MiniVan kits and parts are available from TheKey.Company
Originally known as TheVan44, MiniVan is the first keyboard designed by TheVanKeyboards.
The first MiniVan group buy sold 50 units; each kit contained TheVan44 PCB, an aluminum case and plate, plate-mount stabilizers, and assembly hardware. Following the early success, a round 2 group buy was run through MassDrop with an updated case and PCB. Several more rounds of group buys as well as in-stock kits and individual parts were sold as in-stock items on TheVanKeyboards.com.
Following the closure of TheVanKeyboards.com, TheKey.Company acquired exclusive rights to produce and sell MiniVan, including several TVK-designed PCBs and cases. As a result, new MiniVan-compatible products that have been designed by Trash Man have avoided using the name "MiniVan" and the "Van" suffix altogether. After deciding to implement port scanning on future PCB designs, Trash Man has adopted a nautical-themed naming scheme for some new projects (e.g. Ketch, Skiff, and Hull).
On June 11, 2021 - 555 days after acquiring the rights to MiniVan - new MiniVan keyboard kits were finally made available for purchase directly from TheKey.Company. Kits include the same hotswap PCB that TheVanKeyboards previously sold, the same injection-molded plastic case in four of the original five colors, an aluminum switch plate, a cable, and assembly hardware.
According to the creator, the original design goal for MiniVan was to create a unique 40% keyboard that could be used as a daily driver. The design objectives were as follows:
- Staggered layout
- Needed the forward slash key
- Stick as close to QWERTY as possible
- Two function layers accessible from either side of the keyboard
- Split spacebar
More information can be found about the history of the design on this archived About Us page from TheVanKeyboards.com
The first MiniVan prototype. The board was hand-wired with a Teensy microcontroller.
The back of the prototype case with the original name of the board burned in with a soldering iron.
MiniVan is traditionally a tray mount keyboard that uses M2 screws to secure the PCB to the bottom case. This allows users to build the keyboard with or without a switch plate depending on their own preferences. Multiple MiniVan-compatible PCBs have been developed by TVK/Trash Man and several community members that are drop-in replacements for MiniVan cases. Many of these new PCBs add more layout options and implement features like PCB-mount stabilizers, USB C, RGB indicators, and Kaihl hotswap sockets. Several different and unique cases that support MiniVan PCBs have also been designed and produced with various materials and mounting methods.
Trash Man's fleet of MiniVan variants
Firmware can be generated using Trash Man's Configurator.
KLE available here: http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/b6d6a56c69e3d90da893288694332229
Nearly all MiniVan PCBs support multiple bottom row layouts to allow for flexibility and customization dependent on each user's preferences. Every board does not support every layout shown below. Information about supported layouts for specific PCBs is available on the pages linked in the PCBs section below.
Keycap compatibility is commonly an issue for MiniVan and its derivatives. There are three non-standard keys shared by all MiniVan layouts that are required for proper coverage. Keycap sets that include all three of these keys (with or without proper legends) are considered "3-key compatible":
- row 2 1.75u Backspace - this is commonly referred to as the "MiniVan key" or "gamer backspace"
- row 3 1.25u (usually Tab)
- row 3 1.5u (usually Enter or Fn)
- A fourth key - row 2 1u Esc - is sometimes included and referred to as "4-key compatible". This is not a hard requirement as many base kits include row 2 1u keys from the TKL navigation cluster such as End and Del.
3-key/4-key compatible sets will generally cover a MiniVan and other boards with MiniVan-based layouts such as Oceanographer and Bepovan. There are some keycaps sets that omit one or more of these keys - even from dedicated 40s kits. In response, TtocyobItna and 40700 were designed to stretch the MiniVan layout with larger, standard modifiers found in most modern base kits.
Support for these layouts can be found on nearly all TVK/Trash Man designed MiniVan PCBs
- Standard - 1.25/1.50/1.25u bottom-left, 2.25/2u split spacebar, 1.25/1.50/1.75u bottom-right
- Arrows - The 3 keys in the bottom-right are replaced with 1.5/1/1/1u to allow for a traditional orthogonal arrow key arrangement
- Southpaw - The 3 keys in the bottom-left are replaced with 4x 1u keys. Nobody knows why this is called "southpaw", not even Trash Man himself
- Southpaw + Arrows - both the left and right sides of the bottom row are swapped for Southpaw and Arrows layouts, respectively
These layouts require custom keycaps or stabilizers and may not have explicit support in the configurator
- 425 Spacebar - a 3D printed 4.25u HuB spacebar spans across both spacebar positions. This requires the use of a custom-bent stabilizer wire. The 4.25u spacebar is also compatible with the Arrows and Southpaw layouts.
