It's a keyboard!

The Charachorder Keyboard Is Too Fast For Competition

We interrupt the flow of Keebin’ with Kristina to bring you this special bulletin. When three different people alert you to a keyboard within 48 hours or so, it calls for more than just a paragraph in the roundup column. So here are several paragraphs, an animated GIF, and some extended commentary about the Charachorder, a new kind of input that came up through Kickstarter in 2021.

Driving this hype train are some short viral videos that show the founder hitting 500+ WPM on this crazy thing. FYI, that is fast enough to get you banned from typing competitions, including the monkeytype leaderboard. Those apes forbid chorded input altogether, and automatically throw out entries above 300 WPM. It acheives these insane speeds through clever mechanical design and, of course, firmware.

Continue reading “The Charachorder Keyboard Is Too Fast For Competition”

An open-source chording keyboard with trackball support.

Chordie Chording Keyboard Speaks No Qwerty

What is the fastest way to get thoughts out of your brain and into relative permanence? Well, yeah, probably a voice recorder. But after voice recorders comes typing in a distant second. Typing, especially QWERTY-style, has its limitations. The holy grail method it comes to typing quickly has got to be a chording keyboard, hands down. How can court reporters possibly keep up with everything that’s uttered during a trial? When you can press a few keys at the same time and type entire words, it’s not that difficult. It just takes a whole lot of memorization and muscle memory to get to that point.

An open-source chording keyboard with trackball support.So if you’re going to go for the glory, check out Chordie, a snazzy little chording keyboard that does it all with just 14 keys. [kbjunky] based Chordie on the Ginny, a cute little bare-bones bat-wing chording keyboard that uses the ASETNIOP chording engine originally built for soft keyboards.[kbjunky] added open-face trackball support via printed cradle, but it’s not necessary to use a trackball since there’s a pair of rotary encoders and a mouse layer.

This keyboard looks fantastic with its rocket ship MCU holder and its flush-mounted I/O expander breakout boards. Apparently [kbjunky] used polyimide tape to keep the solder from making blobs. It’s all there in the nice build guide.

We would probably argue that chording is not totally ergonomic. Sure, you barely move your hands or wrists, but chording itself can be hard on the digits, especially the pinkies. To that end, [kbjunky] used low-profile switches with light springs. Totally ergonomic or not, we have to admit that we love the idea of clacking along at 300 WPM someday far, far down the learning curve of ASETNIOP. Take a look at the key map, and check out [kbjunky]’s follow-up post if you want to see a demo.

Maybe you prefer a completely different typing experience. Well, ASETNIOP works with digital pianos, too.

Via r/ErgoMechKeyboards

The Keyboard You Really Don’t Need Or Want

Most people think of a keyboard as a flat, vaguely rectangular thing with around 100ish different keys. A mechanical keyboard enthusiast would heartily disagree and point out various tenkeyless, 75%, 60%, or 40% keyboards that strip down the idea of what a keyboard is by taking keys out. [Stavros Korokithakis] takes that notion and turns it on its side by creating the five-button vertical keyboard known as Keyyyyyyyys.

This keyboard, or keystick, is designed to be onehanded and to be eye-contact-free. With just five keys, it makes heavy use of chording to output all the characters needed. It has a maximum of 32 possible states and taking out pressing nothing as a no-op leaves 31 possible key combinations. So [Stavros] had to get creative and laid out the letters according to their frequency in the English language. The brains of Keyyyyyyyys is the ubiquitous ESP32, emulating a Bluetooth keyboard while being wrapped in a simple 3d printed box. The code is hosted on GitLab.

If you don’t know how hard it is to learn a five-key chording keyboard from scratch, definitely check out [Stavros]’ video embedded below. “C’mon h.” We have heard reports that you can learn these things, though.

While this five-button keyboard may seem small, this two-button keyboard still has it beat by three keys. A one-button keyboard is just a morse code keyboard, and we are looking forward to a wireless Bluetooth version. Continue reading “The Keyboard You Really Don’t Need Or Want”

Smartphone Case Doubles As Chording Keyboard, With Gesture Inputs

Smartphones and other modern computing devices are wonderful things, but for those with disabilities interacting with them isn’t always easy. In trying to improve accessibility, [Dougie Mann] created TypeCase, a combination gestural input device and chording keyboard that exists in a kind of symbiotic relationship with a user’s smartphone.

With TypeCase, a user can control a computer (or the smartphone itself) with gestures, emulate a mouse, or use the device as a one-handed chording keyboard for text input. The latter provides an alternative to voice input, which can be awkward in public areas.

The buttons and motion sensors allow for one-handed button and gestural input while holding the phone, and the Bluetooth connectivity means that the device acts and works just like a wireless mouse or keyboard. The electronics consist mainly of an Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE, and [Dougie] used 3D Hub’s on-demand printing service to create the enclosures once the design work was complete. Since TypeCase doubles as a protective smartphone case, users have no need to carry or manage a separate device.

TypeCase’s use cases are probably best expressed by [Dougie]’s demo video, embedded below. Chording keyboards have a higher learning curve, but they can be very compact. One-handed text input does remind us somewhat of a very different approach that had the user make gestures in patterns reminiscent of Palm’s old Graffiti system; perhaps easier to learn but not nearly as discreet.

Continue reading “Smartphone Case Doubles As Chording Keyboard, With Gesture Inputs”