I’ve been using my Kinesis Advantage keyboard for two months, and I love it. I’ll never go back to a regular keyboard again if I can help it.
There are a few downsides to it, however. The biggest one is that split distance between the two sides is fixed. It doesn’t have Cherry MX blues (although the browns plus the firmware beeps is pretty nice). It doesn’t have layers, really — just a ten-key under the right hand. And honestly, it’s not very portable.
I took the Kinesis out to a coffee shop a few times before they all dried up into drive-thrus, and plunking it down on a four-top out in public made me realize just how large and loud it really is.
And so I’m building an ErgoDox keyboard. What I really want to build is a Dactyl — a curved variation on the ErgoDox — but I can’t just go whole-hog into that without building some type of keyboard first. That’s just my practical nature, I guess. I realize that the comparison is weak, because I’ll have to hand-wire the keyboard matrix when I make the dactyl. Assembling an ErgoDox is child’s play, comparatively. Our goal today is to lay out just what I’m getting myself into with a build like this one.
[Elite Worm] wrote in to tell us about a cool little keyboard designed to make playing a certain game a whole lot easier. One of the ways you can move your character is with the numpad in directional mode plus Control and Shift, but those are too far apart to drive blindly with one hand. This is all the motivation [Elite Worm] needed to build a custom keyboard with only the essentials.
The keyboard is controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro, which is fairly standard for this type of build — it’s usually that or a Teensy. [Elite Worm] used Cherry MX browns for a nice tactile feel, and added LEDs for a purple-white under-glow. We love the way the printed keycaps turned out, and are impressed because tolerances are notoriously tight for those fruity switch stems.
Starting to think of a few uses for a small custom keypad? This thing is wide open, and [Elite Worm] will even send you the PCB files if you ask nicely. See if you can get past the break without your mouse, and check out the build video while you wait.