Keyboards with wells like the Maltron, the Kinesis Advantage family, and everything dactyl-esque out there are great. Trust us, we know this firsthand. But if you want to build your own curvy girl, how the heck can you implement that shape without 3D printing, clever woodworking, or access to tooling and plastic molding equipment? Well, there is another way. Over on twitter (translated) (Threadreader: Japanese, English), [tsukasa_metam] has achieved the key well effect by stacking up PCBs to create a skyline of vertically-staggered keys.
The boards of Cityscape are all screwed together for mechanical integrity, but those screws are working overtime, providing electrical connections between the layers as well. We particularly like that there is an impetus for this build other than ‘I thought of it, so let’s do it’ — [tsukasa_metam] tends to typo in the double key press sense, hitting Q for instance at the same time when A was the intended target. Between the 3.2 mm of key travel, the 2.8 mm step height, and those flat F10 keycaps, that is no longer an issue.
Instead of the popular low-profile Kailh choc switches, [tsukasa_metam] went with TTC KS32s, a new switch introduced in 2020. Unlike chocs, they’ll take Cherry MX-style keycaps, as long as they’re wearing short skirts. Cityscape isn’t totally open source, but the idea is now out there nonetheless, and we happen to have an Odd Inputs and Peculiar Peripherals contest running now through July 4th.
Do stacked PCBs seem kinda familiar? Hey, it’s easier than winding transformer coils.
Via KBD #79
Just when we thought we’d seen the peak of ergonomic, split keyboards, along comes [Peter Lyons] with the Squeezebox — an adjustable, column-staggered, streamlined beauty with 21 keys per hand. Much like the Kinesis Advantage and the Dactyl, the user’s fingers are allowed to dangle comfortably and stay in their naturally curled position, moving as little as possible between keys, rows, and columns. But the Squeezebox goes a few steps farther to reduce finger travel.
For starters, each column of keys is adjustable on the fly in the Y-direction by loosening the screw and sliding it until it’s just right. The columns are also adjustable in the Z-direction, but for now, this requires reprinting a few parts. In case you didn’t notice, the grid is pretty tightly packed, and those low-profile Kailh choc switches are naked to the world, mostly because keycaps wouldn’t fit anyway.
At that angle, there’s no reaching required at all between the middle and bottom rows. The 100° corner that they form both invites and supports chording — that’s pressing multiple keys simultaneously to do some action. There’s no real need to reach for the top row, either, because [Peter] merely moves his finger upward in the Z-direction a little bit to hit those. The similarly-angled thumb clusters are chord-able as well, and their position relative to the mainland is adjustable thanks to a grid of holes that are meant for threaded inserts. Genius!
For the next version, [Peter] plans to bring the three sets of thumb cluster switches closer together, and arrange them like a tri-fold science fair display board. Be sure to check out the super cool but somewhat impossible-to-solder prototypes in the build log, and stay for more stuff in the huge build gallery. Typing demo is after the break.
Still too much travel for your taste? How about a 5-way for each finger?
Continue reading “Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Keycaps”