Naked60BMP collage

Making my custom keyboard even more custom

The first time I saw the Naked60BMP it was sold out, but I knew it had to be mine. The layout I like and the ability to make it Bluetooth, in something so unique and portable? Sold. So when it finally came back in stock, I immediately grabbed a red one, because that was the only one that came with the artwork on a white background. Not necessarily my favorite cover color or material, but I figured I could source some interesting PU type of material and make it look like a makeup compact that’s actually a surprise keyboard.

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a close up of a keyboard

KAT Dots: DIY dye sublimation keycaps

Like many people, between general interest and needing a pandemic-friendly hobby, I have gotten into mechanical keyboards. In browsing through endless photos of interesting builds, I discovered a really cool keycap set called GMK Dots by a really cool designer known as biip. Originally a joke, people loved them so much that they really got made. And I loved them! But as an idea, not the colors. Even now, with a round 2 coming including a light version, it’s just not for me. I also do not like Cherry profile keycaps, which is what GMK produces. The KAT Milkshake set, also by biip, had a Dots kit with amazing colors, but is no longer available and between commanding extremely high resale prices and not quite including the colors in the rows that I would prefer, it was not a reasonable option.

So, with copious credit to biip as the originator of the idea, I decided to make my own set using KAT Blanks, my current favorite profile, with pastel/vaporwave-ish colors to match my general aesthetic. KAT Blanks are made of PBT, which is compatible with dye sublimation (dye sub), a process in which things are heated up to the point where ink and surface fuse, creating a permanent print. With a number of retail dye sub products available, I decided this would be a fun DIY project.

Here’s the general concept:

  • Print dots using dye sub ink or cut them out of ink-saturated paper
  • Center them on clean PBT keycaps (not ABS!)
  • Tape them down securely
  • Heat them up to 400ºF for a length of time related to pressure
  • Let cool before peeling off tape/paper
  • Mount and enjoy

I personally have a Cricut cutter machine, and they make both dye sub markers and dye sub sheets, so in the interest of having clean circles, I decided to use the dye sub sheets. I am also currently on a full grid ortholinear keyboard so I only need to worry about 1U keycaps for the moment. Here’s the specific process I used, and then below I will get into a bunch of details / a build log.

  • Cut 6mm dots inside of 12mm squares on Infusible Ink paper
  • Cut the squares out and peel off excess material
  • Center the squares on the keycaps, add a little bit of heat conductive material to the center of the tops to level them out a bit, and then tape the whole thing down to maintain contact
  • Bake for 400ºF in a pre-heated, precise oven (Breville Smart Oven, no convection) for 4 minutes
  • Let cool before peeling everything off and mounting
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GoDaddy was making me want to brain myself (IIS6 with PHP in safe mode!!!! ARRRRGHHHHHH), so I took a break, bought a swashy font (Parfumerie Script Pro) off my wishlist, and went to town setting a sentence and then tracing it with a metallic gel pen. Might have to frame this one and put it in my office as a patience reminder.

The larger a body

Personal, Photos, Projects, Purchases

The larger a body, the more slowly it moves


Moving on from single words to full sentences. Next stop: capital letters and maybe even some swashes!

Copperplate Pangram

Photos, Projects

Copperplate pangram


Adrian built a little light box for photography today and naturally my papercraft figures make for good subjects.

El Chapulin Colorado papercraft

Photos, Projects

Papercraft: El Chapulin Colorado