How about splitting the space bar, with equal-sized symmetrical halves?

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 Mar 2019, 18:36

Some people hate the split space bar, some like it. In the most common designs nowadays, the right side is larger (typically 2.75U against 2.25 or 2.0; sometimes even more) and the split seems to be offset to the right, compounding the eternal problem of keyboards' physical layouts being already rather right-side-heavy as they are.

I wondered... how about splitting the space bar into two pieces of equal length, that would be symmetrical to the main alphanum cluster's home position? Could this be done elegantly? And, while at it, keep the 1.5/1/1.5 formula for the bottom row that I like best (because, after all, I'm firmly in the IBM Model F/M camp)? I fired up KLE, started tinkering around with the bottom row, and came to this:

Keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars (alphanum block for a battleship, a full-size or a TKL).
Keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars (alphanum block for a battleship, a full-size or a TKL).
split1.png (21.84 KiB) Viewed 1950 times
(yes, yes, ISO and Iberoamerican layout — let's focus on the bottom row)

As we can see here, the replacement is surprisingly easy: keep the 1.5/1/1.5 keys on both sides (or 1.5/(1-1)/1.5 if you dig WKL) and split the 7U space bar into two 2.75U keys; when placing the hands into the home positions at F and J, the thumbs naturally fall into the center of both space bars. The unused space to the right is then filled with a 1.5U key that can be put to use as Menu or Fn or whatever else.

I'd love to see this on a Model F keyboard; the 2.75U (convex) "Code" keys from Selectric typewriters could be easily repurposed into space bars for this layout.

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 Mar 2019, 18:37

... so that seems to be nice for >=TKL form factors, but what about smaller ones? I've been obsessed for months now with actually building a keyboard, and I'll be doing a 75% soon if all goes well. What about splitting the space bar on this form factor as well?

I started with the basic design of what a 75% layout should look like, according to my preferences and whims (the F row has been omitted, for comparison purposes):
75%/65% keyboard layout (without a split space).
75%/65% keyboard layout (without a split space).
split2.png (24.21 KiB) Viewed 1947 times
I then started tinkering with different possibilities. Unlike in the case of a full-size, a 75%/65% layout has differing restrictions that can be prioritized one above others, which yield distinct bottom rows:
Possible bottom rows for a 75%/65% keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars.
Possible bottom rows for a 75%/65% keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars.
split3.png (32.08 KiB) Viewed 1947 times
Style A is more or less the direct translation from the full-size's bottom row to the compact one (with the usual elimination of the RGUI key in favor of the required Fn key). Style B swaps Fn and RALT, so AltGr will be more comfortable to use. Styles C and D ape A and B, but put the RGUI key back and move Fn to the dead center, where both space bars have been reduced to 2.25U each... something that could be more to the liking of some people. Style E does the same, but has RALT and CTRL be 1.5U again, while leaving a 0.5U gap that some people actually prefer (and for which top cases can be found).

I like style B best... and I like style E more than I care to admit.

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 Mar 2019, 18:43

Ok, but then what?

There's not much point to split the space bar if both keys will produce the same characters. Typically, the left space bar is remapped to be Backspace. Others have taken a liking to putting Tab there. What would I do?

Me being me, I press the space bar with my left thumb exceedingly rarely, so I'd keep the right space bar as the space bar. It didn't take me long to figure out what I'd do with the left space bar: a second AltGr key! Of course! Other people may not have a need for it, but the national layouts I use take large if not full advantage of the AltGr layers, and having a way to comfortably type the rightmost key combinations (think of « » ª º in the images above) would be an excellent addition.

What would YOU do?

User avatar
Myoth

17 Mar 2019, 19:04

How about splitting the space bar, with equal-sized symmetrical halves?

Retarded !
Spoiler:
:mrgreen:

Lanrefni

17 Mar 2019, 19:08

depletedvespene wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 18:43
Ok, but then what?

There's not much point to split the space bar if both keys will produce the same characters. Typically, the left space bar is remapped to be Backspace. Others have taken a liking to putting Tab there. What would I do?

Me being me, I press the space bar with my left thumb exceedingly rarely, so I'd keep the right space bar as the space bar. It didn't take me long to figure out what I'd do with the left space bar: a second AltGr key! Of course! Other people may not have a need for it, but the national layouts I use take large if not full advantage of the AltGr layers, and having a way to comfortably type the rightmost key combinations (think of « » ª º in the images above) would be an excellent addition.

What would YOU do?
I prefer to have Space under my left thumb and Backspace under my right.

