What do you think about this keyboard?

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PlacaFromHell

14 May 2020, 06:09

Hello. I have been complaining about the standard keyboard layouts for at least two years. My big problems with it where the following:
-All the navigation clusters (including the mouse) in the right side
-A confusing and bad optimized numpad
-Way too big Enter for ISO layouts, which is stupid and hard to stabilize
-F keys are not as useful as they should
-An irrational extra 0.25 wide
-Lack of such an useful key as Back Tab

The first result was kinda a monstruosity, so I wanted to make something a tiny bit more orthodox. Today I finally came up with a keyboard that is both normal enough to be easy to get used to and also corrects all the considered problems.

Image

It's kinda self explanatory except for the F keys. You can have a set of 12 often used programing instructions for your main coding language (I grabbed C because YOLO), a set of 12 useful text macros, a bunch of FN keys or just the normal F keys. The current mode is displayed with an RGB LED.

Findecanor

14 May 2020, 07:38

I think numpad on the left is what the "full-size" layout should have got in the first place.

Everything else, I disagree on. The Return key should be big so as to be easy to hit, considering that the little finger isn't nearly as precise as a thumb and index finger ... and because it's the law.
Back-Tab is on Shift+Tab already.

BTW. The pic doesn't work unless you right-click on it and watch in another tab.
Edit: None of the images work in Chromium for me, but they work in Firefox... hmm.
Last edited by Findecanor on 14 May 2020, 18:23, edited 3 times in total.

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vvp

14 May 2020, 09:44

I could see the picture.

The layout: There is no significant improvement compared to standard keyboards. Get an ergonomic keyboard with thumb clusters (Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, ...).

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2020, 11:14

(I can see the picture just fine here on my phone too.)

I agree with vvp. You’re bang in the unhappy middle where there’s not enough difference from standard to be noticeably better to use, but plenty enough that you’re incompatible with all the best keycaps sets! Go big or go home.

Shifting the numpad to the left, though, that’s entirely correct. Some boards have done this over the years. As a 60% user myself, I appreciate a well centred homerow!

Incidentally, what drives me nuts on ISO is that tiny left shift. You’re keeping that? ~shame on you~1

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PlacaFromHell

14 May 2020, 11:25

Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 07:38
I think numpad on the left is what the "full-size" layout should have got in the first place.

Everything else, I disagree on. The Return key should be big so as to be easy to hit, considering that the little finger isn't nearly as precise as a thumb and index finger ... and because it's the law.
Back-Tab is on Shift+Tab already.

BTW. The pic doesn't work unless you right-click on it and watch in another tab.
Thanks for the honest opinion. As a 3101 layout user I LOVE the 2x1U enter key. Still, get the point of the law, I think that's the main problem of try to get a keyboard both compact and as complete as you can. I know about the Shift + Tab thing, otherwise it would not be possible to make a Back Tab macro.
About the picture, that's strange, I can perfectly see it.

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PlacaFromHell

14 May 2020, 11:32

vvp wrote:
14 May 2020, 09:44
I could see the picture.

The layout: There is no significant improvement compared to standard keyboards. Get an ergonomic keyboard with thumb clusters (Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, ...).
Sorry, I don't want to go alien with this :lol:
Muirium wrote:
14 May 2020, 11:14
(I can see the picture just fine here on my phone too.)

I agree with vvp. You’re bang in the unhappy middle where there’s not enough difference from standard to be noticeably better to use, but plenty enough that you’re incompatible with all the best keycaps sets! Go big or go home.

Shifting the numpad to the left, though, that’s entirely correct. Some boards have done this over the years. As a 60% user myself, I appreciate a well centred homerow!

Incidentally, what drives me nuts on ISO is that tiny left shift. You’re keeping that? ~shame on you~1
Thanks dude. If you want to see the heterodox brother here it is, but don't mind about the weird legends:

Image

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

14 May 2020, 11:38

Or maybe go with this?

Image

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Muirium
µ

14 May 2020, 13:42

Keys all smooshed together makes for difficulty in finding your way around by feel. You’ll be looking down more often to find your place in this wall of keys. Needs some separations as highlights.

And your s p a c e b a r s a r e n e e d l e s s l y l o n g. Thumb keys are precious, don’t waste that real estate!

