The CaraVan is a premium split 40% keyboard based off of the MiniVan.
CaraVan was available during a long-running 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 parts, and assembly hardware.
|Plate files||DXFs on the Files page|
|Connections||Integrated Mini USB (host)|
|Mini HDMI (interconnect)|
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. 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.
The CaraVan PCB supports two layouts:
The plates that shipped with CaraVan only support the Standard layout.
DXF files for cutting new plates that support both layouts can be found on the Files page
CaraVan utilizes a two-piece PCB design. Like many early TVK boards, it includes support for both Cherry MX and Alps-style switches and single-color LED backlighting. The left half is powered by the ATmega32U4 MCU and connects to the host via mini USB. The right half contains no circuitry other than the traces and diodes to connect the switches to the matrix.
The board is notable for the use of Mini HDMI as an interconnect between the halves instead of the more common TRRS connector found on many split keyboards. HDMI cables have 19 pins which allows the key matrix to be sent across the cable directly instead of requiring the use of serial/i2c chips on each PCB half. This resulted in a simpler, more elegant design. However this plan was not a complete success; Mini HDMI is a niche connector and many cables are not built to the full specification. Cheap Mini HDMI cables commonly omit wires or use shared ground wires, causing issues as multiple pins are tied together. Plugging in a Mini HDMI to Mini HDMI cable that does not conform to the HDMI specification result in improper electrical grounding. A simple workaround is to use Mini HDMI to HDMI adapters on each half and a full-size HDMI to full-size HDMI interconnect cable.
This Monoprice 9" Mini HDMI to Mini HDMI cable has been tested and confirmed working with CaraVan PCBs: https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=6962
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.
Only one case has ever been created for CaraVan - a two-piece CNC-milled aluminum case with matching aluminum plates. The case was designed as two separate pieces that can be pushed together to recreate the familiar MiniVan form factor. The plates include cutouts for plate mount stabilizers.
All cases sold by TheVan Keyboards were nickel plated to a mirror finish. The aluminum plates were also nickel plated to match.
A one-off pink-and-black anodized case was produced for CaraVan to match the Acid Pink Roadkit. For many years it remained in Trash Man's possession. It was sold in 2020 and now belongs to a private collector.