Author Topic: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again  (Read 58105 times)

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Online metalliqaz

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Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:20:18 »
I'm getting that itch to create something new and I think that this time I'm going to go with a nice TKL layout.  I've had this one in mind for a long time.  It will be fun to see it come together.

127955-0

A view of all the layout options:

131008-1


I'm going to document the whole process here.  It will probably take a few months, at least.  Hopefully it will be interesting.

Planning

Layout Concept

Despite usually building compact layouts (Epsilon, Zeta), I spend most of my time using a TKL layout at work.  Even though I think it wastes too much space, I must admit that I am have committed the locations of the TKL keys to muscle memory.  Also, it just looks good.  It's time to make a TKL.

Of course, I have to do something different than plain old ANSI.  I want to make something new and interesting.  So, I followed the following train of thought:
  • Start with a Leopold/Filco style TKL.  This means the nav clusters are separated from the main layout by 0.25u and the Function row is separated by 0.5u.  This differs from the Korean style which uses 0.25u for both.  It also differs from the Realforce style which uses 0.5u for both.  I like the way it looks.
  • Switch from standard ANSI bottom row to that of the Realforce 87U.  This uses winkeyless-style mods, 1u winkeys, and a 6u space bar.  6u is harder to find, but darn it, it just looks better than the too-big 7u.
  • Use a Cherry-style offset caps lock.  They look better.
  • The 2.75u right shift key doesn't need to be that long, and 1.75u keys are easy to find.  Shorten it to make room for a Fn key.
  • The top row has too much open space, and I'd like another spare key to meddle with layers.  Therefore, squeeze in a new modifier to the right of F12, similar to old DK Saver.
  • The theme for this one is "lots of keys", so I'd also like to get the option to fill up the nav cluster with a full 5x3 matrix.

The result of all this is, in my humble opinion, the perfect TKL.

On 6u space bars

The most complicating part of this layout is the 6u space bar.  I want to use it because it leaves room for another key on the bottom row, and because the 6 just looks better.  The 7 takes too much space and looks off-center.

Unfortunately they are very hard to find.  I have personally had two kinds in my collection.  The first is the SP DSA with centered stems.  I think these are non-standard.  The second is the Cherry off-center stem.  I have already dealt with this before on my Epsilon.  They can be found on certain old MX and MY boards.  However, I've yet to come across 6u stabilizers for sale anywhere.

What really convinced me to give it a shot is that newer dyesub PBT sets are coming with a Cherry-compatible 6u space bar!  I hope this means they will be more common now.

Also, the Cherry-style 6u has the same switch footprint as the 7u, so that makes it fairly easy to construct a board that supports both.  My PCB will allow both the 1.5-1-1.5-6-1.5-1-1-1.5 and 1.5-1-1.5-7-1.5-1-1.5 bottom row configurations.

I always like to make boards that are a little quirky.  If it was boring I wouldn't enjoy the job.  I guess the 6u is one of my quirks this time around.

What to do with the nav cluster

As demonstrated with my Zeta project, I don't like to leave wasted space on the layout.  The ANSI layout has 2u of empty space that I wanted to put to use.  The layout here is similar to the top row of Zeta, where the three 'F' groups are still separated but are squished closer together.  This leaves space for 1 more key.  I think Num Lock is a good fit.  It becomes useful when you fill in the nav cluster.

With a filled nav cluster, you get a 3x5 grid that can form a mini number pad.  The Num Lock could then be used to switch between a normal layer with arrow keys and PgUp/PgDn, and a number layer.  This feature does a reasonably good job of fitting a full layout into a TKL size.

To support this, I think I'm going to need a new feature in the firmware.  Something that can watch for changes to Num Lock and switch layers accordingly.
« Last Edit: Sun, 13 March 2016, 23:26:08 by metalliqaz »

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:20:31 »
Electronics

Platform

I chose the name Sigma because I just like the name of greek letters, but also a capital sigma is used as the mathematical symbol for summation.  This PCB will be the result of the sum total of all my hobbyist keyboard experience.

Therefore, I'm going to be using the ATmega32U4 again.  In fact, the hardware is almost exactly the same as my Zeta project.  The layouts are obviously different but the matrix is identical, except for an additional column on Sigma.  In fact, you could load a Zeta firmware into a Sigma board and it would work just fine.

I'm utilizing the same 4-to-16 line decoder for driving the columns and I'm again using four NPN transistors to drive the backlights.

One of the benefits of just reusing the Zeta schematic is I already know it is bug free.  That's a great place to start from.

I like how full the matrix is, like nothing is going to waste.  The only 'holes' are the locations of the ISO keys and the space bar.

