Author Topic: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches  (Read 29559 times)

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Offline Halvar

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #50 on: Sat, 08 November 2014, 08:45:19 »
That's an excellent chart. Are you planning to upload it to the DT wiki or would you be willing to give your permission to upload it there?

Maybe you could add an example in each description, or if it's a real profile, name it? I guess it's pretty clear for everyone who read this thread, but it would be nice in the graphics itself.

I'm not sure if I agree with you about the last one being ideal, namely about the extreme angle of the bottom row. The space bar is normally hit with the thumb, where this angle makes no sense at all. and for the bottom row of modifiers I'd still prefer their direction to be mainly downwards instead of having to press the modifier and the alpha key in totally different directions.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #51 on: Sat, 08 November 2014, 10:21:22 »
That's an excellent chart. Are you planning to upload it to the DT wiki or would you be willing to give your permission to upload it there?
I don’t mind having it uploaded to the Deskthority wiki, but I’m not yet done with it. Best would probably be to add (or expand) a general article about this subject on the wiki, and then include both diagrams and pictures as examples.

Beyond that though, my plan is to write a substantial external page explaining what I’ve found out about keyboard ergonomics in the past year or so.

Quote
I'm not sure if I agree with you about the last one being ideal, namely about the extreme angle of the bottom row. The space bar is normally hit with the thumb, where this angle makes no sense at all. and for the bottom row of modifiers I'd still prefer their direction to be mainly downwards instead of having to press the modifier and the alpha key in totally different directions.
Modifier keys on existing keyboards are basically awful to type with either the fingers or the thumbs.

Here’s what a keyboard looks like that has steeply angled bottom row modifier keys:


The only reasonable alternative in my opinion is to get rid of those keys altogether, and use either thumb keys, pinky keys, or the “number” row for modifiers, along the lines of:


(where those two halves are of course properly tented, etc.)
« Last Edit: Sat, 08 November 2014, 10:26:12 by jacobolus »

Offline Halvar

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #52 on: Sat, 08 November 2014, 10:30:16 »
Oh, ok, if you're publishing it somewhere else with more context, that's even better of course.

Here’s what a keyboard looks like that has steeply angled bottom row modifier keys:
Show Image

Are you sure about the heavily angled bottom row being modifiers on this keyboard? That would seem less than ideal to me. I'd certainly prefer the thumb modifiers solution.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #53 on: Sat, 08 November 2014, 10:51:35 »
Are you sure about the heavily angled bottom row being modifiers on this keyboard? That would seem less than ideal to me. I'd certainly prefer the thumb modifiers solution.
What do you dislike about it? I recommend trying it out. It’s IMO quite comfortable, and a dramatic improvement over the modifiers on a standard keyboard. The idea is that you always use the modifiers on the opposite hand from the other keys you’re pressing in the same stroke. You press a chord of them (command-option-shift or whatever) by pulling back with the appropriate fingers, and there’s never any need to contort your hand into a terrible uncomfortable shape to access such combinations. It’s fast, efficient, easy to learn, and requires little overall hand movement.

I’m not 100% sure what the layout was on that keyboard pictured, because all I have to go on is that picture and some vague paragraphs from the inventor. (It’s a defunct prototype from the 1990s called the “Data Stealth”.) But since the inventor talked about maintaining the QWERTY layout on the other keys, I can’t see any other place modifier keys could be. One of those keys is also presumably for a layer to access numbers and symbols.
« Last Edit: Sat, 08 November 2014, 10:55:49 by jacobolus »

Offline engicoder

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #54 on: Mon, 10 November 2014, 22:06:44 »
Modifier keys on existing keyboards are basically awful to type with either the fingers or the thumbs.

I agree with this statement, especially for Ctrl, Alt, i.e. anything in row 5,  so the idea of having them be in the position of full finger curl makes sense to me. I would definitely be interested in trying out a keyboard that implements the idea.

   

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #55 on: Tue, 11 November 2014, 05:26:50 »
I have been thinking about this a lot recently and have come to the conclusion that we need a....

Counter hypothesis:

Sculpted SA profile is perfect for modern keyboards, other profiles are a legacy of typewriters and not ergonomic when used on modern keyboards.

Theory: Note how all the images in your latest graphic have a steep upward slant. This is a legacy of when typewriters were used sitting on top of relatively high desks and is not indicative of optimal profile. If you have a low desk and flatter keyboard angle as dictated by good ergonomics, the keycap tops all angle away from you on all the profiles you show in your image when used as shown. This creates tall bottom edges which the fingers need to lift over to reach each row and incorrect top surface angles compared to the desk, keyboard and hand / finger positions. They keycap tops should rather all be based on a flat surface with mild curvature and profile height changes to create a curved surface for the fingers to move over without any ridges to get in the way, so there is the least effort needed to traverse rows. Sculpted SA profile fits this description best. Uniform spherical profile and curved plate (like Maltron) can also work like this.

Experience: I have switched between DCS, uncontoured SA (all Row 3), Cherry profile and OEM (Keycool, Ducky and KBT). Most recently I have been using Row 3 SA (with Row 2 numbers and Row 4 modifiers) and Cherry profiles. Having been used to using DCS profile, when I put SA on my board it looked wrong and even felt wrong initially. However, after a very short adjustment period (about an hour of typing) it felt very comfortable. In fact a good deal more comfortable than the DCS caps I was using. It feels like I don't have to move my fingers as much when typing (both vertically and horizontally). The keycap tops feel closer together and it's easier to glide from one row to the next without encountering a large height difference. Overall, I find it less fatiguing and a more pleasant experience. When testing with numbers in place on the 2nd row and inverted number row keycaps on the 4th row (matching sculpted SA profiles) I found it even more pleasant to type, although I wasn't able to test a full board. I will do so when my PuLSE set arrives and post again in this thread.

tldr; sculpted SA is less fatiguing and more suited to modern keyboard use than any other current profile.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #56 on: Tue, 11 November 2014, 12:12:28 »
Theory: Note how all the images in your latest graphic have a steep upward slant. This is a legacy of when typewriters were used sitting on top of relatively high desks and is not indicative of optimal profile.
Well of course. Which is why I said directly below that picture: “This is all assuming that we’re dealing with a high desk relative to the chair, so we have a steeply angled keyboard; this is not especially ergonomically friendly, but it’s what basically every typewriter and keyboard did and still does, because most people have really bad workspaces set up. For other desk heights, just tilt everything the appropriate amount.”

