Author Topic: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_  (Read 21349 times)

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Offline Daniel Beaver

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« on: Fri, 01 July 2011, 09:46:26 »
Not sure what the big deal is - Maltron keyboards are sort of old news. Must be the black case.


Read more: http://www.thinq.co.uk/2011/7/1/first-look-maltron-90-series-keyboard/#ixzz1QrgdtwS5

Quote
While there's plenty of choice at the cheaper end of the keyboard market, high-end gear can be hard to find. We go hands-on with one of the most expensive keyboards around, the Maltron 90 series, to see if it lives up to its incredible pricetag.

Maltron, for those unfamiliar with the company and its offerings, is a UK specialist in ergonomic keyboards. Its range boasts models designed for users with musculoskeletal disorders, a single hand, or even no hands at all.

Designed for suffers of repetitive strain injury and carpal tunnel syndrome, the Maltron 90 series takes the concept of a split key layout and runs with it. The keyboard is split into three sections: half the letter keys are given to the right hand, half to the left, and the number pad resides in the middle for use by either hand.

Show Image


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Offline hoggy

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 02 July 2011, 00:41:43 »
Black case has been around for a least 3 years.

I would have liked the article more if the reviewer actually used the board for a least a month as he was advised.

'Sneak previews on twitter'?  He probably thinks it's a new product...

While I'm dissing the site - there's an article about 3m launching a vertical mouse - dated 4 or 5 years after I first started to use one.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline noctua

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 02 July 2011, 09:42:05 »
I use an similar black one since four weeks now, it needs
some times to become familiar with it, the muscle memory
has to adjust to the new key setup..
Selfmade Keyboard I (done)
DT225 CH Trackball

Selfmade Keyboard II (95% completed)
L-Trac CST2545W-RC Trackball

both use Cherry MX Blue switches, an Teensy++ controller and have an Colemak layout

Offline Proword

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 08 July 2011, 03:52:13 »
My 1986 Maltron was black.  Nothing new here.:rofl:

Perhaps it was just a case of HIS first look at it.

However, given that the Maltron keyboard has been around since the late 1970s, there are probably many people for whom it WILL be novel.

Joe
Maltron 3D Dual Hand (x4)
Maltron 3D Single Hand (x2 - L & R)

Many people think their lifestyle comes at a cost - but they are quite cool with that as long as somebody ELSE pays it.

Offline noctua

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 08 July 2011, 06:26:27 »
hmm.. the Englishman's have seeming larger finger's then the rest
of the world, because they have simply forgotten to remove these
large gaps between the keys.. to become really novel ;)
Selfmade Keyboard I (done)
DT225 CH Trackball

Selfmade Keyboard II (95% completed)
L-Trac CST2545W-RC Trackball

both use Cherry MX Blue switches, an Teensy++ controller and have an Colemak layout

Offline Input Nirvana

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 08 July 2011, 11:21:26 »
Quote from: noctua;376058
hmm.. the Englishman's have seeming larger finger's then the rest
of the world, because they have simply forgotten to remove these
large gaps between the keys.. to become really novel ;)

Now THAT is funny!!  LOL
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Offline PCDMaltron

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 04:46:01 »
Hi all, glad to see commentary about Maltron. We have indeed been around since the 1970s and our chairman is still active and recently celebrated his 96th birthday and still going strong!

Owing to the production method of the keyboard (all hand made to requirement), we currently offer it in Black and Grey. The L90 is also known as the Dual Handed 3D model (although all keybaords are arguably dual handed, we've called it this as we also offer single handed models for those who can only type with their left or right hand).

It's primary function is to prevent / assist people suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome and RSI. I'm happy to answer any queries you may have about the keyboard.

Cheers,

Adam
Marketing chap at Maltron.

Offline adrien239

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 05:13:01 »
Dear Sir

Nice to see you here ...

It will perhaps be quicker than by mail :-)

I've a 3D Maltron



I've been calling for a new design for a new one.... since march 7....

And asking news many times
But....

And I'm still waiting

If you can help me...

Thanks a lot

Offline PCDMaltron

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 05:29:58 »
Hi Adrien,

Sorry for any delay, I've not long been working for Maltron and only over the weekend started blogging and using Twitter. Have you been in contact with Maltron directly? If you can update me with any suggestions you have I would be most grateful. We have recently designed a bespoke model for a US client.

Many thanks,

Adam

Offline Icarium

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 06:11:13 »
If you're looking for inspiration I think the three most common or most desired mods for Kinesis/Maltron boards are track point, split and tilt.
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline PCDMaltron

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 06:45:32 »
Hi Icarium,

Thanks for the feedback, probably going to embarrass myself here, but, what is track point, split and tilt mods? I'm ok with mods for computer games but not with keyboards.

Cheers,
Adam

Offline dorkvader

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 08:32:49 »
Trackpoints are those tiny pointing stick devices commonly found on laptop keyboards. They were pretty standard on IBM thinkpad, and lenovo has by and large continued the trend. Outside that, they appear less commonly on HP, Dell, and Fujitsu laptops.

