Author Topic: Re-Create the DataHand - Thumb cluster under development. Project 75% done.  (Read 182605 times)

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Offline Viz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #100 on: Thu, 18 July 2013, 07:39:41 »
I'm more og a BSD man myself.
Anyhow, what i'm actually interested in is; How's the Project going? I see that you've got another man aboard.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #101 on: Thu, 18 July 2013, 21:57:00 »
How's the Project going?
Progress has slowed (as expected) for the summer, but I have
made some improvements to the model in the last week. I'm
very happy to have worked out a mechanism for holding the
steel clip for the center button which will make installation
the clip much easier and also improve the feel of the switch.

much work still to do.

Offline jzpmendoza

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #102 on: Wed, 31 July 2013, 23:39:00 »
I might actually cry if (when!) you guys achieve this.

qualityOfLife++ if I had a DH to type on. Pain sucks.

Offline Viz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #103 on: Sun, 11 August 2013, 19:35:30 »
could anyone provide me with the measurements of a DH? As-in height, width, depth etc?

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #104 on: Sun, 11 August 2013, 21:20:48 »
could anyone provide me with the measurements of a DH? As-in height, width, depth etc?

width of one hand case is ~6.75", plus a knob which sticks out 1/2" on each side, totalling ~7.75"
depth of one hand case is ~9" at the top, and roughly 8.25" at the bottom - the back being sloped - ignoring the connector and cable, which need at least 1.5" on the left hand.
The height at the front edge of the case is ~1". The height at the back edge of the case is ~2.5"
The high-points of the assembly are the ridge which protects the thumb switches, the inner/upper thumb switch, and the palm rest, all of which seem to protrude ~1" to 1.25" above the plane of the case.


Offline mkawa

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #105 on: Sun, 11 August 2013, 23:30:49 »
ODD, i am ready to print if you're ready with cad.

to all the brilliant friends who have left us, and all the students who climb on their shoulders.

Offline schell

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #106 on: Thu, 15 August 2013, 12:25:25 »
I can't wait to see how this turns out. I love my datahand and would buy another if it didn't cost ~$2k. I'd love to help in any way I can. I'm a software developer and have some novice experience in hardware.
« Last Edit: Thu, 15 August 2013, 12:28:28 by schell »

Offline Birchlabs

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #107 on: Wed, 21 August 2013, 19:16:54 »
Hi,

Great to see the work you're all doing here. :)
I'm a DataHand user also (found this thread since it's become high on Google).
If anyone's interested in procuring an original, Posturite is a company that were able to hunt two down for me in the past couple years.
Incidentally, I was told that the one they found last time was one of five left in the world (that was in August 2012 or similar). So they really are an endangered species at this point!

Have you considered expanding this into a Kickstarter campaign to fill the world with DataHands?

Also, how hard would it be for a hobbyist to make one of these with the source? I know someone with a RepRap 3D printer; is this accurate enough, or do you need something more serious?

In case it helps, there is another Datahand thread I recall from this forum. It provides a lot of detail on the electronics, so if you didn't have this information already, maybe it'll save you some time:
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=12212.0

Keep at it!

-Alex

Offline claussen

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #108 on: Wed, 28 August 2013, 10:29:39 »
Hi awesome datahand-loving people!
I posted on reddit last night about creating a grippable version of a DH keyboard and some kind folks pointed me here.
I've thought about this project for a while, as a DH user of about 10 years who is quite dependent and also bummed by the current ebay prices and the foibles of the system as-built.

I had NO idea that geekhack.org existed -- incredibly excited to see this explosion of making in the last five years!

I'm a consumer electronics guy by trade, located in San Francisco, have done high-volume input device development (the Zunepad was my baby, along with Flip and many others),  and have a variety of interesting industry resources available to me for doing development of mechanical and electrical things along these lines.

I thought I'd contribute a few of my experiences with DH here as input for what could be later mods -- I'd love to try out some of these:

The main gripes I'd like to fix (some of which you're already addressing):

* Cable messes.  The units are frustratingly stiff relative to one another.
* Mousing.  That trackpoint hack pointed out above is excellent!
* Wireless.  Duh.
* Portability.  I travel for work, and the hugeness of the system is really impractical for that.  I just suffer through.
* Bulk. 
* Grippability.  A variant which is monolithic and more game-controller-shaped could be really nice -- less bulky, usable on, say, an airplane, etc.
* Pronation.  They went partway by tilting the units, but natural posture is not pronated at all.

Anyway, I may be able to provide some perspective or useful contacts on volume manufacturing approaches -- injection molding, miniaturization on the electronic end, etc.

Very interested to see where this goes and try to explore a "grippable" bluetooth variant.