Quote
If you have a low desk and flatter keyboard angle as dictated by good ergonomics, the keycap tops all angle away from you on all the profiles you show in your image when used as shown. This creates tall bottom edges which the fingers need to lift over to reach each row and incorrect top surface angles compared to the desk, keyboard and hand / finger positions.
Not really a problem if you have reasonable typing technique, with your hands up above the keyboard (I don’t ever feel the bottom edges of sculptured keycaps when typing). Though overall the sculptured profile is still an improvement if you don’t have proper typing technique, IMO.

Quote
They keycap tops should rather all be based on a flat surface with mild curvature and profile height changes to create a curved surface for the fingers to move over without any ridges to get in the way, so there is the least effort needed to traverse rows. Sculpted SA profile fits this description best. Uniform spherical profile and curved plate (like Maltron) can also work like this.
I’ll make a video soon to better explain why I think this is wrong.

In any event, just because it wasn’t the original design goal of the folks at IBM/Honeywell who came up with an SA-like profile (indeed it was the common keycap design of electronic keyboards from the 60s that they were trying to get away from), doesn’t mean you can’t use and enjoy SA keycaps on MX switches. Use whatever type of keycap profile you prefer. :-)
« Last Edit: Tue, 11 November 2014, 13:18:10 by jacobolus »

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #57 on: Tue, 11 November 2014, 15:11:06 »
Ah yes, and I agree with you that it seems to have been designed for staggered height plates or angled stems to match the positions and angles of earlier typewriters and for use on hall effect terminal keyboards.

It's just a happy consequence that it then works so well with a properly positioned modern "flat" board, since the other profiles seem to have been designed to emulate the old high angle typewriter keytop positions and angles and so end up not being as good for a less angled more ergonomic setup.

Yet another typewriter legacy that continues to be used in the name of familiarity rather than good ergonomics.

It's possible you don't feel the edges because you are used to having to raise your fingers over them when typing on DCS / OEM / Cherry profile caps. I didn't notice myself until I tried SA and then went back to Cherry profile. It's also a possible reason I had difficulty working out if raising the back of the keyboard felt right for me or not. Neither felt really right, but flatter felt better overall and I knew it would result in better wrist angles, but it still didn't feel quite right until using SA caps.

It's the strangest thing, when I put the SA caps on the board they actually looked like they were angled downwards and I had to actually check that they were flat relative to the plate. Was just so used the angled away tops of DCS / Cherry.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #58 on: Tue, 11 November 2014, 15:35:53 »
I don’t think the angle of the top of the switch matters all that much per se. I don’t expect I would have any problem using e.g. uniform DSA keycaps, assuming the switches themselves were positioned correctly. The problem is that there should optimally be a height step (of at least 2mm, but I think more is probably better) between the back of one keycap and the front of the next, for all rows further than the home row. Otherwise, when you depress the further-away key, your finger runs into the closer key.

Here’s my personal subjective ranking of various profiles, based on what is available in existing keycaps (now with a slight negative tilt to the keyboard, used on a proper-height desk):


I plan to make a physical version of this chart in the relatively near future, so that I can make a video showing how a finger interacts with switches laid out in these various arrangements.

My suspicion is that people’s familiarity with laptops is biasing them toward uniform profiles. Laptops can get away with the uniform profile because (a) they have no space to do anything else, and (b) the switch travel is very short, so there’s no risk of a finger colliding with the next key down. The flat arrangement on a laptop is of course still suboptimal in the sense that it takes more hand movement and weaker finger positions to reach further away keys, and there’s additionally no grippy concave top for the fingers to rest on.
« Last Edit: Fri, 14 November 2014, 14:23:26 by jacobolus »

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #59 on: Wed, 12 November 2014, 03:26:38 »
I don’t think the angle of the top of the switch matters all that much per se. I don’t expect I would have any problem using e.g. uniform DSA keycaps, assuming the switches themselves were positioned correctly. The problem is that there should optimally be a height step (of at least 2mm, but I think more is probably better) between the back of one keycap and the front of the next, for all rows further than the home row. Otherwise, when you depress the further-away key, your finger runs into the closer key.

Here’s my personal subjective ranking of various profiles (now with a slight negative tilt to the keyboard, used on a proper-height desk):
Show Image


I plan to make a physical version of this chart in the relatively near future, so that I can make a video showing how a finger interacts with switches laid out in these various arrangements.

My suspicion is that people’s familiarity with laptops is biasing them toward uniform profiles. Laptops can get away with the uniform profile because (a) they have no space to do anything else, and (b) the switch travel is very short, so there’s no risk of a finger colliding with the next key down. The flat arrangement on a laptop is of course still suboptimal in the sense that it takes more hand movement and weaker finger positions to reach further away keys, and there’s additionally no grippy concave top for the fingers to rest on.

We have very different opinions on keytop angle and height steps. IMO, the angle matters a lot and no height step is necessary, in fact I consider it to be detrimental.

Finger collision with lower rows will only ever happen if you have a VERY flat finger angle when pressing the keys (and I have never experienced it). If you type correctly, with your wrists raised, this simply cannot happen with SA profile caps. For pressing number row and F row keys, you have to move your hand upwards anyway, so the angle never flattens enough to cause this. If you don't, you need to correct your typing technique, not your keycap profile.

The only case I could see a finger having a flat enough angle is with a large difference in finger lengths (or very small hands) and a long stretch of the index finger. Even then, it's more likely that the user will move their hand slightly to correct the finger angle than to get interference of the lower keycaps, since such a flat angle is both not comfortable and not correct. Again, in that case, change your technique not your keycaps.

The angles of the keycap tops affects the feel of the board a lot and IMO should be quite "neutral" in terms of being based around a flat top on the home row, with progressively more curve the further from the home row you move. This creates a surface with the least required effort to move from one row to the next and depress the key, without having to lift over either the home row key bottom edge or the upper row bottom edge depending on which row you're moving to. This creates less fatigue and allows the shortest finger movement path.

