Logistics & Updates

Howdy everyone,

The terrible connectors are finally dead. I've replaced the MiniUSB & TRRS with proper through-hole components. Jacks ripping off has been a issue and this solves that problem. Thank God.

That being said, I have a bunch of orders that are currently waiting to go out on cables and a few more waiting on caps. So that's no fun :(

If you haven't heard I'm running a sale on B-Stock Gergo: Protocol and Buttersticks. Turns out I fucked up the footprint for X switches so they're almost perfect, but not quite. You can get the newest boards at a discount over here (kits only!)

I've been giving much thought to Gergoplex as well. If you've seen the design before, forget about that. I'm going to be publishing a massive post (possibly a Xanudoc) on ergonomics. The post will be separated into the following sections and conclude with the GergoPlex's final design.
  • The Hand And It's Interactions (Analysis of keyboard functionality and ergonomics overview)
  • Historical/Cultural roots that lead to specfic design descions.
  • Current ergonomic solutions overview
  • Ergonomic/Mechanical/Manufacturing tradeoffs
  • Re-contextualizing the keyboard/Future of Gergo
So taking everything I've learned over the last year and adding in fun developments to make a improvement. Hopefully without going full datahand.

I'll keep you posted!

-- Germ

Introducing Gergoplex!

Wow, long time no updates. I'm still active around the communities and building/shipping boards though.

As far as the backlog goes, I'm caught up to May 05 (with the exception of two orders), and am on track to have it cleared out fairly quickly here. Thank you for your patience!

I have a new board in development, Gergoplex! It fixes a few connector issues with Gergo/Georgi, shaves off a few keys and moves to using only 1us. As well as having per-key RGB and backlighting and support for MX/Choc/Alps/X.

I wasn't a fan of getting rid of the 1.5s, but a major complaint of Gergo was sourcing them was a issue. This board is a similar to crkbd/helidox/corne with one major advantage.

Gergoplex will only be available as a assembled PCB. All that's required is to install your switches and caps. As is tradition, as case you don't need will also be available for purchase.

The major differences between this and crkbd are the lack of OLEDs (this frees up space for some extra keys), a single onboard controller (no dual MCU or promicro nonsense), ErgoDox style expander design and entirely assembled.

Stay tuned!

20% Off Storewide, Butter Stick, Shipping Updates and Fun!

Happy Easter! there's still 24hours to get 15% off your order over in the store of 80$ or more. Use discount code EASTERKEEBS at checkout.

Now with that out of the way, Georgis firmware has finally hit v1: Stenoknight. Many thanks to the beta testing crew that broke their devices in weird ways to get us here, the amount of changes between v0.01 and v1 has been insane (with 95% of the work going into QWERTY mode, there's even layers now!). Now that stable is here I've started shipping out the units (over 30 in this last mailbag!) so expect those to be hitting your mailbox soonish.

Also releasing Butter Stick, the 20% fullsize ortholinear keyboard. It's ridiculous and based off of Georgis firmware. Crazy how a little bit of software opens up some strange use cases.

Stay tuned for more crazy shenanigans!
    -- Germ

Opensourcing gBallin, gJumper and gInterface!

So with gBallin failing and being taken out of production, I've opensourced the designs (As will happen with any boards I'm not running again). You can take a look at that flaming mess over at https://github.com/germ/gergo-trackball

Also! There are now footprints for the gJumper underswitch I2C contacts and the module interface for Gergo (and other boards). So if you want to make something fun, here you go!


Stay Tuned!

Good News, Bad News

First up: Let's recap the status of everything

Gergo: Kits are shipped, Partials/Readys are being assembled and shipped
Georgi: FW Working, beta units released, waiting on that to finish but results are good!
ErgoTaco: Hardware working, FW issues but boards are built.
Butter Stick: Waiting on boards to come in.

So this is a post I was hoping to not have to write, but supply issues are what they are.

So the Pearl was released 12 years ago, a time where phone UIs were grid like and web browsing was mostly moving between fields and light scrolling. As such when they reached for a navigation device, they settled on the Panasonic part I've been using. When you try using it as a general purpose mouse, it's horrible. The sensor resolution simply isn't there. It's a great idea but the execution falls flat. Initially I hoped this could be worked around in software but it's obvious this is a hardware problem. Also this is a obsolete part and supply is drying up. My current source just stopped being able to acquire them for me and I only have a handful left. This is what happens when you design on obsolete parts.

