The Latest from Keebio
I was lucky enough to purchase a prototype of the latest split keyboard from keebio, the Fourier, shortly ahead of its release. This time around /u/bakingpy has cooked up a fantastic split 40% with a staggered layout, which you’ll find on any standard QWERTY keyboard. When it arrived I tore into it, soldering everything I could in place while I waited agonizingly for the arrival of the my pro micros the following day. Since then, I’ve been using it non-stop, finding it hard to bring myself back to my ortholinear split, the Levinson, due to ortho still being so new to me and the Fourier cradling me in its familiar, comforting grasp.
A comforting familiarity
If you’ve never used an ortholinear keyboard before, as I hadn’t before I build the Levinson, going split with something like that (Nyquist, Vertebi, Let’s Split, etc) might seem scary. If it is, this might be the split keyboard for you. There’s a hefty assortment of layout options available as well, so you can build the Fourier around your own ideals and comfort, rather than having to settle for one layout that may or may not be ideal for you.
Building my own Fourier off a prototype PCB and plate, my layout options for the bottom row were a bit more limited, but I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to put on both row 1 and row 3. I went with the “default” as displayed above, as I wanted to try something new with my keymaps. I opted for two 2.25u space bars, as this way I was able to utilize a uniform keycap size on the bottom row.
If you’ve ever built your own split keyboard before, you’re probably able to put this one together without a guide. If you haven’t, the build is really straightforward and you should have little to no trouble with the assembly. In anticipation for using a staggered board again after being stuck to my Levinson like glue I used my AMJ40 while working on the build. Adjust back to staggered from ortho is a lot harder than I expected it to be.
The only snags I ran into with this build were unrelated to the kit itself. Those being that I forgot to lube my MX Clears before the board arrived, and I forgot to make sure I had enough of them to put it all together. I have no idea if I intended to use Hako Clear for the space bars and just miscounted the number of switches I had, putting myself one short, or if I just completely spaced on this. In the end though, all was well once that was out of the way.
I did end up swapping out those 3 Hakos for MX Clears, as the keycaps rest lower on Box switches than Cherry MX switches and that was bugging the hell out of me. As far as the feel, the Hako Clears felt just great there. The change was purely for aesthetic reasons, or to calm my neurosis of just knowing they were different height even if I didn’t feel the difference and hardly saw it.
So, is it worth it?
Yes. Yes, it is. If you’re not an ortho fan, don’t want to try ortho, or just want a staggered split board it’s totally a fantastic little build. When I put mine together there was only a basic key mapping out on the QMK repo, so I went ahead and devised my own additional maps for the different layers. You can find my fork here if you’re interested. I opted to try something different with the caps lock key as my backspace, opening up room for dedicated bracket keys on the base layer. It looks like some of the changes I made were also made by keebio when the repo was pushed for the production build.
Overall, I love the Fourier. Once my hands adjust to that R3 backspace everything just flows without thought. I don’t stop to feel around for a key because I’m lost on an ortholinear shore of keys shifted slightly left. I don’t awkwardly hop over a 1.25u key to hit period, and unlike my AMJ40 I have my question mark on the base layer. I really like the layout options, and the additional keys over the AMJ40, on top of being split, has pretty much sealed the fate of the AMJ40 as the traveler, not the driver.
As a declaration of my love for the Fourier, I ditched the ortho kit on my /dev/tty order and decided that I’d slap my first MT3 set on the Fourier. I opted for the ortho set of MDA/MIX on kbdfans for the Levinson in place of /dev/tty, so I’m not planning to give either board up any time soon. I love them both.
If you want one too, the Fourier is now on sale at keebio. And if you’re into tactile switches, particularly heavier switches, you might want to hold off on picking your switches for this board until you get a chance to see Novelkeys’ new Box Royal. I’ll leave you with a teaser of things to come.
Lime x O&B Fourier photos courtesy of the talented /u/knG333