Gaming Keyboard Features Incredible Workmanship

Gaming Keyboard in Desk

Hello people, look at your keyboard, now back to this one, now back to your keyboard, now back to us. Sadly, your keyboard isn’t this one, but if you’re handy with wood and metalwork, it could look like this one!

This incredible keyboard was made with the blood, sweat, and tears of [Kurt Plubell], an architectural draftsman. He began a few years ago when he hung up his T-square and started using CAD for his work. His biggest complaint about CAD? Ergonomics! His setup slowly evolved as he was determined to find the most comfortable way to work. First, a keyboard and a trackball. Then, a keyboard, a trackball, and a left-handed mouse. Then, an ergonomic keyboard on a desk mounted tray (and trackball + mouse) — he still wasn’t satisfied. Thus began his journey into a fully customized setup.

He started with the ErgoDox keyboard, which is a two-part ergonomic keyboard. He ordered the aluminum version, which isn’t quite as nicely finished as you would think — but we doubt the manufacturer was expecting its consumers to be taking it apart and integrating it into something else. A lot of sandpaper, die grinding and polishing later, and it had a much nicer finish.

The keyboard was built up using wood and MDF, and finally finished with a very nice wood veneer, giving a very executive finish to the project. He’s integrated four arcade buttons and a Kensington track ball in the very middle — and of course, being a true typist, his keys have no markings.

[via Reddit]

46 thoughts on “Gaming Keyboard Features Incredible Workmanship

  1. I’m handy with wood, and metal work, but I’ve better things to build. To me keyboards are disposable items. Keyboards get crapped up, they out and out break, interfaces have changed no less than three times, forcing me to abandon hardware.

    So nope, I’m not going to invest a whole lot of effort into keyboards. Oh keyboards are incredibly cheap to acquire too. I know some hipsters are all into their expensive Cherry mechanical switch keyboards. I’m not that kind of a person.

    To me keyboards are more like disposable lighters. Use them up, then toss them aside. This project is like bronze plating a pair of disposable diapers. A trackball? People still use those things?

    I haven’t hung my T squares up permanently either.

    1. I’m a hipster for using a quality keyboard that makes it more comfortable and enjoyable to type? Weird…

      Also I don’t know what you’re doing to your keyboards that make them break and having to be replaced over and over. In the past 15-20 years I’ve had 4 keyboards. The first on a Mac which then got replaced by a tank of a keyboard that came with my HP computer, that one got replaced by an identical keyboard (not because it was broken but because I had a new one on stand by and figured I should use it) and now I’m using a “hipster” Filco keyboard that is also built like a tank and I suspect will last for the next 10 years.

      Do you also go out and buy the cheapest tools you can find for your wood and metalworking?

        1. Learn how to read someday. I did not way there was anything hipster about this build. What I said was, some hipsters place great value on their mechanical keyboards. I will elaborate, what I meant was some individuals value keyboards far more than I do. Does that clear things up for you? Or do I have to spell it out in even simpler terms?

          1. Are you okay? You seem extremely irritable, even bitter about…something. Your reaction to this project and the responses you have gotten have been irrationally angry and condescending without any apparent cause. Is there something wrong?

          2. @snien excuse me if I seem to get irritated when people fail to understand me. I never had much tolerance for stupidity, My shortcoming I suppose.

          3. I see- you are trying to say you do not have much tolerance for people who you assume are less intelligent than yourself, based on your obviously (to you) unbiased opinion of your brilliance.

          4. @someone Well, there are the results of the IQ test that I was administered too. Based on that I am in the top two percent of the population. That is a professional opinion, and not my own. It wasn’t any bullshit online IQ test either. The doctor who gave it to me was wearing a white lab coat, had a degree, a license to practice, an office, and everything else one would normally expect of a genuine clinical experience.

            Bend over and cough! OK, maybe it didn’t get that intimate. He wasn’t that kind of a doctor. Well, maybe he was in his off time. I really didn’t know him. But unlike you I am not going to pretend that I do either.