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AJM

14 May 2020, 16:28

I like the 2u vertical enter a lot. And moving it one row down - compared to the XT layout - makes ergonomic sense and looks retro-beamspring-cool. Small Shifts also look good and one isn't dependent on sometimes annoying stabilizers. I - like most people - manage to hit the keys on a Model F XT, which practically (because they're stepped) has exclusively 1u keys, so aiming isn't really a problem.
Moving the numpad to the left side, would have been a good idea 40 years ago, when people weren't used to only ONE standard layout. Today I wouldn't want to bother relearning that. It's similar to the T-shaped cursor key cluster. It doesn't make sense, but because IBM (or actually all others, who copied IBM) made it a standard around 1986, most people (excluding me) consider it the only "correct" way.
Back-Tab on the right makes sense and looks retro (=good), but for most people, it's probably a rarely needed key (combination).
Spacebars look good to me. No need to complicate the bottom row unless one is in the 40 % faction.

kelvinhall05

14 May 2020, 17:00

I made a similar layout the other day (mostly just changing the numpad/nav cluster) to what I think would be a better numpad and a totally usable space-saving layout, what do you guys think?
keyboard-layout.png
keyboard-layout.png (52.43 KiB) Viewed 842 times

Findecanor

14 May 2020, 17:12

vvp wrote:
14 May 2020, 09:44
There is no significant improvement compared to standard keyboards. Get an ergonomic keyboard with thumb clusters (Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, ...).
The usual argument about TKL > full-size can be used here: that it allows moving a mouse on the right side closer to the middle, but here without losing the numpad.
I think that having more keys on the left side to move around between could help another problem: that of holding the left forearm too stationary. (I forget the fancy name for it)

I have myself experienced aches in both my left forearm and my right shoulder from the "standard" layout and mouse on the right.
AJM wrote:
14 May 2020, 16:28
It's similar to the T-shaped cursor key cluster. It doesn't make sense, but because IBM (or actually all others, who copied IBM) made it a standard around 1986, most people (excluding me) consider it the only "correct" way.
The T-shaped cursor keys are laid out adjusted to the different lengths of the index, middle and ring fingers when they are resting on the three columns.
With the middle finger being longer, its most natural resting-position lies in-between the Up and Down keys — it being just as economical to move up as down.
You could compare the cluster to the home row on a column-staggered keyboard with only three keys, but with the middle key split.
The next best thing is IMHO four keys in a row on a column-staggered keyboard -- this is worse because the pinky is weaker, and because there is not a single natural order or dominant convention to which key should go where.

Because of this I always get annoyed when I see someone is trying to "improve" the inverse-T cluster by shifting the middle column down half a key...
But one slight improvement that I think could be done would be moving the entire cluster up half a row, closer to the home row, but still leaving a gap to the six-key cluster.
The original DEC LK-201 (1982) had it one row up from the later IBM Enhanced keyboard, and the Atari ST (which also came out in mid-1985) had it one row higher up than DEC. The Atari ST and Amiga (same row as DEC) also allowed the right thumb access to the right Shift key.
If you're going to put it in the numpad, I don't think that Model F's arrangement is bad either, except that 5 should of course be an additional Down key, and I can see the point of having symmetry between left and right sides if you'd want to switch.
Last edited by Findecanor on 14 May 2020, 18:24, edited 1 time in total.

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AJM

14 May 2020, 18:08

Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
....
The T-shaped cursor keys are laid out adjusted to the different lengths of the index, middle and ring fingers when they are resting on the three columns.
With the middle finger being longer, its most natural resting-position lies in-between the Up and Down keys — it being just as economical to move up as down.
You could compare the cluster to the home row on a column-staggered keyboard with only three keys, but with the middle key split.
The next best thing is IMHO four keys in a row on a column-staggered keyboard -- this is worse because the pinky is weaker, and because there is not a single natural order or dominant convention to which key should go where.
....
..... or you can do it the right way:
On a classic numpad (switched to nav-mode):
Thumb on 2, index finer on 4, middle finger on 8, ring finger on 6.
- One finger per key
- no pinky involved
- Home, End, PgUp, PgDn within easy reach

Problem already solved in 1981.