Split, I believe he is referring to having the two seperate "hands" being independantly moveable, and connected with a cable. as far as I know, the only commercially available split keyboard with mechanical keyswitches is the utron, which is more expensive even than a maltron, though there are several DIY projects. Also, I believe a GH'er has tried using both the single hand maltrons at one computer.

Tilt simply would refer to the forward/backward pitch of the keyboard: most commercially available ones have a simple tilt by putting the feet up, though this is arguably a detriment, ergonomically. They have foldable feet in the back that you can change the tilt with.
----
Good to see a maltron company representative here on the forum!

Offline PCDMaltron

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 09:00:12 »
Ah, thanks for that dorkvader!

I've actually never come across the utron, I believe it's this one over at http://www.personal-media.co.jp/utronkb/? I believe its about £404.20 / 52,000•?

Early days at the moment ref. being on forums, over this past weekend, I've added Maltron to twitter too and building up followers (sadly still 0 at the moment!). These feedback is great though, I will pass it back to the developers. As far as I am aware, the only Maltron which can be tilted back to suit personal taste is the expanded keyboard, however, we have only ever sold that model into the disabled market.

In respect to split mods, why would someone use this? It is simply for ergonomics or for gaming / work productivity? Sorry for lack of knowledge, my understanding of split keyboards is coming solely from assistive technology / ergonomics. I.e. it is to reduce RSI etc.

As for trackpoints, I confess that I have never used one before! My laptop or keyboard doesn't have one. Although some of our maltron keyboards have in built trackballs, from comments we've had back from our users, many prefer to use an external roller ball mouse. I myself use something called a contour rollermouse which I place under my keyboard.

Many thanks,

Adam

Offline sordna

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 10:43:55 »
Split keyboards (with separate, movable halves) have the advantage of being adjustable to person's tastes! Some people like a large separation between the hands, some like a small separation... and some like to change things up throughout the day.
Also, a split keyboard would allow you to tilt the halves at any angle you want, for decreased hand pronation, you could even prop the halves to create a vertical keyboard. Here's a custom project something a lot of us are excited about:

http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?22780-Interest-Check-Custom-split-ergo-keyboard

maybe you can get some ideas from it as well.... a truly split 3D maltron would be great!
Kinesis Contoured Advantage & Advantage2 LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Advantage2, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, IBM SSK (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Lanx

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 13:17:11 »
yes a 3d split maltron would be the an ergonomic keyboard to usher in the new century.

the reason why any of us would want a split maltron is because, we're all not built the same, we could all vary from a 1ft shoulder span to a 4ft should span, in this instance it makes a maltron unergonomic.

Offline Icarium

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 15:45:04 »
Here is one of my favorite modding projects. It's using a Kinesis but you get the idea: http://geekhack.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=15820&d=1299377418
I'll dig out the real link later, or maybe input nirvana can help out.
I had a sig once but it's gone. It used to display an icon of a Kinesis. Just imagine that.

Offline hoggy

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A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 30 April 2012, 16:20:25 »
A split (two separate halves) would be very cool.  

Other items on the wish list are -
Programmability
Choice of cherry switches - red, blue, brown, clear as well as black.  Kinesis have a (well hidden) option on red switches.  This change should be cheap and easy to implement.

You should also mention that all Maltron keyboards are signed on the inside of the case.  I've got one that was made by your chairman just a few years ago.

Oh, and welcome to geekhack!
[ Attachment Invalid Or Does Not Exist ] 49533[/ATTACH]
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline adrien239

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 13 October 2014, 17:50:07 »
My new workstations with DX Racer personal armrests, laptop and Maltron color caps








« Last Edit: Mon, 13 October 2014, 17:54:47 by adrien239 »

Offline Tiramisuu

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 13 October 2014, 19:04:46 »
Matron has huge unrealized potential.   If the manufacturing process could be modernized beyond the old mold.   Split keyboard ala ergo dox,  better switch selection,  better fit and finish.
Figuring out how to size and fit it into the modern desktop and workflow.   

Was looking at a used one earlier this week.   Great idea but stuck in the rehab specialty kind of model.   Instead of being a tool for cripples it should be sorted out as a productivity tool for professionals.   Just my opinion of course.

Keyboard error F1 to continue.

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Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 13 October 2014, 19:15:15 »
Matron has huge unrealized potential.   If the manufacturing process could be modernized beyond the old mold.   Split keyboard ala ergo dox,  better switch selection,  better fit and finish.
Figuring out how to size and fit it into the modern desktop and workflow.   

Was looking at a used one earlier this week.   Great idea but stuck in the rehab specialty kind of model.   Instead of being a tool for cripples it should be sorted out as a productivity tool for professionals.   Just my opinion of course.
I think a flat keyboard can be good enough Ė given the right design and the right set of keycaps Ė that the manufacturing/price advantages of a 2-part flat PCB/plate design outweigh the disadvantage of not having full control over switch placement/orientation. The Ergodox design isnít quite there though, and the typical uniform keycaps that get put on it arenít helping anything.