From your image, I consider the one you labeled "unacceptable" to be the most optimal. Also note that most people would use their board at a very slight positive angle, not the extreme you posted earlier or the negative angle in the latest image (actually they are all at slightly different angles in your last image if you take a line through the centre of each keycap top, where the finger would rest). For a good example of what I consider to be optimal or quite close to it (I prefer the steeper sides and larger spherical top of SA than the DSA type keycaps used  here), take a look at the alpha area of the Maltron keyboard (a very well researched and tested ergonomic design):



Many find "chiclet" style keyboards "surprisingly comfortable" from the first time they start using them, not only after using them for a while, which makes me think that flat keycaps are not as bad as we are led to believe when used on a flat or very slightly angled board, although a curve and spherical keytops would certainly improve things.

Please note that both our views are merely opinions, but I hope we are both giving enough reasons for others to determine which they would prefer and why.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #60 on: Wed, 12 November 2014, 03:52:32 »
For a good example of what I consider to be optimal or quite close to it (I prefer the steeper sides and larger spherical top of SA than the DSA type keycaps used  here), take a look at the alpha area of the Maltron keyboard (a very well researched and tested ergonomic design):

Show Image
Yep, I think this IBM design gets this wrong: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=63415

And I also think the Maltron gets it wrong. And I think the Kinesis Advantage gets it even more wrong than the Maltron.

Basically, the researchers (both at IBM, and Lilian Malt) did a good job tracing the motion of fingers in finding the tops of the keys. But they then failed to think about or account for the joints used to actually press the keys down. This is in my opinion a dramatic oversight, which poisons the design.

Fortunately, it’s only the number row that is excessively affected by this design choice, and numbers are typed relatively infrequently. On the Maltron, the letter layout has been arranged so that most typing happens on the home row, with occasional movements up or down by one row. For someone who needs to type many numbers or symbols though, I think the Maltron would be substantially improved by more carefully orienting the keys to align with the natural direction of finger motion when pressing them.

The guys making the IBM Selectric and IBM Beam Spring keyboards in the 60s/70s actually got closest to right about this, IMO, but their design is compromised by being in every other way the same as existing QWERTY typewriters (which are terrible), and therefore needing to make some other compromises: on a column-staggered board, it’s possible to get more aggressive with height steps between rows than on a standard row-staggered board. Also, some of their design principles are more aesthetic than functional. For instance, despite the tilt of the keyboard overall they arranged the bottoms of the switches to be parallel to the table, which is totally unnecessary; and they tried to get the switch tops to roughly follow a circular arc, when what they should have done is test every possible angle and keytop-height for each row and figure out which position and angle makes it easiest to acquire and press the keys, regardless of whether the resulting shape is the most visually harmonious. In my opinion having the letter and number key switches all oriented in roughly the same direction (by contrast to the Maltron which has them oriented radially) is approximately the most effective design, but I think they wound up with this design mostly by accident, because it also happens to be cheapest, rather than because they carefully considered which orientation was best.

* * *

Indeed, I have actually found no source (academic ergonomics research paper, patent, whitepaper, typing technique book, etc.) which properly describes the way fingers actually move when typing. No one starts from first principles and tries to reason things through. People do seem to have figured out some reasonable ways to hold arms and wrists for comfort, starting from that IBM patent in the 60s which is remarkably far ahead of its time from a “keyboard ergonomics conventional wisdom” point of view. But the motions of fingers themselves are never described adequately.

The only keyboard that I’ve seen evidence was created by someone with a deep understanding of human finger range of motion is Benjamin Rossen’s DataStealth, which only ever existed as a prototype. He didn’t explicitly write about this in any detail, but the proof is right there in the design. It makes some sense that he would have made a more anatomically relevant design, as he was an ergonomics and anatomy expert who explicitly started from scratch in his design process. (As far as I can tell Lilian Malt, while she did brilliant work, was not an expert on hand anatomy or physiology. Same goes for the inventor of the DataHand.) It’s really a bummer that Rossen’s keyboards never made it to production.

* * *

This is the kind of thing that an academic research group serious about ergonomics research would do a thorough investigation of. I think all the existing ergonomics labs and research programs have researchers who demonstrate poor understanding of human anatomy and poor understanding of scientific study design or statistical analysis. (I hope there are at least a few exceptions to this, but I haven’t seen much if any inspiring work in the field...)

It would be awesome to set a large number of people (at least several dozen) up with keyboards of 4–6 different shapes but otherwise identical construction and switches, and let them train on those keyboards for at least 1–2 months (or ideally 6). Then do careful motion studies of hand movement, impact forces, tension in all the joints of the fingers, etc., and try to compare from one keyboard to another. The products of such a program would include interactive animations of hands moving around the keyboard, vast tables of data comparing typists of different experience levels and hand shapes trying to type different passages, with sophisticated analysis of errors and particular slow combinations.

There are a whole bunch of different ways of setting up alternative keyboards to try, and various design constraints could be studied with different setups. For instance, they could start with standard layout (ANSI QWERTY) keyboards and test several keycap profiles, including both ones that commonly exist today and new designs tweaked in various ways. The ideal here would be to use a light-to-medium actuation force clicky switch with good tactile and audio feedback. Alternately keyboards could be made by arranging scissor switches in various 3-dimensional patterns, including both flat and sculptured designs. Since people are used to typing on laptops now, we could normalize to the travel distance, switch feel, and keycap feel of laptop keyboards while properly testing the effect of keyboard shape and switch orientation.

Beyond that, once we start looking at split designs, all the existing ergonomics research papers (at least the ones I’ve seen, mostly from the mid-90s through early 2000s) do an absolutely miserable job of properly exploring the full space of possible arrangements of two split halves, even assuming that the layout of each half has already been fixed and the positions are laterally symmetrical. This is a space that has 6 reasonable dimensions to vary (distance away from the body, vertical height, distance between keyboard halves, plus 3 dimensions of rotation), but every study I’ve seen picks at most 5 or 6 discrete points in that 6-dimensional space, via basically arbitrary selection criteria, and then try to draw conclusions from the differences between those unrelated points. There’s no model of human arm/hand/body motions involved in the analysis, no attempt to normalize for people of different hand or body shapes, etc. It’s a travesty.

Of course we should also have some studies properly looking at the effects of different types of switches on typing speed, accuracy, comfort, subjective preference, etc. The only ones I’ve seen do ludicrous things like compare two types of rubber dome to a Model M, and then make an analysis about whether “low” or “high” actuation force switches are better, without noticing that travel distance, actuation point, force curve on both downstroke and upstroke, and tactile and audio feedback are all dramatically different between the switches. To have even a hope of understanding the effects of different switch parameters, it’s necessary to control for all the other variables not being studied.

