Work From Hoth Battlestation


Untitled

Due to a pretty gnarly blizzard in my area today, the office was closed. Mind you, I wasn’t clever enough to check my work email before I drove to the office, so I rolled up at 9AM to find no cars there. Back to the apartment I went.

Sadly, there is no rest for the wicked…err…those with laptops I mean - so I’ll spend the day manning the Help Desk phone from work. Typically each tech only works the phone 2 hours a day, but we’re expected to man it for the whole 8 hours when working from home.

So until 5:30 this work-from-hoth Battle Station will be fully operational.


Typed on Planck

Alert my Star Destroyer to prepare for my arrival


http://imgur.com/XzriSis.jpg

A month ago I was fortunate enough to get in on the very short (a matter of hours) group buy on Massdrop for the Lord Vader artisan keycap. Clearly it references Darth Vader’s melted helmet as seen in The Force Awkakens. I couldn’t not have it.

The keycap, made by Geekhack’s HiddenPower is beautifully crafted. I opted for the keycap in a weathered finish. Also available were glossy, and gunmetal finishes. Only 300 of these ran in that buy. As of this writing 1511 people have requested a second drop, so I’m sure there will be another buy for these sooner rather than later.

http://imgur.com/4yNm29L.jpg

The cap is beautifully detailed and stays very true to its silver screen inspiration. It is immaculately casted of polyurethane, and allows backlighting to shine through Lord Vader’s eyes. The work here is just stellar. There has been a rash lately of artisan keycaps that are if anything, over detailed. HiddenPower brings us a cap that has fantastic detail and nuance without allowing it to become too detailed or risking a poor looking cast job. This is exceptional work.

http://imgur.com/0AGfeJw.jpg

I’m especially impressed by the casting quality for the underside of the cap. A lot of artisans’ work here looks quite rough and unfinished - not that it matters too much, as long as a cap can fit well on its mount the underside appearance is irrelevant. Despite the unimportance of it, the casting is very very well done here. I don’t think I’ve seen a small-run artisan cap that looks this good from the underside.

Backlighting

http://imgur.com/xeSrPDg

What really brings this cap alive is backlighting. While I’m typically not a fan of backlighting (it often feels overdone and useless to me) it is crucial with a cap like this.

I do have one board on hand with backlighting: a modified TG3 Data911 (albiet with most of the LEDs removed.) This cap just looks PHENOMENAL on that board.

http://imgur.com/e75Bx0a.jpg

http://imgur.com/g1VPNJX.jpg

Needless to say, I’m very pleased with this cap, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on any future works from HiddenPower.


Typed on Planck

Alps Party 60% Board #1

Build Log of my SKCM Orange Alps64

As detailed in a previous post, the first board that prompted me to become a keyboard wonk was an Apple Extended Keyboard II with white alps switches. I had the privilege to join Hasu’s round 2 Alps PCB group buy, from which I built my first custom keyboard. 

A few months ago, BlueNalgene ran a much more comprehensive group buy that included no only Hasu’s PCB, but also JDCarpe designed plates, Matias switches, and stabilizers. Of course, I already had the one 60% alps board, but given that I had a few spare donor boards lying around, I couldn’t help buy join this buy so I could build EVEN MORE awesome custom keyboards. 

For this build, I chose to use:

Build Log

Donor switches

Donor AEK Image

Here I’ve began the process of desoldering the orange switches from a donor AEK I. No doubt about it, Apple did a damn fine job assembling and soldering this board back in the 80s. It took me ages to warm up the solder on these and get them all removed. 

Given that these were well used switches, there were irregularities in among them - some were simply tactile, some had developed a click as well. I ended up sorting out the clicky from the non (just so I could have uniform switch sound). 

Prepping the plate

Hasu’s PCB ships with all the SMT components presodered (controller, various ICs), but does not have the diodes presoldered. The board is designed to use 1N4148 through-hole diodes. The diodes must be inserted, secured, the soldered. For simplicity, I choose to use tape to secure them down prior to soldering.

First rows of diodes placed.

Diodes taped down, ready for solder.

Diodes all installed.

Installing switches

For this build, I decided to run multiple switch types for the first time. 

  • Orange Alps for alphas (orange sliders)
  • A White Alps for Capslock - this was done for a distinctive feel. I would prefer a lock switch, but didn’t have one on-hand.
  • Matias Clicks (white sliders) on most row 1 mods.
  • Matias Linears (red sliders) for all other mods. 

