Author Topic: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]  (Read 19185 times)

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Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #50 on: Sun, 24 May 2020, 14:43:08 »
Made some moodboards for some proposed color options (might formally put them up for vote in an interest check form later):

"Tactical" (Anodized Type III, Hardcoat)
This is an option I found on some Norbauer keyboards, and the one I'm considering for the "black option". It's bead-blasted and ultra-hard black anodized ("Type III").  Ryan Norbauer is waxing his for that ultra smooth finish.


Silver Gray (Anodized Type II, Matte)
The silver gray option. Goes well with the grey-ish keycaps (Dracula, Nord, Dolch, Oblivion) but can also be an interesting combination with warmer colors.


"Midnight Burgundry" (Anodized Type II, Matte)
This color is in some place between maroon and purple. This should go great with the upcomming sets like GMK Rouge, Bingsu, Taro...? Likely also nice with grey/cold keycaps like Nord, Oblivion?



"Blue" (Anodized Type II, Matte)
For those blue sets like Nautilus or Striker. I'm just going to add this perfect picture of reddit user /u/ARSLOCK. Not sure yet what the correct pantone color would be, but I have it at home and could try and figure it out. This could also work well/better as Powder Coat?


White 1: "Singal White" (Powder Coat)
This is a pretty cold, pure white, would probably go great with gmk minimal / WoB / BoW keysets, but may not go so great with vintage / off white keycaps.


White 2: Off-white / Beige (Powder Coat)
This white would go a bit better with other off-white colors like gmk 9009 or other vintage keycaps,. It's still white, not sand.


"9009 Green" (Powder Coat)
Trying to match the green accents on GMK 9009. Generally a nice combination with beige/vintage-style keycaps. This could also be nice as anodized color instead of powder coat.
.

"ERR" (Powder Coat)
Trying to match the ERR color on GMK Dracula. It would be a strong, maybe a slightly de-saturated red (i.e. not so much tomato, but closer to coral). Nice contrast with cold keycap sets in general. It might bite with other red-primary sets (like Jamon or Red Samurai).


"Traffic Yellow" (Powder Coat)
Currently also offered by Heavy Metal Keyboards (which is where I stole the screenshot from). Their motivation for this color makes sense: "Many current and upcoming keycap sets fit this. Sets like GMK Taro, GMK Nautilus, GMK Lux and many more"

« Last Edit: Mon, 25 May 2020, 06:51:52 by jouz »

Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #51 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 04:06:55 »
Midnight burgundy and traffic yellow look fantastic!

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #52 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 05:14:33 »
Great! My colour preferences would be:

Muted - Burgundy, Black
Colour - Green, Yellow

 :thumb:
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline Thaemes

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #53 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 07:00:09 »
Exiting stuff!

I'd go for signal white

Offline ycanales

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #54 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 07:42:29 »
Traffic yellow!

Offline terrad

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #55 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 10:28:43 »
Very nice looking board! My preference is burgundy followed by gray and 'tactical'. Also consider offering plastic plates/half-plates for those of us who like flex.

Offline shirako

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #56 on: Mon, 25 May 2020, 18:43:33 »
Love this board! I've been wanting an Alice keyboard with a mac/hhkb layout, burgundy is definitely my favorite!

Offline Gamelon

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #57 on: Tue, 26 May 2020, 09:12:40 »
I suppose adding multiple bottom-row layouts support isn't feasable at this point ? I love this, however the double 2.75 spacebar situation seem somewhat impractical, since the only way to make it look nice with a lot of GMK sets is to get 2 spacebar kits. Having the option for a 2.25 spacebar and 1.5 mod on one side would make a world of difference in my opinion.

Still a very cool project and the best alice style layout out there imo, so good luck :)

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #58 on: Tue, 26 May 2020, 11:09:07 »
I suppose adding multiple bottom-row layouts support isn't feasable at this point ? I love this, however the double 2.75 spacebar situation seem somewhat impractical, since the only way to make it look nice with a lot of GMK sets is to get 2 spacebar kits. Having the option for a 2.25 spacebar and 1.5 mod on one side would make a world of difference in my opinion.

This is a totally valid comment, and I seriously see where you're coming from. I'm actually surprised you're the first to bring this up in this thread (I think) (some people brought it up on reddit though)... I guess I did say that I didn't want to change the layout/add options...