129922-0

LED indicators

Like Zeta, there are 8 (!) indicator LEDs.  Because of the new layout, I moved them around slightly.  Esc, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock still have one.  Then, I placed one on each of the two 'bonus' keys where they are likely to be mapped to Function codes.  That leaves the three on the bottom row, which are on the locations of the super/meta keys.  I consider these spots other likely locations of Function keys.

Of course all are lumped into the modifiers backlight zone if they don't have an indication assigned.

LED backlighting

Sigma will have the same backlight zones as Zeta: left-hand alphas, right-hand alphas, F-row, and modifiers/nav.

LED underglow

This time around I am adding a new set of LEDs on the backside of the PCB.  These will be used to illuminate underneath the keyboard.  This seems very common now on Korean keyboards.  I have positioned 15 surface mount LEDs spaced evenly around the outside of the PCB.  They are set about 1 key length in from the edge.  This should really look good in a dark room.

The PCB

Once again, the PCB design has a lot in common with Zeta.  The placement of most of the parts is the same.  This one really came together well.  I'm proud of it.

131010-1

This is the largest PCB I've ever made.  Hopefully it won't be too much more expensive.

As usual, I'm getting it made at PCBWing.  They do good work for a reasonable price.

136214-2
« Last Edit: Thu, 05 May 2016, 00:25:47 by metalliqaz »

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:20:43 »
Case

Concept

Once again I'm reusing the Zeta design.  The case will be sandwiched acrylic but without the built-in wrist support.

Design

The proposed plate:

130798-0

OpenSCAD render of the case:

130020-1

Construction

I liked the completely clear design of the Zeta case.  It allows me to show off the innards of the keyboard without disassembling it.  I'm going to make one just like it this time around but I'm also going to make one that incorporates aluminum.

Big Blue Saw was running a sale on 0.25" water-cut Alu so I went for it.  However, for all the detailed laser-cutting work, I now use Ponoko.  Big Blue Saw has screwed up most of my past projects in some way.  Ponoko can deliver some good work.  Also, Ponoko is cheaper and faster.  They cut my order in only a few hours.  Big Blue Saw took more than 2 weeks to cut my order.  Not cool, man.

Fit Check

Parts finally came in so I can see if the design is going to work out.

136001-2

Looks good!
« Last Edit: Mon, 02 May 2016, 18:19:25 by metalliqaz »

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:20:49 »
Build

As usual I sourced parts from Digikey and McMaster-Carr.  For this build I'm using some Zealio switches from a recent GB.  For keycaps I'm using EnjoyPBT dyesubs from a recent GB.   The toughest thing to source is the Cherry plate mount stabilizers.

Case
136216-0
Switches and stabs
136218-1
Case hardware
136220-2
PCBs
136222-3
Circuit components
136224-4

After fit-checking everything, lubing my stabilizers, and peeling off the protective coatings, I soldered in my switches.  Here is a (potato) photo of the plate/PCB assembly.

136226-5

After some testing I was ready to put it together.

Glamour shots!












« Last Edit: Mon, 20 June 2016, 22:31:54 by metalliqaz »

Offline FLFisherman

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:22:50 »
Looking forward to whatever comes of this! Too bad the last one didn't take off.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:28:12 »
Looking forward to whatever comes of this! Too bad the last one didn't take off.

The last one was a resounding success.  It works great for me!   :))

Offline FLFisherman

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:29:39 »
Looking forward to whatever comes of this! Too bad the last one didn't take off.

The last one was a resounding success.  It works great for me!   :))

Ah yes, rub it in. I hope you're enjoying that unnecessary wrist wrest.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 00:35:09 »
Yeah I mostly liked how it came out, but this time there won't be a built-in wrist wrest.  I want it to look more traditional.  I wish I could get a milled aluminum case, but I don't have the connections for it.

Offline MOZ

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 11:46:40 »
You make me wonder if the "end-game board" is even possible, or is it just a myth.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 11:47:42 »
**** yes! Another 'qaz build. Can't wait to see how this one turns out.
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Offline 3K

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 11:52:47 »
No numpad but a numlock key?

                   Model M '88    | Model M SSK '87 | HHKB P2  | Zowie FK1

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 12:02:09 »
**** yes! Another 'qaz build. Can't wait to see how this one turns out.

AGREED!

No numpad but a numlock key?

I think there is a FN numberpad on the right side of the base keys. So Number lock would enable those.
So the letter i functions as
i and 7
o and 8
p and 9
ect.

Or I could be totally wrong.

Offline jdcarpe

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 12:21:42 »
Loving this layout! The only changes I would make personally would be to use 2x 1u keys instead of a 2u backspace, and include the "missing" five keys over the cursor arrows.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 12 February 2016, 14:55:28 »
Loving this layout! The only changes I would make personally would be to use 2x 1u keys instead of a 2u backspace, and include the "missing" five keys over the cursor arrows.