This keycap profile isnít perfect (itís just what I had lying around, not what I would consciously design), and I havenít actually wired this thing up yet, but when placed at a 30Ė60į tent angle, itís actually pretty comfortable to type on. I like it about as well as a Maltron, and the switches are all in 2 flat planes so it should be pretty easy to manufacture:

(more discussion http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848)

I think it should be possible to do substantially better than Maltron with a fully three-dimensional design, especially with more control over keycap and switch size, but that gets expensive to manufacture.

I donít think Maltron the company has the right personnel to start dramatically changing their design and aggressively marketing their keyboards at professionals.

But in general, I think thereís a huge market opportunity to make keyboards for CAD; for computer programmers; for designers and photographers and sound effects people; for accountants; for excel wizards; for journalists and other writers; etc. (not to mention video game players). Most professional computer users have no idea that other keyboard designs even exist, and donít know how theyíd benefit.
« Last Edit: Mon, 13 October 2014, 19:25:34 by jacobolus »

Offline Proword

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #20 on: Mon, 13 October 2014, 19:40:17 »
A few months ago Maltron released the news that  they were using laser technology to etch keycaps, even for third parties.  I suspect that 3D printer technology will soon enable Maltron to print keyboard shells of any design both quickly and inexpensively, so perhaps that will be the big breakthrough we are looking forward to. 

As far as markets other than those with disabilities, I suspect that Maltron may have its own niche and will stick to it for the near future, since there will always be disabled people who need assistive technology.  But this is just speculation.  I am just waiting for my fifth dual hander to arrive (I'm opting for the built in trackball model).  None of my older keyboards has ever broken in any way (even my first one I bought in 1986), they are simply being superseded by advances in technology, eg smaller PCBs, USB plugs etc.  I think Maltron will always be around simply because of the high quality of their products and the components.  I've not seen too many other non-Maltron keyboards still functioning perfectly nearly 30 years down the track. 
Maltron 3D Dual Hand (x4)
Maltron 3D Single Hand (x2 - L & R)

Many people think their lifestyle comes at a cost - but they are quite cool with that as long as somebody ELSE pays it.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 13 October 2014, 20:43:31 »
I suspect that 3D printer technology will soon enable Maltron to print keyboard shells of any design both quickly and inexpensively, so perhaps that will be the big breakthrough we are looking forward to.
3D printing is slow, relatively expensive (especially at scale), and doesnít produce the best output, though it might be roughly comparable in some respects to their current vacuum forming method.

For someone manufacturing in China at scale, itís probably possible to produce keyboards with CNC-machined 3-d cases (out of wood, nice plastic, aluminum, or whatever) for the same price Maltron can produce their vacuum formed boards. Then you could really get something sturdy and solid.

Quote
As far as markets other than those with disabilities, I suspect that Maltron may have its own niche and will stick to it for the near future, since there will always be disabled people who need assistive technology.  But this is just speculation.
Yep, sounds about right. And itís great that someone is trying to help those with disabilities, though it would be nice if people started caring about their health and comfort before it gets to that point.

Quote
I am just waiting for my fifth dual hander to arrive (I'm opting for the built in trackball model).  None of my older keyboards has ever broken in any way (even my first one I bought in 1986), they are simply being superseded by advances in technology, eg smaller PCBs, USB plugs etc.  I think Maltron will always be around simply because of the high quality of their products and the components.  I've not seen too many other non-Maltron keyboards still functioning perfectly nearly 30 years down the track.
Most keyboards that use linear mechanical switches (like the Maltronís black MX switches) are going to still be functioning perfectly decades later; with tactile or clicky switches, the feel tends to change a bit more over time as they wear out (assuming heavy daily use), but they continue to fundamentally function the same way, and in the unlikely case something breaks, theyíre easy to repair.

If you find a Zenith or Apple or Northgate or WYSE etc. board from the late-1980s, chances are it still works just fine, especially if it wasnít thrown into a junk pile with 200 other keyboards and some shovel-fulls of dirt for a decade. Not to speak of IBM Model Fs, etc., which are nearly indestructible. Or in other words, Maltron doesnít have any secret sauce here w/r/t reliability.
« Last Edit: Mon, 13 October 2014, 20:47:04 by jacobolus »

Offline ksm123

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 02:22:08 »
3D printing is slow, relatively expensive (especially at scale), and doesnít produce the best output, though it might be roughly comparable in some respects to their current vacuum forming method.

3D printing may be slow, and relatively expensive, but it still evolves.

Quote
Yep, sounds about right. [...], though it would be nice if people started caring about their health and comfort before it gets to that point.

For me Maltron has just one disadvantage: prohibitive price. Dual handed model costs as much as my monthly salary (or as much as average monthly salary in Poland). This price point is on par with other rehab devices (usually refunded by health insurance).

