Somewhere late 2019 me and my friend discovered that the Makerspace here in Jönköping had laser cutter. Someone had lended it to the space for a indefinite time and we started to get in in order right away.

Our goal was to cut parts for keyboards, we had both started looking into custom built mechanical keyboards and a laser cutter would be an awesome tool to have.

The laser cutter in the back.

Unfortunately we had quite mixed experience with the cutter, sometimes it would cut our material like butter, but other times it wouldn’t make much of a scratch. During the 6 months we tried to get it going, until Covid really hit, we managed to make three successful things.

The first thing we made was the basis for a mechanical keyboard calculator. Three wafered 3mm acrylic sheets. It stayed in a half-finished state tho.

The mecha-calc.

My project was to create a thin ortholinear keyboard of my own design, finally we managed to cut it all the holes for the keyboard switches and I handwired it together during an evening. My design had a flaw tho, I had assumed that I would be able to make the key switches rest on the bottom plate, on the little switch nobs at the bottom. But the soldered diodes and cables got in the way in a few places and made it a bit thicker. This became a problem when the top plate flexed and stressed the solder joints which led to bad bad connections. Keys wouldn’t register, or would register twice.

If the laser-cutter had worked as we hoped the solution would been to just cut a third sheet and place between the top-plate and to bottom, but since it tool 6 months to get this to cut I abandoned the keyboard. Also i made a big crack in it at some point.

The idea was to have a “integrated” palm rest, cover it with some fabric or leather make it feel better against the skin.

The MCU i used was a Proton-C which seems to be discontinued now, but it was an MCU developed by the people behind the QMK firmware, which was the standard to use with custom keyboards at the time.

Even if it was a failure, it was a good learning experience and I have since built several functioning keyboards.