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Are the hotswap sockets compatible with regular MX switches
No, they are not. They are specific to Choc switches. Check out novelkeys for some options if you're interested in trying different switches.
Was just curious as I am waiting for DIY numpad to drop, specifically the BM-16A. I want to make a little gaming pad for kids so they don't mash the shit out of the main board. I have a few switches and caps laying around....
I think you might be over engineering and looking for a reason to build something! Nothing wrong with that though! I'm always telling my kids to keep their filthy paws off my boards.
I like that Cooler Master is flirting with the idea of releasing a dedicated gaming macro pad, but man, I wish they would add more function to the thumb area. I've been using the mechanical switch Razer Orbweaver for about 5 years now and I'd say that having the ability to remap many keys to just one flexible digit makes a world of difference. Thumbs are incredibly versatile. It's just idiotic in my opinion to limit them to just one or two keys to press. Really, I'd love to just replace my standard keyboard with left and right-handed Orbweavers.
An Ergodox or Iris might be right for you!
Check out dygma.com they are basically head on with what you are asking for. Essentially two separate "pads" that can connect together to form a keyboard, multiple thumb keys where the space bar would go, with the main downside being that its quite a bit pricey, but definitely something unique.