space FN is the very first thing I do when I get a new keyboard…

…and believe me, running a blog called makes it pretty much unavoidable to get and test new keyboards every week. Loosely recreating my custom keymap and being able to use an additional SpaceFN layer is crucial, especially when I have to revert to the standard layout and horizontal staggering after using split keyboards.

Well, as a matter of fact, I don't even have to set up SpaceFN in this case. Because I find it so essential that a handy tool is running on my PC taking care of this for me, automatically. I do think it would be a real blunder if you missed this incredible feature, so do yourself a favor and read on.

Est. 2013 (or 1989?)

Throughout my years in the keyboard hobby I've been mentioning the SpaceFN concept all the time, and even used it in one form or other, way before I learned about programmable mechanical keyboards. (Yep, this means you can use the concept on any keyboard, cheap and dumb rubberdomes included.) I realize that referencing the method without offering a comprehensive tutorial is not the most useful thing – so here it is finally, a dedicated article about the Space FN concept.

I'm not the one who came up with this concept of course, and while referencing notable contributors back to the '90s, I'm pretty sure the roots of this method date back to the early days of computing.

But what exactly is SpaceFN? How to set it up e.g. with VIA or Vial? How to achieve the same behavior with third-party tools if your keyboard is not QMK-compatible and thus cannot be programmed? How to replicate Space FN on rubberdome keyboards for that matter?

Let me explain it with some examples! Click here if you don't care about the background and benefits, but are only interested in the setup instructions so you can start using it right away. Even more specific links: SpaceFN in VIA, SpaceFN in Vial, SpaceFN in QMK, SpaceFN for non-programmable keyboards.

What is SpaceFN?

In short: The SpaceFN concept means you use your spacebar as a layer switch when held. If you are familiar with QMK terminology, this is a simple layer-tap double-function.

Confused already? Here's the gist:

You turn the spacebar into a double-function key, making it behave differently when pressed shortly compared to when held down. One key, two functions.

If you hit your spacebar shortly, it produces a space character as usual and expected. If you hold it down, you activate a new layer. All the other keys may have a new function this way, pretty much anything you'd like: arrows, navigation, numbers, you name it.

Brilliant, isn't it?

Why is Space FN so useful?

When it comes to the SpaceFN concept, even seasoned keyboard smashers can be confused. That's why it's important to understand its behavior, all the benefits – and a few cons too to be honest. If you can't think of why this is a game-changer, let me help you out with a few ideas. Here come the pros:

The most important factor in my opinion is that by turning your spacebar into a double-function key, you can access a new layer and new functions without moving your hands. I'm talking about a whole new logical layer in the keymap. (No panic if this doesn't make much sense to you right now, we will get to it.)

You get a bunch of new functionality while staying on the home row. Your thumbs are already resting on the spacebar anyway, so you don't have to navigate away when reaching over to a dedicated FN-key, e.g. in the bottom row or even worse position, like with the default Whitefox layout.

You can activate your FN layer with either thumbs! Allowing you to use modifiers with any key combination.

Often, the built-in FN layer a new keyboard may be shipped with conceals pretty useless or rarely needed functions like RGB animation, color and brightness, Bluetooth functions, mouse keys, etc. You may or may not use these at all, but this is definitely not what you want to access via holding the spacebar. You want really useful, frequently used stuff under your fingertips.

What exactly is useful depends on your workflow and use case of course, but I personally would put my first and most important layer there: arrows and navigation, numbers, some frequently used symbols, maybe F-keys if there's enough room.

Pic: The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

Imagine that you don't have to reach over to the arrow cluster, because it's already under your right hand fingers when the spacebar is held.

Imagine that you don't have to move up to the number row either (covered later), accidentally getting lost not being able to find your way back to the homing keys, resulting in an endless cycle of typos and attempted corrections. This is not a problem at all if all the numbers are beneath your left hand fingers. (Slightly jumbling your numbers like I did in some of the examples is optional. ;))

F-keys? You can put them to the number row if you'd like, bringing them a bit closer.

What I personally love about SpaceFN is that it can simulate a split thumb cluster behavior, making life much easier when having to deal with standard layouts and horizontal stagger after using ergo boards. From a different point of view, you can simulate some ergo split behavior with a standard keyboard, preparing your next jump into the split rabbit hole. ;)

All in all, doesn't this sound awesome?

What are the cons of SpaceFN?