Chuffed.

Offline yasuo

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #109 on: Wed, 28 August 2013, 10:32:36 »
what good/suitable microswitch to make datahand custom?
Logitech MK220 Colemak DH
SplitSyml by Moz BlacksMx fuk blacks

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Offline claussen

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #110 on: Wed, 28 August 2013, 10:34:44 »
The case is another weak point of the entire system.

All that bulk just hides the adjustment mechanisms, which made sense for a mass-produced device, but none at all for a single user.  The tilt legs break and the rubber pads fall off over time.

Getting rid of most of that stuff and replacing the adjustment with 3D-printed shims/wedges would be a much, much cleaner solution in the end.

Offline Turbinia

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #111 on: Sat, 31 August 2013, 12:45:30 »
Very interested in this effort. I looked at recreating the datahand in a more crude way with microswitches in the past.

For ideas on how to integrate adjustment into the design I would look at the R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse. It is both compact and simple in design and goes along with what you described.

For the thumb cluster the key you press going up always seemed quite small and I have seen that it breaks quite often, so something different there would be good.

If help is needed designing a case, I would be willing. I work with Blender 3D pretty much exclusively, can do Solid Works and ProE as well. Something I have had printed by Shapeways https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4966230/DeathStriker3DPrinted002.png.

Some things that may help with the design...

Statistics of natural hand movements:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2636901/

Easier to read hand size statistics than most:
http://usability.gtri.gatech.edu/eou_info/hand_anthro.php
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Offline Thimplum

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #112 on: Sat, 31 August 2013, 16:56:26 »
what good/suitable microswitch to make datahand custom?


Something with low travel, like a something from the Cherry dg23 series...
TP4 FOR ADMIN 2013

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #113 on: Sat, 31 August 2013, 20:19:33 »
For ideas on how to integrate adjustment into the design I would look at the R.A.T. 7 gaming mouse. It is both compact and simple in design and goes along with what you described.

For the thumb cluster the key you press going up always seemed quite small and I have seen that it breaks quite often, so something different there would be good.

If help is needed designing a case, I would be willing. I work with Blender 3D pretty much exclusively, can do Solid Works and ProE as well.

--- Ed: additional awesome links and such removed - please refer to original post ---

I think it would be fantastic to create an adjustable case where you could perfectly suit the
size and shape of the palm support to your own hand with several screws. If the case design
was that flexible, then it doesn't seem as necessary for it to be parametric model, and Blender
would be perfect.

On the other hand, a very simple case would suit me just fine.

I recall receiving an updated thumb in&up key along with a mention of it being a more robust design.
I do not travel with my datahands and have not had any breakage so far... Other than being possibly
delicate, they seem very serviceable to me.  Do you find that the size needs to change or just that
they should be build a bit more robust?

That hand size statistics page is interesting. Apparently I have a rather wide hand, though I'm not 100%
sure how exactly they measure...

Another member seems likely to be starting some work on a case design.  If your offer is serious,
then we should do some PMs amongst the three of us and make sure that efforts aren't being duplicated.

On a related note, I expect to be getting back to this project in another couple weeks.

Offline gbjk

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #114 on: Mon, 30 September 2013, 05:24:32 »
OldDataHands,

Just another thumbs up for this.

I've been a datahand user for about 4 years now, and I'm incredibly reliant upon it.

I've had a few bad hiccups when I've worried that it's become unstable,
and the last of those was 9 months ago, and was resolved by gluing back down the mounting for the thumb module, which prevented the space key going haywire every now and then.

I'm very glad to see someone is on the job of reproducing the datahand,
especially since datahand.com just recently disappeared, pretty much putting the final nail in the coffin of any hopes of a commercial resurgence.

Very impressed with your progress so far, and will watch eagerly to see how you get on.

gbjk

Offline Turbinia

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #115 on: Mon, 30 September 2013, 20:24:45 »
I have been working on the case design with OldDataHands and thought I would share where I am at now. The palm can be moved back to front 3cm, has ~2cm in hight adjustment. The whole thing can be tilted about 10 degrees and pronated 15. The thumb can be angled between 20 and more than is comfortable as well as being moved 3cm front to back and adjusting length by 1cm. The adjustment is there to fit 90% of hand sizes. The palm rest sizing I am going to base on my logitech. the track point is about 2cm up and 3cm north of the center of the index finger keyswitch. It can be put north of the middle finger as well. I am also going to do some work with the trackpoint code once my hardware gets in. Thumb keys are just representative. Things will probably change a bit as I get more specific with hardware and OldDataHands makes changes to the PCB layout and switches.

