What’s the worst thing about split keyboards? If they have one general fault, it’s that almost none of them have a number pad. If you can fly on that thing, but struggle with using the top row numbers, you will miss the num pad terribly, trust us. So what’s the answer? Design your own keyboard, of course. [ToasterFuel] had enough bread lying around to cook up a little experiment for his first keyboard build, and we think the result is well done, which is kind of rare for first keebs.
This design is based on the Redox, itself a remix of the ErgoDox that aims to address the common complaints about the latter — it’s just too darn big, and the thumb clusters are almost unusable. We love how customized this layout is, with its sprinkling of F keys and Escape in the Caps Lock position. Under those keycaps you’ll find 100% Cherry MX greens, so [ToasterFuel] must have pretty strong fingers to pound those super clackers.
Everything else under the hood is pretty standard, with a pair of Arduino Pro Micros running the show. [ToasterFuel] had to wire up the whole thing by hand because of the num pad, and we’re impressed that he built this entire project in just three weeks. And that includes writing his own firmware!
Almost every component of this beauty is wood, including the mounting plate and those thicc and lovely keycaps — their top layer is solid oak, and the bottom bit is birch plywood. In order to interface the ‘caps with the switches, [Tauno Erik] designed and printed connector pieces that sit inside the extra large keycaps and accept the stems of the key switches.
Speaking of switches, we’re not sure if [Tauno Erik] ended up using Cherry green switches, browns, or a mix of both (that would be interesting), but each one is mounted on a custom PCB along with a diode and a pull-up resistor. You can see more build pictures at [Tauno Erik]’s site, and stick around for a visual tour of the completed build after the break.
Inside this open-source banana is that perennial favorite for macro pads, the Arduino Pro Micro, and eight switches that are wired up directly to input pins. We’re not sure what flavor of Cherry those switches are, hopefully brown or green, but we suddenly wish Cherry made yellow switches. If you want to build your own, the STLs and code are available, and we know for a fact that other switch purveyors do in fact make yellow-stemmed switches.
Contrary to what the BOM says, we believe the sticker is mandatory because it just makes the build — we imagine there would be fewer double takes without it. Hopefully this fosters future fun keyboard builds from the community, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth into the split version!
Reddit user [duzitbetter] showed off their design for a 3D-printed programmable macro keyboard that offers a different take on what can be thought of as a sort of 3D-printed PCB. The design is called the Bloko 9 and uses the Raspberry Pi PICO and some Cherry MX-style switches, which are popular in DIY keyboards.
The enclosure and keycaps are all 3D printed, and what’s interesting is the way that the enclosure both holds the components in place as well as providing a kind of wire guide for all the electrical connections. The result is such that bare copper wire can be routed and soldered between leads in a layout that closely resembles the way a PCB would be routed. The pictures say it all, so take a look.
System76, a computer manufacturer known for selling machines which run Linux, recently unveiled the complete sources for their forthcoming Launch mechanical keyboard. Made with familiar tools, mass produced, and backed by a stable company it looks like the Launch will be a compelling entrant into the world of mechanical keyboards.
Back in March of 2020 System76 published a blog post about a new project they were embarking on; a mechanical keyboard with an unusual layout. At the time there was scant information available besides a summer 2021 target and little was heard until last week when they opened up access to the Launch repository. Everything should be recognizable if you’ve ever looked at the sources for a customized mechanical keyboard before, which is what gets our attention. Electrical sources are authored with KiCad and should be easy to tweak or fabricate. And mechanical components are provided in STEP files with mechanical drawings, presumably because they intend to actually manufacture these.
Feature wise all the usual hallmarks of a well designed keyboard are here. The Launch uses hostswap sockets to make it easy to install the usual Cherry MX compatible switch options, and includes per-key RGB backlighting courtesy of SK6805 LEDs. The ATmega32U4 runs the popular and extremely capable QMK firmware instead of something bespoke, so it should be easy to customize to the user’s desire.
System76 touts an unusual key layout, but if you’ve seen a 75% keyboard before it shouldn’t be too threatening (though we do wonder about that shrunken right shift). The most unusual feature is that it features a USB hub capable of full speed 10 gigabit USB 3.1 Gen 2 on two USB-C and two USB-A ports. It’s worth checking out the schematic to appreciate how much more complicated the hub design is than the rest of the keyboard, which is practically vestigial in comparison.
The remaining unknown is how the Launch integrates with Pop!_OS, System76’s awkwardly named remix of Ubuntu. They promise deep, compelling integration and we’re excited to see how that manifests.
The design started with OBS, but this slick little keyboard turned into a system-wide assistant. It assigns the eight keys dynamically based on the program that has focus, and even updates the icon to show changes like the microphone status.
This is done with a Python script on the PC that monitors the running programs and updates the macro keeb accordingly using a serial protocol that [Sebastian] wrote. Thanks to the flexibility of this design, [Sebastian] can even use it to control the office light over MQTT and make the CO2 monitor send a color-coded warning to the jog wheel when there’s trouble in the air.
This project is wide open with fabulous documentation, and [Sebastian] is eager to see what improvements and alternative enclosure materials people come up with. Be sure to check out the walk-through/build video after the break.
Inspired by a pocket version of the Voltex controller that is also pretty darned expensive, [OmniSaiRen] set out to make their own on the cheap by building an awesome little macro keyboard that’s smaller and easier to use than the specialized controller. Inside there’s an Arduino Pro Micro taking input from eight Cherry MX switches and two optical encoders. The game treats the encoders as vertical and horizontal mouse movements, so [OmniSaiRen]’s code scans the encoders for their positions.
[OmniSaiRen] wrote their own matrix code and says it’s ugly, but it works well enough to play the game. What more can you ask for? A cool sticker to go on the top? Done. It’s too cold outside to paint, anyway. If it’s a one-handed game pad you need, check out this sweet little thing.