Yet another Iris build log

In this post, I share my adventure of building the Iris keyboard.

Story

At first, I saw Iris on some Habr post several years ago and instantly fell in love with it. Then I somehow forgot about it and bought Vortex Tab90M as my first mech. It was okay but I really missed some features. After a year with Vortex, I finally remembered about Iris and decided to buy it. I ordered the most basic kit and some gatheron brown switches from a local shop.

Hardware

Little LED strips turned out to be useless because LEDs were already on board. The boards were super cool and of great quality.

So I started with installing stabilizers and the encoder. Being a noob I forgot to install the metal part of the stabilizers, and also to lube it so it turned out to be horrible and scratchy. I replaced it later with just 2 separate keys.

Then I started to solder switches in, beginning with the corners as the guide recommends. It turned out to be way easier than I thought, and after the first 10, I learned to solder them fairly quickly.

Here is the first test connection. Here I realized that I don’t need to solder any more LEDs. Soldered switches were already clickable, so I was sure that I have done everything right.

I continued to install switches, it took me roughly 2 hours with breaks to finish soldering them all. The second half is done in the same way as the first.

Here you can see all of the switches soldered in. I haven’t had the keycaps at that time so I stole some from my Vortex keeb.

Here is the final result:

Later the keycaps arrived, and I replaced them. The new ones are from Vortex too, but in different colors. I think their letters-in-the-middle design is just way too cool to not use them.

After some time I realized that the middle part is necessary after all. So I found the designs on Github and with the help of my buddy coworker, 3D printed them. Semi-transparent PLA turned out to be just perfect for light diffusion for the underglow.

Software

On the software side, the keeb runs the most popular open-source firmware - QMK. It also supports VIA configurator by default, which is pretty neet and allows you to remap keys on the fly. The problem with VIA is that it sometimes decides to not save your layout. So in the long run it’s better to flash your own QMK build.

Creating keymaps for it is fairly easy and there are many examples on the web. You can find mine here. Another advantage of compiling your own QMK is the ability to customize much more. You can change the behavior of encoders, define your own keys, and basically do everything that you can write in C.

Ergonomics

It is much comfier to sit with your shoulders open and hands far apart. You can place your hands any way you want. You also can use only one half to save the space for the mouse for gaming setups. Ortholiniarity needs some to get used to but it’s not as bad as you can imagine. The main problems are with zxcv keys, and they are not that frequent, so you can get work done right from the beginning. Overall it’s much easier to press non-homerow keys on an ortholinear setup so I could definitely recommend it.

Conclusions

I am very happy with this keeb and not planning to change it for anything else in the future. Overall I think it is a good pick for the people that love to tinker with their setups constantly. If you are move of a plug-and-play person, there are prebuilt versions available now, or you can buy ergodox.

Remember to create exponentially