1. Are the case models for v0.8 available for purchase?
Not yet. They will be available when it is finished. I need to build at least one v0.8 to check it all fits/works. Which will not happen this year, probably. But January is possible. Well it all depends how much it will rain here. When it is not muddy outside I'm bicycling. When it is muddy I move the keyboard forward a bit. Anyway, winter weather is quite wet here so there should be a significant progress.
Whoever bought v0.7 3D models (and of course atagunov) will get v0.8 case models when they are finished for free. If they are finished. But there is very high probability now that v0.8 will be finished. The same license as v0.7. Just send me a PM with your share-it sale id if you will want v0.8 STL files. Do it only after I announce that v0.8 is finished.
2. I'm in the US, so I don't think I can buy a PCB from you (can I?) but my University has a PCB printer. Do you have the schematics for the PCBs available?
Unfortunately there are export restrictions on ATXmega(*). Probably because of the DES/AES crypto hardware. Of course, it would be possible to export it to US but that would mean paperwork and I'm not willing to do it for a few PCBs. You can check e.g. with CrimsonFlame. He indicated that he can do PCBs and I think he is from US. Maybe he can help you.
The electronics design files are here
. The firmware is here
. That is all for v0.7. V0.8 is not finished yet.
(*) ATXmega is unpopular but at one time I was limited by ATmega FLASH size and ATXmega was the most easy porting target for firmware. If there ever will be any work on v0.9 then it may contain a different MCU. Probably STM32F373. It is too powerful for a keyboard but it is cheap and I already know it. If there will be any v0.9 then it will probably have one trackpoint on each side. Yeah, and backlight. Surprisingly to me that seems to be a requested feature. Notice v0.8 will still use ATXmega MCU. It has only very slightly modified electronics compared to v0.7.
3. Is there a parts list anywhere? Are there other parts I can buy from you to support the project? Shipping might be a killer, but thought I'd check.
The v0.7 BOM is here
The only thing which makes sense for people outside EU is the case 3D models. People in EU can also get finished PCBs.
I could ship you the raw printouts to US but it probably does not make sense because of the shipping. And you would still need to post-process them yourself. Just find somebody with a cheap RepRap 3D printer which has build area of 20x20 cm or bigger. There is lot of them. Surely somebody must be near you. Almost every maker space will have them. A well tuned cheap RepRap can print the case. Of course, professional 3D printing services can do even more easily and the printouts will be prettier than from a RepRap. But Shapeways wanted about 200-300 € for it the last time I checked (about 2 years ago).
4. I can get access to quite a bit of equipment through my University's makerspace including a 3D Printer, PCB printer, Soldering stations, and electronics experts to help when I inevitably mess up. Anything major I might be missing in the tool department?
A 3D printer able to print ABS preferably with a heat chamber. It is possible to print it on a printer without a heat chamber. The parts will warp a bit more but it can be salvaged with ABS-glue. You will need also acetone from the less common stuff. But it should be easy to buy it in a home improvement shop. Just make sure you a buying a clean acetone, not some kind of mix. Actually, if your UNI maker space prints with ABS they probably also have clean acetone. Some metric M3 bolts and nuts ... well check the BOM - everything should be there.
I'm only a grad student, so funds are limited, but I'm happy to contribute to this project in any way I can. And, I REALLY want to make one of these.
Well if you can program then firmware can be improved. I have some list of ideas. One somewhat important for v0.8 is to alow merging of a running macro with the current keyboard input. Currently, when a macro runs, it blocks other keyboard input until the macro finishes.
Collaboration the case files themselves is not practical. I wanted to do it in free tools (e.g. OpenCascade, FreeCAD) but they are too buggy for a project as complicated as this. I could not move on because the tools misbehaved too often or did not have important features (like history replay after a modification of a past operator). So it is in a cheap commercial CAD which allows only STL export. Modifying STL files is hard and not useful to me since I cannot reimport it back to the CAD without breaking all the development history. The proper history is important for any model modification. It is possible the original CAD fill will be released in the future for free. But that happens only after me and KKO definitely decide that we do not want to continue in the keyboard project any more. That decision will not come anytime soon if ever.
Please keep up the excellent work, and let me know if I can help in any way.
Well, the work will continue as long as it is fun or if it would move fully commercial.
If you have RSI (like) problems then I would say the first thing is to check is the posture and taking breaks from typing. I think it is important to have a split keyboard (so that you can tent it) but it does not really need to be contoured. Preferably column staggered than row staggered. Contouring is good for comfort and I think also for speed but some people say that flat keyboard is better for speed. There are many threads about posture at least on geekhack. I do not think it is much about ergonomics here. This site is more about how to repair ancient keyboards
And of course the buckling spring keyboards. Not sure why people like them so much. I had one in about 1995 and that loud monster finished in a garbage bin.
No complicated finger gymnastics when typing. Rather move your hands than trying to stretch fingers to extreme positions to reach far keys. I cannot really comment much more on health problems. I never had any finger or hand problems despite typing almost every working day from my teens. But maybe it is thanks to the fact that as soon as partially split keyboards (aka MS Natural Ergonomic which is not ergonomic at all) came out I bought one. And I switched to Kinesis advantage quite soon (probably in 2002?). And then Katy primarily to get a layer/keypad shift and somewhat more comfortable keywell (lower thumb cluster, more staggered pinkie columns). But the current Kiness Advantage 2 almost for sure has a layer/keypad shift. Unfortunately it is still not split.
Or maybe I never had typing related health problems because I do not have any predisposition for it. But a physician can comment on your health problems. If you did not see one yet then you should consider it.