Author Topic: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case  (Read 4219 times)

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Offline jacobolus

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Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 00:11:32 »
I know there’s been a fair amount of infrastructure build up around the 60% case size, for instance alternate cases made of CNC'd wood or aluminum. It also overall seems like a nice portable size.

So I wondered what other kinds of layouts could fit in there. Here are a few of my quick ideas, but I’m curious what layouts other folks around here would be interested in, that would fit in that amount of space.

Symmetric stagger thingy:


Symmetric stagger with no number row, 40% style:


Standard row stagger, but with a bit more hand separation than usual, and some extra thumb keys:


Column stagger plus some rotation (still kinda 40%-ish):


(or maybe the center key would be best centered):


I tried to stick to 1u or 1.5u keys where possible, just to keep things simple and cut down on the number of stabilizers required.

Can anyone imagine using one of these layouts? Anything about them which would be a deal-breaker, or which should be added? Any favorites? Any alternative ideas?
« Last Edit: Wed, 11 June 2014, 00:20:51 by jacobolus »

Offline Pacifist

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 00:19:25 »
the only issues with putting non standard in an existing 60% case is the location of the screws

Offline suka

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 02:05:48 »
Whenever I am not able to use my split boards I'm resorting to my HyperNano keyboard which is quite similar to your second design but with a different bottom row and, as usual  :) , a little more minimalistic:

Only 3 rows with 5 keys per side but a whole row of mostly 1u thumb keys plus a trackpoint for increased hand separation.


And while I would always favour any decent split design this arrangement is actually quite nice and ergonomic to type on.

So, in my opinion, symmetric stagger like in #1 & #2  is good and usable. But I would not waste an additional bottom row  just for two thumb keys (a navigational cluster in separate layer removes need for the outer keys) - I never understood this design in the ergodox either: When rotating my thumbs on Qwerty from their resting position below V and N on the spacebar either in- or outward one key, they still touch the spacebar cleanly above its bottom edge.

The last two options with their rotated halves do have a certain ergonomic appeal, but from personal experiences with these designs I must say that a relaxed position depends highly on personal preference when hand separation and angulation are fixed on a tiny board, even more than for example the column stagger on the ergodox. After a few iterations I never managed to find a pleasing layout with my "ML wing" designs and eventually resorted to split keyboards. On a full keyboard like the Truly that might be more forgiving, I don't know. And, of course, such a design just looks, well, let's say out of place in a rectangular frame.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 02:10:29 »
So, in my opinion, symmetric stagger like in #1 & #2  is good and usable. But I would not waste an additional bottom row  just for two thumb keys (a navigational cluster in separate layer removes need for the outer keys) - I never understood this design in the ergodox either: When rotating my thumbs on Qwerty from their resting position below V and N on the spacebar either in- or outward one key, they still touch the spacebar cleanly above its bottom edge.
I think your thumbs must be longer than mine, or your hands a bit differently shaped. (Or else you don’t orient them the same way I do on a standard keyboard: my arms come in angled about 40° on a standard keyboard, with my wrists relatively straight, which means that if I sweep my thumbs outward, they end up going quite a bit below the spacebar as they extend.)
« Last Edit: Wed, 11 June 2014, 02:15:11 by jacobolus »

Offline suka

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 03:24:22 »
Like I tried to say: ergonomic is a very personal thing, depending on many factors.
I think your thumbs must be longer than mine, or your hands a bit differently shaped.

Up for a thumbpetition ?  ;D





Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 07:52:45 »
Like I tried to say: ergonomic is a very personal thing, depending on many factors.
I think your thumbs must be longer than mine, or your hands a bit differently shaped.

Up for a thumbpetition ?  ;D

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That thumb.  :))

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 07:56:19 »
The second layout might work for me with some tweaks. I've never been a fan of split spacebars or backspaces.

The fourth layout might be really cool. I like the ergodox layout but it's a little too big for my hands. A compact, 60% size layout would be nice for me. I may have to try a cardboard mockup of that.
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Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 08:00:35 »
The second layout might work for me with some tweaks. I've never been a fan of split spacebars or backspaces.

The fourth layout might be really cool. I like the ergodox layout but it's a little too big for my hands. A compact, 60% size layout would be nice for me. I may have to try a cardboard mockup of that.

3rd and 4th are basically the same, it may be my dream "ergo" style keyboard. While I like the idea of an ergonomic board I do not like two parts boards, this may be the answer. If you ever consider to build them I may be in for a PCB.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 18:34:36 »
3rd and 4th are basically the same, it may be my dream "ergo" style keyboard. While I like the idea of an ergonomic board I do not like two parts boards, this may be the answer. If you ever consider to build them I may be in for a PCB.
Anything you’d change about these?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 18:35:16 »
The second layout might work for me with some tweaks. I've never been a fan of split spacebars or backspaces.
What if you just set both to be spacebars? Any tweaks you recommend, in particular?

Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 18:53:52 »
3rd and 4th are basically the same, it may be my dream "ergo" style keyboard. While I like the idea of an ergonomic board I do not like two parts boards, this may be the answer. If you ever consider to build them I may be in for a PCB.
Anything you’d change about these?

