Author Topic: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent  (Read 6400 times)

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Offline Riba

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[IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« on: Thu, 10 December 2020, 02:40:27 »
Hello girls and boys, particularly Exent owners!

I am in the process of making an ortholinear PCB that will be a drop-in replacement for Exent keyboard.

Layout is inspired by excellent Boardwalk PCB, but extended with an extra column to accommodate the 65% Exent form factor.

257601-0

Why this IC?

I have an Exent and I also wanted an ortholinear layout. Since I already decided to go through all the trouble I might as well check if there are more interested people who'd like to have one. IC will help me find out:
- how much interest there is (rough number of PCBs that should be manufactured)
- if certain features should be included (mostly backlight and underglow LEDs)
- any obvious improvements I may have missed or something that completely ruins it for you

A couple of important notes:
- plug will be Mini USB just like on the original PCB
- Due to the location of the USB plug the Esc (top central) switch had to be rotated 180 degrees. There is no room to add backlight LED on this switch so keep this in mind if you absolutely want to have backlight as an option - this key will not have it.
- Layout is pretty much fixed. Spent a lot of time pondering over it and finally came up with this. Ergodox keycap set plus a few extra 1.5 and 2U keycaps should cover the layout. If you do have a suggestion that will not take a lot of effort to implement you are welcome to share it.
- price will be determined based on the results of IC, but it won't be a bargain due to (expected) low volume and production that will be done in Europe.
- QMK powered
- no hotswap
- plate as an option
- entire design will be released as open source so if you want to improve on it, have a go!

Best thing for you:
- there will not be a GB in a traditional sense. I will do something revolutionary and will not take money from anyone before the PCBs are done. I will rather invest my own money and have a peace of mind and possibly and up with a box of extra PCBs than dealing with the stress of gambling with someone else's money. If you fill in the IC I will assume that you are interested and a PCB will be made for you. You can pay for it once it is ready to be shipped (or bail out if you wish so). Zero risk for you, stupid for me but ultimately worth it...unless I get 700 interested people and 650 will be fakes. :) It also allows me the luxury to say that it will be ready 'when it is done'. It should be sooner than later since design and production is done locally. I will share progress here of course.

IC will not run for long as I want to get started ASAP, but I expect I will have some extras for people who might have missed it.

IC Form:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScDQBB8M4Q7pPCZ5U6JVWZW36Pdx8HUn5zIgnXBUUEQv_LpZg/viewform
« Last Edit: Thu, 10 December 2020, 03:32:10 by Riba »

Offline Fippes

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 13 December 2020, 12:03:20 »
I am very interested in this pcb. I am looking for an alternative to my ortholinear idobo 75. 

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 13 December 2020, 12:22:33 »
Thanks Fippes, but this PCB will fit Exent and nothing else I'm afraid. :-/ I am considering creating another variant for one of the more popular and more accessible 65% cases since I'm already investing in it. Check Boardwalk as well!
« Last Edit: Sun, 13 December 2020, 12:31:09 by Riba »

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #3 on: Sat, 19 December 2020, 01:40:01 »
Almost there!

258229-0

Offline Havattack

  • Posts: 380
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 19 December 2020, 17:29:11 »
You just had to remind that this keyboard exist, that I don't, and may never, have it... I hate you.

 That layout is amazing, if I did have have an Extent, i would definitely make this my 1st ortholinear. Good luck!
« Last Edit: Sun, 20 December 2020, 10:36:34 by Havattack »

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 20 December 2020, 00:48:46 »
Thanks. I was lucky to get mine on the second hand market a while ago when the prices were still tolerable as I understand the group buy was a mess. I really like it, just wanted an option for an ortholinear layout which is soon going to be a reality...for both people who are interested.  :p

Offline Havattack

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 20 December 2020, 10:39:44 »
Thanks. I was lucky to get mine on the second hand market a while ago when the prices were still tolerable as I understand the group buy was a mess. I really like it, just wanted an option for an ortholinear layout which is soon going to be a reality...for both people who are interested.  :p

It's the giant bezels that get me. They are my favorite design feature, and i don't think there's a keyboard out there with larger ones.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 20 December 2020, 11:14:49 »
It is a struggle to find a keyboard with any bezel at all most of the time. I personally love them as without it the keyboard looks kind of featureless, many just look like a bunch of keycaps on the desk. What's the point of case design then? But I digress, if you like a bit of a bezel there was a S7-Elephant and upcoming Polygon which I like very much.

Offline Havattack

  • Posts: 380
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 20 December 2020, 16:20:32 »
Yeah, the Polygon on is on TOP my "To kop list". The S7 is another one I'm probably not gonna get unfortunately. Unless they do another round.

"Space Trek 73", "Monarch 65" and "Modern F" also have decent bezels.

Offline v683

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  • Location: Bay Area
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 00:35:47 »
I like the idea, but I wish I had an Extent! Though I wouldn't mind a pcb like this which would fit into standardized cases like the Tada68 or Tofu65

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 00:48:30 »
I like the idea, but I wish I had an Extent! Though I wouldn't mind a pcb like this which would fit into standardized cases like the Tada68 or Tofu65

Actually there is a fair chance you might get it as a lot of resources has been already invested in this for something that is a very niche product if I may say. I wanted to create a version that would fit 65% cases that are readily available but I was not sure there is a standard 65% format like there are 60% ones. Thanks for the hint!

I'll dig out more info about it and post a different IC for that.