Switches installed in the plate.

Stabs installed. So purdy.

Programming

Unlike a standard board made by an OEM, this keyboard is programmable, I can set any key to be anything I want it to be. This board runs Hasu’s TMK firmware - an excellent, widely supported programming system. While the board is only 60% in size, by programming in firmware layers, it can be set up to do anything a full sized board can do. 

I’ve gone with the following layout for this build. 

#include "keymap_common.h"

/*
 * Hasu
 */
const uint8_t PROGMEM keymaps[][MATRIX_ROWS][MATRIX_COLS] = {
/* 0: DEFAULT LAYER
 * ,-----------------------------------------------------------.
 * |Esc  |  1|  2|  3|  4|  5|  6|  7|  8|  9|  0|  -|  =|  #|Bsp|
 * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
 * |Tab  |  Q|  W|  E|  R|  T|  Y|  U|  I|  O|  P|  [|  ]|DEL  |
 * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
 * |Caps  |  A|  S|  D|  F|  G|  H|  J|  K|  L|  ;|  '|Enter   |
 * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
 * |Shft|  \|  Z|  X|  C|  V|  B|  N|  M|  ,|  .|  /|Shift |Esc|
 * |-----------------------------------------------------------'
 * |Ctrl|ALT |GUI |      Space/FN1    |FN2 |Alt |GUI |FN3/Ctrl |
 * `-----------------------------------------------------------'
 */
[0] =KEYMAP( \
    ESC, 1,   2,   3,   4,   5,   6,   7,   8,   9,   0,   MINS,EQL, NUHS, BSPC, \
    TAB, Q,   W,   E,   R,   T,   Y,   U,   I,   O,   P,   LBRC,RBRC,DEL, \
    CAPS,A,   S,   D,   F,   G,   H,   J,   K,   L,   SCLN,QUOT,ENT,  \
    LSFT,NUBS,Z,   X,   C,   V,   B,   N,   M,   COMM,DOT, SLSH,RSFT,ESC, \
    LCTL,LALT,LGUI,          FN1,                     FN2, RALT,FN3,RCTL),

  /* 0: MORGAN LAYER
  * ,-----------------------------------------------------------.
  * |GRV  |MUTE|VOLD|VOLU|MPRV|MPLY|MNXT| 7| 8| 9| 0| -| =/#|Bsp|
  * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
  * |Tab  |  Q| UP|  E|  R|  T|  Y|  U|  I|  O|  P|  [|  ]|  \  |
  * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
  * |Caps  |LEFT|DOWN|RIGHT|  F|  G|  H|  J|  K|  L|  ;|  '|Enter   |
  * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
  * |Shft|  \|  Z|  X|  C|  V|  B|  N|  M|  ,|  .|  /|Shift |Esc|
  * |-----------------------------------------------------------'
  * |Ctrl|Gui |Alt |         Space         |FN2 |Alt |GUI |Ctrl |
  * `-----------------------------------------------------------'
  */
 [1] =KEYMAP( \
     GRV,MUTE,VOLD,VOLU,MPRV,MPLY,MNXT,   7,   8,   9,   0,   MINS,PPLS, NUHS, BSPC, \
     TAB, Q,  UP,   E,HOME,   T,   Y,   4,   5,   6,PAST,   LBRC,RBRC,BSLS, \
     CAPS,LEFT,DOWN,RIGHT, END,   G,   H,   1,   2,   3,  PSLS,  QUOT,  ENT,  \
     LSFT,NUBS,Z,   X,   C,   V,   B,   N, F13,   COMM,DOT, SLSH,RSFT,ESC, \
     LCTL,TRNS,TRNS,          TRNS,                     TRNS, RALT,TRNS,TRNS),

