Dactyl Manuform Mini DIY Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard Build Log [Updated Jan 2019] | beekeeb experimental ergonomic keyboards

Dactyl Manuform Mini DIY Ergonomic Mechanical Keyboard Build Log [Updated Jan 2019]

dactyl manuform mini keyboard

This is the first custom mechanical keyboard I built for others. I was very lucky to receive this order while I was selling another keyboard on a Japanese marketplace app, Mercari.

There’re several changes based on the original Dactyl-Manuform. A subset of the standard ErgoDox keycaps can be used. The source code can be found on GitHub.

Tools

tools

Case

keyboard case

The case was printed by an industrial SLA printer at 100 microns, with ABS-like UV curable resin.

case outside
case inside

The original dactyl manuform is designed to be FDM friendly, commonly printed with PLA with 5mm thickness. For this print, the case is very sturdy with just 2mm thickness.

Sanding

Tamiya Finishing Wet/Dry Sandpaper

The sanding paper used was Tamiya Finishing Abrasives (タミヤ フィニッシングペーパー 細目セット). At this stage, 400 and 600 grit wet sanding were performed.

Priming

primed case

GSI Creos Mr. Surfacer 500 spray (Mr.サーフエーサー 500 スプレー) was used as a primer/surfacer. 3 layers were sprayed. Between each spray, 600 and 1000 grit wet sanding paper were performed.

Painting

painted case
painted case

Asahipen black water-based spray (アサヒペン 水性多用途スプレー [300mL ツヤ消し黒]) is used. A great priming and spraying tutorial can be found on the Asahipen website.

Threaded Inserts

threaded inserts

I used Tappex® brass self-tapping thread inserts 145M3. Heat-set threaded inserts cannot be used in resin 3D prints. A hex socket screw, instead of a Phillips screw, should be used.

Key Switches

key switch
key switch

The original design uses 14.4mm for the switch holes. I’ve changed it to 14.1mm. The sidenubs can hold the Zealios 67g switches firmly, without using hot glues. Cherry MX, Zealios and other Gateron switches can also be used. If you use Kailh, Outemu, or other switches, remove the sidenubs from the 3D Model, and use hot glues.

key switch

I removed the legs of the two middle switches, so that we can keep the overall keyboard height low.

key switch
key switch

Wires and diodes

stripping wires

50mm 26 AWG UL 3239 silicone wrapped 200°C lead wires are used. PVC wrapped wires (80°C) are not recommended because they are easy to melt.

diode
diode

Bending the diodes in batch speeds things up!

Wiring the matrix

loop
loop

In the left photo, a hook or a loop is formed around the connection to the switch. This makes the connection between the diodes and the switches stronger physically. In the right photo, the same idea applies to the connections between the wire matrix and the diodes.

Wiring the Arduino Pro Micro to the matrix and components

Wires to the Pro Micro

The pro micro is connected to the TRRS jack. A usb breakout board and a usb extension cable are used.

Final steps

A PMMA (acrylic) bottom plate with 3mm thickness is used. Flat-head screws are chosen for simplicity. Alternatively counter-sink screws can be used.

Finally, a two-color ErgoDox keycap set is used.

Reference for makers

If you want to make your own, you can get the case and bottom plate below.

Keyboard Case Option 1: Order from Shapeway

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/beekeeb

Keyboard Case Option 2: Download STL files

Download 3D printing files

You can find a 3D printing service such as 3D Hubs, or print it by your own 3D printer.

Bottom Plate

Download laser cutting files

Use 3mm acrylic plates at ponoko, or any other laser cutting providers.

If you’re building this keyboard or if you have any questions, please let me know!


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