Hand wired 54key full split custom build

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alonswartz

06 Jan 2016, 15:09

To cut a long story short, I started feeling pain in my wrists and shoulders about a year ago. I did some research into ergonomic keyboards, bought a Kinesis Freestyle, got sucked into the mechanical keyboard scene, hand wired a test 8key keyboard from switch tester, sourced and hand wired an Atreus, ordered an Infinity Ergodox but the wait and delays were killing me, so I designed and built my own, codenamed blackhawk.
inuse.jpg
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Design goals
  • Fully programmable - multi-layer keymaps, mouse keys, oneshot modifiers, macros, ...
  • Full split with laptop wide separation - most comfortable hand positioning I've found
  • Non-staggered columns - human fingers don't move diagonally
  • Staggered rows - human fingers have different lengths
  • Just enough keys you can reach - no stretching, no hand movement
  • Multiple thumb keys - pity to waste two thumbs on just one key
  • Tactile mechanical switches - once you go mechanical, you can't go back
  • Full hand with integrated wrist rests - mobility and tenting
  • Small, minimal and compact - mobility
Keymap layout
keymap.png
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Parts
  • Gateron brown switches
  • Teensy 2.0 micro-controller
  • USB type-c breakout board
  • USB type-c to USB A short coiled cable
  • Interconnect 11 conductor cable
  • Vortex PBT cherry keycaps
  • Grafiti skin surface slim wrist rest
  • Laser cut transparent gray acrylic 3mm 5 layer sandwitch case
  • 3mm hex bolts and nuts
Inspiration and thanks
  • My wife - for putting up with me and my new obsession
  • Matt3o - for the excellent tutorials
  • TMK - for the amazingly powerful open source keyboard firmware
  • Suka - for the inspiring builds
  • Technomancy - for the Atreus
  • Jacobolus - for the great riff designs
  • Lister - for the sandwitch plate case design
  • Ponoko - for great service and customer support
  • Massdrop - for taking so long with the Infinity Ergodox
  • Deskthority and Geekhack and communities
Links
Attachments
size.jpg
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engraved.jpg
engraved.jpg (129.64 KiB) Viewed 6471 times
right_wiring.jpg
right_wiring.jpg (173.32 KiB) Viewed 6471 times
right.jpg
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Matt_

06 Jan 2016, 15:18

Wow, the final result is stunning.

I quite like the way you linked both parts. I would have been afraid that such long wires between the matrix and the Teensy could be a problem, but you don't have to cope with extra cables and connectors, not to mention the fact that you don't have to integrate extra code for an expander in the firmware.

User avatar
alonswartz

06 Jan 2016, 15:23

Thanks!

I originally used USB type-c breakout boards and detachable cable for the interconnect (you can take a look at the high-res build log photos), but I had an issue with current leakage within the cable itself. Took me ages to debug the issue. I tried a new cable, but it turned out there were differences between the type-c rev1 and rev2, so I just ripped everything out and used a cable I found at my local hardware store.

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Ray

06 Jan 2016, 18:04

Looks really good and has high quality finish. If I had mine that good looking, I would look for black bolts and sink them.

Since you had problems with your shoulder, may I ask which pointing device you are using now? The laptop trackpad?

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alonswartz

07 Jan 2016, 09:48

Ray wrote: Looks really good and has high quality finish. If I had mine that good looking, I would look for black bolts and sink them.
Thanks! I'd love to get black bolts, but having trouble sourcing them. If you have any ideas, I'd appreciate it. Regarding sinking them, I'm a little anxious about drilling sink holes in acrylic, but I'm sure with some patience I could get it done. Thanks for the nudge.
Ray wrote: Since you had problems with your shoulder, may I ask which pointing device you are using now? The laptop trackpad?
I barely use the mouse, but when I do, I use the trackpoint. Now that I can control the mouse from the keyboard, my real mouse usage should drop considerably. I was planning of integrating a trackpoint as well that I salvaged from an old thinkpad, but I haven't got around to it yet (if there is enough clearance that is).

