Author Topic: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]  (Read 12926 times)

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Offline jouz

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BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« on: Sun, 20 October 2019, 19:10:09 »
EDIT: I'm considering to produce a low number of cases, and I would appreciate your feedback - see this post

BMEK is an ergonomic keyboard in the spirit of Lyn's EM7 and TGR Alice. Notable differences are the HHKB-like layout and the and the more symmetric looks due to the space bars and left key cluster arrangement.



This is a hobby project for me, mostly to toy around and learn about PCB manufacturing, CNC machining etc.
That's also why decided to put everything on GitHub:

https://github.com/Bemeier/bmek

Right now it's mostly the Gerber files + BOM. Later, I'll add the entire Eagle project files for the PCB as well as the 3D Models and Fusion360 project for the case.

I've already made a first batch of PCBs with some minor issues (got the atmega orientation wrong), but one PCB is actually working fine now :)
Within the next 2 weeks I hope to make a first case from Polycarbonate or POM on the CNC. After that I'll make a final revision of the PCB.



The case is a two piece design with the switches sitting in the top half (i.e. like the Clueboard). It's high profile and has a 3 degree angle.
In the next version of the PCB, switches can be optionally mounted with hot-swap sockets (by rotating them 180 degrees).
Some more screenshot of the case:







« Last Edit: Mon, 18 May 2020, 04:52:32 by jouz »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 23 October 2019, 04:14:56 »
Did a test run machining the top half of the case from model foam:

Bottom side of top half...


Top side of top half...


Final chamfer will cause work piece to come loose, so I screw it down in the middle






PCB Fit




Next week I'll try finish the bottom half and hopefully make it from Polycarbonate.

Offline audiosl4ve

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 23 October 2019, 04:33:15 »
This looks awesome! Love the looks. Keep us posted  :thumb:

Offline zqs1qiwan

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 25 October 2019, 07:26:01 »
Very impressive OP
I’d like to have one if there can be a GB or something, I think the PCB will be expensive if only print few.
Keep us posted!

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 05 November 2019, 18:48:25 »
First full polycarbonate case machined.




Still gotta work out some small things in the design.
I'm getting my second version of the PCB this week, with LEDs and hot-swap sockets.

Quote
I’d like to have one if there can be a GB or something, I think the PCB will be expensive if only print few

PCB cost about 20 euros per piece (MOQ=5), thats including components, assembly, shipping and import taxes (europe) - so not that expensive. The gerber/assembly files are on my github (although I would recommend waiting a bit for me to check if this version works).

Besides the 3D/CNC files, I'm definitely planning to release files for a laser-cut version, which is much cheaper and faster to make in fablabs/order online.

If someone else is interested in running a GB for this case/PCB I'm happy to give some support!

Offline audiosl4ve

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 06 November 2019, 09:09:46 »
so that means you have some spare pcb's left?  :cool:

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 08 November 2019, 11:48:47 »
so that means you have some spare pcb's left?  :cool:

 ;D The current batch of PCBs is all accounted for among friends. There are some of the first version left but they have issues.
Again, if someone else wants to run & distribute a small batch, I'm happy to give some support with ordering it at jlcpcb.

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 10 November 2019, 16:30:36 »
Quick update:

I've put the - now tested - PCB files as well as the 3D models on GitHub (https://github.com/Bemeier).

I've made a second case now ((Full album)):




Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 11 November 2019, 23:28:21 »
Stunning work! I will definitely build one.

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 13 November 2019, 15:14:06 »
thanks! let me know if you need anything!

also, just noticed that I gave the wrong album link - here are actually more pictures:

https://imgur.com/a/tHlaMWA

Offline t3b4n

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #10 on: Sat, 07 December 2019, 09:24:17 »
Your work is awesome! Thanks for sharing :)

Offline ycanales

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BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 07 December 2019, 13:25:40 »
Looks very nice, thanks for sharing!
I’d love a split Alice-like keyboard, but haven’t found anything like that. Will have to read up on electronics (and 3D printing!)

Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 05 January 2020, 21:02:33 »
I'm planning on putting in a PCB fab order with some custom designs of my own and other open source keyboard PCBs in the next week or two. Might take me a few months to get to putting it together though...

Anyway, any update on publishing the CAD files for the lasercut case on Github? I would love to get a proper case manufactured for it as well!

Offline BareSphereMass

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 27 January 2020, 23:07:53 »
What software did you use to make the PCB and Case?  I started Learning to make PCB's with KiCad and I am a little baffled how people line up everything so perfectly and make the PCB line up with the case.
                I will fix the scale issues later... LOL    (Atreus 42 (hand wired), Anne Pro 2)

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 29 February 2020, 20:17:15 »
Small update with another case I made late last year:


https://imgur.com/a/MdbbHqe

What software did you use to make the PCB and Case?  I started Learning to make PCB's with KiCad and I am a little baffled how people line up everything so perfectly and make the PCB line up with the case.