The whole idea is to be compact and minimalist while still being true to the ergonomics of the datahand and retaining a robustness.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4966230/CaseConcept035.png
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4966230/CaseConcept036.png
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Offline mkawa

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #116 on: Tue, 01 October 2013, 00:08:31 »
it will be easier to get production and prototyping going if you keep manufacturability in mind as you design your solids. injection molding tooling is out of hte question, and high end FDM and sintering is on the order or dollars per cm3. so, my suggestion is to design for the bounding box of common desktop extrusion printers like my rep2x. so, things to watch out for are the big one piece panel that surrounds the finger buttons. that piece will need to be broken up eventually into a couple of smaller interlocking or easily gluable pieces. simularly, the palmrest may very well push the bounds of my box, and it looks like you've planned for a flat plate under the whole thing. flat plates aren't bad because they can be lasered acrylic, but if so, they need either mounting points to interlock with the rest of the assembly or they need to have fastener holes; in this case probably countersunk from the bottom with threading printed into the upper chassis.

while it's kind of a second order concern, the earlier you think about DFM, generally the easier it will be to get to prototyping and production. it may not seem like it because my printer has been down so often recently, but printing is actually really cheap, and quality is high when things are dialed in mechanically. it would be awesome if we could generally offer this case design and driving electromechanical bits in some quantity. super excited, but all it takes is a few oversights to make production really difficult.

if yoiu look at the ergodox for example, dox designed a beautiful case, but targeted shapeways production, which is way more than the market really wanted to pay. hence, the first adopters ended up with a separately DFM case that layers cut acrylic. not as optimal as dox's original vision, but better than nothing. i was finally able to take a good long look at printing dox's case, and some small DFM changes would make it extremely easy and sturdy to print via FFM. unfortunately, i don't have access to the original solid files so i can't really make them.. and so on.

note: the alps strain-gauge-based trackpoint mechanism is pretty much unattainable*. you might want to plan for a different pointing mechanism.

*it's not strictly unobtainable, but MOQs and cost per unit make it basically impossible to obtain in any reasonable quantity for any reasonable price, unfortunately. i've looked at this a _lot_, and unfortunately it's a rathole not really worth exploring further :(
« Last Edit: Tue, 01 October 2013, 00:11:15 by mkawa »

to all the brilliant friends who have left us, and all the students who climb on their shoulders.

Offline Turbinia

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #117 on: Tue, 01 October 2013, 10:10:03 »
The entire assembled datahand would fit on the print bed of the Replicator2x. It measures about 21cm by 12.5cm. It has been designed with machinability fully in mind. Currently it is structured such that it could be made through injection moulding, 3d printing or subtractive processes (milling). I do know a thing or two about machining, 3d modeling/CAD and have had a few things 3d printed through Shapeways SLS. There is no reasonable expectation for this to be comparable in cost to a flat acrylic case, this is markedly more complex. People are spending $150+ for alloy cases, so my current estimates of ~$200 for prototyping cases by SLS are not unreasonable. You seem to assume I have missed some very basic things like putting holes in a plate, I assure you I know how to do that...

I will be using the EasyPoint breakout board from SparkFun to develop the trackpoint. It is pretty much the only reliable source for a high quality pointing device in any volume.
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Offline daveola

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #118 on: Wed, 02 October 2013, 04:14:40 »
100% thumbs up!

I would love to see a replacement for Datahands, I know mine aren't going to live forever.

I would especially like to see a more portable set with a more reasonable case.

Thanks for all your work on this.

And to the comment about "only five left in the world" - perhaps that was the last five available for sale, but certainly not the only five in the world, unless I own 40% of all the Datahand keyboards.  :)

Incidentally, for datahand enthusiasts, note the keyboard that Jodie Foster uses to control the spaceship at the end of the movie Contact.

Offline gbjk

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #119 on: Wed, 02 October 2013, 04:31:42 »
Forgot to mention that the idea of an integrated trackpoint has always appealed to me.

However I'm sure that you can't reach it "above" the keys, because you'd have to lift your hand off the palm rest.

For me, though, if the trackpoint(s) were at the front of the palm rest, facing forwards, then I'd be able to use them very easily. That area of the palm rest definitely isn't used.
I don't know if that applies to everyone. In fact, separate mouse mouse buttons to the left and right of a trackpoint would allow us to avoid chording to use the mouse.
I'd definitely want a right hand trackpoint, rather than left hand, personally.
I've snapped a picture to illustrate both positions for me.
37488-0
37490-1

Don't want to hijack this into a "datahand" thread, but on the subject of cases,
I've always used a foam lined flight case, for example:

http://cpc.farnell.com/1/1/22389-flight-case-universal-foam-lined-ac-accessory-case-american-audio.html

gbjk

Offline eviltobz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #120 on: Wed, 02 October 2013, 05:52:42 »
given the modularish nature of how the case is looking, it might be feasible for a removable mousey thing that could be located on either hand, with some sort of blanking plate stuff for the other side if there was desire to cater to lefties as well as us normal right-handed folk ;)

Offline Turbinia

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #121 on: Wed, 02 October 2013, 13:05:10 »
Either hand is for sure. Current design accounts for either index or middle finger mousing (middle finger mount not modeled yet).

