Unboxing the Sneakbox Disarray 70% keyboard

Sunday, June 20, 2021

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A keyboard with the aesthetic of FM radios of the past? What’s not to love? The Disarray is a 70% keyboard from Sneakbox with a unique form factor.

Disarray logo on the back of the case

The Disarray group buy ran from August 1, 2020 to September 5, 2020 via the Sneakbox website. For folks who already had Discipline65 PCB, a retrofit option was also available via the Sneakbox website. The original interest check was on geekhack.

Includes:

  • Case: Anodized aluminum
  • Mount: Top mount
  • Plate: Brass (custom)
  • PCB: Disarray PCB (solder only, see options below). Can also be used with Discipline65 PCB via retrofit option. Disarray PCB options:
    • Staggered: Black with White details
    • Staggered: White with Black details
    • Staggered: Special Edition FR4 - uses a black FR4 substrate with clear solder mask, which enables the you to see the real copper traces
    • Ortho: Black with White Details
    • Ortho: White with Black Details
  • Also includes:
    • Polycarbonate window
    • EVA case foam (under PCB)
    • Rotary encoder
    • Brass knob
    • Screws, LEDs, and rubber strips for feet

I selected the black case and two PCBs: one black with white details, and one special edition FR4. Real copper traces? Sign me up.

Let’s open up this box!

Disarray shipping box

Packaging and box

Packaging is great here. Custom tape and a well-packed box are the first things you notice.

Custom Sneakbox packing tape
Packaging inside the shipping box

We get our first look at the Disarray box itself, sitting without any damage in the box!

Disarray box in shipping box

Pulling the custom box out, it’s really a lot of fantastic attention to detail. If I saw this on a retail shelf, I’d absolutely assume there was a design team behind it. Here’s the front of the box:

Disarray box, front

And the back:

Disarray box, back

There are a lot of fun details on this product box. Here are a couple macro shots:

Up close photo of the box graphics
Logo on the side of the box

Onto the keyboard!

Included in the box

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Opening the Disarray product box (looped)

Immediately, you’ll see a few things: the aluminum case and some of the accessories.

Opened Disarray product box

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the aluminum case. I chose the anodized black option for the case, since I wanted to maximize the number of keycap sets with which it would work well. Here’s the front of the case:

Front of the case

And the back:

Back of the case

This is a top-mount keyboard when using the Disarray PCB. Here’s the top part of the case where the plate is fastened:

Interior of the top of the case

Here are a few macro shots showing the interior parts of the case.

Mounting threads in the top of the case
Rotary encoder through-hole
Interior corner of the case

If you have a Discipline65 PCB, the keyboard also includes the holes and screws to tray mount the Discipline65 PCB. Here’s another photo of the bottom of the case where you could tray mount that PCB:

Interior of the bottom of the case

You also receive EVA foam, a rotary encoder, a brass knob, rubber strips for feet, screws, and LEDs.

EVA foam
Knob, screws, LEDs, encoder, and rubber strips

The plate is brass, which was the only option. The stiffness of the brass plate is necessary to support the PCB, as there are no standoffs or fasteners (apart from the switches) holding the plate and PCB together in this design.

Front of the brass plate
Back of the brass plate

Speaking of brass, the knob for the rotary encoder is a thing of beauty. It’s hefty and well machined.

Brass knob and grub screw
Close up of the knob showing the machining
Interior of the brass knob

Next up, let’s take a look at the two PCBs!

PCB

As I mentioned above, I chose two Disarray PCB options: one white on black and one FR4 copper special edition. Both are in a staggered layout.

Here is the front of both PCBs:

Front of the Disarray PCBs

And here is the back:

Back of the Disarray PCBs

The Disarray PCB is powered by an ATmega 32U4 and has QMK support. It features a USB-C port. The staggered PCB supports ISO, split backspace, stepped capslock, left ISO shift+JIS, and small shift.

Here’s a graphic showing the various layouts that that the PCB supports (solder only):

Disarray staggered PCB layout options. Image courtesy of mujimanic at Sneakbox

Support is one thing, but the PCB itself is well annotated to assist during the building process. Again, attention to detail is fantastic here.

PCB instructions for mounting
PCB instructions for LED placement
PCB instructions for layout options

Part of the Disarray design is that the internals are visible via a polycarbonate window at the top of the case. This is a fanastic design choice, because the details on the PCB look great, especially on the FR4 special edition with the visible copper traces.

ATmega 32U4 at the top of the PCB
Components at the top of the PCB

Measurements

I took a few measurements of some of the parts in case I, or anyone else, has a need for them:

  • Brass knob:
    • Diameter: 23.0mm
    • Interior: 6.1mm
    • Height: 14.0mm
  • PCB:
    • White on black thickness: 1.6mm
    • FR4 (copper) thickness: 1.5mm
  • EVA foam:
    • Thickness: ~2.4mm
  • Brass plate:
    • Thickness: 1.5mm

Final thoughts and more photos

I’m really excited to build this keyboard. 😁

As with many smaller-scale custom products, the manufacture of the Disarray was not 100% easy. However, mujimanic (Bryan) was extremely communicative, transparent, thoughtful, and empathetic with the community through the entire process. It’s been an awesome experience to be part of this group buy.

With that, here are a few more macro shots to close out this post.

Sneakbox logo on the PCB
Copper traces on the FR4 special edition PCB
Disarray name and version on the PCB
Rotary encoder standing up
Underside of the rotary encoder

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