ErgoBlue 2: Wireless and Solar Powered ErgoDox Mechanical Keyboard

Posted by Xudong Zheng on November 19, 2020

Interested in building your own? Check out the ErgoDox Wireless product page for more details. The assembly and firmware setup process for the commercial version is much simpler than for the DIY version described in this blog post.

The ErgoBlue 2 design is very outdated with many shortcomings. This post remains simply to serve as a record of the build.

I designed the first ErgoBlue in early 2019 after wanting a wireless version of the ErgoDox that I had previously used for two years. Since then I've made a number of improvements culminating in the release of ErgoBlue 2.

Key Features

Table of Contents

This blog post highlights my personal ErgoBlue 2 build process. The process will be similar for someone going the complete DIY route. The part sourcing and hardware assembly process for the group buy will be significantly easier.

GitHub Repositories

Below you will find a quick list of repositories related to this project. Each repository is also linked from the relevant page above under the Table of Contents. I suggest navigating via those pages for the complete context and details on how to use each repository.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can this run QMK?

While there are forks of QMK that support the Nordic nRF52840, official QMK likely never will due to licensing issues. I would however recommend against QMK forks due to the setup complexity. I recommend that users try ZMK. See the firmware page for more information.

What kind of battery does the keyboard use?

The keyboard can use a single 3.7V LiPoly battery or two rechargeable AAA batteries in series. USB charging is only available for 3.7V LiPoly batteries.

How long is the battery life without solar charging?

When using an external controller without using solar charging, 400mAh LiPoly battery can last around 8 months. Two 750mAh Eneloop rechargeable AAA can last around 2 years. That said, battery life will be highly dependent on firmware.

If one of the halves is used as the central half without an external dongle, the battery life will be days or weeks instead of months.

Do I still need to charge manually if I get solar charging?

In my case, solar is enough to maintain the battery voltage. In your case, maybe or maybe not. See the solar battery life page for details.

Is it possible to not have an external controller?

It's possible to not have an external controller and to use one of the halves as a controller. When doing so, the battery life for the controller half will be significantly worse; it would last a few weeks rather than several months.

What changed from version 1 to version 2?

Why did you recreate the ErgoDox rather than going with a smaller form factor?

The ErgoDox has certainly received a lot of criticism for many keys being difficult to reach. I personally don't use some of those further keys but many people don't find them uncomfortable. Removing them wouldn't necessarily make the keyboard smaller. One reason I like the form factor is that it's relatively easier to buy aftermarket keycaps for it compared to many more obscure ergonomic keyboard layouts.

Does the keyboard have LEDs?

The keyboard does not support LEDs as they use a huge amount of power and would significantly diminish the battery life.