To test that the reach of 2cm up from the center of the keyswitch to 3cm north would not move the palm I found a book that was 2cm tall, put my finger at the edge of the book with my palm on a mouse and extended 2.5cm out on the top of the book (2.5 instead of 3 for radius of finger). I was able to do this reach comfortably without lifting my palm off the mouse. So if you can conduct a similar test you may see that that is actually a natural position, the original data hand has a much larger gap between the north keyswitch and the case than this design, so that could be part of your concern.

gbjk, OldDataHands mentioned that as one of the alternate placements for the trackpoint. It could likely only be done for the middle finger and not the index finger. The PCB size for the easypoint joystick is .81"x.72" so that limits the positioning. That position on the palm at least for me feels more stressful than extended with having to curl up the hand.

Another alternate positioning could be angled at 45 degrees, but in the same place that I showed. This would mean that the mousing is done more with the tip than the pad of the finger and doesn't move things much closer to the keyswitch.

Have exactly what your talking about, eviltobz, in mind, https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4966230/CaseConcept032.png Also the idea being that you could have a fine and coarse mouse were you to choose to have two trackpoints. Also fyi the easypoint joystick does have a button as well, so on mouse button can be mapped there. In most cases only one hand will be doing the mousing the layout on the other hand can remain as the standard (or whatever you choose) so you can use the hotkeys you may need. That is something I will definitely use as I do allot of 3D/CAD work. With 50 switches on each hand already it is kind of odd to just add more to that when they are not in use for mousing.

It is awesome to see a bunch of first time GH posters finding their way here. Hopefully this effort will help the Datahand to live on and help the people with RSI who really need this and cant afford the original or are unable to even find one now.
« Last Edit: Wed, 02 October 2013, 13:12:23 by Turbinia »
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Offline eviltobz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #122 on: Thu, 03 October 2013, 05:30:33 »
...Also the idea being that you could have a fine and coarse mouse were you to choose to have two trackpoints...
I feel the need to quote the film "dude, where's my car" and respond to that kick-arse plan with "Dude! Sweet!" :) i never liked trackpoints much due to them never having the right level of responsiveness, that plan just reeks of awesomeness.

I first heard about the datahand a couple of years back where it was my introduction to the world of properly ergonomic keyboards (as in, not just the microsoft jobbies or whatnot) but the occasional ebay sighting is waaaay too much for me to afford, and it's the sort of thing where you're gonna at least want one at home and one at work. So that led to me finding the kinesis & ergodox, both of which i have and love and are far better than a normal board, but I still have yearnings for the data hand. Seeing the progress in here keeps me excited & hopeful so I wanna say thanks & nice work to all involved :)

Offline mkawa

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #123 on: Thu, 03 October 2013, 11:25:29 »
The entire assembled datahand would fit on the print bed of the Replicator2x. It measures about 21cm by 12.5cm. It has been designed with machinability fully in mind. Currently it is structured such that it could be made through injection moulding, 3d printing or subtractive processes (milling). I do know a thing or two about machining, 3d modeling/CAD and have had a few things 3d printed through Shapeways SLS. There is no reasonable expectation for this to be comparable in cost to a flat acrylic case, this is markedly more complex. People are spending $150+ for alloy cases, so my current estimates of ~$200 for prototyping cases by SLS are not unreasonable. You seem to assume I have missed some very basic things like putting holes in a plate, I assure you I know how to do that...

I will be using the EasyPoint breakout board from SparkFun to develop the trackpoint. It is pretty much the only reliable source for a high quality pointing device in any volume.

The entire assembled datahand would fit on the print bed of the Replicator2x. It measures about 21cm by 12.5cm. It has been designed with machinability fully in mind. Currently it is structured such that it could be made through injection moulding, 3d printing or subtractive processes (milling). I do know a thing or two about machining, 3d modeling/CAD and have had a few things 3d printed through Shapeways SLS. There is no reasonable expectation for this to be comparable in cost to a flat acrylic case, this is markedly more complex. People are spending $150+ for alloy cases, so my current estimates of ~$200 for prototyping cases by SLS are not unreasonable. You seem to assume I have missed some very basic things like putting holes in a plate, I assure you I know how to do that...

