This article has just been fixed (3/14) as far as me being able to have access to fix/correct/edit/clean up/add/re-post pictures. I hope to play with it over a short course of time and get it much more functional asap. I'll add the pics first, then deal with updated content/editing the mess.
I hope the information contained is helpful.
*** Temporary link for photos until I can post/edit appropriately--- http://imgur.com/a/TdZya EVERYTHING KINESIS ADVANTAGE
Smoochie Doodle, my little Blue Headed Pionus buddy that I shared the last 10 years with. I miss him so much!
GOALSThe primary goal is to use a Kinesis Contoured keyboard and separate into 2 halves, full adjustability, non-staggered keys, integrated pointing devices, all to make the most comfortable and RSI-proof product possible. It must be high quality, aesthetically pleasing, and an item that is functional and nice enough that people would purchase if it were sold in stores. A well thought out and elegant finish product. In principle, it would be similar to a Datahand (2 fully adjustable halves, integrated pointing device). Too many people hurt just from using keyboards, and that's just crazy.
1-Datahand 2-Datahand being used 3-Datahand mounted on chair arms.
A-Split Kinesis Contoured B-non-split Kinesis Contoured being used C-Datahand chair mount kit to be used with Split Kinesis.
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It should be able to be used on a desk and/or attached to chair arms with 360 degree adjustments. I want to see if different pointing devices can be used, to match personal preferences. There will be some improvements to the keyboard, such as the elastmeric F-keys converted to key switches/key caps. Finally, possibly some upgrades like wireless and added functionality via electronic mods.
One option is to remove the 2 key "bowls" from the case and mounting them to adjustable arms onto each chair armrest. Or I may just cut the keyboard case in half and leave the guts enclosed. I need to integrate a pointing device that is small and allows the hands to stay in/near the home row keys. I'm now thinking a trackpoint is the best option.
I've opted to use a Mac 360 degree scrollball from a Mighty Mouse for page scrolling with the left index finger, a Trackpoint for cursor control with the right index finger, and the 2 mouse buttons with the left thumb. This way the movements alternate between hands.
A Griffin Powermate, touchpad, or modified (shortened) Rollermouse bar are options for alternate input devices to integrate with the keyboard. Pros and cons will be listed and considered.
Dampening the keyboard sounds by possibly coating the interior of the case with a rubber coating (like Plasti-Dip/noise dampening products), because there is so much case, and using O-rings the key caps to dampen the bottoming out downstroke, and also the topping out upstroke.
May use wood or metal keycaps for the home row, F-keys, or other special keys so you would more easily know by touch where your fingers are. Custom molding key caps is another option.
May connect a flash drive internally via USB to the non-split mobile version of this keyboard and store copies of any software that can be used on other machines at remote locations so internet access is not required to download. There are many 3rd party software programs, as well as self-implemented tailoring that allow for increased functionality/productivity for any keyboard/pointing device, I'll see what may be more applicable to this mod. Because the Kinesis Contoured has programability and ergo design, several of these programs have little or no value add.
An inline hardware keyboard layout using Colemak may be a good choice for the mobile version of this keyboard.
This keyboard is a Retrobrite project, and may also be a Rit-Dye project/vinyl-dye project, and possibly a sandblast-keycap project. (See links below)
Although I will try my best to build a keyboard that has little compromise, there is a learning curve, and will default this particular project to a proof-of-concept status if for no other reason than to keep it moving along and not drive myself crazy. There is also the chance this particular keyboard (although functional) may never be really complete, as it may evolve into a test-bed for different ideas. I have a second Kinesis Contoured that will be modified in a similar fashion, but not spilt into to halves. The idea being that it could be a "take along/portable" unit, or maybe sold at cost to "get it out there". These keyboards have a long life span, and Kinesis will service/repair them, so I don't want to destroy or permanently damage the overall structure of the keyboard. I want to use this modifying experience so that the next one will be able to be done in a day or two.
I'll document with pics so anyone else can see what there is to do/not to do. I couldn't find much info online when I looked, so I hope this helps someone as a guide or a reference source for these awesome keyboards. I want to provide information so others can have minimum problems. I'm also very open to ideas, questions, assistance, etc.