I might consider it if 1.5 + 2.25u would sum up to 4 (like 1.25 + 2.75 does). I.e. even with your proposed alternative layout, there will be a gap...
  • I'd say then you can always just drop in a 2.25u in place of one of the 2.75u (if you're okay with 1 gap, you might be okay with 2?)
  • In some way, it's actually 1 spacebar kit + 1x 2.75u rshift (the one you're not using anyway, as bmek has 1.75u rshift). Although I totally get the desire for 2 convex caps.
  • There are some spacebar kits that come with 2x 2.75u keys (i.e. one in alpha color, one in accent/modifier color)
  • It's a unique keyboard, you might want to put in the effort and chase down that extra 2.75u? :D

Another alternative that one could entertain is changing the case layout along with it, to make it fixed 2.25 / 2.75, no gaps (but removing the 2.75 / 2.75 option). You're trading off the symmetric look for (much) better keyset compatibility. I would actually suggest this solution over your proposed alternative layout.

Some people here also already made their PCBs. I guess that's not a great reason to rule out a change like this (classic fallacy of sunk cost - I will happily provide them with free v2.1 PCBs anyway, them being OG BMEK supporters :) ).

@mchanneh, @gorbachev, @everybody how would you feel about this? Are you all joining/interested despite this little "oddity" (i.e. are you concerned about the difficulty of finding decent keycap support?), or specifically because of it (i.e. do you really like the look/symmetry)?

EDIT:
Here is another alternative. Keep the case as it is now, but change the PCB and plate to allow both 2.75 and 2.25u spacebar on one half. For the 0.5u gap that will remain, we could design a little brass(?) blocker - if we can manufacture it cheaply:




(btw, this is the midnight burgundy color in the render ;))
« Last Edit: Tue, 26 May 2020, 17:51:12 by jouz »

Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #59 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 00:51:06 »
I wouldn't mind an incompatible change myself. I order an enormous amount of open source kbd PCBs from JLCPCB. Trust me I have boxes of extra PCBs at this point already. What's a few more. I'd still prefer keeping the design as is.

That blocker design looks pretty bad with that colorway, IMHO.
« Last Edit: Wed, 27 May 2020, 00:54:06 by gorbachev »

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #60 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 04:06:03 »
Hey! the symmetrical design is great and separates this board from the others imho.

Though I do understand the point on sourcing the additional 2.75u keys and the woes that may bring (especially for those with keysets already). I think the alternative blocker design looks great! And I presume its a relatively straight solve to update the plate and PCB?

Contrary to gorbachev, I think the purple works well with the gold :)  :thumb:

I suggest adding branding to the blocker too, either Jouz/BMEK !
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline ycanales

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #61 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 10:36:39 »
They're all great alternatives. I think the blocker looks nice too. Would it be possible to either put it at the right or left of the key, or it has to be fixed at one side only?

Offline nathanchere

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #62 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 13:21:00 »
The brass blocker is an elegant solution without reducing versatility. I really like how this is shaping up

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #63 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 16:17:00 »
Thanks guys for your feedback!

Alright, I'm going with the blocker solution. So nothing changes for those who prefer the 2x2.75 layout (and the previous PCB remains supported as). I'll add the 2.25 layout option to the new PCB.

I've already implemented the changes to the PCB and plate:



There is a little diagonal slot in the plate to which you can screw the blocker from the bottom. It's slot shaped instead of a circle to make sure that you can push it tightly into the corner.
As you can see from that picture, while I was at it, I've also added 2u backspace support :)
 
One thing that is finicky with this is to support the multiple layouts together with hotswap sockets.
I forgot where I've seen this hack before, but the solution I came up with was to create a new footprint for these switches where the cutouts for the hotswap sockets are also pads, so if you want to solder, you just gunk in a little more solder for these ones to fill the hole:



The situation around the backspace is a little more funky, but should work fine:




They're all great alternatives. I think the blocker looks nice too. Would it be possible to either put it at the right or left of the key, or it has to be fixed at one side only?

I'll add the support for the other side as well!

I've iterated once more over the blocker design. This one is a little more subtle (EDIT: I realise now these don't just rotate and fit on the opposite side, which is a shame...)

This also shows what it looks like if it has the same material as the rest of the case, which I also like:



An aluminium one in the same finish as the case would be significantly cheaper than a polished brass one, so I could see just shipping the alu one and making the brass one a premium option later on?
« Last Edit: Thu, 28 May 2020, 07:39:08 by jouz »

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #64 on: Wed, 27 May 2020, 16:32:15 »
One of them I think I need to resolder again but I'd like some advice on the below... do you think these through hole components are completely damaged here? I am thinking of adding more solder to the through hole component and then use a solder wick to soak it all up and retry again....

