Keyboard Builders' Digest
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Issue 28 / Week 21 / 2021

This is a hand-picked selection of posts that may teach you something about designing and building your own custom keyboard.

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Behind the Scenes of Issue 28

Personal favorites. No more ads. Donor hall of fame. Most popular posts of the last issue. Future plans.


After changing the domain name I removed ads and now I decided to keep ad-free for good. Also, I've put up a dedicated page with the name of all the donors who supported this project at any of its stages. A look at the most visited projects from last week's issue, and some of my future plans revealed: revamp of the split database, logical layout design series and finishing the Azimuth.

Issue 28 personal favorites

I'm not a big fan of (non-split) ortholinear keyboards, but I do love thoroughly documented projects, so my favorite this week was the...


This is exclusive or early-access content for my supporters on BMC.

If you can't afford supporting this project, don't worry, I might publish parts of these write-ups later.

Btw, the full story is 4500+ characters long and you can read it at:


Nearer - a 118-key ortho

The Nearer is a handwired 118-key ortholinear keyboard by GoldenSights. With detailed build log.

Features: ortholinear, steel plate, handwired, duplex matrix, wooden case, and an intimidating large amount of hot glue.

As far as I understand, this gigantic ortho project started when the author realized there is no vertical navigation cluster on the market.

Also, it seems this week is about duplex matrices.


A detailed build log:

Typing demo:

Purple Mountain Majesty

The Purple Mountain Majesty project by I_Am_Dixon_Cox involved CNC cutting and building a custom 3D printer.

The keyplate is CNC cut from an aluminum print of the author's photography. He had to build a custom 3D printer to make the frame in one piece.

This design inherits some enhancements from previous builds: backspace on the thumb-row, Q/P mirroring, one-key Ctrl-Alt-Delete, one-key Lock Workstation, media and volume controls, and an enhanced 20-key number pad.

Photos and build log:

3D printed Alice style

This 3D printed Alice style keyboard by ymmaz is handwired with duplex matrix.

If ymmaz would have known of the little Pro Micro hack to utilize two extra pins, the wiring could have been done much easier, but the duplex matrix gives this project a unique touch.

The case is 3D printed and the files used here were originally open sourced by ramonimbao and are available here: "fAuxLICE".

Small elephant42

A modified elephant42 stripped off some thumb keys. Built by tinamus.

Maybe this one should be called elephant38, but anyways:

The elephant42 is an open source design by illness072 (repo).

It comes with a comprehensive build guide.

(This split design is nothing new but I just realized it wasn't featured in KBD yet.)

Another true wireless split

A custom designed split by docgi with open source PCB.


The PCB - an own design - was inspired by Sofle and Corne-ish Zen. Ordered at jlcpc. This is a choc only wireless split keyboard with Pro Micro compatible sockets. It has Kailh choc spacings (18 mm x 17 mm) and MBK Choc keycaps (which has a size of 17.5 x 16.5).

Robin Kailh Choc switches.

Powered by ZMK with BlueMicro840.

Custom handwired split

A custom handwired keyboard by llpamies with build gallery.

The custom layout was inspired by the Corne. The case is made of wood with laser cut stainless steel plate.

Here is the gallery with more pictures.

(The wrong diode placement has been fixed since the photos were taken.)

The 2u keys in the bottom row can be pressed by both the middle and ring finger. They are used for Caps Lock and layer switching.

Custom Iris case

MarijnJ is finally done with this custom Iris case.

The author started this project about two years ago and is finally at a point where it can be considered done.

As a first mechanical keyboard, doing research, choosing a PCB, switches, etc. already took months.

The completely custom case, after some sketches, was done in Fusion 360.

One and a half years ago the first prototypes were posted: a WIP post and gallery from 2019.

The custom keycaps were created using the library by rsheldiii. This allowed tweaking every aspect of the caps from the shape to the font used.

KeyV2: Parametric Mechanical Keycap Library by rsheldiii.]]

Thingiverse link is pending.

