Author Topic: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?  (Read 10856 times)

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Offline Oobly

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Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« on: Fri, 06 September 2013, 05:59:40 »
Hi guys,

I have been designing an ergo keyboard for myself and plan to angle the thumb key cluster a bit back and downwards (see picture). If you hold your hand in a comfortable, natural resting position in front of you (tented and angled in), the thumbs move in towards the fingers when flexed, not up and down. So I figured that's how they should press the keys. It seems to be a stronger movement, too.

I may have some troubles with the plate design and key positioning, but I'll experiment with it and see.

Any thoughts on this? Ergodox has flat thumb clusters. I see the ErgoGP has a dropped cluster, but it is still flat. The Kinesis and Malt clusters also look flat-ish. Is there a reason (other than simply cost-cutting / simplified design) for this?

Thanks for your input,

Oobly
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Offline kurplop

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 06 September 2013, 07:03:50 »
I agree that a sloped plane for the thumb cluster is better. 

I've had the opportunity to try out a Kinesis Advantage recently and can comment on the thumb cluster placement.
1.  With all of the angles, varying radii and the dish design, you really have to put your hands on one to understand the design fully.
2.  Depending on where you measure, the thumb cluster is between 15(chord from bottom row to top row) to 35(chord from middle row to bottom row) out of plane with respect to the main keys.
3.  The thumb keys look high in the pictures but if you tented your prototype they would too.The thumb isn't raised unnaturally high but is comfortably positioned.
4. The kinesis thumb caps are shaped and elevated to allow easier access for the thumb than if they just used similar keys. ErgoDox owners would benefit by using taller caps for the back thumb row.

Tests with my mock up board have led me to an 18 thumb cluster slope. It seems the best compromise between angle and spacing. Remember, the greater the slope the greater the spacing needed to separate the switches at the transition. That shouldn't be a problem if you stay with 4 thumb keys as your minimalist design suggests.

The best design is the one that stands up to empirical testing. It's fun to play around at this stage of development; much less fun to find a fatal flaw after it's built. Good work.

 

Offline Architect

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 06 September 2013, 17:56:41 »
One problem with the Kinesis design is the dreaded "resting palm" issue. This is well known at the ergo dept. at my workplace. The curved bowls and thumb keys are very comfortable, but because it fits your hand so well, it makes you rest your palm on the palm rests. Kinesis makes this works by conveniently supplying replaceable palm rests. This causes you to have an immobile hand, and with the resting palm you get soreness on your palm and pain in your wrists from the immobility. The ergo folks have seen this over and over again (a bunch of people here have one of these keyboards), and I experienced it first hand from using a Kinesis for 15 years. Theoretically you can float your palms but nobody manages to do that because the design is geared towards resting.

I've seen people put sandpaper pads down to remind them to keep the palms off the rests but it doesn't really work. This is why I like the flat design of the TECK, DOX or even regular keyboards as it's more like a pianist where your hands float and have more movement, which is much better. Interestingly it seems that a palm rest to float above IS a good approach. With the TECK I've tried it both with and without the palmrest, and invariably the palmrest wins out as being more comfortable. Since it's flat however I don't get "locked in".

Long winded answer, but I'd recommend keeping to a flat design. Curved ones feel good in the short term, and are better than the standard IBM-PC style keyboards, but long term they cause issues.
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Offline kurplop

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 06 September 2013, 18:45:20 »
The problem I had with the TE is that the minimal split, while an improvement over a standard keyboard, offers only marginal improvement for ulnar deviation. I felt they only went halfway on that one. Also the lack of tenting, while I appreciate the flat compact design I think if you are going to bill something as being "truly ergonomic" you should address pronation issues as well.

The TE was a good effort, certainly an  ergoprovement over a traditional keyboard, but I think its time has passed.

Offline Architect

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 07 September 2013, 05:07:01 »
The problem I had with the TE is that the minimal split, while an improvement over a standard keyboard, offers only marginal improvement for ulnar deviation. I felt they only went halfway on that one. Also the lack of tenting, while I appreciate the flat compact design I think if you are going to bill something as being "truly ergonomic" you should address pronation issues as well.

Interesting, I dislike both tenting and what I felt was the overly large split on the Kinesis. My hands are more comfortable centered together in front of me rather than straight out. Regardless the waste of the central space is unfortunate in any case.

Quote
The TE was a good effort, certainly an  ergoprovement over a traditional keyboard, but I think its time has passed.

Agreed, both it and the Maltron were wonderful designs that have since been improved on IMO.

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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 09 September 2013, 02:35:14 »
The way I see it, tenting and spacing are very much related. The further apart you move your hands, the less tenting angle is required to get a natural resting position and vice versa. Shoulder width and arm length are also factors.