Show Image



To close the loop here, I managed to fix the fault above by putting another (generous) layer of solder onto the pins, and then used a wick to soak up the excess and remove the shorts. It's worked and I just flashed it.

Succesfully resolved!

Thanks guys for your feedback!

Alright, I'm going with the blocker solution.

There is a little diagonal slot in the plate to which you can screw the blocker from the bottom. It's slot shaped instead of a circle to make sure that you can push it tightly into the corner.
As you can see from that picture, while I was at it, I've also added 2u backspace support :)
 
One thing that is finicky with this is to support the multiple layouts together with hotswap sockets.
I forgot where I've seen this hack before, but the solution I came up with was to create a new footprint for these switches where the cutouts for the hotswap sockets are also pads, so if you want to solder, you just gunk in a little more solder for these ones to fill the hole:

An aluminium one in the same finish as the case would be significantly cheaper than a polished brass one, so I could see just shipping the alu one and making the brass one a premium option later on?

All for the blocker solution - I don't use hotswap so I'll just fill with more solder. Aluminium blocker as the initial run option is great.
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #65 on: Tue, 02 June 2020, 02:17:45 »
I'm really looking forward to my PCB arriving!

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #66 on: Sun, 07 June 2020, 14:25:29 »
Quick update:

Design
I've made some tiny final tweaks to the design. Nothing major: I've added a tiny bit more space between keycaps and the case. This is to make sure that there is no binding on the case - Even if the thickness of the case increases (i.e.when powder coating), and also taking into account the max "offset" we could get due to machining tolerances. I've also changed the design of the blocker to fit in on both halves.

Prototypes
I will order two prototypes of this final design (Top Case, Bottom Case, Blocker, Case & Bottom Weight) early this week. This will set me back quite a bit of money now, but I will feel more comfortable advertising the group buy once I have a nice working prototype. Once this prototype arrives (and if everything works as expected), I think we can move forward quite fast with the group buy.

Colors
After being more in contact with 3DHubs for the manufacturing, it doesn't seem feasible to offer both Powder Coating AND Anodization finishes (without adding significant cost). But if we stick to one of the two, ordering multiple colors shouldn't be an issue (I will still have to limit it to ~3 colors though).

I've been going back and forth on this a lot, but I've ended up deciding to offer anodized colors. It will likely be black, that purple, plus another one that is TBD.

However, for those that wanted the powder coated colors (Yellow and White), there is still hope! I can get un-anodized cases and have it powder-coated locally. I will try this with one of the two prototypes that I'm ordering. If I'm happy with the result and it's at reasonable cost, this is still on the table.

PCB
I was about to finalize the new PCB version. One more thing I wanted to add is ESD protection. It won't add any costs, so I might as well add it in.

I am also looking into switching out the USB connector for a cheaper one that is also easier to solder (this would directly reduce the PCB price as I would also have to spend less time soldering that crazy Wurth connector).

Hotswap/option
Someone on discord pointed out an issue with my PCB design. Having the option for both solder and hotswap (by flipping the switch 180 degrees) means that for one of the two, the switches will be mounted facing south (currently the case when using hotswap). However, GMK/Cherry profile keycaps have such a tight design on profile row 2, that they might clack against the switch housing when the switches are facing south. See this video for an explanation:

So it depends on the combination of switch and keycap. I hadn't noticed it before on my BMEK prototype (I'm using GMK with Zilents), but now that it got pointed out to me, I do notice it sometimes :( . This is of course not an issue for many types of keycaps (i.e. DSA, XDA, SA, KAT), but still it kinda annoys me, and I don't really want to ship it like this. So for the final PCB I'm debating between:

  • Keep as-is (hotswap will be the "inferior" option, which I guess it is anyway :P )
  • Dropping hotswap support completely (will make some people unhappy)
  • Design two versions of the PCB (it's not much work for me, I would just need swap out the footprints)

As far as I'm concerned, I'll offer two versions of the new PCB - and likely at the same price (as long as people are okay with soldering their own hotswap sockets). And again, for those that already have their PCB, it will remain fully compatible with the case (although beware that you might be facing the issue above if you're using hotswap).
 

Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #67 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 10:04:31 »
Would you consider sharing the Discord invite?

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #68 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 11:06:07 »
Would you consider sharing the Discord invite?

Oh that discussion was on the ai03 discord ( https://kb.ai03.me/ ).

