JER Mini: 65% but with macros

As of now, 65% is my favorite layout. It balances size and functionality for my
uses, and does not have that god awful function row that messes with the width to depth ratio
on boards. The extra column to the right adds a ton of
functionality, but also creates an imbalanced look where the right side modifiers are thicker
than the left. This becomes especially evident when using
keycaps where the modifiers are not the same colors as the alphas. The Jer Mini tries to improve on this by symmetrically
adding a column to the left In some ways, the design of the Jer Mini is
very simple with just a couple trendy elements. It’s a box on top of a wedge, but this time,
the bottom wedge is angled inward in the rear. This is a design most iconically seen in the
TGR Jane V2, as well as in boards like the Polaris and the KBD 8x Mark ii. The only thing of note in the side profile
is how low to the ground the board is. While the bezel looks pretty chunky, the actual
distance from the resting surface to the top of the bottom row of caps is pretty low. Take a comparison to the QXP, which is a board
that specifically had this in mind. It’s almost the same height, while the E6-V2
is noticeably taller. I generally like boards that do this as it
seems like an efficient use of space whereas taller boards seem more bloated than they
have to be. This will also be more comfortable for people
who type with their wrists resting on the desk. The rear is what you’d expect. The mini usb port is on the left side of the
board, and the cutout is of pretty standard tightness. I prefer centered ports but this was probably
a convenient spot considering the lack of keys in that corner. And of course, I would have preferred Type
C. The bottom is kind of weird. As you can see, there are sort of three stages
to the wedge. The front centimeter or so is a more aggressive
angle that reduces at the middle half. Then, there is a step to the rear half, which
seems to increase the angle yet again. I’m not really sure what the goal of this
approach was. My other keyboard from the JER series, J80,
has a similar bottom, so this might just be a signature design element. Another thing is the placement of the weight. This seems to be a raw and roughly polished
piece of brass with the engraving lasered on. The most notable thing about it is that it’s
off center. The Jane V2 CE had something similar, where
the weight was directly below the alphas for sound reasons or whatever, but following that
logic, this is on the wrong side. The weight starts at around the G key and
extends to the right end of the board. Kinda weird. The off center weight means an axis of rotation
that’s not totally down the middle. Based on the length of the board, the midpoint
is around the middle of the H key, but instead, the axis seems to be on the left side of the
J key. This is very important information for many
in the community. There are a lot more interesting elements
on the top. To start, the side bezels are approximately
the same width, and so are the top and bottom ones. However, the bottom bezel is made of this
separate piece that protrudes up a bit. It’s not intrusive but adds a little bit
of flair to the part of the board closest to you. It also contains 3 pinholes. On mine they’re configured to be indicator
lights. To the left is that all-important macro column. It’s four keys tall and is separated from
the 65% portion by what looks like a .25u gap. The top key is missing in order to make room
for the logo. A lot of people seem to fill this in with
paint, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet. The one I have is a E-White version which
was available a couple months before the group buy. The finish is very nice, and is a true white
as opposed to a light gray on MAO. Where anodization feels more like a raw metal
surface, this feels very close to paint. I really prefer the texture of this finish
over anodizing. If you were to wash this, you’d be able
to get it squeaky clean whereas an anodized surface will always feel matte. These 8 gold colored screws on the back holds
the top to the bottom. The front middle two screws also holds the
separate front lip in place. Undoing them reveals that this board is bottom
mounted, meaning the plate is screwed into the bottom case, by 8 mounting points, none
of which is right under the spacebar. On the inside of the bottom piece, you can
see the two screws that hold in the weight. On the group buy page, there is a warning
about potentially damaging the threads when removing it, so you should probably leave
that alone. Moving on to the PCB, you can see there’s
not a lot of supported layouts. Other than ISO, there’s the option of choosing
between regular and stepped caps lock, as well as 6.25 or 7u bottom row. It doesn’t even support split backspace,
which is a bit strange. On the front side of the PCB, there are three
slots for single color indicator leds. Interestingly, on the top left, where the
logo is, there are footprints for SMD RGB LEDS, much like the Canoe. I assume there had been previous iterations
of the design where that logo would shine light through. On the four sides of the plate and the bottom
case, are these cutouts, which together make slots for the guides on the top piece. This allows the bottom and top halves to meet
fairly consistently, though there is still a bit of give. In terms of finish, I can’t directly comment
on the from-factory condition, because I bought this second hand, but I don’t see anything
that would signal to me that there were low manufacturing standards. Even the insides of the case, which won’t
be visible at any point have consistent finishes, and while some of you might not like the scratchy
finish on the weight, I would argue that that’s a conscious choice to add a bit of raw edge. The overall construction of this board is
pretty standard, but has elements of well thought out design. Every piece fit together to a reasonable tolerance,
and the finish is of good quality. I’m pleased with this board. Being a bottom mount keyboard with an aluminum
plate, there’s really not much to say about the typing experience on the JER Mini. As expected, it’s not really flexible, but
there is just a bit of softness on the bottom out. There’s not much vibration transfer from
the typing hand to the resting hand, and the feel is more or less consistent across all
areas. In terms of mounting, it doesn’t really
do anything special, nor did it ever try, so it’s expected that the feel is familiar. The same goes for the sound. The design is relatively tame and the build
is pretty good, but the thing that distinguishes the Jer Mini from other 65% boards is the
layout. More specifically, the macro column. I think it really does look great, but there
are some usability concerns. This is the same problem I had when using
the DSI Modular keyboard. I would accidentally hit the bottommost key
instead of left shift. The problem isn’t as bad as before because
this column is separated, but I often find myself looking down after a copy and paste
didn’t work. Because of this common mistake, I assigned
the bottom key to be nothing, which seems kind of wasteful. Thankfully, I don’t have the same problem
with the escape key because the top left corner is absent. So from a pure functionality point of view,
a missing key on the bottom would have helped. Though that would really mess up the aesthetics
of the layout so I’ll just have to get better with this. Besides, depending on how you find your left
control, you might not even have this problem. To add to the usability concerns, the board
is programmed using Bootmapperclient, which is more limiting than QMK. I heard all Bootmapperclient PCBs can be ported
to use QMK, but I don’t know if anyone has done that. For the most part, this is a pretty regular
keyboard, with its main appeal being the aesthetically pleasing layout. That macro column does a lot to balance out
a right-heavy 65% layout, while also creating space for artisans for people who are into
those. I still haven’t really figured out what
to put there, but in the future maybe I’ll experiment with what works best for me while
video editing or something. it’s an inoffensive typing experience and
sound, and I’ll probably keep it around to take pictures of keycaps.

7 thoughts on “JER Mini: 65% but with macros

  1. What would you use the macro column for?

    Intro: 00:00
    Design: 00:31
    Disassembly & Build Quality: 03:33
    Typing Experience: 05:12
    Sound Test: 05:37
    Layout & Usability: 06:32
    Conclusion: 07:35

    Accurate English subtitles are available

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