When the project is complete, I'll grade the 1) effectiveness and 2) quality of how each individual modification works and is implemented:
1)-Keyboard separated into 2 physical halves
2)-integrated trackpoint/mouse buttons
4)-F key row conversion to switches/keys
5)-moving of some F key row keys to other locations
6)-adding keys in the thumb cluster area
8) -adding of extra USB port(s)
11)-any added functionality (electronic, custom controller)
12)-sound dampening the key switches
13)-sound dampening the hollow case sound
14)-upgrade keys to PBT
Parts used with these projects with approximate budget values +/-):
-Kinesis Contoured Essential MPC keyboard (ebay $100) Advantage model (Kinesis $300/ebay used $200+)
-Trackpoint IV (PS/2) from IBM KPD8923 keyboard (ebay $20-40) Open to finding another trackpoint source? USB?
-"active" PS/2-USB converter for keyboard/trackpoint (PI Engineering "Y-mouse") ($25-50)
--EDIT--USB Trackpoint from Lenovo Thinkpad USB keyboard (must be modded) (ebay $50?)
-4 port USB micro hub ($5)
-360 degree scrollball from Apple Mighty Mouse (ebay $20)
-Hyperscroll wheel from Logitech RX1500 Hyperscroll mouse (ebay $25) Or a different model of HyperScroll?
-Touchpad or gestures pad ($25-100) Apple Magic Trackpad, Wacom, Ergo Touchpad, or a Mac gestures touchpad?
-Colemak keyboard layout (free)
-added switches, key caps, Blue Cube, electronic material misc. ($60)
-chair/armrest mounting ($100-200)
-Kinesis Contoured Triple Foot Switch ($100)
-wireless is unknown at this time
-inline hardware keyboard layout is unknown at this time
-alternative controller/firmware is unknown at this time
Cherry MX browns are what the keyboard uses, and Cherry reds (linear) are available from Kinesis for about $100 to change out the 2 keywells. There is a thought to use Cherry "ergo clears" a custom combination of brown springs and clear stems that are like browns with a more pronounced tactile feel.
Links for items that are used or notable to these projects (I'll update as project progress occurs):
This is the actual Kinesis Contoured keyboard that is getting cut in half. It has been previously modded:
Replacing mainboard/programming with hardware/firmware from this source:
Modernizing AT-PS/2 to USB:
Adding keys ("real" Function keys, etc.):
Chair/armrest will be important from an adjustability standpoint:
Possible inline hardware keyboard layout:
http://dvorak-keyboard.net63.net/ EDIT-This link is no longer active, but if you "search" that actual link, it will locate most needed info.
Alternative pointing devices to possibly build into modification:
USB trackpoint (mod)-
Apple Magic Trackpad:
Alphagrip (multi-directional buttons/integrated trackball):
Products to mount keyboards/input devices to chairs:
Other misc. tweaks:
Embedded layout concepts:
Some interesting keyboard/layout idea/notes:
Sandblasting key caps:
Making key caps from molds:
Others that have done some extremely cool work on a Kinesis Contoured:
One of several links I have of someone removing the main controller and using an Aikon/Limkb:
And interesting combination of dual trackballs and dual footpedals: http://www.lorinroche.com/computer.htm
As you can see from the listings above, GEEKHACK.ORG is a primo site as a source for mods, tweaks, and ideas.
Kinesis Contoured Model History
Kinesis Contoured Models and HistoryCURRENT: (USB)
Advantage Pro MPC/USB-2 memory modules
Advantage MPC/USB-1 memory module
DISCONTINUED: (AT, PS/2)
Professional-2 memory modules
Classic-1 memory module
Essential-0 memory modules (programability is greatly reduced)
Model #130, #120, #110, #100, Natural, Ergo Elan (non-U.S. model), Ergo Elite
The discontinued models (Essential, Classic, Professional) also were available as MPC (Mac/PC switchable) models that had a Mac ADB plug and switch and dual legend Win/Mac function keys. Model #130 came with no sticky keys. All models can have the memory upgraded/downgraded with either 0, 1 or 2 memory modules. Models #100, #110, #120 came with expensive 2 shot (doubleshot) key caps and had the indicator lights at various places on the keyboard rather than the more recent keyboards with 4 lights in a row in the center. #100 had a slightly different case design, and the white keyboard and keys had black legends/logos instead of blue. Dual legended keycaps are available with Qwerty/Dvorak as an add later. The only difference between the Advantage and the Advantage Pro is the silver top case of the Advantage Pro is a black case that is spray painted silver, the Pro has a tiny hidden switch in the thumb cluster to prevent accidental programming, and comes with 2 memory modules instead of 1.
