A funky keyboard

I built this a few months ago. It’s the next phase in training myself to never be able to type on anything resembling a normal keyboard.

Some basic info:

People usually ask WHY I would use such a monstrosity, so here are a few of the reasons:

  • It’s very comfortable to use for extended periods due to the more natural key layout and the ability to angle and position each half in a way that keeps the arms in a more comfortable position.
  • All keys are easily accessible and require very little hand/arm movement. For example, I use the arrow keys a lot, so they are set up to be accessible under the home row on the right-hand side while I’m holding the right-hand layer shift key. Much easier than moving my whole hand to a completely different section of the keyboard all the time.
  • Super configurable. (goodbye stupid pointless caps lock key)
  • Since the keycodes are handled in firmware on the keyboard I can plug it into any computer and it will work exactly the same.
  • It is not an attempt to type more quickly. After getting accustomed to the very different layout my typing speed is pretty much the same as before.
  • The thumbs get to do a lot more than just working together to hit one huge button. Standard spacebars are giant and dumb. :stuck_out_tongue:
  • If I’m doing something that needs a lot of mousing and not a lot of the right half of the keyboard, I can move it out of the way to give myself more mouse space.
  • It also fits in my pockets, so I can easily take it with me and avoid fumbling around on standard keyboards.

I’m considering adding a thumb-operated trackball to make it even more ridiculous. Feel free to point and laugh and question my life choices. :slight_smile:


Actually I wanted to build one like this for work but with a standard redlight mouse. So you would mouse with one half the keyboard. Super useful for me at work.

I didn’t see what keyswitches you used… but I know what I would use…

Portability is a super good idea, ergonomics are also good.
Bad things: Switching to a regular keyboard might make you curse a lot.

Test the thumb trackball and see if it works for you… I had one and it made my thumb sore. :slight_smile:

Super cool, @Christian! I too have been thinking about designing and building a keyboard for myself for pretty similar reasons. The standard keyboard is a terrible design in many different aspects, so I appreciate all attempts to explore this space, and especially ones that are open source :slight_smile:

Other than for transportation, how useful is it to have two separate pieces? Do you find yourself adjusting the space between them often?

Speaking of transportation, does that really fit in your pockets? Are we talking about cargo shorts?

What is the OLED display used for?

I do move the right half away from me to give myself more room for mousing if I’m playing a game or something else that needs it, but generally I just leave them in the same position (about shoulder-width apart) because that is the most comfortable. I did start off narrower and gradually widened the distance as I got used to my hands being farther apart while typing. It can also be handy when I’m using my laptop on a surface without a lot of room to spread out.

I do generally wear cargo shorts, but they also fit in the pockets of my jeans, though much less easily. The legs fold in so that they are flat, and the cords are all detachable. Though really, If I’m taking my backpack with me I usually just chuck it in there.

The right-hand side just displays the logo. There was also one on the left-hand side that showed what keys were last pressed, last keycode, and the currently active layer. However, that one failed and I haven’t bothered replacing it since it wasn’t super useful. They can also be set up to show things like caps/num lock of course but I don’t have much use for that, either.

Yeah, I couldn’t type on a ‘normal’ keyboard to begin with, so honestly no huge change there. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I’ve seen keyboards like that. I don’t think I would like shoving my keyboard all over the desk, though. I think it would end up in weird places and I would accidentally move it around while typing.


Oooh good point. I’ll keep that in mind. I have to finish the fence first :frowning:

There are surprisingly no options for a handheld device to map hot keys to for digital art apps on iPad. Something like a wii remote that provides hot keys, and at least 1 level of hot key modifiers and a mouse wheel or equivalent for adjusting brush size and zoom. Just saying, there might be a kickstarter in it for you! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Grab the old CATIA dials for this…lol

I’m currently working on adding the trackball to this keyboard. I’ve got a test set up on a breadboard using a separate Arduino and it works pretty well. Next step is to try and integrate it into the existing circuit and firmware.