The question I posed has little to do with tenting or hand positioning, but rather where the thumbs rest and how they act relative to the plane of the other fingers. I would love to try both a Maltron and Kinesis sometime :)

Personally, I like a tented and close-in position, but will keep the halves of my prototype separate so I can experiment. I'll probably end up with something similar to kurplop's design (from here: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=47787.msg1023893#msg1023893 ) with a little more separation, a little less tent and more of a "dip" in the centre (thumb areas angled down more). 13-15 degrees of tent, around 5 degrees down angle from flat for the thumb areas maybe (18-20 degrees angle from the finger area) so the inner edge comes closer to the desk surface. I have modified the design a bit to use 1.25x size "vertical" thumb buttons and will add another 1x size button to each thumb cluster. I still have to play around with the thumb button positioning to determine the range of motion for the thumb, so I may change the size of the thumb keys again.

I'd like shift and space buttons in the most comfortable spots, with backspace and enter as the next easiest to reach. The "extra" single size buttons will be the layer shift keys.

Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it very much. I'd be interested in more opinions, too.
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Offline davkol

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 09 September 2013, 07:53:34 »
The further apart you move your hands, the less tenting angle is required to get a natural resting position and vice versa.

Not at all. A bike.

Offline AcidFire

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 09 September 2013, 12:01:21 »
Hi guys,

I have been designing an ergo keyboard for myself and plan to angle the thumb key cluster a bit back and downwards (see picture). If you hold your hand in a comfortable, natural resting position in front of you (tented and angled in), the thumbs move in towards the fingers when flexed, not up and down. So I figured that's how they should press the keys. It seems to be a stronger movement, too.

I may have some troubles with the plate design and key positioning, but I'll experiment with it and see.

Any thoughts on this? Ergodox has flat thumb clusters. I see the ErgoGP has a dropped cluster, but it is still flat. The Kinesis and Malt clusters also look flat-ish. Is there a reason (other than simply cost-cutting / simplified design) for this?

Thanks for your input,

Oobly
Mine is currently flat out of necessity, as that is what I'm currently able to produce with the tools at hand. While I could definitely produce some one off designs with the thumb angled, mass production is a whole different matter. That being said, one of the advantages I'll have down the road is that with the modular plates it'll be easy to upgrade to the angled thumb design without having to buy a whole new keyboard.

Offline nomaded

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #8 on: Mon, 09 September 2013, 17:40:29 »
The way I see it, tenting and spacing are very much related. The further apart you move your hands, the less tenting angle is required to get a natural resting position and vice versa. Shoulder width and arm length are also factors.

I would definitely agree with this, based on my experience with using a Touchstream every day for almost 10 years, and also with my currently daily usage of the TECK.

I love the feel of typing on the TECK, but wished it had some tenting. I plan on using a Freestyle stand to add tenting to my Ergodox when I receive it.

Quote
The question I posed has little to do with tenting or hand positioning, but rather where the thumbs rest and how they act relative to the plane of the other fingers. I would love to try both a Maltron and Kinesis sometime :)

As for angling the thumb cluster, I could see it working, but I think too much below the plane of the rest of the keys will make reaching for the inside keys harder. But that's just based on my mental picture, since like you, I have not tried a Kinese Advantage or a Maltron. (My wife already thinks I'm crazy for buying an Ergodox, while having a TECK already.)
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 03:17:12 »

Mine is currently flat out of necessity, as that is what I'm currently able to produce with the tools at hand. While I could definitely produce some one off designs with the thumb angled, mass production is a whole different matter. That being said, one of the advantages I'll have down the road is that with the modular plates it'll be easy to upgrade to the angled thumb design without having to buy a whole new keyboard.

Thanks for that, good to hear some sound reasoning for this. I wonder if any of the laser cutting companies can also do bending of acrylic or even steel plates to give the angles.. I also wonder if the best angle is different for different people, I will try to get some opinions from people whether they would like more or less angle once my prototype is done.

The further apart you move your hands, the less tenting angle is required to get a natural resting position and vice versa.

Not at all. A bike.

If you would indulge me a moment, please try a little experiment. Fully rotate both hands either inwards (pronation) or outwards (supination). Then, keeping them rotated as far as you can, move them inwards and outwards keeping them at the same height. For myself, they rotate as I move them. If you assume the most comfortable angle to be a certain position relative to either fully pronated or supinated, the angle relative to the desk changes as you move in or out. At least that's how it works for me. On a bike, wide bars are usually flatter than narrow ones, too.  ;)


As for angling the thumb cluster, I could see it working, but I think too much below the plane of the rest of the keys will make reaching for the inside keys harder. But that's just based on my mental picture, since like you, I have not tried a Kinese Advantage or a Maltron. (My wife already thinks I'm crazy for buying an Ergodox, while having a TECK already.)