The main controller PCB is the same since 2003.
Firmware is v3.2 from about 2003
On the mainboard the 2 keywell connectors were turned around starting at serial #60,000.
The USB versions of the keyboard started at serial #50,000. Technically, the current keyboard mainboard is still PS/2 (not USB-native), with a daughterboard active PS/2>USB converter. Only the firmware changed, the actual mainboard is the same.
Current goal is a combination of these 3 photos (caseless, separated, extra "real" keys, also note that every mod has a pointing device):
Keyboards that are conceptually inspirational for these projects
Several keyboard options that are very ergonomic by either being split, contoured, layout, programmable...
(LEFT) The Kinesis Freestyle is split, with rubber domes, USB, and is currently manufactured. ($90-$150 new, $40-$90 used)
(RIGHT) The Kinesis Evolution is split, with mechanical switches, came with 0, 1, or 2 touchpads, PS/2, and is no longer manufactured. (was $400-$500 new, $50-$300 used)
The issue with both of these is that the keys are staggered (not ergonomic enough).
The Utron, split, very interesting key layout, symmetrical staggering, slightly smaller than normal key caps, and Topre-like key switches. ($550 +/- Asia only)
Typematrix, sleek and portable, shares some similar key layout ideas as the Utron, and embedded extended numeric keypad, rubber dome. ($90)
The Maltron, which uses Cherry black switches, non-programable/no macros. comes in several models (one handed, etc), hand wired in the U.K. complete with astronomical price tags ($500-$800)...
A proposed layout that has been circulating the web for a couple years.
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The Humble Hacker, (non-production keyboard) a real programmers programmer keyboard which has taken many features into consideration, with programmability, multiple layers, remapping...
The Key64, (a non-production keyboard) that is minimalist in design, uber-ergo, and is programmable to the hilt...
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The ErgoDox, a Geekhacker project...obviously inspired by the Key64, while also being split, (non-production board at this time)
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And then you have this truly unique keyboard solution in a class all its own, the Alphagrip, a quality built keyboard with integrated optical trackball which allows you to not be tied to sitting in a rigid position at your desk, and is easily portable (about $100 new)...I have one of these, and it is SUPER-ergonomic. The same old keyboard/posture rules don't apply. Can't believe the whole world isn't using these yet, the Alphagrip makes perfect sense, perhaps just ahead of it's time. It's excellent for gaming, the thumb-trackball is a joy, and your hands don't move anywhere when typing.
[/size] THE PROCESS
(LEFT) The Essential controller PCB with AT connector (white case circa 1998-2002??, KB132PC S/N#32066E)
Notice there is no memory in the slots labeled U2 and U3 in the upper right corner of the board, the 2 key board halves are unplugged from black connectors labeled J7 (left-you can still see the edge of the PCB an inch away) and J2 (right), the 6 wire power cable is already disconnected from the white vacant plug on the left side. It seems to have a 7 wire capability.
(RIGHT) The Model 130 Essential (130EM S/N#30317EM) controller PCB. Note the lack of the 4 resistors for the LEDs on the bottom center. Power is brick-orange connector at the top middle. No memory in slots.
Compared to the Advantage with USB connector (black case circa 2008, KB500USB-G S/N#80548UB). Nothing disconnected, there is one memory chip in the U2 slot.
(LEFT) The USB pcb board on the bottom of the case (the Essential does not have this). Is this just a PS/2>USB converter???
(RIGHT) The Mac-PC ADB pcb board on the bottom of the case on the Model 130 Essential. (ADB plug-in, Mac/PC switch, reset button) Per Kinesis: If you remove this pcb, the keyboard will operate in "PC" mode only. BUT, I have not confirmed this.
Essential left side keyboard half. The trackpoint will go in the 4 key intersection (between the 2nd-3rd switches down/1st-2nd switches to the left, from the right side-EXCEPT OPPOSITE on the right keyboard half). Sorry for that, this was the picture that was taken :) The space between the switches is 1/4" x 1/4" at the tightest point. I felt better AFTER I wiped the dusty mess with alcohol. Yuk:
The right keyboard half rear view:
The trackpoint will be mounted 2-3 down/1-2 from the right side, pretty much the center of the picture. The PCB "fingers" are not flat, nor on the same plane. I need to make certain there are no traces located on the other (unseen) side or in any possible PCB "layers" in the way of the trackpoint hole that will need to be made. Otherwise..a lot of jumper soldering. The IBM KPD8923 keyboard has a Trackpoint IV.