I will be using the EasyPoint breakout board from SparkFun to develop the trackpoint. It is pretty much the only reliable source for a high quality pointing device in any volume.

printing out to the corners of any of the replicators significantly reduces your available precision due to the thermal expansion of the aluminum HBP plus the significant manufacturing tolerances (plus heat cycling... don't get me started). it also seriously decreases the yield of the printer. just offhand, i'm guessing that a fairly course print of this object would be about a 6-8 hour job, and a single dumb move by the slicer will destroy the entire print, even if it happens 4-6 hours in. you're likely to get much better results with my bot at least with well planned segmentation of parts. once i'm back up again i would love to start test printing so we can hammer this out. excited!!

injection molding will be 40k in tooling. not going to happen. milling is largely going to be in tooling complexity and potentially the need for a high precision 3-axis to get that palm rest down. if you can get it down to 200 via shapeways and prefer the SLS materials, go for it. i can print for slightly an order of magnitude less than shapeways though, but of course with large caveats that DFM is really the solution to. i'm guessing you're never actually operated or designed for a makerbot before. no worries, almost no one has ;). that's the fun of it!

that sparkfun board is odd. it says hall effect, but there's a linear encoder? interesting... will order one through adafruit with some other junk i need if i can. want to play with one! if it feels enough like a strain gauge that we don't need the columnar strain gauge units, BAM!

to all the brilliant friends who have left us, and all the students who climb on their shoulders.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #124 on: Sun, 06 October 2013, 17:30:38 »
37967-0
This is a cutaway view of one of the finger assemblies.
This version is prototype #3, which I just ordered!  Look
for an update in three weeks or so when they've arrived
and I have had a chance to assemble it.

Hopefully this rev improves the feeling of the switches,
making the N/E/S/W switches less mushy, and reducing
the actuation force of the center switch. It should also
address most of the minor assembly irritations I found
on the first batch.

Offline mkawa

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #125 on: Sun, 06 October 2013, 17:54:59 »
for scale, what's the diameter of that big button top? that is very complex, and i wonder.. it may be that the makerbot can only make the outer shell to reasonable precision anyway.

to all the brilliant friends who have left us, and all the students who climb on their shoulders.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #126 on: Sun, 06 October 2013, 18:03:53 »
for scale, what's the diameter of that big button top? that is very complex, and i wonder.. it may be that the makerbot can only make the outer shell to reasonable precision anyway.

That center button has a diameter of 0.6 inches, or 15.24mm,
For the center button, for the carrier, and for each of the side keys
I am depending upon the flexibility of nylon to allow the magnets,
the opto components, and the central metal clip to snap-in and
be retained.  The model for this would have to change in meaningful
ways in order to be made of an inflexible material.  The good news
is that shapeways only wants ~$44 for printing the parts for the
finger switches!
 

Offline mkawa

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #127 on: Sun, 06 October 2013, 21:57:34 »
yes, there are some flexible materials that can be extruded. taulman nylon is the primary once, but MBI just released one that is also quite nice. however, the combination of special filament costs and the need for serious toierances on these parts probably means that most of the really small assembly parts should be SLA'd, and then things like the outside cylinder and the button extruded.

i'm starting to get really excited. if we can make this work it's going to open a lot of doors :D. the cm3 on the springs is really really tiny, and perfect for having lots made by shapeways, then combined with the lower tolerance boring solids that extrusion is really good at.

with the extruder, we should be able to reduce the cost per full assembly to somewhere around 50 per full UNIT

to all the brilliant friends who have left us, and all the students who climb on their shoulders.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #128 on: Sun, 06 October 2013, 22:16:45 »
Cool!  Just to be clear, it's ~$44 for the finger switches for one hand from shapeways.

Offline arisian

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #129 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 20:36:56 »
Wow, this project looks amazing!  I count myself among the long-time datahand users who have been getting increasingly worried over the past few years about what I'll do whenever my datahand gives out (may it last forever), so if you guys can figure out a way to build these things for a non-astronomical price, you can count me as interested in the possibility of a group-buy.

