Talk:HHKB Professional

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The following Talk page discusses Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional series. Whilst retaining the subject on the said keyboard the information contained hereonin may/may not be suitable for usage within the actual page or maybe added to other areas as needed. Feel free to add suitable subjects that may otherwise be considered as unsuitable for use within the actual page for various reasons.

Tuxsavvy's notes

Ordering from Japan

Whilst some links may feature the availability from Japan. The catch is with most items from Japan are restricted to sales within Japan only which may mean purchasing as well as getting the item exported to overseas are not usuaully available. Likewise, PFU does not offer selling of HHKB Professional series outside Japan from their own website and instead provides link as well as information on HHKB Lite2. One of the links to US vendor no longer stocks HHKB Lite2 (no listing or information could be found).

There are ways of bypassing the catch which means the potential owner needs to go through by means of proxy or otherwise forwarding services. There are many Japanese proxies as well as forwarding services available but as always it is best to shop around for the most reasonable price (especially if the potential owner resides within a country that taxes heavily on imported goods).

The following external link was written to guide the process in ordering HHKB (and potentially other products that are limited for sale withing Japan only) is:

One of the mostly recommended (mainly by Geekhack forum users) Japanese forwarding service is tenso (http://www.tenso.com).

Manufacturer/vendor warranty caveats

PFU restricts its warranty for HHKB Professional products to Japan only. This also implies to virtually any HHKB Professional purchased from Japan. The one year manufacturer warranty is specifically as stated on the warranty sheet that is included inside the packaging box. For non Japanese owners residing outside Japan, this usually means that their warranties are not honoured and thus instantly void.

The same likewise with elitekeyboard vendor for US. Potential owners ordering from outside US will not have their one year manufacturer warranty honoured unless they are residing in US.

Modifications

Various modifications are available for HHKB Professional owners. Whilst unofficial, do note that undertaking any modifications listed here usually means voiding warranties.

Silencing modification

The silencing modification is one of the most popular modifications for HHKB Professional owners despite the fact that PFU has already released the HHKB Pro Type-S series. Currently, Type-S series are not only expensive but are limited to certain variants (such as no charcoal gray JP Type-S). Silencing modification for Topre switches is done by placing a material (usually soft) in the bottom of the slider. This thereby prevents the notable "thock" sound on the upstroke when the key is released.

There are two types of silencing modifications available:

  • Rubber band mod: By means of using dental bands.
  • Foam mod: Cutting out foams in a similarly styled shape as rubber band. Type-S series allegedly uses foam for silencing HHKB Pro Type-S series.

Here are some links for curious viewers (with potentially more to come):

Alternative controller modification

HHKB boasts DIP switches for customisability in terms of specific keyboard mappings are found to be potentially restrictive, even worse are notable topics of restricted functionality coupled with closed source firmware. However the same could be said for most of the keyboards manufactured these days lacking customisability forcing owners to seek methods such as a software level keyboard remaps. At the same time software level keyboard remaps are restricted to machine specific such as the fact that if one were to set the keyboard map up with a computer, the same would not apply to any other computer(s) one would use the same keyboard on without for instance copying across the configurations from the computer that was setup with.

hasu (the author of TMK firmware) has designed an alternative controller mainly for HHKB Professional. TMK firmware is an open firmware designed to give owners the flexibility of writing their own specific keyboard maps along with unlocking potentially other features that the keyboard manufacturers may have enforced. In addition to an open firmware, this thereby prevents the need to set the keyboard up again on another machine as it is written directly into the controller.

Alternative controller for HHKB Professional was designed to be a drop-in replacement to the controller provided by PFU. At the time of writing the alternative controller (Rev.A) lacks USB hub which usually the HHKB Professional 2 has by default.

Here are some links for TMK firmware as well as alternative controller (currently Rev.A, a newer version is underway):

More information may also be found in: Deskthority wiki - Converter

For those opting to make do with Teensy instead, there is a guide on Geekhack forums for that matter:

Geekhack forums: Teensy HHKB Controller (Write up) - http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=57008.msg1293238

"key weights force" modification

HHKB Professional series by default have individual keys weighted at ~45g. Unlike Cherry MX switches for instance where one can swap out the various coloured (and inherently weighted) switches/springs, Topre owners can enjoy a similar benefit by swapping out the rubber cups within their keyboard for heavier ones. Unfortunately for Topre owners, individual purchases of either heavier/lighter/mixed rubber cups are not available. Instead one needs to "harvest" the needed rubber cups by purchasing another keyboard for use with their Topre keyboard. This thereby increases the cost of modification should one require it.

