support is crucial because delivering new issues every week takes a lot of time."> support is crucial because delivering new issues every week takes a lot of time." /> support is crucial because delivering new issues every week takes a lot of time." />
Keyboard Builders' Digest
Check out Keebz N Cables in Perth, Australia!

Issue 29 / Week 22 / 2021

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

Your support is crucial because delivering new issues every week takes a lot of time.

View mode: compact | normal | full



Behind the Scenes of Issue 29

Personal favorites. Split database revamp: 150 new designs included. Issue 28 follow-up with some stats. Logical layout design series - preparations.


My personal favorites this week. Split database revamp has started: about 150 new designs included, developing completely new search and filter toolset in progress. Issue 28 follow-up, overview of some stats: new subscribers and supporters. Logical layout design series - first steps of the preparations started: thinking about structure and episodes/chapters.

Issue 29 - personal favorites

From the lineup this week, I really like 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 7200+ characters long and you can read it at:


Open body enigma36

A new enigma36 by sadekbaroudi, this time an open body version.

The enigmala36 was featured in issue 27, but that one was a closed body version with underglow and a thumbstick.

This one is open body with per key LEDs.

Regarding the bottom plate, I recommend using the 5 mm plate if you are using the open-center model. The open center is not as structurally sound without the support of a thick plate. (sadekbaroudi)

STL of the open-center body:

New version of the Lil Chonky Bois

New version of the Lil Chonky Bois by Sndr666. MX version added.

This is the next iteration of the original lil Chonkster, with eased tenting and a little less curvature of the keywell.

  • Less curvature, resulting in less tenting.
  • MX and Alps versions, MX version is still waiting on 1.75U thumbkeys, which were harder to order than anticipated.
  • Punk rock hotswap sockets using rivets.
  • TRRS connector moved to the thumb cluster.

[…] after using the previous incarnation for a couple of months I decided to ease the tenting and I found I needed a little less curvature of the keywell – Sndr666.

Updated git repo:


Marconi16-rev1, a macropad by to1ne with open source PCB.

A Streamdeck-like macropad called Marconi16, because it’s inspired by vintage radios.

You can find the build log and more photos here:

A three-pice PCB design with stylish PCB art and wooden chassis.

The PCB for the Elite-C and switches is identical. Cheap way to take advantage of the minimum order of 5 at JLCPCB.

It’s the first time to1ne has made his own PCBs. Everything worked on the first try, so that’s a big achievement. There are a few flaws though:

  • the USB connector should be more on the outside, the bottom PCB makes it hard to plug in,
  • the PCBs should be wider, to give the wood more material to clamp on.

That said, you can find the PCB design files here:


The TwentyThird is a hand-wired gaming keyboard by the5andmany with a thumb cluster.

With an interesting mounting of the Pro Micro:

More info and pics:


SVG and QMK config in the repo:

Pinkytyl with improved thumb positioning

A custom pinkytyl by ripxorip with improved thumb positioning.

Drawn up in fusion360 with goals like ergo minimalism and ease of printing (printed in 2 hours).

Source files pending.


Early prototype for the Avlo44 by jrp22.

Fixed-width unibody split with OLED screen and exposed diodes.

The width matches where the author's fully split boards naturally end up for comfort. It also ends up being the perfect width to set on top of a 15” MacBook.

The hole in the middle is a pass-thru for a stand-off for mounting a base. There are several more hidden underneath the keys on each side, also for mounting top plates.

I didn’t invest much effort in planning case or plates on this prototype, expecting I’d find some changes for which I’ll want a follow-up revision – I was right. (u/jrp22)


USB-C port to PCB guide

A simple tool by MartasSan to help you solder cheep USB-C ports to a PCB.

Link to the STL and KiCad footprint:

And this is the USB connector supported (female version):

Tips & Tricks

Curved traces in KiCad 5.99

Curved traces in KiCAD 5.99. Posted by deshtroy.

Built-in fillet for curving traces.

You need your traces to be proper, i.e. no duplicate lines. Then, just select the lines you want to curve and apply the fillet, just like using any CAD software.