That's a good point, thanks! I will keep this in mind.
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Offline Larken

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 05:28:53 »
I think the idea of an angled thumb cluster is a great one. I've been wanting to do that for a while now, but it's rather tricky to fabricate something like that. Layered cases wouldn't be feasible, due to consistency issues of bending acrylic, as well as having to adjust for the bending distances across five layers (hard to put into words, but I can't find a better way of putting it at the moment).

However, a 3d printed case of two layers would be ideal for this design. Modifying the 3d files of the existing ergodox could be an option once you decide on the angle you want the thumb cluster to be at, to provide the mounting frame for the switches. From there, you could handwire the switches using the lowly-poly method and reuse the ergodox firmware should you want to avoid having to mess around with it.

The way I see it, the main advantage of an angled thumb cluster would be increased comfort in cases of extreme tenting angles. i.e. I currently tent my ergodox at about 25 degrees - and I find that it's rather okay for the thumb area to be flat, but any higher tenting angles ie. about 45 degrees and up, the thumb cluster just becomes unwieldy. An angled thumb cluster in this case would probably be good.

However, you do have to take note of the change in thumb movement - which you did mention in the original post. A drastic enough change in the angle of the thumb cluster would result a motion somewhat like a mouse with side buttons, or even pressing the start/stop button on a stopwatch. Note, however, in both cases, such a motion is stabilized by having the entire object in the palm of your hand.

It changes the movement of the thumb from a lateral striking motion, into a horizontal pressing motion (this would cause slight horizontal movement of the entire hand in some cases), which could be good or bad depending on how your hands are stabilized while typing, ie. on a wrist rest, or are your arms resting on the arms of a chair.

 
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Offline kurplop

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 05:30:01 »
My own experience is as follows.

The distance my hands are apart have no noticeable effect on the amount of tenting I find ideal.

The greater the distance my hands are apart, the closer to parallel the rows can be relative to opposing side.

The sloped thumb cluster require that the halves be tented to prevent additional pronation. It may be more accurate to say that we should angle the finger keys down from level rather than sloping the thumb cluster down.

Offline davkol

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 05:43:19 »
The further apart you move your hands, the less tenting angle is required to get a natural resting position and vice versa.

Not at all. A bike.

If you would indulge me a moment, please try a little experiment. Fully rotate both hands either inwards (pronation) or outwards (supination). Then, keeping them rotated as far as you can, move them inwards and outwards keeping them at the same height. For myself, they rotate as I move them. If you assume the most comfortable angle to be a certain position relative to either fully pronated or supinated, the angle relative to the desk changes as you move in or out. At least that's how it works for me. On a bike, wide bars are usually flatter than narrow ones, too.  ;)

For me, having my wrists flat is very uncomfortable, when my forearms and body form a triangle/square. On the other hand, anything around 45 degrees (even up to 90 degrees) is fine.

I always prefer aerobars or bullhorns. Flat ones are a pain for me. Theoretically, I could live with North Road...

Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 06:52:36 »

For me, having my wrists flat is very uncomfortable, when my forearms and body form a triangle/square. On the other hand, anything around 45 degrees (even up to 90 degrees) is fine.

I always prefer aerobars or bullhorns. Flat ones are a pain for me. Theoretically, I could live with North Road...

I like about 20 to 30 degrees drop angle on motorbike bars, even made my own for my Honda CB100 once :D Looked like a 20's racebike. Really fun to ride.

However, this is too much for me: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_7k4vq02xEo4/TSvFF7dubbI/AAAAAAAABdw/A9rAO9pCq-8/s1600/board+track.jpg+%25281000x769%2529.jpg

I also don't like flat boards, 15 to 20 degrees of tenting feels quite good to me, any more and a lightweight split board will start sliding around. A joined, heavier board I could maybe go to 30 degrees, but it starts to get too tall for my taste.

I like the idea of a split board with easily adjustable tenting. Really flexible for adjusting to anybodies comfort. Not quite sure how to implement it well, though.
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 14:25:19 »
I think the idea of an angled thumb cluster is a great one. I've been wanting to do that for a while now, but it's rather tricky to fabricate something like that. Layered cases wouldn't be feasible, due to consistency issues of bending acrylic, as well as having to adjust for the bending distances across five layers (hard to put into words, but I can't find a better way of putting it at the moment).

.....

.....

