Christmas Time! A Split Mechanical Keyboard, You Can Build Yourself! 🎅

Ferris split keyboard courtesy of Pierre Viseu Chevalier

What skills do you need to create one of these beauties?

  1. Designing and Printing a PCB (Printed Circuit Board)
  2. Buying and Assembling the electronic components
  3. Designing and manufacturing the casing to protect the electronic and look event cooler 😎.

I) Designing and Printing a PCB

Ferries Sweep PCB courtesy of Pierre Viseu Chevalier, David Barr, Ibnu Daru Aji, Duccio
  • 1) You create a case and mechanically attach the key switches to the case and solder cables between the switches.
  • 2) Print a PCB and solder the keys and other components.

I.1) Choosing the layout

Me printing the layout of a Corne

I.2) Designing the PCB

Sweepv2.1 in KiCad Gerber Viewer
  • *.xln is the Drill layer, = Where to make holes.
  • *.gm1 the board Edges = how to cut the PCB to detached from the mainboard.
  • *B_Cu.gbl and *F_Cu.gtl are the front and back copper layer = where to print copper wire to create connectivity.
  • *B_Mask.gts and *F_Mask.gbs are the back and front solder masks = was to print the protective layer on top of the copper layer. This layer is ofter green and gives there distinctive color to the PCB. Luckily more colors are available 😉.
  • *B_Silk.gbo and *F_Silk.gto are the back and front silkscreen = the decorative prints on top of the solder masks, usually used to write references dor the component to solder.

II) Choosing the components

II.1) Choosing the switches

  • Clicky switches are the noisy ones. The typical switches you associate with a mechanical keyboard give you this satisfying click sound at the end of a stroke.
  • Tactile switches are not as noisy but give you tactile feedback when you press the key.
  • Linear switches are more and more common and provide no feedback or noise as you type, design for a smooth and soothing typing experience.
Types of mechanical switches
High Profile vs. Low Profile courtesy of u/songcq
Circuit Board Layout for Keith Choc Blue

II.2) Choosing the keycaps

Fun Keycaps for Mechanical Keyboard from Etsy
Me searching for 3D Models on Yeggi

II.3) Choosing the micro-controller

  • Pro Micro most common microcontroller board, you are bringing Arduino’s power to your board.
  • Elite-C higher-end microcontroller, ideal if you plan to add features over time.
  • Nice!nano if you want to create a vluthouth keyboard

II.4) Extra designed feature you may want to consider

  • Socket for the microcontroller board. Let's say you want to convert the keyboard into a wireless keyboard later socket would allow you to
Socket for the microcontroller board
Socket for the microcontroller board
  • Hot-swappable key switches socket. This would allow you to change the key switches at will and prevent you from having to solder the key switches to the board
Kailh Hot-Swap Sockets courtesy of u/davenelsondotcom
  • RGB LEDs. Just to make things fancy
Corne Split Keyboard from crkbd
  • OLED Arduino module. So you can have on the keyboard display
OLED Arduino module
  • Tenting support. Tenting consist of adding some inclination to the keyboard so your wrists have a more natural position
Split keyboard with Tenting

III) Designing the case

Corne Technician Keyboard Case from littlekeyboards.com

Where to get all the parts?

Conclusion

References

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