Author Topic: Micro-ErgoDox  (Read 10975 times)

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Offline Calyx

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Micro-ErgoDox
« on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 17:39:01 »
I was experimenting with the ergodox layout configurator in an attempt to come up with a layout that uses a minimal number of keys.   A minimal keyboard would reduce the size and cost substantially compared to the ErgoDox (at the cost of requiring some symbol relearning). 

This one uses only 42 keys and two layers to represent all of the keys I use.  Putting the [~L1] next to shift allows you to type shifted symbols by pressing both at the same time.  The only missing common key is Home (which I use even less than print-screen.  YMMV.) 

Micro-ErgoDox  (Forgive the workman layout.  It works for qwerty too)

What do you think?


« Last Edit: Tue, 25 June 2013, 17:54:22 by Calyx »
Setup: Microdox (Workman-P) & Tilted Msft Trackball Explorer

Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 18:07:36 »
Intriguing. Personally I think my productivity would probably drop, as I need too many of the keys that are on the 2nd layer. However, for non work-related use I think that would be quite a useful board. Would be interesting to see a 3D mock-up of that.

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 18:26:22 »
That does look pretty awesome.
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Offline Glod

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 18:48:28 »
aside from holy **** that layout would be so foreign to me, i'd probably lose productivity with work on that layout as i use like every key on my keyboard (except scroll lock) when i am scripting and doing my work stuffs

but this just shows the huge advantage of the ergodox and custom keyboards in general, it is so flexible.

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 19:17:45 »
I think it would be even better if the two halves could snap together for ULTRA PORTABILITY!
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Offline SpAmRaY

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 20:22:21 »
what is this silliness...

Come on TP, get a mini and you could put it on a gold USB cable and wear it as bling.

Offline Jagriff

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 21:39:58 »
Add the three more keys next to each pinky and put the layer toggle on one of the 4 big thumb keys and you'll have something that could potentially be more efficient than an ErgoDox used normally. Moving your fingers up and down rows is in no way more efficient than toggling a layer once the muscle memory is there.

Offline jeffgran

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 25 June 2013, 22:27:36 »
Wow, that's a cool idea. I was thinking about putting the numbers in a numpad layout for the right hand, on the second layer, because I'm much faster at typing numbers with the numpad than typing across the top row.

After seeing your layout, it occurs to me that if I did that and ALWAYS type the numbers/!@#etc. that way, I have the whole top row free on the 0 layer to do somethinge else with...

Thanks for posting this!

Offline jdeblese

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 02:07:28 »
I like the idea - interesting.

Have you tried it? How easy is it to hold L1 toggle and Lshift, if you want to type an exclamation mark for instance?

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 03:59:47 »
what is this silliness...

Come on TP, get a mini and you could put it on a gold USB cable and wear it as bling.

If I'd ever wear an ergodox,, I'd wear the full size one...   Don't care how ridiculously heavy it is.

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Offline suka

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 06:35:02 »
Definitely doable, and I can recommend such a minimal setup especially with a custom layout.
It comes close to my recent designs (details on DT), where I have two halves with 20 keys each and some of them are not even mapped.

However, I would recommend some changes:

Use slightly adjusted layers 3&4 from neo-layout.org for greatly improved symbol/navigation/number layout, and put function keys on a separate layer.
I have never tried a setup where pressing two thumb buttons with one thumb was required, but personally I'm sceptical whether that works well. Then again, mine are all 1x keys aligned in a row, so hitting them together is maybe a lot harder than on the ErgoDox. I prefer to use the best thumb key positions for both a modifier (if pressed together with another key) or a simple keycode if pressed and released by itself - it becomes very natural after a while, trust me.

Offline Calyx

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 12:19:32 »
This was inspired by bearcat's recent post -> http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=40175.1530  (scroll down).  We are both in Seattle so maybe I'll have to track hir down. 

I dont know what's the best way to make this happen.  Using the ergodox circuit board is easy, and reduces cost but not size.  Would it even work with missing keys?    Making a new circuit board is probably very difficult unless you are an EE.  Right?

I think that hitting two keys with the thumb should be easy but I dont actually have an ergodox.  Its easy on the TECK.  But then my thumbs bend back pretty far. YMMV.

Setup: Microdox (Workman-P) & Tilted Msft Trackball Explorer

Offline agodinhost

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 26 June 2013, 13:33:05 »
I think I can help with the PCB (if you wish - sure);
Just write down your idea, the layout, and I'll see what I can do ...
I'm looking for some new project to work into anyway 8-)
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Offline jdeblese

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #14 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 05:12:44 »
Seems that ergodox.org provides the original kicad files, so modifying the board should be doable.