I've used EAGLE for making the PCB. I've actually transferred the alignment holes for the switches to the PCB profile in Fusion360 (using the
 linked PCB option). The switch positions in fusion actually came from a CorelDraw layout - CorrelDraw has very good snapping functions, I basically snapped together 19.05mm squares to create the layout, exported those squares to fusion, and copied the switch cutouts to be made from the PCB and case to each of the positions.
This was a bit tedious but manageable. A better solution could be to write a script in Fusion that imports keyboard layout editor data...

Anyway, any update on publishing the CAD files for the lasercut case on Github? I would love to get a proper case manufactured for it as well!

Are you still interested in this? I don't have much time right now to design an entire case for a Lasercut version, but I could definitely provide you with the profile for the plate to start with!

Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 01 March 2020, 22:56:14 »
Anyway, any update on publishing the CAD files for the lasercut case on Github? I would love to get a proper case manufactured for it as well!

Are you still interested in this? I don't have much time right now to design an entire case for a Lasercut version, but I could definitely provide you with the profile for the plate to start with!

Sure thing! I just received the PCB from JLCPCB yesterday, so this is great timing.

Thanks for responding!

Offline XxShadows420xX

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 04 March 2020, 00:18:55 »
Are you still interested in this? I don't have much time right now to design an entire case for a Lasercut version, but I could definitely provide you with the profile for the plate to start with!

A profile of the plate would be more than enough! This is a great keyboard design and it would be much appreciated by me and I assume many others.

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 04 March 2020, 23:07:22 »
A profile of the plate would be more than enough! This is a great keyboard design and it would be much appreciated by me and I assume many others.

Sure thing! I just received the PCB from JLCPCB yesterday, so this is great timing.

I've attached the plate design and uploaded it here! It is from my work in progress version of a BMEK with a separate plate instead of the plate integrated to the top case (the plate design is final!).

The plate has all the mounting holes lined up that you might need for mounting it to the PCB:


Some of these holes are big in diameter because in my design they stems from the top case pass through to mount the PCB to it:


Your design might differ, i.e. you might mount the PCB to the bottom case, or directly to the plate somehow - change the hole sizes accordingly :).

Offline XxShadows420xX

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 07 March 2020, 15:13:08 »
I've attached the plate design and uploaded it here! It is from my work in progress version of a BMEK with a separate plate instead of the plate integrated to the top case (the plate design is final!).

The plate has all the mounting holes lined up that you might need for mounting it to the PCB:
Show Image


Some of these holes are big in diameter because in my design they stems from the top case pass through to mount the PCB to it:
Show Image


Your design might differ, i.e. you might mount the PCB to the bottom case, or directly to the plate somehow - change the hole sizes accordingly :).

You are a beautiful human. TY. I wish I knew how to type smileys to express more emotion lol. TY!

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 28 April 2020, 15:29:41 »
I'm really interested in making this too.

Did you hand solder the USB-C receptacle?
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Offline Hadi

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 29 April 2020, 01:34:13 »
Small update with another case I made late last year:
Show Image


https://imgur.com/a/MdbbHqe


That looks great! The plastic stock is from Smile Plastics, right? Any recommendations on actually ordering from the States? Their site seems a little sparse at the moment.

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #21 on: Sat, 09 May 2020, 09:16:04 »
That looks great! The plastic stock is from Smile Plastics, right? Any recommendations on actually ordering from the States? Their site seems a little sparse at the moment.

Yes! I'm in europe and ordered it from a reseller in the Netherlands (https://www.pyrasied.nl/en/product/smile-plastics/). No idea about US resellers.

Did you hand solder the USB-C receptacle?

Yes I did, with the help from a friend. It was a bit tricky, as it is part through-hole, part SMD. I'd say it's a bit more tricky than just soldering an SMD atmega for example.
To be honest, we had to give it a few attempts of re-soldering the connectors on the first couple of PCBs before it worked. I wish JLCPCB would offer assembly for any USB-C port!

For the next version of case & PCB, I'm really really tempted to change the design to support Ai03's universal daughterboards (as an option). Gives some more flexibility for usb-port placement and allows you to get a pre-soldered (and replaceable!) usb connector.

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #22 on: Sat, 09 May 2020, 17:02:09 »
That looks great! The plastic stock is from Smile Plastics, right? Any recommendations on actually ordering from the States? Their site seems a little sparse at the moment.

Yes! I'm in europe and ordered it from a reseller in the Netherlands (https://www.pyrasied.nl/en/product/smile-plastics/). No idea about US resellers.

Did you hand solder the USB-C receptacle?

Yes I did, with the help from a friend. It was a bit tricky, as it is part through-hole, part SMD. I'd say it's a bit more tricky than just soldering an SMD s next week for example.
To be honest, we had to give it a few attempts of re-soldering the connectors on the first couple of PCBs before it worked. I wish JLCPCB would offer assembly for any USB-C port!

For the next version of case & PCB, I'm really really tempted to change the design to support Ai03's universal daughterboards (as an option). Gives some more flexibility for usb-port placement and allows you to get a pre-soldered (and replaceable!) usb connector.

That’s promising (!)... I must admit that I am a soldering novice and on course to receive the pcb’s next week! I’ll have a couple of chances to get it right and have bought myself a ‘helping hand’ to journey through.

