The Austin was created with the intention of providing a layout that included a full size numpad without being a full sized board. For those who use the numpad on a daily basis or have the muscle memory of using it for any or all numbers, transitioning to a numpadless keyboard or a keyboard with a 1u '0' can be difficult. The 2u '0' is the spacebar for numbers and having to adjust your thumb to accomodate for a 1u '0' will annoy even the best bean counters. The Austin provides an all-in-one package for the keyboard enthusiast who wants a high end keyboard for their home or office needs.
Since this board is meant to be used all day, we wanted a comfortable angle for most typists. The 6.5 degree slope is an angle that is considered to be the best middle ground for enthusiasts, not too flat and not too steep. Our vision for this board is to create a board that includes a full sized numpad while reducing the footprint on your desk. By no means are we calling this a small board but with the compressed layout, the keyboard is 2u thinner than a full size keyboard or 2u wider than a TKL.
The Austin case will be made out of anodized 6063 grade aluminum, and the weight will be sandblasted raw brass that has been finished with a protective oil to prevent fingerprints. The sandblasted brass has an elegant aesthetic and contrasts nicely with the aluminum chassis. Plate materials will be available in Sandblasted brass (one will be included in the base kit) and Polycarbonate or Carbon Fiber. Brass provides a consistent typing experience across the board no matter which key you press. Polycarbonate will flex up and down more freely for those looking for a more flexible typing experience.
We decided to stick with the top mount method which has been proven to be a solid formula. Boards that are TKL or smaller can benefit from a gasket mount if executed correctly. Gaskets suspend the plates so that there is no metal on metal contact and are meant to dampen vibrations during typing. However, due to the size of the Austin, the gaskets would get too compressed to actually have an effect and could possibly cause additional vibrations. As you can see from the displacement map, the top mount provides a consistent feel across the board.
Layout & PCB
We partnered with Gondolindrim ("Gondo") to create a high quality PCB that will be made available to the public once the GB is over. Gondo currently manages the Acheron Project, an open sourced repository that features fifteen PCBs that are either released or in the GB stage. Our main goal was to make a straightforward layout to reduce the amount of "swiss cheese" and provide a functional and practical layout. The layout provides a few options, such as stepped caps lock, split backspace, two different bottom rows, and split 0's. After considering the feedback from the interest check, we have decided to include ISO compatibility on the PCB. See below for more details.
Special thanks to Starr and Gondolindrim for partnering with me to make this board happen. Their expertise and willingness to work with me made this project a lot of fun.
Friends who have supported me throughout the process and encouraged me and those who were willing to buy the board even when they weren't that interested. Fcoury, Capsy, Full, lbaron, Chewwy etc.