            For you see, I’m just too smart for that. Perhaps even brilliant? Yeah, I probably am. It is difficult for me to judge on the inside, looking out. Anyhow, I’ve better things to do than shut trolls up on the Internet right now, so I’m going to go and do those things now.

            I’ll see you poolside, no wait, I won’t, because it’s my pool!

        2. To me trackballs- in particular the kingston marble-mouse (with the big approx. 1,5″ ball, not the dumb thumb versions) keep my hands from getting sore after many hours of work. I use mice too (at the same time), but if I keep using mice I have worse hand issues. I have also found other people having hand soreness after too much computig like good track balls if they try them. I got hooked on track balls from an old PII panasonic toughbook I bought used for work, that had a built in track ball. Maybe everyone does not have the same problem, but I do not use trackballs because they are “hip” I think the iconic “hipster” pointing device would be that IBM rubber eraser – track pointer thing. HAHA.

      1. Sure I buy the cheapest tools I can get. Why should I spend more money? More does not mean better. I don’t know why keyboards break either. I imagine because they’re pieces of shit to begin with. I have opened some of them up, and there is just an epoxy blob chip on a piece of circuit board inside most of them.

        I buy keyboards used at yard sales for like a dollar. They are the kind that came with computer systems, HP, Dell, Gateway. They’re all about the same. When I built my last system I decided to blow my wad and buy a keyboard, and mouse with it. I wanted a wireless setup, and they do not come up on the used market regularly.

        Long story short, after a brief period of time that stopped working. I changed the batteries, and it still didn’t work. Now I’m back to my dollar wired keyboards. They last longer.

    2. I’ve had the same keyboard for 15 years now, i’m not sure what you’re doing with yours? I’m pretty sure i don’t want to know. Personally I’m too poor to buy cheap crap.

      1. I leave my keyboards out in my workshop, and I use them with dirty hands. It seems to take its toll on them to me. Now you know. I buy my equipment used. It does not cost me much to assemble a system. I think I have $85 total into this one now. That includes the speakers (5.1 surround), the monitors (plural is not a typo), keyboard, mouse, all of it.

        It is not top of the line, but it serves my purposes. It is an HP a6712f. I did put a new video card, and power supply into it. They are where the bulk of the money I invested into it went. The basic tower itself cost me a dollar. They thought they’d blown the motherboard in it. Turns out they just broke the onboard VGA jack.

        I do not diagnose them until after I have purchased them, and brought them home with me. This one took me about 10 seconds to figure out. I was being pretty rough with it when it did not display any video, and noticed the jack was wonky then. Being familiar with the GMA3500 on board video it has I figured it wasn’t worth fixing the jack.

        I got a Nvidia GT520 on sale for $29.95. But to use the PCI slot in this system I needed a 20+4 PSU too. An Antec basiq worked for me there. I found one of those online for cheap too. Monitors I buy used for $5 each. I have a pair of Acer flat screens on it now. An AL1916 paired with a P241W The surround sound system I bought in a plastic tub of junk for $10. It is a Dell MMS5650? Something like that. I ended up swapping out the front speakers for a pair of Audio Source LS100s I picked up in a thrift store for $6. Keyboard and mouse cost me a buck a pop.

        I bought a JVC surround sound stereo I want to hook up to this PC someday. I haven’t collected up enough speakers to do it yet though. Sometimes I like to listen to music in my workshop. I have this other sound system in there but how things are now I can’t easily switch over from what I’m using, to it. I’m working on it. Not really, but kind of.

        With my old computer I just had to switch one submini jack to go over to the shop sound. This PC isn’t like that, yet.

        1. From what you are saying, it sounds like the older, well made keyboards would be right up your alley. I have found brand new 20 year old + keyboards for a few bucks at a thrift shop, and they are built like tanks. You could probably use it in your shop for 20 more years, and it would keep ticking. For all that matters, I have a Microsoft “ergonomic keyboard” from the 90’s when Microsoft actually had its brand on very well made mice and keyboards, and it works fine too- once you adapt your MB to the big 5 pin DIN connector. They are very functional- nothing hipster about them. You are right- the newer keyboards are just conductive ink on rubber, pressing on a cheap circuit board. I have some older versions where the switch traces are gold plated.