Anyway, I think a real serious research program (which would take man-power, equipment, time, and money) would be able to produce some great results about what actually works and doesn’t work in keyboard design (from an efficiency, comfort, and injury prevention point of view), and would be able to produce useful informational content teaching people what to look for in a keyboard and how to type. Unfortunately, I don’t think such a thing is ever going to happen, despite the incredible economic importance of typing (and incredible cost of RSI) to our modern society. Alas.

Rant over.
« Last Edit: Wed, 12 November 2014, 04:32:30 by jacobolus »

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #61 on: Thu, 13 November 2014, 15:37:28 »
I think that IBM board got a lot of things right (amounts of column stagger, split design, tenting, angled thumb areas, curved columns, etc).  :D

The biggest flaws are the extreme curve of the columns (should be much milder, or even flat with curved profile caps), not enough thumb keys (although the position and angle of them is good), those extra keys on the side next to the pinkie (unnecesary, some should rather be on the thumbs) and the splay of the columns (no splay needed, but mild splay of the upper row can be good).

For myself I could also do with one less row, to make the fingers only need to go up or down one row. Thumb buttons select layers so you get all the functions / characters of a normal board.

I'm not really sure that in-depth studies are really necessary to have an understanding of how fingers move when typing. A bit of common sense and testing yourself goes a long way, especially if you are trying to determine what type of movement / angle / pressure, etc suits you most. The video at the end of this page gives a fair idea of how the hands and fingers move when typing in a way that is sustainable for long periods without causing strain or long-term injury and is pretty much what I consider to be good typing technique: http://www.healthytyping.com/articles/the-six-typing-sins-learn-which-movements-cause-your-pain/

If you are trying to design a keyboard for general use and want to do it properly, you do need to use a focus group of indiviuals with close to the full range of differences between hand sizes and types to test the product and provide feedback, but the main principles of the design can be extrapolated from simple mechanics and an understanding of what movements and positions are NOT good for you (ie, causes of carpal tunnel, RSI, joint pain, strain, etc).
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #62 on: Thu, 13 November 2014, 16:28:15 »
I'm not really sure that in-depth studies are really necessary to have an understanding of how fingers move when typing. A bit of common sense and testing yourself goes a long way, especially if you are trying to determine what type of movement / angle / pressure, etc suits you most.
In-depth studies are necessary to gain a quantitative understanding of (a) the strength and range of motion of each finger, especially in transitions from one finger motion to another, when the arm, wrist, and hand are in various positions, and (b) how people of various backgrounds coming to a keyboard (without additional special training, or possibly with additional special training) actually type on it in practice. Even people with similar hand size and flexibility end up with substantially different typing technique, and so it’s important to study how real people end up using alternate keyboard designs, or standard designs with e.g. variations in switches or keycap profile, or with various constraints like a fixed chair/desk setup imposed.

Quote
The video at the end of this page gives a fair idea of how the hands and fingers move when typing in a way that is sustainable for long periods without causing strain or long-term injury and is pretty much what I consider to be good typing technique: http://www.healthytyping.com/articles/the-six-typing-sins-learn-which-movements-cause-your-pain/
I have never seen someone type like this either in person or on video (except this single video), including highly trained professional secretaries and transcriptionists with decades of heavy daily typing experience, winners of typing speed competitions, etc. The suggested form is based on technique for specific types of piano motions (which work on some piano phrases; I’m not even convinced it’s effective technique for most piano phrases, but I don’t have the expertise to comment at length); note that the layout of a piano and commonly required motions are quite substantially different than the motions on a computer keyboard, and piano music is explicitly written to accommodate conventional technique. [Aside: conventional piano technique changes over time and the resulting compositions are different: very early piano music expected different fingering and hand technique and if someone with standard modern training plays it the music will sound different than originally intended.] By contrast, English (or other) prose is fixed, and not especially well matched the the capabilities of human hands on a QWERTY keyboard.

Anyhow, some of it is helpful advice, but it’s IMO overly dogmatic: anyone who tries to type like this on a standard keyboard is going to be slowed down dramatically. I would actually be quite surprised if any substantial number of people, even after using this as training material, strictly follow its advice. There are other perfectly acceptable typing techniques.

It is probably a pretty good starting point for a technique on a chording stenography keyboard like the stenotype or velotype though.

It would be great to do real motion studies where you e.g. train people using this technique (or various others), and then come back a few months later and record their hand motions when typing, and see to what extent they continue to follow the various recommendations of the training, and see how much tendon load, joint orientations, strike force, and of course speed and accuracy have changed as a result of the training. I’ve never actually seen an adequate study like that. (It’s possible they exist, I would love to see one.)
« Last Edit: Thu, 13 November 2014, 16:54:33 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #63 on: Thu, 13 November 2014, 17:46:57 »
By the way, on the subject of piano technique, this seems like some nice explanation:

Edit to add: this guy is basically advocating the same general ideas as Taubman/Golandsky; I think it’s probably a good starting point or organizing principle for a piano technique, but shouldn’t be taken too strictly/dogmatically. Even this guy himself doesn’t strictly use arm movement to press every note, as you can see in the high speed video (skip to about 5:40; you can see how he uses arm movement and “rotation” for chords and many individual notes, but also presses many notes (I’d say 50%) using mostly finger motion alone).

Here’s what he says in a youtube comment on one of his other videos, in response to a comment which suggests trying to play with a relaxed finger flexion movement for many keystrokes instead of trying to exclusively use rotation of the whole forearm:
Quote
Yes, you are right that an exaggerated use of rotation leads to excessive motion.  The reason I teach rotation as I do is that it provides a radically different way for "isolated" students to learn to move.  They need to learn what it feels like to be free.  However, at more advanced levels (and speeds) all rotational gestures are minimized and often become invisible.  This end result of this process is probably not so different from the approach you advocate.
« Last Edit: Fri, 14 November 2014, 15:30:52 by jacobolus »

Offline Puddsy

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #64 on: Thu, 13 November 2014, 18:03:32 »
I haven't been keeping up with this thread, and now I'm confused.

Piano technique is cool.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #65 on: Thu, 13 November 2014, 18:36:20 »
I haven't been keeping up with this thread, and now I'm confused.
We were talking about the “Healthy Typing” website:

“Healthy Typing was founded by Julliard graduate Edna Golandsky, an established pianist [...]”

