What $50 Buys You at Huaqiangbei, the World’s Most Fascinating Electronic Market.


We’re building the Model 01, a hackable ergonomic keyboard with mechanical keyswitches, programmable RGB LEDs, opensource firmware, and a gorgeous hardwood enclosure. We expect to ship later this year. You can pre-order one today at https://shop.keyboard.io. The discount code “BOXOFCRAP” will take fifteen bucks off your order.

Last summer, we ran a pretty successful Kickstarter campaign for our first product, the Model 01 keyboard. Since then, we’ve been hard at work getting the first run of a few thousand keyboards manufactured. It’s been a bit more of an adventure than we’d expected, but things are proceeding apace.

Unsurprisingly, setting up manufacturing has meant that Jesse’s been spending…rather a lot of time in Shenzhen. Mostly, his days at the factory start at 9:30 AM and wrap up somewhere between 8 and 10 PM. But on Sundays, he’s been at loose ends. This trip, he decided to do something about that.

We’ve long been fascinated by the Huaqiangbei electronics market area of Shenzhen. (Hereafter, we’ll just call it HQB.) If you need some bit of electronics or a phone accessory, you can find it in HQB. There is an entire multi-floor shopping mall that sells nothing but phone cases. There’s one that specializes in smartwatches. There’s a mall that sells cellphones wholesale. There’s one just for surveillance cameras. And then there are the component markets. Need a chip? Or 250,000 chips? Somebody there can get them for you.

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