Author Topic: Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?  (Read 6750 times)

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Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« on: Sun, 26 December 2010, 09:10:14 »
Hey everyone,

I just bought a g80-3000 with blues - yay! I've been thinking of cool things that I can do with it. The MX keycaps have a nice y-axis ergonomic tilt to them, but not a lateral one.  In particular I'd like (QWERTY) t,y,g,h,b keys to slope towards the finger that is meant to hit them. Does a product exist that you put on existing keycaps to make them more ergonomic/slanted?  I suppose not, but if anyone knows, they're a member here!

Assuming not, what do the think the best way to achieve it is? I was thinking that you could put some molding material and resculpt the top. Or take caps from some other board and make a + hole for MX plungers at an angle on the bottom. Or, mutilate some other keycaps to add them as a hat. I'm not concerned about changing the angle of impact - I doubt that we hit the switches squarely most of the time.

The other thing I wanted to ask, is if cloth keycap jackets exist. Or perhaps something for just the top surface. I imagine that it'd feel really nice to type on cotton. I'm tempted to glue things right now......

Offline sixty

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 26 December 2010, 13:39:40 »


...don't think it worked out that well.

Offline Findecanor

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 26 December 2010, 14:40:58 »
Logitech Wave is like that. It is a rubber dome keyboard and I doubt that the key caps could be transplanted. I would like to try it, just to feel for myself it there is any improvement in feel.

The Kinesis Advantage uses standard key caps but the switches themselves are mounted in a plate with a special shape to make it curved.
"I'm sorry, a rain drop literally pushed "Submit" on this retarded touchscreen phone"

Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 28 December 2010, 09:10:48 »
I'm sorry for the late reply - I was bed ridden with a terrible head ache and feeling sorry for myself.

I have to say, that patent is making me wonder if I'm too far down the road to insanity already... but... I do only want to change a couple of keys at first. :D


Today I briefly tried moving the 5.6 keycaps to t,y and t,y to g,h to see how the extra elevation would feel. I suppose a sideways tilt would make a much bigger difference though. Cherry MX keys really should be ripe for subtle ergonomic modification. I'm slightly surprised that sets of MX keycaps with per key rather than per row slant haven't been made yet.

@sixty - I guess you've tried keyboards such as the kinesis and wave. Did you feel like the slanting helped at all?
I

Offline elef

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 28 December 2010, 13:54:32 »
Quote from: Findecanor;269163
Logitech Wave is like that. It is a rubber dome keyboard and I doubt that the key caps could be transplanted. I would like to try it, just to feel for myself it there is any improvement in feel.



Indeed. The wave is my ultimate favourite keyboard in terms of physical layout, but I can't live with a rubber dome keyboard after trying a mechanical... I took apart my Wave, it's essentially a flat plank with keys of variable height fixed into it. In fact, with a bit of hacking, you may be able to mate it with a mech. keyboard, essentially mounting the top half of the Wave's  case on top of the other keyboard, having the Wave's keys pressing down on the other board's keycaps or keystems.
Of course you could also remove the wave's keycaps and somehow hack them onto the keystems or keycaps of a mechanical keyboard one by one. That would be more labour intensive than the first approach, I think.
If you want pics of the thing, I can take it apart and snap a few.

Offline Lanx

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 28 December 2010, 15:38:04 »
my mods have been  concerned with the inward slope of the ms ergo 4k, that inward slope is awesomeness. check out the mod if you want to see what i go through to put that same slope to cherries.

Offline Forsaken

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 28 December 2010, 17:26:21 »
Sounds like what you really want is a Kinesis Advantage http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/benefits.htm .



I've been using one a year now, it's really nice, if you can afford it =p

Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 29 December 2010, 10:10:20 »
You're absolutely right Forsaken, what I really covert is a Kinesis... but sadly I'm a PhD student and can't stretch quite far enough one. Actually, I'd need 2, since I split my time pretty equally between 2 computers.

What I want to achieve is to emulate as many of the absolute key features that make it better than a standard keyboard. The really doable ones are the switches and the thumb buttons. I want shift, backspace, and an extend modifier key down there.  Some key slope would be really cool too.

@elef - can you take a shot or two of the bottom of the keycaps on the wave? I'm really curious to see whether modifying the female end to the cherry MX cross is possible. I have some mutilated keycaps from a Saitek board that I was going to experiment with.