  /* 0: DEFAULT LAYER
   * ,-----------------------------------------------------------.
   * |Esc  |  1|  2|  3|  4|  5|  6|  7|  8|  9|  0|  -|  =|  #|Bsp|
   * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
   * |Tab  |  Q|  W|  E|  R|  T|  Y|  U|  I|  O|  P|  [|  ]|DEL  |
   * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
   * |Caps  |  A|  S|  D|  F|  G|  H|  J|  K|  L|  ;|  '|Enter   |
   * |-----------------------------------------------------------|
   * |Shft|  \|  Z|  X|  FN4|  V|  B|  N|  M|  ,|  .|  /|Shift |Esc|
   * |-----------------------------------------------------------'
   * |Ctrl|ALT |GUI |      Space/FN1    |FN2 |Alt |FN3/GUI |Ctrl |
   * `-----------------------------------------------------------'
   */
  [2] =KEYMAP( \
   ESC, 1,   2,   3,   4,   5,   6,   7,   8,   9,   0,   MINS,EQL, NUHS, BSPC, \
   TAB, Q,   W,   E,   R,   T,   Y,   U,   I,   O,   P,   LBRC,RBRC,DEL, \
   CAPS,A,   S,   D,   F,   G,   H,   J,   K,   L,   SCLN,QUOT,ENT,  \
   LSFT,NUBS,Z,   X,   FN4,   V,   B,   N,   M,   COMM,DOT, SLSH,RSFT,ESC, \
   LCTL,LALT,LGUI,          TRNS,                     TRNS, RALT,TRNS,TRNS),

};


/* id for user defined function/macro */
enum function_id {
    NONE,
};

enum macro_id {
    COPY_TAB_PASTE,
};


/*
 * Fn action definition
 */
const uint16_t PROGMEM fn_actions[] = {
    [0]  = ACTION_LAYER_MOMENTARY(1),                  // Default
    [1]  = ACTION_LAYER_TAP_KEY(1, KC_SPC),            // MORGAN LAYER
    [2]  = ACTION_LAYER_TOGGLE(1),
    [3]  = ACTION_LAYER_MOMENTARY(2),                  // CMD Layer
    [4]  = ACTION_MACRO(COPY_TAB_PASTE),               // Copy tab paste in browser
};


/*
 * Macro definition
 */
const macro_t *action_get_macro(keyrecord_t *record, uint8_t id, uint8_t opt)
{
    switch (id) {
        case COPY_TAB_PASTE:
            return (record->event.pressed ?
                    MACRO( D(LGUI), T(C), T(T), T(V), U(LGUI), T(ENT), END ) :
                    MACRO( END ) );
    }
    return MACRO_NONE;
}

Note: the Space/FN1 key - I love this setup. During normal typing, the space bar is a space bar, but when it’s held it activates the 2nd layer.  

Nearing Completion

Board installed in the Royal Glam wooden case. 

Beginning to install switches

Complete

I’m very pleased with how this board turned out. My favorite board is still my white Alps64, but I will admit that it doesn’t come anywhere close to looking as great as this board does. I’ve been running the orange Alps64 as my daily driver for a few weeks now, and will probably continue to do so until I complete my blue Alps64. 

A note about flipped keys: you may notice the spacebar and a couple of the row 1 modifier keys are flipped around. I flip the spacebar because I am of the opinion a reversed spacebar simply feels better. The other two row 1 mod keys are flipped so that I can easily feel which is which when I’m going to the function layers. 


Typed on AEK II

My Planck Arrived!


Imgur

Nearly 6 months after the group buy on Massdrop ended, my Planck has finally arrived!

Anodized purple plate, Planck PCB, Universal Plate.

The case looks especially gorgeous, ordering purple was definitely the right call.

Compared to even a 60% board, this think is tiny! I’m so excited to get it built.


Typed on White Alps64

MeowCap!


I received my KeyKollectiv MeowCap a few days ago. It’s not my first artisan keycap, but it is the first one I’ve purchased. I’m such a cat lover that I couldn’t NOT buy it.

I’m quite happy with my decision, the keycap is ADORABLE! It’s certainly not the most detailed artisan ever, but I don’t typically go for the over-sculpted, way out there keycaps anyway. It’s got the perfect amount of detail, and the pink in the paw pads just pops. I think its permanent place will be somewhere on a dark board just to give the board some color and eye-draw.

The cap is thick and well molded, but I did experience some issues with how tight the MX mount is. Right away when putting on a board part of the mount broke off. I can certainly live with it, but I hope no other part of it breaks.
Broken MX Mount

Update

After speaking with KeyKollectiv, they’re sending me a replacement cap for the one that was damaged. I’m over the moon. You expect this sort of ‘customer’ service when dealing with a large seller or company, but to be taken care of so well by an Artisan is something else entirely. A++

Update 2

I received my replacement Meowcap yesterday (01/15/16). This time I got it mounted on a board with no issues. KeyKollectiv shipped the replacement for free, and didn’t even make me ship the old one back. I feel so well taken care of, I will definitely be buying more of their work in the future.


Typed on Orange Alps64