EDIT 03/09/22: The macropad is now available for sale at different vendors, see https://fkcaps.com/products/0xC.pad for vendors list, specs and gallery!
Innovation and creativity are the two things that make this hobby fun and ever evolving. This project combines both, and aims to create something unique that hasn’t been done before. It is literally the definition of thinking out-of-the-box, drifting away from the usual square keycap shape to another polygon.
Here started the 0xPROJECT - a new range of keyboards/macropads specifically designed for hexagonal keycaps. We’ll refer to the latter as the HEX profile.
The first compatible PCB will be the 0xC.pad, a 12-key macropad, as the name suggests. Group Buy will be announced soon (leave your email in the IC form to stay updated), and if it receives enough support, it will lead the way for other hexagonal keyboards in various shapes and sizes. Once the design is proven and the keycaps are out, we will also provide the specs so that other PCB designers can give it a go.
s-ol originally conceived this design for his own hybrid music/typing keyboard (a split version, with 2 possible usage angles, one for music and one for typing), but it became obvious that there were many other uses. But to keep it simple for a first step, we decided to go for a macropad. Even so, there were so many cool shapes we could think of, but after a lot of consideration we decided on the following design for the debut:
The name is based on their number of keys, but in hexadecimal. If there is enough interest we may add other shapes to this GB (let us know your opinion in the IC form) but our goal for now is mainly to fund the keycaps molds so they may be available for any other project created in the community. We have already opened a dedicated channel in the Low Profile Discord server, you may reach out and join us there for more regular updates and to discuss your ideas and suggestions.
[list]12x Kail Choc switches[/list]
[list]per-key RGB backlighting[/list]
[list]integrated ATMega32U2 MCU[/list]
[list]onboard, through hole USB-C w/ ESD protection[/list]
[list]shielded case and plate[/list]
The PCBs are powered by an onboard ATMega32U2 MCU and have the controller fully integrated in an SMT design. This way we could keep the shape small and clean while also making sure the macropad remains thin and sits well on your desk.
Since soldering SMT components can be quite hard, all PCBs will come pre-assembled with only the switches left to solder yourself. If there is interest, we can also offer fully built units.
Per-key RGB backlighting is built in. Animations can be defined via QMK.
For those that want to dive in a bit deeper, four exposed GPIO pins as well as the LED signal (compatible with WS2812/SK6812 LED strips) are exposed near the board edge for any experiments you may have in mind
QMK support has been fully tested and the keyboard will be available in the configurator. The RGB_MATRIX feature is available for key-reactive RGB effects.
The firmware can be updated via the ESD protected USB-C port as expected. The USB-C port is mounted using four through-hole pads and two plastic stabilizers to stand up to some serious use.
The case and plate are machined out of Aluminum with a sandblasted finish and feature rubber feet to stay steadily on your desk. To protect and shield the electronics, they are grounded to the USB shield as well.
Hexagonal keycaps have a different spacing than standard square/rectangular ones, and to fill a layout, the layout needs to be designed accordingly. For that reason they won’t be compatible with existing PCBs. Their stems fit in the widely used Kailh low profile choc switches that are already available in a variety of interesting options, that will make the 0x boards much thinner than your usual keyboard/macropad.
To work together with the LED Backlighting, they will be produced in milky-white translucent ABS, which lets LED light through in a nice diffuse way, to allow some RGB goodness to happen underneath. We might do a legended version in the future if there is interest.
An interesting feature of the hex shape is that rotating the macropad by 90 (or 30) degrees turns the row-stagger into a column-stagger, enabling different use cases.
Rotating 30° = switch from row to column stagger
The keycap itself has a comfy spherical scoop with soft edges inclined inwards. It has been tested and approved on resin cast prototypes.
First working prototype (w/ CNCed POM keycaps)
Please submit the interest check form to make this happen!