Author Topic: Designing an Ergodox/Redox compatible with both GMK keycaps and Ergodox ones  (Read 616 times)

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Offline DarkSphere00

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Italy
Hello guys,

This is still a very premature project, and it's just an idea for now. I'm starting this topic to gather early ideas and thoughts from you.  If anyone wanted to help me out too on this project, I'd also be very glad!
I do not intend on selling this personally (unless there is request I guess?), but I will make everything open source so that whoever wants can manufacture and assemble its own.

Why it's important (to me at least)
The reason I came up with this idea is that I couldn't decide myself between the Ergodox and the Redox, since both have flaws, and I decided to try to build a new board with the best of each one.

My problems with the Ergodox:
  • While some sets have Ergo kits, it's still difficult if not impossible to use regular GMK sets with it.
  • It's big and bulky, especially that wasted space on top of the top row.
  • The thumb cluster is way too big and far out for my hands
  • It uses a Teensy board, and I wouldn't know how to use that with USB Type-C.

While the Redox addresses almost all of those issues, it has one major flaw:
  • I still have no idea why MattDB wanted 1.25u keys so badly: they're nearly impossible to source in the right amount for sculpted kits, and this makes it incompatible with even the traditional Ergo kits.

The goal
My objective however would be to create a split ergo keyboard, very much similar to the Redox by MattDB, but compatible with whatever keycap set: be it a GMK base kit or a Ergodox kit or whatever other kit of your choice.

I aim at designing a single case at first with two different PCBs (of the same shape and size), and later on unifying the designs into a single PCB with multiple slots to choose from; the only different parts would be two different front plates.
This way one could easily just have a single case and a single PCB and later on choose the desired layout, only having to buy/make the plate accordingly.  If someone installs hot swap sockets then he could even own the two plates, change layouts by changing the switch location, putting on the desired front plate to cover the unused holes, and putting on the desired set of keycaps.

As it will be based on the Redox, each side will have 35 keys, 4 of which will be in the thumb cluster which I believe it's shaped just right (although I know this is very personal), without any key too far away like in the original Ergodox.
The case will offer support for Ergodox-EZ's tenting kit like the Iris does, which isn't too much expensive and it's excellent.
The software will be QMK, and it will use Elite-C (would have preferred QMK Proton-C but there is no compatibility for split keyboards yet).

Future plans
I will add later on support for RGB underglow, which should be pretty straightforward and in my opinion looks really nice.

With the right help I'm also thinking about adding something like a display on one side and a rotary encoder on the other, but this is just an idea for now and I'd like to hear what you guys think about it.

Lastly, per-key RGB: I might think about this in the long term, so that everybody can choose what they prefer, but it's really one of the last things I'll be spending my time on (unless obviously someone does it for me).

"How will I be able to get it?"
Difficult to say for now.

As I'm based in Europe, when I'll have a definitive layout and a working PCB I'll try to contact Mr. Falba, who runs FalbaTech, to see if he would be available to produce a case for it and possibly the PCB too.
I don't however know the scene in the rest of the world, so I would need some help from someone more experienced than me.

As I've said however, I'll share everything publicly and make it open source.

Progress made and what I'm working on
As I've already said, at the moment this is little more than an idea and I need to gather information from you, so please write whatever you think about this because I need feedback.

The first thing that I need to work on is finalizing both the layouts: when that is done, I'll design the actual PCBs, and when I'll have the first prototypes I'll test those.

I'll keep updating this post and the one below while I make progress.
« Last Edit: Sun, 09 February 2020, 17:39:07 by DarkSphere00 »

Offline DarkSphere00

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 7
  • Location: Italy
This is the very first idea, made on Keyboard Layout Editor:

The left half is what it would look like when using a GMK set, while the right half represents a traditional Ergo kit.

The layout on the left can easily be achieved with just a base kit, or an alpha kit with an icon modifier kit.
« Last Edit: Sun, 09 February 2020, 17:30:08 by DarkSphere00 »