@Lanx - I've already checked out your thread a few times. :D I love it. So Just sloping the keys towards the middle makes a big difference? I'll find again the part where you implement the slope.

Offline runeazn

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 29 December 2010, 10:43:43 »
I like my keyboard how they are.
Kami Ducky 1087 of Heaven

Offline 7bit

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 29 December 2010, 10:48:42 »
Quote from: sixty;269141
Show Image


...don't think it worked out that well.


This looks like a "Jack in the Box" keybaord.

If you want key caps which are really ergonomic,
improve typing speed and really look great,
then you must get a set of these:
Truly Ergonomic Key Caps!
Buy key caps here: Round 5
Buy switches here: CherryMX

Offline Lanx

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 29 December 2010, 11:12:06 »
I love the inward slope so much, I went through all that modding just to retain it. (I haven't seen any with the slope btw, even the truely ergonomic doesn't seem to have one) it makes a huge differnce to me, I have no wrist twist strain, this might be due to my muscle memory tho, I've used the ergo4k for years so I mightve missed it. I would guess if u never had the slope u wouldn't want it but that imo is what makes the ms ergo4k so good, is the inward slope.

Offline elef

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 29 December 2010, 18:19:51 »
Quote from: symphonic1985;270289


@elef - can you take a shot or two of the bottom of the keycaps on the wave? I'm really curious to see whether modifying the female end to the cherry MX cross is possible. I have some mutilated keycaps from a Saitek board that I was going to experiment with.

Here's a little gallery.

As you can see, the bottom part of the Wave's keys is the same height, and it's the "cap" part that has variable height. That's good, but the rest of the news is less promising. Of course it doesn't have the Cherry "+" shape, and, what's worse, it would take a heroic hack to get it on cherry switches.
For starters, the stem part of the keycap on a Cherry key drops inside the keyswitch housing when the key is pressed. Even if you could hack these caps onto the + shaped stem somehow, it wouldn't work, as the Wave's rectangular stems are too large. They wouldn't fit inside, so you couldn't press the key.

If someone made a Wave-like replacement caps for cherries, I'd certainly buy a set for $50 or $60, but I don't think that's going to happen.

If someone really wanted to do this (and I sort of do), the easiest option would probably be to use epoxy or something like that. Take the keycaps off, make molds with the various shapes and heights, possibly molding directly from the Wave's keys, and add height/slant to the cherry caps that way. They would still be taller than the rest of the keys on the keyboard, but not by that much.
This could possibly be attempted without damaging the either keycap set. Cherry keycaps are 20 GBP a set from keyboardco, so even if you destroy a set, it's not that tragic.
« Last Edit: Wed, 29 December 2010, 18:22:49 by elef »

Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 30 December 2010, 03:37:40 »
Thanks for the photos elef. That contour does look really cool. I want it!

I think you're right about how tough it would be to mod the Cherry caps from the stem end. Also because you want the keycap to be what bottoms out, not the switch inside, I think. So you need to get the clearance right.

Taking an MX key cap and doing something to the top of it would be the simplest hack but it may not look the best. Luckily I tend to go for function over looks. :D The keys that I most want to change are those serviced by the index finger. If they have a different feel then I think it should help touch typing accuracy, even if it doesn't help that much with comfort. If a mod changes the feeling the texture etc. it probably wouldn't bother me.

I was wondering - Filco keycaps have a slightly different height than Cherry ones right? Perhaps you could create some stagger using that already.

@7bit. Your double shot caps look wonderful, but I'm afraid that I need to let my keyboard obsession grow before I need those. ;)

Offline elef

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 30 December 2010, 04:32:06 »
Oh, I'm pretty sure it's not possible to hack on the Wave keycaps so you bottom out with the edge of the cap. They are not tall enough. I don't think that would bother me - I don't think it would damage the switches unless you smash-type, and at least it would be quieter. But that's all academic anyway.

FYI, if you decide to do a resin/putty ergo hack and it comes out well, I might buy a set from you.
I forgot to mention that the Cherry compatible keycap in the pictures is from a Filco. I put it in there for scale. Filco and Cherry keycaps are different, I'm sure someone will drop in soon enough and tell us if there is a height difference and how much.

