Dominic Beauchamp (Concept and layout)|
Fredrik Atmer (PCB)
|Switch mount||PCB mount|
|Stabiliser||PCB mount (some revisions)|
|Interface||USB Mini B|
|Power draw||28 mA (original firmware)|
The ErgoDox is a DIY keyboard project initiated by user Dox (Dominic Beauchamp), after inspiration from the Key64 project and likely the Kinesis Advantage. The design is ergonomic, split in two separate halves with a columnar layout.
The PCB was designed by bpiphany (Fredrik Atmer). Dox had designed a 3D-printed case, but a more common case of layered acrylic was designed by litster.
The design and hardware files are under the GNU Public License version 3.
See also clones.
A fully-assembled keyboard with manufacturer's warranty can be ordered from ergodox-ez.com. Later PCB revisions are specific to ErgoDox EZ.
Various versions and parts of the keyboard have been available in kit form from Drop. Earlier runs were based on litster's design in layered clear acrylic or aluminium.
FalbaTech in Poland sells pairs of blank PCBs, electronics and cases for ErgoDox. Also assembly service.
Keyboard Kits sells a full ErgoDox kit for home assembly. The kit includes the PCBs, an acrylic case, wires, diodes, resistors, capacitors, the Teensy, IO expander, LEDs, USB and TRRS sockets.
The microcontroller is on a Teensy 2.0 board from PJRC.
The keyboard is split into two separate halves, each having a columnar layout. Each half has 38-40 keys, 32 keys in the main area plus 6-8 keys in the thumb clusters, totaling 76-80 keys on the whole board.
There are thumb clusters and keys below the bottom row, similar to the Kinesis Contoured or the Maltron. There is the option of using 1 or 2 2u high keys for the innermost columns instead of 1u keys. Not all PCB revisions and cases support PCB-mounted stabilisers for the 2u keys, but stabilisers are often not needed for vertical thumb keys (the Kinesis does not have stabilisers).
There are also more keys inside the innermost columns, somewhat similar to the µTron Keyboard.
The outermost columns are 1.5 units wide. Some revisions support also 1u keys to be used here.
The logical key layout is up to the builder of each keyboard.
The controller is based on a Teensy 2.0 AVR microcontroller board in the right half, with an I/O expander in the left half. The halves are connected with a 4-lead cable with power and I²C lines to the I/O expander.
A mini-USB port is supposed to be soldered on the right PCB and the Teensy board connected to the PCB with both pins and an internal mini-USB cable with cables soldered to the mainboard. Alternatively, a mini-USB cable can be connected directly to the Teensy board if there is a wire between the Teensy's "VCC" pin and "5V" on the main board, or the I/O expander gets its power from elsewhere.
The PCB design is reversible: the same type of PCB is used for both the left and right side. This means that it is possible to reverse the positions of the Teensy and the I/O expander, but then they would have to be mounted upside-down. Jumpers on the top of the PCB are also used.
The Cherry MX switches can be PCB-mounted, or be plate-mounted if a mounting plate is used (which they are in the official case designs). There is a diode for each switch, that can be either surface-mounted, through-hole, or through-hole, mounted inside most switches.
The diodes are supposed to be facing the other way on the left keyboard half, but the direction could also be swapped in the official firmware by flipping the values of
options.h. See the discussion on the Ergodox assembly page.
Component list below (adapted from ErgoDox.org):
|1||Teensy USB Board, Version 2.0|
|1||MCP23018-E/SP I/O expander|
|76-80||Cherry MX switches, PCB or plate-mounted|
|76-80||1N4148 diodes, SOD-123 package or DO-35 (0.3" pitch)|
|2||2.2 kΩ resistors (red, red, red)|
|3||3mm T1 LEDs|
|3||~220 Ω resistors, or match to LED. (red, red, brown)|
|1||0.1 µF ceramic capacitor (marked "104" for 10*104 picofarad). Not strictly necessary|
|1||USB mini B connector WM17115.¹|
|1||USB mini B plug with short cable (such as H2955).¹|
|1||USB cable male A to male mini B.¹|
|2||3.5 mm TRRS sockets, CP-43514. FC68129 will also work if its extra pins are snipped off.²|
|1||Cable with two 3.5 mm TRRS plugs.²|
1. The USB cable could also be routed directly to the Teensy 2.0. On early revisions of the PCB (Massdrop), an additional wire would also have to be connected from Teensy pin VCC to the pad marked "5V" near the plug's position. The latest revision of the PCB would not require an additional wire.
2. FC68129 has been confirmed to work. A fixed cable could also be used instead of TRRS cable and plugs. Builders have also used other types of connectors.
Work has been going to make an official backlit version of the ErgoDOX.
The backlit PCB uses a single "high power" SMD mounted RGB LED on each half connected to high efficiency LED drivers controlled by PWM and I²C bus. On top of the LED there is a light pipe which directs the light into .75mm fiber optic strands, these are then individually routed on the back of the PCB to each switch where they are fixed using the standard LED hole in the PCB/Switch. This gives the ability for the back-light on each half to be dynamically set to any RGB value.
The development is hosted on GitHub. The new back-light enabled PCB fixes the outermost key columns bug and is fully backwards compatible, it will function as the original when the back-light components are absent.
