Author Topic: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard  (Read 12239 times)

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Offline TheVengeance

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The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 05:21:18 »
Brace yourselves, this is a big one.

It all started with a Planck, I was intrigued by the size and the arrangement. What a cute, useful little board, no waste around it, no bezels.



I was purchasing some caps for another project and the SA relegendables really intrigued me. I love macros, and customising. If the Optimus Popularis and Maximus weren’t so lame I’d buy them, but there you go.



Around the time I started this little project I also changed jobs, more frequently staying in hotels overnight with a Chiclet laptop.

The idea of the relegendable being glow in the dark, and also the fact it diffused light so nicely I meant I couldn’t help myself but wire up some LEDs. Worked great.

As I started to draw up some legends I thought “why not use 2 faces”, then I thought, “why not have multiple layers too”.

Not wanting to stray too far from the standard Planck at this point I thought QWERTY on home along with its modifiers, then Dvorak and Coleman as separate layers, and maybe use the front to represent that layer? Could that work, would you see it?



So I printed some up, the dimensions were way off but it’d do. Looking through my K95’s LEDs (don’t worry, this soon goes), it looked super-funky-glowalicous and so I was sufficiently motivated to devote literally hundreds of hours to a new project.



I tested a few out, this worked. I needed to plan what goes where, and so I did.







I drew them up, and then worked on some basic templates to cover the 2 faces, but as I did that I thought why not use another face….. Why not use ALL the faces. And so, the Compboard was born.





The Composite Keyboard, the Compboard. A portable keyboard that could be used in multiple ways based upon the situation. A keyboard for my tablet, maybe a shortcuts bar for laptop, maybe the gaming keys for use when gaming on the laptop and so I don’t need to use the ****ty scissor switches etc…. the ideas kept flowing. The ideas, they were the easy bit.













I refined and tested the designs. The labels were incredibly time consuming to cut.









I experimented with different paper types and thicknesses, even getting some printed on photo paper at a kiosk  (poor quality). The thickness worked well though in terms of solid colour / backlight effect.



I practiced on rough standard paper for alignment and layout, using the thick stuff when happy.











As I played with designs and layouts the changing in positions in PS had become laborious. I hadn’t been sensible and used layers and foler properly, it was largely a mess and needed very manual positioning. I developed methods and later actions to do a lot for me.



I wasn’t happy with the visibility of the larger legends.



Or some colours







Testing where it may live, this layer was all about quick shortcuts to common web design asci codes.



Printing myself on thin photo paper gave really great results.





Many, many hours of tweaking images and cutting (cutting is a killer)



I decided white legends on the colours would show up better, they did.



I was content with this layout and also positioning, everything was legible and looked great. I spent a lot of time cutting the rest of the board.





Testing in position next to keyboard in “Shortcuts” mode.



Frequently I’d notice a mistake and need to print either all, or partial changes.



















So by this time all the focus was on the keys. I’d ordered an orange milled case from OLKB when Jack said he had them in stock, however that took 12 weeks to be dispatched. After about 8 weeks I lost my faith in them and so modified the steel plate a bit, added some filler and sugru to the edges and as a temporary measure sprayed using peel coat. It actually was very robust, still is, and looks and feels great. I’ms till using now and it’s good to know it peels right off and can be reapplied, but also durable enough to take knocks.













I finished the board, much elation and joy was felt.



So here she is, now I need to refine how I’m doing the mappings, and also the automation of the legends using some kind of website builder model. I’d like for that to also create the file and print it, maybe produce the correct firmware to flash as well. That’s the plan anyway.

For now I’m handling most of the mapping with clever hotkey assignments on software.
















Overall, really happy with how it looks. The colours, legends and overall quality exceeds what I started to do.

I’d love for everyone to have one, but right now this is a very expensive project. The SA keycaps were way over $100, the Planck obviously expensive and then the cost / effort / resource to build layouts, print them and create firmware makes this a difficult scalable project.

I’d like a setup for Photoshop / Premiere shotcuts, Final Cut Pro, specific games, there are many many applications and it’s be great to have a pool of profiles you could assign to layers, but this is not only a software hurdle, but also a physical process one of all the cutting out.
I know a die could be used or some kind of machine, but we’re then into a consumer product instead of a home project.