Offline Lanx

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 01 January 2011, 02:22:54 »
i've replaced my
qwertyuiop
row with
inverted keys from this row
zxcvbnm,.
feels pretty nice and concave.
of course it doesn't make a lick of sense if you just look at the keys but i've been using this for a few months and it's like a pseudo kinesis i guess since it's a tad bit concave.

Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 01 January 2011, 06:20:27 »
@Lanx
Do you do this swap on your Ergo 4000 mod, or on a regular keyboard?

Yesterday I played around with plasticine under cling to see how easy it would be to mold on top of the MX keycaps. Pretty easy. I think that I'll take this path initially, messing with the central columns of the keyboard only. I have spare keycaps scavenged from a MY-switch. The problem I have is that I'm based on Germany but I'm not German, so sourcing supplies is harder than normal. I'm unsure what putty or resin to try and get.

At first I'll do non-destructive mods only. Putting a layer of sticky tape on top of the keys first makes it possible to stick additional stuff on there and just peel it off later if it doesn't work out..

I also had a look on ebay for used waves, so that I could get the keycaps and make molds of them... but I think this is overkill until I know that modifying the key heights/angles really feels better.  Any good ideas for the putty? I saw some key homemade stuff at Instructibles but I doubt that I could find the right ingredients here.

Offline Lanx

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #16 on: Sat, 01 January 2011, 10:51:12 »
on my ergo4k mod v1 cuz it has cherry keycaps, cherry keycaps are equidistant or everything is a perfect square so you can turn the keycap 90/180 degrees and it'll still work just fine, no idea on any other type of keys and this only works for me on cherry keycaps cuz of the slope of the keys as well. (they're very angled and i have the signature keycaps which are modelled after filcocaps and they are super angled).

Offline hoggy

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #17 on: Sat, 01 January 2011, 17:35:28 »
Looking at the image in the first post - Perhaps I'm wrong, but wouldn't it mean that you would be pushing the keys at strange angles, but the switch will still need to be pushed straight down to be activated?  

If the angle is too steep I'd guess this would lead to reduced life of the 'board, or at least to a lousy typing feel.

symphonic1985 - try a quick search for sugru.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline Forsaken

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #18 on: Sat, 01 January 2011, 19:33:10 »
Quote from: hoggy;271741
Looking at the image in the first post - Perhaps I'm wrong, but wouldn't it mean that you would be pushing the keys at strange angles, but the switch will still need to be pushed straight down to be activated?  

If the angle is too steep I'd guess this would lead to reduced life of the 'board, or at least to a lousy typing feel.

symphonic1985 - try a quick search for sugru.

You are right, those crazy keycaps with the long curved stems wouldn't work at all, I'm surprised someone patented that. Pressing the keys at a natural angle would not actuate the switch, as the keycap does nothing to translate the horizontal force to vertical. It would simply bind up. Hell, even many keyboards with normal keycaps can have binding issues if you hit the keys too far off center, those crazy caps would bind so much as to be unusable, and that's if you could even stick them solidly enough to the switches that they didn't just snap off due to the leverage on them.

The way Kinesis made the Advantage with the switches mounted on a curved plate is really the only way to achieve anymore than a very slight angling of the keys relative to one another.

Offline symphonic1985

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Ergonomic keycap caps or jackets?
« Reply #19 on: Sun, 02 January 2011, 04:03:34 »
Thanks for the heads up on sugru - looks like the stuff I'm after. I don't want to alter the angles very much. Not more than Cherry does already, just in a different direction, so I think the key action would still be good with a subtle mod. The idea for my is more to give my hands a better idea of where they are on the keyboard when they float around. To make the keys distinctive, rather than ergonomic.

I also tried out Lanx's inverted keys mod. It's pretty cool. The top row of keys become much closer to the home row, which feels strange, but might be a good thing in the end. The stretches are shorter then. If you have small hands like I do, that's a bonus.

I had another idea too. The keycaps that you can buy from SMC electronics are low profile and flat. Esp. the insertable-legends ones. I wonder how high the logi caps would be if they were sitting flush on top. Another option - take normal cherry MX caps and sand them down from the top to the + around the stem that prevents bottoming out. They might then be low enough to put the logi's on top.