Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Pumpkin Keyboard

Oh, the places plastic has taken us. One of the arguably better inventions might be the fake carve-able pumpkin, which is more or less guaranteed not to shrivel up and rot on your porch, though it might get smashed by wily teenagers along with its organic brethren next door.

Though they will be around much longer, the fake kind lend themselves to all kinds of creations, including this one from [BunkEbear] which was “a nightmare” to build. Yeah, we bet it was along the lines of [Aaron Rasmussen]’s spherical keyboard, except inside out, since that one’s concave.

This tasty keyboard is modeled after the Malling-Hansen writing ball, which is arguably the first commercial typewriter and dates to 1865. [BunkEbear]’s pumpkin version features the 54-key layout, plus two additional for Shift and Escape to suit modern needs. Since the inside of the pumpkin is pretty small, [BunkEbear] wired all the connections close together on the protoboard, and used JST extension cables between the Glorious Panda switches themselves and the Arduino Pro Micro.

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Hexagonal Keyboard

Well, I didn’t mean to take the whole summer off from Keebin’, it just kind of happened that way. You’d think it would have been #13 that tripped me up, but we ain’t even there yet — this is only the twelfth edition. I kept thinking I should write one and it just wasn’t happening, until I got a tip from [s.ol bekic] about their stunning hexagonal keycaps and the journey toward making an open-source 12-key macropad featuring same.

But let’s back up a bit. Originally, [s.ol] designed a totally sick hybrid MIDI-and-typing keyboard from scratch, which you can see in this short video. It glows, it splits in half, and it snaps back together again quite satisfyingly. And you probably noticed the hexagonal keycaps that look like they might be printed or milled, or perhaps even printed and then milled.

In actuality, [s.ol] threw all the processes at this keycap project — milling, molding and casting, and 3D printing. None of them worked well enough to get much past the prototype stage, but in the end, [s.ol] joined forces with fkcaps.com to create and offer an injection-molded version that I’d really, really like to rock my fingertips around in. Good thing I can pick some up for cheap.

Of course, the real process was all the learning [s.ol] did along the way — both in the early days of making the hybrid keyboard, and after teaming up with fkcaps to make the keycaps and the accompanying macropad into real products. And that was after all the design work it took to get this newfangled honeycomb configuration right.

In case you’re wondering, these are meant for only Kailh chocs, but no matter the switch, the spacing is really important because of all the possible points of friction introduced by the design. Be sure to check out the keycap docs page, macropad docs page, and this gallery of keycaps and macropads.

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Really Tall Keycaps

About a month ago, [Unexpected Maker] finished their TinyS3, an ESP32-S3 development board. Since the chip supports both true USB and Bluetooth, [deʃhipu] wondered how well it would work in a keyboard.

Thus, the Vegemite Sandwich was made, perhaps while [deʃhipu] was dreaming of traveling in a fried-out Kombi. But really, it was named so because [Unexpected Maker] hails from Australia.

This is [deʃhipu]’s first time using switch sockets, which is (as far as we know) the only choice when it comes to hot-swappable Kailh chocs. We’ll be watching this one with hungry eyes.

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Ballpoint Typewriters

So you want to minimize finger movement when you type, but don’t have three grand to drop on an old DataHand, or enough time to build the open-source lalboard? Check out these two concept keebs from [SouthPawEngineer], which only look like chord boards.

Every key on the home row is a five-way switch — like a D-pad with straight down input. [SouthPawEngineer] has them set up so that each one covers a QWERTY column. So like, for the left pinky switch, up is Q, right is A, down is Z, and left is 1. Technically, the split has 58 keys, and the uni has 56.

Both of these keebs use KB2040 boards, which are Adafruit’s answer to the keyboard-building craze of these roaring 2020s. These little boards are of course easy to program with CircuitPython, which supports KMK, an offshoot of the popular QMK. Thanks for the tip, [foamyguy]!

