keyplus mini controller prototypes

The keyplus mini
The keyplus mini
Footprint fits under one Cherry MX switch
Footprint fits under one Cherry MX switch

The keyplus mini is my new controller that I designed for my wireless split keyboard project. It features a USB Type-C port, ATxmega microcontroller, and 31 GPIO pins. It also has hardware to automatically switch between USB and battery operation. It uses dual row 2.0mm pin headers to allow it to fit between Cherry MX switch footprints. Hardware files and wiring information are available here.

The board uses the ATxmega32a4u microcontroller. The ATxmega32a4u is an 8 bit, 32MHz, AVR microprocessor. It’s not drop in compatible with the ATmega32u4, but there’s a few good reasons why I chose it over the ATmega32u4:

Home cooked PCB’s

I used this a chance to try out reflow soldering at home with a stencil. For the first round, I tried using a second hand toaster oven. The results where rather catastrophic:

This thing actually enumerated as a USB device.
This thing actually enumerated as a USB device.

This happened because of hot spots inside the oven and the PCB’s in the hottest part of the oven weren’t very happy. To be honest, I could have mostly avoid this situation by taking out it earlier, and then reworking the uncooked PCB’s with my hot air gun. But there was a part of me that was curious to see what would happen…

For my next approach, I used an electric skillet. This went much better and was much easier to use. However, I still ended up needing to rework some of the boards because of an issue with my solder paste stencil.

Production

The next step is to look into organizing professional PCB assembly, so I don’t end up burning down my house. In the meantime I have a some of spare boards from this run that I’ll put up mechmarket for those interested.

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