User avatar
mike52787
Alps Aficionado

17 Mar 2019, 19:09

depletedvespene wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 18:43
What would YOU do?
not use split spacebar

Gampela

17 Mar 2019, 19:27

I posted this to the Ideal Keyboard Layout thread (almost at the same time, mind you lol), but I guess it makes sense to copy it here as well.
Gampela wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 17:16
Speaking of a split spacebar, this is what I've been toying around in my mind for a while now:

Image

The idea being that the navigation keys would be ambidextrous. The split-spacebar builds that I've seen on Internet usually have some variation of 2.75u - 1.25u - 2.25u split being made out of the spacebar which feels kinda arbitrary and doesn't look very good. This one is more symmetrical and so IMO more pleasing to the eye. While I haven't built one yet it SHOULD be doable with the common dz60 PCB.
Seems like we share the same idea about common split-spacebar builds having a bit ugly "slanted" design. I just prefer the modern unified 1.25u modifier look. While the classic 1.5/1/1.5 formula looks good (especially the wkl version), in the case of splitting the spacebar the sheer variety of different sized keys in the bottom row makes it look too busy to my eye.

In terms of functionality (which I guess should probably come first) I think it makes most sense to put the Fn-key right in the middle. That way you can easily reach literally any key while simultaneously pressing the Fn-key with your thumb (of the same hand). No more need for two hands when pressing F1, looking at you my beloved HHKB. Also to me it would make more sense to make it a bit bigger than 1u wide since you're going to be hitting it a lot.

Almost 100% of the time I hit the spacebar with my left thumb but I think I'm a bit too into the symmetry of it to put another functionality to the newly split right key.

Edit: Updated a bit clearer picture and edited some text.

Btw, with Topre style 6u spacebar bottom row you can hit the ultimate symmetry that is 2u/2u/2u split, which feels like the jackpot to me.

User avatar
vvp

17 Mar 2019, 20:24

Space, BackSpace and modfiers (Fn, Ctrl, Alt) are good candidates for keys which will be created by splitting a big space bar.

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 Mar 2019, 20:34

Gampela wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 19:27
In terms of functionality (which I guess should probably come first) I think it makes most sense to put the Fn-key right in the middle.
This is a pretty good idea in a 60% layout, where it does solve the pressing need of having the Fn layers easily accessible (and for which I've proposed in the past to have Fn keys on both sides). It's not as pressing of a need in a >=TKL form-factor, as only a few commands would be there and they will be easily mapped to the left side of the keyboard, while Fn stays to the right. For the compact (75%/65%) layouts, enlarging the Fn key to 1.5U (while keeping it centered) sounds like a nice idea, but it does have the price of making the user tend to press the space bars on their inner edges instead of near the center (a problem that would be worsened by going back to 2.75U in width).

Comparison of bottom rows for a 75%/65% keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars, with 1U and 1.5U Fn keys in the middle.
Comparison of bottom rows for a 75%/65% keyboard layout with symmetrically split space bars, with 1U and 1.5U Fn keys in the middle.
split4.png (22.09 KiB) Viewed 1859 times

Still, this could be an interesting option (but that .025U gap tooth... ain't nice).

Gampela

17 Mar 2019, 23:39

depletedvespene wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 20:34
This is a pretty good idea in a 60% layout, where it does solve the pressing need of having the Fn layers easily accessible (and for which I've proposed in the past to have Fn keys on both sides). It's not as pressing of a need in a >=TKL form-factor, as only a few commands would be there and they will be easily mapped to the left side of the keyboard, while Fn stays to the right.
Honestly, I don't see much of a point having a split spacebar on a keyboard sized 75% or bigger. I don't need another backspace or modifier (for what anyways?). I suppose if you use the usual 7u spacebar layout the AltGr is pushed too far to the right to be pressed comfortably with your right thumb, so having another one on split spacebar could be handy. But that's just an another reason to go with the 6.25u layout.

And as you said with more actual keys there are less need for fn-commands and they all could be grouped on the right side of the keyboard, the menu key being mapped as the fn-key for example.
For the compact (75%/65%) layouts, enlarging the Fn key to 1.5U (while keeping it centered) sounds like a nice idea, but it does have the price of making the user tend to press the space bars on their inner edges instead of near the center (a problem that would be worsened by going back to 2.75U in width).
I suppose having convex/non-convex/convex combination of keys could help with that. I tend to press the spacebar somewhere around under the C and V keys so it isn't that big of a problem for me.
Still, this could be an interesting option (but that .025U gap tooth... ain't nice).
I think the gap can look good on the keyboard on certain situations. It has certainly grown on me over the years. Especially if you use similarly sized gaps in other parts of the design. Like this what I had in my mind, I tried using those 1.5u modifiers this time (still looks a bit too busy to my eyes):

Image

Btw am I the only one who hates seeing different sized modifiers on each side of the spacebar? Like often on 65%, 75% and 1800 keyboards Ctrl and Alt are 1.25u wide on the left side of the spacebar and either 1.5u or 1u wide on the right side. I've yet to find any peer support on this matter.