Ergo monoblock split

This is an ergo monoblock split by pencomp7 with an encoder and acrylic case.

Not much info, just a few extra photos here:

This new design by pencomp7 features an acrylic case and center knob. If you are not into knobs, there are hotswap sockets for 2 switches underneath.

Same pinout as the Atmega32u4 Planck, so it supports QMK configurator.


The ErgoMorph55 by _vastrox_ is a low profile monoblock keyboard.

The ErgoMorph55 is a split-like low profile ergo keyboard. It was designed and built as a commission for Karl Thoennissen, a German book author, who came up with the concept for the case and the layout.

The goal was to create an ergo board with a very low profile and a somewhat similar look to the Sesame keyboard kit that _vastrox_ created earlier.

The board uses Kailh Choc v1 switches and has an acrylic skeleton style case with zero degree typing angle.

More details and pictures of the ErgoMorph55:

Tips & Tricks

From a Beamspring to a Model M

Why Bitteneite, even after owning a Model F and finally a Beamspring, still went back to a Model M.

The author has gone on a long journey only to learn that some things are just “good enough”.

Everyone in this hobby aims for nothing but the best, thinking you’re gonna have a new favorite keyboard, when in reality, all you really want is a happy medium, not an extreme. Discovering that compromise will take a while, but in this hobby’s context, it may just be the wisest decision you’ll make.

Read the full story here.

Custom wrist supporting pads

Custom wrist supporting pads by michalkelemen made of kitchen cutting boards. With gallery and write-up.

More pictures and the write-up about the concept and ergonomic considerations, as well as the building process here:

And an additional demonstration of the proper working position while sitting:

Custom keycaps using waterslide decals

How to DIY custom print keycaps using waterslide decals. A video by YOHONB.

A video guide on how to make cheap legends with waterslide decals:


Kinetic Labs' Husky switch

Kinetic Labs' Husky switch reviewed by ThereminGoat.

Some obscure Gateron switches and Kinetic Labs' Husky review.


TECSEE & Coffee Chip Ice Creams

This time makermods takes a look at Tecsee and the Cannon Keys Coffee Chip Ice Cream tactiles.

Tecsee is a manufacturer who came up with a new (?) housing material called PME.

Watch the video here:

Sound test compilation #14

This is a list of 11 sound tests published this week in a single megapack.

(Cover image by MegaHurtzz Tech.)

You can find and compare these (and much more) typing tests in the Keyboard Sound Database.


    GMMK Pro + Everglide Aqua Kings KBD8x + YOK Holy Panda + KAT KBD8x + YOK Holy Panda + KAT Tecware Phantom + KTT Peaches KBD67 Rev 2 + Gazzew Boba U4t KBD75 + Durock POM Linears Bear + Black Inks TKC Portico + Glorious Pandas AWS84/RK84 + Akko CS Ocean Blue Poseidon + Gateron Yellows Godspeed75 + Holy Pandas



Thanks again to all the contributors, namely: Ben Kowalewski, IceKeyboards, Laurentius Christian, Matthew C, MegaHurtzz Tech, pusakalmkb, Swiitchback, Wise Lucas and Zorf Boards.

Keyboard Spotting

Data General 6246-A

Data General 6246-A spotted by JonnyUnreliable.

More pictures:

Burroughs keyboard

A Burroughs terminal keyboard before cleaning posted by BStojanovski.

Terminal Burroughs TD 830/730 accompanion with Micro Switch SD switches.

Related converting thread on deskthority.

IBM Model F AT

A nice-looking IBM Model F AT posted by WillytheWarden.


Kinesis Advantage 360

Kinesis announces Advantage 360. Posted by nuanceinize.

That was Issue #28. Thanks for stopping by.

This issue was made possible by the support of:, Jeremy Kitchen, @kaleid1990, u/chad3814, Eugenie, sebastian siggerud, @entropyfanatic, cornbreadninja & 1 anonymous donor.

Your support is crucial to help this project to survive.

Discussion over at r/mk!