Now lets talk about the backlog, I can get a board put together and tested in about 20 minutes, that's actually not too bad! The trackballs take about a hour each. That's pretty fucking bad. Oh and there's a 20% of chance of having the ball get gummed up and throwing the whole thing out. I work two jobs and have this keyboard grind going on, these trackballs are holding me back hard.

So it's being killed off, a little due to supply, a little due to assembly pains and a lot to do with it sucking. 

That being said, I've started work on a Joystick module and a TrackPad module these should hopefully be ready in a month or two, watch the blog for updates. In addition, I'm publishing footprints for the interface for both the switch I2C connects and the gBallin. The hope here being if someone wants to design a small board, they can! There will be a post on this in a few minutes.

What about existing orders? Glad you asked. With any order that came bundled with a gBallin a discount code for a free module with shipping will be provided. The hope here being you want something that works well as opposed to a hunk of shit (and you can always whack a MX switch in there in the meantime).

Thanks for tuning in!

Man, fuck trackballs!

I mean I love them, but they take forever to ship.

Good news is that my latest order finally came in so the giant pile of mostly assembled Gergos can start finding their way into the post.

Georgi firmware is mostly working and there's a open PR for QMK, devkits are getting put together and shipped out this week.

All of the documentation for that is now mostly available over at docs.gboards.ca. Give that a check if your curious as to how Georgi is going to work!

Also there's now cases for Gergo avalible in the store after some time with a big ass laser cutter!

ErgoTaco respins are in after I pulled a big brain move with the connectors. Thank god. Now I caStay tuned! n start getting those out.

Stay tuned!
-- Germ

Georgi, Gergo updates, All That Good Stuff.

Someone pointed out that it's been a while since I whacked out a blog post so I figured I'd whack one on out!

Let's start with the fun stuff, meet Georgi the 20% Pocket/Steno keyboard! He's a little bit of a weirdo but packs one hell of a punch.

It's a affordable keyboard that aims to be a lowcost ergonomic stenography board, or a QWERTY board with crazy chording. Shipping fully assembled, spring swapped (6g!) and ready to use. I've gone on about it a bit in this Reddit thread , so give that a read if your curious as to what that little guy does.

Here's a WIP layout, and the super wonky code that makes it chooch. Neat stuff in the pipe anyway. Oh and this guy just sold out a few hours ago, the ErgoTaco.

It's a split ergonomic taco with HASL!

Working nights is a great time to design keyboards, whacking them together is another story!

So now that the fun stuff is out of the way let's talk about that backlog. I am working through a ton of orders at the moment and run into a problem. Sourcing those damn trackballs is taking too much time and they are flying off out of my hands extremely fast. Normally that's a good thing but right now I have only a hand full of balls and Gergos to ship. I've removed the gBallin' standalone from the store, to prevent running out of the damn things.  Just to be clear here they still come on Gergos and if you need replacements I will sell them.

Oh! And I somehow ran out of keys before my damn order has arrived for the Readys. So that's great.

So once again I'm waiting on stuff to arrive, I still have everything for a good number of Partials and Kits and I can get the rest of the boards set up and tested before hand. At least that way I have a giant pile of tested boards ready to fire into the post.

Gergos are starting to appear in the wild however and it's nice to see. I only wish I could get them out even faster. Running a one man show is bullshit.

Trackballs, Finally!

This has been my first Chinese New Year, holy hell do those guys know how to throw a party!

Eitherway, my trackballs that I've been waiting on for forever have finally reached Canada. I should be able to get back to shipping out trackballs in a few days.

Thank god, it's about time.

Georgi: 75$ Fully Assembled 20% With 20g Chocs

Holy! It's been a busy few days!
Check these out!

If you haven't heard I've been working on a economical keyboard for use with plover. It's small, compact, modern and ready to go with 20g Kailh Chocs. Blue PCB and either white or black keys. Fully assembled, tested and loaded with a firmware.

Form factor will be similar to the black Gergo in those images (same depth, different pcb size) with the USB connector on the left hand side. Artwork on the back is a dithered tesselation of birds. The switches are Kailh Low Profile Linears, spring swapped out for 20G Chocs from Sprits store! These are literally lightest spring available for chocs (Spirit is working on pushing that bar even lower!).