I’m not done with it, so please expect to see some software to make this a reality for all. If anybody actually cares. Lol.

Couple of mentions:

Pyrolovesmoney was involved from very early on. He offered a listening board, suggestion and also approved / disproved of various crazy ideas and initiatives. We probably spoke about this project every day and almost every idea / photo was ran by him. I've no doubt he is as sick of this as I am.

It is good to talk these incredibly geeky things through with people though (preferably not your wife unless you want to expose just how much of a dweeb you are).

Rominronin sold me the original board, he was one of the first to hear this idea, he kind of gave me the initial “good idea” motivation.

RAMA, a solid design engineer, later in the project Renan gave me lots of encouragement.

Some more pics:













https://rospessi.sirv.com/keyboard/Compboard%20-%20contrast.spin







Offline joey

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 05:25:23 »
You went all out. I love it :thumb:

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:02:32 »
As if the work on the caps wasn't awesome enough you had to go and paint it orange :eek:

Keyboard of the month nomination for June isn't up yet but you've got my vote!
120/100g linear Zealio R1  
GMK Hyperfuse
'Split everything' perfection  
MX Clear
SA Hack'd by Geeks     
EasyAVR mod

Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:09:13 »
That board is glorious. Best use of relegendable caps ever. :eek:


Offline Data

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:32:45 »
This is amazing.  I wish I'd thought of it.

My only feedback is it might have helped to print the text that's on the "rear" of the caps (facing away from you) upside-down so that, when you tilt the board up toward you to read it or crane your neck over to see the backside you'll be reading the legends rightside-up. 

Just... wow, this is so great.

Offline TheVengeance

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:47:54 »
This is amazing.  I wish I'd thought of it.

My only feedback is it might have helped to print the text that's on the "rear" of the caps (facing away from you) upside-down so that, when you tilt the board up toward you to read it or crane your neck over to see the backside you'll be reading the legends rightside-up. 

Just... wow, this is so great.

Sorry, I guess I should have explained more, the idea of the ones on the back is that when doing a bit of dev, you use this as an additional keyboard and so forms a kind of secondary shortcut board. The idea is you have it displayed backside forward for that use. (turned 180 degrees).

Same applies to sides, turned 90 degrees as a secondary keyboard.

Thanks though :)

also to everyone else, really appreciate the positive comments :)
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:54:40 by TheVengeance »

Offline TheVengeance

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 06:49:36 »
As if the work on the caps wasn't awesome enough you had to go and paint it orange :eek:

Keyboard of the month nomination for June isn't up yet but you've got my vote!

Oh man, that's so kind!

In my world, everything has to be orange! Honestly though, since I started adding orange to my life, my life has been very good, lots of luck and so I just continue to surround myself with it. lol

Offline Data

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  • Location: Orlando, FL
Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 08:09:13 »
This is amazing.  I wish I'd thought of it.

My only feedback is it might have helped to print the text that's on the "rear" of the caps (facing away from you) upside-down so that, when you tilt the board up toward you to read it or crane your neck over to see the backside you'll be reading the legends rightside-up. 

Just... wow, this is so great.

Sorry, I guess I should have explained more, the idea of the ones on the back is that when doing a bit of dev, you use this as an additional keyboard and so forms a kind of secondary shortcut board. The idea is you have it displayed backside forward for that use. (turned 180 degrees).

Same applies to sides, turned 90 degrees as a secondary keyboard.

Thanks though :)

also to everyone else, really appreciate the positive comments :)

Mind = blown

Offline csmertx

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 17 June 2016, 10:09:03 »
I have gained new respect for relegendable keycaps :eek:

This project reminds me of UV Mapping. ^-^

Offline smart5088

  • Posts: 43
Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 17 July 2016, 01:11:47 »
this keycap color sa relegendables white(wa) ?

Excuseme. sa keycap label page share possible?

it's very wonderful post.!

Offline ErgoMacros

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #11 on: Sat, 24 June 2017, 00:06:45 »
This is soooo cool.
I was a greeting card convention years ago and they had a number of paper die-cutter solutions that would have made your trimming/cut-out process easier.