Here is a link describing on modifying the standard 45g to variable force Topre (that is a feature specific to Realforce):

Bluetooth modification

The HHKB was designed for "compact-ness", since the introduction of HHKB Professional along with detachable USB cable - some subsequent owners are longing for bluetooth modification to their HHKB for even more portability. The bluetooth modification at this stage (of writing) is currently primitive. PFU has also raised voice on desire for bluetooth feature but has not specifically indicated whether or not will such feature be implemented or not.[1]

Here are two bluetooth modifications (YouTube video):

Aluminium case for HHKB

Apart from Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional HG series featuring machined aluminium frame for the keyboard (as opposed to plastic). One person have attempted to make their own aluminium case for their HHKB.

o2dazone pointed this out originally; Geekhack forums - http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=6123.0

Thumb-shift for HHKB

This is mainly a feature that probably only a few people can appreciate. Splitting the spacebar in half for instance to use thumb shift typing (Japanese) or the alternative spacebar can be used to bind to some other key (for instance backspace as indicated once by bhtooefr).

HHKB specific paraphernalia

PFU, like a few other notable keyboard manufacturers offers extra accessories to tantalise their owners. Here are some of the products that PFU has either offered and/or currently offers in addition (at times) to their keyboards (mainly in Japanese):

Palm rests

These are mainly a third party accessory by Bird Electron Co. Four variants of the palm rests are available:

From elitekeyboards.com there are 3-star handmade leather palm rest made in USA:

Keyboard roof

Thick (~3mm thick) acrylic keyboard roof also by Bird Electron Co. This keyboard roof may also suit other 60% keyboards as noted on rakuten.co.jp (Japanese only site) for being able to fit on Cherry mini keyboard.[2]

The same keyboard roof by Bird Electron Co. can also be used on Happy Hacking Keyboard Lite series. Note the small cutout on one of the "legs".

elitekeyboards.com also makes a tailor made (made in USA) keyboard roof for Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional but has no indications of when they will become available:

Hard case DX

Accessory possibly by PFU. The padded bag can also fit a select few other 60% keyboards. [3]

elitekeyboards.com also stocks these keyboard bags as well:

Apparently, there was an earlier version with not much more information about the hard case for HHKB, this earlier version of the hard case may have been sold by PFU Systems (America) initially:

Keyboard trunk

Accessory by Bird Electron Co. The keyboard trunk is styled very similar to piano cases featuring a hard exterior as well as a carry handle.

Keyboard stand KeeperDELTA

Accessory by PFU to raise HHKB vertically in order to prevent wasting space on one's table.

"iCreeper M" (floating platform)

Accessory by Bird Electron Co.

For those whom sees their desks as an expensive real estate for items for instance. The floating platform allows one to raise the height of an equipment (for instance a laptop or a screen) whilst giving space for keyboards for instance underneath. The floating platform is made of acrylic and can withstand up to 7kg of weight.

Lift stand

Accessory by Bird Electron Co.

Whilst strictly not for Happy Hacking Keyboard series, this accessory is to mainly compliment PFU's ScanSnap S1100 scanner whilst honoring the idea of floating platforms.

For a limited time only coloured keycaps, key straps and other stuff by PFU

In addition to this PFU also releases for a limited time specially coloured keycaps for HHKB Professional series. These keycaps are sometimes often well sorted by owners whom may have missed out their chances on getting one.

These were sold along with the keyboard to celebrate 300,000 HHKB being shipped worldwide.[4] In addition it was also offered to commemorate on the launch Type-S series.[5]

These were sold along with the keyboard to celebrate PFU's 50th anniversary.[6]

  • Happy Hacking Keyboard 10th anniversary saw HHKB branded pencil and HHKB branded notebook for those whom ordered HHKB keyboards from PFU Direct.
  • HHKB logo pencil :- For those whom purchased HHKB Lite from PFU Direct.
  • HHKB full-sized notebook :- For those whom purchased HHKB Pro from PFU Direct.
  • HHKB logo pencil and HHKB full-sized notebook :- For those whom purchased HHKB Pro HG from PFU Direct.

The campaign has long ended.[7]

  • Happy Hacking Keyboard 15th anniversary saw three keys released for a limited time (first 100 customers whom orders Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional series from PFU Direct). The three keys were:
  • Red blank (left) Control key
  • Blue blank Escape key
  • Blue legended Escape key

First 100 customers gets a choice to choose one of the three keys listed above in addition to choosing one of the two HHKB T-shirts by PFU with the size limited to medium.[8]

PFU has also released a key strap featuring a Topre switch with a strap, the keycap on the key strap was also unique but the keycap is also detachable.

Currently as of writing PFU sells for a limited time a packaged red coloured (left) Control key as well as blue coloured Escape key. The package comes with a total of four key caps, two legended and two blank keycaps along with the key puller tool.