I’ll keep this thread updated on my progress.
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Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #23 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 05:05:01 »
That’s promising (!)... I must admit that I am a soldering novice and on course to receive the pcb’s next week! I’ll have a couple of chances to get it right and have bought myself a ‘helping hand’ to journey through.

I’ll keep this thread updated on my progress.

Exciting! Let me give you some tips to increase your chances of getting it right the first time:

- You absolutely must have some solder wick ready for removing solder when you used too much, or remove it completely if you want to entirely loosen the components (i.e. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9327 )
- Use Flux (you apply it to and around the pads before soldering, i.e. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14579)
- Take the time, look at some smd solder tutorials (i.e.
- specifically look tips for packages with many pins that have fine pin pitch)

As I mentioned, the wurth usb-c connector has both through hole and smd pins, we've always started with the smd pins first.
We would put down some flux, drop in the USB connector, solder one pin (to make sure the placement is right).
Then we did a bit of a funky technique that my friend was very partial to (but I'm not sure if I would recommend it):
We would gob up all the pins/pads with solder pretty carelessly, which would result in a lot of pins just shorting.
Afterwards, we would apply the solder wick flat on all the pins, heat it up with the iron, and it will draw all the extra solder from between the pins into the wick, leaving a pretty clean result (in theory, see below). We've used the same approach for the through hole pins on the other side of the pcb by the way, as they also have a fine pitch and can easily be shortened with the solder.

I think I'd recommend a more conventional technique (such as what you will find in the videos). One of the issues with our technique was that, if you use too much solder, the space between the wires that go from the pads into the connectors (what I marked out on the first 3 pins in red in the picture below) act like capillaries, sucking up solder in between them into/under the connector, where it will be hard to remove:



But the good thing is that, if you have wick ready and don't use too excessive amounts of solder, you get a lot of chances to fix shortened joints easily.
Don't hesitate to ask. I wish I could do a quick demonstration video, but I don't have any tools around due to the quarantine situation :( .

Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #24 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 15:44:17 »
Flux is the key, and don't use too much solder, just enough to coat the pins. If you use too much, you'll spend the next hour getting rid of solder bridges.

Also use the sticky kind of flux, not the kind that vaporizes when heated. That won't work. You can not use too much flux. You can clean it up after you're done.

Lastly make sure you have a magnifying glass of some kind to make sure you can inspect your soldering. I personally prefer the headset kind with LED lights. The solder bridges can be very hard to spot, if they're not the "blob of solder" kind.

Soldering the USB connectors is, by far, the hardest thing on these kinds of boards. The microcontroller is easy by comparison, but it does take practice. Expect to not get either one of them right the first few times. The other component I usually have a bit of trouble is the crystal. They usually only have bottom pads, which is a little bit of a pain to solder without heatguns or solder ovens.

There're a lot of videos on YouTube that can teach you the basic technique. Definitely watch a few, and practice.

The good thing about these open source boards like bmek is that they're cheap to manufacture, so even if you screw up, it's not gonna set you back that much. Even cheaper is to practice on a macropad like Yampad. You can get 5 PCBs from JLCPCB for $2 (plus shipping) and the components are probably gonna be $20 or so. You won't waste as many diodes, capacitors, etc., and more importantly time, if you screw that up.

Offline ErgoMacros

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #25 on: Sun, 10 May 2020, 19:24:19 »
There are quite a few SMD practice boards available from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HPSRXJ0/), eBay, or China. 
China's cheaper, but takes longer.
Today's quote: '...“but then the customer successfully broke that.”

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 14:58:22 »
That’s promising (!)... I must admit that I am a soldering novice and on course to receive the pcb’s next week! I’ll have a couple of chances to get it right and have bought myself a ‘helping hand’ to journey through.

I’ll keep this thread updated on my progress.

Exciting! Let me give you some tips to increase your chances of getting it right the first time:

- You absolutely must have some solder wick ready for removing solder when you used too much, or remove it completely if you want to entirely loosen the components (i.e. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9327 )
- Use Flux (you apply it to and around the pads before soldering, i.e. https://www.sparkfun.com/products/14579)
- Take the time, look at some smd solder tutorials (i.e.
- specifically look tips for packages with many pins that have fine pin pitch)

As I mentioned, the wurth usb-c connector has both through hole and smd pins, we've always started with the smd pins first.
We would put down some flux, drop in the USB connector, solder one pin (to make sure the placement is right).
Then we did a bit of a funky technique that my friend was very partial to (but I'm not sure if I would recommend it):
We would gob up all the pins/pads with solder pretty carelessly, which would result in a lot of pins just shorting.
Afterwards, we would apply the solder wick flat on all the pins, heat it up with the iron, and it will draw all the extra solder from between the pins into the wick, leaving a pretty clean result (in theory, see below). We've used the same approach for the through hole pins on the other side of the pcb by the way, as they also have a fine pitch and can easily be shortened with the solder.

