Hi everyone! Alexatpanc here! Shensmobile and a few other folks have been kicking the tires on a new ortholinear layout in a 60% form factor. We’ve been posting pics of it around as much as we can without making people people sick of seeing it, and have been experimenting with layouts and designs, and Shens has landed on what he thinks is the winning combination.
Now, we are looking for some feedback from the community to see how best we can get these out to the community. There was a lot of R&D that went into this layout and accompanying options, so we’d like to get your opinions of what you’d like to see in a prospective group buy.
The PCB: Boardwalk - Formerly Known as Ergo60
The original name for the PCB was chosen because of the usage of Ergodox mods and its ability to fit into the 60% cases. However, split ergonomic keyboards tend to use the name Ergo##. Rather than cause any confusion with the name and getting mixed up with other ergonomic keyboards, we settled on the name “Boardwalk.” It’s a more distinct name, and will hopefully make it stand out a bit!
The design hasn’t changed much as people seem to be happy using the existing layouts, but there were a few pieces of criticism that we were able to address. The first issue was that while the Boardwalk uses most of an Ergodox keycap set, the center column (in the default layout) is not supported with most Ergodox keycap sets. The Ergodox uses an inner column of 1.5u caps, not 1u. The solution? Add Ergodox inner column support. This allows the keyboard to be completely coverable with base + Ergodox kit alone. If you prefer 1u instead of 1.5u on the inner column for more buttons or for aesthetics, it’s still an option, but both are available now.
Another 1.5u position was also added on the bottom row so that no 1.25u mods are required at all in the arrow layout. While 1.25u will still be necessary to use a 6.25u spacebar, you can now use 1.5u/1u/2u for the bottom row with arrows. Either for compatibility, or for reducing the amount of keycap staggering, I think this will be a welcome change.
See new layouts here. (I’ve also tried to make the diagram easier to follow).
Things left to do:
- By popular demand, switch to USB-C
- Remove the through-hole diode holes as everything will be pre-assembled SMT
- Reroute traces
- Decide on black or white silkscreen
- Order release candidate PCB’s for testing prior to GB
Extra PCBs can be purchased independent of a full-kit purchase.
The Case - Campine mk.IV - Built around the new PCB
The case is going to be a milled aluminum top-mount frame design with a middle acrylic diffuser and a milled aluminum angled base. The full build should be around 3.5 lbs fully assembled. As with the Campine mk.III, the case can be assembled with or without the diffuser, and the aluminum parts will be powdercoated. There will not be a flat-base option for this GB due to price concerns. There will be options for both HHKB-style blocker layout, and a standard layout.
Note that unlike the Campine mk.III floorplate, the milled angled base here will not have exposed mountpoints for the plate/PCB. since that feature is not necessary with this design. The plate will mount to the top at eight points, and there will be two mount points in the approximate center. Both will be threaded. One will be in the correct location for the standard 60% layouts, and the other will be in a neutral location for the Boardwalk PCB. The points will be threaded so a standoff can be screwed into either. One will allow standard 60% PCBs to be secured in the middle and provide stability, the other provide the same function to the Boardwalk, but will not be screwed through the PCB.
The Extras - A keyset to support the layout
Shensmobile and I have been discussing the possibility of including a keyset as a group buy option. Currently, GMK Space Cadet’s Assembly kit supports the default layout very well, but for those that don’t want to go in on that GB, or people that prefer a different colorway, we wanted to give them the ability to pick up caps that would support the layout right out of the box. We have been toying with a kit like this, in a simple WoB colorway. We want to make sure we can get the keyset quickly, so we are looking at DSA/DCS/OEM. Any keyset that would be provided would be an increase in price.
The proposed kit is still in flux, if you can see yourself using the Boardwalk, let us know if the legends we’re using will apply to you. We’re not opposed to adding some blanks to cover positions that have high variation (such as the center column for the split layout). Legended mods aren’t the most flexible but 90% of prototype testers have used very similar layouts and (Shensmobile believes) this kit will work well for the majority of users.
I’m testing out custom powder coat color combinations so that I can offer 3 custom options for this group buy. I’ll be working on and posting possible custom options as I develop them. If you have an idea, throw it out! I’d love to try out suggestions.
We are still working on getting exact pricing, but if you’re familiar with my method, I try to hit the most economical pricepoint that I can. We’re trying to get the entire kit at $400 (case + plate + PCB). We’re talking about a custom fully assembled PCB, custom metal plate, and custom milled case, with all associated hardware.
We are extremely enthusiastic about making this layout and case combo the best it can be. We are targetting a Q4 start date for the GB round. If you have any questions or input, please let us know.