My DIY keyboard collection ( or how I became a KB-geek...)

User avatar
suka
frobiac

22 Jun 2013, 13:57

The arrival of my new Retro DSA keys prompted me to reiterate over my previous designs once more and this is the current state:

While the BlueCube has been a great daily driver for me, there are a few minor things that could be improved:
  • Outer pinky column unnecessary
  • 1mm more separation between columns would be nice
  • The tenting is great, but since I used a flat plate I need wristrests of about 5cm height to comfortably type.
  • Colours. That's what happens if you order dyes and are anxious to try them out, and all you have is a prototype board.
  • The whole case is large and blocky with lots of sharp edges. No issue, but not very portable without protection.
  • Trackpoint housing makes the case even larger, and the ML mouse buttons are not needed
BlueCube reloaded
BlueCube reloaded
BlueCube-reloaded_1.jpg (635.13 KiB) Viewed 5847 times
So with the next round of boards, I will go for black spraypaint on the base and design a separate (interchangable) case, or use aluminum profiles for the HyperNano. The outer pinky columns might still be dropped as I do not really need the extra keys there. The thumb key symbols are mostly incorrect and just for show, but at least I'm able to finally put my layout on the board thanks to the symmetrical nature of the caps. Not that I'd need it anymore, but it answers the most curious questions about the board best I guess :D

Now I only need to decide which one I want to build: Only the simple tilted one or the full bowl shape one? I currently can not say for sure which one feels better, I guess until I figure that out I might build one of each and put the teensy into a little separate box to be able to connect any half I want.
Then again, I also do not know yet what switches to use: Blacks on the BlueCube are ok, the clears on the HyperNano feel good, too, but wanting to go lighter I might return to browns. Or reds? Questions over questions :evil:
kind of DSA, 22mm total height
kind of DSA, 22mm total height
DSA-22mm_height.jpg (477.99 KiB) Viewed 5847 times
On the HyperNano side of things, I prepared a minimalistic case with added column separation and the absolute minimal height possible: Using custom keycaps inspired by the DSA profile, the entire height comes down to 22mm! Without bending the pins on the switches, less does hardly seem possible.

jeff

22 Jun 2013, 15:23

Hi Suka

For the keycaps, have you considered using new SP G20 profile ? http://keycapsdirect.com/esports.php

User avatar
suka
frobiac

23 Jun 2013, 13:39

Never saw these before, but I had experimented with similar flat surfaced caps before and missed the positional feedback of the bent tops. But I like the blocky look, maybe I'll have a try at them.
Thanks for the info.

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Muirium
µ

23 Jun 2013, 13:48

Those custom caps look quite something! The smooth white one on the right, especially. How did you get a hold of them?

User avatar
suka
frobiac

24 Jun 2013, 09:30

They were laser-sintered (and not post-processed, as you can see on the stepped circles in the center). They feel pretty good already even with the rough surface, and will maybe be used in an upcoming design study I have planned :D

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philpirj

26 Jun 2013, 13:05

These two are pretty awesome and evolutional over original BlueCube. DSA's look way better on that type of keyboard.
Have you dropped trackpoint completely or are going to add it somewhere on the case later? Or tmk's mouse pointer thing does its job well?
Both variants look like you don't need tenting and wristrest anymore, that's a huge advantage.
BTW I've found nice feet http://ru.farnell.com/metcase/a9257205/ ... /dp/775460 (4 feet for 10eur)

User avatar
suka
frobiac

26 Jun 2013, 13:14

And another custom prototype - dubbed RedTilt for now - is done :-)

I used purely red MX on my flat-column/tented-rows design to feature the great retro caps I recently acquired, and must say I am quite impressed:
__RT_both_.jpg
__RT_both_.jpg (174.64 KiB) Viewed 5778 times
_RT_left.jpg
_RT_left.jpg (627.12 KiB) Viewed 5778 times
Compared to my relatively steep BlueCube setup with about 35° of tenting of the otherwise flat board it is curved rather conservatively, with 10° steps between the innermost 5 of the 6 columns. A major change was decreasing the overall height so | would not need such a huge wristrest anymore: Something like 26mm on the outmost columns is already near the minimum achievable without modding the switch bottoms themselves, but seeing how easy that is I might just try it on the next revision.