  2. >The keyboard was built up using wood and MDF, and finally finished with a very nice wood veneer, giving a very executive finish to the project.
    I’m pretty sure the end product is solid mahogany. The comments in the pictures say the MDF parts were just there for mockup design, which is a great idea considering the price of fine woods.

    1. Pretty sure, or sure? ‘Cause from the picture, it looks like veneer to me. The grain curving up from both sides to meet at the highpoint in the shape is the obvious giveaway for me.

  3. This is a pretty cool build, and if I had the skills I would definitely attempt a variation on this theme. I would love to do something like this in Dvorak (or better yet, Dvorak/Qwerty hardware switch) with the trackball off to one side (like a built-in thumb-ball style trackball).

    Some people just like a simple keyboard that’s $10 or less, so when they spill something it isn’t too expensive to replace (I use to be one of them, so I get it) and some people like a powerhouse keyboard-of-awesomeness customized to their every whim. This is definitely a great project for the latter type of person.

    And when you get right down to it, I just think wooden keyboards that are done right look very slick.

    1. Are you aware that you don’t need a different keyboard for dvorak/qwerty. Most OS’s let you switch the layout in software.

      If you really want to go down that route then consider a hack around something like the Optimus Popularis or Maximus. Each key is an OLED display that you can customize. Then you wont have any layout issues :)

      I think a little steam punking would do it

      1. I am aware of the software switch, but as someone who touch types in Dvorak and games in Qwerty (I don’t want to go through and rebind all of the keys on every game I own and on some it isn’t possible) I’ve found that some games intercept the key commands (including those for the layout switch), so if I forget to switch layouts before running the game, I have to completely exit the game, change layouts, then start it again.

        Currently my solution to this is a red edition Razer Tarantula I got my hands on a few years back. The Tarantula can store up to five profiles actually on the keyboard itself, and all of the alphanumeric keys are customizeable in the profiles. So I just created one layout with Qwerty and one with Dvorak (and of course all my macros on the macro keys :) ). The onboard profiles can be switched with a PROFILE key on the keyboard itself, eliminating the need for PC-side software intervention. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come in a curved ergonomic layout and (more importantly) it doesn’t come in beautiful mahogany. :P

        The individual-display-key keyboard suggestion is interesting, but not much use in my situation, since I can touch type and would more likely go for the blank key option like the shining example at the top of the page. :)

        A little steam-punking never hurt anything… ;)

    2. I think keyboards dipped in oil look pretty slick myself. I knew a guy who’s cousin invented Slick 50. Pour that on a keyboard and it’d be pretty slick too I bet.

      1. Probably would look pretty slick. Might even still work okay. A lot of people are toying around with oil immersion cooling on their towers, so why not oil covered keyboards? The oil look is totally “in” right now. :)

        Then again, all that handwashing every time you get off the computer might get slightly annoying. ;)

  4. The title says gaming keyboard but unless he made this to play games on his CAD application this ain’t no gaming keyboard. I blame the arcade style buttons for that though.

    That layout is something I always thought would be very efficient. However a scroll wheel is a necessity. I also would like to have two special buttons near the trackball to lock x and y independently (can be accomplished with an autohotkey script for instance). That would be a killer feature for me.

  5. I would have put a crystal ball where the trackball is so I could foresee what project changes were going to be made before I started.

    A good keyboard isn’t something you miss until you’ve used one.

  6. Well all in all it’s a nice piece of work. I don’t like the look but if he’s happy fine…
    The Ergodox does not come assembled so the manufacturerer does not have to expect people taking it apart. The have to put it together.

    I own the Ergodox myself and my aluminium cover has a perfect finish. I don’t understand why he replaced the entire keyboard case with aluminium if he then puts it into a wooden frame. He could have sticked to the acrylic base.

    What I don’t like about the build is that he mounted the two parts of the Ergodox. Having the possibilty to place both hands in any orientation is the best about this keyboard and in my opinion the only reason to buy an ergodox. I mean this thing is like 300 USD on massdrop. 600 USD if you source it yourself. Most of it the frame that he replaced…?

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