Jan 19, 20182100 views

40% Starter Board

There are so many gorgeous tiny keyboards out there, and the 40% layout has tons of appeal for me. I've been trying to figure out which keyboard would be best to start with, but everything I've found has been pretty pricey. Can anyone recommend a lower-cost 40% board?
Some images of the boards that inspired this question:
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(JD45 with DSA Honeywell from /u/chilifries on reddit. I can't find a JD45 for less than $240 on the web)


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(Pearl 40% from Mechkeys.ca group buy. $346 Canadian)

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(Mechmini 2.0 on mechkeys.ca. Limited quantity, $250)
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kemushi, Yvon Binette, and 1 other
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UT47 is a cheap board (around $50) and is a great intro to 40% boards
https://1upkeyboards.com/products/keyboard-kits/diy-jd40-kits.html
JD40/45 kits... pretty cheap. selection changes from time to time... can get evereything you need right from his store. I use easy avr to program them. been my daily driver for awhile now.
Look into the JJ40 from KPRepublic on Aliexpress. I built a JJ40 for $86 (PCB, Kailh Copper switches, Stainless Steel Bent Case also from their Aliexpress store) I also bought KBDFans PBT DSA blank keycaps which brought the total to $110.
Unfortunately, you've just missed the group buy for a Contra, which was a $30 ortholinear kit with everything you needed except switches and keycaps.
There is also the Vortex Core or Magicforce 49. Both are not fully programmable but I believe people have made PCB's that are fully programmable for them that you can replace the original with (provided the tools and skills). The Core PCB replacement is called Atom47. GB is closed but I think you can find people selling them on /r/mechmarket.
The blocked JD45 is a gorgeous keeb. Too bad it's so pricey second hand. I really wish there'd be a second run of them. :/
KbdFans on Aliexpress has a cheap option called “Daisy”. I’m under the influence you’re looking for a staggered kit, not an ortho like the “Planck”? I’ve been tempted by the minivan and jd40/45, and have some holtites on the way to make whatever I get “hot-swappable”. Anyway, best of luck with your choice!
Beqrd
A Daisy PCB with a case like this should be a good way to start trying 40%. Very basic but have no major problem.
https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Anodized-Aluminium-case-for-daisy-40-custom-keyboard-acrylic-panels-acrylic-diffuser-can-support-daisy-acclive/3034003_32831965180.html?spm=2114.12010615.0.0.1c145440SVwwbT
I own both JD45 and Daisy and honesty neither is perfect for me.
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JD45 Pros: - extra 3 keys ("[{", ";:", ",<") really makes coding easier than 40% - case is solid and one-piece, which makes typing more pronounced - optional HHKB-style blocked corners
JD45 Cons: - awkward to program - the case looks unbalanced. THICK front bezel excuse me?
Daisy Pros: - inexpensive and ready to ship. Many choices of okay-ish cases. - programming with TKE and TMK is quite flexible - small, portable, compatible with most keysets
Daisy Cons: - no real high-end case (also the biggest problem with 40% keyboards overall) - fewer keys than 45% - the PCB seems harder to solder compared to B.face