Made a Sofle keyboard

Made a Sofle keyboard

If you've been following along, you might be asking - is this a keyboard blog now? How many more do you intend to make? How much is Big Keeb paying you‽‽

Don't worry - I'm mostly done. The prototypes and simpler keyboards were stepping stones before I dare tackle a larger project. The goal always was to have a wireless split keyboard I could easily bring with me to write on a notebook or my phone.

And it was a success! I'm typing this post on my phone, on my new keyboard. (Into Joplin of course, because Ghost still pretends phones don't exist.)

This is how it looks compared to my Moonlander:

It's smaller, lighter, and less than half the height. And wireless. That's not to say it's strictly better: it has no enclosure, it's less sturdy, no LEDs, there's no tech support, et cetera.

I plan to use the Moonlander at home and the Sofle on the go. I'm daily-driving it for now, to make sure it's actually ready and comfortable. (Tweaking the 'layout' - i.e. what each specific key does - is a process that can take a long time, as one experiments and iterates on how to make the most of the keyboard.)

I hoped for a keyboard that would just be good enough to use on the go; but my expectations were greatly exceeded. It's really pleasant to use - I find I like the smaller, lighter switches (Choc v1 Puprz) even more than the Cherry MX Silent Reds.

At first, I was a bit unhappy that I can't have an encoder on both sides (ZMK doesn't support that yet), but so far I don't miss it. I only use it for volume up/down and page up/down anyway; no need to have two. I'd much rather have a standard button instead of the second one. (While it technically is possible, the holes on the board don't fit the Choc pins.)

And this is what my home layer currently looks like:


My original intent was to build this keyboard and be done with it; no need to mess with it further, right? I thought it might be nice to change a few things, but I also knew it'd be a long time until I'd be able to mod the PCB design myself.

However, turns out someone else, going by the nickname 'db', already did exactly what I wanted and more. And published the design on github. (And also has patiently answered my many questions - thanks, db!) It has all the niceties I want, including a built-in battery connector, an off switch (which I added manually to my Reviung5 build but omitted here), a slot for an extra Choc switch instead of an encoder, support for the nice!view ultra-low-power display, and more.

Now I kinda want to get around to it sooner rather than later. We'll see how it goes.