Fat Bottomed-Keebs, You Make The Clackin’ World Go Round

Depending on the circles you run in, it can seem like the mechanical keyboard community is all about reduced layouts, and keebs without ten-keys are about as big as it gets. But trust us, there’s plenty of love out there for the bigger ‘boards like [Ben]’s tasty fat-bottomed keyboard. Man oh man, what a delicious slab of throwback to the days when keyboards doubled as melee weapons.

More specifically, this is a 199-key modified Sun Type 5 layout. It runs on two Teensy 2.0s — one for the keyboard matrix, and one for everything else. [Ben] made the metal enclosure entirely by hand without a CNC or laser cutter. While I don’t personally care for linear switches, I have mad respect for these, which are vintage Cherry Blacks pulled from various 1980s AT/XT boards. That 10-key island on the left is dedicated to elementary macros like undo/redo, cut/copy/paste, and open/close/save.

We absolutely love the gigantic rotary encoders, which give it a bit of a boombox look. There’s even reuse involved here, because the encoder knobs are made from jam jar lids that are stuffed with homemade Sugru. [Ben] can use them to play PONG on the LCD and other games not yet implemented on the everything-else Teensy.

Here’s another Sun-inspired keeb, but this one has a reverse 10-key layout that matches the DTMF phone dial.

24 thoughts on “Fat Bottomed-Keebs, You Make The Clackin’ World Go Round

  1. Finally! Someone else who likes the function keys added to the left! But I’d still drop the numberpad (even though I play crawl and could use it for easier travel…) just to keep my mouse hand from getting too wide and causing stress in my wrist.

    Great job!

    1. Function keys on the left are so much better. It’s exactly the same as blind-typing on a numeric keypad versus stumbling around with the numbers all in one long-ass row, impossible to navigate by touch

      1. “For that matter, never saw a keyboard with a right-shit key”
        Uhm what? xD (and no, not commenting about the typo) how have you never seen a keyboard with a right-shift when like 80% of all keyboards have shift control and alt on both sides???

  2. Author here,
    10 keys island and F1-F4 on the top right are still temporary. I’ve used transparent keys because I’d like to create custom backlit double shot keys with them. I’d like to paint them black from the inside so they don’t lose their finger touch feeling and I’ll carve symbols on them with a utility knife (cut/copy/paste/browser/…). There’s still some work on that (on software too).
    Layout resembles Type5 layout but I’m not stricly following it, I’ve modded few things to use common keysets available and added some special behavior to toggle between different layouts. SL Key for exampe Switches keyboard Layouts: us, us intl, ita,… FN and ALTgr give accented vowels and so on.
    Comments and improvements are always well accepted :)

    1. My favorite layout is the one Windows 95 eliminated, thanks to the WinKey and Menu key to the right of the spacebar. I call it the “Big Three” layout with the reverse L shaped Enter, big right Shift and big Backspace.

      The problem lies with the right WinKey displacing the backslash that ought to be nestled between the right end of the spacebar and right Alt. Various keyboards have cut off the upper end of Enter, the left end of right Shift, or the right end of Backspace to house the homeless since 1995 Backslash key.

      My earliest PC keyboard was a Big Three style and of course I learned to hit the upper leg of Enter and the Backspace and right Shift on their left ends. So whenever I use an unfamiliar keyboard at some point I’m getting backslashes I don’t intend.

      The least offensive relocation for Backslash is in place of the upper leg of Enter.

      But why won’t any company make a Big Three board that eliminates the right WinKey for Backslash?

      1. I agree with what you have written but I’ve been doing things a little differently.
        On the left side I prefer to have Ctrl+Alt+Shift in the same area (without the Super/Win key in the middle) so I can even press them all at once with just one finger in between, I’ve used a Mac keyboard for a long while and this kind of thing is an addiction in some way.
        On the right side I’ve removed the Menu key (useless for me) and placed Fn,Alt,Super,Ctrl. Fn and Alt are used for special chars/vowels combinations (àá, èé, £€, …) I use a lot. I still need to replace the Win Logo cap (it’s irritating) with something else, and I don’t know if it would be a 1.25 or a 1.0 keycap and what kind of behavior it should have. Backslash is a really nice idea (for a sysadmin).
        Thanks for your tips

  3. The vintage boards he destroyed for this where probably worth about 250 bucks or more. So i would not call this a cheap build.

    Maybe next time order the switches from aliexpress too )

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