Using the orignal PCB without keys should also work, and would be a good way to experiment before designing a new board. Cherry switches are normally-open type switches, so you can leave them out and the keyboard will consider them never pressed.

Offline agodinhost

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #15 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 08:30:36 »
Seems that ergodox.org provides the original kicad files, so modifying the board should be doable.
Yup, I think the same.

Using the orignal PCB without keys should also work, and would be a good way to experiment before designing a new board. Cherry switches are normally-open type switches, so you can leave them out and the keyboard will consider them never pressed.
Good idea man.
Building one square I2C keyboard with those 1200 switches (thanks JDCarpe)
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Offline Calyx

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 15:12:04 »
I modified the layout, deciding to use the inner four keys and add another layer to improve consistency, navigation, and functionality.  Its still only 46 keys.  Eliminating 30 keys seems like a good thing to me, and there's still a lot of room for expansion.

Micro-ErgoDox

Layer 0 contains the keys that I use most often in programming. 

Layer 1 is a toggle layer intended to be a "function/symbol" layer (for the most part).  The numbers are in the same place as the numpad on layer 2 so that there is a single numeric paradigm.  I intend to shift reverse -_ and all of the numbers, then turn /? into ?| and finally turn \| into /\. 

Layer 2 is a push layer containing a modified numpad and wasd navigation.  Its not really necessary for me, since I don't game or do data entry.  Perhaps it will become a qwerty layer instead.  Its really only there to demonstrate that it can be.

@agodinhost - If you're really interested lets do it!  Perhaps if there's enough interest it can become another group buy.  I've been considering getting the current ErgoDox group buy but a micro version seems even more appealing to me.  Do you already have one?   I can work up the new CAD geometry for the case in Rhino3D. 


« Last Edit: Thu, 27 June 2013, 15:13:51 by Calyx »
Setup: Microdox (Workman-P) & Tilted Msft Trackball Explorer

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 15:26:51 »
Are you sure making it smaller will reduce the cost?

The reduced keys switches would not put much of a dent.

Offline agodinhost

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #18 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 16:15:17 »
Are you sure making it smaller will reduce the cost?

The reduced keys switches would not put much of a dent.
I think that the PCB and the case are the more expensive parts in any normal keyboard.
The PCB size always matters - so an smaller PCB will get an cheaper PCB. I think that the same idea goes for the case.

However I'm not sure IF the price will bring more people to get interested on it - the layout itself is more important than the price here ...

You can get one complete ErgoDox keyboard at massfrop per more or less 240 bucks (switches on board).
How much our mini ergodox would cost? Half of it?
Building one square I2C keyboard with those 1200 switches (thanks JDCarpe)
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Offline Calyx

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 16:40:21 »
Maybe its not so much the cost as the cuteness/portability factor.     :cool:

I can get cases laser cut in acrylic pretty cheaply.
Setup: Microdox (Workman-P) & Tilted Msft Trackball Explorer

Offline jeffgran

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 27 June 2013, 23:32:44 »
Now if you guys figured out how to make this mini ergodox actually portable... like fold up with a handle or something... that would be appealing. I bet a lot of ergodox converts would love to have one that fits in the medium size pocket of their backpack while traveling (without worrying about messing up the keys during travel.

Offline Glod

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 00:56:17 »
carrying around and knowing how to use a "micro-ergodox" or something like bearcat's keyboard with blank key caps would make me look like such a nerd to these offices i visit and man i would absolutely love to try it.

you know if we are going super small, might as well also make some sort of laptop mount, i know people sometimes put their HHKB's on top of their laptop, ive tried it, but i can imagine some clip on holder for my laptop for the proposed micro ergodox :O man i can dream but for some reason this actually seems possible! plus if you clip it on a laptop you do have access to the numeric and f keys if you absolutely need them right away.

Offline suka

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #22 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 02:47:46 »
if we are going super small, might as well also make some sort of laptop mount

Now if you guys figured out how to make this mini ergodox actually portable... like fold up with a handle or something... that would be appealing.

Add the possibility to hook the two halves together to form a conventional 60%, and you have the ultimate transformer board. I'm actually pondering the possibilties of using a carrying case also as the tenting mechanism for my next case design. Considering that I use a setup with about one halves width separation in between, it actually seems reasonable to do.

Offline Glod

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #23 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 03:49:32 »
A transforming/detaching mini matrix-style keyboard? folds into it's own carrying case? you have my attention.

i know there is many projects by you, bearcat, acidfire, and others but there is never enough of these creations. I really feel like i should look into doing something like this; too bad i know nothing other than soldering a kit.

this has become suddenly a "making stuff together!" topic  :p

Offline davkol

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #24 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 06:39:36 »
Remember the keyboard that consisted of two horizontally oriented tenkeys? Add thumb clusters and that's it.

