If you’ve ever typed for a significant amount of time you know that it can become painful. Long term exposure can cause wrist and arm injuries. There are some things that can help alleviate the risk of injury like taking frequent breaks, good posture and using an ergonomic keyboard. [Ian] likes the feel of Mac keyboard keys but doesn’t like the traditional straight layout. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t make an ergonomic keyboard so [Ian] stepped up to the plate and made one for himself.
Just starting this project was an extreme pain. Apple glues their Mac keyboards together. A heat gun was used to melt the glue to 400°F as kitchen utensils were stuck in between the halves of the case, keeping the glue from re-sealing the case together. Once the case was apart the unnecessary keys were removed. [Ian] is actually modifying two keyboards into one because he wants the middle keys to show up on both sides of the keyboard. With the necessary keys identified, the metal support frame was removed from the unneeded sides of the keyboard.
Notice that the number pad has been removed so the mouse can be closer to the user. Instead of ditching the arrow keys, a slot was cut in the metal frame to facilitate a bend. This bend allows the arrow keys to be flat on the desk while the letter-based keys are at an ergonomic angle. [Ian] admits that setting up the angle of the keyboard was based on trial and error… a lot of it. Once in the most comfortable position, the two keyboards were permanently supported by wood blocks and glue. More wood was then used to trim out the keyboard and give it a finished look.
A 4-port USB hub is buried inside the new case. Two ports are used for the two keyboards and the other two are routed to the exterior of the case. Keeping the two keyboards separate and using a USB hub results in not having to modify the keyboard electronics.
UPDATE 28-June-2014: [Ian] wrote in to tell me that I screwed up the title. He’s an iOS developer by day and uses Macs all the time. He built the keyboard at home and tested it on a Dell running Ubuntu, hence the lack of a Mac in the photos.