Author Topic: The case for turning the key 6 in the main alphanumeric block into a homing key.  (Read 2232 times)

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Offline depletedvespene

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Obligatory disclaimer: I'm a braindead idiot who doesn't know anything about anything, and has the habit of presenting his own opinions as unquestionably unquestionable facts.

As "tenkeyless" and other compact form factors without a numpad have become fashionable, a small annoyance has become relatively common: getting one's fingers "lost" in the number row while typing long sequences of numbers, which requires to either look down or to move the hand back to the home row, find the homing keys (F and J), and then go back up to continue typing.

While writing text, the fingertips tend to wander about the three center rows of the main alpha block without the index fingers veering too far away, so "resetting" the hands by searching for the homing keys by tact is easy, but the number row is a different matter — the hand has moved further up and it's kinda supposed to stay there, so resetting by searching for the homing keys is rather less convenient (not to say anything of looking down at the keyboard).

I thought that could this be solved by placing a homing bar in one key in the num row itself, to allow the fingertips to find the correct position just by moving the hands a bit to the left or to the right. I juggled the different possibilities, and this is what I came up with:



In principle, there's a case to be made for any of the keys 4 through 8:
  • 4 and 7 correspond to the same columns to F and J, respectively.
  • 5 and 8 are closer in vertical alignment to F and J, respectively.
  • 6 looks balanced(-ish) and is actually a natural limit (think of split keyboards, where 6 is the rightmost key in the left half and 7 is the leftmost in the right half).
I experimented a bit and quickly found that 6 seems to be the best option — the homing keys F and J serve as positioners ("place the index here before starting to type"), but a homing key 6 functions as a limit marker ("don't go any further" for the left finger; "go back to your area" for the right one... or the other way around), which makes more sense for the number row.

I'm quite happy with the results, and plan to keep those two keyboards this way. Heck, if it were for me, this additional homing key would become part of the standard.

The above said may be easier said than done, though — since I mostly use Model F/M keyboards with buckling springs, procuring homing keycaps for this experiment was easy...

... something that won't be such in keyboards of other brands, with non-flat profiles for their keycaps; the new "homing 6" keycap would need to be manufactured specifically (with the added complication of requiring different versions for different national layouts: (6^, 6&, 6&¬, 6/, 6◌̈, Š, etc.) ). In the specific case of MX keyboards with Cherry-profile keycaps, I wonder if simply using a row 2 keycap would do the trick, serving as the wanted limit marker while not being annoyingly different.

Offline nevin

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correct. tooling would have to be created to put a bar on the number row. in every non-uniform profile set, the homing is only on the home row. (row number changes depending on which profile you're talking about)

you could add a bump to a key by heating & inserting a small steel ball (bearing) or glue on a tiny jem of some sort like the ladies use on their fingernails.

one thing you can do, is put a different row/profile cap in there so you have a height or angle difference. and would probably only be feasible if using blanks or take "6" from numpad (r2) and put it in the number row (r4)

another thing you could do would be to get some sort of artisan as the divider/homing key. Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68