Custom Keyboard Goes Split, Gets Thin, Acquires Stained Wood

The hardware and software required to make DIY keyboards happen has gotten more and more accessible, and that means it’s easier than ever to make one’s ideal input device a reality from the ground up. For [Cameron Sun], his Ellipsis Split mechanical keyboard buildlog details his second effort, refining his original design from lessons learned the first time around. The new keyboard is slim, split into two, and has integrated wrist supports made from stained wood. The painting and wood treatment took a lot of work and patience, but it certainly paid off because the result looks amazing!

Small integrated OLED screen shows the current mode.

When we saw [Cameron]’s first custom keyboard, we admired the unique aluminum case and some nice touches like the physical toggle switches. Those tactile switches allow changing the keyboard to different modes, while also serving as a visual indicator. [Cameron] liked those switches too, but alas they just didn’t fit into the slim new design. However, he’s very happy with swapping modes in software and using a small OLED display as an indicator. What kind of different modes does his keyboard have? There’s Windows mode and Mac mode (which changes some hotkeys) as well as modes that change which keys in the thumb clusters do what (moving the space key to the left for easier gaming, for example.) After all, it’s not just the physical layout that can be customized with a DIY keyboard.

Interested in making your own custom keyboard? Be sure to look into this breakaway keyboard PCB concept before you start, because it just might make your custom build a lot easier.

23 thoughts on “Custom Keyboard Goes Split, Gets Thin, Acquires Stained Wood

  1. The OLED screen gave me an idea: Next keyboard I’m making, I’m finding a 200x50mm screen, and adding it at the top of my keyboard, integrated into the wood, and connected to my PC so I have an additional screen and it’s on my keyboard. then I can just move windows like the calculator in there! Can’t wait to make this when I have the time ( which should be never considering my current previous engagements ).

    1. Oh, this also needs a knob for skipping in Youtube videos, another for changing zoom in the browser, another for volume ( obviously ), another to change distances in CAD/CAM software sketches, and so many more. My keyboard is going to look like the inside of a plane cabin. Oh also want a lamp indicator that tells me my server is running fine! Actually want one indicator for each of my Nagios checking scripts! Oh and a knob to navigate code lines in my favorite code editor. And it’s a dual knob like on safes, so the big knob does line, and the smaller one does column. And they click, and clicking them can be used to start/stop a selection process for copy/pasting! Oh and a knob to browse through opened windows. Or and another one for currently opened tabs in the browser! Oh and one for opened files in my text editor! Oh and “mark as read and move to next email”, and a “mark as not read and move to next email” buttons, those would be super helpful too. Oh and a knob to set an alarm/countdown for X minutes from now, the knob changes the duration, clicking the knob starts/stops the countdown ( actually this is pretty much the same as those mechanical kitchen count-down ticking thingies you use to cook eggs, just on my keyboard, and ideally my phone’s countdown would be what keeps track ). This is so much fun :) I have so many more ideas!

    2. Oh also a button that mutes sound for the duration of Youtube ads! Or even better a knob that sets how long is left in the ad, and clicking the knob starts that count-down *and* mutes until the count-down is at 0. So you see an ad that will take 20 seconds, you set your knob to 20, and it mutes your computer for 20 seconds but not more. I think I’d use this if it existed.

        1. If we could get a keyboard company to make such a knob ( let’s say as an add-on to existing keyboards ), would you get one? I think I most likely would! It’s easy to do as a standalone Arduino project so I might do that at some point, just to test the concept out. If somebody does it before me, I’d give them a present like some CNC hardware or something, to thank them for having saved me the effort but satisfied my curiosity :)

        1. That’d totally work.

          Or a linear slider pot with either marks every second laser engraved in the wood, or a double 7-segment display showing the current number?

          Or a “touch” slider where you put your finger ( capacitive? ) at the point on a ruler corresponding to the right number of seconds ( it’s a second-graduated ruler ), and it starts the muting? This would compress together the sliding and the click into a single simpler/faster action.

          OH, ALSO, important, *as* you are setting it up, it’s counting down every second even as you adjust, so when you click to commit, it isn’t offset by the second or two it takes you to click/commit.

          1. > «YouTube is just unwatchable now…»

            I use youtube-dl a lot for videos over 5 minutes long, just take the url, pass it to youtube-dl and pipe to mpv or vlc, and it’s all good.

          2. Yeah YouTube as a website really is getting rather horrible. All those ads and still not enough funding getting to the channels so that they don’t have to run their own sponsor spot for every damn video too… (or so it feels to me)

            So the trick is to just avoid it…

          3. Sssshhh don’t talk about ad blockers openly like this. The more popular they get, the more of a problem they are for advertisers, and the money they’ll do to ruin your life and/or prevent you from viewing their content without disabling the blocker.

            If everybody knows about ublock, then all the advertisers will switch to forcing you to stop using it, and you don’t want that right? If so, shut up about it please :)

          4. @arthurwolf How about no and let them find an actual model that works, and/or otherwise just deal with it. Also shut up about it, also smiley face to spread out the aggressiveness with a friendly demeaner that is totally not obvious.

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