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Keyboard Keyboard Side View

The Sofle Choc is a variation of the Sofle with:

This version supports any Kailh Choc v1 switches. Kailh hotswap sockets are required. Per-key RGB is optional and uses the relativey easy to solder SK6812 MINI-E LEDs.

The top plates are not compatible with Sofle v1, v2 or RGB versions. There is no bottom plate to minimize thickness.

The Sofle Choc was designed by Brian Low and based on the excellent Sofle RGB by Dane Evans which was based on the original Sofle v2 by Josef Adamčík.

Bill of materials

The following is needed to build the keyboard:

Optional components:

Components that are common on other Sofle variants but are not used on this Softle Choc: bottom plate, M2 spacers, M2 spacers

Tools and materials

Steps

Building a Sofle Choc is simiar to the Sofle and Sofle RGB. This guide is abreviated to cover mostly the differences. Refer to the Sofle build guide for more details.

Prepare

Make sure you know which side you are working on, and don’t make two left hand sides by mistake.

The order of assemby does not matter except for these 3 components because they stack on top of one another:

  1. the four OLED jumpers
  2. the Pro Micro
  3. the OLED screen

The remaining components I generally install shortest to tallest so the board lays flat making soldering easier. You can also install a few components at time and test along the way.

Components installed on the back of the PCB:

Components installed on the front:

Switch Sockets and Diodes

Switch sockets and diodes

These components are placed on the back of the PCB.

Diodes must be oriented with the white band in the direction of the “arrow” symbol on the PCB. I typically tin one pad, place the diode on, apply the soldering iron to the diode leg until it melts the solder underneath and sinks flush with the PCB. Then come back and solder the other leg.

The sockets are the largest and easiest to solder. They are installed on the back of the PCB facing up towards the front of the PCB. Make sure they are flush with the PCB.

The LEDs

LED

LEDs are placed on the back of the PCB. The lens should point up through the PCB so they shine into the bottom of the switch. One leg will have a diagonal cut. This cut leg should be aligned with the triangular marking on the PCB.

To solder: tin one pad, place the LED and hold using tweezers, apply heat to the leg until the solder melts and the LED is flush with the board. Now the remaining legs can be soldered without the component moving. The LEDs are sensitive to heat. Let the LED cool between soldering each leg. Use the lowest heat needed for your solder.

The LEDs are wired in one long chain. If a LED is not working, replace the LED and the LED preceeding it. Sometimes just the output a LED is damaged. The full chain does not need to be installed if you want to test a partially built board.

LED

OLED Jumpers

OLED Jumpers

These jumpers should be bridged if using an OLED dispay. The jumpers may not be accessible later in the build depending on how the Pro Micro is attached.

Pro Micro and OLED

Pro Micro

The Pro Micro must be installed upside down: with the components facing the PCB and the plain back facing out. Make sure that you use the through holes with the outline marks on whichever side of the board that you mount the micro on.

Install the OLED so it overhangs the Pro Micro. I added electrican’s tape to the bottom of the OLED module where it might contact the Pro Micro.

Solder misc components

Solder the reset switch and encoder if you haven’t already.

Assemble

Warnings and disclaimers

Firmware and programming

The Sofle Choc uses QMK Firmware. Support is not in the main QMK repository yet. Instead use the brianlow/qmk_firmware fork.

Suggested approach is to build the firmware yourself. You should be familiar with QMK and be able to make it work on your local environment. If not, please follow the instructions in the documentation. Note QMK setup is fairly invasive (upgrade every homebrew package on your system) so you might want to consider the QMK Docker image for compiling.

To flash:

There is also a firmware version that uses VIA. VIA allows you to quickly change your keymap without flashing or a QMK build environment. I highly recommend it for experimenting. There are few downsides:

To use the VIA firmware

Troubleshooting

See the Sofle build guide.

Default layout

The default layout for the Sofle is in the qmk repo, and demonstrates some LED functions.

Default layout for SofleRGB Keyboard

Images of keyboard

Keyboard Photo 1

Keyboard Photo 2

Footnotes