Author Topic: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40% DIY Kit  (Read 1817 times)

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Offline MechWild

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  • Posts: 37
[IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40% DIY Kit
« on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 11:48:43 »
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IC Form

The RB4X is an ergonomic board with columnal stagger and will be sold as a DIY kit. It is powered by a Black Pill development board (similar to the way you would use a pro micro on other boards, such as the MurphPad).

The case is a new type of sandwich case that our designer Sillyworld has dubbed the "RedBeard" case style. This style will be utilized in other low-profile projects in the future, as well.

The RedBeard case setup is simply an FR4 sandwich with a single acrylic mid-layer. This style is unique because of how compressed it all is thanks to the utilization of soldered standoffs to the bottom plate. This allows the board to sit completely flat on the typing surface if desired and creates a very sturdy product that minimizes exposure of sensitive electronics.


Prototype

The current prototype uses a 32x128 OLED. We have already changed the design so the final product will use a 64x128 OLED.


The design goals of the RB4X hit a couple different points:
  • Have a sturdy resilient low profile case design that doesn't compromise on aesthetics.
  • To provide a cost effective way to have a board that feels comfortable to use for Stenography
  • Accomplish the goal for #2 in a way that doesn't compromise its ability to be used for QWERTY typists as well.
  • Utilize the more cost effective black pill
  • Have a status OLED to show what typing mode/layer/options you have set
  • Support MX and Choc (low profile) switches
  • Accomplish the goal for #6 in a way that doesn't compromise its ability to be used for stenography


Layouts


The base kit has a goal price of 45 USD for the GB. The price will be reevaluated when it is put in stock.

The base kit includes:
  • 1x Black Pill dev board
  • 1x PCB
  • 1x Bottom plate
  • 2x Acrylic mid plates (they are halved vertically)
  • 45x Diodes (42 are needed for the kit)
  • 8x SMD RGB LEDs
  • 1x 64x128 OLED
  • 1x I2C EEPROM
  • 10x SMD Standoffs
  • 10x Screws
  • 4x Rubber Bumpons
IC Form again.

Thanks for checking out this IC!
« Last Edit: Thu, 03 June 2021, 15:20:23 by MechWild »

Offline sillyworld

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 11:53:30 »
Wow, so good.  ;D

I'm the designer, feel free to ask me questions directly.
« Last Edit: Thu, 03 June 2021, 11:56:27 by sillyworld »

Offline Jonavin

  • Posts: 1
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 11:57:43 »
Looks like a great way to try a staggered column split.

Offline WQ

  • Posts: 6
  • Location: New York City
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 12:29:41 »
Great idea here, but I personally don't like the aesthetics. It's just (objectively speaking, my opinion only) looks a bit too bland and messy. Maybe if the oled was under a glass panel, or maybe if you try some through hole style design (where some diodes and wires are visible) you might be able to add a bit of character into this board, as right now it's just another ergo 40%.

I think it might actually be better to remove the oled and try to put as much circuitry on the bottom as possible because I think the lack of a lot of keys, the three key thumb cluster, and the deep matte black plate would make a very good minimalistic keyboard, but once you add wires and **** all of a sudden it gets messy and makes me turn away. Basically, I think you should either change the design to as minimal as possible, or change it into a Mercutio style board where there a lot of components; either remove the clutter or add more in the form of diodes and such. All or nothing mentality.

Just some food for thought, still quite interested in where this board will be heading because I think there is some potential with the low price point.

Offline kaznai

  • Posts: 8
  • Location: USA
  • Choc v1 are valid
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 12:41:24 »
GOD YES I CANNOT FREAKIN WAIT PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME
2 Corne, a Preonic, a Trailmix, and an older Rosewill
One big pile of MBK colored blanks; if I had red I'd recreate:


Offline sillyworld

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 13:13:38 »
Great idea here, but I personally don't like the aesthetics. It's just (objectively speaking, my opinion only) looks a bit too bland and messy. Maybe if the oled was under a glass panel, or maybe if you try some through hole style design (where some diodes and wires are visible) you might be able to add a bit of character into this board, as right now it's just another ergo 40%.

I think it might actually be better to remove the oled and try to put as much circuitry on the bottom as possible because I think the lack of a lot of keys, the three key thumb cluster, and the deep matte black plate would make a very good minimalistic keyboard, but once you add wires and **** all of a sudden it gets messy and makes me turn away. Basically, I think you should either change the design to as minimal as possible, or change it into a Mercutio style board where there a lot of components; either remove the clutter or add more in the form of diodes and such. All or nothing mentality.

