I'm building my own reform!

Hey all!

I got a bit carried away, and now I’m building my own Reform. You might have seen pictures on twitter, but people have been telling me that you fine folks here might like to have some updates as well!

It’s no fun to just straight up build the perfectly good, well-designed thing, so I have added my own take on things :slight_smile:

First up, I’ve replaced the barrel jack input with a USB-C port, and am going to be relying on USB-PD for external power. I’m happy with my schematic and layout for this, and am now just waiting for PCBs from my fab to come back so I can see if it actually works. Here is a rendering of my gay pcb:


(note the logo here isn’t up to date; i was impulsive^Wexcited and sent off the board to the fab before there was a proper logo for forks :sweat_smile:)

I’m also changing the keyboard layout! My regular keyboard is a lily58, and I quite like it. So why not make my laptop match?

(this pic is also slightly out of date; you get the gist tho!)
(new users may post 1 image and 2 links per post, so please do not mind my working around these restrictions)

If any part of this sounds like something you’d like to crib notes from, then I’ve pushed all my changes here: https://source.mnt.re/jacqueline/reform/-/tree/master

Note that I explicitly un-recommend anyone from fabbing the altered pcbs in that repo!!! I haven’t tested that they work yet, and I am a massive noob.

I’m still chasing down a few components that are hard to find in these exciting times that we all are living through, but I’m hoping to be able to start some parts of the build soon.

Let me know if you would like more updates on this, or if there is anything about this little project that you’re interested in! Or if you’ve noticed any terrible, show-stopping design choices in my changes to the motherboard!

11 Likes

Yes please post more updates! Are you hand-placing components and then using a reflow oven? Which components are proving hard to find? What are your plans for building a case?

I’m very excited to hear about how the USB-C PD functionality works as well. Let us know how testing goes.

Thank you for contributing to Reform! This is gonna be super cool.

A usb-c power input would be awesome - please keep us updated. :slight_smile:

I’m going to hand-place components! I have an MHP30 (a teeny little hotplate) that I’ll be using to solder all the super tricky stuff, but otherwise will be relying on my trusty pinecil. It’ll be very slow going of course, but I tend to make less mistakes when I can focus on a small section of a project at a time anyway.

Finding components sucks! I’ve had to swap out a bunch of the passives for good-enough replacements, and I’m desoldering dev boards for the very hard to find stuff like the ATMEGA chips. I am making slow and steady progress collecting everything!

The only thing that’s a real blocker is the hinges; I can’t find a distributor for them, and the MOQ is huge. The lovely MNT folks seem happy to help me out there though, since they ended up with tons of the things. Ideally I think it’d be neat if there was a second version of the case with less-nice-but-easier-to-source hinges.

For the case, I’m just getting the standard reform case made myself. It will be in a different colour though, so that everyone knows how cool I am. Also I’m making the bottom panel out of aluminium, because whilst making it transparent is cool as hell I’m also somewhat worried about scratches. (it crossed my mind to make the entire case out of transparent acrylic for that true 90s feel, but gosh that ends up being very expensive for something that’s not actually a good material choice lmao)

2 Likes

Interesting to learn that oshpark was up to the task of fabbing those boards! For some reason I had assumed they would have too many layers and be too complicated for us mere mortals to approach.

Edit: Assuming oshpark because color?

The motherboard pcb has 6 layers, which a fair few hobbyist fabs are capable of doing these days. Everything else is just two.

I mostly went with OSHPark because their capabilities seemed top tier, and a couple of friends had good experiences. JLCPcb looks like it would’ve been cheaper, but I’m not so sure about them.

Certainly I’m already having a good time with the quality of the OSHPark boards. They can take an awful lot of reflow work and crappy soldering and still be perfectly fine! By far they’re the most durable PCBs I’ve worked with.

Do you accept feature requests? :slight_smile: Like to add usb hub and connect usb lines to mpcie, or add more power regulators… and most importantly rotate usb ports (flip upside down)!