Keyboard Builders' Digest
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Issue 31 / Week 24 / 2021

This is a hand-picked selection of last week's content from a keyboard builder'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 31

New open source designs and personal favorites, tips on IO expanders and jasmonite. Split database revamp continued. Issue 30 follow-up.

Summary

This week I learned of IO expanders and jasmonite, and there were some open source designs published again.

Sometimes I have to encourage people to share their source files, and this worked with the Snowflake by kbranch38 and the Split89 by jurassic73.

Btw, I have less time for my private projects these days, but I tried to fit some priority projects in my schedule: e.g. working on the split database and keeping track of new projects for the KBD.

And at the end of this post you can find my priority list ATM.

Summer schedule

You may know that I'm kind of a […]


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: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/dovenyi/behind-scenes-issue-31


Projects

Pierce keyboard

Pierce by crahamson is a semi-wireless open source keyboard.

The keyboard is based on Corne, but the author wanted more aggressive pinky stagger and 1u keys only.

Initially designed to use a ribbon cable. I got a bit annoyed by the bulky cable so I got the idea to make wireless modules to plug into the IDC sockets.

The design also features a ThinkPad R61 trackpoint module.

GitHub repo: https://github.com/durken1/pierce


Boston

The Boston is an open source "compact 120%".

I have a hard time to keep track of projects on Geekhack. This one was brought to my attention through JucheCatgirl's typing test on Youtube:

This absolute unit is the Boston, a "compact 120%" designed by Pylon at geekhack. […] It's essentially an Austin with an F13-F24 row added on top. These were available as B-stock/test kits for users willing to print their own cases, and all the PCB and case files are on github for those interested in building one today.

MM60 Ergo

A laser cut split by SKZBadHabit with trackpoint, display and RTC.

SKZBadHabit made a stand for his aviator connector, but what's even better, we got a follow-up on the evolution of his lasercut keyboard, as well as some new tidbits and photos.

Original photos: here.

New ones: here.

The complete keyboard is laser cut with 3 mm MDF and it's covered by a black foil.

The display is a normal SD1306 Display, and the IBM logo is from an old server and just a stick on.

There is a trackpoint module from an old HP notebook, and it also features a RTC module (Real-Time Clock) so the correct time can be displayed.

In addition, the firmware is a custom one too (not QMK): just a simple Arduino code.

One more tip is the pin extender:

First I had the aviator connectors (20 pin) to connect both halves wire by wire but than I added a MCP23017 which is a digital pin extender for my Arduino Pro Micro and so I only need 4 pins.


The Ulfberht+

The Ulfberht+ is a cyberdeck by Tinfoil_Haberdashery, featuring his laser-etched custom keycaps.

Well, a vanilla ErgoDox wouldn't make it to the KBD, but this cyberdeck takes it a step further.

The author has a detailed write-up about the project at: https://hackaday.io/project/180424-the-ulfberht-cyberdeck/details.


Dactyl Manuform Skeleton build guide

Dactyl Manuform Skeleton Edition build guide by Prestigious-Cookie42 released in Japanese.

It's in Japanese, but stuffed with pictures.

You can try translators or my Japanese keyboard vocabulary of katakana words may help you too.

Btw, the build guide is available here: https://www.creativity-ape.com/entry/2021/06/18/121519

And the git repo here: https://github.com/atsuyuki/dactyl-manuform-skeleton-edition-4x5


Snowflake keyboard

A tightly spaced keyboard by kbranch38.

This weird keyboard uses 17x16 mm key spacing instead of the standard 19x19 (inspired by this post).

I'm a guy with pretty normal sized hands, but I've always felt like even some of the alpha keys are just a little bit more of a stretch than I'd like - the tight spacing takes care of that without feeling cramped at all.

Git repo: https://github.com/kbranch/snowflake_keyboard


Split89

The split89 is an 89-key split TKL by jurassic73 with source files and build log.

Geometry inspired by the Microsoft Ergo 4000.

I could not find a split TKL in this layout so I designed one – jurassic73

Build log and source files: https://github.com/jurassic73/split89


WhiteBoard

The WhiteBoard is an open source 5x12 ortho by tinyduel.

Git repo: https://github.com/enbyautumn/WhiteBoard


Volume mixer

This volume mixer by Ananords is based on deej, an open source mixer.

deej is an open-source hardware volume mixer for Windows and Linux PCs. It lets you use real-life sliders (like a DJ!) to seamlessly control the volumes of different apps (such as your music player, the game you're playing and your voice chat session) without having to stop what you're doing.

Git repo: https://github.com/omriharel/deej

Instructables: https://www.instructables.com/DEEJ-a-Physical-Volume-Mixer/

STL for the enclosure: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4879459

Fusion 360 and STEP Files: https://ananords.com/products/deej-3d-files/


Ploopy Mini open-sourced

The Ploopy Mini Trackball by crop_octagon is now completely open-source. All design files are available, and it runs QMK.

All of the design files are available on GitHub. STEP files, STL files, electronics files for making PCBs, and firmware (QMK, of course).

You can also find complete assembly instructions, here!

If you don't have a 3D printer, you can find kits here.


Tips & Tricks

Restoring an Apple Adjustable Keyboard

A filthy Apple M1242 keyboard cleaned and retrobrighted by TysyTube.


DIY shine-through caps

Prototyping NP profile shine-through caps by neXus5169.

Love the NP profile blanks but I miss my RGB for layers etc. Cannot find any XDA / NP profile black with shine through so I decided to try it home made style.

2 mm hole on top, 3 mm hole bottom filled with hot glue from the inside (used tape on the outside to make it leveled).

