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Parameterized ergonomic keyboard
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README.md

Dactyl Marshmallow

The Dactyl is a parameterized, split-hand, concave, columnar, ergonomic keyboard, originally written by Matt Adereth. See his README for general info. Here's what's different about mine:

  • The whole thing is split into pieces, so you can print each piece on a printer with a smaller build volume, and in a couple of hours not a dozen.
  • An extra column for duplicate "y" and "b" keys. This comes at the expense of one of the thumb keys.
  • Round, marshmallowy sides and bottom, in contrast to adereth's minimalist squarish shape.
  • (In theory) more configurability, like for different numbers of rows and columns. The thumb is still kind of hardcoded, and there are still hacks.

A rendering of the whole keyboard, assembled


The whole right hand of the keyboard, exploded view

Making one of your own

The keyboard is written as a Clojure program, which emits OpenSCAD code, and as some lower-level OpenSCAD code. Unlike in the original repository, I don't tend to keep the .scad and .stl files emitted by the program in the repository and downloadable. Maybe once I get to 1.0.

Setting up a build environment

Building the design

  • Run lein repl
  • Load the file (load-file "src/dactyl_keyboard/dactyl.clj")
  • This will generate the things/*.scad files
  • In the things directory, make -k -j8 (it is a GNU makefile). This will build the .stl files - and take a half an hour, likely.

Iterating

  • Have an .scad file open in OpenSCAD.
  • Have this command running: sh editloop.sh --no-fstl src/dactyl_keyboard/dactyl.clj dactyl-blank-all
  • Make changes to the design, save files, watch as everything is rerun.

There are faster things you can do (keep the REPL open, and do the (load-file) again), and nicer things (CIDER), but this way works for me and I left it at that.

You can change the definitions of skip-tags and emit-tags in dactyl.clj to avoid creating some outputs. This can save time if you are iterating on a part and not the whole keyboard. The keywords you can put in are just below, in make-filename. For example, to avoid emitting the left half, change the definition of skip-tags to:

(def skip-tags #{:left})

Printing

Filename convention:

[object]-[lr]-[part][piece].stl

e.g.
dm-l-bot01.stl

dm stands for Dactyl Marshmallow. lr is l for the left hand, r for the right. Parts are bot for bottom, sid for sides, fra for frame, and screw-hole-top. File names are short so you can tell them apart on a small LCD display such as you may have on your 3D printer. There may not be .stl files for every numbered piece of the bot part; this is ok. Print one of each piece, and ten screw-hole-tops. (Don't print debug-* files.) Print also a teensy-holder-a and a teensy-holder-b.

Put your controller into the holder, put the two holder pieces together, and contrive to hold them that way, likely by gluing, but maybe temporarily with a rubber band. You may not want to stick the controller in permanently until after you've soldered the wires onto it.

Numbered pieces of each dm part should be glued together. To glue the bottom, tie pieces together with fishing line, and hold tight while applying Sci-Grip 4 (acrylic weld, with dichloromethane, danger, read safety directions) or liquid cyanoacrylate. To glue the frame, use spring clamps while applying very thin glue such as the foregoing.

Press threaded inserts into the ten screw hole tops using a soldering iron. Then glue them onto the waffly bits on top of the bot part. Glue the legs on the bottom.

Press a threaded insert into the screw hole in the bottom of one of the frame pieces. This is where the teensy-holder screws in.

Install the connectors into the sides pieces. The USB extension just screws on; the RJ-11... who knows. Glue?

Once you've installed keyswitches into the frame, done your wiring, and soldered the wires to the controller, you can screw the frame to the bottom. Then maybe it's a good time to glue the sides on. Figure out how you are going to get the last piece in place with all the other ones already glued, before you start gluing.

This is how I imagine it all goes together. I've still never gotten all the pieces printed yet! I keep making little changes.

License

Copyright © 2015, 2018 Matthew Adereth and Jared Jennings

The source code for generating the models (everything excluding the things/ and resources/ directories is distributed under the GNU AFFERO GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 3. The generated models and PCB designs are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License Version 4.0.

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