Where 3D printing fits in? If it gets to the point where printing 3D shell gets below say $100, I'll be able to get shell, scavenge some switches and keycaps from other boards, acquire Teensy and hand-solder my own 3D ergo keyboard. Till that day, I'll stay with my ErgoDoxes.

Offline yasuo

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 02:30:00 »
My new workstations with DX Racer personal armrests, laptop and Maltron color caps


Show Image



Show Image


Show Image

very nice keycap,  is maltron no stabs yup?
Matron has huge unrealized potential.   If the manufacturing process could be modernized beyond the old mold.   Split keyboard ala ergo dox,  better switch selection,  better fit and finish.
Figuring out how to size and fit it into the modern desktop and workflow.   

Was looking at a used one earlier this week.   Great idea but stuck in the rehab specialty kind of model.   Instead of being a tool for cripples it should be sorted out as a productivity tool for professionals.   Just my opinion of course.
I think a flat keyboard can be good enough Ė given the right design and the right set of keycaps Ė that the manufacturing/price advantages of a 2-part flat PCB/plate design outweigh the disadvantage of not having full control over switch placement/orientation. The Ergodox design isnít quite there though, and the typical uniform keycaps that get put on it arenít helping anything.

This keycap profile isnít perfect (itís just what I had lying around, not what I would consciously design), and I havenít actually wired this thing up yet, but when placed at a 30Ė60į tent angle, itís actually pretty comfortable to type on. I like it about as well as a Maltron, and the switches are all in 2 flat planes so it should be pretty easy to manufacture:
Show Image

(more discussion http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848)

I think it should be possible to do substantially better than Maltron with a fully three-dimensional design, especially with more control over keycap and switch size, but that gets expensive to manufacture.

I donít think Maltron the company has the right personnel to start dramatically changing their design and aggressively marketing their keyboards at professionals.

But in general, I think thereís a huge market opportunity to make keyboards for CAD; for computer programmers; for designers and photographers and sound effects people; for accountants; for excel wizards; for journalists and other writers; etc. (not to mention video game players). Most professional computer users have no idea that other keyboard designs even exist, and donít know how theyíd benefit.
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Offline vvp

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 02:59:11 »
Where 3D printing fits in? If it gets to the point where printing 3D shell gets below say $100, I'll be able to get shell, scavenge some switches and keycaps from other boards, acquire Teensy and hand-solder my own 3D ergo keyboard. Till that day, I'll stay with my ErgoDoxes.
If you can get access to a reprap then this will be cheap.

Offline Proword

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #25 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 00:33:09 »
There's more to the Maltron than just its components.  This is the inside of a keyboard from Jun 2014 as you can see in the red writing.




All the wiring for the key switches is done by hand.  Because of the 3D curves of the key wells, it isn't possible to do what most electronics manufacturers do and that is dip the PCB or switches into a pool of molten solder.  Very quick yes, but very difficult with a curved surface.  Having spent my apprenticeship in the mid '60s hand soldering components when I was building valve radios or amps, I'm very impressed with the high quality of the work here.   My original Maltron was for the Apple II+ and when I moved over to Basis Medfly, which had dual processors 6502/Z80, I had to hand solder the PCB from the Medfly into the Maltron case.  In 1990 I changed to IMB clone and had to send the whole thing back to the factory to be upgraded.   That keyboard and its workmanship are still functioning.  (Looking at the signature on the 1990 upgrade it appears that this was done by somebody with the initial SH - Steven Hobday.)



This latest iteration is a dream to work on.  If I need to change the PCB for some reason, I simply have to remove the two screws at the top of the PCB, pull out the plug with the ribbon cable, replace the plug in the new PCB, do up the two screws and it is done.  The work of a minute or so (if you discount removing the bottom plate, which is held in by six screws.).  In my view, Maltron is well up on the game.
Maltron 3D Dual Hand (x4)
Maltron 3D Single Hand (x2 - L & R)

Many people think their lifestyle comes at a cost - but they are quite cool with that as long as somebody ELSE pays it.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #26 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 01:54:35 »
All the wiring for the key switches is done by hand.  Because of the 3D curves of the key wells, it isn't possible to do what most electronics manufacturers do and that is dip the PCB or switches into a pool of molten solder.
I donít think thatís a fair summary of other manufacturersí technology. Itís true that they use a pick-and-place machine for surface-mount components, have flat PCBs, and then can very quickly and efficiently solder switches to the PCB (I think this last step still requires a bit of human labor, but maybe robots are getting better?).

Youíre right that the sculpted shape makes Maltronís manufacturing a lot more difficult and expensive though, and limits their flexibility w/r/t some case construction methods/materials and some electronics assembly methods. I personally think this can potentially be worth the dramatic cost increases it requires, but I also think itís possible to get quite far with flat PCBs/switch plates. With the right set of keycaps, I think a flat design can be made thatís better than the Kinesis Advantage, and arguably competitive with the Maltron. I also think with some careful rework the Maltron design could be improved, and the ideal keyboard design is probably more sculpted than flat.

