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The original Preonic keyboard was praised for its build quality, compact form factor, and intuitive layout—and the new version is no different. However, this time around we're offering the CNC-aluminum case in your choice of five colors, including the striking new purple colorway Read More
Easily my favorite keyboard form factor of all time. It has everything I need and nothing I don't use (and layers for things I want but don't use often). It's small enough to slip into my carry-on bag for work trips, or just in my backpack for when I'm going to chill at a coffee shop.
Construction-wise, the Preonic Rev. 3 is built like a tank. Make sure you save the tiny pamphlet in the box, it has the assembly instructions. Personally, I go for the ultra-secure plate method. This uses the provided bolts and spacers to make the plate firm within the case. The plate is a hefty stainless steel plate with a tight tolerance. It will take some force to push the switches in.
BE WARNED! The hotswap brackets for the switches can come off if you push too hard. I have made 4 of these model and have never had the issue, but it has been known to happen. The recommended method is to put a few switches in the plate, then line them up with the PCB, then place the remaining switches in place by putting your finger on the back of the PCB to hold the black hotswap in place while you use medium force to push the switch into the plate. This reduces the risk of popping off a hotswap.
The board is programmed with QMK, but make sure when flashing it that you use the Rev 3 firmware. Rev 2 used a different micro controller and the firmware and layouts aren't compatible. I would love to do a write-up on QMK, but it's a bit complicated to set up and there are a million different things you can do with it. If you have questions, you can always ask on the OLKB subreddit (reddit/r/OLKB). Search first! Your question has probably already been asked and answered, but if you're really not sure just make a new post. People will usually help, but it's not super active so it may take a day or two to get a response.
Included is a picture of my collection, which is just about a year old. I have quite a few more now...
This is my first orhtolinear, and three days in I'm really liking it. I'm still in the process of figuring out where I want keys to be, and am _really_ liking the MOD_T setup (i.e. left-shift on hold, enter on tap, etc).
From what I can see, it looks like there is a little solder on the USB-C connector, though that piece still makes me a little nervous. I got a magnetic cable set ( https://amzn.to/2Eup4dR ) so there isn't any strain on the connector. Since I pack this from work to home and back, it's great for the convenience factor alone.
The board comes with presoldered addressable LEDs around the edge of the board, other than that there is a cutout under each switch where you could put LEDs but there is nothing else other than the hole. If you wanted per switch LEDs you'd have to wire them separately.
The original Preonic keyboard was praised for its build quality, compact form factor, and intuitive layout—and the new version is no different. However, this time around we're offering the CNC-aluminum case in your choice of five colors, including the striking new purple colorway. What's more, this version has a new ARM STM32 processor that provides more power to the PCBA and the USB-C connector. Another upgrade? The new Preonic has Kaihua hotswap sockets (which support grid 2x1u, 1x2u, and 2x2u bottom row layouts) so you can swap out your switches whenever you want without even picking up a soldering iron. Plus, If you’re new to keyboard kits, the compact Preonic is a great way to learn about keyboard programming.
Note: This does not include switches.
The Theory Behind It
Designed by Jack Humbert at OLKB, the Preonic is made for efficiency. The layout is very similar to the Planck (also by OLKB), but with an additional row for easier access to numbers, function keys, or whatever else you’d like to program. The smaller space bar makes it easier to use your thumbs to access additional layers via the “raise” and “lower” keys. And even with the extra row, the keyboard still maintains a very compact form factor for portability.
New Plate, No Problem
Now we’re offering an MX plate which supports the 1 x 2u, 2 x 2u, and Grid layout. The plate design even allows you to swap out switches on the fly. Thanks to the Kaihua hotswap sockets, replacing switches is completely plug and play, so you never need to worry about tedious soldering—not to mention all layouts are fully supported. Made from 304 stainless steel, the plate is heavy and stable, with five holes for mounting the included M2 screws.
Beeps & Boops
Also notable, the PCBA is outfitted with a small speaker, which is driven by the MCU. In the default firmware this will make a few different noises—like a short series of beeps on startup, notifications when you put the board into Device Firmware Upgrade (DFU) mode, plus noises when you change the default layout to prevent mishaps when typing quickly. The speaker can be disabled by a keyboard shortcut or by flashing new firmware. This version also has pre-populated bottom-lit LEDs and allows for expanded functionality with footprints for things like DIP switches, power adapter plugs, Qwiic connectors, and more. For more information, check out the QMK documentation and the specs section below.
Case Color Options
Build Guide made by a community member
Designed by OLKB
Produced by Drop
Anodized CNC aluminum case
ARM STM32 processor
Reprogrammable Matias / MX-compatible PCBA
304 brushed stainless steel top plate
Dimensions, assembled: 9.1 x 4.1 x 0.9 in (23.1 x 10.4 x 2.3 cm)
9x bottom-lit RGB LEDs: RGB LEDs that glow through the bottom of the case (acrylic cases would be preferred)
Cherry MX and Matias/ALPS switch footprints
PCBA Footprints for Extra Capability
Footprint for a 4-channel DIP switch (210-4ES): A DIP switch is just 4 little switches combined into one (the Poker has one for settings)
Footprint for a 2-pin JST-PH (PRT-09749): This is a power adapter plug for wireless builds (Bluetooth, etc.)
Footprint for a 4-pin Qwiic (I2C) JST-SH connector (PRT-14417): Makes it compatible with Sparkfun’s Qwiic system
Footprint for a clickable (worked into the matrix) rotary encoder (COM-09117, et al): This will spin and click to allow even more customization
Footprint for a 6-pin male/female header (PRT-09015 or PRT-12590, et al): For development and DIY projects
Included (Base Price)
CNC case (anodized if aluminum)
USB-A to C cable
5x M2x14 mm Phillips flathead machine screws
5x M2x3.5 mm brass spacers
5x M2 nuts
4x rubber bumpons
1x socket wrench tool
Images are for illustration purposes only. The color(s) of the final product may differ slightly.
RETURNS—NO QUESTIONS ASKED
We get it. Sometimes what you ordered just doesn’t work out. If that’s the case for you, don’t fret! All customers (both US and international) may return this item in new, unused condition within 30 days of delivery.
Estimated ship date is Feb 9, 2023 PT.
Payment will be collected at checkout. Cancellations are accepted up to 2 hours after checkout for in-stock items, or up until pre-order ships.
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