I think I'd recommend a more conventional technique (such as what you will find in the videos). One of the issues with our technique was that, if you use too much solder, the space between the wires that go from the pads into the connectors (what I marked out on the first 3 pins in red in the picture below) act like capillaries, sucking up solder in between them into/under the connector, where it will be hard to remove:

Show Image


But the good thing is that, if you have wick ready and don't use too excessive amounts of solder, you get a lot of chances to fix shortened joints easily.
Don't hesitate to ask. I wish I could do a quick demonstration video, but I don't have any tools around due to the quarantine situation :( .

Flux is the key, and don't use too much solder, just enough to coat the pins. If you use too much, you'll spend the next hour getting rid of solder bridges.

Also use the sticky kind of flux, not the kind that vaporizes when heated. That won't work. You can not use too much flux. You can clean it up after you're done.

Lastly make sure you have a magnifying glass of some kind to make sure you can inspect your soldering. I personally prefer the headset kind with LED lights. The solder bridges can be very hard to spot, if they're not the "blob of solder" kind.

Soldering the USB connectors is, by far, the hardest thing on these kinds of boards. The microcontroller is easy by comparison, but it does take practice. Expect to not get either one of them right the first few times. The other component I usually have a bit of trouble is the crystal. They usually only have bottom pads, which is a little bit of a pain to solder without heatguns or solder ovens.

There're a lot of videos on YouTube that can teach you the basic technique. Definitely watch a few, and practice.

The good thing about these open source boards like bmek is that they're cheap to manufacture, so even if you screw up, it's not gonna set you back that much. Even cheaper is to practice on a macropad like Yampad. You can get 5 PCBs from JLCPCB for $2 (plus shipping) and the components are probably gonna be $20 or so. You won't waste as many diodes, capacitors, etc., and more importantly time, if you screw that up.

There are quite a few SMD practice boards available from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HPSRXJ0/), eBay, or China. 
China's cheaper, but takes longer.

These all look to be fantastic advice. You are all examples why this community is just great.

On the back of the review - I have just ordered 0.3mm solder wire alongside some solder wick before I begin. Luckily I have some historical motherboards I can test/hone my craft on before I attempt to solder the USB connections.

I am excited!   
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Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #27 on: Mon, 11 May 2020, 19:33:55 »
I think I've had some success in my first usb keyboard today...without the solder wick.... it's recognised by my PC but I can't seem to flash the bmek software via QMK. The run code doesn't work and its not showing up on QMK below, do I need to compile my own?

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Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #28 on: Wed, 13 May 2020, 11:00:34 »
I think I've had some success in my first usb keyboard today...without the solder wick.... it's recognised by my PC but I can't seem to flash the bmek software via QMK. The run code doesn't work and its not showing up on QMK below, do I need to compile my own?

Wow, super exciting! So it it does show up as a dfu device? Nice!

Based on your screenshot, it looks you didn't try to compile the BMEK firmware yourself yet, right?
I haven't yet merged the BMEK firmware into the QMK master branch, so you won't find BMEK it in the dropdown.

But you can download the firmware from here:

https://github.com/Bemeier/bmek/releases/tag/1

All you need is the bemeier_bmek_default.hex file. That's the one you want to put under "Local File" in the QMK Toolbox, then you can flash it! Here is what it looks for me:



you can check out the default layout here:
http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/a86f8f85d044fc4734a2eea969d33de5

After you flash it on a brand new keyboard, you might want to initialise the board once (write some default values such as the rgb led colors etc. to the eeprom) by pressing both space keys and the backspace key at the same time (with backspace I mean the hhkb backspace, i.e. the key above the enter :) ).

To switch between mac and windows modifiers (cmd / ctrl under the "caps lock" key), hold both spacebars and press the escape key (second key in the top row).
Instead of using the button on the PCB to get the keyboard into "flash mode", you can also press hold both spacebars and press the first key in the top row.

You'll eventually want to clone my branch of the qmk_firmware repository ( https://github.com/bemeier/qmk_firmware ) and set up a build environment ( https://beta.docs.qmk.fm/tutorial/newbs_getting_started ) so you can change the layout to your needs.

PS: But now that there is a second bmek user I might try to push it to the official repositories as well :)

Offline jjoejimmy

  • Posts: 10
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 13 May 2020, 22:14:17 »
Just dropping by to say that if there was a groupbuy for this I would definitely be interested! Awesome project. Does the board only require base kit for most keysets (other than spacebars)? Looks like it, but I didn't see anywhere on your post that you intentionally designed it for keyset compatibility so I'm not too sure.

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #30 on: Thu, 14 May 2020, 04:31:04 »
Yes, most base kits come with everything, except for the second 2.75u key. If you're on a budget, you can easily salvage another 2.75u shift from somewhere. If you prefer to get convex 2.75u keys (but don't mind if the colors & profile don't match perfectly), you can look on aliexpress for single spacekeys from npkc, xda, maybe even enjoypbt (which has the most similar profile).

If you're talking about GMK kits, I assume you're not really on a budget :). These days, there comes a spacebar kit along for each GMK kit, and those include at least one convex 2.75u key (some kits even come with two 2.75u keys!). Another thing to look out for could be the OG Spacekeys kit (if someone sells it or there is a R2).