Beyond dramatically reduced manufacturing cost, the split flat design also has some other advantages, such as portability, easier DIY construction, programmability, ...

Quote
This latest iteration is a dream to work on.  If I need to change the PCB for some reason, I simply have to remove the two screws at the top of the PCB, pull out the plug with the ribbon cable, replace the plug in the new PCB, do up the two screws and it is done.  The work of a minute or so (if you discount removing the bottom plate, which is held in by six screws.).  In my view, Maltron is well up on the game.
Sounds great!

To be fair, several other types of mechanical keyboards also feature a separate controller board which can be easily removed/replaced without touching the PCB the switches are on.

But yeah, itís always nice when repair/rework is easy.
« Last Edit: Wed, 15 October 2014, 01:57:04 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 02:00:42 »
For what itís worth, I think the Maltron is a real masterpiece, especially for the 1970s/80s. The Maltron folks have been willing to spend decades making high quality ergonomically shaped keyboards when the rest of the industry blithely ignored RSI, or made half-assed attempts to tweak standard keyboards. I think itís a tragedy that itís such a niche product, and Iím excited that within the last few years a bunch of people are starting to try some new ideas again.

By the way, Proword, did you see this?

IBM patent from the mid-1960s:
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=63415


« Last Edit: Wed, 15 October 2014, 02:03:09 by jacobolus »

Offline Proword

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #28 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 02:08:21 »
By the way, Proword, did you see this?

Yes I did.  Nothing new under the sun, eh?    ;D

It's good that people are prepared to do some research to find these sorts of things.
Maltron 3D Dual Hand (x4)
Maltron 3D Single Hand (x2 - L & R)

Many people think their lifestyle comes at a cost - but they are quite cool with that as long as somebody ELSE pays it.

Offline ksm123

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 05:34:08 »
@Proword:
Maltron is not about components, I agree. But in my opinion Maltron is about a single component: shell, its design is what makes this product unique. The rest are the things that any DIY hobbyist can recreate this days with solder station and some of the shelf components. As someone who did some soldering I can appreciate good craftsmanship. It is very important in commercial product, especially one that cannot be replaced by cheap and easily available backup for the time needed to make repairs, but it is not crucial in DIY board. If I built it myself I can correct a cold solder joint.

@jacobolus
DIY board can be easily done as a "spidery" construct with no PCB to mount switches on. I can spend a day or two with solder iron in hand to make myself a comfortable tool. Scaling the production up is a problem. (One could try to move production to places where labour is cheap, but it still be a lot more expensive than automated mass production of flat rubber-domes).

Portability is not as big advantage of flat split keyboards as one may think.
I can pack my Ergodox in my backpack, but there is no way I can use it with laptop while commuting. I used 75% board with laptop in trains and on a plane, I think a could do the same with Trully Ergonomic, but split keyboard it definitively too cumbersome.

Programmability is not an advantage of flat split keyboards, its an advantage of programmable keyboards, it just happens, that the best known flat split ergo keyboard is community designed and therefore fully programmable ErgoDox.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #30 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 05:56:01 »
DIY board can be easily done as a "spidery" construct with no PCB to mount switches on. I can spend a day or two with solder iron in hand to make myself a comfortable tool. Scaling the production up is a problem. (One could try to move production to places where labour is cheap, but it still be a lot more expensive than automated mass production of flat rubber-domes).
Itís not trivial, but itís also not all that hard to scale up something thatís a kit, ergodox-style. A fully assembled keyboard takes a bit more, but the assembly isnít impossibly expensive when itís just soldering to a PCB. Iím not quite sure what youíre getting at though. Of course any mechanical keyboard is more expensive to produce at scale than a rubber dome board.

Quote
Portability is not as big advantage of flat split keyboards as one may think.
I can pack my Ergodox in my backpack, but there is no way I can use it with laptop while commuting. I used 75% board with laptop in trains and on a plane, I think a could do the same with Trully Ergonomic, but split keyboard it definitively too cumbersome.
This is a problem with the specific ergodox design. Itís definitely not impossible to make a keyboard with two halves that can be attached when needed. Check out the prototypes that the keyboard.io people have been making.

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #31 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 13:51:32 »
Even the current keyboard.io design is clumsy, especially compared to something like Goldtouch Go! (as I've just found out, it can be folded).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #32 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 14:26:25 »
Sure. Something explicitly designed to be portable can definitely be smaller. I think an Apple-style aluminum scissor-switch keyboard, or a Cherry ML keyboard, with a split design (or hinged?), column-staggered, and lots of thumb keys, would be great.

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #33 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 14:30:53 »
I'm mostly concerned about the case shape. A simple rectangle is hard to beat.

Offline vivalarevoluciůn

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #34 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 09:20:32 »
Matron has huge unrealized potential.   If the manufacturing process could be modernized beyond the old mold.   Split keyboard ala ergo dox,  better switch selection,  better fit and finish.
Figuring out how to size and fit it into the modern desktop and workflow.   

