Sometimes a chance conversation leads you to discover something cool you’ve not seen before, and before you know it, you’re ordering parts for yet another hardware build. That’s what happened to this scribe the other day when chatting on some random discord, to QMK maintainer [Nick Brassel aka tzarc] about Djinn, a gorgeous 64-key split mechanical keyboard testbed. It’s a testbed because it uses the newest STM32G4x microcontroller family, and QMK currently does not have support for this in the mainline release. For the time being, [Nick] maintains a custom release, until it gets merged.
Hardware-wise, the design is fabulous, with a lot of attention to detail. We have individual per-key RGB LEDs, RGB underglow, a rotary encoder, a five-way tactile thumb switch, and a 240×320 LCD per half. The keyboard is based on a three PCB stack, two of which are there purely for structure. This slick design has enough features to keep a fair few of us happy.
Interestingly, when you look at the design files (KiCAD, naturally) [Nick] has chosen to take a mirrored approach to the PCB. That means the left and right sides are actually the same PCB layout. The components are populated on different sides of the PCB depending on which half you’re looking at! By mirroring footprints on both PCB sides, and hooking everything up in parallel, it’s possible to do it all with a single master layout.
This is a simple but genius idea that this scribe hadn’t come across before (the shame!) Secondarily it keeps costs down, as your typical Chinese prototyping house will not deal in PCB quantities below five, so you can make two complete keyboards on one order, rather than needing two orders to make five. (Yes, there are actually three unique PCBs, but we’re simplifying the situation, ok?)
Now, if only this pesky electronics shortage could abate a bit, and we could get the parts to build this beauty!
Obviously, we’ve covered many, many keyboards over the years. Here’s our own [Kristina’s] column all about the things. If you need a little help with your typing skills, this shocking example may be the one for you. If your taste is proper old-school clackers, there’s something for everyone.