With a boatload of help from Stenoknight, Thomas Baart, Ted The French Wizard, Charley and everyone hanging around the Plover discord server this wouldn't have been possible. Extra thanks to Ted for printing a billion keyboard designs all week and helping me lay this out for stenographers! If you're interested in joining the preorder you can find [all that on my store!](https://www.gboards.ca/product/georgi)

But Georgi is a little bit different then your typical steno board, it has columnar stagger. is optimized for height, uses a split design and uses QMK. As with any design there are tradeoffs, so I thought I'd explain them here.

QMK: This firmware has been widely accepted by the keyboard community and has every feature under the sun. It's already used by SOFT/HRUF, supports Gemini and Bolt and is in all respects, fantastic. If you want to change anything with your Georgi, you can do it! We're working on getting web config support going for even easier customisation.

Columnar stagger: Many ortholinear boards have adopted a slight vertical stagger to accommodate the natural stagger of the hand. This is a very ergonomic setup even though it deviates from the proper ortholinear grid used by most steno boards. This layout has been adopted by many DIY boards over the past few years and it is a proven design. The stagger is slight enough that it does not interfere with pressing multiple keys. The TDSZ keys are not staggered for easier tapping.

Dimensions: Because a majority of plover users are using it for non professional use (I think, I'm still getting into steno sorry) having a traditional layout is less  important then comfort and size. Georgi is tiny and will literally fit into your pocket! To facilitate a fallback QWERTY mode, easier configuration and a as yet to be designed case the layout is symmetrical, this also gives a few extra keys to play with for QMK. The lack of a number bar is replaced with a thumb key (much like the TinyMod).

Keycaps: Instead of using G20 caps or custom laser cut toppers, Georgi uses Blank Choc 1us. In addition to bringing down the price these caps are very very square. We've brought them in to reduce the gaps even more and inverted the upper row as there's a very slight lip. The availability of commodity parts is a good feature for longevity.

Switches: Stenography requires light switches, I've been using 20g springs from Spirit since before I undertook this project, it's good to see that the community has started adopting and learning to spring swap! The downside is there are no commodity chocs under 50g, but thankfully Spirit carries 20g choc springs. **As such every Georgi comes with their springs already swapped out and ready for steno**. We're also in talks with Sprit to try pushing that even lower, he is eager to begin testing 5-15g chocs! Georgi is also compatible with MX and ALPS switches if you have a personal preference that you'd like to install. Due to the current offerings of caps, Georgi is designed to use many 1us in place of other sized keys.

Cost: While you can do steno with many boards, I though having another option focused on being low cost would be good for those exploring steno. This has driven many of the design choices made. As opposed to a kit instead this is ready to use with a sane default firmware to increase the audience that has access to it.

Split Design: Like any split board the sides can be moved around, twisted, tented, rotated and all that fun stuff. This increase the ergonomics of the whole device with one downside. Instead of having a single column for *, you now have four different options (by default all of them).

Let me know any questions you might have, It's being sent off to fab shortly but will be available for purchase with my other boards for the future.


Georgi: It fits in your pocket!
-- Germ

A note about trackballs.

If you've ever dealt with shipping early stage hardware, you know all about delays. If you look at a product like the UHK, you'll see up to two years of lag time in fuffiling orders!

Why are these delays so common in Hardware? It's hard to get things right! Look at Gergo, a minor fuckup added three weeks to my expected ship date as I had to get another set of samples to verify my design before getting the production ready units! But at least we're shipping now.

Let's talk about trackballs, right now I have a handful of these guys left and my supplier is taking their time getting the rest of them to me. But until they're in I have to ration them out. If you ordered just a bunch of trackballs or a Gergo with multiple balls, your order will be coming in once those balls arrive. The reasoning is simple, if I fulfill a single order of 5 trackballs, that's 5 Gergos that could have shipped. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few :(

That being said I'm working to get these out as soon as I can!

-- Germ

The post lady hates me!

Got the kits fired off, now i'm dealing with the Partials and Readys!

Protip: You can loosen up dried solder paste with a few drops of flux.

Stay tuned! -- Germ


A boatload of parts just came in so I can get on with fulfilling orders. About time.

In other news: We're now listed on QMK's website!

Shipping update!

So my fab is shipping it out in two parts, the boards just finished today and are on their way and the trackball related stuff just came in.

Going to be able to ship out trackball only orders right away! Time to get some Star Trek going and put some kits together.

Edit: Upon further review the magnetic sensors are in the main order. (╯ರ ~ ರ)╯︵ ┻━┻

Stay tuned!

-- Germ