User avatar
vvp

14 May 2020, 21:04

Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
The usual argument about TKL > full-size can be used here: that it allows moving a mouse on the right side closer to the middle, but here without losing the numpad.
I think that having more keys on the left side to move around between could help another problem: that of holding the left forearm too stationary. (I forget the fancy name for it)

I have myself experienced aches in both my left forearm and my right shoulder from the "standard" layout and mouse on the right.
I agree that for most people (using mouse with their right hand) it is better to have numpad on the left. I was solving this problem by using mouse with my left hand when I was typing on a standard (row staggered) keyboard. Well, that was more than 17 years ago.
I only commented on the thread owner layout idea that its improvements are not enough to be worth it. I did not go into the details. I have seen tens layout proposals here and on geekhack which hardly changed anything on the standard layout. These are very common. As well as moving numpad to the left side is quite common.
Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
The next best thing is IMHO four keys in a row on a column-staggered keyboard -- this is worse because the pinky is weaker, and because there is not a single natural order or dominant convention to which key should go where.
I think this is the best option. Arrows in a row in a layer activated by a thumb key. I do not think pinkie is too weak for it. Anyway, you have a very good point about making an inverted T cluster even worse by moving the middle column down.

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PlacaFromHell

15 May 2020, 11:20

Thanks guys. I'm open to any suggestion. My goal is find my endgame layout.

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depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 00:50

A bit late, but here I come, keycaps blazing.

My first impression is that you're mixing several different needs and wants from different layers (physical: the 0.25U width you don't like, the shape of the Enter key; low level logical: Back Tab; high level: macros) without an organical approach.

Some things I don't like: losing the "irrational" width of 0.25U for no reason, though it could be put to better use and keeping the Ctrl and Alt modifiers as 1.25U (even though there is no reason not give them back their God-approved 1.5U size).

OTOH, the Back Tab is definitely something that needs to return, as I've proposed more than once, as well, and in that same position.

For those that don't get it: the Tab and Shift-Tab (to produce BackTab) combo in and of itself is not a problem. Chording BackTab with an additional Ctrl or Alt key, to navigate through windows or tabs is. So, unless keyboards get added Prev/Next Window/Tab keys, we're stuck with the uncomfortable Ctrl-Tab/Ctrl-Shift-Tab (etc.) method. BackTab would alleviate things a bit...

... and perhaps would be the catalyst to recover the true meaning of Ctrl-Page Up and Ctrl-Page Down as well.


Overloading the F keys with dedicated macros is a neat idea, but the buttons to use them (red and blue) are too far away to make them practical to use. Those should be treated as modifiers and put in the bottom row, where they're readily accessible. One option would be to split the space bar and use the left side as the Fn/macro key.

Know what belongs whisked away in a corner, still available but out of casual reach? The Windows key. Move that one to where the red key is. :mrgreen:


The numpad is... well, I don't like either of those, but that warrants a separate post.

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depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 00:57

Muirium wrote:
14 May 2020, 11:14
Shifting the numpad to the left, though, that’s entirely correct. Some boards have done this over the years. As a 60% user myself, I appreciate a well centred homerow!
It's been done repeatedly, but never seems to stick. It's not just muscular memory or that is the expected standard now... a left side numpad needs to be redesigned so it can be comfortably used with the left hand, and simply putting the numpad there as-is is or mirrored just doesn't work.

I spent several months using a left-side numpad (using an M50), tinkering with the layouts, and in the end... well, I still have to write the post on DT with my findings.


Muirium wrote:
14 May 2020, 11:14
Incidentally, what drives me nuts on ISO is that tiny left shift. You’re keeping that? ~shame on you~1
That can be fixed. We could get rid of both the "ISO extra" alpha key and the "corner" alpha key (which should have never ceased to be a modifier, BTW), but it needs a serious revision of the keyboard's physical layout to add comfortable access to the tertiary and quaternary legends, PLUS a revision of each national layout out there.

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depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 00:58

PlacaFromHell wrote:
14 May 2020, 11:25
Thanks for the honest opinion. As a 3101 layout user I LOVE the 2x1U enter key. Still, get the point of the law, I think that's the main problem of try to get a keyboard both compact and as complete as you can.
Weirdly, giving your keyboard back those 0.25U on the rightside would make for a wide-enough 1.25U×2U Enter key that would be compliant.

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 01:10

Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
vvp wrote:
14 May 2020, 09:44
There is no significant improvement compared to standard keyboards. Get an ergonomic keyboard with thumb clusters (Kinesis Advantage, Ergodox, ...).
The usual argument about TKL > full-size can be used here: that it allows moving a mouse on the right side closer to the middle, but here without losing the numpad.
I think that having more keys on the left side to move around between could help another problem: that of holding the left forearm too stationary. (I forget the fancy name for it)
One of the ideas I've had since... many years ago... was precisely that the nav keys could have been placed on the left side of the keyboard. Back then, even as I enjoyed the liberating feeling of having independent arrow keys and not have to alternate them in the numpad while typing long lists of numbers into a 1-2-3 spreadsheet, I wondered why did we have to use the right hand for all of this. My post above links to the "left-enhanced" keyboad that I proposed... a modern build of this wouldn't be thicker on the right side than an IBM SSK, so the mouse would be just as near.


Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
...
But one slight improvement that I think could be done would be moving the entire cluster up half a row, closer to the home row, but still leaving a gap to the six-key cluster.
See above.
Findecanor wrote:
14 May 2020, 17:12
The original DEC LK-201 (1982) had it one row up from the later IBM Enhanced keyboard, and the Atari ST (which also came out in mid-1985) had it one row higher up than DEC. The Atari ST and Amiga (same row as DEC) also allowed the right thumb access to the right Shift key.
One other thing about that... the Atari ST keyboard had its arrows rather up, but there was nothing below them, so access was pretty easy.

User avatar
depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 01:13

AJM wrote:
14 May 2020, 18:08
..... or you can do it the right way:
On a classic numpad (switched to nav-mode):
Thumb on 2, index finer on 4, middle finger on 8, ring finger on 6.
- One finger per key
- no pinky involved
- Home, End, PgUp, PgDn within easy reach

Problem already solved in 1981.

Actually... no. That arrangement was an overloading of the numpad with the same arrangement for the arrows as the preexisting star pattern (IBM hadn't yet copied the inverted T). The star-pattern for the arrows is pretty comfortable if they're not surrounded by four more keys to complete the grid — within one, that advantage disappears.

For that matter, the same applies to the inverted T — for full comfortable access, those two unused spaces need to remain so.

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PlacaFromHell

17 May 2020, 05:05

depletedvespene wrote:
17 May 2020, 00:50
A bit late, but here I come, keycaps blazing.

My first impression is that you're mixing several different needs and wants from different layers (physical: the 0.25U width you don't like, the shape of the Enter key; low level logical: Back Tab; high level: macros) without an organical approach.

Some things I don't like: losing the "irrational" width of 0.25U for no reason, though it could be put to better use and keeping the Ctrl and Alt modifiers as 1.25U (even though there is no reason not give them back their God-approved 1.5U size).

OTOH, the Back Tab is definitely something that needs to return, as I've proposed more than once, as well, and in that same position.

For those that don't get it: the Tab and Shift-Tab (to produce BackTab) combo in and of itself is not a problem. Chording BackTab with an additional Ctrl or Alt key, to navigate through windows or tabs is. So, unless keyboards get added Prev/Next Window/Tab keys, we're stuck with the uncomfortable Ctrl-Tab/Ctrl-Shift-Tab (etc.) method. BackTab would alleviate things a bit...

... and perhaps would be the catalyst to recover the true meaning of Ctrl-Page Up and Ctrl-Page Down as well.


Overloading the F keys with dedicated macros is a neat idea, but the buttons to use them (red and blue) are too far away to make them practical to use. Those should be treated as modifiers and put in the bottom row, where they're readily accessible. One option would be to split the space bar and use the left side as the Fn/macro key.

Know what belongs whisked away in a corner, still available but out of casual reach? The Windows key. Move that one to where the red key is. :mrgreen:


The numpad is... well, I don't like either of those, but that warrants a separate post.
Damn, I was waiting the words from the layout master :) With such a post this deserves a more detailed explanation about my most polemic approaches.

I already knew of the idea of swapping the extra 0.25 to the left because my Televideo keyboard is built that way, but the tiny Capslock drives me insane. It's more a bad habit from mine that a complain itself.

About the colorful modifiers they are supposed to be toggled just like a lock key every time you work in a different way. The idea came from a very old PLC program that I used, where you were supposed to manage the logic gates by pressing the F keys. For example, if I open the Arduino program I just press the red key and use my most regular instructions by pressing just one key instead of type the entire syntax by myself. The same with the rest of the keys, each one works as a profile.

My bigger headache is what to do with the nav cluster. I'm sure I feel like it wastes a lot of space, but between contract it or expand it I can't find the correct solution. Maybe add 4 more keys and use a lower profile for the arrows and a higher profile for the rest of the keys? With dedicated Ctrl + PgUp / PgDn keys and something more.