Doing google shopping tonight I found these two, but I'm sure there are many options:
$100 (and up)  for a custom made "punch" for paper and leather: https://www.etsy.com/listing/203946982/custom-leather-punch-for-leather-or
$300 300 DPI scanner and stencil cutter. http://marketplace.focuscamera.com/brother-scanncut2-home-and-hobby-cutting-machine-with-rhinestone-trial-kit-with-iron-on-fabric-applique-contact-sheet-pick-me-up-tool.html
« Last Edit: Sat, 24 June 2017, 14:22:27 by ErgoMacros »
Today's quote: '...“but then the customer successfully broke that.”

Offline tristinDLC

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 14 July 2017, 08:13:24 »
Doing google shopping tonight I found these two, but I'm sure there are many options:
$100 (and up)  for a custom made "punch" for paper and leather: https://www.etsy.com/listing/203946982/custom-leather-punch-for-leather-or
$300 300 DPI scanner and stencil cutter. http://marketplace.focuscamera.com/brother-scanncut2-home-and-hobby-cutting-machine-with-rhinestone-trial-kit-with-iron-on-fabric-applique-contact-sheet-pick-me-up-tool.html

A Cricut is another similar stencil cutter that could probably work for the project and is a little cheaper for the home DIYr.

I have a CNC vinyl cutter (I design and sell decals) that could make quick work of all the cutting and I also have a wide-format printer that could make some really high-end legends (2400 x 1200 dpi) pretty quick I'm sure. I absolutely love this project and as mentioned above, this is the first use of the caps I've found enjoyable and actually useful.

Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 20 July 2017, 00:48:55 »
Never seen anything like this done before

Offline Ferik

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 26 September 2017, 09:00:39 »
Is there any way we could get the PSD file for the labels, OP?

Offline wolf

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 26 September 2017, 13:53:55 »
Absolutely awesome project and I love the idea of rotating it when using different layers.  The relegendable keycaps are brilliant and I'm impressed with your labels.

It's a study in how to make 48 keys do pretty much everything anyone could want.
Have keyboard, will travel...

Offline biarritx

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 12 February 2021, 22:51:39 »
Hello,
I would like to customize a Planck or a 60% ortho keyboard with a bépo layout (french dvorak). Standard bepo keys are not commercialized. There are only stickers which are not adapted to 40/60% keyboards. Since I am going to have to learn bépo, I would like at least the beginning to see all the char of the layers (In french we have many accentuated or special char).
Your kbd customization is very great and this is exactly what I need. I don't want to reinvent the wheel.
1) Are your drawings available?
2) Where did you buy the transparent relegendable keycaps?
Thanks a lot for your help.
Jérôme

Offline TheVengeance

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #17 on: Sat, 13 February 2021, 04:14:46 »
Hi all,

Just a note to say sorry i disappeared without ever following through here.

Truth is my PSD's were a bit of a mess and needed a lot of work to tidy up for distribution.

Good thing is time is something I have a lot of right now, and I still have all the files so I'm gonna get right on that and will post up ASAP.
« Last Edit: Sat, 13 February 2021, 04:16:52 by TheVengeance »

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: The Compboard - A Custom, Composite, Mechanical Keyboard
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 13 February 2021, 04:36:38 »
Hello,
I would like to customize a Planck or a 60% ortho keyboard with a bépo layout (french dvorak). Standard bepo keys are not commercialized. There are only stickers which are not adapted to 40/60% keyboards. Since I am going to have to learn bépo, I would like at least the beginning to see all the char of the layers (In french we have many accentuated or special char).
Your kbd customization is very great and this is exactly what I need. I don't want to reinvent the wheel.
1) Are your drawings available?
2) Where did you buy the transparent relegendable keycaps?
Thanks a lot for your help.
Jérôme
Hi Jérôme

The keycaps are available from Pimp My Keyboard - weird name but they're one of the main suppliers of quality caps :)
120/100g linear Zealio R1  
GMK Hyperfuse
'Split everything' perfection  
MX Clear
SA Hack'd by Geeks     
EasyAVR mod