Also, the simplified column stagger does feel natural already (Yes, I am currently typing on this beast) : It seems to me that the difference in wrist rotation makes up for a lot of the changes, and compared to a single board like the HyperNano above the split setup allows further adjustments in distance and rotation.

Within just 10 minutes, I have been up to 90% of my previous typing speed with the same accuracy, something I was never able to do without at least a day of adjusting to a completely new board design, so that seems like a good indicator for the ergonomics (my personal ergonomics, that is) of this variant. Of course, it could also be the red switches - I haven't come to any conclusions yet, but together with o-rings the effortless typing is really interesting.

Next up is the trackpoint installation and some way to protect the bottom for transport, but that's not a real #1 priority on a prototype :D

All in all, I must say I am really satisfied with the result and think I'm on the right track to finally find my personal dream keyboard.

Some ideas for future revisions:
- absolute minimal height by filing down switch pins
- Case / Bottom protection / carrying
- Detachable cable, or better yet employ the neat connection mechanism from the ErgoDox
- lower the thumb keys to the base height

Considered, but probably not needed
- Adjustable stand / snap-together option ?
- drop outmost columns altogether

Really, really optional:
- Design a good-looking case/frame

User avatar
suka
frobiac

28 Jun 2013, 10:09

philpirj wrote:Have you dropped trackpoint completely or are going to add it somewhere on the case later?
Just added it successfully right in the PCDT-cluster under the right index finger and boy, how great does that work! Never was able to include it in the layout directly because my plates were flat, but now with the tilt it easily fits under the center. And using it with a flexible plastic extension actually seems to improve its characteristics: Of course, I had to adjust sensitivity and speed in the firmware, but the added leverage makes actuation much more direct and controllable.
_RT_TP_1.jpg
_RT_TP_1.jpg (200.68 KiB) Viewed 5741 times
_RT_TP_2.jpg
_RT_TP_2.jpg (149.7 KiB) Viewed 5741 times
Next up: Either dremeling down some of the precioussss retro caps (Ouch! Matt3o forgive me :evilgeek: ), but I guess first I'll try to split the stick and re-join it via a needle at the closest gap and see if that works.

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Input Nirvana

04 Jul 2013, 07:01

Any pics/details of the trackpoint modifications?

User avatar
suka
frobiac

04 Jul 2013, 17:25

Can't take pictures of the keyboard now, but here is my initial try for illustration purposes: It replaces the white stick in the pictures above and fits nicely right between the keys - the lateral movement of the needle is hardly noticable. I haven't added a proper "cap" of any sort, mainly because it works great as it is and the tiny surface keeps me from exerting too much pressure automatically.
Trackpoint adaptor
Trackpoint adaptor
tp_adaptor_sm.jpg (106.15 KiB) Viewed 5645 times

djonmayer

04 Aug 2013, 21:57

Hi suka.

Can you share your custom layout from BlueCube please?

King regards
Djon

User avatar
suka
frobiac

05 Aug 2013, 08:41

The character layout is documented somewhere back in this (and also several other threads), as is the physical layout with 0/0/0.5/0.25/-0.75/-0.75 vertical stagger relative to the index finger.

djonmayer

05 Aug 2013, 21:44

Thank you for your answer. I will try some another mapping for thumb row.

Djon

galway888

04 Oct 2013, 20:43

Hello,

Does anyone know to get in touch with Suka? I'd really like to inquire about his custom ergonomic keyboards designs.

Thanks very much,
Laura

User avatar
Muirium
µ

04 Oct 2013, 20:46

Send him a PM (use the Messages tab near the top of the page), or just post in the open. He's been a great help to many of us around here. Treat him well!

User avatar
suka
frobiac

05 Oct 2013, 11:47

Thanks for the kind words :-)

PM sent, but feel free to ask here if it is of general interest.

Ariel_Thomann

30 Oct 2013, 21:29

I have tried to explain computer workstation ergonomics to people for over 20 years. I usually explain that the standard-model human being has arms/elbows that don’t come out of belly-buttons, but rather from way off to the sides. Add the principle of keeping wrists straight to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome. Plus, most people’s fingers aren’t of equal length. Soon one concludes that positions of forearms-wrists-hands-fingertips should be as close as possible to the “neutral posture” as studied by NASA: see
http://www.workwhilewalking.com/wp-cont ... ulders.jpg

I am glad to see you are just about there with your keyboards. Carry on!