Are all the blanks programmable, or are you planning to assign there the modifiers in fixed positions?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 19:19:01 »
Are all the blanks programmable, or are you planning to assign there the modifiers in fixed positions?
Imagine the whole thing has blank keycaps, and all keys are programmable. Any physical layout changes you’d make? Any changes in assignments of keys to characters?

I’m curious whether, for example, having shift keys directly to the outsides of the pinky home row positions would work for people, or whether that would be too big a leap on a keyboard with an otherwise standard-ish layout.
« Last Edit: Wed, 11 June 2014, 19:21:54 by jacobolus »

Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 12 June 2014, 10:36:14 »
Are all the blanks programmable, or are you planning to assign there the modifiers in fixed positions?
Imagine the whole thing has blank keycaps, and all keys are programmable. Any physical layout changes you’d make? Any changes in assignments of keys to characters?

I’m curious whether, for example, having shift keys directly to the outsides of the pinky home row positions would work for people, or whether that would be too big a leap on a keyboard with an otherwise standard-ish layout.

I think only using a prototype may provide some data to answer that question because neither an standard 60% nor an ergodox has that layout.

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 12 June 2014, 12:46:19 »
the only issues with putting non standard in an existing 60% case is the location of the screws
Yes, you can not put a switch over a stand-off. We discussed alternative layouts for Poker-compatible cases for a group build over on Deskthority. Matt3o posted measurements for where the standoffs are.
I'm attaching the XCF file I used for my illustrations on DT. You can take a screenshot off the Keyboard Layout Editor's web site, crop it and paste it as a layer to compare it against the stand-off positions.
BTW, not all Poker cases have the stand-off in the centre of the keyboard, and a few plastic ones also have ridges between the key rows (but those are not very interesting).
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Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 12 June 2014, 13:36:07 »
the only issues with putting non standard in an existing 60% case is the location of the screws
Yes, you can not put a switch over a stand-off. We discussed alternative layouts for Poker-compatible cases for a group build over on Deskthority. Matt3o posted measurements for where the standoffs are.
I'm attaching the XCF file I used for my illustrations on DT. You can take a screenshot off the Keyboard Layout Editor's web site, crop it and paste it as a layer to compare it against the stand-off positions.
BTW, not all Poker cases have the stand-off in the centre of the keyboard, and a few plastic ones also have ridges between the key rows (but those are not very interesting).

That xcf file has a very interesting design. I wonder if the small size for the mods may affect their usefulness.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #15 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 03:11:49 »
Not a great picture, but...


This layout is actually surprisingly usable seeming, now that I try typing on it (none of the switches are wired, so it’s not a perfect test of course), and there are enough keys around the edges that there’s plenty of room for different people to configure things to taste. I think I like it at least as well as a standard ergodox, and it’s much more compact.

I’m sad that this 1/16" acrylic is just a bit too thick for SMK "monterey" switches to clip into. Needs to be like .1mm thinner.
« Last Edit: Fri, 13 June 2014, 03:28:47 by jacobolus »

Offline dorkvader

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #16 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 03:35:46 »
the fact that it's not symmetrical really bothers me, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a "more ergo" 40%. Perfect for gaming and travel; you really can't lose.

looks like it's compatible with dvorak for the most part, which puts it above the 40% for me.

Dedicated arrowkeys are also a plus. If you make a plate for this, make two! I want to direct-wire one up and put it in a case.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #17 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 10:58:49 »
Better picture:

Offline Latin00032

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 12:01:47 »
That looks cool!

Offline JackMills

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 13:53:17 »
This looks interesting, I could use such layout for a travel keyboard. I like to read about such discussions on this forum.

Offline Lain1911

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 13:56:17 »
Whenever I am not able to use my split boards I'm resorting to my HyperNano keyboard which is quite similar to your second design but with a different bottom row and, as usual  :) , a little more minimalistic:

Only 3 rows with 5 keys per side but a whole row of mostly 1u thumb keys plus a trackpoint for increased hand separation.
Show Image


And while I would always favour any decent split design this arrangement is actually quite nice and ergonomic to type on.

So, in my opinion, symmetric stagger like in #1 & #2  is good and usable. But I would not waste an additional bottom row  just for two thumb keys (a navigational cluster in separate layer removes need for the outer keys) - I never understood this design in the ergodox either: When rotating my thumbs on Qwerty from their resting position below V and N on the spacebar either in- or outward one key, they still touch the spacebar cleanly above its bottom edge.

The last two options with their rotated halves do have a certain ergonomic appeal, but from personal experiences with these designs I must say that a relaxed position depends highly on personal preference when hand separation and angulation are fixed on a tiny board, even more than for example the column stagger on the ergodox. After a few iterations I never managed to find a pleasing layout with my "ML wing" designs and eventually resorted to split keyboards. On a full keyboard like the Truly that might be more forgiving, I don't know. And, of course, such a design just looks, well, let's say out of place in a rectangular frame.