By the way, there is absolutely no shame in just slamming a 2.25u (convex or concave) key on one of the spacebars, I've done it, it doesn't look bad to me.

Offline mchanneh

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 16:17:16 »
Hi jouz and all!

Following on the advice from above, I managed to compile the firmware and flash onto 3 soldered PCBs!

I have never soldered before the start of the week and only have got to this stage because of the great guides, help and assistance that jouz and the below have offered. Thanks so much! I used a cheap soldering kit from Amazon, some extra soldering wick, a helping hand magnifying glass and a brass wire sponge. On the to-do list now is - sourcing the led components, buy some switches and keycaps, look for a case manufacturer and try to solve the two problem PCB's which are not working.

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....



Some other progress pics for you all!





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Offline gorbachev

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #32 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 16:30:41 »
The pins are definitely bridged, from what I can see. Get some good flux, and smother it on top of the pins and heat it up. It'll work better than with a solder wick. The flux will help you reflow the solder. Looks like you may also have a solder bridge between the two pins on top left.

I'm using the following flux myself: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008ZIV85A/

You didn't mention it on your post, so you might've already done this, but also test the PCB after you flash the firmware on it. Short the pins on all your switches one at a time and see if a key press gets registered. It'll help you eliminate issues before you start soldering all kinds of other components on the board.

Offline mchanneh

  • Posts: 30
  • Location: United Kingdom
  • trying to reset terrible typing habits!
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #33 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 16:36:02 »
The pins are definitely bridged, from what I can see. Get some good flux, and smother it on top of the pins and heat it up. It'll work better than with a solder wick. The flux will help you reflow the solder. Looks like you may also have a solder bridge between the two pins on top left.

I'm using the following flux myself: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008ZIV85A/

You didn't mention it on your post, so you might've already done this, but also test the PCB after you flash the firmware on it. Short the pins on all your switches one at a time and see if a key press gets registered. It'll help you eliminate issues before you start soldering all kinds of other components on the board.

Thanks a lot gorbachev, I will try that tomorrow!

I did the tweezer test on each of the switches and they were registering all the keys per jouz KLE and that was SUPER exciting!
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline gorbachev

  • Posts: 32
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #34 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 16:40:44 »
I did the tweezer test on each of the switches and they were registering all the keys per jouz KLE and that was SUPER exciting!

That would seem to indicate you don't have solder bridges, though.

Offline mchanneh

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  • Location: United Kingdom
  • trying to reset terrible typing habits!
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #35 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 17:00:01 »
I did the tweezer test on each of the switches and they were registering all the keys per jouz KLE and that was SUPER exciting!

That would seem to indicate you don't have solder bridges, though.

Ah, sorry I wasn't clear, the tweezer test was working for the 3 successful PCB's.

The PCB above isn't even registered in DFU mode...
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline godzillq25

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #36 on: Sat, 16 May 2020, 20:07:34 »
wow this is amazing
« Last Edit: Sun, 17 May 2020, 07:27:51 by godzillq25 »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #37 on: Sun, 17 May 2020, 05:22:02 »
Following on the advice from above, I managed to compile the firmware and flash onto 3 soldered PCBs!

Great job, glad it worked out!

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....

gorbachef is correct in suggesting to add some flux to try and "reflow" the solder!
In addition to the flux, in my experience, the wick can really help if you find that there is just too much solder on there already.

If you look closely at the schematic on the board around the USB-C connector, you'll see that the outermost pin pairs in the top row actually all go to ground together (so it's no drama if they are shortened!).
See this picture:



However, that third pin from the left in the top row really shouldn't bridge with any other pin, like it is the case for you! To me that looks like the only issue, and you should have good chances of fixing it just with some flux.


On the to-do list now is - sourcing the led components, buy some switches and keycaps, look for a case manufacturer and try to solve the two problem PCB's which are not working.

We should chat about the case manufacturing some time. What materials are you thinking about?
Do you want to make the original case with integrated plate (i.e. the switch cutouts are in the top case), or the new version where the plate is separate from the case:




(I would recommend the new version with the separate plate - it should be easier and cheaper to manufacture, with less risk of stuff going wrong)

EDIT:
Uploaded the new designs to github

https://github.com/Bemeier/bmek/tree/master/cases/highprofile_plate

wow this is amazing, i really like my arrows i might get ur kicad files and try add arrows somehow in the bottom right somehow. and if i manage to achieve ill just attach the files on to this. key is tho if i get to it hehe

Sure, godzillq25, I encourage you to try and play around with this! But However, let me also point you to num's beautiful case for the Arisu PCB (I know it's a little different from the BMEK, but it does have arrows :) ).
« Last Edit: Sun, 17 May 2020, 08:51:37 by jouz »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #38 on: Mon, 18 May 2020, 04:49:36 »
Hey everyone! I'm getting soft. I'm starting to consider producing a small number of cases from aluminium (mostly because I'm so inspired by num's work on his CNC'd Arisu case).

I want to start asking manufacturers for prices next week, assuming a quantity of ~10+ pieces. I'm not yet 100% committed to doing this at all, but I'm curious to hear if more people would be interested. I'm also open to some suggestions regarding the design & materials before I start asking around for quotes.

