- KBParadise V60 Polestar Keyboard
- Useful links
KBParadise V60 Polestar Keyboard
I like the 60% size, the feel of the cherry MX clear key switches, and the customization potential from its ATMEGA32u4 microcontroller. The original layout of the keyboard did not match the way I prefer for use with a Mac or Linux system, but this can be easily changed. I am using the U.S. layout, other layouts likely work in a similar way. The following describes how to customize the keyboard from a Mac, for comfortable Mac use.
This is the layout defined by default for the keyboard. This layout shows two layers with the first layer printed on the tops of the keys, the top legend, and the second layer on the front.
The real difference is with the arrangement of the modifier keys. The important modifiers being at the bottom left. Here is the default Mac layout from an actual mac keyboard.
- Mac order
- Windows order
Updating the layout from my Mac was simple using a few freely available tools.
The TKG toolkit is a selection of tools supporting the TMK Keymap Generator. It is used to update the keyboard’s EEPROM and firmware. It should be possible to program this keyboard using Quantum Mechanical Keyboard Firmware, but at the time of writing this, the keyboard is not fully supported by qmk.
The Keyboard Layout Editor makes it simple to define a layout by mapping key locations to names.
The TMK Keymap Generator converts a keymap string, such as produced by the keyboard-layout-editor.com, and generates a file that can be used to update the keyboard’s EEPROM. This is then provided to tkg-toolkit to flash the new layout.
Mac Keyboard Viewer
Mac OS X has a keyboard viewer that can be accessed by mouse or other pointing device. This is helpful when keyboard input is required but the physical keyboard is busy being updated.
Clone the tkg-toolkit git repository. The current version of the tkg-toolkit does not contain the firmware
for this keyboard,
fantastic60.hex, as described in this pull
request. I added it to my local repository from
The firmware hex file,
fantastic60.hex, does not appear to be required if all you wish to do is update the EEPROM with a
new layout. I feel is it wise to keep a copy of the current firmware.
Use git to clone the tkg toolkit repo
Execute the following from the command line.
libusb-compat is installed.
Prepare to reflash.
From the tk-toolkit repo, do the following.
1 2 3
During setup you will be prompted to select your keyboard. Select the option for
Fantastic60. You will then be
prompted to select your bootloader. Select the option for
setup.sh script does two things. It
conf directory then a configuration file named
conf/default.ini created by
setup.sh should look like this.
1 2 3 4
Setting the path with
PATH=$PATH:$(pwd)/bin is temporary, so you would either want to update your path differently or just
execute this each time before you re-flash.
Setup Alternate keyboard
Ensure that you can access the Mac Keyboard Viewer. On my system, the Keyboard Viewer looks like this.
It should be possible to activate the keyboard viewer from one of these paths:
- Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, click Keyboard, then select “Show keyboard and emoji viewers in menu bar.”
- System Preferences > Language & Text > Input Sources > Check the box “Keyboard & Character Viewer.”
This keyboard can have multiple layered layouts. The way this works is explained in the TMK Keyboard Firmware Collection here. The keyboard shipped with two layers, but as shown in MechMerlin’s video here1, I too add a third layer.
Define a layout for each layer using keyboard-layout-editor.com. Save the layouts by saving the
raw data. This can be done using the github
functionality provided in the keyboard-layout-editor.com site, or manually from the
raw data tab.
The user manual describes the original layout. My customization includes three layers, numbered zero through two, to match the numbering used by TMK Keymap Generator. Higher numbered layers apply changes for mapped keys and are transparent for un-mapped keys. By transparent I mean that if a higher numbered layer does not define a mapping for a given key, then that key will function as defined in the next lower numbered layer, with a mapping.
I created a public gist for the raw data and a link to load each layout into the keyboard layout editor.
|0||raw data gist, load in page|
|1||raw data gist, load in page|
|2||raw data gist, load in page|
Each of the layers are defined against a
Default 60% keyboard.
The first layer is named layer zero. Here I have altered the order of the meta keys on lower left and remapped the
caps-lock key to the
esc key. The new meta key order matches the default for a mac keyboard. I also altered the
esc key to produce the
Make sure you save your customizations to your gist.
The second layer, layer one, is modified to change the
space-bar to execute firmware function
key is not the same as the
F11 key. The
F11 key is a normal keyboard key.
F11 activation is passed on to
the operating system for interpretation, and in this layer, is still mapped to the key that is
- on layer zero. I
added a few more normal function keys to this layout in case they are actually used by the operating system.
Notice that in this layer the
space-bar key has been re-mapped to
Layer two will map only four keys.
Arrow keys defined for Layer 2
Here all the keys are transparent except the arrow keys defined in the lower right corner.
Make a keymap with TMK Keymap Generator
Go to TMK Keymap Generator.
Select layer mode
Paste each of the three layers we created above into their respective text area.
You can paste the raw data or you can paste the keyboard-layout-editor.com links with the saved content. I have links for my layers in the table here. Your cursor must leave the text area in order for the URL to be fetched and the data parsed. You might need to click on the page outside a text area to trigger the action. You will be presented with errors and warnings if applicable. I have found that errors typically mean that I have pasted data incorrectly.
- Define the firmware functions.
The mapping for the
Fn keys should largely be the same as the default, but with the addition of a toggle setting for
Fn11. Note the action for
Fn11. In both cases they are a toggle to a new layer as described
here. This means that with
each press and release of the key the active layer changes.
Fn0 is being used to activate and deactivate layer one
(the second layer).
Fn11 is being used to likewise activate and deactivate layer two, the third and final layer.
- Click the
Download .eep filebutton to download the
Flashing the keymap to EEPROM
Go back to the command line. You should be in your
tkg-toolkitgit repo in the
macdirectory. You should be there from where you executed the setup and updated the path above.
reflash the EEPROM and provide the path to your newly downloaded
./keymap.eepis replaced with the actual path and file name for the newly created
You will be presented with a prompt asking if you want to continue.
Open the keyboard viewer.
Turn over the keyboard you are flashing, and push the reset button, located on the bottom of the keyboard.
Using the keyboard viewer, Type
Yto answer the continue prompt. Prevent the keyboard from being interrupted during the flashing process.
When the flashing process is complete, you will be prompted to press any key to continue. Use the keyboard viewer to press any key.
Disconnect the keyboard from the USB cable, and then re-connect it. Now test out each layer and ensure it is working the way you want.
You are done. Enjoy!
- dfu programmer
- QMK Firmware docs
- KBParadise V60 polestar
- TMK Keymap Generator
- MechMerlin’s video for programming this keyboard from Windows
- MechMerlin’s video reviewing this keyboard
- Programming Manual from KBParadise for the V60 Type R Keyboard
- Homebrew package manager