After more than two weeks of hard work the 5 Shortcut giveaways have been built and shipped!
How beautiful a keyboard prototype can be?
To be honest, building this 5 prototypes has been an intense experience. Even though we were going to build 5 prototypes like the one we announced in the website, we ended up doing a few changes:
- Modified the internal structure and total dimensions to make it more robust
- Resized the adjustable columns for functional and aesthetic purposes
- Created new thumb cluster with two 4 way switches and a thumb cluster cover
- Created a new wrist rest
The original prototype was fully designed by me (I’m not a skilled designer at all), what meant that many of the new upgrades required a ton of testing before implementation.
Our assembly process went from being a mess to pretty good. We basically learnt how to design and build them better while doing. The main issue was that this was the first time I built hardware and we didn’t had a proper specification sheet nor process hierarchy, something that is absolutely basic for any hardware project.
The difference in assembly time from the first to the last prototype was 4 extra hours and we ended up doing 6 prototypes instead of 5 because the first one wasn’t good enough. We paid the price of being inexperienced but learnt a ton and had fun!
Here are some pictures of our process:
We had to do several tests for the columns, internal structure, case, surface, angle of the thumb support and more. The original prototype was printed with a different 3D printer so we had to readjust all dimensions. All the 3D printed pieces of a keyboard took one full night to print and it happened twice that the printer jammed. Standard technical difficulties!
In the second picture you can see that the prototype at the left has fewer cables than the others. We learnt by doing.
New thumb cluster
The original thumb cluster had one 4 way switch plus a tactile micro switch, for a total of 5 buttons. Then new one has two 4 way switches and the quality of the switches is higher, it has a pretty solid “click”. The PCB was hand made for the giveaway prototypes.
For anyone wondering, these are not joysticks, they are like the mouse thumb buttons but you can activate the button in 5 ways, up, down, left ,right and center. We don’t wire the center button because it requires way too much force to activate, making it uncomfortable to use.
The wrist wrests were made with leatherette and wadding inside, giving a really comfortable feel.
Process: the bot methacrylate plate had to be drilled, countersunk, peeled and the carbon fiber sticker stack. Then you screw it to the the keyboard, place the keycaps and stick the wrist rest and stack the anti slip stickers underneath.
The 5 babies :D
And after all the job is done... this are our beautiful 5 Shortcut prototypes! It’s has been an intense learning experience and we are very happy with the end result.
Personally I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 6 months. We’ve gone from an idea, no technical founder and no team to; raising a lot of interest, building a team capable of designing and building hardware and building 5 consumer ready prototypes. We know that this is just the start and there’s a ton of work to do but I can say we are heading in the right direction.