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Tri-lingual Typewriter

Isn’t it just fantastic when a project finally does what you wanted it to do in the first place? [Simon Merrett] isn’t willing to compromise when it comes to the Aerodox. His original vision for the keyboard was a wireless, ergonomic split that could easily switch between a couple of PCs. Whereas some people are more into making layout after layout, [Simon] keeps pushing forward with this same design, which is sort of a mashup between the ErgoDox and the Redox, which is itself a wireless version of the ErgoDox.

The Aerodox has three nRF51822 modules — one for the halves to communicate, one for the control half to send key presses, and a third on the receiver side. [Simon] was using two AA cells to power each one, and was having trouble with the range back to the PC.

The NRFs want 3.3 V, but will allegedly settle for 2 V when times are hard. [Simon] added a boost converter to give each a solid 3.3 V, and the Aerodox became reliable enough to be [Simon]’s daily driver. But let’s go back to the as-yet-unrealized potential part.

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Hole-y Keyboard

Can a keyboard get any more aerodynamic than this? Probably not.

According to Google Translate, kleks is Polish for (and I’m cherry-picking definitions here) the word ‘splash’. Well, [deʃhipu]’s hole-ful and soulful Kleks Keyboard certainly made a splash with me. [deʃhipu] knows what I’m talking about. As I said in Discord, I just love the look of those holes. They’re purely aesthetic and do a nice job of showing off [deʃhipu]’s routing skills.

One might argue that those holes also functional in that they increase aerodynamics and remove a not-insignificant amount of weight for travel considerations. But yeah, they mostly are there to look cool. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the two halves are joined with a series of soldered stitches that are made from a [ggconnector] bent into a u-shape. Now it’s a toss-up as to which is my favorite feature.

It seems that [deʃhipu] is never completely satisfied by this or that keyboard build, and that’s okay. That’s normal. That is . . . a big part of what this hobby is all about. Because honestly, what would be the fun in finding The One? We wonder what will happen when the droplets settle. Will [deʃhipu] be satisfied with the Kleks, or will those stylish holes become un-fillable voids?

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Illustrated Kristina with an IBM Model M keyboard floating between her hands.

Keebin’ With Kristina: The One With The Cat Keyboard

Special thanks to [Maarten], who stumbled upon this old gem of a geekhack thread by [suka]. It’s essentially a show and tell of their DIY keyboard journey, complete with pictures. [suka]’s interest started with a yen for ergonomic keyboard layout alternatives. They soon found the geekhack forum and started lurking around, practicing layouts like Neo and AdNW, which [suka] still uses today.

A pair of num pads wired up to a Teensy becomes a keyboard.When it was time to stop lurking and start building something, [suka] got plenty of support from the community. They knew they wanted a split ortho with a trackpoint and plenty of thumb keys. [suka] started by building them from old Cherry keyboards, which are easier to come by in Germany.

The first build was a pair of num pads turned landscape and wired up to a Teensy, but [suka] wanted those sweet, clacky Cherry MX switches instead of MLs. So the second version used a pair of sawed-off num pads from old MX boards.

When the Truly Ergonomic came out, it got [suka] interested in one-piece splits. Plus, they were tired of carrying around a two-piece keyboard. So their next build was a sexy monoblock split with a laser-sintered case and keycaps. But that was ultimately too uncomfortable, so [suka] went back to split-splits.

Everyone takes a different path into and through this hobby, and they’re all likely to be interesting. Is yours documented somewhere? Let us know.

What Could Have Been: The Dygma Raise

I do some streaming here and there, mostly for the sense of focus I get out of being live on camera. I like to find out what my people in chat are clacking on, and one of them told me they have a staggered split called the Dygma Raise. I hadn’t heard of it before that day, but this keyboard has been around for a few years now.

This same person told me that Dygma might make an ortholinear version sometime soon, but apparently Dygma wanted it that way from the beginning. According to the timely video below sent to the tips line by [deʃhipu], Dygma’s original plan was a split ortho with few keys and presumably a layer system.

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