The Endgame Keyboard

And… we’re back

Okay, so that was more difficult than it should’ve been. I’ve changed my web host. And for one reason only: my last host couldn’t provide a working SSL certificate. Now, I hope you all have a green lock by the URL. SSL is an encryption that makes it possible for my page to send and receive encrypted data. Pretty important if one wishes to send passwords or other sensitive stuff.

I haven’t given this site a lot of thought. I just want to publish the steps I’m taking. But it needs to be a nice reading experience. At the very least it shouldn’t throw errors. As the project progresses the web pages will be better and better too. I didn’t have a good foundation for that, but now I think I do.

Overall the build log will need some more attention. Contact forms and other stuff is in the pipeline. Meanwhile you’re more than welcome to leave comments below.

Meanwhile

Rendering of the PCB

During the downtime I’ve finished the first revision of the 65% circuit board. It’s been ordered from a manufacturer and should be in the mail any day now. More on that in a later post.

Overall, ideas are coming to fruition, giving birth to other ideas. The greatest challenge is still to maintain focus. It’s so easy to start the next step before you’ve finished the present one. And it might be as difficult to decide what the best next step is. I should make a more formal plan, but feel that planning could be a waste of valuable project time.

Still not a keyboard

If at first you fail, then fail, fail, fail, fail again. Every step takes you closer to your goal. I still have no keyboards to show you, but I’m working pretty hard at it.

Outlining a circuit board

I decided to focus on just one thing, and I chose the PCB. I use KiCad to first make a schematic, and then to plot the actual board. It’s actually really fun, but I’m not very good at it.

The other night I realized I’d made a pretty big mistake. So in stead of ordering prototype boards I ended up unravelling the mess of connections I’d created. And today I’m starting all over again. Well, not really. I’ve gotten past square one (and thirteen), so the switch layout is fitted on the board. That’s something.

I’m not sure deciding on just this one thing is the best way of moving the project forward? I should at least solder the first board up, using just diodes and a small control unit. It’s just that I need to order parts and boards, and should probably expect a lead time of several weeks. So I’ll design first and solder the prototype up while I wait for delivery. Seems a little counter-intuitive, but there it is.

The webpage

This home page needs a little love too. You should be able to browse the posts a little easier. I need a contact form and so on. Hopefully you’ll just notice the improvements as they’re launched.

Parallel lines

I’m not blogging that much, am I? Now why is that? Could it be that I’ve given up on this idea already? Have I realized that this is beyond me? Alas, no. I’m still working on this monster of an idea. In fact I’m working so hard (when I have the time) that blogging isn’t a priority at all.

Red Matias switches

I’m doing this on my (limited) spare time. This is not, I repeat not, a full time pursuit. Even if it should be. Hence the lack of updates

So what am I doing? I’m working three parallel lines; case design, pcb design and prototyping. And even though things are going well, it’s hard to focus enough on any one thing at a time. Everything depends on everything else. If I change the pcb, I need to change the case; the plate, mounting holes. The works.

My focus right now

Designing circuit board in KiCad

I’m trying to create a perfect circuit board. It needs to do everything I want it to do, obviously. It needs to be compatible with the QMK firmware. And I want it to be modular, so I can use the same basic design for several keyboard sizes. I’m still working mainly on the 65% layout. Figuring as this is the largest I’ll go to begin with, I should make it first because omitting a few columns later on won’t be as difficult as adding a couple.

And then there’s prototyping showing me what doesn’t work. And a few things that do. And so I go back to changing the pcb.

What I’ve learned

  • I’ve realized that the basis of a good design is the circuit board. I can fit it into any design, in fact I’m retrofitting it to match existing cases, but it’s so much better to base the case design on the pcb.
  • The design process is a back and forth.
  • Every iteration of any component makes this a better keyboard. It’s the Endgame I’m after.

I’ll get back to you soon. Hopefully with something a bit more tangible.