It changes the movement of the thumb from a lateral striking motion, into a horizontal pressing motion (this would cause slight horizontal movement of the entire hand in some cases), which could be good or bad depending on how your hands are stabilized while typing, ie. on a wrist rest, or are your arms resting on the arms of a chair.

 

I was thinking of only bending the mount plate / acrylic sheet which the switches mount to and having the other layers separate. May be too flexible, though.

Good point about the change in movement to more of a pressing motion. I guess it depends just how much angle is used as well as the hand position / stabilisation. I kind of imagine it as if I'm using leverage from my fingers resting on the keys when using my thumbs and vice versa.

.... It may be more accurate to say that we should angle the finger keys down from level rather than sloping the thumb cluster down.

Great point! I like this way of thinking about it. Goes well with your new design, too :) It should be a comfy board to type on.
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 10 September 2013, 15:04:32 »
I think that ideally, the angle of the thumb cluster should be adjustable. :)

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This image is of a Saitek Pro Gamer Command Unit, a one-handed gaming keypad, a competitor to the famous Nostromo.
I think that the silver knob is for adjusting the angle of the thumb cluster. The distance between the keyboard and the palm rest is also adjustable.
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 11 September 2013, 04:04:21 »
I think that ideally, the angle of the thumb cluster should be adjustable. :)

This image is of a Saitek Pro Gamer Command Unit, a one-handed gaming keypad, a competitor to the famous Nostromo.
I think that the silver knob is for adjusting the angle of the thumb cluster. The distance between the keyboard and the palm rest is also adjustable.

Very interesting, getting some ideas for mounting the thumb cluster. As a side note, I really don't like the "normal" button layout on that Saitek.

Actually had an interesting idea to use servos and PWM signals from the Teensy 2.0 to set the thumb cluster and tent angles from software  ;D Maybe not very practical, but it appeals to the geek in me very much! <gets that distant look in his eye> If I add a sensor for separation and... stored profiles for different users.... hmmmm....

Reminder to self: Get the basics done first....

kurplop's suggestion of thinking rather of angling the rest of the keys instead of the thumb areas means you can use a single mount plate for the thumb areas and have just three surfaces (which I realise is what his latest creation looks like). That means just three mount plates and pcb's instead of four, but it also means using a fixed inward angle and spacing. Tenting could still be adjustable, though.

I have made some progress with the design. I think I will start a build thread for it later when it is at least partially functional and leave this thread for discussing thumb cluster angles, etc.
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Offline kps

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 11 September 2013, 10:06:27 »
I've been using Kinesis contoured keyboard for almost 15 years and my only major complaint is that the 1u thumb keys are a stretch.

I've been gradually working on a split-Kinesis project, and one of the next steps (as soon as the PCBs arrive) is to develop new thumb clusters.

What I've done is to create an adapter 'breakout board' for the switches:

One way of experimenting with these is to attach pin headers, and then tack them onto breadboard at various heights. The key centers are offset from the header pins so that keys can be placed at 0.75" spacing on 0.1" breadboard by rotating alternate units 90.

Another, if a flattish arrangement doesn't work, is to simply wire them together and stick them on modelling clay. The switches have multiple connections to the breakout points to simplify wiring them in a matrix.

One possibility for an adjustable mount that I've thought of but not tried yet is to use a mini tripod ball head, possibly in a T-slot for an additional degree of freedom.



Offline kittykatmax

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 11 September 2013, 17:18:45 »
I would prefer angled.  I have thumbs that partially dislocate on a regular basis and found the old FlexPro keyboard to be the most comfortable for them.  I used it tented as shown in the photo below, and the space bar offered dual actuation - you could press down the "normal" way, OR from the inner edges (which as you can see, face upward when the keyboard is tented), which is akin to your idea of an angled thumb cluster.  Instead of pressing with the side of the thumbs, you could curl your thumbs to actuate the edges of the space bars with your thumbpads in a more natural and neutral position.

I used that keyboard at every workplace for several years.  If it were tenkeyless, I'd still be using one.  The palm/hand supports were also ingenious.  They slid along a track so you could adjust the location of each one from side-to-side, plus they were height adjustable.

As for your photo, I would suggest lower profile key caps for the nearest two thumb keys, and taller key caps for the outer ones.


« Last Edit: Wed, 11 September 2013, 17:20:19 by kittykatmax »
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #19 on: Mon, 16 September 2013, 09:07:32 »
I would prefer angled.  I have thumbs that partially dislocate on a regular basis and found the old FlexPro keyboard to be the most comfortable for them.  I used it tented as shown in the photo below, and the space bar offered dual actuation - you could press down the "normal" way, OR from the inner edges (which as you can see, face upward when the keyboard is tented), which is akin to your idea of an angled thumb cluster.  Instead of pressing with the side of the thumbs, you could curl your thumbs to actuate the edges of the space bars with your thumbpads in a more natural and neutral position.

