Author Topic: [IC] The Leviathan Keyboard - 140% Layout [Rapidly developing, input needed!]  (Read 2562 times)

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Offline Suruga Devil

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1. Introduction

Hello all! This is a project which I have been dreaming about making a reality for quite some time now. Recently I figured out what I really wanted from the layout, and six hours in the layout editor resulted in this. I present to you The Leviathan Keyboard, a 154-key ANSI compatible keyboard with 50 custom-mappable keys. It has a left-side numpad with two extra rows and can be mapped to be either a standard lefty-numpad with extra keys or a mirrored numpad with extra keys for right-handed users. It has 3 macro clusters and an extra function row.

I only use these descriptions to give you a rough idea of how this keyboard could be laid out, but since it will be fully mappable, you could make it do whatever you'd like.


2. Why this board was designed

About a year ago, I bought myself a HHKB Pro 2, seeing its compact design and unique functionality as something I could use extensively. Through the course of the past year, I realized that if used as intended, meaning almost exclusive use in text editors such as Vim, that yes, this keyboard excels and is probably the best board ever designed for text-editing work. That's great and all, but I use Vim for perhaps an hour a week, tops, so I began to realize that the major selling point of the HHKB, the innovative layout, is actually a crippling flaw for the regular user. Here's why. In recent times, users have used their keyboard for navigating a computer's interface less and less, and have began to use their mouse as a navigational tool more and more. The UI of most modern operating systems reflect that and it is a fact which cannot be denied. So, hear this:

Minimalist layouts are directly beneficial to a user in proportion to the amount of time the user keeps both hands on the keyboard.

This seems obvious once you read it, but I think this fact seems to slip the mind of most of us. What I realized was the the HHKB was not as useful to me as many other keyboards would, since I don't keep both hands on the keyboard when I'm navigating UI's. I'm sure this statement will cause the elitists to come out of the woodwork and say that if you can navigate your whole computer while never touching the mouse then you will be more efficient, and yes, that statement is true, but the hard reality is that most of the time when we use our computers, we either aren't using applications which allow for that sort of functionality, or are so used to GUIs that it be immensely aggravating to learn such a keyboard-reliant system.

So what's the solution for someone who only has two hands on the keyboard when they're actually typing, like me (and probably a lot of you)? The solution, of course, is a keyboard in which the vast majority of functionality can be invoked with one hand.

I placed the numpad on the left so a user could keep their hand on the mouse when entering numbers, and added a 2x1 key on the right side of the numpad to make it possible to press shift and type with the same hand. I added six keys to the right side to allow mapping of more obscure math symbols to make inputting complicated strings easier. The inclusion of a dedicated Delete key on the right side of the numpad reduces the amount of hand contortion required to delete text when you make a typo. I added multiple clusters of unmapped/macro clusters to allow the user to modify the keyboard to their desires. Want a dedicated key to open your most-used programs, to have a 1-key save function for photoshop, or to type your email address with one keystroke? Done. The second function row can be mapped to output the same scan codes as the IBM PC-122, for you guys out there who need hardcore emulation. In order to get enough keycaps for this board, you will either need to purchase one printed and one blank ANSI set, or get two blank ANSI sets.

With all of that being said, the 1-key functionality of this board does not detract from the streamlined usage of keyboard-only navigation. All of your regular shortcuts will still be there. The only difference here is that not only do you get that extensive two hand functionality, you also get extensive one hand functionality built in. No matter how you use this keyboard, the experience will be fast, familiar, and streamlined.


3. Images and example layouts
Bolded font indicates current layout design!

Layout 01:
More
Layout with a standard ANSI 104-key keyset and blanks:


Blank layout:


Example mappings:


Required keys in addition to a standard ANSI 104-key set:
(Assuming usage of the example mappings as displayed above)


Plate Diagram:
(NOT FINALIZED! No padding has been added yet, this is only a quick reference)


Extended Version:
Just in case you have a desk that takes up half your room, like I do, and want more functionality and better looks.


Keyboard Layout Editor Permalinks:
http://goo.gl/e0duAV
http://goo.gl/RiJ66h
http://goo.gl/AXrOKE
http://goo.gl/0X5n6q

Layout 02:
More


Layout 03:
More


4. Technical details

1.5mm aluminum plate mounted
Cutouts in plate to allow for switch maintenance
NKRO supported
Fully programmable
Teensy++ 2.0 controlled
No LED indicators
Mini-USB connector on the left side of the top of the enclosure
Costar and Cherry stabilizer cutouts, Costar Cherry stabilizers shipped (Costar unavailible ATM)
Switches most likely NOT included
Cable most likely NOT included
Enclosure will be slightly angled, not flat with feet or entirely flat
Enclosure will be constructed of milled aluminum, depending on cost
Enclosure will be bead-blasted and anodized, depending on cost
If aluminum is too expensive, milled Delrin or UHMWPE plastics will be considered
Due to the unusual length of the board, a matching wrist wrest may be designed
Large rubber pads on the bottom of the board
Clean styling, no spaceship-esq design here.