Was looking at a used one earlier this week.   Great idea but stuck in the rehab specialty kind of model.   Instead of being a tool for cripples it should be sorted out as a productivity tool for professionals.   Just my opinion of course.
I think a flat keyboard can be good enough Ė given the right design and the right set of keycaps Ė that the manufacturing/price advantages of a 2-part flat PCB/plate design outweigh the disadvantage of not having full control over switch placement/orientation. The Ergodox design isnít quite there though, and the typical uniform keycaps that get put on it arenít helping anything.

This keycap profile isnít perfect (itís just what I had lying around, not what I would consciously design), and I havenít actually wired this thing up yet, but when placed at a 30Ė60į tent angle, itís actually pretty comfortable to type on. I like it about as well as a Maltron, and the switches are all in 2 flat planes so it should be pretty easy to manufacture:
Show Image

(more discussion http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62848)

I think it should be possible to do substantially better than Maltron with a fully three-dimensional design, especially with more control over keycap and switch size, but that gets expensive to manufacture.

I donít think Maltron the company has the right personnel to start dramatically changing their design and aggressively marketing their keyboards at professionals.

But in general, I think thereís a huge market opportunity to make keyboards for CAD; for computer programmers; for designers and photographers and sound effects people; for accountants; for excel wizards; for journalists and other writers; etc. (not to mention video game players). Most professional computer users have no idea that other keyboard designs even exist, and donít know how theyíd benefit.


In my experience, I find the Maltron the most comfortable ergonomic keyboard to use on the market, and it is exactly because of the design of the curved key wells and thumb key wells, for these reasons:

1.  With any flat keyboard, I notice that there is a degree of "reaching" that I need to do in order to reach the number row or the bottom row.  The design of the curved key wells reduce the amount of distance that my fingers have to travel more so than other similar design or flat "ergonomic" keyboard.  Each key is easily accessible without leaving the home row or with very little travel.  This reduces the stress on my fingers, hands, and wrists.
2.  Also, at least on the version of my Maltron, the inclusion of arrow keys on the thumb wells makes it possible to have a full TKL keyboard functionality without my hands leaving the home row or having to use a function layer.
3.  The numberpad paired with a trackball in the center of the keyboard creates the most ergonomic pointing device and navigation combo that I have ever used.  And I have owned all types of ergonomic pointing devices.  I can use my thumb to move the trackball, my index or middle finger for the buttons, and all four fingers to use the numpad for navigation, all while barely moving my hand.  The curved nature of the board makes the numpad easier to access when resting my hand over the trackball.  The DPI leaves something to be desired, though.
4.  The beauty of the 2x vertical shift keys takes advantage of the full length of my weak pinky fingers.  My pinky simply falls onto those keys to activate the shift key.  Huge relief on the overly used pinky finger.

I think that I write the same few things on any thread discussing the Maltron.

While I do admire and appreciate the innovation that is occurring in ergonomic keyboards right now with Ergodox, Acidfire's creation, keyboardio, individual creations, and other designs I have not mentioned, I always find myself gravitating back towards the Maltron.  The design has an ease of use and comfort that no other ergonomic keyboard can match, at least in my opinion.
Wish I had some gif or quote for this space, but I got nothing

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #35 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 13:38:29 »
[...]I think it should be possible to do substantially better than Maltron with a fully three-dimensional design, especially with more control over keycap and switch size, but that gets expensive to manufacture.[...]

In my experience, I find the Maltron the most comfortable ergonomic keyboard to use on the market, and it is exactly because of the design of the curved key wells and thumb key wells, for these reasons:

1.  With any flat keyboard, I notice that there is a degree of "reaching" that I need to do in order to reach the number row or the bottom row.  The design of the curved key wells reduce the amount of distance that my fingers have to travel more so than other similar design or flat "ergonomic" keyboard.  Each key is easily accessible without leaving the home row or with very little travel.  This reduces the stress on my fingers, hands, and wrists.
[...]
I definitely agree with this. However, to be fair, I havenít seen any previous flat keyboards with keys arranged in columns, with sufficient stagger to match the lengths of fingers, and with aggressively sculptured keycaps. Adding (at least) 2-3 millimeters of height step between the 'home row' keycap and each further-away row makes a dramatic difference, and itís possible to be much more aggressive with profiled keycaps on a column-layout keyboard. Add substantial tenting and get the keyboard halves to the right angle, and I think a flat keyboard can do much better than any have done so far. I think the ideal for medium-size hands is probably like 14Ė17 mm distance between keys within a column, with an aggressive height step for further away keys, an aggressive top angle for the closer row, somewhat variable height between keys in different columns to account for different fingers, and spacing/angle between columns adjusted to reflect the natural range of finger motion. Fully custom sculpted keycaps might be expensive, but I think even within commercially available keycap shapes itís possible to find an okay set to use.