T-Shirts

PFU HHKB official T-shirts that can leave impressions on others. Comes in three sizes and two different formats:

Non-printed HHKB T-shirts (MUJ-W): http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/direct/hhkb/goods.html (Japanese only)

"The horse saddle" T-shirts (UMA-G): http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/direct/hhkb/goods.html (Japanese only)

The horse saddle is a quote by Dr. Wada whom mentioned the significance of the keyboard once one is familiar with is not an item that one (should) replace easily.

The actual quote by Dr. Wada:

アメリカ西部のカウボーイたちは、馬が死ぬと馬はそこに残していくが、どんなに砂漠を歩こうとも、鞍は自分で担いで往く。馬は消耗品で
あり、鞍は自分の体に馴染んだインタフェースだからだ。いまやパソコンは消耗品であり、キーボードは大切な、生涯使えるインタフェース
であることを忘れてはいけない。

Translated via Google translate:

The cowboys of the American West, the horse will leave there the horse's death, but even Walk the desert, no matter how saddle Going to play in your own. Horse is a 
consumable item, saddle is because it is an interface that I was familiar with their bodies. PC is a consumable item now, keyboard do not forget important things,
is an interface that can be used lifetime.

The same quote is also actually featured on the homepage of HHKB on PFU website.[9] Albeit in Japanese the quote can roughly be translated to mean something like this (excuse my broken Japanese):

The cowboys of the west (side of) America, when the horse dies it will be left (to rest) there. No matter how long will it take for them to walk in the desert, 
they will carry the saddle on their shoulders. Horse is a consumable item, but because saddle is an interface one is familiar with (it is therefore not abandoned).
Computers are a consumable item now, keyboards are an important and lifetime usable interface one does not forget.

Miscellaneous notes

HHKB retailers

Whilst on the HHKB Professional wiki page itself the links were mostly pointing to kakaku.com for instance. There are other retailers available. kakaku.com is a website that aggregates price along with providing interesting insights (such as price vs time graph), think of amazon.com for instance. PFU Direct also offers HHKB straight from PFU itself. rakuten.co.jp also sales HHKB as well as other products along with providing some interesting information.

Amazon.co.jp is basically the Japanese version of amazon.com. Whilst looking completely like amazon.com but more or less tailored to Japanese language and styles for instance. The users accounts remain separate. For instance, registering an account on amazon.co.jp does not have any impact on amazon.com. The login credentials will then only work with amazon.co.jp.

miniUSB connector issue

The issue maybe restricted to those who either frequently travel with their HHKB Professional and/or use their HHKB Professional as a testbed for testing USB cables. One of the inherent problems is the miniUSB connector which is only rated at around 600 cycles before it becomes loose thereby requiring reworking the controller board to make the connector (and therefore the keyboard) work again.[10]

It is possible to alleviate the issue in a couple of ways (though not condoned):

Rubber dome stiffening issue

Reports of rubber dome stiffening slightly on the HHKB professional series has been somewhat inconclusive however it is worth noting that if and when the rubber cup stiffens, one can use Ro-59 lube. However there is a catch with Ro-59 lube, it cannot be easily obtained in small amounts and they usually have a shelf life of 12-15 months.[11]

Ro-59 links:

HHKB Professional 2 USB hub issues

Some HHKB Professional 2 owners have mixed success with USB devices being plugged into the the HHKB Professional 2. There are no known fixes just workarounds.[12]

Mechlube and Mechlube 2 uses on keyboards

It has been noted according to dustinhxc of Geekhack forums [13]that:

  • Mechlube for squeaky spacebars.
  • Mechlube 2 for Realforce and HHKB sliders, stabilisers, etc.

Sun mode on HHKB Professional 2

hasu pointed out a mode that was marked as "forbidden mode" for use with Professional 2 as a "sun mode". Apparently setting both DIP switch 1 and 2 into ON position (For PC/windows and Mac mode respectively) enables a mode hasu calls it the "sun mode". Extra keys are available via the Fn layer.[14] (Refer to second paragraph by hasu).

Please note that these extra keys may not be detectable under specific platforms without the right software. On *nix, xev captures keycodes being sent to the machine from the keyboard and disregards whatever the key's original functionality was (and ultimately leaving the end user to map the keycode to a specific function of their desire). There has been reports for instance that if a windows user was to use HHKB in mac mode, they are unable to access the extra multimedia keys under windows whereas for mac users they needed an extra software to make use of the keycodes being sent to their mac. On *nix, regardless of whatever the mode the keyboard is in, all keycodes sent to the machine are basically captured and can be (re)mapped at end user's disposal. Thereby the effects of restricting to either windows or mac mode does nothing to change the circumstance under *nix.