When you download 5.99, ‘fillet’ will be an option in the right-click context menu when the trace is selected.

Better said, when you select 2 traces that form a corner. You need to set the correct radius though.

in love with the new kicad. :) – deshtroy

Too bad that build in teardrop via will only be baked in in v7 which is still far away.

3D-printed "PCB"

3D-printed "PCB" for solderless hotswap prototyping by 50an6xy06r6n.

More info and pics:

The author didn't want to solder/desolder switches and diodes every time when tweaking the layout, so came up with a printed "PCB" for a split layout.

Model is generated in OpenSCAD from layout data, so it's easy to change.

The top right pin goes through the insulation of the yellow row wire. The contact is quite robust, and if you use silicone wire the pin should be able to cut its own hole. Diode anode leg acts as the contact for the second switch pin, and the cathode leg goes through the blue column wire on the back.

Lily58 3D printable case

A 3D printable case for the Lily58 by j_oshreve.

Lily58 3D printable case and instructions are available on gibhub:

The initial version is for the Lily58 V1 with Mill-Max sockets for hot swap.

Pocket tripod in action

The newest Kyria with tenting puck and pocket tripod. Posted by cdarw1n.

This is my 3rd Kyria but first with the tenting puck and after a full week of real use and some adjustments to the placement of the tripod I can easily say that it is my preferred input device at this time. – cdarw1n

The T-34 keyboard layout

The T-34 keyboard layout by jonas_h.

Well, logical layout design is a personal thing. The takeaway of this well-written piece is the approach and method, not the layout itself.

I’ve clearly found my Ultimate Layout™ and it’s time to immortalize it with a blog post! – Jonas Hietala

Read it here:


Sound test compilation #15

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

(Cover image by Q.)

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


    7v + Gateron Ink Blacks Sesame + Gateron Milky Yellows Gaff60 + Gateron Black Ink V1s Monstargear XO K80 Alu + Boba U4T Singa Unikorn R2.1 + Pinya NK65 + Gateron Black Ink v2 + GMK WOB 7V + SP-Star Meteor Whites Gateron Blacks Inks SKB60 V1 + Moyu Blacks Mode 80 + Mauves Lily58 Pro + Akko CS Ocean Blue



Thanks again to all the contributors, namely: BooleanBean, JEZ Keebs, MxEmily, Q., Rebult Keyboards, Rosey Pham, RRythe, Sean Dunne, smackswell, susboards and Zerranoman.


Project Sphinx

The Project Sphinx is a retrofuturistic concept, the proposed design of a soviet home computer from the '80s. Posted by FractionPrism.

Check this article from 2016 for more info (this seems to be a machine translation full of errors but contains more details and pictures).

In 1987, the Soviet journal “Technical aesthetics” published an article on the SPHINX, which still impresses with its design and concept.

Also, for more info on the history of computing in the Soviet Union, here is a good Wikipedia piece.

Keyboard Spotting

Old electron microscope

An old electron microscope: plastic keys recessed in wood. Spotted by IAmAQuantumMechanic.


USB Zenith ZTX-11-Z

An USB Zenith ZTX-11-Z by Icemanrec.

Zenith ZTX-11-Z with SKCC Green Alps and custom PCB replacement; features include: USB-C, NKRO, QMK VIA.

The construction is a lot more solid and hefty than a M0110, and these are lighter switches than the SKCC Creams in the M0110.

Fujifilm Frontier negative scanner

Ortho board on a Fujifilm Frontier negative scanner. Spotted by Benjaminfjer.

This compact ortho board/macropad is part of the Fujifilm Frontier negative scanner.

Rubberdome though.


IBM Displaywriter 6580 spotted by madribby78.

An IBM Displaywriter 6580 (Beamspring) from the very early 80s, with a Model M in the background as a comparison.

More details:


That was Issue #29. Thanks for stopping by.

This issue was made possible by the donations of:, Jeremy Kitchen, u/chad3814, @kaleid1990, Eugenie, sebastian siggerud, @adafruit, cornbreadninja, Ben, Chris Smith & 1 anonymous donor.

Your support is crucial to help this project to survive.

Discussion over at r/mk!