Before we delve into how to set up Space FN, let's talk about the few disadvantages this setup has, for the sake of completeness.

These cons I'll mention below may or may not affect you, but let's see it for yourself:

  • You cannot hold your spacebar to churn out multiple spaces, so no auto-repeat (gaming?).
  • Space characters are registered when releasing the key (keyup event) rather than when pressing it (keydown).
  • Holding spacebar for a prolonged time may cause fatigue, strain, etc. in your thumbs

Let's investigate the first no-autorepeat "issue", but let me be right clear: it makes absolutely no sense to use your spacebar for e.g. aligning text with spaces. If you're that nasty person, you won't be able to do this after setting up SpaceFN simply because you turned the hold function into a momentary layer switch key in QMK terms. It will produce only one space when pressed (actually released as we will soon see), and exactly zero spaces if you hold it.

One easy fix for this is to put a space on the SpaceFN layer, like spiceBard did it in the original proposal – or even better you could forget about this questionable behavior for good.

Even with this quick fix, this may cause problems for gamers if you can't remap the default task associated with the space key, but I'm not sure to be honest. Haven't played any game for ages which required holding the spacebar. Probably depends on the particular game or genre.

The other disadvantage will affect even fewer people, and because they are most likely hardcore keymap wizards, they will know how to cope with this. So spaces are registered on release. Why? Because double-function keys have to be handled differently by e.g. QMK: the firmware has to wait a bit to decide if you hold it or simply pressed it. And this takes time. Usually longer than a normal tap, so you end up with space registering on release.

"Normal" keys, without a hold function, don't have this problem. Pressing an A (without home row mods set up) can be registered right on the press event.

So why is this an issue? Is it a problem at all? For most of you: Not really. The only real problem is if you are experimenting with keymap performance and measure or log keypress times. In this case you'll have to revert back to single-function keys, otherwise your results will be flawed.

How to set up SpaceFN?

SpaceFN can be easily set up using popular tools like VIA, Vial or QMK, but there are many third-party apps too for the case your keyboard in not programmable. That's what I used for my cheap rubberdome keyboard many years ago, when I haven't even heard of mechanical keyboards yet. But let's cover programmable mechanical keyboards first:

How to set up SpaceFN in VIA?

For this example I plugged in my VIA compatible Whitefox Eclipse:

  • Navigate to and pair and connect your device
  • Set up layer tap on your spacebar on the base layer
  • Set up the layer and functions you'd like to access while holding the spacebar

As a first step, we are going to turn our spacebar into a double-function key. Actually, there's a Space Fn function in VIA, which we can use as a shortcut to assign LT 1 (or 2, 3) to space on the base layer. In fact, something like LT(1, KC_SPC) would be the general layer tap function in QMK, meaning you get your layer of choice when the spacebar is held, and the chosen character when pressed – i.e. space in this case.

So click Space on the default Layer 0 to make it active:

Pic: Step 1: Click Space

Step 1: Click Space

Select the LAYERS tab (bottom left corner), and click one of the Space Fn1 (or 2, 3) buttons:

Pic: Step 2: Select Layers tab

Step 2: Select Layers tab

I clicked Space FN2. This will assign the layer tap function to your Space, activating Layer 2 when held:

Pic: Step 3: Click one of the Space FN buttons

Step 3: Click one of the Space FN buttons

Congratulations! You've just set up your spacebar in VIA!

All you have to do is now to create Layer 2 if you haven't done so yet. E.g. here is an example layout very similar to the original SpaceFN keymap published by spiceBar back in 2013.

(Keep in mind that for all the unused keys, setting them transparent would make more sense. I only set them to KC_NO for better visibility of the SpaceFN functions.)

Pic: The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

But I like to add more functionality so I don't have to leave the main typing area for arrows (navigation and editing) and numbers either:


Or even some parentheses for coding:


That's it! Well done. This is still just a starting point. You don't have to stick to these examples, let's go ahead and adapt the concept to your workflow.

How to set up SpaceFN in Vial?

For this example I plugged in my Vial compatible KBDcraft Adam:

  • Navigate to and pair and connect your device
  • Set up layer tap on your spacebar on the base layer
  • Set up the layer and functions you'd like to access while holding the spacebar

As a first step, we are going to assign LT 1 (or 2, 3) to space on the base layer. This general layer tap function turns your spacebar into a double-function key, meaning that you get your layer of choice when held, and the chosen character when pressed – i.e. space in this case, but pretty much anything else you'd like.