UPDATE: Hmm, I see that things are not that straightforward, as there doesn't appear to be a standard 65% format, some PCBs are interchangeable between some cases, some are not.... I think I'd first have to figure out what is the most popular 65% case that is readily available and aim for that.
« Last Edit: Mon, 21 December 2020, 01:09:25 by Riba »

Offline v683

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  • Location: Bay Area
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 02:02:55 »
I like the idea, but I wish I had an Extent! Though I wouldn't mind a pcb like this which would fit into standardized cases like the Tada68 or Tofu65

Actually there is a fair chance you might get it as a lot of resources has been already invested in this for something that is a very niche product if I may say. I wanted to create a version that would fit 65% cases that are readily available but I was not sure there is a standard 65% format like there are 60% ones. Thanks for the hint!

I'll dig out more info about it and post a different IC for that.

UPDATE: Hmm, I see that things are not that straightforward, as there doesn't appear to be a standard 65% format, some PCBs are interchangeable between some cases, some are not.... I think I'd first have to figure out what is the most popular 65% case that is readily available and aim for that.

That's unlucky, I should've looked more into it myself. And are you sure we can get an Extent? The GB post for it isn't inspiring much confidence in me.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 02:50:09 »
Exent GB has completed long time ago and unfortunately it was riddled with problems. You can get Exent only on second hand market, but it tends to be pricey. Maybe I'll run PCB IC for available 65% cases and see what people think would be the best choice.

Offline Havattack

  • Posts: 380
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 11:10:00 »
I like the idea, but I wish I had an Extent! Though I wouldn't mind a pcb like this which would fit into standardized cases like the Tada68 or Tofu65

Actually there is a fair chance you might get it as a lot of resources has been already invested in this for something that is a very niche product if I may say. I wanted to create a version that would fit 65% cases that are readily available but I was not sure there is a standard 65% format like there are 60% ones. Thanks for the hint!

I'll dig out more info about it and post a different IC for that.

UPDATE: Hmm, I see that things are not that straightforward, as there doesn't appear to be a standard 65% format, some PCBs are interchangeable between some cases, some are not.... I think I'd first have to figure out what is the most popular 65% case that is readily available and aim for that.
That tofu65 and Extent seem to have the same layout, and bottom mounted, so wouldn't it simply be a matter of adding mounting points for both cases on the same pcb?

Why not come up with a 3D printed case, or some other cheap, easy option, for this PCB, for the people that don't have an Extent and want this layout. Or just a 3D design for a case, that people can then print themselves or have printed for them. There's also that FR4 stuff (I think that's what's it called). Or one of those stacked acrylic cases. 
« Last Edit: Mon, 21 December 2020, 11:15:36 by Havattack »

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 12:35:40 »
Exent is top mount and the location of the USB port is different. That being said, more universal PCB will just need to have the USB port relocated and probably updated to USB-C, and mounting holes added to match the chosen case...i'd prefer to stick to one of the existing cases on the market. At least that's the plan at the moment, to be updated as I learn more.
« Last Edit: Mon, 21 December 2020, 14:07:01 by Riba »

Offline Havattack

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 21 December 2020, 15:49:51 »
Ahhhh, i see. I skimmed the thread you linked, and i didn't see a mention of the mounting method, and since it was a few years ago, before top mount was as common... i assumed incorrectly. My bad.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 22 December 2020, 01:24:27 »
No problem, I don't think it was advertised clearly. I was not sure either until I opened it up.

Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 22 December 2020, 13:46:40 »
I just wanted to chime in and say that a ortho exent has been my dream for a long time. I don't have an exent, but I'll watch this closely... Would prefer all 1u, but I understand why people like the boardwalk-like layout.
MAAASSSSDDDRROOOPPPPPP!!!!!

Offline parablol

  • Posts: 91
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 23 December 2020, 02:04:54 »
Love the bottom row and wide outer columns. I have no Extent so maybe I should just laser a wide bezel acrylic sandwich case and stick this into it.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 23 December 2020, 02:22:24 »
Right, the fact that this is meant to fit Exent does not prevent anyone to create a suitable case.

If the whole manufacturing process goes smoothly for this PCB, I am seriously considering to create a version with USB-C plug on the left side and mount holes for TOFU65 case. That will allow folks to get the TOFU if they wish so or get one made using the files published here (not my work):

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4551814

One step at a time though! :)

Offline danliu

  • Posts: 1
Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 15 January 2021, 11:54:35 »
I don't own and exent but i'm excited for the possibility to use this on other 65% cases - so if there is usb breakout, or better a JST connection i would definitely want this. I can just remove the built-in usb and connect usb breakout to a daughter board.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 15 January 2021, 12:03:01 »
Hmm, I have a plan to create a version of PCB that will fit a TOFU65 case (USB-C on the left side). I suspect adding a JST connector should not be an issue, but we can discuss the details in separate IC once the production of this version ends.

Prototype PCB has been ordered few days ago, updates soon.

Offline Riba

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Re: [IC] Ortholinear PCB for Exent
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 26 February 2021, 05:13:04 »
Everything fits well, some minor changes needed before production.  :thumb:

Love the layout, pictured cheap DSA $40 ergo keyset from AliExpress covers the entire layout with some extras left.

Carbon fiber plate from ProtoTypist, I will share the order number you can use to get yours, it needs a slight adjustment first.

263044-0

263046-1

263048-2

263050-3