I was saying that the piano technique advocated by Golandsky is not entirely applicable to computer keyboarding. But on the subject of piano technique, I thought those videos were pretty good. (I do think it’s worth understanding/thinking about technique for other uses of the hands/fingers.)

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #66 on: Fri, 14 November 2014, 06:10:49 »
Well... I type like that... not sure what says about me, but I started to do most of what he suggests either by chance or because it felt better than any other options. It both feels right and is logical. So for me, unless I start having some problem due to using those techniques, it's right for me and I'll keep doing it and suggest to others to do the same if they're having problems with their technique / health.

This is what I mean by combining some self-testing with common sense. To quote Guru Pitka, "Does that hurt when you do that? Then don't do that."

Back on topic... I love SA profile and can give reasonable and logical justifications for why. So you should love it, too.  ;) Because we're all like me, right? <- a study would help to differentiate between what "works for me" and "what's best in general", but it seems like a pretty big undertaking and I'm sure at least one factor would either be forgotten or compromised on.

Or we could all share our experiences and opinions, study size of 1 grows each time, although it's not exactly empirical data and you can't control anything.

Oh, and the keycap profile used on the DataStealth prototype looks suspiciously like a contoured spherical profile without steps between the keycap edges... Very similar to contoured SA on a flat board.

I originally wanted my ergonomic board to have a curved plate, but used what I had in hand, which turned out to be a flat plate with contoured caps. I discovered that combination works surprisingly well and I do think the keyswitch movements being all in the same direction make it easier to type than "pushing" into a curved plate, but this is only from testing with a single column. A slightly curved plate with contoured keycaps where the overall curve is shared between the plate and caps also works well. Also that the heights (of the centre of the cap) should increase from the home row both to the upper row AND the lower row and the angles should adjust so the edges are close to flush between rows. This came after frustration at the angles and heights of the OEM caps I was using (with the angles centred on row 1 or 2, but the heights on row 3). For rows 1 and 5 I move my hands (to reduce stretching or twisting movements), so they can be similar to rows 2 and 4 without compromising my typing. I like the home row to be flat so the keys move perpendicularly to the surface angle at that position.

If I do get further with my ergonomic design it will use contoured SA keycaps.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #67 on: Fri, 14 November 2014, 11:08:07 »
Well... I type like that... not sure what says about me,
Do you have a video of yourself typing? I’m skeptical. Look how limp this guy’s fingers are as he types, and how much he’s moving his hands around. Do you really do that?

Their recommendation (from what I can tell from the video) is to type by mostly bobbing the arm up and down (rotating at the elbow) or rotating the whole forearm about its axis (e.g. rotating the forearm for every press of the spacebar, to use muscles in the upper arm instead moving joints in the thumb), and moving the hands around to reach any particular key, instead of flexing/extending or abducting/adducting the fingers. For instance, to type a key on the bottom row they have the hand move down so that the key is under the finger, and then move the whole hand down with only a slight bit of finger movement to press the key. Or to press a key in the middle of the keyboard (like G or H on QWERTY), moving the whole hand inward instead of reaching sideways with the index finger. This is the part that I have never seen strictly applied in practice. Even for accessing keys on the home row (e.g. on QWERTY pressing the D key with the middle finger) they recommend moving the hand instead of flexing the finger, because when in a fully relaxed (slightly curved) position the fingers don’t precisely fall along the home row keys.

Trying to entirely avoid any finger motion seems crazy to me. Finger movements are very fast and precise, and people use finger flexion, extension, abduction, and adduction for all kinds of motions in all kinds of uses all day long without injury. A finger is perfectly capable of reaching sideways or forwards or backwards by a one-key distance and pressing a key down a full 4mm without excessive strain on any of the muscles/tendons involved. Of course it’s also fine to sometimes have the whole arms moving around to support the motion of the fingers, and a bad idea to hold the wrist stiffly in place and only use finger motions.

In another video Golandsky recommends against split or MS-style ergonomic keyboards, because she wants typists to hold their arms close to their sides, and she says the extra angle would encourage the typist to hold their elbows out wider. I think this advice is quite misguided, based on the shape of a piano rather than the physical abilities of the human arm/hand.

(Some parts of their advice about keeping a neutral wrist angle, proper desk height, etc. seem reasonable enough. It’s impossible to tell what their precise full set of recommendations is without buying their $40 video, and I’m not really interested to that extent; did you watch their full video Oobly?)

For what it’s worth, I just watched several high-speed videos of expert pianists (I added one to the post with the videos a couple posts upthread), and they don’t even strictly follow this kind of technique, in practice. Though they do tend to do a lot more arm movement than typists, for obvious reasons. Here’s a critique of Taubman/Golandsky’s technique applied to piano playing: http://www.pianotechnique.net/reviews/dorothy-taubman-piano-technique.php
Quote
In summary, the Taubman-Golandsky materials are rich in nuggets of wisdom, but make the mistake of applying one type of wisdom to all situations. Many of the techniques work beautifully in a therapeutic situation where a pianist is recovering from injury, but given to a healthy pianist may serve only to limit, confuse and disempower.

Taubman’s overall contribution to piano technique is not to be underestimated. Although there are numerous problems with her approach, these are mostly related to the exact use of language, the exact understanding of phenomena, and context. When the Taubman corpus of knowledge is applied non-dogmatically but selectively, according to the needs of a specific pianistic situation, it offers many nuggets of pianistic gold!

Quote
Oh, and the keycap profile used on the DataStealth prototype looks suspiciously like a contoured spherical profile without steps between the keycap edges... Very similar to contoured SA on a flat board.
The datastealth profile is basically like what I labeled “second best” on that diagram above, but with the key at the far left (“number row”) removed, and less gap between the tops of the keys. Notice that the top row (“QWERTY row”) keycaps are enough taller that when fully depressed by a partially extended finger, the finger still doesn’t collide with the home row key.
« Last Edit: Fri, 14 November 2014, 15:37:19 by jacobolus »

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #68 on: Sat, 15 November 2014, 16:21:55 »
I don't have a video of myself typing, but I can make one.

I don't really care much about piano technique as I don't think it has much in common with typing technique (far more mass per press, velocity change for note volume, far more arm involvement, etc) and I don't follow any one particular person's "style" and I do allow my elbows to be away from my body, especially when I have to use a higher desk as it reduces the upward angle. I merely meant that I do follow the same ideas in each of the categories mentioned on that site (seat height, wrist angle, twisting at the wrist, excessive stretching, curling and isolation) and my typing looks a lot like the style in the video. I combine hand and finger movements and move my hands over the board to help prevent excessive finger stretching, curling, etc. I make lots of small hand / arm movements while typing to "help" my fingers, sharing the movement between my arm and finger muscles. I agree that trying to completely eliminate finger movement is both ridiculous and unproductive, it's not efficient or beneficial in any way I can fathom.