Offline suka

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #25 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 06:50:38 »
Remember the keyboard that consisted of two horizontally oriented tenkeys? Add thumb clusters and that's it.

You mean this ?  ;D
26739-0
26737-1

Yeah, been there, done that but you hit the spot, that is all you need to try out all your favourite layouts and arrangements.

And I've come to the conclusion in a long and convoluted design process  that using the outer 5 columns for the normal keys and the lowest row as thumbkeys is already pretty close to the perfect layout for me, no separate thumb cluster needed at all

Offline davkol

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #26 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 07:20:51 »
This: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=36064

It was far from perfect, but quite easy to make.

Offline agodinhost

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #27 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 09:46:56 »
Ohh man, I do love this idea!!

The current ErgoDox PCB already uses I2C right? I think it uses I2C to send the keypresses to the second board (the one with the Teensy board).

It seems to me that this keypad also uses I2C, so it would not be hard to attach it to the ErgoDox ...
Sorry, I know that this idea is not 100% related with your Micro-ErgoDox but is pretty cool ...
Building one square I2C keyboard with those 1200 switches (thanks JDCarpe)
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Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #28 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 10:03:52 »
For us laymen, what does I2C mean?

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #29 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 10:42:43 »
It's a 2-wire (Rx/Tx) communication protocol. It's very useful with small micro controllers (ala teensy) because it's simple to use and doesn't hog more than 2 I/O pins.
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Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #30 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 10:44:54 »
I'll start making some PCB design files ASAP, which will probably be sometime this evening.
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Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #31 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 11:12:48 »
Ahhhh I was wondering how the all the left-side data was making it over to the teensy. I guess that's what the IO expander is for?

Offline agodinhost

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #32 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 11:54:26 »
Ahhhh I was wondering how the all the left-side data was making it over to the teensy. I guess that's what the IO expander is for?
Exactly! And it uses I2C.
Building one square I2C keyboard with those 1200 switches (thanks JDCarpe)
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Offline jeffgran

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #33 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 12:37:03 »
Remember the keyboard that consisted of two horizontally oriented tenkeys? Add thumb clusters and that's it.

You mean this ?  ;D

Is that a joystick on the right thumb? Usable as a mouse? How do you click?

Offline suka

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #34 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 12:55:11 »
Yes, in the beginning I experimented with a 2-axies resistive joystick (same as on Playstation controllers) as a mouse replacement, but it wasn't sensitive/accurate enough. I mapped modifiers to it then, which was a much better use for it. But since then I always use original IBM trackpoints in any of my designs, nothing beats those IMHO.

Offline Calyx

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #35 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 16:04:21 »
Fitting a trackpoint on an ergodox would be extremely cool! 
Setup: Microdox (Workman-P) & Tilted Msft Trackball Explorer

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #36 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 17:22:12 »
We should really move this discussion to the "Making stuff Together" board.
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Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #37 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 17:37:27 »
Agreed

Offline jeffgran

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #38 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 20:18:18 »
agreed.

I'm surprised the dual-shock thumb stick didn't work well. Last week I was fantasizing about ganking one from a PS3 controller and trying to figure out how to jerry rig it to a USB microcontroller of some kind to make it work as a mouse, so you could mount it near the thumb cluster of your ergodox. That would be beautiful, cause then you could even use the mouse without having to "reach" anywhere for it.

Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #39 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 20:25:43 »
@jeffgran that is a phenomenal idea.

I'm actually thinking about picking up one of those $15 logitech gamepads and figuring out how to wire it to a teensy to be able to do just that.

Offline Glod

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #40 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 21:01:27 »
like the orb weaver? not a bad thing, actually blows my mind

Offline Thimplum

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #41 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 21:43:39 »
I dunno what logitech gamepad you're talking about in particular, but most thumb joysticks are wired in the same way. You have 4, sometimes 5 pins. You have 5 if your thumbstick can be pushed on like a button as well as moved around.

One of the pins is VCC. This is really the "+" side of the thumbstick. Give it any voltage(usually 5 or 3.3 volts), as long as it's steady.
Another of the pins is GND. This is the "-" of the thumbstick. Most MCUs(microcontrollers) have a pin on them labeled GND or GROUND.
Another of the pins is for the horizontal axis. When at the center, it should read exactly half of what you fed to VCC. You will need an analog pin for this. It differs between thumbsticks, so you will need to measure the voltage at all the way left, and all the way right.
Another is for the vertical axis. Same as horizontal, but the other direction.

