[WIP] THKB - Tiny Hacking Keyboard - 40%

You can find the original post in the spoiler below.
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Hey everyone,

after almost 8 months I finally decided or rather found the motivation to work on this keyboard again.
I lost everything THKB related when one of my hard drives crashed back then and I didn't have a backup of those files :roll:

The layout for my Tiny Hacking Keyboard is based on jdcarpes 40%.

Image

Done:
- Create layout (physical + key mapping) ✔
- Learn how to use LibreCAD ✔
- Create mount plate ✔
- Learn how to use KiCad ✔
- Create PCB ✔
- Order prototype PCB (05.05.2014 → 27.05.2014) ✔
- Order prototype mount plate (13.05.2014 → 30.05.2014) ✔

Next step: Designing the case

Pics of assembly
Spoiler:
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Layout (WIP)
Base: http://ne0.cc/laygenV2#c4AmB
FN0: http://ne0.cc/laygenV2#DmLNY
FN1: http://ne0.cc/laygenV2#mhAPv
FN2: http://ne0.cc/laygenV2#RSqUB

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PCB
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PCB Rendering
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Actual PCB
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Spoiler:
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Case front
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Case back
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Case layers (WIP)
Spoiler:
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Original post (lots of pictures!)
Spoiler:
Heya!

I've been working on my very first custom keyboard called Tiny Hacking Keyboard and I finally have something to share :mrgreen:

The layout is based on jdcarpes 40% except that I replaced the bottom row to get rid of the space stabilizer and to have some more modifier keys.

Image

The keycaps are Signature Plastic PBT DSA.
I'm not sure if I will just handwire the switches or if I will start learning how to and design a PCB for it. I'm also not 100% sure about the case yet. Thats why it is WIP :P

Layout Layer 1-3 (I still play around with the FN layers)
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Mount plate
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Some pictures
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Pictures of the wiring
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Last edited by ne0phyte on 14 Oct 2015, 10:19, edited 30 times in total.
ne0phyte
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 16:39

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Lovely! :)

what about the sides/case?
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 16:41

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This signature intentionally left blank...
I will most likely use your layered case design. I've also been thinking about adding prism-like feet to the bottom plate and putting the teensy in one of them to reduce the height (but that's a lot harder than just a bigger case).

Not so sure about the middle layer material yet. It would be pretty heavy if I'd use steel for that :P
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 16:45

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ASCII stupid question, get a stupid ANSI
This looks like a spectacular idea! Very nice indeed. And you've already got just the right caps on it!

As for the case design, you could try a tighter, smaller version of what Matt and I are up to with our current build. We're both using (slightly different versions of) a stepped design where there's a mezzanine layer splitting the case into an upper and lower deck. That way there's more room in the back for the necessary electronics, while keeping a thinner front edge. We're building that space so we can try Bluetooth, which requires several more parts besides the Teensy. If you want to keep things simple, though, you could shrink like crazy and have a nice cosy Teensy house down there instead, in a very thin keyboard.

Very envious of that split double space bar. I'll be keeping an eye on what you do to see what ideas I can steal, too!
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 17:11

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Thanks!
It's not a double space bar. I only use my left thumb for space and therefore I'll make the right 1.75 key a backspace key - see the layout in the first spoiler.

I think I will (for now) make the case as simple as possible. A finished, slightly thicker keyboard is better than an unfinished try that might not turn out working (since I'm still new to 2D CAD and so on :P).
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 17:17

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Very wise, you can always try again once you've earned your design chops and have a few tricks to pull.

I press space with my right thumb almost 100% of the time. (The odd ones out are when I press it with my fingers. Bad style!) So your layout would definitely drive me nuts in an instant! But putting plenty of mods down there is exactly the right thing to do. Thumbs are for dancing with mods and hitting the space bar.
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 17:29

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Nice neo:D pocket for wallet
I like the thumb cluster,but i prefer Backsapace,enter,spacebar on thumb for me!
backsapce and enter which often used?
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 17:45

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Two more pictures and a size comparison after fixing that switch hole :mrgreen:
Spoiler:
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 19:54

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If you put your 40% at the top of the picture, I could continue that geometric progression of increasing bulk in another photo with my 103 key and 122 key Model Ms!
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 20:00

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Muirium wrote:If you put your 40% at the top of the picture, I could continue that geometric progression of increasing bulk in another photo with my 103 key and 122 key Model Ms!