I do need to take a look at the board to orient myself now and then, so I don't really "touch type", and my resting position for my fingers is more like AWEF/ JIO; than ASDF / JKL;, but it doesn't really matter considering the amount my hands move. It really is a lot less fatiguing than keeping your fingers on the home keys and only doing finger movements and also far less likely to cause injury in both the long and short term.

From what I can tell from the photos, there really is very little if any step between the edges of keycap tops on the DataStealth prototype. It's far closer to your "unacceptable" row than "second best".

In the end, our discussion comes down to the fact that while we agree on some points we disagree on others. The way I see it, we agree that SA profile appears to have been designed for stepped plates or angled switch stems so it matches many other profiles that have been made over the years, so it wasn't originally desinged to be used on "flat" boards with straight stems. However, where we differ in viewpoint seems to be in the fact that I consider this to be a good thing, whereas you consider it to be bad.

On the point of "colliding" fingers with keycap edges, I honestly don't think this is an important factor in keycap profile design / selection. I have never experienced this with SA profile caps, even on a slightly negative angled board and I don't suspect it is something others have felt impacts their keycap profile choice. There is enough clearance due to finger angles and distance between keycap tops for this to not be an issue.

The reasons I consider the less back-angled keycaps to be better is it reduces the finger / hand / arm movements required to move between rows (since you don't have to lift over the ridge) and thus allows more efficient and less fatiguing typing. Particularly when you also add some nice angling of the keycap tops as in sculpted SA. It also provides good finger movement direction when pressing, at least on rows 1 to 4. I do think there could be a hair more difference in height between rows to allow a more continuous curve between keytop angles from row 1 through 4 (with rows 2 and 4 still identical to each other, with mirrored angles), but it is close enough to ideal not to matter much.

It really is the only profile that truly feels "right" for me on a properly angled and positioned board of all the ones I've tried.

Anopther reason I like SA caps is their mass. Row 3 caps weigh 1.95g, more than twice what Row 3 DCS caps weigh (0.78g). It really give a nice feeling when typing, IMHO. I really can't wait for the PuLSE GB caps to be shipped :D
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #69 on: Sat, 15 November 2014, 17:50:47 »
From what I can tell from the photos, there really is very little if any step between the edges of keycap tops on the DataStealth prototype. It's far closer to your "unacceptable" row than "second best".
The “ASDF” row and the “ZXCV” row are at the same level with edges that come fairly closely together. However, the “QWER” row is a substantial step taller, there is no number row, and the modifier row is angled forward sharply, at least 60–70°.
« Last Edit: Sat, 15 November 2014, 17:58:11 by jacobolus »

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #70 on: Sun, 16 November 2014, 04:10:02 »
From what I can tell from the photos, there really is very little if any step between the edges of keycap tops on the DataStealth prototype. It's far closer to your "unacceptable" row than "second best".
The “ASDF” row and the “ZXCV” row are at the same level with edges that come fairly closely together. However, the “QWER” row is a substantial step taller, there is no number row, and the modifier row is angled forward sharply, at least 60–70°.

Look closer... I agree, the top row is a fair bit taller than than the 2nd row, but the edges are flush with each other height wise and the surfaces follow a smooth curve without steps. Much like SA Row 1 to 3. Looking at these pictures, it's fair to assume that the 3rd row is the home row (and thus there IS a number row and the bottom row is ZXCV row, NOT modifiers), so the profile matches SA closely, with Row 4 being the only significant difference, angled up sharply:






Another advantage of SA caps is the spacebar angle. It doesn't have the steep angle away from the user that DCS does, so the thumb rests on it far more comfortably. Cherry is better than DCS as the spacebar has less angle to it, but it's still not quite as comfy as SA.
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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #71 on: Sun, 16 November 2014, 04:45:03 »
like R5 kbt  race? :)
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #72 on: Tue, 18 November 2014, 01:15:00 »
like R5 kbt  race? :)

Yes, KBT Race has nice high top row keycaps, like original Cherry profile F row and the top row on some of the Vortex doubleshot sets, but the angles are still tilted back like all "normal" profiles (OEM, DCS, Cherry).

SA profile does not have this backward tilt.
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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #73 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 09:16:01 »
I put some leftover caps from my Penumbra set on my ergo board:

83151-0

Here is the profile from the side. I'm using SA Row 1, Row 3, Row 4 for the alpha keys, Row 3 for "up", Row 4 for "left" and "right" and inverted Row 1 for "down". The thumb keys are still OEM row 4 due to the SA caps being too tall with the angled plates, so the tops hit each other. Will have to space the switches a little wider apart if I want to use SA profile on the thumb keys.

83153-1

And my conclusion is: They're AWESOME. Definitely feels better than the OEM profile and DCS I have tried before on the board. I want to get some more Row 1 caps and try them inverted on the bottom row of the alpha keys instead of Row 4 to see how that feels (Row1, Row 3, inverted Row 1).
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 09:21:19 by Oobly »
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Offline jdcarpe

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #74 on: Sat, 31 January 2015, 13:07:09 »
Thread has been dormant for a while, let's bump it back to life.

What about uniform Row 4 profile SA? A few GB sets have been made in uniform Row 3 profile, but not uniform Row 4. I was looking at an old TI-99/4A keyboard I have, and the keycaps are spherical and uniform. They all angle slightly higher toward the front, instead of being flat. I need to do some "feel" tests...
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Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #75 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 02:20:31 »
I put the question to Melissa at SP, and highlighted the definitions in bold:

Quote from: Melissa Petersen
The first keycap family produced by Signature Plastics’ previous company, Comptec Inc., was the SA family. These keys had a Spherical touch area and the same profile for All rows.

A few years later the company began producing the SS family which also had a Spherical touch area but with a Sculptured profile i.e. each row had a different keycap angle giving the keyboard a curved look. Because of the limited number of shapes that were tooled, this tooling has been retired and is no longer available for production.

