Onward with the Atreus keyboard

In the last few months, on a quest to find a better keyboard, I've become totally engrossed with the Atreus keyboard, a 42-key mechanical keyboard you can build yourself. Two weeks ago, I placed an order for the Keyboard.io Atreus, which features two more keys and will be manufactured out of metal and plastic. But I am way too excited to wait for another three months until the estimated delivery date. I will build my own Atreus keyboard in the mean time.

It all started with QWERTY and my poor touch touping. I use only a few fingers (mainly the index and thumb) and my hands are complaining after long keyboard sessions (i.e. kind of every day at the end of my work day). That's a known problem with QWERTY, it simply is a bad layout for modern hardware.

Exploring alternative keyboard layouts will invariably expose you to switching keyboard shape as well: ortholinear, "ergonomic", split, and other niche form factors. And what about the tactile feedback? Most of the less widespread keyboards are mechanical, and I have to admit I too prefer the feeling of mechanical switches than of rubber dome.

Why switching from 100-ish keys to only so few? I mainly use the alpha-numeric keys, some modifier keys, and special keys (arrows, home, end, etc.). I basically don't use function keys nor the keypad at all. (Unless I am on Windows, which does not happen very often.) And since a key can fulfil multiple roles based on what "layer" is active (i.e. caps lock) or what modifier key is actively pressed at the same time, it should not be a problem to adapt to more roles instead of more hand movements.

I like the Atreus overall shape, tiny footprint, and open-ness. I feel like 42 keys ought to be enough, is it even too many keys?

My plan is to build a regular Atreus but I want a USB-C connector. USB micro-B and mini-B are things of the past. (I am being dramatic here, my point is that I am tired of needing three attempts to connect a USB cable.) Due to the low availability of USB-C keyboard controllers –or expensive shipping fees–, I ordered a classic (Arduino-ish) Pro Micro controller which I will pair to a simple USB-C breakout board from Adafruit, inside the keyboard casing. I also ordered some Gateron Brown switches (i.e. Cherry MX brown -ish) and some Kailh Pro Burgundy switches (i.e. Cherry MX red -ish) for the modifier keys (keys meant to be held don't need tactile feedback).

Today, I ordered the laser-cut pieces of the keyboard body from a local shop. I did slightly change the case to fit extra screws for the breakout board. And fit everything on a single sheet of plywood to optimise waste/reduce cost. This is really happening!