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Mechanical Keyboard: HotDox

Updated: Jun 21, 2019

Over the past year I've become fascinated with the mechanical keyboard. My daughter introduced me to her "Code" keyboard (she is, after all, a programmer). If memory serves me correctly, it uses Cherry Brown MX switches and that reminded me of the IBM PC XT keyboards. And whose lineage comes from the very legendary IBM 3270 Terminals used with IBM System/370 mainframe both of which I used at one of my first tech jobs in the early '80s at Litton Industries Mellonics Information Center.

A funny aside: When my daughter was 1 1/2 years old I used my old XT keyboard as a tactile toy. She absolutely loved it (almost as much as I did).

And the Code keyboard reminded me of those days of classic keyboards. As I started reading the mechanical keyboard subreddit, I was fascinated by the ErgoDox keyboard. It Is a split keyboard that allows you to angle each side of the keyboard the best for each hand. The idea is very similar to the Microsoft Natural Split Keyboard in the '90s. Brilliant idea!

The design of the ErgoDox is open-source. You can find PCB boards online and even solder it yourself. The firmware is also open-source so you can customize it even further by defining keys and creating multiple layers that you allow you to switch between whole key definitions.

Here is my still-in-progress ErgoDox build:

Still-in-progress ErgoDox Build

The case is 3D printed with Cherry MX switches. The keyboard is hand-soldered. While the right side works, the left side still has issues that I have to debug.

The HotDox is one of many ErgoDox variants. Below is my HotDox during the build. The best thing about the PCB board is that the key switches are swappable and don't have to be soldered to the PCB. I originally put in Cherry MX Silent Reds. I had read that they are the closest you can get to a laptop-type keyboard. But in my experience they are a bit too mushy and I miss the the tactile "click" that this key switch lacks (by design, I think). I will switch them over to Cherry MX Browns soon. And with this board, I can do that! I have an ErgoDox that is still in-progress (the left has issues that I still need to address). The Cherry MX's feel pretty good on that one.

HotDox Build-in-Progress

Here's my HotDox fully functional. It comes flashed with the QMK Firmware and I've been happily customizing my layouts! The QMK Configurator can be found here.

HotDox Finished (for now) with wrist pads


Keycaps: Pictured above is a combination of this one and that one. I'm still waiting for my group buy (SA Vile Bloom) set to come in.

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