This is usually how it happens — [mrzealot] had been using some awful chiclet-style keyboard without much of a care, and topping out at 50-60 WPM using an enhanced hunt-and-peck method. But he really wanted back-lighting, and so got his first taste of the mech life with a Master Keys Pro S. Hooked, [mrzealot] started researching and building his endgame keyboard, as you do once bitten. It looked as though his type would have as few keys as possible, and thumb keys laid out in arcs.
And so the cardboard prototyping began, with real switches and keycaps and a split design. After getting tired of adjusting the halves’ position on the desk, [mrzealot] threw that plan out the window and started scheming to build a monoblock split. He had a steel switch plate cut for this prototype, and used cardboard for the bottom layer, complete with a little hatch to access the Pro Micro’s reset button.
Now satisfied with the 36-key layout, it was time to go wireless with a Feather nRF52 Bluefruit LE. This is where things get serious and final, with a laser-cut layered oak case and thick, blank, PBT keycaps.
Under all that plastic lies a range of actuation force levels on the key caps that (in our opinion) range from heavy to really heavy — 62 gram switches on the pinkies and ring fingers, 65 g on the middle, 67 g on the index fingers, and a whopping 78 g for the thumb clusters.
We just love the way this ended up looking, and are pretty jealous of that neoprene layer on the bottom. Beauty aside, there is some real utility here to be shared. In designing the layout, [mrzealot] created a keyboard generator called ergogen that will get you closer to your endgame without the need for CAD skills, just YAML.
Those of you who read Hackaday closely may recognize the term ‘ergogen’ from [Matthew Carlson]’s coverage of [Ben Vallack]’s guide to creating a low-profile keyboard. This is something else in the same vein.
Thanks for the tip, [HBBisenieks].