There are all sorts of reasons to build your own keyboard, and we would argue that the more custom the layout, the easier it is to justify the time and expense. At least, that’s what we’re going with for this post about [GoldenSights]’ big, beautiful custom ortholinear called Nearer, as in nearer to perfect. Just look at this battleship!
[GoldenSights] has long wanted a mechanical keeb, but has never been into any of the commercial offerings. That goes double since none of them seem to have a vertical Home/End cluster, which [GoldenSights] has become quite attached to thanks to a space-saving Logitech rectangle keeb. But if you’re going to make your own keyboard, you should go all out, right? Right. So [GoldenSights] started by adding another 12 F keys and making it ortholinear. Then things got personal with an extra Backspace where Num Lock usually lives, and dedicated keys for switching between English, Korean, and Chinese.
[GoldenSights] wanted USB-C and so they used an Elite-C microcontroller, but there’s one big problem — it only has 24 pins, and according to the matrix math, the board needs 27 total. Rather than using an I/O expansion chip or a second microcontroller, they wired it up as duplex matrix. This is an alternative way of wiring up a matrix so that it’s closer to being square by doubling up the rows and halving the number of columns.
We don’t think [GoldenSights] gives themselves enough credit here. They say that they lean toward calling it assembly rather than a build, but we disagree with that assessment. [GoldenSights] broke in this giant keeb with giant write-up of the build, so go see for yourself. There’s a ton of build pictures and a fair amount of hot glue, so be warned.
Let’s talk about those keycaps for a second. The space bar was supposed to be black PBT like the others, but the keycap manufacturer didn’t have a 6u space bar in black and sent a gray one instead. Honestly, we like the way it looks. And we love that [GoldenSights] painstakingly laid out the keys on foam board before committing to a laser-cut metal switch plate.
Want a space-saving ortholinear that doesn’t feel too cramped? Check out this wafer-thin keyboard that’s designed to squat over your inferior laptop keys.