Author Topic: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?  (Read 14522 times)

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Offline SeattleChrisCode

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Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« on: Wed, 22 May 2019, 14:32:45 »
What are good keys to have on a thumb cluster? What is a good plan for modifier key placement? How many keys do you feel you can efficiently use on a thumb cluster? I intend to do a lot of computer programming, so I'm looking for optimizing the placement of modifier keys and certain punctuation that is often placed inefficiently on a normal keyboard layout.

While this is my first post, I have spent an absurd number of hours reading over this forum and looking up info about ergonomic keyboards, key layout, and general optimization (especially for computer programming). I am considering something in the realm of dactyl, ergodox, manuform, and the like. Amazing work on those!
« Last Edit: Wed, 22 May 2019, 14:47:35 by SeattleChrisCode »

Offline nevin

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 22 May 2019, 15:59:47 »
- the ones you have listed are the ones you'll be referenced to check out.
- some say ergodox thumbs are a little awkward
- there was a dactyl/manuform cross breed. this is also the one that has the most options for number of keys as well as placement as they are 3d printed.
- ask around what other programmers prefer
- a starting point would be... how small do you want to go? for me.... anything smaller than 60% is too many layers to get needed keys. my current daily is a keeb,io viterbi (split 5x14 ortho). this is the smallest i will go for what i do all day every day (you can have a full/normal number row with 14 columns). it was my 1st split as well as my 1st ortho, and i love it.
- all mentioned can be programmed to have whatever keymap you want
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline vvp

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 22 May 2019, 16:38:30 »
My opinion is that all the modifiers should be on thumbs.
Sample:
219782-0

Offline SeattleChrisCode

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 23 May 2019, 10:55:17 »
- a starting point would be... how small do you want to go?

I've been putting a lot of thought into this. Minimizing hand movement and finger reach seems to be recommended for speed and ergonomic health. So I'm leaning towards fewer keys and more layers. On a typical laptop keyboard, I don't care for reaching the numbers above the alpha keys. Maybe that row feels more comfortable when the keys are in a bowled out curve. I've never tried that, but I'm excited as it seems like a really smart way to set up the keyboard! So for the main keys, I've been debating between 3 or 4 rows, and then each hand having 5 or 6 columns (5 columns, meaning moving the pinkie keys elsewhere). Moving the shift, tab, enter, and some of the punctuation keys seems ergonomically smart but may be challenging for muscle memory (I think I could adjust, ... probably?).

So all of that means that if I have a good sense of how many thumb keys are ergonomically easy, and what keys work well for the thumbs, I could plan out the overall layout, layers, etc.

What are people's experience with moving things like Enter, Shift, and Tab to their thumb keys? Did you find the adjustment fairly easy? Does having those keys on the thumbs make sense? Also, what are people's experience with modifier keys on the thumbs? Does it actually make it easier to chord multiple keys? What lessons have other people learned so I don't have to re-learn on my own?

Offline nevin

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 23 May 2019, 11:23:27 »
- i kept number row almost specifically for F-keys (Fn+1 = F1). i use a lot of shortcut key combinations, a bunch using F-keys in the combo.
- since you are going more ortho, you can incorporate a numpad on a layer. i've never been fond of using the number row for extensive number entries, i've always been quicker/more proficient with a number pad.
- if not moving the modifiers to thumbs, even closer to the middle would be better. still never understood why the main modifier (control) on PC layouts was on the outer corners of the board. (i've been a mac user since i started using computers and our cmd/gui is on either side of the space bar (closer to middle) and i've always used my thumb for modifiers on left side of board cmd, opt, ctl.
- different layout/time to adjust.... when i switched to ortho, it only took a week or two till i relearned the muscle memory and got back to normal proficiency. it will take a little while depending on how much your new layout differs from your current layout. but don't give up, you'll get used to it.

typematrix was a ortho board thad had some things shifted towards the center
two other articles i found:
https://www.allthingsergo.com/case-study-one-approach-optimizing-ergonomic-keyboard-layouts/
https://lifehacker.com/should-i-use-an-alternative-keyboard-layout-like-dvorak-1447772004
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline nevin

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 23 May 2019, 11:37:46 »
you can also play with keyboard layout editor to help visualise your proposed layout. there's presets for a handful of ergo boards

also check out Ian Douglas's Programmer's Keyboard (also a preset in KLE under advanced)
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline vvp

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 23 May 2019, 15:41:42 »
Minimizing hand movement and finger reach seems to be recommended for speed and ergonomic health.
Hand movement itself is not a problem for ergonomics. Crazy finger stretches and wrist bends are a problem.

Some even say moving hands around is quicker than have all keys reachable without much movement. But I do not subscribe to that camp. It looks like pianists who also touch type like it though.

Put all modifiers and layer shifts on thumbs. Then add whatever you use often on thumbs if there are still free thumb keys.
It is matter of a week or two to learn new key placement.

Offline SeattleChrisCode

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 26 May 2019, 17:02:14 »
The keyboard layout link has been both enjoyable to tinker with and a significant place I've spent time. Thanks? https://cdn.geekhack.org/Smileys/solosmileys/tongue.gif

So looking at Manuform type setups, I see that there are typically 6 or fewer thumb keys on each side. Is that reasonable number you can get to easily? Which thumb keys tend to be easiest to use?
« Last Edit: Sun, 26 May 2019, 17:03:50 by SeattleChrisCode »

Offline vvp

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 26 May 2019, 17:07:43 »
Print your layout on a paper in 1:1 scale. Check how much you can reliably reach.

Offline nevin

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 27 May 2019, 19:21:22 »
@SeattleChrisCode - No problem. It is really quite handy. From those layouts you can create custom plates, use the layout as a wiring diagram for a hand wired keyboard, all kinds of fun stuff.
Keeb.io Viterbi, Apple m0110, Apple m0120, Apple m0110a, Apple 658-4081, Apple M1242, Apple AEK II, MK96, GH60/Pure, Cherry g84-4100, Adesso AKP-220B, Magicforce 68

Offline harlekein

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Re: Thumb Cluster - Best Keys & Placement?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 03 June 2019, 06:37:48 »
I progam for a living. Used the Iris for sometime and now Corne is my daily driver. My current keymap: https://github.com/rpbaptist/qmk_toolbox/blob/master/keyboards/crkbd/keymaps/rpbaptist/keymap.c

I am loving SHIFT on thumbs.

Previously I also used backspace and enter on thumb keys. Both work well.