I don't in any way want to hijack or derail the thread here, but I figured I'd give my two cents as a datahand user about the changes to the original design I've always wanted to make (and might have attempted, if I'd had the money to buy a couple of spare units to mess around with).  I've always thought the mappings were less than ideal, which is partly because I've got a Personal and not a Pro, but the tri-modal system they've got in place doesn't thrill me, and the fact that there are several keys that just send shifted versions of other keys makes software-remapping a nuisance (I learned to touch-type Dvorak, so I software-map my datahands to a Dvorak-like layout, which results in several keys being useless, like the one that gives a double-quote in the QWERTY mapping, and now produces a '{' in text mode).  Having the ability to hack the firmware of a PIC to customize layouts would be great, especially given the ability to define our own modes and chorded keystrokes.  I also always felt like the thumbs were under-used; the spacebar is maybe worthy of being the only key for the right thumb given how often it is used, but the return key doesn't deserve exclusive use of the left thumb's most ergonomic movement.  Particularly given that the thumbs are the strongest fingers, adding a couple of smaller buttons under one or both thumbs might be a good idea (much like a number of the other ergonomic keyboard alternatives have done).

But the single biggest flaw has always been the mouse functionality; the built in system is simply useless.  Not only is it totally inadequate in terms of speed and precision, but it also requires a mode shift, which makes it nearly impossible to do anything that requires a mouse and a keyboard at the same time.  I use a trackball, but doing so means that either the right datahand unit (I'm right handed) or the trackball can be in a good ergonomic position; not both.  I vary which one is in the good position depending on whether I'm doing primarily typing or primarily mousing, but it's hardly ideal.  It also means that when I'm using the mouse, I only have access to half the keyboard.  This is a problem for a lot of applications, including games, but also including graphical design applications; trying to learn to use Blender was nearly impossible.  I actually had to get a flat QWERTY keyboard to lay on my desk and hen-peck with my left hand to use the basic interface; I gave up after about a week, which is too bad, as I'd love to learn modelling.  I would imagine that other modelling and CAD programs would run into the same problem.

Everyone here seems to be working on the assumption that a trackpoint is the only option for improving the mouse functionality, but as a fan of trackballs, I've long thought that what I'd really like would be to simply have a small trackball (like the thumb-ball of the Logitech M570, for example) in the right thumb-well of the datahand unit.  In the original datahand design, you would probably need to remove both the number-mode switch and the spacebar switch, but I think that given the ability to change the design a bit the spacebar should be salvageable (just by moving and/or reshaping it a bit).  Combined with the ability to re-map things to our hearts content in firmware, I think this would result in better mouse-performance for the unit as a whole.  Not only do trackballs have an advantage on speed and precision, but it should be pretty easy to have a key that, when pressed, caused the trackball to function as a scroll wheel (again, this is just some programming on the PIC to send the right scroll-wheel signals, since I'm pretty sure that scroll up/down are functionally just button 4 and 5 on most mice; it would just be a matter of deciding how many scroll-lines you map to a full rotation of the ball).  If we re-jiger the keymaping a bit, we could probably even integrate three mouse buttons plus a "scroll" button into text-mode, so you would be able to actually use the mouse and be able to type all the basic letters at the same time.

Maybe other people really like trackpoints a lot, or aren't fans of trackballs, so I don't know how popular this idea is, but it's the one thing I've always, always longed to do to my own datahand (and probably would have attempted years ago if I could afford to buy a spare unit to experiment on).  To me, the trackpoint would be essentially an improved version of the existing system; it would have the same basic flaws, just to a lesser extent.  Introducing a trackball would require a larger re-design of the thumb unit, but would give a much better mouse-keyboard combo experience.  There might still be applications where extreme precision is needed that a standalone finger trackball (e.g. L-track or Trackman Optical) would be better suited for, but I think an integrated thumb-trackball would perform much better in general use than a trackpoint for a number of usecases.  For better speed, better precision, and scrolling, one thumb key would be a small price to pay.  How hard this would be to do on the technical side, I don't really know; I'm really a software guy.  I can do basic soldering, but beyond that I don't really have much hardware experience, and I've never done any CAD/CAM stuff.  If you get to the programming phase and need help writing code for the PIC I'd be happy to offer my assistance, but I don't know if you'll actually need it.

Anyway, I will continue to watch your progress with quiet enthusiasm; keep up the good work, and keep us all posted on how it's going!

Offline konz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #130 on: Fri, 11 October 2013, 07:49:11 »
(Attachment Link)
This is a cutaway view of one of the finger assemblies.

Can this unit be disassembled, e.g. for cleaning?  (Don't want to add to
your work load, but I've haven't dared to remove the keys from
my Datahand, and spilling tea into it required a longish session
with a small paintbrush and some water.)

Offline konz

  • Posts: 28
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #131 on: Fri, 11 October 2013, 07:57:32 »
But the single biggest flaw has always been the mouse functionality; the built in system is simply useless. 
[...]
Everyone here seems to be working on the assumption that a trackpoint is the only option for improving the mouse [...]
Maybe other people really like trackpoints a lot, or aren't fans of trackballs, so I don't know how popular this idea is, but it's the one thing I've always, always longed to do to my own datahand (and probably would have attempted years ago if I could afford to buy a spare unit to experiment on).