Just some food for thought, still quite interested in where this board will be heading because I think there is some potential with the low price point.

Howdy. Thanks for the lengthy feedback. I think that if you consider this "just another ergo 40%" then you are missing the things that make this board notable. You're allowed to not like the look. That's fine, we all have our own taste.

As many of the components as possible are completely hidden away inside of the case itself. There are also no exposed traces on the top side of the PCB. Both of those design choices are made consciously in order to make the board sturdier and able to be transported easily in a bag to and from work. Hobbyist stenographers typically do not buy boards for every location they choose to use them, and instead will take their workhorse with them as they commute. This design was made to make it easier to have a sturdy affordable design. With that in mind, I believe I did exceptionally well.

The OLED is not only extremely useful, but you might have seen in the writeup that it will be larger in the next prototype/final version. This, again, is to accommodate ease of use in stenography. If you'd like to know more about the applications for this in stenography, I'd be happy to talk more about it.

I have no idea what you mean by "once you add wires." Especially since it follows your other thought of this board being too minimalistic. It feels like you want two different keyboards, and neither of them is an ergo 40%. I get what you mean by all or nothing here, I don't know what you mean by "wires."

I do appreciate the feedback, I just wanted to type up this response to let you know that while your complaints are largely based on preference, I have actual legitimate reasons to not do them the way you suggest.

Offline Arcoril

  • Posts: 145
  • Location: Southern California
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 14:51:49 »
I've been following this for a while and I'm super excited to grab it for stenography. I'm most excited for the on-board Plover integration and not having to lug around my dictionaries. This board is an amazing value at $45 which puts it at half the price of a Uni v2. On top of that the Uni v2 doesn't have an OLED and can't integrate Plover. I'm definitely grabbing a few of these.

Offline sillyworld

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40%
« Reply #7 on: Thu, 03 June 2021, 15:10:31 »
I've been following this for a while and I'm super excited to grab it for stenography. I'm most excited for the on-board Plover integration and not having to lug around my dictionaries. This board is an amazing value at $45 which puts it at half the price of a Uni v2. On top of that the Uni v2 doesn't have an OLED and can't integrate Plover. I'm definitely grabbing a few of these.

For a point of clarity, since many plover users aren't familiar with how typical DIY hobbyist boards are set up, this board will still need to be assembled and will need keycaps and switches.

Let's say the RB4X is $40. The assembly service will likely cost $25 or so (no official pricing on this yet). The switches themselves, if bought from mkultra.click, will run you about $32.50 (each 10 pack is 6.50 and this board needs 42 switches for all 1U). You would then need to purchase keycaps. on mkultra.click that will run you $15 (each 10 pack is 3.50, and then a 2 pack of homing keys is 1.00).

That means a full assembled RB4X ready to go for steno would cost approximately (no prices are final for RB4X so this is purely for planning/example) $40+$25+$32.50+15 = $112.50.

To properly compare against The Uni V2, the $40-$45 expected pricing is closer to the unassembled PCB-only version (with backplate). We are also including the controller board in the price (the PCB-only Uni listing does not).

Offline sillyworld

  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Honolulu, HI
Re: [IC] RedBeard4X - Ergo 40% DIY Kit
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 04 June 2021, 20:27:53 »
So far, with the feedback and with me typing a LOT on the proto, we have a few small changes planned for this next revision that is being ordered this weekend and will be the final version before we decide how this will be sold (GB or in stock).

The outer 2 columns on either side will be raised by .25u (currently they are .5u staggered down from the ring finger column). Also, the inner column will be lowered slightly to match the f&j columns. The original reasoning for the inner column being higher was because of the optional vertical 2u and 1.5u spacing. Those options might be removed in the final version, as they were for an outdated layout that seems like it is unlikely to be used. At a minimum, I will be redoing the inner columns.

To summarize, next proto will have:
  • bigger screen (64x128)
  • better I2C EEPROM position internally
  • optional mount position for SPI flash memory to accommodate on board dictionary storage for advanced stenography firmware
  • less stagger for outer 2 columns on either side
  • inner column moved down slightly to match the neighbor column
  • 2 additional screws to the inside of the thumb keys
  • different diode positions for top row to make the solder points not visible
  • corrected pinout to account for a difference in the f401 and f411 black pills versioning
« Last Edit: Fri, 04 June 2021, 20:31:20 by sillyworld »