So click Space on the default Layer 0:

Pic: Step 1: Click Space

Step 1: Click Space

Select the Layers tab, and click LT 1 (or 2, 3):

Pic: Step 2: Select Layers tab

Step 2: Select Layers tab

Click LT 1 (or 2, 3). This will assign the layer tap function to your Space (and the active key in the screenshot is now the next one: RAlt):

Pic: Step 3: Click LT 1

Step 3: Click LT 1

Click the tap box of the LT 1 function assigned to your spacebar:

Pic: Step 4: Click the tap box

Step 4: Click the tap box

Select Space from the function list (Basic or ISO/JIS tab):

Pic: Step 5: Click Space from the keycode/function list

Step 5: Click Space from the keycode/function list

Congratulations! You've just set up your spacebar to produce a space when tapped, and to switch to Layer 1 when held.

All you have to do is now to create Layer 1 if you haven't done so yet. E.g. here is an example layout very similar to the original SpaceFN keymap published by spiceBar back in 2013.

(Quick note: Setting all the unused keys to transparent would make more sense. For this example I set them to KC_NO for better visibility of the SpaceFN functions.)

Pic: The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

The original SpaceFN layer by spiceBar, 2013

But I like to add much more functionality so I don't have to leave the main typing area for e.g. arrows (navigation and editing) or numbers either:


That's it! Well done. This is still just a starting point. You don't have to stick to these examples, let's go ahead and explore all the possibilities.

How to set up SpaceFN in QMK?

In basic QMK terms, SpaceFN is simply:

  • LT(1, KC_SPC)

On a general level, you can assign this to any key, but if we break it down, this particular example means:

  • "LT": layer tap (turning the key into a double-function one, assigning two different function when pressed or held)
  • "1": when the key is held, activate Layer 1 (momentarily)
  • "KC_SPC": when the key is pressed (shortly), output the KC_SPC (space) keycode

For more details, you may look into the Layers section of the QMK docs:

LT(layer, kc) - momentarily activates layer when held, and sends kc when tapped. Only supports layers 0-15.

How to set up SpaceFN with non-programmable keyboards?

All is not lost if your keyboard is not programmable. There are apps running on your host computer doing pretty much the same thing: listening for your spacebar and remapping keys when it's held.

SpaceFN on Windows

When I came across this concept for the first time, I stumbled upon TouchCursor, a free Windows software. First released in 2006, last updated in 2010, I still have it running on my keyboard testing PC. :D So if I plug in any new keyboard, I already have spacefn and don't have to bother with VIA/Vial, or especially some obscure proprietary software.


While its most important job is to put arrow functions on your home keys, it has a lot of related features.

However, TouchCursor is only one from the many similar apps. It's very handy, but e.g. if you use AutoHotKey for various tasks already, you can set up Space FN in AHK too. Here is an AHK example by lydell.

Another tool I used, basically an AHK extension, was PKL (Portable Keyboard Layout) by Máté Farkas. You don't have to install anything and can take your layout with you.


Let me know what tools you use for Mac/Linux so I can add some more options here.

SpaceFN on Linux

Matthias Goffette found KMonad useful for Linux.

I constantly switch between keyboards (work, home, laptop…) and so I use regular non-programmable keyboards most of the time still, with Linux. But I’ve discovered KMonad about a year ago, and it has allowed me to implement a SpaceFN. Essentially, it allows me to use any keyboard as a 60%, which matches my Lily58 relatively well. I use terminals a lot and a tiling managers, so I do a lot of operations with my keyboard and not my mouse (moving between windows for instance), so being able to have easily accessible arrow keys is a must – Matthias.

Example layout

The original idea back in 2013 materialized as a semi-standardized SpaceFN layer. Still, I like to call it a concept, because as already told, you can and should put whatever you want on your SpaceFN layer. Anyway, here is the original layer by spiceBar for history's sake:

Pic: spiceBar's SpaceFN layer, 2013

spiceBar's SpaceFN layer, 2013

Here is something I like to use as a start when setting up a new keyboard:

Pic: dovenyi's SpaceFN layer

dovenyi's SpaceFN layer

As you can see, now I don't need a dedicated arrow and navigation cluster, nor the number row to type numbers.

At this point I only wish split spacebars would be mandatory on every keyboard. It would double (actually triple) the number of your easily accessible layers.


