The ErgoDox 76 “Hot Dox” is an updated design of a classic by Alpaca Keyboards. A full review is on the way, but I will say this has quickly become my favorite ErgoDox yet.
Thanks to the hot swap functionality, building an ErgoDox has never been easier. An additional bonus is the online QMK configurator, a tool that helps to tame the complexity of QMK and allows even the most casual users to harnes the most powerful keyboard firmware available. All in all, this was a fun and painless build that didn’t take much longer than an hour to go from parts to a working keyboard.
Building The Hot Dox
Step 1: Install Stabilizers
To install the Costar sabilizers you will simply need to click them into place in the thumb cluster on each side of the Hot Dox.
Step 2: Install Corner Switches
There are a few important things to keep in mind when installing switches. First and foremost, check every switch before installation to make sure the pins are straight (Left Image). From there, place the PCB underneath the Plate and install switches in the corners (Right Image). They switches should snap into the plate, and the pins will losely hold the PCB to the plate.
Step 3: Install All Switches
Installing the rest of the switches is a fairly painless process. Continue to check each and every switch to make sure that the pins are straight before installing them.
Step 4: Check Switch Connections
This isn’t a must, but nobody likes going back to fix something after they have already finished a project, and now is a perfect time to confirm that all of your switches have good connections witht he Kailh Hot Sockets. To confirm that you have a good connection just check to make sure you can see the tips of the switch pins in each of the Hot Sockets. It’s fairly common to have a switch or two that had a pin bend upon installation. If this is the case simply pop the switch out and straighten the pin out, and reinstall.
TIP: To remove a switch apply even pressure with a flat surface to the large center pin of the switch housing.
Step 5: Assemble The Acrylic Case
First, find the tops and bottoms of each side of the Hot Dox. The top (Left Side in Picture) has the cutouts to where the caps will go. The Bottom (Right Side in Picture) are more uniform looking. There should be two layers of each, along with the solid bottom being the 5th piece. Simply arrange the pieces in order (Bottom – 2x Bottom Acrylic Layers – Metal Plate and PCB – 2x Top Layers) and install the metal barrels and screw them into place from the top.
Step 6: Install Keycaps
This is an easy one thanks to the physical layout. You only need 3 different size caps (1u, 1.5u, 2u), and only the 4 large thumb keys need stabilizers.
Programming The Hot Dox
Step 1: Navigate to the online QMK Configurator
Be sure to select hotdox under the KEYBOARD dropdown and LAYOUT_ergodox under the LAYOUT dropdown. You should see a layout that represents the physical keyboard perfectly. Now is also a great time to put in a keymap name.
Step 2: Map Your Layout
To accomplish this simply click on a key on the ErgoDox and then click on the key below that you would like to program to it. Alternatively click on the key on the ErgoDox and simply hit the key on your current keyboard you would like to associate with the key on the ErgoDox.
Tip: Under Quantum, you will see a RESET keycode. I would strongly recommend mapping this to a secondary layer, as this will allow you to put the Hot Dox in DFU mode for flashing without the need to press the button on the bottom of the PCB.
Step 3: Compile Your Firmware
This is a very simple step, simply click the green COMPILE button at the top-right corner of the screen. This will bake a potato for you as it takes a minute to compile your new firmware.
Step 4: Download Your Firmware
Next downlowd your firmware with the green FIRMWARE buttom at the bottom-right corner of the terminal screen. This is also where I would recommending downloading the .JSON file. This is the file that you can use the .JSON Upload button to import your layout back into the online configurator if you’d like to make any changes later.
Step 5: Download QMK Toolbox
Here’s a github link to the toolbox. You want to download the qmk_toolbox.exe file of the latest release.
Step 6: Open QMK Toolbox
Step 7: Load the .hex file into QMK Toolbox
The .hex file is what downloaded when you clicked the FIRMWARE button on the online configurator.
Step 8: Put Hot Dox into DFU Mode
This is as simple as pressing the small button on the underside of the right side. If you mapped a reset button onto your layout in the earlier step this will be the only time you should need to ever press the button.
Step 9: Flash Your Keyboard
Simply click the Flash When Ready button and wait for the program to run. You should see Flashing complete! if everything was successful. After this your Hot Dox will automatically get out of boot mode and be ready to use! You’re done!