You, sir, are in luck!  Phantom has those.

Anyway I did go a little crazy in the planning adding lots of keys, but I ended up pulling it back for a few reasons.  The space around the arrows remain because I like to rest my fingers there and I also need the space on the PCB to put the AVR.  For the backspace I tend to favor the 2x key on a TKL because the extra space isn't needed since Esc doesn't have to be on the number row like a 60%

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 13 February 2016, 07:13:01 »
You make me wonder if the "end-game board" is even possible, or is it just a myth.

For the curious, the only end game is death.   And even then, what happens...
Wish I had some gif or quote for this space, but I got nothing

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 13 February 2016, 07:42:01 »
**** yes! Another 'qaz build. Can't wait to see how this one turns out.

AGREED!

No numpad but a numlock key?

I think there is a FN numberpad on the right side of the base keys. So Number lock would enable those.
So the letter i functions as
i and 7
o and 8
p and 9
ect.

Or I could be totally wrong.

Yeah, that's pretty much it.  Num Lock would enable a virtual numpad.

Of course the key can be used for any layer reconfiguration.  Doesn't have to be numbers.  Could be ANSI <-> COLEMAK.  Whatever.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 13 February 2016, 09:48:10 »
Loving this layout! The only changes I would make personally would be to use 2x 1u keys instead of a 2u backspace, and include the "missing" five keys over the cursor arrows.

Dammit JD, now you've got me thinking... is it possible?  It just may be.

« Last Edit: Mon, 15 February 2016, 19:51:22 by metalliqaz »

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 15 February 2016, 20:28:40 »
Starting to fill the page with some words.

Question: does anyone know a good source of 6u space bars?  Other than the enjoyPBT GB?

Offline appleonama

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 15 February 2016, 20:33:47 »
You make me wonder if the "end-game board" is even possible, or is it just a myth.

100% myth I thought my custom poker II was end game.

then my 87ub 45g

then my HHKB

then Orion v2
then!!!

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 18 February 2016, 11:31:07 »
Does anyone know a good source of windowed keys?  I only need 1u, PBT preferred.

Offline MOZ

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 18 February 2016, 11:40:06 »
https://www.originativeco.com/products/1u-led-1?variant=11026749253

I think it's going to be hard to find PBT, as these windowed caps are usually double-shot.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 29 February 2016, 19:44:30 »
The PCB is just about finished.  I'm really happy with it.  I need to have a chat with bpiphany about it.  I need to know how he got away with overlapping holes.

Onwards to case design!

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 29 February 2016, 20:25:44 »
The PCB is just about finished.  I'm really happy with it.  I need to have a chat with bpiphany about it.  I need to know how he got away with overlapping holes.

Onwards to case design!

Looks great!  I created a test board that had overlapping holes for switches that were 90deg apart.  I ended up making a second switch footprint that had the pads swapped, so the overlapping holes were the same pad - assuming that's the problem that you're running into (like SW612?).

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 29 February 2016, 21:03:58 »
The PCB is just about finished.  I'm really happy with it.  I need to have a chat with bpiphany about it.  I need to know how he got away with overlapping holes.

Onwards to case design!

Looks great!  I created a test board that had overlapping holes for switches that were 90deg apart.  I ended up making a second switch footprint that had the pads swapped, so the overlapping holes were the same pad - assuming that's the problem that you're running into (like SW612?).

Yes, that's the one.  Unfortunately I can't rotate the switch because I'm using backlighting and it wouldn't look right.

Offline MOZ

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 02:10:57 »
My solution that I used in the TS65, was to swap the pin numbers for one of the switches. There's two was to do it:
1. Manually swap the pad number and net for the required switch
2. Make an alternate footprint with swapped pin numbers.


Red is SW612A, blue is SW612B
« Last Edit: Tue, 01 March 2016, 02:19:59 by MOZ »

Offline regack

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 10:08:22 »
My solution that I used in the TS65, was to swap the pin numbers for one of the switches. There's two was to do it:
1. Manually swap the pad number and net for the required switch
2. Make an alternate footprint with swapped pin numbers.

(Attachment Link)
Red is SW612A, blue is SW612B

Yes, that's what I ended up doing.  I didn't rotate the switch, just made a second footprint where the pads/nets were swapped like that.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #26 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 11:40:55 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 11:45:21 »
I'd love to have the TKL size board with the num-pad ... hnnnng

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 11:49:50 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

It overlaps the whole pad? Or just part of it?

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #29 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 11:51:27 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

It overlaps the whole pad? Or just part of it?