By assigning a second (hold) function to your spacebar, you can access a whole new logical layer stuffed with dozens of useful functions without even moving your hands. Staying on the home row results in less overall movement, but it also prevents a lot of typing errors. Both of your thumbs are already resting on the spacebar, so it should be dead easy to adapt to this new setup.

I've been using Space FN ever since 2018, and I can only recommend you to give it a try if you haven't done so yet.

Resources & History

The first useful post on the subject I came across was probably this geekhack thread by spiceBar, from 2013.

The author credits a handful of people, e.g.'s Edgar Matias "for his work on the dual use of standard keys as modifiers, 20 years ago". That means in the early '90s. A reference of this dual use in general can be found in this article.

"I was sitting in English class . . . and basically staring off into the distance . . . and I thought of . . . assign two letters to a key."

Simon Lydell deserves credit too, for implementing the layout for Windows as an AHK script (github) – in 2013 as well.

And of course we have to mention the authors of TouchCursor and PKL, Martin Stone and Máté Farkas, respectively.

Plus the authors/users of Vi/Vim for championing the idea of having arrows in the home row.

KW Choc V1 keycaps

Shared by Kea Workshop's Claude, the KW keycap profile is uniform, spherical, MX-sized, and compatible with Choc V1 switches.

Designed by Claude aka klouder(one) of Kea Workshop, these KW keycaps are uniform with a relatively deep spherical dish, and are compatible with low-pro Choc V1 switches while being MX-spaced.

I needed some MX sized choc keycaps, and as MX spaced choc keycaps are not very common or available, I designed my own to be 3D printed at low cost – Claude.

Well, of course there is the new THT from Tai-Hao, but it never hurts to have some options and variety. THT is cylindrical anyway.

So inspired by the Work Louder design, these KW caps were specifically made for split boards that have both MX and Choc compatibility, as obviously these splits are spaced for the larger MX keycaps (19.05mm x 19.05mm).

Pic: KW vs MBK


The KW Choc V1 keycaps are Claude's solution to this by adopting the 19.05mm x 19.05mm MX spacing, reducing the gap between Choc keys on MX spaced boards. This means of course that the KWs are not compatible with Choc spacing (MBK, MCC, etc.).

The KW profile Choc V1 Keycaps feature a deep dish for a comfortable finger feel, and rounded edges for a stylish look. The keycaps have been designed to be 3D printed, featuring a top and bottom chamfer, and oriented standing for strength, a bonus being that layer lines are almost invisible – Claude.



Quick news

Crab Broom alu case by boardsource.

A fancy Sofle by DOIO.

Corne v3 Hexagon Case by DerBreManaar (source).

LEGO stand for Kyria by Jason Cox – with a detailed blog post.

Keyboard Market Tokyo was included in the meetup database, but it was more like a fair – with 1,000 visitors. Many photos out there, e.g. by Antique-Page, and Ryosuke Kawamura has this monstre write-up with lots of details.

Holy guacamole. Leo_keeb made these offset stem keycaps to turn his keyboard with HHKB JP layout into an ortho.

Keyboard art: No Internet / Dino104

Mantis builds by luckybipedal (and here is Felix's article if you missed it last December)

A 3D printed planter switch fidget toy by Creative_rooster00 (source).

Donut keyboard by QDP2D.

That was Issue #158. Thanks for stopping by.

This issue was made possible by the donations of:, MoErgo Glove80, ZSA Technology Labs, Aiksplace, @keebio, Upgrade Keyboards, Cyboard, Ashkeebs, Sean Grady, Jacob Mikesell, Jason Hazel, @kaleid1990, kiyejoco, KEEBD, littlemer-the-second,, Mechboards, u/motfalcon, Bob Cotton, FFKeebs, Richard Sutherland, @therick0996, Joel Simpson, TurtleKeebs, Christian Mladenov, Lev Popov, u/eighty58five, Daniel Nikolov, Schnoor Typography, Caleb Rand, Skyler Thuss, Yuan Liu, James McCleese, Benjamin Bell, Ben M, Spencer Dabell, zzeneg, Matthias Goffette, Anatolii Smolianinov, Penk Chen, Hating TheFruit, Vitali Haravy, Clacky, Davidjohn Gerena, anonymous, TALPKEYBOARD, Felicitas R., Gavin Folgert, Alex Miller, Trey Causey, Shnobble, Stefan S.

Your support is crucial to help this project to survive.