Author Topic: Key Stroke, Long vs Short  (Read 1877 times)

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Offline siouxscout

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« on: Mon, 20 February 2012, 11:07:07 »
Have there been any studies or research done on if a longer or short key stroke is better or worst ergonomics wise?

I've been thinking of getting a keyboard with scissor switches, I like the ones on my keyboard but havenít used one long term such as at work.
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Offline boli

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 20 February 2012, 11:21:09 »
Take this with a spoon of salt, it's all from hearsay:
From what I understand travel distance isn't all that important, it seems that the impact should be avoided. Cherry keys, which have something like 4mm of travel, but activate after something like 2mm, allow avoiding the impact (but one can also continue the stroke until bottoming out). Rubber domes don't allow avoiding the impact I think, but then again the impact isn't quite so hard...

Update: A quick check on the Maltron and Kinesis-Ergo homepages didn't yield anything either. Dunno where I read it, so take with 2 spoons of salt. ;)
« Last Edit: Mon, 20 February 2012, 11:29:09 by boli »
Keyboard: Kinesis Ergo Advantage (two LF editions with red Cherry switches, one regular with brown switches)
Keyboard layout: basically Colemak, with some remapping to end up with my custom Kinesis Advantage layout
Typing test profiles: typeracer.com / hi-games.net / keybr.com

Online dorkvader

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 00:32:35 »
Given the low price, I think I'd rather get a cherry G84, as it's still mechanical, but with 2mm keytravel.

Boli, was it this guy's page you were thinking of? He discusses the bottom out issue here:
http://mykeyboard.co.uk/keyswitches/
let me put together your keyboard! Nut&bolt mod (many pictures)
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Offline boli

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 01:25:03 »
Hmm, I thought it was something more official looking. I did read about that guy's crazy keyboard a couple years ago, so I suppose it's possible.

Cherry ML switches, ey? I found two reviews in the Wiki. They don't make it sound like a must have. ;)

Four years ago I used to like an Apple Aluminum keyboard, which has scissor switches and very short travel. Interestingly, I didn't like shortening the travel on my Advantage with 3 o-rings, as it made it almost impossible to not bottom out, which I'd rather avoid nowadays - not due to any health problems, it just doesn't feel right any more. :)
« Last Edit: Tue, 21 February 2012, 01:31:58 by boli »
Keyboard: Kinesis Ergo Advantage (two LF editions with red Cherry switches, one regular with brown switches)
Keyboard layout: basically Colemak, with some remapping to end up with my custom Kinesis Advantage layout
Typing test profiles: typeracer.com / hi-games.net / keybr.com

Offline pitashen

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 01:36:27 »
Quote from: siouxscout;519628
Have there been any studies or research done on if a longer or short key stroke is better or worst ergonomics wise?


Nope. Whatever doesn't hurt your finger joints is fine.
\\\\ DSI Mac Modular Keyboard (Brown) w/ Leo  Blank Keycaps //
\\\\ Leopold 87keys Keyboard (Brown) w/ Black CherryCorp + SP DoubleShots //
\\\\ Filco Majestouch 2 NINJA (Black) w/ White CherryCorp + SP DoublsShots //

Online sordna

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 03:42:05 »
Whatever reduces impact is best. I like long travel on regular keyboards, to avoid bottoming out. But note that good touch screens or touch surfaces like the Fingerworks Touchstream have zero travel but a minimal impact since they are very sensitive you only barely have to touch them to generate a keystroke. So I would say that a reduced travel is ok as long as the force required is reduced along with it.
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Playtrumpet

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 12:09:46 »
Shorter travel helps lessen the fatigue of my fingers, but altogether I do think it's a combination of distance and impact that makes for better ergonomics and comfort.
Das S Ultimate Brown | Dvorak

Offline Icarium

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 12:13:19 »
Quote from: sordna;520509
Whatever reduces impact is best. I like long travel on regular keyboards, to avoid bottoming out. But note that good touch screens or touch surfaces like the Fingerworks Touchstream have zero travel but a minimal impact since they are very sensitive you only barely have to touch them to generate a keystroke. So I would say that a reduced travel is ok as long as the force required is reduced along with it.

