Bloomer Rev3 - Ergonomic TKL Replacement


#1

Hey All,

So I’ve finally had some free time to get back into keyboards so I’m working on
a new revision of the Bloomer. If you haven’t seen the existing versions and
you’re interested, here are a few links:

Anyways, the major change I’m looking to make next is to make the keyboard
wireless. Between the chimera, mitosis, redox wireless, and a few other
keyboards making wireless more popular, I feel like there’s a decent desire for
wireless options (Including my own :P) and enough other resources I’ll be able
to learn from.

That said, I’ll be removing the RGB lighting from the board as I’d imagine it
would have a pretty big impact on battery life.

Also, now that I’ve been using the previous iterations of the board for around
6 months, I plan to make a couple minor layout adjustments I think will be
positive:

  • Move Home, End, Page Up, Page down close to clusters
  • Move brackets
  • Increase keys from 87 -> 90
  • Condense the middle cluster to make room for the wireless components
  • Intentionally leave the pcb & case rectangular so that TKL wrist rests are
    compatible

Here’s a rough svg render of what the keyboard will look like:

The one thing I’m trying to do is keep all of the electrical components on the
top side of the PCB to ensure that the keys are as low profile as possible.
This is where I’m at so far but I haven’t set up any of the connections just
yet:

I’ll be trying to post my progress but it’s a bit slow going as I can only
spend a few hours here and there working on it. Hopefully within a few weeks or
so I’ll be ready to order some prototype PCBs.

-Paul


#2

So, after realizing that making the keyboard wireless is a little more involved than I had thought due to having to write the NRF firmware, I decided to continue making a new version of the Bloomer but keep it wired and shift the focus to a few other goals:

  • Move the controller to the top of the keyboard to make it lower profile
    • This also obviates the need for a separate reset switch
    • This will also make converting it to wireless easier in the future
  • Utilize all 90 keys
    • rev2 is a 15*6 matrix but only uses 87 switches
  • Improve the layout a bit by moving more keys closer to the home rows
  • Make the keyboard rectangular
    • Whether or not this is an improvement is likely subjective but I like it for a few reasons
      • TKL wrist rests are compatible
      • Designing a 3D printable case will be much simpler
      • More room on the PCB for better RGB placement

Overall I’m quite happy with how it’s turned out. Here are some renders of the PCB:

(Front)

(Back)

Because the microcontroller will sit on the top of the PCB now, there is a cutout in the switch plate to ensure it fits and then there is a small cover that will protect the controller; however, it has a hole to make the reset switch accessible.

So, the case layers look like this:

(Switch)

(Controller Riser)
20190414_174236

(Controller Cover)

(Bottom)

This design doesn’t allow for middle layers but that was actually intentional as I’m hoping to design a case that can be 3D printed or potentially even CNCed.

Time to get these all manufactured. :smile:

-Paul


#3

Just ordered 10 sets of PCBs and case components. It was worth bumping the quantities to 10 because the price reduction per piece from 5 to 10 is pretty huge from the manufacturers I chose (Pcbway and BigBlueSaw respectively). I used 1.5mm polycarbonate for the case with the exception of the riser which is 3mm acrylic.

I’ll likely build a few of them for myself and then, if I feel confident with the result, sell the rest off as kits to recover some of the manufacturing costs. I said this the last time as well but never ended up selling the extras due to issues with the RGBs shorting out because they were too close to the stainless steel bottom plate.

There also just happens to be a GB for GMK blanks right now so I put together this kit to cover the keys on the board that are either:

  • Difficult to find with the correct legend, size, and profile
  • Commonly reprogrammed

I also put in R0 because it makes the function keys much easier to press without looking down. To my knowledge, only 3 GMK sets have been made with R0 (Iris, Carbon Round 2, and TA 90)

It’s looking like the only 1u R0 color that will hit MOQ is CR so that will likely be the only color I get. It should also be the cheapest because the numbers are high enough to hit price drops and it’s also the easiest to source alphas for because Massdrop constantly sells GMK WoB.

So, only thing left to do is wait for everything to arrive (And maybe sell a few of my spare keyboards to feel better about the costs lol).

-Paul


#4

Very nice project that you have :slight_smile:

Not really for me because I’m afraid of jumping into the ortho world.
But I have a colleague that likes ortholinear keyboards and find itself limited to the number of keys of it’s Ergodox.
Also he finds the Ergodox thumb key cluster not very practical.
So he is still using it’s Truly Ergonomic for these reasons :wink:

But your design have rows for Fn keys and a key cluster in-between the two halves and it may be very interesting for him :wink:

Nice you have open sourced it already :slight_smile:

Do you have a working PCB as of now?


#5

Thanks! My original intent was to make something that was a bit more approachable than more extreme ergonomic boards like the Kinesis Advantage. I used to use an Advantage but it took almost a month to fully adapt to so I completely understand the barrier to entry. I also like having the function keys for gaming.

There is a working PCB in the repository linked in the original post but it’s for the older version of the board. I never sold the extra parts I have for that version because the materials I chose made the build process somewhat tricky and I didn’t want to pass that risk on to buyers.

I’m hoping that this next version I just ordered the materials for will address those issues but if anyone is interested in the older versions, I would be happy to provide any of the extra PCBs for just the cost of shipping.