In the mid 80’s an attempt was made to standardize keycaps to a ‘DIN Standard’. DIN stands for “Deutsches Institut für Normung”, meaning "German institute for standardization". This resulted in a new high profile family being produced, the DSS family, which was a DIN standard, Spherical touch, Sculptured key family. This family profile was never very popular and was quickly retired. A short time later the SA family was re-tooled to produce a sculptured look. The keycap family name didn’t change, but it was simply referred to as sculptured SA.

The fourth family tooled was the low profile DSA family. These keys met the DIN standard, had a Spherical touch area, and the same low profile look for All rows.

The DCS family followed shortly. These keys conformed to the DIN standard, had a Cylindrical touch surface, and a Sculptured profile.

The latest keycap family, introduced by Signature Plastics in 2015, is the G20 family. These keys were designed with the gaming community in mind. They have a flat touch area that is wider than standard keycaps, resulting is a smaller gap and easier transition between adjacent keys. These keycaps have the same angle for all rows, similar to the DCS R2 profile.

The above text will be added to SP's FAQ.
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #76 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 02:56:57 »
Very interesting, so SA was originally all Row 3 and the sculptured version was only designed after DSS failed to become popular.

IMHO, I still think the profile should be based on the board angle, with the home row being very close to horizontal and the other rows angling towards it. I do prefer not to have a step between rows as I feel it requires extra effort to lift the fingers over the edge when typing quickly, so SA still gets my vote as the best profile. Especially after using the Pulse set on my NerD60. GMK Dolch on the same board requires more effort. I also like the weight of the tall, thick doubleshot SA caps :)

If you have a steeper angle board I consider Cherry profile and DSS to be the best versions of "stepped" profiles. DCS is also acceptable except for the spacebar. The other bottom row keys are fine to have such a steep angle on (if you press them with your pinkies), but the spacebar and possibly the Alt keys (all those meant to be pressed with thumbs) should have a much flatter angle on them.
« Last Edit: Tue, 10 February 2015, 03:12:45 by Oobly »
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #77 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 12:57:17 »
Aha! Thanks for asking and getting clarification. Can you ask a follow-up of which keyswitches the retooled sculptured SA profile was designed for? I still find the guess (from someone on DT I think?) that it was first used for hall effect switches with tilted stems pretty plausible.

The silly DIN standard is also why we stopped having all the tall keyswitch designs from the 70s. Every keyboard ended up looking from the outside like a Model M. It’s too bad they didn’t specify a minimum post-actuation travel distance, or we there might have been some better-designed dome keyboards that might have saved a lot of people from RSI.

It’s too bad that DSS was never too popular. Of the keycap shapes SP has produced historically, it’s my favorite.
« Last Edit: Tue, 10 February 2015, 13:05:49 by jacobolus »

Offline mashby

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #78 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 13:27:07 »
Very interesting thread.

My first thought upon reading the title was "If loving SA is wrong, I don't want to be right". Getting beyond the title of the thread, I liked all the graphics and discussion back and forth.

Personally, I love the SA profile and have been a rabid user of both the Commando 23 and the Penumbra key cap sets and don't find anything wrong with the profile. That being said, I'm a 60% user, so that bulk of what I'm typing on is usually in Row 3.

SA Profiles By Set
Round 4: Spherical: Anyone know?
Commando 23: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Calm Depths: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Penumbra: I think it was 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, but I honestly don't remember. Anyone else know?
Nuclear Data: all Row 3
Pulse: 3-1-2-3-4-3

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #79 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 16:40:10 »
It's like passing notes between two people in class …

Melissa writes:

Quote
The SA family wasn't tooled for 1 keycap switch in particular. We actually have a variety of mounts that work on the SA family (35 to be exact) fitting a variety of different switch types over the years. To the best of our knowledge, they were not intended for tilted switches, though this may have been one application at some point.

How common are angled stems on Hall effect anyway?
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #80 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 18:18:42 »
I’d be really curious to talk to someone who was at Comptec in ~1980–1985.

In the mid-70s through the 80s, it seems like switches with tilted stems were pretty common: various typewriters, beam spring, some hall effect switches, some Cherry M7s, various switches similar to vintage SMKs, etc. Even on boards with straight-stemmed switches, both stepped (all the keycaps with downward-sloping tops) and “sculptured” (with profiles similar to SS or DSS) were pretty common. I’m not sure what the relative numbers of all flat vs. stepped vs. sculptured profiles was, but all three types seem to show up regularly on vintage keyboards on ebay.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a sculpted SA-like profile on a straight-stem-switch keyboard from before 1990. (Does anyone have such a board? Maybe I should ask HaaTa to go through his collection.) In fact, the only such examples I’ve ever seen from any time period are aftermarket SA keycaps used on hobbyist boards, and the Topre HiPro keycaps.

The two features that seem particularly curious to me are: (1) SA profile is very similar to the keycap profile of beam spring boards and certain old Honeywell Hall Effect boards with tilted stems which implies to me that it might have been intended for a similar context, and (2) SS profile is almost precisely what you get if you tilt SA keycaps by ~12°.
« Last Edit: Tue, 10 February 2015, 18:22:41 by jacobolus »

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #81 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 18:51:01 »
Try Melissa — use the Sales e-mail address here: http://solutionsinplastic.com/contact.html — she might have been there at the time.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #82 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 18:57:33 »
HaaTa turned up a few examples SA-like profile from various Fujitsu boards:
https://plus.google.com/photos/113845661925823397356/albums/5840985334462614209
https://plus.google.com/photos/113845661925823397356/albums/5680633992200895905
https://www.flickr.com/photos/triplehaata/sets/72157635485878451/

(Plus a bunch of other examples that either had SS-like profiles, or SA-like profiles on switches with tilted stems.)
« Last Edit: Tue, 10 February 2015, 19:01:04 by jacobolus »

Offline jdcarpe

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #83 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 19:09:35 »
Very interesting thread.

My first thought upon reading the title was "If loving SA is wrong, I don't want to be right". Getting beyond the title of the thread, I liked all the graphics and discussion back and forth.

Personally, I love the SA profile and have been a rabid user of both the Commando 23 and the Penumbra key cap sets and don't find anything wrong with the profile. That being said, I'm a 60% user, so that bulk of what I'm typing on is usually in Row 3.

SA Profiles By Set
Round 4: Spherical: Anyone know?
Commando 23: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Calm Depths: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Penumbra: I think it was 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, but I honestly don't remember. Anyone else know?
Nuclear Data: all Row 3
Pulse: 3-1-2-3-4-3

mashby, I'm pretty sure (without pulling out my keycaps box from the closet) that Round 4 SPH was 3-1-2-3-4-3 also. I know that is definitely the case for both Round 5 (Honeywell) and the current Hack'd By Geeks sets.