Questions regarding design-
-Would you guys be interested in a copper plate instead of aluminum? It'd be the same cost but would give the board unique styling. I don't believe that air-tarnishing would be a problem, and would eventually give the board it's own unique character.
-Aluminum vs Delrin?
-Color anodization? How much extra would you be willing to pay above the raw/black price point?
-If the enclosure ends up being aluminum, would you like a matching aluminum wrist wrest? Metal's cold, so I could probably get Delrin or cork inlays for the top of it. The problem is that it'd weigh 7 pounds... would that be kosher?
-Would a USB-A connector be preferred to a Mini-USB connector? USB-A is the gold standard, is nearly indestructible, and allows for symmetrical cables. On the downside you'd likely need to buy a new cable.


5. Logistics

If I could go ahead and order all the parts to build a prototype of this thing, I would have done so already. However, am not experienced in either PCB or enclosure design, and as such I'm stuck here dreaming. The things which need to be done in order to start up this project are as follows-
-Finalize plate design
-Design PCB
-Design enclosure

I will pay to have these pieces designed in CAD- contact me if you have the skills, the time, and the portfolio.



Input and suggestions are more than welcome!

Oh, I should note that this board will be produced regardless of whether or not many people want it. In other words, this isn't strictly a group buy, but ideally it would be, as to keep the costs from touching the stratosphere.
« Last Edit: Mon, 30 May 2016, 04:33:19 by Suruga Devil »

Offline Suruga Devil

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Re: [IC] The Leviathan Keyboard - 154 keys of Glory
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 29 May 2016, 11:57:07 »
Reserved

Current Layout:
Subject to change!

« Last Edit: Mon, 30 May 2016, 04:32:15 by Suruga Devil »

Offline jebbra

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Offline SpAmRaY

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Are you sure a teensy can run all that?

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=80326.0

Also you might have a look at this buy for what others are doing that might help you with ideas.

« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 13:44:35 by SpAmRaY »

Offline Floody

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Thing is huge

Offline Suruga Devil

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Are you sure a teensy can run all that?

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=80326.0

Also you might have a look at this buy for what others are doing that might help you with ideas.

I think 1 teensy should be able to handle it, from what I've read. If it can't, however, I'll have to use two teensys and two cables. Anything for keyboard science, right?  ;)
Thanks for the link, that thread will be useful to me. I had no idea such a project existed.

EDIT: a regular teensy just barely misses the mark, but a teensy++ does have the capability for 154 keys.
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 15:52:03 by Suruga Devil »

Offline Khuya

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this is close to what a perfect keyboard looks like to me.  I used my mouse a lot, and there for really prefer if the keypad and arrows are on the left side.

A few other things I would like instead:
* dropping the top row (so many keys..:))
* make it split and duplicate the 10 keys (arrows + home, end..) on the right side
* ortholinear layout
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 14:04:46 by Khuya »

Offline Suruga Devil

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this is close to what a perfect keyboard looks like to me.  I used my mouse a lot, and there for really prefer if the keypad and arrows are on the left side.

A few other things I would like instead:
* dropping the top row (so many keys..:))
* make it split and duplicate the 10 keys (arrows + home, end..) on the right side
* ortholinear layout


Hell yeah, my first supporter! Despite it being non-split and non-ortholinear, would you still consider buying one and at what price point?
If there's enough support, an ortholinear layout plate as an extra might not be out of the question, though you'd have to hand-wire it. I'm afraid that a split layout is out of the question at the moment.

EDIT: Tried the layout, got real wonky real fast. The second arrow key cluster really turns this from being overkill (in a good way) to being "dude you're soldering the exact same layout in two spots, how much have you had to drink?"

EDIT 2: Dropped the top row.
« Last Edit: Mon, 30 May 2016, 04:36:20 by Suruga Devil »

Offline Khuya

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I think you can prototype this first without pcb (hand wiring) and just put some random stuff together for the case.. got to make sure it work first :)
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 14:16:40 by Khuya »

Offline Suruga Devil

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I think you can prototype this first without pcb (hand wiring) and just put some random stuff together for the case.. got to make sure it work first :)

That's a pretty good idea. Hand-wiring 154 keys in a matrix will be a chore but I think it's doable.

Can anyone who's experienced in custom board manufacturing chime in on how much top/side padding would be ideal for the plate?