Just part of it.  I know it will work fine, the problem is that the fab says it violates design rules.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 11:52:10 »
I'd love to have the TKL size board with the num-pad ... hnnnng

How good are your soldering skills?

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #31 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 12:17:24 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

It overlaps the whole pad? Or just part of it?

Just part of it.  I know it will work fine, the problem is that the fab says it violates design rules.

Ahh, sorry, I misunderstood.  Can you change that one drill into a regular over-sized pad instead of NPTH?

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #32 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 12:53:24 »
I'd love to have the TKL size board with the num-pad ... hnnnng

How good are your soldering skills?

Sucks balls. I don't have the best control with my left hand (brain surgery messed up the left side of my body)

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #33 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 12:58:31 »
I'd love to have the TKL size board with the num-pad ... hnnnng

How good are your soldering skills?

Sucks balls. I don't have the best control with my left hand (brain surgery messed up the left side of my body)

I am making 2 of these PCBs for myself.  An IC will determine if I order more than that at the same time.  Maybe you can find someone to build you one.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #34 on: Tue, 01 March 2016, 13:00:00 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

It overlaps the whole pad? Or just part of it?

Just part of it.  I know it will work fine, the problem is that the fab says it violates design rules.

If you don't mind me asking, which fab? Most fabs now do support those, like PCBWing, seeedstudio.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #35 on: Wed, 02 March 2016, 09:46:15 »
That's not my problem.  The problem is that the large non-plated through hole for the switch overlaps one of the pads.

It overlaps the whole pad? Or just part of it?

Just part of it.  I know it will work fine, the problem is that the fab says it violates design rules.

If you don't mind me asking, which fab? Most fabs now do support those, like PCBWing, seeedstudio.

Pcbwing.  That's good to hear.

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #36 on: Mon, 14 March 2016, 00:16:47 »
I think I'm nearly done bringing this design together.  I quite like it.  Now I just have to make sure I can get some 1206 SMD LEDs for the underglow

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #37 on: Wed, 06 April 2016, 19:12:29 »
I love getting packages :)  So many parts on the way.  Having trouble sourcing 7u cherry plate mount stabilizers.  Anyone know of a store that sells them? 

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #38 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 07:56:12 »
Does OLKB have the 7x stabilizers? They seem to be a good source of Cherry stabilizers these days.
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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #39 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 08:05:07 »
Does OLKB have the 7x stabilizers? They seem to be a good source of Cherry stabilizers these days.

There's a new store on eBay that has them!  Hopefully the shipment from China won't take too long.  PCBs should come today and then I have to wait for BigBlueSaw to deliver my Aluminum.  They so slow. :(

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #40 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 08:15:03 »
Do you have a link for the stabilizers from eBay?
Please check out TactileZine.com!

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #41 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 09:08:59 »

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #42 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 21:04:37 »
Time to dip into my stash
134444-0

It lives!
134446-1

Offline Badwrench

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #43 on: Thu, 14 April 2016, 21:59:27 »
Do you have a link for the stabilizers from eBay?

Credit where credit is due: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36049.msg2135180#msg2135180

I ordered from the same place.  Hope their shipping is decently quick.

The build looks great!  I really like the way the pcb turned out. 
wut. i'd buy a ****ty IBM board for that green V2

Online metalliqaz

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #44 on: Mon, 02 May 2016, 19:02:43 »
Got my stabilizers last week and the parts for the first case finally came in.  Almost there!

Online metalliqaz

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #45 on: Thu, 05 May 2016, 00:07:46 »
Well I've got the first one put together.  I must say I like it very much.  I used vintage MX blacks on this one so it is very smooth.  Now all I have to do is post more of the build pictures.

Online metalliqaz

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #46 on: Thu, 05 May 2016, 00:33:03 »
Oh man, this is good


Offline infiniti

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #47 on: Mon, 09 May 2016, 09:39:40 »
Oh man, this is good


Awesome work, metalliqaz! :thumb:

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #48 on: Mon, 09 May 2016, 09:57:36 »
Damn that looks good. Great job as always metalliqaz :D
Please check out TactileZine.com!

Online metalliqaz

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Re: Project Sigma: I have the urge to create again
« Reply #49 on: Mon, 09 May 2016, 11:01:07 »
Thanks guys.  This is definitely the best one I've ever made.  The vintage blacks are so smooth and when combined with a plastic plate for shock absorption and an aluminum body for stability, they really shine.  Also the MX Lock switches have been a hit with the people I've shown it to.  I really need to take some nice photos to properly show it off.  Also, I still have to build the second example (all acrylic with full LEDs).  Then I can relax until the itch starts again. *ahem* Tau v2 *ahem*