Things on my mind:
This unit needs to work with USB on a Mac. It's a PS/2 keyboard and trackpoint will be PS/2. A Pi Engineering Y-mouse will be used for computer connection.
I remember reading about Trackpoint drivers for Mac.
Cut 1 corner off 4 keys (Y-U-H-J).
Where to put the 2 or 3 trackpoint mouse buttons? (Under right thumb key cluster?)
Will scrolling work? If not, should a scroll wheel be installed on the left keyboard half? Logitech Hyper Scroll wheel looks interesting and is Mac friendly.
Wireless connection to computer would be nice.
Pitch, yaw, roll, height, extension armrest attachment after electronic functionality tests are passing.
1) Install Trackpoint, then mouse buttons
2) Desolder board connections for separation
3) Add real key F-keys row to each keyboard half (F1-F12, and the 6 other keys)
4) Connect new wire loom (50 leads) from controller to each keyboard half
5) Decide on scrollball, Hyperscroll wheel, touchpad...
6) May add some non-Kinesis keys?
7) Build holders for each half (main keyboard, thumb keys, mouse buttons)
8) Chair-arm attachments
If this goes well on this proof-of-concept board, I'll do the same thing to my Contoured Advantage and have a few less problems (USB conversions, blah blah).
I - N - T - E - R - M - I - S - S - I - O - N...I
If you've sifted through this far, you deserve a break. Enjoy, and keep both hands on your keyboard. :)
A few issues with the keys alignment, spacing, and height to determine the Trackpoint height:
Keyboard is apart, trackpoint just needs to be disconnected from power cable. This is definitely the finest rubber dome keyboard I own. If you've never seen a trackpoint out of it's home...here it is. You'll see there is a PS/2 female plug on the trackpoint logic board (silver square lower left) so you can hook up another PS/2 mouse in addition to the trackpoint. The trackpoint dimension is 7/8" from the top or the red nubbin down to the top of the stress unit (black surface with blue line). The 2 mouse buttons are nice micro switches, not contacts on traces. One button is up so you can see the switch underneath:
The following are a few pics so you can see the placement and the sizing for the hole relative to the switches. Gotta get another rubber cap, this one is crusty:
Attach a flat PCB onto a curved PCB base?:
Plan the trackpoint mounting, and the 4 keys that need the corners nipped off, then to the mouse button placement. The adding of the pointing device, and separating the two halves are definitely the most important aspect of this project. Adding keys, removing the case, etc, is just bonus. The fingers not leaving the home row is the closest this Kinesis will get to a Datahand form in principle.
I'm thinking the original spot for the TP (YUHJ) is too high (far away) from the only place I can put the 2 buttons (see white piece of paper in photo) which is under the right thumbpad. I have a mens large size hand (when buying gloves). The stretch from under the thumbpad to the YUHJ location requires my hand to adjust, and stretch uncomfortably:
Now, I'm considering putting the TP at the HJNM location (1 row lower). It might be more difficult, as it looks like there might be some traces on the PCB in the way. There is also slightly less space between the keys. I may mount the TP to a piece of 18 gauge metal (like it was in the donor board, and attach to either side of "the bowl".
The 2 mouse buttons are about 1 mm larger in width than the existing hole in the case at the thumbpad. I'll cut the existing hole lower, then file the width till the mouse buttons fit. I've seen on the Korean sites the quality they put into their case mods, I'll really try to do the same. One of the two screws will attach to the thumpad PCB, the other will need an epoxy extension. One of the four thumbpad standoffs will be lost, I'll need to do something to attach that corner, maybe use a block that pushes from the back of the case.
I've removed the power cord from the donor board (single to split ended double PS2-PS2 keyboard & trackpoint). I'll replace the Kinesis AT power cord with a USB cord. I'll use a Blue Cube (and deconstruct it so it can be integrated with the keyboard controller) to convert the keyboard from PS2 to USB, and an active PS/2-USB for the trackpoint USB conversion. The Kinesis keyboard has 6 leads, a couple are for the RJ-11 connector for optional foot switches.