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depletedvespene

17 May 2020, 23:19

PlacaFromHell wrote:
17 May 2020, 05:05

Damn, I was waiting the words from the layout master :) With such a post this deserves a more detailed explanation about my most polemic approaches.
Awwww, you're gonna make me blush. 8-)
PlacaFromHell wrote:
17 May 2020, 05:05
I already knew of the idea of swapping the extra 0.25 to the left because my Televideo keyboard is built that way, but the tiny Capslock drives me insane. It's more a bad habit from mine that a complain itself.
Then DON'T make a tiny Caps Lock! Put those 0.25U on the left side and enjoy a 2.0U Caps Lock key!

PlacaFromHell wrote:
17 May 2020, 05:05
About the colorful modifiers they are supposed to be toggled just like a lock key every time you work in a different way. The idea came from a very old PLC program that I used, where you were supposed to manage the logic gates by pressing the F keys. For example, if I open the Arduino program I just press the red key and use my most regular instructions by pressing just one key instead of type the entire syntax by myself. The same with the rest of the keys, each one works as a profile.
All the more reason, then, to keep those close.

PlacaFromHell wrote:
17 May 2020, 05:05
My bigger headache is what to do with the nav cluster. I'm sure I feel like it wastes a lot of space, but between contract it or expand it I can't find the correct solution. Maybe add 4 more keys and use a lower profile for the arrows and a higher profile for the rest of the keys? With dedicated Ctrl + PgUp / PgDn keys and something more.
Why not refine your 79%+leftpad, and use that 17th row for your macro buttons? Here's an idea:
75% + macro column and leftpad
75% + macro column and leftpad
placa79.png (39.09 KiB) Viewed 429 times

With this, you could take advantage of a common 75% layout, with those mode selectors readily available for actual usage; here, I'm assuming Fn to be the one required the most times (and therefore below the left thumb, and giving 2U keys to two of the remaining three. There is space to shuffle things further around, of course.

The exact composition of the numpad remains to be determined, as I still have to write that damn post. I will note, however, something I forgot to mention yesterday, which is the position of the + key: it's too far away on both your numpads (remember there's a reason it was made into a 2U key in common numpads).

User avatar
PlacaFromHell

18 May 2020, 11:22

Sorry for the delay, I had to think a lot about it.
depletedvespene wrote:
17 May 2020, 23:19
Then DON'T make a tiny Caps Lock! Put those 0.25U on the left side and enjoy a 2.0U Caps Lock key!
Well, that's not possible while having a Back Tab key, which is the case of my Televideo (Alpha Lock + Back Tab).
depletedvespene wrote:
17 May 2020, 23:19
All the more reason, then, to keep those close.
I don't really use the F keys, so there is no need to toggle the layers back while doing the same thing.

What actually makes sense about get the 0.25U space back is the fact of having an extra key in that row. And about the NAV situation I kinda like it, but I think is smarter going this way to have a full cluster with more useful keys:

Image
I replaced the legends on the layer keys to be more self explanatory, the keys do the same.

The world deserves a new numpad, please write that post.

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BadCommand

18 May 2020, 20:09

Nice layout, especially the back tab. And the partially-mirrored num pad. I personally would keep the AltGr key next to the spacebar, but that's just habit from the Enhanced keyboard. And I actually liked your nav cluster unencumbered by other buttons; as pointed out above it's really the space around it that your fingers/brain need.

I agree with one thing for sure: the right hand shouldn't need to do so many tasks. I used my left hand for the mouse for a while but obviously that's not for everybody. But how nice it was to finally have the alpha block directly in front of me and not off to the left! (Don't forget about the right-hand cut/copy/paste shortcuts)

Some inspiration: it's not my endgame layout but I'm using the F keys on the left of my IBM AT as the nav cluster (see pic
viewtopic.php?p=463809#p463809). Ideally I could have a normal complete 3u-wide nav cluster on the left, like depletedvespene drew up (that was a great post!). With scroll lock also nearby.

I was inspired by my wife's UHK, and have since replicated the nav layer under the right hand. For a while I used the left Alt key as the layer key like the UHK, but the spacebar is just too long. What an idea IBM had with the code key on the Wheelwriter. Now I use the Caps lock key instead. The point is: long-ass spacebars are cool, but consider shortening yours!

Anybody know where I could find a Datadesk Switchboard?

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PlacaFromHell

19 May 2020, 06:44

Don't worry, the solution to the NAV dilemma isn't in the layout :geek: You can easily find the arrows if they are in a different profile. Adding homings will work as nice or even better.

Image

NeK

Yesterday, 22:21

Just dropping by to say: big ass return, is the only return. And of course, right numpad enter, is best enter.

;) XD

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