But since you've asked, I've created a bemeier/bmek discord in case people prefer to chat over discord https://discord.gg/8puGr6c :)

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #69 on: Mon, 08 June 2020, 17:45:49 »
Perfect, thanks for the update jouz. Anodised options seem sensible and I'm happy with the colour options. Is the purple you're referring to the renders in page 1 (i.e. pantone 276 C) or in the recent post, (i.e. pantone 8543 C), marginally I prefer the, initial, darker option compared to the burgundy...

Re PCB - would switching out the connector cause a case redesign? Though I totally understand the devil that is the Wurth connector!

Re hotswap - I am planning to solder my switches so it's not a dealbreaker for me if you plan to keep an option without.
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #70 on: Tue, 09 June 2020, 03:15:24 »
Is the purple you're referring to the renders in page 1 (i.e. pantone 276 C) or in the recent post, (i.e. pantone 8543 C), marginally I prefer the, initial, darker option compared to the burgundy...

I was planning to get the second one (at least to try it out for the prototype). In fact, it would be the very close Pantone 5115 C, as 8543 C is not in available at 3DHubs. I do also like the looks of 276 C, but I kinda felt like 5115 C fit better with some of the keycap sets I've "held it against" when I did the research for the colors.

Re PCB - would switching out the connector cause a case redesign? Though I totally understand the devil that is the Wurth connector!

No, I would only switch out the connector if I can keep the case design as-is!

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #71 on: Sat, 13 June 2020, 15:47:09 »
Hi all! I am very excited to share my BMEK Polycarbonate Build, the support from jouz has been immeasurable!

BMEK v2.1
HighProfileCase Polycarbonate
Aluminium Plate
Outemu Silent Switches,
DSA keycaps
Venomized RathCap




Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #72 on: Wed, 17 June 2020, 10:38:34 »
It looks amazing! Well done!
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 June 2020, 10:43:37 by 1 for warm windows »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #73 on: Fri, 19 June 2020, 04:31:34 »
Really nice work, congrats again mchanneh for having the first new-version BMEK :D.

Quick update:
Prototypes
I've ordered two prototypes of the aluminum case (top case, bottom case, blocker, plate and bottom weight). I chose the slowest lead time to save money, but everything should start shipping within the next 2-3 weeks.
One case is anodized in Pantone 5115, and one I've ordered without anodization (to potentially test out at a local powdercoating shop).

Dampening Kit
I just got a chance to get access to a Lasercutter (it's been difficult due to the corona), so I've made the prototypes for a possible dampening kit:




It's three parts:
  • 0.5mm silicone gasket for in between plate and top case
  • 3mm eva foam for in between plate and PCB
  • 2mm eva foam for in between bottom case and PCB (visible in the top left of the picture)

Looking forward to build the two prototypes to do a side-by-side comparison to see if it's worth it!


PCB
I've finished the hotswap-only version of v3 of the PCB, which will be the one I'd ship along with the group buy of the case.
I've ordered a small batch from JLCPCB so I'll have some ready before the case prototypes arrive.
If the hotswap-only version works, I'll likely also order a batch of the solder-only version to verify.




Key changes from v2/2.1:

  • Separate design for hotswap and solder versions (to avoid the potential interference issue with the previously south facing option when using hotswap sockets)
  • Layout option backspace: 2u Backspace and 2x 1u hhkb-like
  • Layout options bottom row: Each of the 2.75u spacebarss can be replaced with a 2.25u spacebar for better keyset compatibility.
  • ESD protection circuity
  • Switched to the popular, cheaper and easier to hand-solder HRO-TYPE-C-31-M-12 USB-C receptacle
  • Made completely from scratch in KiCad (project will be released as soon as design is verified)

Just to reiterate, v2 (original version) and v2.1 (original version with convenience cutouts for the plate screws) of the PCB remain fully compatible with the case.

Also note that v2.1 has been verified to work now, as a user on reddit has it made for his 3d-printed copy of the BMEK - I hope he'll share some pics soon :). If you really want a PCB that both supports hotswap and solder on the same PCB and/or want a PCB with the WÜRTH USB-C receptacle, then v2.1 will remain a great option.

EDIT: Also, everybory, feel free to join the discord: https://discord.gg/BFZNmtM
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 June 2020, 04:34:16 by jouz »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #74 on: Tue, 30 June 2020, 16:52:31 »
Posted an official thread in the IC forum:

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=107203.msg2926447

Bottom weights and plate arrived, and the new v3 PCBs are also in, will post more updates on the IC thread this week :)