Looks quite okay.

More pics: https://imgur.com/gallery/zyjL1Hz

Was also wondering if epoxy or even nail polish could be better to fill the dot.

Keeblab

The Keeblab by edoelas is a controller-agnostic prototyping setup.

The idea behind this invention is to be able to make changes in software and wiring really easily, allowing to try different controllers, make a huge split or convert it to a midi piano to name a few options.

Right now it is using a black pill v3 as the controller.

…in my opinion the best controller if we consider the price: 5€. Plenty of IO and power, lots of options, small size and USB-C. Also provides access to the USB via pins.

We've seen well-documented breadboard setups in the past, e.g. the Protoboard(s) by BillyBuerger.


On IO expanders

Using an IO expander instead of a second Pro Micro? Posted by scissor_rock_paper.

At first sight, this may look like just another handwired split project.

What makes this quite unusual is the IO expander used instead of a second Pro Micro.

The MCP23017 IO expander has 16 IO pins and uses I2C to communicate with the microcontroller (in contrast to the MCP23S17 using serial connection).

I used the Ferris firmware as a starting point for my firmware and only had to make a few small tweaks to get it working with the additional rows.

Next part of the build log is on the way. In the meantime, here is the blog post about the basic electrical design of the project: http://mark-story.com/posts/view/building-a-split-keyboard-part-2


3D printed keycaps

Faux double-shot 3D printed keycaps by Symbiote.

Symbiote was only aware of one non-groupbuy reasonably priced SA keycap set that supports Dvorak (SA Crisis).

However, he wanted something different, and more appropriate for the office. The result is this 3D printed keyset using this GitHub library: https://github.com/rsheldiii/KeyV2

I printed them upside down, so the tops are flat, but I made a small customization to the homing keys so they have some texture – Symbiote.

It's "fake doubleshot", since the plastic for the symbol is only 0.2 mm thick.

Print time was about 15 minutes per key. Printed in PLA on a Prusa Mk3S.

It's printing the legends first, then you print your key. So you are printing 2 files, one at a time, and not cleaning the first print off the bed.

With Prusa Slicer and a Prusa printer it's easy enough to do this as a single print. The printer supports changing filament part-way through the print, and with Prusa Slicer you can assign the 0.2 mm thick letters to be printed first, then have a filament change, then let the rest of the keys print.


Test

Sound test compilation #17

This is a list of 15 sound tests published this week in a single megapack.

(Cover image by Dreenee.)

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

Videos

    Arisu + Akko CS Matcha Green NK65 + Kinetic Labs Salmon D65 + Creamsicles D65 + Alpacas V2 D65 + Original Aspiration D65 + Tangerines Keychron C1 + Gateron Blues GMMK Pro + Kailh Box Jades GMMK Pro + JWK Moss KBD67 Lite + Gateron Black Ink V2 Jelly Epoch 75 + Porcelain Blues Tofu65 + Gateron Black Inks Boston + Gazzew Boba U4T Tofu 65 + Boba Linear Thock Gamakay K77 + Gateron Yellows

References

Contributors

Thanks again to all the contributors, namely: Bakatani, clack labs, Dreenee, It's Yen Wei, jeff sun, John Perz, JucheCatgirl, Keebo, Kirball, Swiitchback and Zorf Boards.


Keyboard Spotting

ASCII AS keyboard Sono 1

AS keyboard Sono 1 manufactured by ASCII Corporation spotted by Buzanoff.

Unfortunately, no more info.


Sejin Electron EAT-1010

Sejin Electron EAT-1010 posted by Catoflado1.

This Sejin Electron EAT-1010 features Futaba MA clicky switches.

Typing test:

The EAT-1010 was manufactured by Sejin Electron in Korea, with Futaba MA switches. A price tag in the back suggests that it was sold with warranty in 1998.

Futaba MA switches are incredibly smooth to type, much better than any current gamer keyboard with Cherry MX, which are all terribly scratchy – Catoflado1

The sound is loud and metallic on account of the Plate Spring design that this switch uses, especially in the upstroke, but the thick ABS double shot keycaps give it a kinda bassier and full sound.


Behind the Scenes

Visiting the Norbauer Warehouse

Visiting the Norbauer Warehouse by TaehaTypes.


Inspiration

Jesmonite

Results of an experiment with some new materials - posted by xWaSx.

Inspired by this video by Alexander Chappel, xWaSx used jasmonite to cast a numpad case.

Jesmonite is a composite material used in fine arts, crafts, and construction. It consists of a gypsum-based material in an acrylic resin.

If you think this is something light and plastic like:

We were actually quite surprised by how much weight it brought to the table. Fully build the NumPad comes out at around 400g.

You can find a detailed post about the process of experimenting over at geekhack.


Ortholinear with training wheels

Ortholinear with standard keycap set by mister_bouch.

This project features standard keys on an ortho board.

The PCB is custom: https://i.imgur.com/rPhDxeA.jpg


Atlantis 9e

Atlantis 9e is a macropad with nine rotary encoders. Posted by Solartempest.

You DON'T need rotary encoders. Especially on an ergonomic keyboard. Not a single one. You play with them for a short time and barely touch them later.

That's why I have six of them on my latest keyboard too.

On the Atlantis 9e macropad there are, well, nine encoders.


That was Issue #31. Thanks for stopping by.

This issue was made possible by the donations of:
splitkb.com, Jeremy Kitchen, AikenJG, @kaleid1990, u/chad3814, Eugenie, sebastian siggerud, ajoflo & 3 anonymous donors.

Your support is crucial to help this project to survive.

Discussion over at r/mk!
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