User avatar
vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

10 Jan 2016, 15:10

Wow, very impressive. I'm always very impressed with those that take the time to design their own keyboards. Myself, I'm perfectly happy with old IBMs. Can't beat that metallic click.

Your reasons for getting into mechanical keyboards (arm pain and the search for a solution with ergonomic products) are the exact same as mine. After going through a few keyboards, I discovered that the mouse was my main issue, rather than the keyboard.

About the black bolts. I have obtained black bolts for an Ergodox from McMaster Carr in the USA, but I noticed you are located in Israel. So I imagine shipping would be very expensive.

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pietergen

20 Jan 2016, 16:01

Wow, looks very much like what I was vaguely planning to build one day..... ! Now I'm sure this is what I want !

I have some questions to the Original Poster, see drawings in the photo:
Image

yellow: is there a reason why you put this thumb key like this, and not rotated a bit, like the other thumb keys?
green: are these keys easy to use? With fingers or with the thumb ?
red: is the wrist pad really necessary? And is it ergonomic ?
purple: did you consider "wireless" solutions? (like maybe Bluetooth, wifi, FM or something?)

Great work !

hoggy

21 Jan 2016, 08:19

Sweet. Fancy making another?

User avatar
alonswartz

21 Jan 2016, 10:27

vivalarevolución wrote: Wow, very impressive. I'm always very impressed with those that take the time to design their own keyboards.
Thanks. It was a really fun and educational experience.
vivalarevolución wrote: About the black bolts. I have obtained black bolts for an Ergodox from McMaster Carr in the USA, but I noticed you are located in Israel. So I imagine shipping would be very expensive.
Wow, that's a great resource, thanks. I'm considering getting the Black Anodized Aluminum Low-Profile Binding Posts. With the low profile flat heads, I wouldn't need to sink anything, so that would be a nice bonus.

User avatar
alonswartz

21 Jan 2016, 11:22

pietergen wrote: Wow, looks very much like what I was vaguely planning to build one day..... ! Now I'm sure this is what I want !
Great to hear that, if I can help in any way, let me know.

I've been using it as my daily driver for the past couple of weeks, and am loving it. The only design change I would make so far is dropping the two outer columns down by about 3-5mm.
pietergen wrote: yellow: is there a reason why you put this thumb key like this, and not rotated a bit, like the other thumb keys?
When my fingers are positioned on the home row, my thumb is perpendicular to the key. You can think of that key being the start of the arc you can make with your thumb.
pietergen wrote: green: are these keys easy to use? With fingers or with the thumb ?
Thumb: not at all, my thumb doesn't go that far...
Fingers: reachable, but I wouldn't say easy. I don't use them very often, but it is nice they are there for the odd occasion you do need them.
pietergen wrote: red: is the wrist pad really necessary? And is it ergonomic ?
I love having the integrated wrist wrests/pads. They are really comfortable, and because they are integrated, I can easily tent the two halves (think regular vs. full-hand ergodox), not to mention I don't need to lug around more stuff with me.

I am no ergonomics expert, all I can really tell you is what I find comfortable and what I don't. A lot of the design decisions I made were based on my own experience, what I read from other peoples experience with different keyboards, what they liked about them, what they didn't, and how they would change them.
pietergen wrote: purple: did you consider "wireless" solutions? (like maybe Bluetooth, wifi, FM or something?)
Not really. I think the cons out way the pros by a massive margin (eg. security, complexity, cost, space, weight, charging).

User avatar
alonswartz

21 Jan 2016, 11:27

hoggy wrote: Sweet. Fancy making another?
But I only have 2 hands... :D

Seriously though, if there is enough interest I'd be happy to put together some documentation and the design files so you could source and build your own.

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pietergen

21 Jan 2016, 13:56

Thanks for the reply, alonswartz. :)

Kurplop

21 Jan 2016, 17:18

Congratulations on building such a fine keyboard. Great design and execution.