I can use the mouse functionality for 80% of my mousing tasks.
On the other hand, I tend to prefer keyboard shortcuts.

I would prefer the trackpoint since it requires much less space (but don't really
require it), and would rather have the thumb keys remain as they are.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #132 on: Fri, 11 October 2013, 19:12:04 »
I use the Data hand mouse depending on the task. Perhaps 20% of the time I use the DH mouse,  and I find it crude but useful. My intention is to design a very similar set of thumb switches to the original as I am quite content with the switch layout. In particular I want to maintain the limited thumb travel required in the original. For this reason I am not considering a dramatically different thumb switch configuration.

If someone comes up with an alternative thumb assembly which is physically compatible with the case constraints then I would be willing to support it with a combo or alternate thumb PCB layout.

In other news,  shapeways rejected my model due to something I haven't yet tried to identify. It means a two or three week delay which is a drag.

Regarding cleaning: my clone carries forward the same foibles as the original.  It'll be possible to remove the north and south keys,  but the interior east and west keys will prevent each other from being removed. once soldered in. The good news is that for $15 you should be able to print a new finger assembly and replace it if it ever dies. That will require soldering though.

I'll post another update once I fix the model. Might be two weeks as I'm headed out of town.

Offline RightOpp

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #133 on: Mon, 14 October 2013, 05:14:42 »
Hi, As a datahand user. I'd love to help support development of a new prototype. Many things could be improved including weight and a slimmer profile. I'd be happy to help fund the project. Please let me know. Datahand is dead and buried. I've stopped hoping!

Offline konz

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #134 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 05:47:03 »
Regarding cleaning: my clone carries forward the same foibles as the original.  It'll be possible to remove the north and south keys,  but the interior east and west keys will prevent each other from being removed. once soldered in. The good news is that for $15 you should be able to print a new finger assembly and replace it if it ever dies. That will require soldering though.

The biggest nuisance for me is the sensitivity to ambient light.  I just had to adjust the shutters because the (autumn) sun shone on a thin cloud layer, despite sitting about 4 m from the windows.

Is there any way of improving this issue?  E.g. using a shroud around the photo diodes or a different wavelength of light?

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #135 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 09:08:38 »
Is there any way of improving this issue?  E.g. using a shroud around the photo diodes or a different wavelength of light?

3D printing allows some things which are
not achievable with injection molding.
Where on the original the eye of the
phototransistor slides down a slot,
exposing its top side to the room, my
design has a small round window which
the eye snaps into and which serves to
shield the eye from the room. The whole
transistor also snaps into a shroud at the same time to limit ingress of light through the top of the transistor case. I expect this
to be a marked improvement, but have no
data to back that up.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #136 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 11:01:46 »
Many things could be improved including weight and a slimmer profile.
So do you think it weighs too much, or too little?
Turbinia's case design does reduce the overall size,

Offline Turbinia

  • Posts: 64
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #137 on: Wed, 16 October 2013, 15:20:54 »
One thing that works as a decent filter is exposed 35mm film. However no point in getting fancy if OldDataHands design works without it.

Weight is easy to add. Not sure how much the original or this version will be though so can't really give you a figure.

As an update on the EasyPoint, I got all the stuff and it is working, sort of. I just loaded it up with a Teensyduino version of code and it initializes as well as detects the button. It does not however seem to be able to get the interrupt or x/y read right so I will be rewriting in C maybe this weekend. Hopefully that will sort it.
| Dolch | KBT ONE | QFR w/PBT | Poker II |

Offline konz

  • Posts: 28
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #138 on: Thu, 24 October 2013, 02:01:23 »
Is there any way of improving this issue?  E.g. using a shroud around the photo diodes or a different wavelength of light?

3D printing allows some things which are
not achievable with injection molding.
Where on the original the eye of the
phototransistor slides down a slot,
exposing its top side to the room, my
design has a small round window which
the eye snaps into and which serves to
shield the eye from the room. The whole
transistor also snaps into a shroud at the same time to limit ingress of light through the top of the transistor case. I expect this
to be a marked improvement, but have no
data to back that up.

Very impressive -- thanks!

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #139 on: Sun, 03 November 2013, 23:44:58 »
Just a minor update: I've received 3rd prototype finger switches, but
have not yet assembled them. Shapeways didn't quite get the job
printed correctly so I'm waiting for a few pieces to be re-printed.