Things that I'm open to discuss:
  • I'll happily add provisions for dampening. Similar to num's Arisu case (silicone gasket between top case & switch plate, foam between plate & pcb & pcb & bottom case). I can produce that relatively cheap since I have access to a laser cutter, would probably just add ~15 euros to the total cost per piece.
  • Small changes to existing features, i.e. changes to corner radius, chamfer size, etc.
  • Case angle. It's currently 3 degrees. Personally I don't mind up to ~6-7 degrees, but no more than that.
  • What do you guys think of the LEDs? The location will stay the same, but the cutout/diffuse could be a different style:
    • 3 tiny dots instead of 1 bar? (I'm really tempted by this more minimal option, as it doesn't affect the look much if you would prefer to not have any LEDs at all)
    • Some other design?
  • Curious about what people think about material treatment / anodization colors etc.?
  • Switch plate material - I'm thinking to just do brass if most people would prefer that?

Things that won't change:
  • I won't change the PCB design at this point - so also no changes to the layout. It's proven to function, so why add risk & work :) ?
  • No fundamental changes to case design (i.e not converting to full gasket mount).
  • No other materials than aluminium - i.e. no PC or POM case (I want alu :) )

« Last Edit: Mon, 18 May 2020, 14:20:32 by jouz »

Offline gorbachev

  • Posts: 32
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #39 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 10:29:54 »
BOOMSHAKALAKA! This is awesome news jouz!

I don't really care about the features that much, what you have done already is awesome enough to me. Personally I'd be more interested in keeping the costs reasonable. I don't know how anyone else feels, but I'd rather have colors that are unusual than something everyone else has. Same for the design...I would prefer unique over standard (as far as it's functional).

Goes without saying I'm in on this 100%!

Offline JohnWest

  • Posts: 20
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #40 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 11:29:29 »
Looks awesome! I'm interested for sure.

I like the idea of toning down the lights a little bit. Dots would be nice. How about two or three narrow vertical slits, 5-10mm in length and on the same angle as the sides of the case.

Dampening options sound good. I'm rather partial to PC plates myself :)

Offline nathanchere

  • Posts: 356
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #41 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 11:30:06 »
Fantastic news 😁 This would be the first split keyboard I can see myself actually wanting to use since the  VE.A

Offline hiking325

  • Posts: 1
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #42 on: Tue, 19 May 2020, 22:13:41 »
This looks great! I would also be interested in one.

Offline mchanneh

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  • trying to reset terrible typing habits!
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #43 on: Wed, 20 May 2020, 04:12:37 »
Awesome - great news jouz! We have caught up already but I am definitely interested in at least 3 cases. On your points below:

  • Dampening - I'm all for this though not sure if we needed all three dampening options, foam between the PCB and bottom case seems most beneficial. Full disclosure - I have ordered silent switches for my working batch  :)
  • I will take your disgression on any changes you need to make to the design, 3 degrees is fine in my opinion
  • Let's go with minimal approach with dots or slits
  • I would prefer a more textured finished, with a matte effect than anything shiny.
  • Brass or Aluminium works, I'd prefer keeping the cost in control too  :thumb:

I am very supportive of the below and very glad to be part of your project!

Thank you!
« Last Edit: Wed, 20 May 2020, 04:49:10 by mchanneh »
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #44 on: Thu, 21 May 2020, 07:54:16 »
Super interested in a case for this, thanks for sharing!

Could I use this with some Kailh Choc switches? Or the gboards.ca gchocs?
« Last Edit: Thu, 21 May 2020, 08:03:32 by 1 for warm windows »

Offline jouz

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Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #45 on: Fri, 22 May 2020, 18:46:17 »
Big Update:

First, note I had posted this IC on reddit as well, also asking for some input. Also gotten quuite some positive responses, I'm getting the feeling it shouldn't be too hard to find 25+ people joining. I'll address some of the suggestions made there and here all in one, as well as the things I've learned since then:

Materials

Case:
  • Some people asked for a POM/PC case. I don't think that's an option right now, as the number of orders we'll be hitting wont allow for multiple materials (and I'm set on doing aluminum).
  • But I guess there is nothing holding back anyone else to just run a GB for POM or PC cases.

Plate:
  • I suggested brass earlier, but I think the cost is too prohibitive as a default option. I'm inclined to go for an Aluminium default to keep the price low
  • Another plus for aluminum is that we can anodize it, too (for almost no extra cost, at least on 3DHubs). So the plate color, which peeks through here and there on alice-like layouts, can still be used to enhance the looks (like brass would have)
  • Plus, the plate files are open source. If someone really wants a Brass/CF/etc plate, they can use LaserBoost or a similar service to make their own.

Case Colors:
  • This what I'm struggling the most with, still...
  • Quite a few people asked for "e-white" finishes. I've been looking around but couldn't find anybody offering this. I guess powder-coating (which is offered by 3DHubs) could be an alternative, but it doesn't seem very popular on keyboards for some reason. Does anybody know why? Looks like it should be great, and much easier to match colors with than when anodizing.
  • But I'm all for a funky color like @gorbachev has suggested, too! I'm just a bit doubtful that it will be easy to get the anodization to match a given keyset-color (without going through a long review process). Any thoughts? Are people fine with taking a risk here?

