A “Full” Keyboard For $5*

Sure, we’ve all seen PCB business cards at this point, but what about giving away a full-blown keyboard at meetups and such? That’s just how cost-effective the idawgz32 keyboard is. How on Earth can it cost so little? [sporewoh] used the CH552 microcontroller, which comes in around a dollar and only needs a couple of capacitors to get it up and running. The firmware is FAK.

As [sporewoh] writes in this blog post about the keyboard, they did some analysis and realized that most of the cost of their previous tiny board came from the switches. In addition to switching up the switches, [sporewoh] performed a few tricks to get the cost down, like making the key spacing 9 mm x 9 mm so that the overall board is less than 100 mm x 100 mm (which triggers a deal at a certain board house).

Unfortunately, the switches turned out not to be so good. They had greater travel and required more actuation force than the ones [sporewoh] was used to with previous board. The switches were also scratchy, which was solved with a little Krytox. But ultimately, they are pretty unreliable, so the next revision will use Panasonic EVQP0N02Bs.

If this seems familiar, you may be recalling this $3 macro pad which uses the same chip, or maybe the fact that we’ve covered the CH552 in detail.

*Thanks to the current CAD to USD exchange rate.

14 thoughts on “A “Full” Keyboard For $5*

    1. It would be actually a lot more expensive. Capacitive keys are made as a part of a whole keyboard system and not singles.

      The run number would have to be huge to make the cost cheap enough.

      The smallest form factors I’ve seen for capacitive would be a 2×2.

      1. It would probably be cheaper and easier to retrofit an old android device (phone/tablet) with just software and USB keyboard mode. Laser cut a stencil to give yourself tactile “button here” feedback, and touch type away! Or vinyl sticker ala cricut. If you use a tablet, use leftover space as a trackpad!

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