Let's see how far we can go then! :lol:
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 20:10

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ne0phyte wrote:
Muirium wrote:If you put your 40% at the top of the picture, I could continue that geometric progression of increasing bulk in another photo with my 103 key and 122 key Model Ms!

Let's see how far we can go then! :lol:

You asked for it!
Keyboard Tree.jpg

All pictures are to the same scale. From the top:
  • Your 40%
  • HHKB
  • Model M SSK
  • Full size Model M 103 key
  • Model F PC/XT 83 key (the heaviest of the lot!)
  • Battleship Potemkin / 122 key Terminal Model M
The biggest keyboard I ever saw (a big metal Xerox with an integrated circular "CAT" touchpad) would do the same to my 122 key!
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 20:47

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very interesting idea and great progression..
:lol: :roll: :lol:
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Unread post04 Sep 2013, 21:34

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cool, i've been looking forward to this ;)
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Unread post05 Sep 2013, 01:47

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I hope to get it hooked up to a Teensy later today :D
Still no case though (and I don't have the M3 nuts for the screws yet :|)
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Unread post06 Sep 2013, 17:27

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It works!
Added some pictures to the OP.
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Unread post06 Sep 2013, 23:09

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Sweet! The layers will be the make or break part. Like you have, I'd put numbers right on the top line alphas, which is just a row down from where they are anyway: so Fn+Q = 1, Fn+W = 2, etc. But then I'd check to see just how much thumb gymnastics it takes to write brackets and all those other essential characters when throwing mods at them!

HHKB arrows: check! You're heading the right direction.
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Unread post07 Sep 2013, 02:16

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Really awesome! Where did you get your plate made? Would love to make one of these for myself...

BTW, i bet you can do something better than layered acrylic for the case! :D

On my 48 key layout (no num row, no extra symbol keys, very similar layouts) i made the following observations:
- with the symbols & numbers on their own row, SHIFT is basically only for capital letters, which is actually a very small percent of characters. my number/symbol shift ended up moving right under my thumb.
- backspace is a surprisngly frequent keystroke ;)
- Also, enter was surprisingly infrequently hit for me.
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Unread post10 Sep 2013, 22:49

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bearcat wrote:Really awesome! Where did you get your plate made? Would love to make one of these for myself...

My neighbour made the plate at work :P
I will probably release the files once I am happy with the result. (Once I managed it to design a PCB and finish the case)
bearcat wrote:BTW, i bet you can do something better than layered acrylic for the case! :D

I'm sure I can. A friend of mine has access to a CNC machine and I may be able to get a tray made of POM CNCd there.
Would prefer stainless steel or aluminum though.
bearcat wrote:On my 48 key layout (no num row, no extra symbol keys, very similar layouts) i made the following observations:
- with the symbols & numbers on their own row, SHIFT is basically only for capital letters, which is actually a very small percent of characters. my number/symbol shift ended up moving right under my thumb.
- backspace is a surprisngly frequent keystroke ;)
- Also, enter was surprisingly infrequently hit for me.

I typed on the prototype for a few hours and since there's very little finger movement and no need to move the whole hand it was pretty easy to get used to. On the long run I'm sure I will find something that I'd like to change but for now I'm quite happy with the layout and my layers.
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Unread post12 Sep 2013, 19:55

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What an awesome Project!

You are always a step infront of me mate :D After I got used to the HHKB and the Power of having a function layers I was thinking of a 40% KB myself :)

You have build the keyboard I imagined a few weeks ago!
1. Function Keys on the "Non Spacebar Thumb"
2. 40%

Also the layout is pretty neat, I'd put the Home/End left and right from the UP Key. This makes somehow totally sense in my Brain and I use those Keys a lot! Verry good decision to swap the Home/End with PageUp/Down, I can see that you got inspired by the HHKB here :)

Love it!
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Unread post27 Sep 2013, 14:20

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Hehe yeah, I definitely got the idea from my HHKB hence the name THKB :D

..But I am quite busy atm with school and work. I still didn't have enough time to learn how to and design a PCB for it :?
I really want to step up and make this the keyboard that I want it to be :mrgreen:
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Unread post27 Sep 2013, 15:48

