The CaraVan is a premium split 40% keyboard based off of the MiniVan.
It ran as a single sale starting in March 2017. The board never had an interest check or group buy - less than 20 units were produced by TVK and were sold as in-stock items on TheVanKeyboards.com for a price of $500. Kits shipped with a pair of PCBs (left and right halves), nickel-plated aluminum case and plate pieces, and assembly hardware.
CaraVan was designed to resemble a MiniVan split down the middle. When pushed together it appears no different than a normal MiniVan (excluding the interconnect cable plugged into the top). However, pulling the halves apart reveals its true nature as a split keyboard. Only the left half includes a mini USB port to connect to the host. Communication between the halves is handled using a pair of Mini HDMI connectors located along the top of each half. The board uses the same tray mount design as the original MiniVan cases. Plate mount stabilizers are required for the split spacebars as the PCB does not include holes for PCB-mount stabilizers. All switches are oriented in the north-facing position and include pads for through-hole LEDs.
Firmware for the board can be generated using the Configurator
KLE available here: http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/dd03cbd1452017eb9582218917396d5c
The CaraVan PCB supports two layouts:
CaraVan utilizes a two-piece PCB design. Like many early TVK boards, it includes support for both Cherry MX and Alps-style switches. The board is notable for the use of Mini HDMI as an interconnect between the halves (instead of something more common like TRRS connectors). This decision was made because HDMI cables have 19 pins, allowing the key matrix to be sent across the cable directly instead of requiring the use of serial/i2c chips on each half to multiplex the matrix like many other split boards use. Theoretically this would result in a simpler, more elegant design. However, this plan was not a complete success as the pinout of Mini HDMI cables is modified compared to standard full-size HDMI. Additionally, some Mini HDMI cables use shared ground wires, causing electrical grounding issues as multiple pins are tied together. Plugging in a cheap Mini HDMI to Mini HDMI cable causes issues with improper electrical grounding as the board was designed with the assumption that each pin (including ground pins) would have have its own dedicated wire in the cable. This necessitates the use of Mini HDMI to HDMI adapters on each half and a full-size HDMI to full-size HDMI cable to connect the halves.
Only a single prototype board for CaraVan is known to exist. It has a red solder mask and white silkscreen like most other TVK prototype PCBs. The silkscreen text for the LED positions on the underside of the board is unintentionally mirrored. This was fixed for the production boards that were sold with kits.
The boards are covered in a yellow solder mask with white silkscreen. The front of both PCBs contain no components and have the model name, revision number, and the text "Designed by TheVan Keyboards" written on them. The left-hand PCB is marked "Model L-uH Left" and the right-hand PCB is marked "Model L-uH Right". The rear of the PCBs include all surface-mount components as well as the Mini HDMI and Mini USB connectors. A reset switch is mounted on the back of the left-hand PCB near the Mini USB port.
Chop Shop is a PCB designed by Aeternus Decorum that supports all original TheVanKeyboards boards, including CaraVan's split layout. The board comes as one piece and needs to be physically snapped in half in order to be installed into an original CaraVan case. It adds several modern features to CaraVan like per-key RGB lighting and USB C connectors for both the computer connection and the interconnect between halves.
Only one case has ever been created for CaraVan - a two-piece nickel-plated CNC-milled aluminum case with matching nickel-plated aluminum plates. The case was designed as two separate pieces that could be pushed together to recreate the familiar MiniVan form factor. Curouts are included for plate mount stabilizers.