The following table lists the additional components required for the back light:
|2||LM3549 Sequential RGB LED drivers|
|2||LPF-R011362S 90° Light tube, square end.|
|2||LRTB C9TP RGB LEDs 30-250mA per color|
|76-80||0.75mm Fiber Optic cables, 200mm(8")|
|2||C1206C106J8RACTU 1206 Footprint 10 µF Capacitor ,6.3V/10V (X7R/X8R)|
|2||C1206C475J8NACTU 1206 Footprint 4.7 µF Capcitor ,6.3V/10V (X7R/X8R)|
|2||L1210R2R2MDWIT 1210 Footprint 2.2 µH Inductor, 1900/2000 mA|
Total additional cost is expected to be between 15-20 dollars for both halves depending on volume. Existing cases can be modified for the backlit PCB by removing material to make room for the light tube.
Dox's original case was 3D-printed.
In litster's case design, the case is built from layers of acrylic (or aluminium) bolted together. The switch mounting plate layer is thicker than the usual 1.5 mm, making the switches friction-fit rather than snapped on. With a litster case, the dimensions (at the widest point) are 21.6cm (8.5in) x 20.3cm (8in) x 1.8cm (0.7in).
FalbaTech has sold cases of machined PVC, wood or bamboo, with or without wrist rests in various designs.
The original firmware was developed by ic07 (Ben Blazak) and released under the MIT License. The source code is available on GitHub. There is an online ErgoDox layout configurator on Massdrop's web site which produces .hex files with configured firmwares that can be loaded directly onto the keyboard.
ErgoDox EZ uses QMK.
- The outermost key columns were made for 1.5u keys, but were also supposed to support 1u keys as an option. Unfortunately, the pin holes were misplaced so 1u keys can not be used in these columns without modifications to the PCB and using a custom switch mounting plate. This has been resolved in the latest version of the PCB and is available from Profet Keyboards
- In litster's case design, the holes for the Costar-style stabilisers mounts for the middle thumb keys are facing the wrong way, making it impossible to fit stabilisers for these keys.
The keyboard has been highly popular, and has influenced many derivative designs and clones.
The layout has been criticised for having the thumb keys too far away from the main clusters, and for not having enough offset between columns. Some builders have modified the thumb clusters in various ways for easier access, or made derivative designs with different thumb clusters altogether.
There are keyboards that have a ErgoDox layout but are incompatible with the original hardware design and/or firmware.
- The ErgoDox 76 Hot Dox kit from Alpaca Keyboards has Kailh hot-swapping sockets and a pre-soldered electronics. Thus, assembly requires no soldering. It has a slightly smaller circuit board and uses an USB A-to-A cable as interconnect.
- Infinity ErgoDox has different electronics, with backlit keys and a LCD screen. It supports both Cherry MX and Alps-switches but does not have 1×1-key options for thumbs or little fingers.
- The KBDFans ErgoDone circuit board uses a less expensive Arduino Pro Micro as controller, instead of a Teensy 2.0. The USB port has moved to the left side and the standoff holes are gone - which makes it incompatible with many (but not all) existing ErgoDox cases. It is available on AliExpress and KPrepublic.
- The J-J Ergo is like the ErgoDone, but with all surface-mounted components, including the microcontroller. Has been available from KPrepublic.
- The ErgoBlue is wireless, using an Adafruit Feather nRF52 Bluefruit and battery in each half, and a Raspberry Pi Zero W as receiver.
The ErgoBlue 2 has solar cells for recharging; uses the ZMK firmware.
- Phoenix from ErgoKB in Taiwan. Uses hot-swap sockets, USB-C and an ARM-based microcontroller in each half. LEDs have been moved to 1u thumb keys. Tray-case with floating keys.
- SliceMK's ErgoDox Wireless. Wireless over Bluetooth Low Energy using ZMK firmware. Options with hot-swap sockets for either Kailh Choc or Cherry MX-style switches. Group-order until Nov 13, 2022, with expected shipping in Jan-Feb 2023.
Many keyboards have copied ErgoDox's small vertical staggering, but been changed especially in size or in the layout of the thumb sections.
Many designs have even credited ErgoDox for influence, including:
- ReDox ("Reduced ErgoDox"). Spawned the row-staggered kudox.
- Corne — also known as "HelioDox" (blend of Helix and ErgoDox). Several designs have been spawned from this, including Lily58
- Moonlander — from the makers of ErgoDox EZ. The outer columns are 1×1u and the thumb section is on a pivot.
The plural form of "ErgoDox" is "ErgoDoxen".
The ErgoDox won Best Ergonomic keyboard in the 2012 and 2013 Deskthority Awards.
- Geekhack—ErgoDox - Custom split ergo keyboard (October 2011)
- Deskthority—Split ergonomic keyboard project (January 2012)
- ErgoDox.org on The Internet Archive. 2016-07-12, from before the site became defunct.
- Ergodox.io: mobile version of a backup of ErgoDox.org
- Geekhack—Plural of Ergodox
- Massdrop—ErgoDox configurator. Original firmware. Requires login
- ErgoDox EZ Configurator (QMK)
- QMK Configurator for ErgoDox EZ
- Geekhack—fixing the ergodox thumb section