Well, having caught the fever for fine keyboards, I've gone through Filcos, Topres, Vintage, and Kustoms. The only logical conclusion is to start building my own. It's like building a light saber as the final task in Jedi training.
It's fun and educational. Anyway I thought I'd show off what I've been working on.
I call this thing the Epsilon keyboard. Why Epsilon? Only because I like naming stuff after greek letters. It has no other meaning.
This keyboard is an intermediate step to my final destination, which is the keyboard of my dreams. Epsilon's purpose is for me to try some things out and gain experience. Therefore I tried not to spend much money on it. The concept is to be cheap. It was designed specifically for the keys from a G81-7000.
That's the MY POS board that Flynn stripped and sold for 15 bucks a pop. (POS = point-of-sale and/or piece-of-sh*t)
It is a (mostly) clean room design. The PCB is entirely original. I avoided looking too closely at the GH60 until after I sent it to be fabbed. Now that I look closer, it's amazing how many similar design challenges I can see. I also am very impressed with Komar's creativity (props). The plate was
entirely original but I decided to go with the switch cutouts from the Phantom. I'm also impressed with that piece of kit. Ultimately, I'm going to switch back to the datasheet cutouts, though. The extra details add too much cost and I don't switch stems around. Finally the firmware is entirely from scratch. I have high standards for that part. I am in the process of writing it.
For the time being, Epsilon uses a skeleton case. You know those cases that sandwich Acrylic between Aluminum to get a cheaper Aluminum case? Well this is like that except Acrylic is on the outside and the sides are simply standoffs. It is therefore an open-air case design that looks very techie/geeky. The switches are exposed and the plate is clear, so the PCB is easily visible. The effect is really fun, although not very refined.
I fully intended this to be a learning experience, and it has been. In other words, I have failed a lot
. What I have so far is really disappointing, which I will describe below, but also very promising.
I really love the layout. It's as close to perfect as a compact board could be, IMHO. That is indeed an offcenter caps and a 6x offcenter space. Some of you may be offended by the movement of the menu key to the left side. However, this was necessary to put the space bar in the middle. I use my right thumb for the space. Anyway, I made the PCB so that it could handle the traditional G80/G81 position as well.
There will be no group buy;
It won't be open source;
I made it for myself because I wanted it;
Simple as that.
EDIT: That doesn't mean if you want one you can have it. It's just not an open thing. I'm thinking of getting 5 more made, if you want to buy one at cost just let me know.
(This is done, moving to other projects now)
I don't have the PCB yet but it's on the way. More updates to come when I get closer to putting this thing together.
thanks for looking!UPDATE: Custom keymap tool is attached!
View tutorials HERE
Old version: keymap_20130921.zip (4507.4 kB - downloaded 10072 times.)
(no reason to download this)
Go here for newer firmware versions: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=51252.0
I really like how well that "E" came out. Several tools flagged that as too small but the laser cutting ate it up.
The 0.06" Acrylic plate isn't really doing the job. First of all, it started to catch fire at about 60% of the way through cutting it. That cause the edges to melt out and really half of the cutouts are unable to hold the switches. I think there is just too much detail on the design. Also it is too flexible, to support the typing plane. I will be going back to the mount holes from the datasheet. More like this:
Hopefully that will be a bit stiffer.
The PCB presents some challenges. On a compact board like this there's really no place to put a USB mount. To have a breakout tab like the KMAC would add a great deal of cost. I ended up moving some of the switches sideways and placing it on the edge, but not before considering a direct-solder solution as shown below.
Playing with the case. Unfortunately this is out of price range for what this board is supposed to be, but it would be cool to do something like this. It's too bad that there is no way to round edges or inset screws when you're working with 2D fabricators...
Boards came in and they're looking really good. Probably lots of lessons to be learned.
Right off the bat, I regret only adding support for switch mounted diodes. I initially thought about saving space in the layout, but that turned out to be unnecessary. I don't want to have to disassemble every single switch. Next rev is definitely getting SMD pads on the bottom, like the KMAC.
I'm trying to make the firmware as configurable as possible. My intention is to be able to use it on my Phantom and my HID Liberation Device. I whipped up a quick keymapper to support it:
Got the brains installed. Now I just need my switches to come in!
Finally got it put together tonight. I'm really liking it. Some pictures before I write it up tomorrow