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PCBs are for pussies! Or production runs, really. Hand wired works just as well and is still hackable even once it's finished. It's the case you nee to work on. I'd put some layers together there too!
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Unread post28 Sep 2013, 09:59

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Amazing project, neO! And I love the montage that Mu put together. This reminds me of particle physics, or perhaps modern stem cell biology. Or even existential philosophy. What is the ultimate atom or quark of the keyboard? Will someone reduce the keyboard to a single pluripotent switch? What will be the thoughts running through the controller of the incredible shrinking keyboard? I refer you to the closing soliloquy of The Incredible Shrinking Man:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp3iHjGBfT4
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Unread post29 Sep 2013, 00:10

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If you were over at GH, you could call it "GHKB" for Gleeful Hacking Keyboard (being more than just "happy"). For here, it would be "Delirious Hacking Keyboard", but you don't get "DT" in there like you get "GH" in with the other initialism.
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Unread post29 Sep 2013, 21:29

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DTKB = Delicious, Tasteful Keyboard (for hackers) :?
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Unread post29 Sep 2013, 22:54

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I'd buy a kit if you'd want to do that in the future
Learning to hand wire too..would be fun
Muirium wrote:PCBs are for pussies!

:lol: :lol:
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Unread post29 Sep 2013, 23:05

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I guess I really should go back to my previous plan to make the first one without a PCB...
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Unread post29 Sep 2013, 23:15

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ne0phyte wrote:I guess I really should go back to my previous plan to make the first one without a PCB...

If you need a PCB designing, I can draw it out of you have the schematic you require. What size is the keyboard? The larger the PCB the more expensive it is. There are a number of sites offering reasonably priced PCBs.

I was looking at a symmetrical design which would use two identical PCBs linked together, with the Teensy mounted on only one of the boards. I'm working on a 13 key chording keyboard, and was looking to use two for faster typing...

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Unread post30 Sep 2013, 00:03

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The PCB is roughly 24x8cm... but that's without dedicated space for the teensy. I want to keep it as small as possible but I don't know if what I planned is possible:
I thought about using pin headers to mount the teensy between the switches but I didn't check if that would fit, yet.

What do you use to design the PCB? Eagle? KiCad?
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Unread post30 Sep 2013, 00:22

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ne0phyte wrote:The PCB is roughly 24x8cm... but that's without dedicated space for the teensy. I want to keep it as small as possible but I don't know if what I planned is possible:
I thought about using pin headers to mount the teensy between the switches but I didn't check if that would fit, yet.

What do you use to design the PCB? Eagle? KiCad?

I use Easy-PC as part of my job. It's a low/medium end commercial package which creates standard Gerber files for PCB production.

I've attached a picture of my latest project - it uses 9 1x1 and 4 1x2, with the option to replace the two inboard 1x2 switches with for 1x1 switches (Hence the multitude of pins on that area as it is showing all the switches at the same time). I've also made it fit a 10cm by 10cm PCB to keep the cost down.

There is a chance of mounting the Teensy under the keys - as the pin spacing is 15,24mm, but it would be tight. My current design does not do this as I want it to sit as low to the table as possible. I've also used diode switches, even though they are not needed for increase mechanical strength. I have a smaller version with the Teensy Embedded beneath, but it would lift it off the table more...

I found a source for 10x10cm boards, which are $24 for 10! I was going to pull the trigger after I've added a little stuff (joystick, mode LEDs, etc) to the spare pins Teensy pins. Five 24x8cm PCBs would be $78.40 plus shipping.

Edit: Image removed to prevent hijacking the thread...
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Unread post30 Sep 2013, 00:58

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After losing the CAD files I stopped working on this for months but yesterday I decided to remake the design.
Beside the mount plate I decided to also learn how to make a PCB with KiCad.

My plan is to put the teensy on header pins and leave a slit/hole for pcb and mini usb port out.
Since I've never made a PCB before and plate+PCB took me almost two whole days I could really use some feedback from someone who made a PCB before.
- Do you think it's possible to mount the teensy like that?
- Does the PCB look okay?

First layer
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Plate
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PCB
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Unread post02 May 2014, 16:54

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