geekhack Community > Keyboards

Vescovo Keyboard

(1/4) > >>

Vescovo Alessio:
Hello everyone, about one year ago I had the idea of designing a new layout for writing in Italian inspired from the QZERTY of the typewriters (my primary job is the typewriter restoration). After a year, thanks also to this forum, I was able to give life to my project. I never thought I'd make a product like this, but step by step it was born. This topic wants to be an inspiration for artisans like me who have a great desire to do. I will share the various steps, remember that many designs are patented, but you can take inspiration from the processes.

The question I asked myself is, why aren't there high-level handcrafted keyboards? Please remove incommentable examples like Datamancer Seafarer (I laughed one week when I saw the Phillips screws on an antique-inspired keyboard); or keyboards that cost a lot just because they're made of gold. Perhaps the only noteworthy example is the Japanese HHKB in wajima-lacquered, which I haven't figured out if it's usable, I have not seen any letter on the keycaps, perhaps it's merely an expository object? Sympathetically, the second attempt seems mine, Italian; it is known that Japan and Italy are two similar nations in terms of the millenary culture of craftsmanship.

An artisan company behind my house sells worldwide custom fountain pens, one of their pens was sold at an auction in Shanghai (China) for 6.3 million euros. Is a mechanical keyboard perhaps a less valuable writing instrument? I don't believe it! So dear craftsman friend on the other side of the world, I hope you will find inspiration from my adventure, that in the future you too can create something unique and really well done.

Alessio Vescovo - Vescovo Restauri.

Vescovo Alessio:
Finding the right PCB design and modifying it as you need.

The first step was to search for the PCB I wanted: ISO 105. I searched a lot and the only starting point I found was the GH80-3000 project by the user TalkingTree.

More than an ISO105 this project is an "universal", so I had some Rev.2 built, the version with RGB led. Unfortunately I found many difficulties: some keys had to be manually wired so they didn't conflict with each other, furthermore there weren't the related files to work on QMK. So I learned how to "play" with EasyEda, find those conflicts and wired to solve. Then I did the programming on QMK and this was much more difficult for me. However after a long labors I managed to have a working matrix that can be modified at will quite easily. Everything worked! I posted on the releted topic of GH80-3000 my efforts.

Understood the rules of the game, then I redesigned the TalkingTree PCB, making it a pure ISO 105: removing key-slots that I didn't need, enlarging the multilayer for a perimetral screw connection, renumbering the remaining keys and fixing other small errors I had found (position S104... :mad:). I placed a hole mask on the right that allows you to wire 6 more keys, in case someone wants to insert 6 more functions to the right of the numpad. This new PCB was designed from a CC-BY SA 3.0 OpenSource project and so as related contract rules, is here re-shared with the same OpenSource contract. I think it could be a useful basis for others who want an ISO105 PCB: it's not difficult on EasyEda to change the perimeter and connection points adapting to the case you dream of. Only remember to "regenerate copper zones" when you finish editing. For obvious reasons, the shared version does not contain my corporate branding and the legal CE and Raee markings.

Vescovo Alessio:
Ideas on sonority and realization of the wooden frame.

The acoustic idea behind this keyboard is similar to planar speakers: a wooden frame with a membrane fixed on the inside perimeter that sounds... great !! So, when you press a key, it will have a different sound based on its position on the membrane. The PCB must be strong to avoid breakage as there is no inferior support, and also has many connection screws on the perimeter, in my case 17 brass screws. Brass screws are still used on prestigious furniture. These screws guarantee not to make the oxide veil in contact with the wood which would block them. With brass screws you are sure that in 100 or 200 or 1000 years you will be able to unscrew the screws from the wood to do maintenance on the keyboard. Even stainless steel has the same result, but tastes less like antique. It can be an option to give a more modern aesthetic.

The construction of the wood frame has been carefully researched. The choice of not do from a single wood piece but from 4 pieces interlocked with the traditional "tenon mortise" method was taken after talking to a famous luthier in my country: "A violin cannot be made from solid, but it’s a jointed and glued of several pieces". This is because wood is a living material. Parts that have precision machining such as mechanical keyboards must be made in several joined pieces, otherwise it risk bending and even cracking over the years. I see that all the wooden keyboards on the market at the moment (apart from mine) are made from one piece, so… will the sellers of those keyboards or the violin maker be more right? We will see in next 5 or 10 years if this keyboards made from one piece of wood will be bent/cracked or still perfect.

The wood finish of the keyboard is done with natural shellac applied with the pad. It is the same process that Stradivari used in the 1600s on his famous violins. It consists of three phases that I don't think you are interested in explaining in detail now. The complete process takes many hours, but the result is unmatched by any modern paint.

Vescovo Alessio:
Speaking of the keyboard sound: a friend lent me a good microphone to record a video test with. There would be much more to tell especially about my homemade method of making double shot keycaps. But before I continue to tell the story, I'd like to hear your opinions on the sound and the project. The switches welded into this model are Gateron Oil King and I like them, but then I'll assemble what the customer prefer since it's a customizable product.

I love your project, especially the traditional craftmanship and the connection to musical instruments.

I would love to hear a typing sample with clicky switches, such as Kailh Box Jades, Box Pinks, or Zeal Clickiez. These adds much of the missing richness of the timbre that I find lacking in the contemporary "thocky" keyboard sound fashion.

The keycaps looks unique and interesting, but I find that they do distract the attention away from the vintage feeling of the rest of the keyboard. I suspect that this is something you can fine-tune when you perfect the molding process, either by colours, or design. My personal preferences are sculpted keycaps, where each row has an angle on the keycap tops which align better with the finger movements, and a spherical top that directs the fingers toward the middle of the keycap during typing.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version