Offline need

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How about a symmetric stagger layout?
I dreamed about this so much, as its just what keyboard should look like in the first place.
Would you consider it, if not, why not?
I'm sure more people will jump on board with this added, as it just make this already ridiculous keyboard more so.

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=19613.0

Offline Suruga Devil

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How about a symmetric stagger layout?
I dreamed about this so much, as its just what keyboard should look like in the first place.
Would you consider it, if not, why not?
I'm sure more people will jump on board with this added, as it just make this already ridiculous keyboard more so.

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=19613.0

I'll certainly consider it. I didn't even know that sort of layout existed before you mentioned it, but it looks very interesting. Really, what I'm hesitant about is keycap availability. I'll try to make a layout with ANSI components, but I'm not sure it's possible. Give me a few minutes.

Okay, so looking at the layouts that are possible, it can be done, but you'll need a lot of blank keys and a lot of patience.
I'm thinking about a way to design the enclosure such that many different types of plates can be accommodated. If I can make that happen, then you can make whatever layout you'd like as long as it is in the footprint of the cluster cutouts. You'd have to hand-wire it... but I think anyone who's crazy enough to get this board AND add their own layout is more than capable of making that happen.
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 15:06:20 by Suruga Devil »

Offline need

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Maybe it can be the default layout?  :'(
Isn't it possible for a PCB to accommodate different layouts?
Everything feels neater/stabler with a PCB.

Offline Suruga Devil

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Maybe it can be the default layout?  :'(
Isn't it possible for a PCB to accommodate different layouts?
Everything feels neater/stabler with a PCB.

I don't think a symmetrical staggered layout will be the default layout. You are right, it's possible for the PCB to accommodate different layouts, but right now I don't even have a PCB design. That can be pipelined, but right now I'm focusing on making it work in the first place  :)

Offline Suruga Devil

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Updated OP and 2nd OP with new layout- Looks much cleaner and will look nicer with an ANSI capset on it due to the removal of the 2nd function row.
« Last Edit: Sun, 29 May 2016, 17:41:50 by Suruga Devil »

Offline alienman82

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Offline MOZ

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Regarding the padding on the plate, depends on the design of your case, if it is layered acrylic, around 10mm is required to be able to put the screws through. If alu, then people usually have the padding at a minimum and screw mounts sticking out like tabs. The plate then sits into an inset in the case and then the case top comes on.

Offline Niomosy

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I make heavy use of my keyboard with both hands on as a Unix admin.  However, I've never been a fan of the HHBK layout.  It flat out needs more keys even as a guy that regularly uses vim and uses Emacs for the command-line.  About the only thing I tend to like is the Caps/Ctrl location change.

To really make some flip their lids, we need an MS Ergo version.  Split/tent in a single case :D

I think the only thing bugging me on this is the numpad on the left.  My left hand is only barely useful for such applications, sadly.  Still, it is really nice to have some more keys on the left since I mouse righty at home and for gaming wouldn't mind having some extra keys on the left for dedicated media key use.

Offline Hak Foo

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My big issue is moving Esc to the right of F12.  That feels nonstandard for the sake of nonstandard.  The rest of it can easily be seen as taking and rearranging the blocks on a standard layout.

I'm not sure I'm interested, as I threw my money at the GH-122 prpject already-- if I were to get another massive board, it would have to be ALPS-based to use the bucket of Matias switches I have already.

Delrin seems like it might be a bit soft for the sort of abuse keyboards get, but I'm thinking of things like 1mm thick model-locomotive handrails, which inevitably end up bent.
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Offline Suruga Devil

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My big issue is moving Esc to the right of F12.  That feels nonstandard for the sake of nonstandard.  The rest of it can easily be seen as taking and rearranging the blocks on a standard layout.

I'm not sure I'm interested, as I threw my money at the GH-122 prpject already-- if I were to get another massive board, it would have to be ALPS-based to use the bucket of Matias switches I have already.

Delrin seems like it might be a bit soft for the sort of abuse keyboards get, but I'm thinking of things like 1mm thick model-locomotive handrails, which inevitably end up bent.

I have had problems with the Esc being on the right when I was looking at layout 01- you're totally right, though. It was not intentional and I'll move it back over.

I do not know how the keycap compatibility is with ALPS switches, but I am using a mounting cutout which accommodates both Cherry MX + clones as well as ALPS. This wasn't by design, but it could work for you if you have a keycap layout which will allow it. When the PCB is designed I will see how much adding dual compatibility costs, and if it's a marginal difference than it will be ALPS and MX compatible.

EDIT: Edited OP and 2nd OP to reflect changes.
« Last Edit: Mon, 30 May 2016, 04:34:56 by Suruga Devil »