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.

Altoids Tin Keyboard Is A Breath Of Fresh Air

Well, here’s a fresh idea! [flurpyflurples] is back from hiatus with the Mintboard, a 40% that fits inside of an Altoids tin. Who could ask for more than a rugged little Bluetooth keyboard with a built-in cover that fits in your pocket?

This build started with meticulously measuring the tin to figure out what kind of switches could be used. At first, this was going to be a 60% keyboard, but after a lot of design decisions and switch comparisons, [flurpyflurples] settled on a certain micro switch spaced at 7.3mm for a 40% layout. Then it was time to design a PCB.

Although [flurpyflurples] tends to use Arduino Pro Micros in their builds, they went with the Nice! Nano this time for the Bluetooth capabilities. This means that they had to program it with ZMK instead of QMK, but found that QMK knowledge transfers rather nicely.

Let’s talk about those lovely legends. The keycaps are 3D printed of course, and the legends were cut out on a Cricut machine. The best part is that sealant — [flurpyflurples] used a few drops of UV nail polish top coat and cured it with light.

We think this looks and sounds fantastic, and would really like to know how to get such clean cutouts. According to [flurpyflurples] and the end of the build/demo video you’ll find below the break, the action is a lot like a Blackberry keyboard.

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