Introducing our first fully functional prototype, the Anoop. An enhanced numpad with a thumb key, crafted from cherry and walnut (and that polycarbonate I found sitting around the makerspace).
(If you missed it, check out the Welcome post for a little background.)
It all began with a crazy idea to make a keyboard with Cherry MX mechanical key switches, out of wood. Not just a case, or even a frame, but the keycaps too. I like the chiclet keyboard on my MacBook and a few others that I have owned, and I decided those would be simpler to build than typical profiles.
I knew building a full keyboard would be a huge endeavor, so I decided to start small. The first prototype I made was meant to be a key tester. I made sure to put at least one of each keycap size I would use on the full board.
The cut didn’t go so well. I had the depth set wrong, so it didn’t cut all the way through the case. The feed rate was way to high, so the holes were too small for the switches. When I cut the keys the depth was wrong again—the other way, and they didn’t hold together. Most of them just went flying off, but one got stuck on the bit when cutting out the keystems. Luckily I got that mayhem on video.
Even with the disastrous results, the keycaps went on well enough to make me think it just might work.
Around that time, I decided that instead of just a key tester, I wanted to build a full numpad/10-key. I saw a design on Amazon that had an extra key for your thumb and latched onto that.
Since every good project needs a name, a quick Google search turned up Behind the Name. One of the first names to pop up was “Anoop”. Thus, the new project was christened.
After many hours of CAD work in Fusion 360 (and some cool renders like the one at the top of the page), it was time to cut the first version on the CNC.
The case turned out great. This was my first attempt at a two sided cut, and it worked flawlessly. I’ll have to do a writeup on that process soon.
Some quick work with the flush cut saw…
…and the case was free.
I did some rough cleanup on the belt sander around the outside edges, but other than that very little sanding was required. I could certainly smooth out all of the tool marks and buff it to a shine, but this is a prototype after all.
For this build, I picked up some cheap Cherry MX red clones over on Banggood.
Test fitting the key switches revealed the first problem. The width of the holes was just big enough, but the corners were rounded off too much for the keys to fit in the 1u slots.
The solution was simple enough, just clip off the corners.
It was very satisfying to see all of the switches neatly arranged in their sockets.
And from the back side. Here you can see the brass threaded inserts in the four corners. Those will be used later to hold on the back cover.
Now on to the fun part. It probably took 2-3 hours to wire this up. I definitely got faster as I went, but this was enough to know I don’t want to do a full keyboard this way.
Finally, with everything wired up to the Teensy.
The moment of truth…
I settled on QMK for the firmware. After a few tries getting the rows and columns mapped right (I swapped some of the wires when hooking it up), I got it programmed and working properly. Here’s my current layout:
Next up, the keycaps… (several are done, as you can see above, but I will have to write about them later).