Finally, here’s a list of all the parts and tools and things that I used to build my keyboard, along with the approximate prices that I paid for them.
If you’re interested in building something similar, this will give you a rough idea of how much it might set you back.
The default selection only includes the parts that are necessary to build a “vanilla” wireless Kyria. That means using diode legs for the header pins, soldering the batteries directly without a JST connector, and only using the stock acrylic case. (Bear in mind that if you get a metal case, you also need to source all of the associated hardware that comes with the splitkb case.)
You can save quite a bit with a wired build – although you’d have to add in a TRS/TRRS cable (the Kyria rev2 supports either) and a USB cable, which I didn’t include here. There’s just way too much variety.
You could make it slightly cheaper if you chose not to socket your microcontroller, but that’s sort of a crazy choice, given that the battery would have nowhere to fit if you do that. You could also forego the case entirely and just solder switches directly onto the PCB, which would bring the price tag down under $150. But then you’d probably want to buy some kind of foam bottom padding or rubber feet or something separately.
Building a keyboard also took a lot of tools. These are things that are not necessarily directly keyboard-related, but that I used over the course of building it. I tried to make a list of every single tool that I used on this project, more as a fun exercise than an actually useful guide. I had most of things already; the only tools I bought specifically for this project were the soldering-related things and the multimeter.
The prices here are extremely rough: I tried to reflect what I originally paid for things, but I didn’t buy all of these things on Amazon, and even when I did sometimes the price has changed wildly since. Also the quantities are almost nonsensical: I bought a pack of a dozen rolls of shop towels years ago, but only used a tiny fraction of one roll on this project. But this list includes the full dozen, because whatever.
|$23.99||Multimeter||testing switches and solder joints||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NAVAT9S|
|$3.17||Sandpaper||smoothing aluminum, finishing wood||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004Z47W|
|$28.99||Files||deburring, shaping wood covers||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TS17G4W|
|$99.00||Power drill||countersinking screws||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QC9DRW6|
|$9.97||Drill bits||countersinking screws||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DH55YRX|
|$14.47||Assorted tweezers||dissassembling switches, bending pins||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07D6JXD7J|
|$12.24||Eye goggles||spray painting||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01A12J3GI|
|$39.54||Nitrile gloves||spray painting||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DRQK1N5|
|$4.99||Tiny brush||lubricating switches||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00V4EG6D6|
|$11.99||Bar magnets||holding springs||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WCBDPMJ|
|$4.59||Solder sucker||included with the soldering iron I linked||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CYKNYRF|
|$6.99||Wire stripper||prepping battery terminals – unnecessary with rev2||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06X9875Z7|
|$10.99||Helping hands||completely unnecessary with rev2||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000P42O3C|
|$14.99||Solder practice kit||completely unnecessary||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CK3RCKS|
|$18.98||Shop towels||finishing wood||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0035BTQ06|
|$13.99||Furniture wax||finishing wood||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SXBCB17|
|$18.50||Ryoba||cutting wood covers||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CEF5HM|
|$14.75||Marking gauge||scoring wood to cut in half||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J00DJ0E|
|$19.99||Marking knife||tracing cover pattern||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FCW6BAS|
|$14.99||Awl||locating screwholes on wood cover||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IXVQMPU|
|$28.95||Mallet||fitting magnets into holes (any hammer would work, with something soft on it)||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000CER0PC|
|$1.93||Electric tape||lining wood cover; magnet backing||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001ULCB1O|
|$4.84||Contact adhesive||keycap modding||https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WGSRM4Z|
I only selected the tools you need to have to assemble a basic keyboard, and of course you can find cheaper versions of all of them anyway.
Grand total: $0 parts + $0 tools = $0
Obviously you can find different versions of everything here, and you can get by without most of them. Also I didn’t include, like, dish soap, even though I used dish soap to clean the metal before painting. And like, I used a desk and a chair and stuff. So it’s not completely exhaustive.
So the version of the keyboard that I built – with my custom painted plates and battery-powered nice!nanos – would cost about $300 in parts. And then you have to add in another $85 or so in tools on top of that if you don’t already have electronics-making stuff. We’ll round it out to a cool $400, starting from scratch.
That’s a lot!
But unfortunately, at the time that I am writing this, there isn’t really a cheaper alternative if you want a wireless split ergonomic keyboard. You just can’t buy them off the shelf.
For comparison: the Ergodox EZ – which is not wireless – costs $270 in the vanilla configuration (without LEDs), plus another $25 for the “tilt/tent kit” if you don’t want to set it down flat. So $295 for something kind of comparable.
The Moonlander – another wired split keyboard from ZSA – is $365.
The Keyboard.io Model 100 – which is only available in pre-order right now – costs $309, and includes a single tripod thread. It is also wired.
The Kinesis Advantage2 is $349, and is neither wireless nor split. Although it’s sort of split.
So building your own bespoke wireless keyboard costs roughly the same as buying a high-end commercial wired ergonomic keyboard. You aren’t saving money by buliding it yourself, and you’ll be giving up most of a weekend assembling it. Not to mention all the time you spend designing and thinking about plates and switches and keycaps and tinkering with your keymap.
But I don’t know of any other way to get a wireless split keyboard today.
But that’s changing! There are a couple of wireless split keyboards on the horizon that you might be able to buy some time in the next year.
First up: the Kinesis Advantage360 Pro. No idea what the price point will be when it comes out in “Summer 2022,” but there was a low-volume pre-order for $440. This looks like a big improvement over the Advantage2: adjustable tenting, fixed or variable split, and Bluetooth. Plus ZMK – reconfiguring the Advantage2 was always a little bit annoying.
Next up: the Glove80. This is currently live on Kickstarter for $293-$313, with a final MSRP of $400 after the project launches. (The initial batch of 1000 units is estimated to ship in September 2022.)
The Glove80 has an interesting mounting scheme: it’s supported on flat surfaces by a few stilt-like legs with rubber bumpers. But the rubber bumpers are actually the heads of screws, so you can turn them to adjust the exact height and angle that the keyboard sits at. You can also remove them entirely, leaving behind M4 tapped holes, which you could theoretically use as a base for clamping – the kickstarter campaign has some images of an acrylic plate secured to these mounting points that functions as an adapter for standard 1/4-20 camera gear. It also has a dual-height thumb row similar to what I hacked up, except that it doesn’t need fat keycaps to do it.
And that’s it.
Those two keyboards are the only split wireless keyboards that I’m aware of, and neither of them actually exist yet. If you know of any others, please get in touch.