I agree, a fully sculptured keyboard can definitely do better. And the Maltron is great. I just think that itís possible to do even better than the Maltron with a fully sculptured keyboard, with some careful thought put in and a design more carefully based on finger/hand physiology. For instance, I think the DataStealth keyboard design (from ~1995, but never actually in production, only prototypes; designed by an ergonomics researcher and anatomy expert) would likely be a bit more comfortable and efficient than the Maltron. But I think itís possible to do even better than the DataStealth.
« Last Edit: Thu, 16 October 2014, 14:05:00 by jacobolus »

Offline vivalarevoluciůn

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #36 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 17:28:33 »
[...]I think it should be possible to do substantially better than Maltron with a fully three-dimensional design, especially with more control over keycap and switch size, but that gets expensive to manufacture.[...]

In my experience, I find the Maltron the most comfortable ergonomic keyboard to use on the market, and it is exactly because of the design of the curved key wells and thumb key wells, for these reasons:

1.  With any flat keyboard, I notice that there is a degree of "reaching" that I need to do in order to reach the number row or the bottom row.  The design of the curved key wells reduce the amount of distance that my fingers have to travel more so than other similar design or flat "ergonomic" keyboard.  Each key is easily accessible without leaving the home row or with very little travel.  This reduces the stress on my fingers, hands, and wrists.
[...]
I definitely agree with this. However, to be fair, I havenít seen any previous flat keyboards with keys arranged in columns, with sufficient stagger to match the lengths of fingers, and with aggressively sculptured keycaps. Adding (at least) 2-3 millimeters of height step between the 'home row' keycap and each further-away row makes a dramatic difference, and itís possible to be much more aggressive with profiled keycaps on a column-layout keyboard. Add substantial tenting and get the keyboard halves to the right angle, and I think a flat keyboard can do much better than any have done so far. I think the ideal for medium-size hands is probably like 14Ė17 mm distance between keys within a column, with an aggressive height step for further away keys, an aggressive top angle for the closer row, somewhat variable height between keys in different columns to account for different fingers, and spacing/angle between columns adjusted to reflect the natural range of finger motion. Fully custom sculpted keycaps might be expensive, but I think even within commercially available keycap shapes itís possible to find an okay set to use.

I agree, a fully sculptured keyboard can definitely do better. And the Maltron is great. I just think that itís possible to do even better than the Maltron with a fully sculptured keyboard, with some careful thought put in and a design more carefully based on finger/hand physiology. For instance, I think the DataStealth keyboard design (from ~1995, but never actually in production, only prototypes; designed by an ergonomics researcher and anatomy expert) would likely be a bit more comfortable and efficient than the Maltron. But I think itís possible to do even better than the DataStealth.


Yes, the design can always be improved.  You are absolutely correct.  Scalability at an affordable price is the main issue that holds it back, as we all know.
Wish I had some gif or quote for this space, but I got nothing

Offline Scoox

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #37 on: Fri, 27 February 2015, 12:21:07 »
If, say, Apple jumped in on the ergo keyboard party, everyone would follow.

If manufacturers are able to make keyboards that sell for under $10, I don't see what's stopping them, other than lack of vision and creative thinking, from slightly re-arranging the keys and at the very least make a symmetrical keyboard. It's absurd.

Das Keyboard claim that they produce the best mechanical keyboards . I guess that depends who you ask. As far as I am concerned, they could have stuck a bunch of cherry keyswitches on a turd and it wouldn't be any better. Das Keyturd.  What a bunch of uncreative wankers. The best mechanical keyboards are being produced by people here on GH.
« Last Edit: Fri, 27 February 2015, 12:58:19 by Scoox »

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #38 on: Fri, 27 February 2015, 14:33:22 »
If, say, Apple jumped in on the ergo keyboard party, everyone would follow.
Apple Adjustable Keyboard

Besides, Microsoft has been there for quite a while... and MS Natural (Ergo 4k) was apparently the single most common separately sold external keyboard at least in 2006 in USA.

Offline vivalarevoluciůn

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #39 on: Fri, 27 February 2015, 18:38:32 »
Does this qualify as a necro?
Wish I had some gif or quote for this space, but I got nothing

Offline hoggy

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #40 on: Sat, 28 February 2015, 06:28:01 »
Just a bit.

...Sadly, it's quite a lot of work to make a decent ergo...
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline sypl

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #41 on: Sat, 28 February 2015, 07:25:02 »
My new workstations with DX Racer personal armrests, laptop and Maltron color caps


Show Image



Show Image


Show Image


What is on that strip of keys and the other three row board up top?

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #42 on: Sat, 28 February 2015, 10:06:13 »
X-keys

Offline Scoox

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #43 on: Sun, 01 March 2015, 22:39:21 »
If, say, Apple jumped in on the ergo keyboard party, everyone would follow.
Apple Adjustable Keyboard

Besides, Microsoft has been there for quite a while... and MS Natural (Ergo 4k) was apparently the single most common separately sold external keyboard at least in 2006 in USA.

