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confused about firmware options

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New to the forum - nice to meet you all! I'm starting my first DIY project - I have experience assembling and troubleshooting electronics but I'm totally overwhelmed by all the options for controller boards and firmware. My needs are simple: I use a standard 108 key layout and a few macros. I want something where I can just use a GUI configurator, prefer not to deal with programming if possible. Of course I can just buy an off the shelf board with dedicated software but I have a kbd with a busted PCB that I'd like to repurpose. It's a rando from Alibaba and the configuration software sucks but the rosewood case and metal switch plate are worth saving. I have lubed Gateron blacks with Cherry profile caps on there now, love the smooth but firm action. Any links or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Hi, VIA and QMK are two popular choices to configure diy keyboards. Diy keyboards have a microcontroller chip that is programmed using those software utilities. The microcontroller is often an ATmega32U4 chip. Other microcontroller options exist, including an Arduino Pro Micro containing an ATmega32U4 and a USB controller. Some newer PCBs have switched to an ESP32 controller board.  Post some photos of the keyboard PCB and we'll see what you're working with.

What size keyboard you are going to install this on will largely decide what controller boards you can use (the larger the fewer options) and those will limit what firmware options are available to you.
A 108/110 keyboard has very few controller options, an Arduino Nano Pro is not going to work, you need 20+ i/o pins,.

By the way...
Via is software to control QMK firmware, it is not firmware.
QMK is firmware based on another firmware, TMK.

Here' a list of compatible controllers/chips.
From there just follow QMKs documentation, expect a lot of tedious work and head scratching before it all works, especially if you plan to splice this into your current pcb, which means figuring out the traces.

Excellent resource! Thank you for the clarification.

Thanks! Just ordered a Blackpill v3 board - looks like if I design my matrix correctly there will be enough pins with a few to spare.


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