Introducing the Bastion series of PCBs

Today, we’d like to introduce our new Bastion series of PCBs. These PCBs are meant to support as many keyboards as possible, and are available in 60, 65, 75, and TKL layouts. These PCBs can serve as your last line of defense against dead and unavailable PCBs for custom keyboards. If your PCB is broken, we hope that in the majority of cases, there will be a Bastion PCB to help take its place. The PCBs feature popular cutouts along the edges, and Molex Pico EZ-Mate connectors for compatibility with unified daughterboards. Every Bastion PCB is powered by an RP2040 - and comes preflashed with QMK firmware and VIA support.

The STEP files for these Bastion PCBs are publicly available, so designers can check their keyboard designs for Bastion support. Our goal is not to replace custom tailored PCBs for custom keyboards - there will always be a place for that – and we still recommend buying an extra PCB when buying a custom keyboard for peace of mind. But, we do want to provide options for people when those extra PCBs might not be available.

Our intent is to keep the Bastion line of PCBs in stock in perpetuity. We don’t want to leave anyone stranded, and the PCBs already support a good number of existing keyboards. In the future, we might add additional functionality to each of these PCBs, but we won’t remove features. Some of the PCBs in the Bastion series have per-key single color LED backlight support, others have headers for RGB underglow strips - but others might not. As we iterate, we’ll be sure to clearly mark our Bastion PCBs with new revision numbers, and publish a changelog as well.

Finally - for those of you who do want to design around a Bastion PCB and need help sourcing them, we will also offer affordable bulk rates for these PCBs. Sometimes, it’s not cost effective to pay for a custom PCB design for a small group buy run. For these situations, we hope Bastion can fit the bill.

For a bit more context into the motivation behind this series of PCBs - over the past few years, we’ve seen the adoption of daughterboards take off in the custom keyboard hobby. This has undoubtedly been great for the community - daughterboards help prevent a broken USB port from causing the whole PCB to be considered waste, and they’ve allowed more flexibility in USB port placement in the design process as well.

But using the JST-SH standard, there still typically had to be a case cutout for the JST connector. This meant that PCBs still had to be specifically designed around every keyboard - as the JST connector positioning would vary based on the board. Two boards could have identical layouts, identical edge cuts, and identical mounting, but the JST port positioning could require each PCB to have a unique, different PCB.

With lower profile Molex Pico EZMate connectors, this constraint no longer exists. The connector is shorter than a hotswap socket, and should be compatible with any unified daughterboard based PCB. The cable routing might not be optimal - but as long as the Bastion shares a layout with your custom keyboard, and the edge of the PCB doesn’t interfere with the case, it should work as a viable replacement.

Overall, we’re extremely excited to finally be launching the Bastion series. As more layouts become widely popular, we’ll be sure to keep our product line updated, and we’re always willing to listen to your feedback as well.