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XMIT
[ XMIT ]

21 Jan 2016, 17:54

alonswartz wrote:
hoggy wrote: Sweet. Fancy making another?
But I only have 2 hands... :D

Seriously though, if there is enough interest I'd be happy to put together some documentation and the design files so you could source and build your own.
Please, do. Even if no one states it here, someone may want to do this in the future. We like open hardware for this reason. :D

seaworthy

04 Feb 2016, 01:03

Very cool custom build. Congratulations on your ambition and execution.

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alonswartz

25 Apr 2017, 11:39

It's been around 16 months since I completed the build, so I thought an update was in order.

The blackhawk has been my daily driver ever since, and I absolutely love it. There are minor changes I would make if I ever create version 2 (namely dropping the outer columns down slightly), but as it stands, it's close to perfect for my needs.

I have made some changes since my initial post though:
  • - Minor keymap tweaks.
    - Sunk the case screws slightly.
    - And most recently, integrated a trackpoint
Regarding the trackpoint, it took quite a lot of research and planning, so in an effort to help others who want to do the same, I am in the process of putting together a step by step guide.

In the meantime, here are some pics:
collage-final.jpg
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codemonkeymike

25 Apr 2017, 13:46

How is the thumb cluster working for you, Is there anything you would change with it? Also which is the column you would move down the one on the outside of the pinkie?

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alonswartz

26 Apr 2017, 13:21

codemonkeymike wrote: How is the thumb cluster working for you, Is there anything you would change with it?
I like the thumb clusters a lot, and I can't think of anything I would change. But to be honest I've never used a keyboard like the ergodox for comparison (I actually have the massdrop infinity ergodox kit still in the box. I'll put it together and give it a shot - I'll then report back).
codemonkeymike wrote: Also which is the column you would move down the one on the outside of the pinkie?
I was referring to the 2 outer columns of each hand (columns 1, 2, 13, 14).

hgoel89

28 Apr 2017, 15:43

The wire connection between two sides is detachable? If yes what connector you have used.

Sent from my ONE A2003 using Tapatalk

tobsn

28 Apr 2017, 15:46

hgoel89 wrote: The wire connection between two sides is detachable? If yes what connector you have used.
Don't think so, you can see the cables leaving the housing as a big strand.

Couldn't you do a I2C similar to the lets split directly on the teensy?

hgoel89

28 Apr 2017, 15:53

tobsn wrote:
hgoel89 wrote: The wire connection between two sides is detachable? If yes what connector you have used.
Don't think so, you can see the cables leaving the housing as a big strand.

Couldn't you do a I2C similar to the lets split directly on the teensy?
I2C would need more code. I am planning a handwire a split based on magicforce68.
I need cables to travel in a bunch. I plan to do the same thing as OP did BUT i want to find a possibility of detachable cable.

Sent from my ONE A2003 using Tapatalk

tobsn

28 Apr 2017, 16:01

hgoel89 wrote:I2C would need more code.
Isn't that built into QMK?

hgoel89

28 Apr 2017, 16:05

tobsn wrote:
hgoel89 wrote:I2C would need more code.
Isn't that built into QMK?
It's slightly more complicated to explain. But I am looking for handwire without extra interface. I2C requires an IO extension. And i live in India all the required parts are hard to find.
So I want to keep it as simple as possible in terms of electronics.

Sent from my ONE A2003 using Tapatalk

User avatar
alonswartz

24 May 2017, 10:25

hgoel89 wrote: The wire connection between two sides is detachable? If yes what connector you have used.
As others have already mentioned, I ended up using a fixed interconnect.

Initially I planned on using USB type-c breakout boards and a detachable cable, which would not require any firmware changes or extra chips (e.g., I2C). Unfortunately I had issues - defective cable with current leakage (more info), so I just went with a fixed cable.
alonswartz wrote: Regarding the trackpoint, it took quite a lot of research and planning, so in an effort to help others who want to do the same, I am in the process of putting together a step by step guide.
Done, new forum post Trackpoint step by step.

User avatar
alonswartz

24 May 2017, 10:38

BTW, if you want to go the USB type-c interconnect route, I created this diagram/schematic which might help.
typec-interconnect.png
typec-interconnect.png (410.47 KiB) Viewed 4894 times

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