London, UK
Software Engineer
Biker

I'm trying to write more. Maybe this will help?

I built a new keyboard

I love building keyboards, here's my new Planck

I built a new keyboard

Today the final components arrived for my keyboard build! I've been waiting on these for quite a long time, as some were custom made + all came from abroad. This isn't actually my first Planck build - the first was lost to a spilled energy drink.

If you're new to mechanical keyboards, a Planck is a "40%" keyboard. It is very small, with only 48 keys. The lack of keys is made up for by having extra layers! For example, the "q" key can function as a "q", a "Q", a "!" and a "1". That's shift+q, lower+q, and raise+q.

It was originally designed by Jack Humbert, and you can buy components from OLKB (many places stock components though). If the Planck is too small for you, there's a Preonic as well - it's a little larger. Other than the size, the other selling point is that all the keys are arranged in a grid. I guess this is either something you love, or something that you hate. I actually tried an ErgoDox for a while, but I think that the Ortholinear layout is something that I prefer.

It runs the QMK firmware, and is totally reflashable. So, if you want a different layout, or some other functionality that doesn't yet exist, it's easy. So long as you can write C, anyway

Some pictures here will be relevant to the writing, some will just be photos I like

The first thing I had arrive was the PCB. I ordered it from UK Keycaps, as it was in stock and had fast shipping!

After that was the case/box. That came from Datamancer, and is made of Walnut. I went for the taller case, as I like SA-profile keycaps. It took a little while to arrive, but I'm very very happy with the quality. The bottom and top are lined with magnets on the inner edges, so the lid "snaps" into place! It also dual functions as a wrist rest, thanks to some more magnets.

The case, closed. Note the magnets on the lower edge

Otherwise, I went for Halo True switches. This was a bit of a gamble, as I've never used Topre switches (supposedly similar) and I normally go for either MX Clears, Zealio, or something similar. I love them!

I was very tempted to order something nice and clicky, but seeing as I'm planning on carrying this board around with me (hence the size), I didn't think people in coffee shops would appreciate the clicky-clacky as much as I do.

The cool thing with the latest Planck PCB, is that the switches are hot swappable. Maybe sometime in the future I'll want to try something new, and that's totally doable and wouldn't even take very long.

I also needed a top plate. Originally I was going to order from OLKB, but there's a pretty large waiting list/delay over there. I was also considering getting one made from something other than steel.

I ended up ordering from Laserboost, and went for a shiny brass plate. I was pretty torn between brass and copper, but definitely don't regret my decision

Top plate, with switches in place

Finally... the keycaps! I've ordered from Pimp My Keyboard before and been very happy, so I thought I'd do so again. I ended up going for SA 1976, and I'm very happy with my choice. The keys feel solid, I like the colours, and I think it matches the walnut finish of the case pretty well too.

I actually use this on top of my laptop keyboard, with the internal keyboard disabled. That way I'm not tethered to a desk, but I still get a nice keyboard :D

If you have any questions for me, or just want to say hi, I'm @elliebike on Twitter! Otherwise, "ellie at <THIS DOMAIN>"