A long overdue update! We’ve been quite busy the past year, and have neglected to update the blog for a good while. What changed? Almost too much for a blog post, so fasten your seat belts, here we go!
We’ve held a few group buys during the past months. Here’s their status:
- The Corne-ish Zen is almost complete. The builds are being made at the time of writing. They’re likely to arrive at our shop either this month or during November, after which we can get started shipping them.
- LDSA Keycaps were an addon to the Corne-ish Zen. Most orders that had bought these separately have shipped.
- Sunset Switches were also a group buy, and are now in stock as a normal item.
- MDA Future Suzuri is being manufactured at the moment, but I haven’t received a new ETA on these.
Work in progress
The RP2040 is slowly but surely ramping up to become the new standard in controllers. As we saw the development of new boards based on this controller, we couldn’t help but think we could do it better. And so… we did!
Most controllers were lacking in a few aspects. Most of them had to do with their orientation: for manufacturing, it’s convenient to put all the components on a single side. However, in split keyboards, they’re often mounted with the component side down, which makes a few features inaccessible. We took a different approach. We applied some circuitry that allows you to both reset and enter boot mode on the controller with only a single button, making them compatible with our kits without having to reach for the second button. We’ve mounted the power and RGB status LED on the rear as well and placed them near the USB port, making them visible in most builds. Of course, they’re fully programmable, and can easily be turned on and off.
Next to that, the Liatris has a whopping 16MB (128Mbit) of flash storage. You’ll have all the space for text snippets, animations and more, so you can finally program the Tamagotchi™-like pet your keyboard always needed, or to make the next incarnation of Clippy to provide you some snide remarks while learning your new keyboard layout.
The second revision prototypes are currently in production and are due to arrive by the end of October. After testing, they’ll become available for preorder. You can learn all the tech specs on the Liatris product page.
Once upon a time, someone dreamed of a Kyria with an additional row to put their numbers on. I figured people who like numbers on their split keyboard likely also want their keyboard to come preassembled. Easy enough, I thought, let’s have at it!
Having too many ideas turned this doable project into quite the ambitious endeavor, however. We went from a keyboard based on the ATmega32u4 all the way to the current revision based on the RP2040 controller. We planned for a module system with which to add additional functionality, which went through several revisions as well. After well over a year and a half of planning, drafting, revisions, rework and more elbow grease, we finally arrived at what we hope to be the final revision of the Elora along with the Myriad module system.
We’re currently testing the final revision, and testing the modules we’ve made so far: an encoder surrounded by RGB backlight, a joystick, a tiny 4-key macropad with RGB LEDs and two breakout boards. Once it has the all-clear, we’ll go reveal more and open up preorders!
I’ve been a vendor for quite a while now: three years! During that time, we’ve mostly sold the Kyria. Other popular boards existed, including open source ones, and I’ve received requests to stock these as well. After a long time of contemplating, we made a plan: we’ll redesign popular keyboards, and rework them to comply with a set of standards we’ve come up with. By having all keyboards look and function the same, we’ll be able to stock all parts for it efficiently and will be able to offer much better and consistent technical support, all while having an often better feature set as well.
Designing the standards and reworking the keyboards proved to be quite a job, one that we’ve worked on for over a year with multiple people. I’m glad to say that we’re nearing the final stages of the project.
Every kit comes in three flavours: Choc hotswap (MX-spaced), MX hotswap, and hand-solderable with support for both MX and Choc low profile switches. Every kit has the same feature set, and supports per-key RGB, RGB underglow, one or more rotary encoders, OLED displays, a power switch and JST jack (on most kits) and tenting puck support. Quite the list!
For each board, we’ll donate €1 across firmware projects we support, which at the moment are QMK and ZMK. Our donations can be viewed on OpenCollective. This way, we’re contributing back to the community in a transparent way, and everyone can benefit — even people who aren’t using our kits.
We’ve just released the first board in the series: the Aurora Sweep. This is only the start: since we’ve been working on it for so long, many other boards are also nearly completed. The Aurora Corne is already in production and should arrive by the end of the month. The full lineup by the end of the year should be:
- Aurora Sweep
- Aurora Corne
- Aurora Lily58
- Aurora Sofle v2
- Aurora Helix
I like to read about super-niche, small layouts, it’s cool to see the stuff the community comes up with. Typing one-handed on the go, seeing how far you can take as few keys at possible: it’s inspiring and cool to do as well! At the same time, I wanted an affordable macropad, and splitkb.com could really use a practice kit for novice solderers. Enter the Circe, a full-featured ortholinear 20-key split keyboard!
You can use it with a number of cool chord-based layouts, such as ASETNIOP, artsey.io, Taipo and Midi4text. It’s also quite usable as a macropad, with support for up to two rotary encoders and a side-facing USB and TRRS jack, you can conveniently place it angled next to your keyboard, drawing tablet or mouse. And having the same feature set as an Aurora hand-solder kit, it’s an excellent add-on if you’d like a kit to learn how to solder on as well!
The first prototype is currently in production, and if testing goes well it’ll be available for order by the end of November.
Behind the scenes
With two part-time order pickers, one full-time engineer and two part-time engineers along with myself, the shop is a little bit bigger than it was a year ago. Still, it’s a small team, and I notice I have to run quite hard to keep up. I’m hoping with the development in the past year, we’ll be able to hire an assistant to aid with purchasing, customer support and operations management to start with. Here’s to see what the next year will bring!
During the past year, we’ve started to rebuild our internal application with which we manage production tasks and order picking. This has resulted in a first version of Akpa, a warehouse management system which we also offer as Software as a Service. Next to us, there’s one other company who are trialing the system. It’s very busy at the shop right now, so I’ll keep this short - we’ll elaborate on this in the future :)
That was a lot! Since the last post a little over a year ago, we’ve grown from 3500 members on Discord to almost 6000. Thank you all for staying with us and reading along. I hope you’re liking what we’ve worked on so far, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what’s in store for the coming months and years as well.
Have a great day and see you next time!