We both know neither of those keyboards is an ergonomic keyboard in the strict sense of the word. I am talking about Apple actually shipping all their laptops with a symmetrical keyboard. Mac users tend to "suck it up" when it comes to Apples dictatorial decisions.

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #44 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 03:51:39 »
If, say, Apple jumped in on the ergo keyboard party, everyone would follow.
Apple Adjustable Keyboard

Besides, Microsoft has been there for quite a while... and MS Natural (Ergo 4k) was apparently the single most common separately sold external keyboard at least in 2006 in USA.

We both know neither of those keyboards is an ergonomic keyboard in the strict sense of the word. I am talking about Apple actually shipping all their laptops with a symmetrical keyboard. Mac users tend to "suck it up" when it comes to Apples dictatorial decisions.
AFAIK there's no proof that symmetrical layouts are superior in practice. Split keyboards on the other hand...

Offline Scoox

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #45 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 04:02:14 »
AFAIK there's no proof that symmetrical layouts are superior in practice. Split keyboards on the other hand...

What is there to be proved?? Obviously it's superior, because it allows the fingers to be nearer the relaxed position. Plus, it is a known fact that the staggered asymmetrical keyboard is an old design whose aim was to overcome mechanical limitations, completely disregarding the anatomy of the human hand.

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #46 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 04:33:27 »
You forgot the "in practice" part.

I don't dispute the design principles behind keyboards like the dual-hand 3D Maltron. However, in real life
  • plenty of users are hunt'n'peck typists, that would like benefit from a matrix layout (easier to find keys);
  • but probably a majority of professional users or gamers would suffer from messing with their muscle memory, esp. for hotkeys;
  • only touch typists (a minority by itself) benefit from a split keyboard layout (a fact), but if position of the halves isn't configurable... well, one size doesn't fit all. I've observed that a non-split straight matrix causes somewhat more wrist deviation than an asymmetrically-placed legacy staggered layout... Go figure. -_-
Redesigning the physical layout is a big expense by itself, and doesn't sound all that attractive in a market that's about to shift from hardware keyboards altogether.

I see only one potentially viable route here: a shift to tablets/convertibles, more keyboards like the Goldtouch Go, and eventually a redesign of these keyboards.

Offline Scoox

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #47 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 05:12:46 »
I am not talking about the Maltron. In fact, I prefer flat keyboards as they are easier to carry in a computer bag. I am talking about the symmetry aspect and angling of the left and right halves.

For hunt-and-peck anything will do, the flatter the better. If the majority of the market is hunt-and-peck, why don't they make a keyboard with the letters arranged in alphabetical order?? That's the first thing that crossed my mind when I got my first computer a long time ago.

The human body is symmetrical therefore a symmetrical keyboard is the only logical design. On a standard qwerty keyboard, position the left hand in its home position A-S-D-F. Now, try to type the letter R without the index and the middle finger hitting each other. My fingers are thin BTW.

The letters Y and B are always hard to reach on a standard keyboard.

Finally, because the keys are staggered diagonally, anyone who did geometry in school knows that a hypotenuse is longer than the sides, therefore all keys are further away than they need to be from the home row.

« Last Edit: Mon, 02 March 2015, 05:15:37 by Scoox »

Offline davkol

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #48 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 05:23:19 »
For hunt-and-peck anything will do, the flatter the better. If the majority of the market is hunt-and-peck, why don't they make a keyboard with the letters arranged in alphabetical order?? That's the first thing that crossed my mind when I got my first computer a long time ago.
Because software is already designed around QWERTY. (Moreover, most research has found alphabetic layout extremely inefficient, although it was more intuitive at first.)

There are some alphabetic matrix keyboards for special use cases though.

The human body is symmetrical therefore a symmetrical keyboard is the only logical design. On a standard qwerty keyboard, position the left hand in its home position A-S-D-F. Now, try to type the letter R without the index and the middle finger hitting each other. My fingers are thin BTW.

The letters Y and B are always hard to reach on a standard keyboard.

Finally, because the keys are staggered diagonally, anyone who did geometry in school knows that a hypotenuse is longer than the sides, therefore all keys are further away than they need to be from the home row.
That's a straw man. Home-row touch typing on a straight flat non-split keyboard isn't particularly ergonomic by itself, due to wrist position.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: A first look at the Maltron 90 series keyboard - thinq_
« Reply #49 on: Mon, 02 March 2015, 09:39:23 »
I've observed that a non-split straight matrix causes somewhat more wrist deviation than an asymmetrically-placed legacy staggered layout... Go figure. -_-
I think this is avoidable if people are careful about how they type, but yeah, I donít think a non-split straight matrix makes all that much sense for functional reasons. The main reasons to adopt a pure matrix layout are aesthetic. (Which is of course a matter of personal preference.)

Quote
I see only one potentially viable route here: a shift to tablets/convertibles, more keyboards like the Goldtouch Go, and eventually a redesign of these keyboards.
One potentially viable route for what?