Inevitably HHKB Pro JP owners cannot enjoy this because there is no separate DIP switch for PC/windows mode. In other words it is either on for mac mode or off for PC/windows mode.

More information along with a virtual keyboard layout with all the keys identified may be found on the talk page of HHKB_Professional2:

Topre Realforce keycaps on PFU Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional

This link alone should somehow describe that Topre Realforce keycaps are somewhat compatible with PFU Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional series.

"Good feelings of oneness with cup rubber"

On the non Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional JP series. It appears that only the ANSI variant of the Happy Hacking keyboard (i.e. Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional and Happy Hacking Professional 2) along with Realforce keyboards that also bears non JIS layout to have the words "Good feelings of oneness with cup rubber" printed.

It is also interesting to note that on the same topic that the "Good feeling of oneness with cup rubber" is also written in Japanese as well. Realforce owners may not get the same Japanese inscription on their keyboard boxes let alone those using the JIS layout.

(older) Happy Hacking Keyboard series in English

It is believed that PFU Limited's website was PFU Systems before being changed to pfu.fujitsu.com. PFU America was formerly known as Cell Computing Inc.[15]. Whilst both Japanese and English websites were all part of pfu.fujitsu.com as one but different sort of directory hierarchy. PFU America (which had a domain name registered as pfuca.com) later migrated to pfusystems.com which was potentially PFU Limited's original website.

Since then, PFU Systems (of PFU America) historically sold their items on yahoo page. The lack of HHKB Professional sales in US may have seen the demise of HHKB Professional 2 being sold in US by PFU directly. As a result the HHKB Professional (in US) was discontinued with no further successor and subsequently information about older models (apart from HHKB Lite 2) were deleted.Meanwhile, it was noted that prior to PFU America taking over pfusystems.com. A vast majority of old information about HHKB were written in English and were hosted on the English part of the pfu.fujitsu.com website. These contained information about HHKB, HHKB Lite 2 and HHKB Pro.The layout used on the English part of the pfu.fujitsu.com were remarkably of a similar design that the PFU website mainly uses.

What remains to be strange is the old information about HHKB in English were removed. In any case, the wayback machine comes to the rescue: http://web.archive.org/web/20061114054946/http://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/en/hhkeyboard/whatsnew.html

Certain machines are unable to detect HHKB Pro 2 due to keyboard featuring USB hub and differences between HHKB Pro and HHKB Pro 2 for collectors

It is noted by a few HHKB Professional 2 owners that due to the keyboard boasting USB hub for easier connectivity with other USB related devices. This also may inhibit their compatibility with certain machines as a result. The culprit maybe to do with the USB ID being sent to the host machine which may render the keyboard unusable. HHKB Pro JP as well as HHKB Pro owners may not suffer this issue as their keyboards does not have USB hub.

On the following Geekhack forum thread, hasu has kindly pointed out the issue noted above along with a change in the sensor chip used on HHKB Professional versus HHKB Professional 2. This may become handy for collectors for instance:

HHKB Professional series keyboards using PBT keycaps except for the spacebar apart from HHKB Pro JP

The same reason that Topre offers their range of Topre Realforce non- JIS variant keyboards with ABS spacebar is the same reason for PFU HHKB Pro series to offer the same thing apart from HHKB Pro JP.

Information in regards to this matter can be found here:

TODO

Here are some of the things that tuxsavvy needs to add for HHKB pages. Any added information within this section without permission will be silently ignored!:

  • Seek permission from PFU for use of their HHKB and HHKB related images for deskthority wiki.
  • Expand a little more on this Talk page.

References

  1. Geekhack forums - PFU's twitter response to demands for wireless variant
  2. rakuten.co.jp - Keyboard roof (RF-HH) (Japanese only)
  3. Geekhack forums - 60% boards and HHKB bag.
  4. PFU website - Total of 300,000 units shipped achieve HHKB series worldwide (Japanese only)
  5. PFU website - "HHKB Professional Type-S" New release Campaign! ~ (Japanese only)
  6. PFU website - Press release: Start the Happy Hacking Keyboard gift campaign (Japanese only)
  7. PFU website - 10th Anniversary campaign HHKB Series Release (Japanese only)
  8. PFU website - "Special color key top," "T-shirts" gift! ~ (Japanese only)
  9. PFU website Happy Hacking Keyboard (Japanese only)
  10. Geekhack forums - my HHKB Pro 2 stopped working
  11. Tafco Ro-59 FAQ (Japanese only)
  12. Geekhack forums - Re:HHKB Pro 2 Love
  13. Geekhack forums - Re:HHKB Pro 2 Love
  14. Geekhack forums - HHKB Poll: How are your DIP switches set up?
  15. Wayback machine - Home Page of PFU systems in 2002