Wireless microcontrollers had a breakthrough in 2020 with ZMK and the NiceNano. As mainstream customers are well-served by Keychron, I was pleased to discover that we’ve come a long way to making it easier to build a wireless board, even for ortho/ergo folks.
I bought this Waaffle from r/mechmarket from the designer, a guy named anoclew and had it shipped to the Philippines through myShoppingBox. It was labelled “grilles” possibly because it came with no keycaps and because of the ortho (columnar) design. I received a Mill-Maxed keyboard, no switches and no battery. The battery was about five hundred bucks off Shopee and I fitted the keyboard with spare Kailh Box Reds & Cubic caps off Tai-Hao.
I’m not a keyboard collector. If I stop using a keyboard I sell it or lend it, especially pre-builts, as I’ve modded nothing on those. I also don’t buy keyboards if I don’t need them. This was not a need, and I intend to sell off a keyboard to offset the cost of this one. But I don’t regret buying it for a hundred USD to get my hands on a NiceNano and to try a different form factor, having used a split, the Viterbi, for more than a year (an eternity in keyboard fan time). I was expecting that sixty-ish switches and one rotary encoder would be as small as I could get, and I was right.
- ZMK on NiceNano (USB-C Port)
- FR4 Top/Bottom Plate, 3D Printed Midlayer
- PCB supports pins for the battery
- RGB underglow on PCB itself
- 58 switches + 1 rotary encoder (due to 2U spacebar)
- 5deg feet
Lag, Battery, ZMK Feedback
Stuff that may be useful to those planning to make or buy wireless PCBs.
- I’ve encountered no lag when using NiceNano.
- Your battery’s physical dimensions are important: they have to fit in the case.
- It is recommended to crimp the battery connector so that you can swap out batteries in case of trouble.
- Make sure battery polarity is correct when installing.
- You have the option to pull the toolchain or use github actions to flash. Pulling the toolchain can take a while.
- Nicenanos when in bootloader appear as mass storage drives; flash by dragging the compiled file.
- Have shortcut buttons for switching between devices.
- ZMK doesn’t (as of April 2021) have mouse buttons yet, which is all that I’m waiting for.
- The power draw on a ZMK/NiceNano is so tiny a single charge can last weeks… but can drain in a day with RGB.
- If your PCB doesn’t support an OLED screen to tell you if it’s charging, you’ll know through the orange led.