The 13/64" trackpoint hole is made. The trackpoint fits height, angle, and overall location (HJNM). Unfortunately, there is a trace or two that are in the way, so 2 jumpers will need to be soldered to reconnect the matrix. Obviously, the trackpoint location is fairly non-negotiable. The trackpoint physically fitting is the crucial milestone. If it didn't fit elegantly, the project probably would have been scrapped. Note in the pic with large hole on the key cap side, the hole is actually higher than the intersection point. I did this because the keys tops are not on center (up and down-wise, not side to side-wise) Also, the hole is pushed towards the J key. You will see the J key is of a different profile that the "standard" keys:
Soldered the 2 jumpers (needed when the trackpoint hole was made) and tested. Everything in the keywell works great.
I'm adding an Apple 360 degree scroll wheel from my mouse in the thumb key area in the vacant corner notch above and to the left of the key switches on the left hand (see pics below). It seems to fit almost perfect (and looks like another key). Plenty of room in the half Contoured case for the mouse logic board. Scrolling with the left index finger or left thumb, mouse cursor control with right index finger on TP without leaving the home row. Thinking about using more of the Mighty Mouse, and having a 3 or 4 button "mouse" functionality built into the Contoured, instead of just a 2 button that comes with the TP. Plus, when that mouse is connected, you get all the Apple functions (in Mac OSX) to customize easily in the system preferences on the TP buttons and Rollermouse buttons. Of course there are a variety of 3rd party sources for added functionality with pointing devices available. I would also love to use the buttonless aspect of the Mighty Mouse (see green conductive traces on inside of mouse shell). I used my Mighty Mouse for the parts since I much prefer using my awesome Contour Designs Rollermouse anyhow, and I see Mighty Mice on Ebay for $15-$20 shipped. Also, I'm just not a big mouse fan:
Cutting 6 square holes into the metal backplate that was used for the elastomaric Fkeys, and mount Cherry switches and real Fkeycaps. The plate will fit right in again, and very little flex.
F key metal plate, filed the holes square and put the switches in place, which will also be hot glued.
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PROPOSED F-KEY MULTIMEDIA MAPPINGS:
F1 bright down
F2 bright up
F4 track back
F6 track forward
F8 volume down
F9 volume up
I - N - T - E - R - M - I - S - S - I - O - N...II
That really is one hot squirrel and keyboard. I didn't know coaster squirrels took showers. I guess that explains their very soft and luxurious pelts.
I often wish I was a squirrel. He looks SO darn happy! Just look at his expression!
KEY RELOCATION / ADDITION
6 of the keys located in the top row in addition to the 12 F keys (ESC, KEYPAD, PROGRAM, PRNT, SCROLL, PAUSE) are being relocated to more ergo friendly and convenient locations around the thumb clusters. I'm adding mouse buttons that should be in the most convenient location. These are some possible positions for the keys:
LEFT KEYBOARD-ESC key upper blue, Program key lower blue (recessed), 2/3 mouse buttons lower blue/white/blue (recessed), note scroll ball
RIGHT KEYBOARD-Keypad key upper blue, Scrl lk+Prnt sck+Pau lower 3 blues (recessed), note red trackpoint
Here is what the added key layout should look like:
On the right keyboard half, you can see a light, curved line top to bottom, just to the left of the keys, estimating where I want to final cut each half of the boards.
This what I may do for the 3 keys mounted under the thumb cluster:
Pretty much a flush-mount for the 3 keys that are rarely used. May get some of these low-profile, non-marked key caps.
ADDING SWITCHES TO KEY WELLS:
Having keys moved out of the keywell bowls or thumb clusters is counter-productive. Note the penciled in square in the next pic and the case next to the keywell showing the part to be cut out, then the keyswitch test fit without keycap and with keycap, and finally the actual mock-up with a blue key to show the new location. I decided these would best be "keypad shift" (Fn) keys, that act the same way as pressing the footswitch to activate the 2nd layer or keypad, but not toggle it on like the KEYPAD button in the top row does.
Rear view of added switch. Now that I added the 2 keys, need to cut the case to allow for the moved keys. Since the 2 added key switches aren't soldered to the pcb, they will be additionally secured with hot glue (same as the new 12 F-keys). Note the 1X1 light key and the 1X1.25 royal blue key.
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Note the blue key, it is in the right key well. I have 2 key caps that have the top angled to follow the tops of the other keys.
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2 keys added under the SHIFT keys. They are also the KEYPAD from the footswitch, so they are momentary, not toggle. So they function as the Fn key would accessing the second layer, all Kinesis native. Photos show the switch wiring going to the