Anyway, most renders you're seeing below are an attempt at picking a dark, desaturated purple that I think would go well with GMK Dracula. The case is PANTONE 276 C on bead blasted aluminium, the Plate (so far as it peeks through) is rendered as brushed aluminum, anodized black.



Case design

Typing Angle:
  • According to the feedback, most preferred a higher typing angle. I decided to change it to 6 degrees.




Features at the Back:
  • Since I've changed the case angle, I didn't like the look of the back part of the keyboard anymore.
  • After some playing around, I've came up with the shape you can see in above and below images. I think it looks cool.
  • Plus, adding this angle (instead of keeping the back straight) will reduce the cost of the bottom half, as the maximum y-dimension of the part will get reduced quite a bit this way.



LEDs:
  • I really liked some of the suggestions (especially the angled slots one by @JohnWest).
  • However, I feel 3-dots will be the best of all worlds:
    • It's unobtrusive for those that want to keep the LEDs off.
    • It saves us from adding another component (LED diffusers) and thus keeps the cost down slightly.
    • It just looks good!



(Brass) weight:
  • I've added a cutout for an optional brass weight of ~700g (see pics below)
  • In case you're interested, the current weight should be around 485g for the bottom case (without brass weight) and 252g for the top case if made from aluminum (sans keys, pcb, screws, plate)
  • Adding the brass weight just about doubles the weight to a total of ~1.5kg, which seems like a good place to be at for a nice and hefty feel (if you want it :) )?
  • Note that I'm not sure if I want to offer the brass plate in the GB, as it will also significantly increase the weight for shipping. The shape is so simple that one could machine it themselves easily (i.e. get it sawn at the hardware store?). Thouhts?

Here is a render from the top, showing just top and bottom case and featuring the brass weight and 3-dot LED design:



Screws & Mounts:
  • I've revisited the number of screws, and it was total overkill. We went from 38 total to 21, and I'm confident we're not making any compromises in rigidity.
  • Here a little break-down for the screws that will be used now:
    • 5x ISO 4762 (hex head) M2.5x8mm for the case (one in the center, one in each corner)
    • 8x ISO 4762 (hex head) M2x3mm for mounting plate to the top case (covering all areas, some are optional if people want more flex)
    • 5x ISO 4762 (hex head) M2x3mm for mounting the PCB to the top case (Optional, but recommended for hotswap use)
    • 3x ISO 10642 M3x6mm (sunken head) for the optional brass weight



Feet:
  • For the feet I'm thinking to just use 4 generic 10mm circular pads. You can get these everywhere for next to nothing, and they should do the job great.
  • I just ordered a couple to test, if I like them I can order more and ship some along.


PCB:
  • I've made a single change to the PCB, which is adding an extra little hole for an extra mount (see picture below).
  • There was a screw hole further inside the PCB before, but that one couldn't be used anymore since switching from integrated to separate plate design.
  • Note that those of you that already made a PCB (@mchanneh :) ) can easily add this mounting hole by cutting a little slot in the side (it's pretty easy with the PCB material).



TODOs:
  • I just noticed that the plate screws are not easily accessible behind the PCB. This is not an issue for hotswap people, but if you soldered your switches and for some reason want to switch out the plate+pcb assembly, you'd have to desolder the switches first. No biggie, I'll add some holes to the PCB for the screws & hex key to fit through!
  • Verify case & PCB once more and update on github.
  • Technical drawings (helps when asking for quotes).
  • Need to propose some colors & finishes to vote on. This is the biggest blocker right now (and arguably the socond most important part of the keyboard looks ;) )...
  • Once we're further along with color selection: Get some quotes (I'm asking some local CNC shops in Germany, and I'll try get a better quote from 3DHubs, as with their instant pricing you can't configure different colors without loosing the bulk prices).

Super interested in a case for this, thanks for sharing!

Could I use this with some Kailh Choc switches? Or the gboards.ca gchocs?

Thanks! I am interested in doing something for low profile switches in the future, however I don't think it's feasible for this run, as it would require way too many changes to PCB and case design.

  • Dampening - I'm all for this though not sure if we needed all three dampening options, foam between the PCB and bottom case seems most beneficial. Full disclosure - I have ordered silent switches for my working batch  :)

Yeah the whole dampening thing is a bit voodoo. I ordered a small batch of the EVA foam & silicone sheets to play around this with.
« Last Edit: Fri, 22 May 2020, 18:50:38 by jouz »

Offline gorbachev

  • Posts: 32
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #46 on: Sat, 23 May 2020, 02:20:35 »
What an update! Someone's been busy :)

Awesome looking stuff. I'm a little concerned about the PCB change, as I also already have PCBs, but it doesn't look like a big problem. Even if it is, ordering a new set of PCBs is pretty affordable.

