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Smaller layout fullsize keyboard?

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My wife brought to my attention that more than half of humanity - women and children - has smaller hands and narrower shoulders than the standard keyboard probably was designed for, supposedly by male computer engineers of yore. This means that a substantial fraction of computer users have to spread their fingers and do larger motions than the rest of us, with forearms at a less comfortable angle - especially when reaching for mouse - et cetera. Not very ergonomic.

So I have searched for keyboards that have:

a) Standard layout. No TKL, chopped-off style. All keys where they usually are.
b) Denser pitch. The norm seems to be 19 mm or some such, 16-17 mm would be preferable. Like 90% as much area used.
c) follows from b): narrower total width.

I come up with nothing. It is all compact layouts with keys at weird positions or lacking altogether. Laptop things with touchpads and media keys where F1-F12 should be, etc. And all standard keyboards are identical in size and layout save for bezels.

So I figure I might give it a shot to design something myself. Cherry switches supposedly allow for 16 mm pitch, not sure about keycaps.

However, most all resources I find assume that I am skilled with electronics, which I am not. I'm a mech eng with access to CAD, and I could actually produce plastics moulding tools to make smaller keycaps if I have to. Costly, but I could probably produce and sell a bunch of "reduced footprint" keyboards.

But when it comes to electronics... I know the general difference between a resistor and a capacitor, and that is about it. I have attempted tracing layouts and putting out components in KiCAD, but it is a rather tall threshold, and I wouldn't know what to do with the results anyway. I'd prefer to purchase all but that which I absolutely have to design myself.

So: any advice where I should start? There are plenty of tutorials out there, but they generally assume that I will simply buy kits for the usual layouts, or that I want to do everything from scratch and solder up chips and diods and whatnot. I get dizzy from trying to find the middle path I seek.

Some Dude

kailh choc switch's dimension is 18mm x  17mm. if i remember correctly, sells some choc tkl kits.

The Cherry MX is 15.6x15.6 mm, and there are variants that does not need to go into a faceplate but instead fixates on the PCB with a plug at the bottom. So a c/c spacing of 16 mm should be possible.

compact full size....
- 1800 layout - cherry g80-1800, tkc-1800, drop shift, etc.
- compact (some separation) - Macally MK96, cooler master storm tk, data desk Lil'Big Board (originals were alps, not sure about current)
- squashed (no separation) - Keychron K4 or similar

f-row less (can have f-keys, arrows, etc in firmware with key combination)
- usually based on the M0110a layout - apple M0110a, the key dot co Molly, etc.

specifically made for small hands
- datadesk LittleFingers (pretty sure it's rubber dome)

... now that i think about it.... look at a bunch of the wireless keyboards for tablets. they are usually smaller keys and condensed layouts

you could space normal mechanical switches closer together and try the typewriter style keycaps, or have someone custom 3-d print you a set that would work with the tighter spacing.
- standard spacing is right around 19mm i believe (including the keycaps & tiny gap so caps don't rub/collide/catch each other)

another thing to look into is getting into firmware layers. so the board can be small like the olkb planck but have all the functionality of a full size board and more.

one thing i think is silly is the control & shift keys on the outside edges of keyboards, why make the most used modifiers the furthest away? i think control(command), shift and alt(opt mac) should be close to the center of the board for use with your thumbs.

Actually in this thread, some have expressed the view that the standard layout was designed for smaller hands and is not comfortable for larger ones.

In any case, trying to improve ergonomics by keeping the standard layout, would not offer much benefit. I assume you want to do this with the goal of making a more ergonomic keyboard for smaller hands, without the need for retraining, but:

* Reducing the key pitch by 3mm, would alter the position of some keys by up to ~1cm (~0.5u), which is a significant change.
* While typing, keys are very often pressed off-center and by eliminating the gaps between them, would require more accurate positioning of the fingers to avoid typing errors.Both of the above would make typing on such a keyboard very different and would require retraining. And If you are going down that path anyway, then you might as well learn to type on a compact (e.g. choc switches/keycaps have tighter spacing) and properly ergonomic keyboard that was designed from the start with ergonomics as a priority (there are lots of options here).

The standard layout was created ~150 years ago with very different priorities and little/no regard for ergonomics. Trying to improve it by not appreciably changing it, is like trying to polish the proverbial turd.

Of course if you don't touch type and/or type very little, then none of the above really matter. Even typing with your thumbs on a tiny touch screen would probably be fine.


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