August 4, 2016

Purple 60% build and flash

Turns out that the 40% keyboard layout was just a bit too minimal for me to fully adopt in personal and work use. This is my venture into building the next logical step up in size - a 60% keyboard.

Bill of materials

Purple Tex aluminum case
Purple Sentraq 60% plate
GH60 Satan PCB
Cherry PCB mount stabilizers (4 2u, 1 6.25u)
Switches (61 78g Zealios)
EnjoyPBT keycaps
SIP sockets (122)
Purple 2x3x4 LEDs (61)

Everything laid out with the stabilizers in place on the PCB - I opted for the aluminum case over the frosted plastic.
What I am doing here is referred to as the "SIP socket mod". The idea is using SIP sockets inside of the switch in place of where one would generally put LEDs. LEDs then reside on the outside of the switch with their legs slid into the SIP sockets. This allows for opening of switch tops as well as swapping out LEDs without a need to desolder anything.
Plate / PCB populated with switches
Switches soldered to the PCB
SIP sockets soldered and LEDs dropped in to confirm that my soldering is good and that the LEDs arrived functional
A few glamour shots before we get into the software side of things.

This keyboard is going to run a modified version of QMK and the firmware will be flashed with tkg-toolkit on a machine running windows.

In order to have tkg-toolkit recognize the device while it is in bootloader mode I will have to install new drivers for my keyboard. Zadig, which is included in the tkg-toolkit will be of assistance for this.

Replacing driver -
1. Put the device in bootloader mode by pressing the button on the bottom of the PCB.
2. Run Zadig > Options > List all devices
3. From the drop down select device type - in this case my PCB has an ATmega32u4 on board
4. Replace Driver

Flashing firmware -
1. Rename your firmware .hex file to gh60-revchn.hex
2. Copy your gh60-revchn.hex into tkg-toolkit-master\common\firmware overwriting the file that currently exists there
3. Back out to the windows directory and run setup.bat, select options - 2, N, 1, 1
4. Drag and drop the gh60-revchn.hex file on top of reflash.bat and follow the prompts

March 25, 2016

Hand wiring the Atreus - a step into open source hardware

The Atreus is a mechanical keyboard designed primarily to match the shape of human hands and to be as portable as possible. It consists of 42 keys in a columnar layout and has ergonomic features similar to the Ergodox, without the split aspect and scaled down in size. These traits caught my interest for traveling so I decided to build one. I opted to hand wire my keyboard matrix as I feel that it's a bit more satisfying than populating a printed circuit board. This is my venture into the open source keyboard project by Phil Hagelberg (@technomancy) documented on github.

Bill of materials

Teensy 2.0
Switches (37 Cherry MX Clears, 5 Cherry MX blacks)
DSA profile keycaps (40 1x, 2 1.5x)
42 1N4148 diodes
Mini USB breakout board
Mini USB cable
Insulated copper wire
M3 machine screws and nuts

Case's bottom layer, switch plate and top layer after a few coats of satin polyurethane to protect the raw birch
Switch plate fully populated - Cherry MX Clears are used for alphas and Cherry MX Blacks are used for modifiers
Switches were then hot glued to the switch plate for additional support
Negative ends of the diodes soldered to the top left row of switches
Positive ends of the diodes soldered in parallel (positive to positive of the next diode in the row) to create the first row
Left side rows complete
Right side rows complete
Progress on the left side columns
Left side columns and left to right rows connected (staying positive end to positive end of the next diode in the row)
This tool helped drastically in cutting off the insulation for the column wires in the correct places
Matrix completed - the center switches are one column but members of the bottom two rows
Rows wired to the Teensy
Columns wired to the Teensy. I put together a mini USB to mini USB breakout board because I wanted a slimmer profile for the case, this allowed for omitting a layer of the wooden spacers. This also let me upgrade from an integrated cable to a detachable mini USB cable which helps make the keyboard travel a bit more elegantly.
After compiling the firmware and writing the hex file to the Teensy the Atreus is fully functional.