When I was pawing Clueboard’s new 66% LP kit at the NorCal Meetup 2018, Skully, who was manning the table, mentioned in passing that it has built-in speakers. I paused.
Yeah, built-in speakers.
Clueboard swears it’s not a gimmick, stating on its site that, “The simple beep [from the speakers] that indicates you’ve entered firmware programming mode and the reassuring tone that plays after flashing help guide you through successfully remapping your Clueboard.”
If this were merely a keyboard, I think it would be a gimmick. But in a follow-up conversation, Skully explained it further. “Right now it’s all beeps and boops (square waves) because that’s what the chip in older boards can handle. The new chip that I’m using in all my boards […] has hardware support for outputting any waveform, so better sound will be possible once software support is added,” he told me via email.
He also noted that you could turn your keyboard into a sound board, as this enterprising chap has done. (Did you catch that he’s using a Planck? That’s because OLKB is using the same chip as Clueboard’s 66% LP.)
What else? “We’re seeing people using their keyboards as fun portable pianos,” Skully added. “You could carry your keyboard in your bag and use a USB battery to power it up, and play music anywhere. Stereo speakers lets you output more sound and to blend it. With the coming support for waveforms, you can play all kinds of music, not just chip-tune style songs.”
The new kit also features a QWIIC port to let you add on…oddities…such as those you’d find on SparkFun. Like a li’l OLED display or a magic input glove. In other words, the Clueboard 66% LP is only partially a keyboard; it’s also an extensible maker platform.
The kit also has some tasty features and options, as a keyboard. It supports GMK, for one thing. The hot swap capability means that you don’t have to fiddle with soldering anything, and it relies on a USB Type-C connection.
The PCB comes with LEDs “pre-soldered,” which is to say, SMD LEDs. They’re white only, but you can program some effects via QMK.
The kit will run you as little as $174.99, but it does not include switches, stabs, keycaps, nor the USB Type-C cable. Compared to a lot of kits, though, including Clueboard’s own 66% DIY aluminum case V2 and V3/V4, that’s not a bad deal.
The 66% LP kit has a unique “skeleton” design that exposes the custom brass, silver, aluminum, or black aluminum standoffs that are sandwiched between two 4mm metal plates. The middle is bare, and you can roll with it that way if you’re into that sort of thing, but Clueboard is also working on acrylic middles that you’ll be able to wedge in there. I don’t know any further details on the middles at this time, but the one Skully had at the meetup was shiny and black. It’s like a racing stripe around the entire side.
Presumably there will be more colors, but hey, black goes with everything. That’s a good thing, because the 66% LP plates come in a variety of colors. Clueboard partnered with Powder Coat It to offer silver, black, purple, beige, Galaxy Wave Purple, Burnt Red, Power Blue, or Black Iron II. The capitalized colors come with a $25 added cost, and if you want any custom color, you can have it–for yet another $25, for a total of $249.99 for the kit. There’s a disclaimer that some colors may require an even higher fee.
The kit is available for preorder now, with an expected ship date of January 31. The factory order has already been placed, but extras have been ordered, so you can still probably score a preorder if you hustle.