In the meantime I'm working on an updated schematic and PCB layout.
This time the target is to have the same PCB support both the left and
the right hand fingers. Also included in the new circuit:
- The same TRRS connector for connecting the halves as the ErgoDox.
- Support the EasyPoint (or a PSP joystick) as a trackpoint alternative.
- Mounting holes for M3 mounting screws.
- cutaway to support mounting of the thumb PCB in an appropriate spot.

For the curious: Here's the schematic - done in kicad this time:
42475-0

It is a bummer that the EasyPoint seems to have been discontinued, but
I haven't found a better looking alternative, and will try to make it work.
Turbinia is ahead of me on that front - already trying to get data out of one.
« Last Edit: Sun, 03 November 2013, 23:47:26 by OldDataHands »

Offline schell

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #140 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 11:57:53 »
Thanks for the update! I love to see the progress on this project.

Offline eviltobz

  • Posts: 95
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #141 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 12:07:48 »
psp joystick? are they easy/cheap to come by from spares dealers then? personally i think that one of them would soundly kick the arse of any of the laptop nub thingies that i've used (not that i've used one for years now mind) so it sounds good to me :)

Offline tufty

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #142 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 12:21:18 »
psp joystick? are they easy/cheap to come by from spares dealers then? personally i think that one of them would soundly kick the arse of any of the laptop nub thingies that i've used (not that i've used one for years now mind) so it sounds good to me :)
2-3 bucks on ebay, usually with free shipping and a **** quality screwdriver.  For example, here.

Offline suka

  • Posts: 52
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #143 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 13:23:08 »
psp joystick? are they easy/cheap to come by from spares dealers then? personally i think that one of them would soundly kick the arse of any of the laptop nub thingies that i've used
Readily available, cheap and easy to use - but utterly useless as a trackpoint replacement in my opinion : hysteresis, high forces and lack of accuracy made it a pain to use for exact and fast pointer movement. Could be that some more optimization to the algorithms and filters could have improved it, but real trackpoints are so much simpler to use.

I ended up using it as a minimal footprint 8 way layer and modifier switch in the beginning, but found the thumb position where I had placed it awkward after a while maybe something to reconsider in a better spot.

Offline eviltobz

  • Posts: 95
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #144 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 13:36:59 »
hmmm, well obviously you've prior experience with one, so i'll bow to your judgement. but like you say, mayhap different code would handle it better. i'd only see such a thing as being for occasional, simple use though, clicking ok buttons in a pop-up and the like without taking hands off the keyboard, i can't get away from the mouse for anything more than trivial pointer usage, nothing else feels quite right to me.

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #145 on: Thu, 07 November 2013, 21:01:54 »
43126-0
43128-1

Preliminary board shape and part positions.
I've the Teensy2.0 on the left hand, with the I/O
expander on the right. An Easypoint should
be usable on either side, though some of the
optional I/O will only be connected on the
Teensy side. Also, analog joystick support
is of course only on the Teensy side (which
could be either, really...)

Perhaps in a few weeks I'll have the routing
completed.  At this size OSHPark wants ~$77
for the 3 PCBs. I don't plan to squeeze it any
further.

Offline wejn

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #146 on: Sat, 09 November 2013, 10:34:54 »
Oh man, that's great news.

And I gotta say I'm holding my breath here since June when I discovered this thread. :-)

Anyway, count me in if there's anything I could do to help  (dunno what as I'm app/backend programmer but saying it anyway).

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #147 on: Thu, 14 November 2013, 23:51:16 »
Board layout is completed.  Now I need to get some prices from Seeed
since the overlapped Top+Bottom TRRS connector has overlapped drills
which OSHPark says is a no-go for their process.
44119-0

In other news, Shapeways finally put a re-print of my job into the queue.
This is way beyond what is required since the job consists of some 33 pieces,
of which I needed 3. In any case though, I'm glad that I didn't have to fight
with them about it, glad that the replacements are in the queue, and excited
to receive them. 

Now I need to bust out the bench shear and make some steel clips so that I
can fully assemble prototype #3!

Offline soliton

  • Posts: 3
Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #148 on: Sun, 24 November 2013, 13:15:48 »
hello,
i am extremely interested in this project, but mostly from the "i want to have one" point of view.
will you please inform me as soon as there is a kickstarter or other crowdfunding action going on?
thank you very much and good luck

Offline OldDataHands

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Re: Re-Create the datahand - first babystep
« Reply #149 on: Mon, 25 November 2013, 18:58:58 »
45826-0
PCBs arrived today!

True to their word, OSHPark refused to drill the overlapped drills
in the TRRS connector (J5) footprint but I don't think it'll cause a problem.

I've still a bit of software work to finish before I can really try out the
I/O expander I2C link, or the easypoint link, but having the hardware
will provide even more motivation.

Pics once I get it assembled (even partway).