Yeah, if the impact on a touchscreen counts you will have to count the impact of touching the key to press it as well. ;)
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Online sordna

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 13:11:27 »
Quote from: Icarium;520790
Yeah, if the impact on a touchscreen counts you will have to count the impact of touching the key to press it as well. ;)

Hmm, that gives me an idea. Instead of reducing key travel after the activation point, it would be cool to reduce the key travel before the activation point. Perhaps cutting springs (especially in linear cherry MX switches) will work. If you do it right, you would barely have to touch the keys to type.
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Playtrumpet

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 14:29:21 »
Quote from: sordna;520864
Hmm, that gives me an idea. Instead of reducing key travel after the activation point, it would be cool to reduce the key travel before the activation point. Perhaps cutting springs (especially in linear cherry MX switches) will work. If you do it right, you would barely have to touch the keys to type.

Interesting notion. There must be someone who's tried something like this.
Das S Ultimate Brown | Dvorak

Offline WhiteFireDragon

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 14:42:53 »
Quote from: sordna;520864
Hmm, that gives me an idea. Instead of reducing key travel after the activation point, it would be cool to reduce the key travel before the activation point. Perhaps cutting springs (especially in linear cherry MX switches) will work. If you do it right, you would barely have to touch the keys to type.

Are you sure this is possible? I thought cutting coils on the springs will only make the springs lighter. Actuation point won't change no matter you do to the spring I think.

Online sordna

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 21 February 2012, 14:48:40 »
Quote from: WhiteFireDragon;520967
Are you sure this is possible? I thought cutting coils on the springs will only make the springs lighter. Actuation point won't change no matter you do to the spring I think.

I'm pretty sure it will work. The only thing holding a cherry MX black or red switch stem up is the spring. If you remove it, the stem will stay down. If you cut it enough, the stem should stay in a halfway position. This experiment will work better with MX blacks than reds due to the stiffer spring.
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Icarium

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 22 February 2012, 17:55:20 »
Great idea. I'm assuming that it would be great to have little travel to the activation point, then a slight tactile bump, then plenty of travel after for not bottoming out. But of course I'm just making that up because it sounds like it might feel good. :)
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline dotancohen

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Key Stroke, Long vs Short
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 24 February 2012, 06:55:01 »
Anecdotal, personal experience. I personally am very sensitive to key pressure, and bottoming out actually hurts. I do have a low-force rubber-dome keyboard that I bought from another poster in this thread (hi!) and although one _could_ theoretically use only 35 grams of force to press the keys, in reality that would require limiting the stroke to exactly the 2mm travel to achieve. In practice, (35 grams * 2mm) ~ (0.035 Newtons * 0.002 meters) = 70 μJ. That is, I am pressing 35 grams for the whole 2mm. My Cherry Brown board, though, activates at 55 grams of force but _getting_ to the 2mm activation point requires less work because much less force is needed at the beginning of the stroke. Let's assume linear, some calculus and we have 55 μJ. Not much less work.

But here is the kicker: one cannot press down exactly 2mm. As humans we are inaccurate, and if our inaccuracy is +- 0.5 mm then we must aim to overshoot to 2.5 mm so that there will be no missed keystrokes. At 3 mm of travel (the high end of the inaccuracy) the Cherry Brown board requires only 60 grams of force, but the rubber dome shoots up to infinity! Even at the 2.5mm mean travel, the rubber dome keyboard requires orders of magnitude more force on the fingertips due to having bottomed out. This is why, so long as one can prevent bottoming out, the mechanical keyswitches are much more gentle on the fingertips.

In summary, human fingers aim for distance and the force on the keyboard is a function of that distance. Once that is recognised, then the need for key travel after activation is obvious. How much key travel is necessary is a matter of how accurate one can set the distance for their fingers to travel. The 2mm of after-activation on the Cherry Browns seems to be my limit, as I do occasionally bottom out. So a 55-gram switch that allows for 2mm of travel after activation requires less work and less pressure on the fingertips than a 35-gram switch with zero after-activation travel.