Building my ergodox

In this post I give a short description of how I built my ergodox:

Sourcing parts

All and all the cost was around $170 without a case.

Build process

I basically followed the assembly instructions on the massdrop website. I also watched a few youtube videos, but I didn’t find them helpful in general. The massdrop site had all I needed.

I haven’t soldered in since I was at school, so I watched this series of youtube videos on proper soldering technique which was pretty useful.

I bought a cheap soldering iron for about $9. Even thought the auzzy in the video took great exception to this kind of iron, it did the job for me.

I used through-hole diodes instead of the surface mounted diodes shipped with massdrop kits. Reading the forums, I now think this was a good idea. Lots of people have difficulty doing the surface mounted soldering. The through-hole diodes was also quite a bit cheaper than the surface mounted diodes. I couldn’t find a proper picture of a through-hole mounted diode anywhere, so here is an amateur attempt. The cathode (side with the line) goes into the square pad. You should also use the bottom most pads, otherwise your soldering welds will interfere with the key switches.

I bought PCB mounted switches. I wanted to build by own case, and did not want to bother with plate mounting. The PCB I bought supported this, but apparently older iterations of the PCB did not. (You need to look for two holes on either side of the center hole where the key switch will sit) Only time will tell if this was a good decision.

Case

I did not like the PVC cases available from Massdrop and Mechanical Keyboards. The case that I really liked is produced by Falbatech which is based in Europe. You could buy it through ebay, but shipping to the US was pretty expensive, so I decided to go for a home grown solution. A friend of mine helped me to fashion a case from oak. He had some scrap wood after redoing his stairs. We used a rotor to sink the PCB into the wood.

Layout

One of the major reasons I chose Ergodox was for the fully customizable firmware. I have been using the Dvorak layout for a few years, and have grown tired of not having Dvorak available on machines that I do not own. Now I can simply plug in my Ergodox and start typing.

I used the massdrop layout configurator to help me visualize my layout. I would then export the result, and commit it into the firmware directory of this repository.

My primary concerns were:

Here is what I came up with.

Problems

My Ergodox build generally went smoothly. I only really had one problem which caused me a day of grief. Make sure you have a TRRS cable. Typical male-male plugs used for stereo equipment is TRS, and this will not work with the ergodox.

You can see the detailed description here.

Photos

PCB with the diodes soldered onto the bottom side

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Close up of diodes

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Key switches soldered on

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IO expander + ceramic capacitor

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Teensy with USB pass-through

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TRRS connector with wires shorted out

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Key caps from signature plastics

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Case

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Typing

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