User avatar
SneakyRobb
THINK

18 Mar 2019, 00:05

I mean... Have you tried this, made the keyboard and used it for a month? Was it good?

It's not a matter of seeing. See good design, just looks good because its good design.
Some aesthetic design is an after thought. If you design something (for humans) it tends to look good.

So, and this isn't an insult. Why don't you make this keyboard and then tell us why you feel its better?
We as humans often observe various things and think they are dumb. Why does this group of people do x in this manner or Y like this.

Until we do those tasks though, it just LOOKS dumb.

So. Can you make this keyboard. Get the keycaps. Lay it out. TYPE on it for a month and tell us why its better?

I am not trying to be a jerk. I am trying to give you an honest and helpful comment.There is no replacement in theory for the actual hand to pad feeling of a keyboard. Don't ask the question why not of everyone here. Just make the thing you think is great and then tell us about it.

User avatar
depletedvespene

18 Mar 2019, 00:45

Gampela wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 23:39

I think the gap can look good on the keyboard on certain situations. It has certainly grown on me over the years. Especially if you use similarly sized gaps in other parts of the design. Like this what I had in my mind, I tried using those 1.5u modifiers this time (still looks a bit too busy to my eyes):

Image
I had gone with 2.75U and 2.25U space bars on my examples because those are the most commonly found bars on keycap sets (2.75U being the only choice on Model F/M). Your choice of 2U is pretty neat and solves the thumb placement issue pretty well (but gives birth to the problem of procuring two 2.0U space bars).

Gampela wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 23:39
Btw am I the only one who hates seeing different sized modifiers on each side of the spacebar? Like often on 65%, 75% and 1800 keyboards Ctrl and Alt are 1.25u wide on the left side of the spacebar and either 1.5u or 1u wide on the right side. I've yet to find any peer support on this matter.
I dislike it, too and find it not acceptable on full-size form factors (on which the 1800 should be grouped in, as much as I personally dislike it), but have learned to accept it as a necessary compromise on compact layouts. I might be doing 1.5/1/1.5 // 1.25/1/1.25 on my keyboard and get rid of the gap tooth.
Bottom rows adapted for 2.0U space bars.
Bottom rows adapted for 2.0U space bars.
split5.png (22.11 KiB) Viewed 1784 times

User avatar
depletedvespene

18 Mar 2019, 02:52

SneakyRobb wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 00:05
So, and this isn't an insult. Why don't you make this keyboard and then tell us why you feel its better?
Oh, I certainly want to! See my comment above about being obsessed with actually building a keyboard and how I'll be doing a 75% if all goes well.

I am more of a software than a hardware guy, and where it comes to logical/national layouts, I have designed, created and used several of those (and yapped endlessly about them). As a matter of fact, I'll soon be doing a post about the Iberoamerican layout, which I have been using exclusively for the last four months, with all the things I've found about it during actual usage.

Hardware is the next step, indeed, and I'm in the initial phase of this. I do wish I could be as knowledgeable and capable about machining as wcass is, and make a Model F version of a 75% with all those things I want in one go, but... I have to start with a lower grade project — a Cherry MX custom, made within the restraint of existing cases and whatnot, with either handwiring (which I still have to learn how to do) or with a custom PCB (which I still have to learn how to do) that supports my nutty/nuttier layout idea(s)... a latter option that could allow others to try this out.

Many of the keyboard projects that we see here take many months from the "Eureka" moment to the "I'm typing on it" moment. Let's see how this one goes.

Lanrefni

18 Mar 2019, 05:40

depletedvespene wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 02:52
SneakyRobb wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 00:05
So, and this isn't an insult. Why don't you make this keyboard and then tell us why you feel its better?
Oh, I certainly want to! See my comment above about being obsessed with actually building a keyboard and how I'll be doing a 75% if all goes well.

I am more of a software than a hardware guy, and where it comes to logical/national layouts, I have designed, created and used several of those (and yapped endlessly about them). As a matter of fact, I'll soon be doing a post about the Iberoamerican layout, which I have been using exclusively for the last four months, with all the things I've found about it during actual usage.