Offline jouz

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  • Posts: 31
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #47 on: Sat, 23 May 2020, 04:18:11 »
Awesome looking stuff. I'm a little concerned about the PCB change, as I also already have PCBs, but it doesn't look like a big problem. Even if it is, ordering a new set of PCBs is pretty affordable

Yeah I'm sorry for that. So just to recap for those that have PCBs already ordered, there will be two changes in total:
  • The extra/moved screw hole for mounting PCB to top case
    • Using a screw here is optional anyway (but again, recommended if you use hot-swap).
    • It is VERY easy to add manually, you could probably file a slot out from the border with a nail file (there is a trace nearby, so you don't want to cut too much into the board, but I can make some instructions for that).
  • The cutouts in the PCB to access the screws that fasten the plate to the top case
    • This is an "artifact" from the original design (with integrated plate), where these screws didn't exist.
    • This is totally optional to have IMO. I probably wouldn't care about these cutouts when using hotswap...
    • But for those who plan to solder, there is a little win as it allows a bit more flexibility.
    • I'll check if these holes will go through any traces - if not you could just use the plate as a stencil for the PCB to mark out these holes and drill them in yourself

So all in all, you're not loosing anything, but it adds a little convenience for those that get the new version of the PCB. And you're right, ordering new PCBs is not expensive (and I'll run another batch to ship along with the cases, which will make them even cheaper - happy to ship a new one to you then, if you prefer).
« Last Edit: Sat, 23 May 2020, 04:19:50 by jouz »

Offline mchanneh

  • Posts: 30
  • Location: United Kingdom
  • trying to reset terrible typing habits!
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #48 on: Sat, 23 May 2020, 06:15:07 »
What a great update to see in the morning! A lot of ground work done here and I respect that a lot.

First things first, the renders and case re-design look sensational! I am surprised just how well the 3 dot LED redesign has changed the case aesthetic - it looks sleek, unobtrusive and very thoughtful. I'm so glad to be part of this journey!

You raised a number of good points below too:


  • But I guess there is nothing holding back anyone else to just run a GB for POM or PC cases.
  • Another plus for aluminum is that we can anodize it, too (for almost no extra cost, at least on 3DHubs). So the plate color, which peeks through here and there on alice-like layouts, can still be used to enhance the looks (like brass would have)
  • But I'm all for a funky color like @gorbachev has suggested, too! I'm just a bit doubtful that it will be easy to get the anodization to match a given keyset-color (without going through a long review process). Any thoughts? Are people fine with taking a risk here?
  • Note that I'm not sure if I want to offer the brass plate in the GB, as it will also significantly increase the weight for shipping. The shape is so simple that one could machine it themselves easily (i.e. get it sawn at the hardware store?). Thouhts?
  • Note that those of you that already made a PCB (@mchanneh :) ) can easily add this mounting hole by cutting a little slot in the side (it's pretty easy with the PCB material).

Yeah the whole dampening thing is a bit voodoo. I ordered a small batch of the EVA foam & silicone sheets to play around this with.

  • Let's catch up on discord on your first point!
  • I am fully onboard with the alu plate + plate colouring option, as you've made this project so open source already I imagine there should be no qualms with having to have a brass plate cut if people want it so!
  • Would it be possible to offer 4 colourways, with 2 being mute (i.e. black, grey, white (if possible)) and then the other 2 riskier/colourful/bold options? I am bias to a more extravagant colour-way but realise this is because I'm still early in the MK hobby and haven't invested a lot into particulary keyset themes
  • I'm OK to source my own brass plate and don't need it part of the initial run  :)
  • I am sure nothing can be as difficult as soldering the USB-C receptable so I am happy to take on this challenge! It does look very simple.


Awesome looking stuff. I'm a little concerned about the PCB change, as I also already have PCBs, but it doesn't look like a big problem. Even if it is, ordering a new set of PCBs is pretty affordable

So all in all, you're not loosing anything, but it adds a little convenience for those that get the new version of the PCB. And you're right, ordering new PCBs is not expensive (and I'll run another batch to ship along with the cases, which will make them even cheaper - happy to ship a new one to you then, if you prefer).

:) I'm happy to order more too if need be!
Kailh Box Royals | Cherry Reds | Knockoff Blues

Offline jouz

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 31
Re: BMEK - An EM7-like Ergonomic Keyboard [on GitHub!]
« Reply #49 on: Sat, 23 May 2020, 14:01:27 »
Finished the design and added technical drawings specifying the holes (github) as well as updated the PCB (github) (there is also a render where you can see the added slots around the circumference for access to plate screws, I had to move some traces for one or two holes).

Obviously use at your own risk :) - I'll definitely run through one more sanity check before I would put actually order these as is, but all issues I've encountered so far are addressed.

I've sent out quote requests to 3DHubs (hopefully they'll give some positive feedback also on machinability etc.).

Big question is still in regards to the colors...

  • Would it be possible to offer 4 colourways, with 2 being mute (i.e. black, grey, white (if possible)) and then the other 2 riskier/colourful/bold options? I am bias to a more extravagant colour-way but realise this is because I'm still early in the MK hobby and haven't invested a lot into particulary keyset themes

I think 3 or 4 colourways could be possible, I've added a comment to my quote to 3DHubs asking about the costs adding color options.