Diatec's Filco Sphericals are also SA by SP. They are 2-2-3-3-3-3.

Nuclear Data was uniform Row 3, as is the current 1976 set.
« Last Edit: Tue, 10 February 2015, 19:11:38 by jdcarpe »
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Offline ideus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #84 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 21:29:27 »
Thus SA for non sculptured and sSA for sculptured would be a more straight way to call them.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #85 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 21:44:33 »
Thus SA for non sculptured and sSA for sculptured would be a more straight way to call them.
What? What would “sSA” stand for?

SA is apparently a bit of a misnomer since they added other rows at some point, but it was originally uniform.

SP’s naming code:

  SS = spherical sculptured
  SA = spherical all-rows (i.e. uniform)
  DSS = DIN-compliant spherical sculptured
  DSA = DIN-compliant spherical all-rows
  DCS = DIN-compliant cylindrical sculptured

DIN-compliant here basically means medium profile: keycaps which were too tall made keyboards conflict with some stupid DIN standard, making it difficult to sell in Germany (and later a European standard I think). Same standard drove beam spring, hall effect, and all the other nice switches of the 70s out of the market by force. (Though they were probably all on the way out anyway, for cost reasons.)

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #86 on: Tue, 10 February 2015, 21:48:26 »
Thus SA for non sculptured and sSA for sculptured would be a more straight way to call them.
What? What would �sSA� stand for?

SA is apparently a bit of a misnomer since they added other rows at some point, but it was originally uniform.

SP�s naming code:

  SS = spherical sculptured
  SA = spherical all-rows (i.e. uniform)
  DSS = DIN-compliant spherical sculptured
  DSA = DIN-compliant spherical all-rows
  DCS = DIN-compliant cylindrical sculptured

DIN-compliant here basically means medium profile: keycaps which were too tall made keyboards conflict with some stupid DIN standard, making it difficult to sell in Germany (and later a European standard I think). Same standard drove beam spring, hall effect, and all the other nice switches of the 70s out of the market by force. (Though they were probably all on the way out anyway, for cost reasons.)

In Melissa's explanation she wrote sculptured SA, that may shorten as sSA. She also explained that they leave the original SA code but there is need to add the sculptured reference.

Offline Oobly

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #87 on: Wed, 11 February 2015, 01:24:04 »
Very interesting thread.

My first thought upon reading the title was "If loving SA is wrong, I don't want to be right". Getting beyond the title of the thread, I liked all the graphics and discussion back and forth.

Personally, I love the SA profile and have been a rabid user of both the Commando 23 and the Penumbra key cap sets and don't find anything wrong with the profile. That being said, I'm a 60% user, so that bulk of what I'm typing on is usually in Row 3.

SA Profiles By Set
Round 4: Spherical: Anyone know?
Commando 23: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Calm Depths: 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4
Penumbra: I think it was 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, but I honestly don't remember. Anyone else know?
Nuclear Data: all Row 3
Pulse: 3-1-2-3-4-3

I believe Round 4 spherical is: 3,1,2,3,4,3 with all Row 3 mods, arrows, edits, numpad, etc.
Commando, Calm Depths and Penumbra: 1,2,3,3,3,4 
PuLSE SA and Hack'd by Geeks: 3,1,2,3,4,3 with Row 3 Shifts for now. Small GB's for Row 4 Shifts should run when they're available from SP.

Commando is matte finish, others are semi-matte.

After having used Penumbra (with Solarised alphas) and Pulse SA for a while now, I love both versions of the profile, although I still like Penumbra just a tiny bit more. Could be the colourway or that Pulse is on a PCB mount board without stickers and Penumbra is on a plate mount with stickers (same switch type, board size and case type) or it could be that I've used Penumbra for longer. They got so many things right with that set :)

Since I do often use my boards at a very slight tilt, perhaps something between SA and SS would suit me even more, despite the slight "step" that would have.

I really want to try SS or DSS profile, preferably in semi-matte, although if DSS has the same small tops as DSA I think I'd prefer SS, especially if they're made with the same thickness as SA. Pity that they retired the molds. I wonder if they were destroyed or just placed in storage somewhere.


As an aside, not sure if anyone cares, but I've found it interesting how the keycaps shine up (it's been the same on Penumbra and Pulse). I was expecting them to shine in the order of most use, matching the letter frequency of the english language, but it seems that although E is the first to shine and T next, A is still less shiny than O, I, N, S, H, R and even D. Could just be how I move fingers and where I rest them, or that A is on a pinkie. Also, my left Shift, Caps, Right Ctrl, Win and Tab are looking severely neglected, with no change at all from new. Except for Tab, I could live without these keys :)

« Last Edit: Wed, 11 February 2015, 01:26:46 by Oobly »
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #88 on: Wed, 11 February 2015, 02:01:25 »
You might try to find some vintage keyboards from the 70s / early 80s if you want to try something like SS/DSS. Though most of them are linear switches, so if that’s not your cup of tea, it might be hard to find one you like. (Beam spring boards are great, but a bit expensive.)

Offline Heliosphere

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #89 on: Wed, 11 February 2015, 18:21:30 »
Hey jacobolus, did SP ever send you DSS keycaps?
« Last Edit: Wed, 11 February 2015, 18:23:16 by Heliosphere »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #90 on: Wed, 11 February 2015, 18:40:14 »
Nope, as mentioned, DSS and SS profiles are “retired”. They haven’t produced them for 15–20 years, and it’s not clear what state the tooling is in. They don’t have any obvious desire to make new SS/DSS keycaps; I’m not sure if that’s because the tooling is physically broken or worn out and would take substantial capital investment to restore, or if it’s just because they’re busy enough with other projects and don’t think it’s worth the hassle.

Either way, I’m not holding my breath. (But it’s possible they could be convinced by someone sweet-talking them, who knows.)

I am hoping (fingers crossed) that there might be some way to convince some other vendor to make profiled spherical keycap tooling.
« Last Edit: Wed, 11 February 2015, 18:42:18 by jacobolus »

Offline mwichary

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Re: Hypothesis: SA is wrong when used on MX switches
« Reply #91 on: Tue, 12 December 2017, 13:33:59 »