A HHKB for Arrow Key Lovers

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Go-Kart

31 Mar 2021, 19:02

So, I recently tried a HHKB and quite enjoyed the little thing. Although I'm technically "young", I'm fairly grumpy and inflexible when it comes to keyboard layouts. I ran a 60 % for the best part of six months and it worked for me but damn did I miss my arrow keys! Layers are great but my brain is only capable of so much. This, along with some other quirks of the HHKB layout, led me to return the keyboard shortly after purchasing it but I kept on thinking about how much I enjoyed the typing experience...

A few days later during an eBay trawl, this funny looking JP Edition popped up
Spoiler:
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. I saw the arrow keys, ISO Enter and didn't think twice. I didn't even know that different HHKB layouts existed! After excitedly sending a picture of my new acquisition to one of DT's Topre enthusiasts, I asked about remapping some of the bottom row, as I read he did in an article he had recently posted. He then informed me that such customisation requires an additional hardware... :lol: Back on to eBay I went and tracked down a HASU controller.

Already known to many HHKB owners, a HASU controller board replaces the stock Topre one in your HHKB, allowing full programmability. There's even a Bluetooth controller if one wished to make their little beast wireless too. Ordering HASU controller boards can be done direct from the man himself. As it happened I managed to get the HASU and an additional set of ANSI caps from the same seller whom I purchased this keyboard from so I could make the keys resemble the newly programmed layout.

The GH HASU page had pretty much everything I needed to know on it. I fitted the controller, lubed the sliders and stabilisers with a bit of 205 G0 while I was there, got a little headache keeping the domes and springs in place while I was putting it all back together but overall, it was a fairly quick, painless experience.
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Customising the layout was just as quick and easy
Spoiler:
HHKB Layout 1.png
HHKB Layout 1.png (23.88 KiB) Viewed 337 times
. Again, the HASU GH page had it all there. Probably the most pedestrian layout I could have gone for but it at least has all the basic functionality I need. Although, I should think of a better use for all those alts! Ideas welcome.

Using this board as I intended is great. However, the space bar's slight off centre positioning does throw me a little. I use my right thumb to hit space most of the time and it rests just below the gap between N and M. I've found that the space bar being a little shorter on the right sometimes pulls my right hand over to the left of the board a little too much and causes me to input a random string of alphas! This is why I made the key to the right space too.

So, all in all, if you like Topre, like the idea of a HHKB but don't wish to compromise your stubbornly held primary layer keyboard functionality, this may be the way to go. Yes, some of the legends still aren't right for a U.K. ISO layout, yes I can hear that I haven't seated the left control spring correctly and am going to have to dismantle it again after finishing typing this, and yes, HHKBs and their fixing still cost a bit, but this board ticks a lot of boxes for me at least; and it was one of the easiest keyboard projects I've embarked upon.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

31 Mar 2021, 19:21

So what are you hiding up on layer 1 then? ;)

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Go-Kart

31 Mar 2021, 21:20

Do you know, if it didn't already have layer one already programmed, I would have struggled to think of things to put on it. I was even surprised that TMK allows for toggling the layers! My knuckles are still dragging along the ground over here. Much to learn!

User avatar
Muirium
µ

31 Mar 2021, 21:29

Allow me to give you some ideas:

Image

No promises they are good ideas! But more or less everything is possible.

That’s my Kishsaver on QMK. It’s a little different from TMK, but pretty much 1:1 for functionality. I do similar tricks aplenty with my Hasu HHKB.

User avatar
Go-Kart

31 Mar 2021, 21:43

I really don't know how I feel about a diagonal number pad but I suppose it's better than not having one, right? Useful hint on that HASU post about transparent keys too. I doubt I'll ever be a layer ninja since my daily driver is an Anykey but at least I have had a bit of practice with my Pok3r.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

31 Mar 2021, 21:54

Go cold turkey on the big boards and level up your ninjutsu! There is art to every mastery.

Besides, I’m very used to an I-block embedded numpad. My PowerBook had it back in the day:

Image

Exact same numerics* as the SSK and the Realforce. IBM led the way. It’s second nature when you keep it to hand on every keyboard, even Apple’s moderns.

*The other operators vary a bit between IBM, Apple and Topre. I’m fine just pressing + and - up where they usually are, and have mapped accordingly. It’s more a numeric pad for me. With three zeros just because!

User avatar
Go-Kart

01 Apr 2021, 09:49

I'll kage bushin that SSK num pad onto L2 this afternoon.

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