- JISVan - a 3D printed 1.5u/1u JIS/ISO Enter style key is installed on the right side of the middle two rows. This may require a 2u PCB- or plate-mount stabilizer on supported PCBs
- 900 Spacebar - a 3D printed 9u HuB spacebar is installed on the 2u spacebar switch position. This layout requires a 7u plate-mount stabilizer for all PCBs
Trying to determine case compatibility for your PCB? Check out the MiniVan Compatibility Matrix
There are three iterations of the MiniVan PCB that was included in complete kits. Some models were also sold as standalone PCBs on TheVanKeyboards.com.
- TheVan44 - The original PCB that was included with the first few rounds of group buy kits
- Low Rider - A revised board that includes support for PCB mount stabilizers and adds new layout options
- MiniVan HS - A completely redesigned PCB that adds Kaihl hotswap sockets and RGB indicator LEDs
¶ Standalone PCBs
Several other PCBs designed by TheVanKeyboards/Trash Man have reimagined what is possible in the MiniVan form factor.
- BigBoi - A prototype produced to test the usability of large (9u+) spacebars and introduced a unique ortholinear layout
- JetVan - A MiniVan-compatible PCB with a single layout based around a full-size 6.25u spacebar with arrow keys
- Ketch - A new PCB built from the ground up to support portscanning
Multiple community members have designed their own PCBs for MiniVan cases and have brought unique features and layouts.
- Airport Shuttle - Bluetooth-enabled PCB with MiniVan and JetVan support
- GetawayVan - ARM-powered PCB with per-key RGB LED lighting, USB C, Alps support, and a unique set of bottom row layouts
- Ice Cream Truck - a Minivan-compatible PCB that uses Kaihl Choc switches
- Lesovoz - a split ortholinear through-hole PCB kit
- m3n3van - a streamlined PCB built around a bottom row that uses double 3u spacebars
- Minibaen - a 13u-wide ortholinear PCB squeezed in a 12.75u form factor
- Minisub - a hotswap PCB that supports split space and JetVan layouts
- Model-V - an extremely flexible board with JetVan and 2x3u support
- Omnibus - the universal MiniVan PCB. Supports nearly every MiniVan bottom row layout ever created
- Taco Truck - uniform stagger, hotswap, and 7u spacebars
- SteamVan - an open-source MiniVan-compatible PCB based on the STM32 MCU
- Wanten - an ortholinear PCB for non-tray-mount MiniVan cases
Plate files and case dimensions can be found on the Files page
Trying to determine case compatibility for your PCB? Check out the MiniVan Compatibility Matrix
There are two case variants that were included with MiniVan kits sold during group buys
¶ Standalone Cases
TheVanKeyboards/Trash Man designed and produced multiple standalone cases that were sold without PCBs
- Aria - spiritual successor to the MHKB case made of stainless steel
- Atom - a translucent purple injection-molded plastic case
- Catalyst - a translucent smoked gray injection-molded plastic case
- Coriander - a thick-bezel three-layer case made from artificial stone
- Hull - a springy low-profile bottom-mount case designed for the good flex
- MHKB - a heavy sandwich mount case that features a 5mm thick aluminum switch plate and switch blockers
- MiniVan standard case - an injection-molded plastic case that came in black or white
- Rackmount - a low-profile, all-brass keyboard with a built-in carrying handle
There are several community members that have designed their own MiniVan-compatible cases that bring unique features and mounting syles
- Campsite - A premium, heavy isolation mount case
- Carpool - An open-source case that supports multiple mounting styles. Designed to be CNC machined or 3D printed with STL and STEP files available
- Hubris - An open-source top mount case that uses Coriander plates
- KnuckHull- The love child of Rackmount and Hull
- MFR - A thick tray mount case machined from aluminum or acrylic
- P3D Store sells several MiniVan cases on their site with multiple switch plate materials:
- P3NV4N - A 3D printed MiniVan case featuring a V4N4G0N-inspired pen rail. Case can be viewed on GitHub
- P⁴KCR3 - A simplified isolation mount case for maximum flex
- Polycarbonate Rackmount (PCrack) - A modified Rackmount milled from polycarbonate designed for the Airport Shuttle PCB
- Pomelo - A premium top mount case with a USB-C daughterboard and integrated pen rail
- Community member Something-Cynical designed a pair of open-source MiniVan cases inspired by the IBM F62 and the KeyboardBelle Cassette that can be viewed on GitHub
- Community member TheRoyal designed several open-source cases and switch plates for several TVK boards including MiniVan that can be viewed on GitHub
- KeyboardBelle sold multiple 3D printed tray mount cases for the MiniVan