Additionally, I'll mention that in 1990 (+/-) my octogenarian Dad lost vision in one eye, suddenly – and his other eye had problems. I got him a telephone with features that allowed him to call for help even if he should lose his other eye. He pointed out that the whole thing was a pale beige color, and the symbols on the keys were a slightly darker gray – cute, but it was almost useless to him. That reminded me of the importance of visual contrast discrimination. At his request, I made stick-on white keycaps with big, bold black numbers. Please keep this in mind, and perhaps move away from pretty colors on keycap faces.

Finally, I’m enough of an aging Luddite that I will just stick with a QWERTY arrangement; would love to know when these become commercially available.

User avatar
TheSoulhunter

23 Nov 2013, 08:45

suka wrote:
_top_v1.JPG
_side_v1.JPG
Awesome!

boofhead

27 Nov 2013, 08:39

Hey suka, that new TrackPoint does not look like it comes from a ThinkPad. Where did you get it? I also had a look at your layout and have a few questions. Where are the mouse buttons? and with the mod1,mod2, and mod3 buttons, do they need to be held down like Shift of are they a toggle like CapsLock?
Last edited by boofhead on 27 Nov 2013, 08:58, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
suka
frobiac

27 Nov 2013, 08:54

boofhead wrote:Hey suka, that new TrackPoint does not look like it comes from a ThinkPad. Where did you get it?
It is indeed from an old IBM laptop. It seems impossible to source them or any other trackpoint module separately. Haven't tested the Easypoint module yet which looked promising on paper, but someone on GH mentioned it was discontinued IIRC.
boofhead wrote:Where are the mouse buttons? and with the mod1,mod2, and mod3 buttons, do they need to be held down like Shift of are they a toggle like CapsLock?
All mouse buttons including the scroll wheel switch are mapped to the left hand homerow and activated automatically for a short time on trackpoint usage. I also have them on some additional layer with mouse key functionality but don't happen to use that at all anymore.
I don't use locking toggles, but rather have most modifiers set-up with additional secondary usage keycodes - keeping them depressed with a thumb does not inhibit normal typing much so I do not see the need to lock them. But I'm sure it could be easily implemented.

User avatar
CeeSA

27 Nov 2013, 10:30

I should kidnap you and force you to make me a keyboard after the next. I would argue, of course, that I would have made​​. ;)

In other words, still a great fan of your work!

User avatar
kbdfr
The Tiproman

27 Nov 2013, 11:59

CeeSA wrote:I should kidnap you and force you to make me a keyboard after the next.
[…]
In other words, still a great fan of your work!
@CeeSA
I wouldn't want to miss that opportunity to stress how satisfied I am with the modding work you made for me :mrgreen:

User avatar
fifted

02 Dec 2013, 02:14

CeeSA wrote:I should kidnap you and force you to make me a keyboard after the next.
Plot of the next summer blockbuster movie? "A keyboard maker... forced against his will... to use Alps!" :-)

User avatar
suka
frobiac

04 Dec 2013, 11:50

fifted wrote: Plot of the next summer blockbuster movie? "A keyboard maker... forced against his will... to use Alps!" :-)
I already have plenty of new projects up my sleeve - but yes, that could be one of the options. Or rather BS? Caps? RPi? Who knows... :D

User avatar
ماء

17 Dec 2013, 15:26

I prefer dubbed RedTilt,really nice like maltron/kinesis but with split
suka,what plates you use? like thick rubber elastic

suka,how to feel typing in bowl maltron than flat usual?

teclat

20 Sep 2014, 16:13

Awesome and very inspiring thread, thxs suka and all the contributors!

User avatar
pietergen

25 Sep 2014, 21:45

Suka, do you send keyboard and mouse events over one USB cable? Does one Teensy (?) process the mouse (trackpoint) as well as the keyboard? If so, how did you code it?

User avatar
suka
frobiac

26 Sep 2014, 09:42

One teensy is enough to process the ps/2 trackpoint protocol and any keyboard related tasks, and through only one cable multiple HID devices appear on the host. This is achieved in software by creating multiple usb descriptors that are then activated in turn to send their current state - have a look at any of LUFAs examples for references. My own code is at github.com/frobiac/adnw, now even with on-the-fly macro recording :-)

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pietergen

26 Sep 2014, 13:50

Great, thank you Suka ! :D

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Muirium
µ

26 Sep 2014, 16:06

Indeed, good to know it's not only possible but well tested. No issues with different host OS or rollover?

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