If you have a 5 pin, then the last one is for the button. It's on when it's pressed. You can use a digital pin for this.
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Offline daerid

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #42 on: Fri, 28 June 2013, 23:38:22 »
This is the one I'm referring too:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B003VAHYQY/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1372480522&sr=8-1&pi=SL75

I thought they were $15, must have bought my last one on sale.

Thanks for the info, now just need to get a decent multimeter.

Offline suka

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #43 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 05:19:53 »
Here is the Alps (5€) and a cheaper alternative (~2€) that performed equally, uhmm, bad  :)

Hooking them up to a teensy is really simple, but they really need some dedicated calibration logic or a rather large central dead-zone, as due to their resistive nature and springs the zero-position is not exact. Nothing that can not be solved, but a mouse replacement needing pixel-accurate precision is definitely different than a game controller usage - try to surf via PS3 browser, for example, I find it hardly bearable and always overshot the links.

What works well, though, is using 4 (or even 8 with diagonals) directions of the joystick as modifiers: I tried that too, it was ok, but the weak springs make the modifier stay on a lot longer than needed so it often actioned on the next keypress, too.

All in all my final verdict is: Nice and cheap addon, interesting use-cases possible but nothing compared to a true trackpoint.

Offline flc

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #44 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 05:29:53 »
I can't seem to find trackpoints for sale. Do they sell trackpoints as distinct components or is salvaging them from old devices the only way to get them?

Offline davkol

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #45 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 05:37:58 »
I can't seem to find trackpoints for sale. Do they sell trackpoints as distinct components or is salvaging them from old devices the only way to get them?

Patents.

Offline flc

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #46 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 06:26:43 »
 :(

Offline kurplop

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #47 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 06:43:33 »
I can't seem to find trackpoints for sale. Do they sell trackpoints as distinct components or is salvaging them from old devices the only way to get them?

Although a trackpoint is conveniently small and can be easily placed in a good location on a keyboard, I wonder if its best application is supplementing a conventional mouse or trackball and not replacing one.

It is fun to see how flc is getting  hopelessly sucked into the vortex of keyboard fanaticism. Quick man! Get out while you can. He started a few days ago  innocently inquiring about ergonomic concerns and wanting to spend a small sum on an ergonomic keyboard. And look at him now, scheming about modding exotic prototype boards.

I give him three more months and he will be with the rest of us; in a line at the soup kitchen, penniless, clutching on to an elegant hardwood case protecting the loveliest little keyboard you've ever seen.

Buy the Freestyle and get out while you still can. 

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #48 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 06:59:53 »
I can't seem to find trackpoints for sale. Do they sell trackpoints as distinct components or is salvaging them from old devices the only way to get them?

Although a trackpoint is conveniently small and can be easily placed in a good location on a keyboard, I wonder if its best application is supplementing a conventional mouse or trackball and not replacing one.

It is fun to see how flc is getting  hopelessly sucked into the vortex of keyboard fanaticism. Quick man! Get out while you can. He started a few days ago  innocently inquiring about ergonomic concerns and wanting to spend a small sum on an ergonomic keyboard. And look at him now, scheming about modding exotic prototype boards.

I give him three more months and he will be with the rest of us; in a line at the soup kitchen, penniless, clutching on to an elegant hardwood case protecting the loveliest little keyboard you've ever seen.

Buy the Freestyle and get out while you still can. 

I don't think it's nice to use the homeless as the butt end of these "fallen from grace" analogues..

Because most homeless people are suffering from dehibilitating diseases that resulted from untamed social carelessness...

Offline Larken

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Re: Micro-ErgoDox
« Reply #49 on: Sat, 29 June 2013, 07:10:28 »

It is fun to see how flc is getting  hopelessly sucked into the vortex of keyboard fanaticism. Quick man! Get out while you can. He started a few days ago  innocently inquiring about ergonomic concerns and wanting to spend a small sum on an ergonomic keyboard. And look at him now, scheming about modding exotic prototype boards.

I give him three more months and he will be with the rest of us; in a line at the soup kitchen, penniless, clutching on to an elegant hardwood case protecting the loveliest little keyboard you've ever seen.


*chants* one of us. one of us. one of us. *ends chant*

definitely not one of the best places to be for the wallet.


This project is definitely interesting, but thinking about how the layouts/layers will be plotted out drives me a little giddy, given that I already find the ergodox to be lacking a few keys. but its an amazing project nonetheless - reminds me a little of a 40% board someone proposed a while ago, except splitable.
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