Hardware is the next step, indeed, and I'm in the initial phase of this. I do wish I could be as knowledgeable and capable about machining as wcass is, and make a Model F version of a 75% with all those things I want in one go, but... I have to start with a lower grade project — a Cherry MX custom, made within the restraint of existing cases and whatnot, with either handwiring (which I still have to learn how to do) or with a custom PCB (which I still have to learn how to do) that supports my nutty/nuttier layout idea(s)... a latter option that could allow others to try this out.

Many of the keyboard projects that we see here take many months from the "Eureka" moment to the "I'm typing on it" moment. Let's see how this one goes.
If you don't mind sandwich style cases getting one laser cut from acrylic is pretty cheap these days,I've used Ponoko a few times and their prices are pretty reasonable.

User avatar
vvp

18 Mar 2019, 10:25

Sandwidtch cases are OK and rather cheap. You can go with acrylic or wood. If you have access to a good band saw then you can cut them yourself. The wooden one can look extremely well if you devote the time to surface finishing.

If you have an access to a reprap 3d printer then you can print a case very cheaply (essentially only the material cost which is about 25 €/kg for a good quality filament). Divide the case to more pieces, print in ABS and glue together with ABS-glue, paint with acetone. It will not look as good as a wooden one but it is less work and more complicated shapes are doable easily.

User avatar
depletedvespene

18 Mar 2019, 12:11

vvp wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 10:25
Sandwidtch cases are OK and rather cheap. You can go with acrylic or wood. If you have access to a good band saw then you can cut them yourself. The wooden one can look extremely well if you devote the time to surface finishing.

If you have an access to a reprap 3d printer then you can print a case very cheaply (essentially only the material cost which is about 25 €/kg for a good quality filament). Divide the case to more pieces, print in ABS and glue together with ABS-glue, paint with acetone. It will not look as good as a wooden one but it is less work and more complicated shapes are doable easily.
I am in for a nice black case from a certain GB that's currently running, and I intend to use it for this project. I have to see if the plate that'll be provided with it can serve my needs or not (and in the latter case, I'll be needing to have one made).

There are plenty of other "nutty" or "highly experimental" layouts that I intend to build at some point for which an acrylic sandwich case will be the proper option, though.

User avatar
vvp

18 Mar 2019, 14:34

Swill has a plate builder if you are not aware about it by some strange chance.
This is probably it: http://builder.swillkb.com/
There is a lot of discussion about it on geekhack.
I never used it myself.

Sekkei

18 Mar 2019, 16:22

I think a smaller spacebar would feel very different, more sharp and precise, something I can imagine to use
The only problem would be for people like me that hit the spacebar between V-B-N

You could try removing the second spacebar entirly, make one bar 1 unit longer an use 1,75 for ctrl and alt

Image

Lanrefni

18 Mar 2019, 16:34

vvp wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 14:34
Swill has a plate builder if you are not aware about it by some strange chance.
This is probably it: http://builder.swillkb.com/
There is a lot of discussion about it on geekhack.
I never used it myself.

I used it to design the top plates for my BFO-9000,it's pretty easy to use.

User avatar
Telstar

22 Mar 2019, 03:16

Gampela wrote:
17 Mar 2019, 19:27
I posted this to the Ideal Keyboard Layout thread
Link to it?

OxC0FFEE

21 May 2019, 00:30

I've also noodled on this and gone so far as to print it to scale, mime "typing" on it, and procure some 2u caps to try it.

My KLE is here and attached below
Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 18.07.35.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 18.07.35.png (488.94 KiB) Viewed 1309 times
I'm experimenting with options for stagger and spacebar size.
I went crazy and made an ISO version too
Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 18.27.26.png
Screen Shot 2019-05-20 at 18.27.26.png (127.27 KiB) Viewed 1309 times

Findecanor

21 May 2019, 01:20

I think I would prefer this physical layout for 60%. On a 65%, there would be a proper inverse-T arrow cluster, there would be an additional Alt/Opt mirroring the left and Fn would move down.
For Windows or Unix, Alt/Opt and Windows/Command could be swapped.
hhkbish.jpg
hhkbish.jpg (74.76 KiB) Viewed 1295 times
On Unix, the Compose key is often mapped to Menu, and neither is used as a modifier key: Therefore, overload the Fn key to have its functionality (but allow it to be disabled, because the actual Menu key is annoying).
The Hyper key might be superfluous for Unix users, but Windows and Mac users might have Caps Lock where Control is and Control where Hyper is.

Post Reply

Return to “Keyboards”