Author Topic: Multiway buttons for typing.  (Read 6494 times)

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Offline Shmozart

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Multiway buttons for typing.
« on: Thu, 05 March 2020, 03:26:19 »
Does anybody know examples or have even usage experience when multiway (swinging and pressing) buttons are used for typing?
Are there any suitable switches on the market? There are 4-way switches for navigation buttons, that could be somehow used, but their tactile characteristics are bad for typing.

Offline nevin

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Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 05 March 2020, 04:09:37 »
yeah, tiny tact switches are pretty stiff with almost no travel and even worse if you go with a d-pad like pcb with the button bubbles on the pcb.

there was the datahands keyboard that's kinda relatable. iso was working on recreating the mechanism using normal mouse-type switches.

with the mouse-type switches, you can adjust how hard they are to press by the length of the arm (actuator) you put over top of it.

if looking at alternate switches, look at actuation force as well as switch cycle life in the data sheets. (a good bit will probably be stiffer than preferred and not last very long) ...like tact switches, one strong press & you can squash the tiny metal disk that is the spring & contact leaf all rolled into one.

i've used larger limit switch style switches in a mouse as well with good results.
like these.
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 Findecanor

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Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 05 March 2020, 08:36:45 »
Also check out the Azeron, with some keys similar to how the Datahand does it. Check also the makers' prototype-thread with more pictures of the mechanisms.

Quite a few home-made 3D-printed ergo keyboards have a thumb-cluster with the keys angled towards each other.
DMOTE is one, but a 44 cluster is more common. The Atlas56 has a hole for the thumb with keys up/down/left/right.

Heh, I almost posted a link to your keyboard with 6-direction D-pad modifier keys, before I saw who asked. ;)

The Microsoft Arc keyboard used a square D-pad instead of arrow keys: everyone hated it.
D-pads are usually done with a rubber dome switch in each direction and a fulcrum in the middle to prevent opposite directions from being activated at once. The downside of that design is that it is limited to four directions and diagonals, and that the diagonals have different engagement distance and required force.
The NeoGeo CD's D-pad is different: more like a thumb-stick with an arcade joystick inside.
I would like to know a mechanism for a D-pad that is tactile like rubber dome D-pad but with with equal force and engagement/actuation distance in all directions, but I have not found it. Once a mechanism for tactile tilt exists then the sensing of direction some other way. I have a keyboard with an analogue joystick for mouse control and I think that one uses hall-effect sensors. (at least the four sensors are marked HED0..HED3 on the PCB)

Maybe "touch sensors" could be used also. "Touch sensor" is a misnomer though, as it is more like a sensor of a finger coming into a certain range, so they have to be tuned for the right distance between electric pad and touch-surface.
The Steam Controller uses a dished capacitive touch-surface instead of D-pad.
Apple mice use a single "button" (actually, rocking the entire mouse forward) but distinguish left and right "clicks" using touch sensors on top of the mouse.
The failed TextBlade Portable Keyboard used a single key per column, with touch sensors to figure out where on the key each press occurred. A key did not even contain a regular switch: just a spring and scissor mechanism. The touch sensors were stationary below the key and a press was sensed by the finger-tip being at the bottom of the press and thus close to the sensor.

There are also a few home-made few ergo keyboards that have used a sliding 5-way digital mini-joystick: "Nav Switch".

« Last Edit: Thu, 05 March 2020, 11:56:28 by Findecanor »
Man must shape his tools lest they shape him
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Offline nevin

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  • Location: US
Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 05 March 2020, 10:45:57 »
@Findecanor - thanks. nice list!
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 iso

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Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 05 March 2020, 20:34:37 »
What do you mean "Was" ? Im finishing that thing :)

Offline Shmozart

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Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 11 March 2020, 05:05:08 »
So all suggestions go to DataHand so far...
DataHand is a source for inspiration, of course, but what came to my mind is a bit different, my idea is to replace letter buttons with some kind of three (six for index finger) way buttons, where pressing will give asdf row keypress, and swinging will give qwerty and zxcv rows. Other buttons should remain normal buttons. It looks like some DIY switches are needed

Offline nevin

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  • Location: US
Re: Multiway buttons for typing.
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 11 March 2020, 07:40:34 »
so you're suggesting using something like the datahand or similar for home row in combination with more standard keys? ... interesting.... a setup like the datahand (5 buttons per finger) could be programmed to be whatever you like and be incorporated into whatever setup you come up with.

alternate switches... what about something optical? (there's been some work with optical switches lately)
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