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Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 13:57:47 »
Better picture:
Show Image


Coolness! Again, if you ever go to actually have a plate, or a PCB, or both being built, I am in for a second prototype.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 13 June 2014, 14:00:48 »
The second layout might work for me with some tweaks. I've never been a fan of split spacebars or backspaces.
What if you just set both to be spacebars? Any tweaks you recommend, in particular?

I really really don't like split spacebars or backspaces. Just my preference from years of QWERTY ANSI layouts. I'd prefer to have one spacebar but I'm not sure if it would fit in that layout. Nor do I know what I'd put on those center buttons. Not very helpful I know.

Edit: Maybe move tilde to whatever ^ or \_ (button to the left of FN) and shift everything over. Then put a 2x backspace there.
« Last Edit: Fri, 13 June 2014, 14:03:53 by CPTBadAss »
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #23 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 02:33:50 »
I really really don't like split spacebars or backspaces.
Have you ever tried using a keyboard that had a split spacebar for a few days?

Quote
Just my preference from years of QWERTY ANSI layouts.
Are there any aspects of the QWERTY ANSI layout that you don’t like? If not, you can always just stick to the standard shape.

Or if you’re interested in the symmetric stagger, I’m sure there’s a way to put up a symmetric stagger layout that doesn’t change the spacebar or backspace. Are there any keys that you are willing to ditch from a standard ANSI layout, to clear up some space?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #24 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 02:34:50 »
Up for a thumbpetition ?  ;D
What happens if you keep extending your thumb further than that? Doesn’t it go a bit downward as it keeps going out?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 02:36:26 »
Coolness! Again, if you ever go to actually have a plate, or a PCB, or both being built, I am in for a second prototype.
For a prototype, how about a layered acrylic case that you can hand wire? :p

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #26 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 02:53:38 »
The last two remind me of something technomancy built. He called the Atreus keyboard: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54759.0

I like the first the best. It could work for normal use, but the semicolon would bug me if I were using it for programming

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #27 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 03:30:56 »
The last two remind me of something technomancy built. He called the Atreus keyboard: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54759.0
Yeah, I think the Atreus generally has the right idea. Though I would change a bit about the way it handles thumb keys, and I do find another column for each pinky to be convenient.

Quote
I like the first the best. It could work for normal use, but the semicolon would bug me if I were using it for programming
This is just a concept, nothing finished. Is having shift directly next to the pinkies (instead of down one row) a problem for you? (Personally I find it quite nice.) Would you rearrange things in any particular way? Where would you put the semicolon, instead?

Offline ideus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #28 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 10:53:44 »
Coolness! Again, if you ever go to actually have a plate, or a PCB, or both being built, I am in for a second prototype.
For a prototype, how about a layered acrylic case that you can hand wire? :p

Of course, if you may share a vector drawing, or a cad file, to have it laser cut I may give it a try. My soldering skills are a bit rusted but I may try to do it. I should also source the controller and switches, but this seems nice to try.

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #29 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 16:00:50 »
Quote
I like the first the best. It could work for normal use, but the semicolon would bug me if I were using it for programming
This is just a concept, nothing finished. Is having shift directly next to the pinkies (instead of down one row) a problem for you? (Personally I find it quite nice.) Would you rearrange things in any particular way? Where would you put the semicolon, instead?

I would be able to get used to the shift keys being one row up. It seems like a more comfortable placement for them.

For semi-colon, one suggestion would be to trade places with the backslash key. The other suggestion would be to put the semi-colon back on the home row in its normal place, put the apostrophe/quote key where you have backslash, then move backslash up to the left corner.

Offline Photekq

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #30 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 16:11:22 »
This layout is very standard in comparison to the ones you posted in the OP, but it's one that I think I'd love. Dedicated arrows are really important for me.



or a very similar one
« Last Edit: Sat, 14 June 2014, 16:18:45 by Photekq »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #31 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 16:17:21 »
This is just a concept, nothing finished. Is having shift directly next to the pinkies (instead of down one row) a problem for you? (Personally I find it quite nice.) Would you rearrange things in any particular way? Where would you put the semicolon, instead?
I would be able to get used to the shift keys being one row up. It seems like a more comfortable placement for them.

For semi-colon, one suggestion would be to trade places with the backslash key. The other suggestion would be to put the semi-colon back on the home row in its normal place, put the apostrophe/quote key where you have backslash, then move backslash up to the left corner.
So just to be clear: the physical layout would be sufficient (enough keys to place everything you need), but you would need a different character mapping? That’s easy to accommodate with fully programmable firmware. :-)

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Alternate layouts fitting in a 60% case
« Reply #32 on: Sat, 14 June 2014, 16:19:09 »
This layout is very standard in comparison to the ones you posted in the OP, but it's one that I think I'd love. Dedicated arrows are really important for me.

Show Image

So you’d ditch the right shift altogether, and move the left shift further away from your finger? I think I’d personally have a lot of trouble with that, but it seems like it could have some advantages. One note: your left alt key is pretty far for a thumb to reach. I take it you use your pinky to press that key?