I used that keyboard at every workplace for several years.  If it were tenkeyless, I'd still be using one.  The palm/hand supports were also ingenious.  They slid along a track so you could adjust the location of each one from side-to-side, plus they were height adjustable.

As for your photo, I would suggest lower profile key caps for the nearest two thumb keys, and taller key caps for the outer ones.


Very interesting board! I notice the spacebar is also angled down at the front, so if you use it in "normal" orientation you don't have to rest your thumb on an edge. Some people here have flipped their spacebars over to get the same result. Nice to get some real-world feedback on this, though I'm sorry for the reason you needed the board.

I have settled on a set of four 1.25x size keys for each thumb for now, but will also make 1x spaced clusters for testing different keycaps. Just playing around with a section of plate, I like how it feels having higher caps for the outer keys.

I have mounted the caps "horizontal" like normal modifiers, but the back one is mounted upside down, so they angle towards each other. Makes a nice comfy spot for the thumb to rest and I can actuate either key by rocking the thumb forward or backward. My layout requires that I be able to actuate both inner thumb buttons at the same time to access the function key and numpad layer (using Shift and AltGr/Layer assignments). I'll post a pic later when I get home.

I also tested with them mounted "vertical", but it felt a bit of a stretch with 1.25x size keys.

I've been using Kinesis contoured keyboard for almost 15 years and my only major complaint is that the 1u thumb keys are a stretch.

I've been gradually working on a split-Kinesis project, and one of the next steps (as soon as the PCBs arrive) is to develop new thumb clusters.

What I've done is to create an adapter 'breakout board' for the switches:

One way of experimenting with these is to attach pin headers, and then tack them onto breadboard at various heights. The key centers are offset from the header pins so that keys can be placed at 0.75" spacing on 0.1" breadboard by rotating alternate units 90.

Another, if a flattish arrangement doesn't work, is to simply wire them together and stick them on modelling clay. The switches have multiple connections to the breakout points to simplify wiring them in a matrix.

One possibility for an adjustable mount that I've thought of but not tried yet is to use a mini tripod ball head, possibly in a T-slot for an additional degree of freedom.


Cool modular prototyping design. I like that you can play around with layouts on a functional set of keys. For now, mine are just mockups.

The ball mount has given me an idea. I have a set of "helping hands" for electronic work. I can probably adapt it to hold the thumb cluster in place.

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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #20 on: Fri, 20 September 2013, 02:18:19 »
I have progressed in building my hacked up keyboard and have been testing the thumb clusters (mounted with steel wire and duct tape  :) ). As a result I have come to a few conclusions. I really do prefer an angled cluster, but the positioning needs to be just right. The way it is now, the cluster is too far back and a bit far out. I plan to cut the mount plates so it can fit with the front thumb button almost next to the lowest alpha key, as close in as possible.

Also, the distance to the outer buttons is a bit far, so I'll switch to 1x size keys. Another idea I had is to use the existing plates, but bend them so the "inner" (closer to the main plate) buttons are at a steeper angle and the outer buttons are at a flatter angle relative to main plate. The tops of the keys will be even closer together than if I use a flat plate with standard 1x distance between them. I'll take pics once I have tried it.

Here are pics of the current test mount and how the thumb actuates the modifier keys (Shift and AltGr for left thumb, Ctrl and Alt for right). First resting position, then front pressed, rear pressed and both pressed.
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #21 on: Fri, 20 September 2013, 16:12:37 »
New thumb cluster design.. really tired so just posting pics.. will type more when I can..
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Offline Oobly

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Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #22 on: Mon, 23 September 2013, 02:41:04 »
About the new cluster design: I really like the feeling of the bent plate design.

I considered many ways of mounting them so they can be adjusted, but none of them were easy enough to implement and still move in all the right ways to be useful, so I'm going for a fixed mount for the first version.

I have adjusted the cluster angle, rotation and position a bit for comfort and ease of access. There are lower row caps on the "inner" keys and upper row caps on the "outer" keys. I find them easy to "find" and comfortable to press, at least with my partially constructed board. I have got a few second opinions on the placement and it seems to be fine for most hand sizes and shapes (at least the few who have tried). Ctrl-Alt-Del may be a bit of a stretch for some, though (both outer thumb buttons on the right hand and the top right "portal" key at the same time, opposite ends of the board).

Am working on the casings of each hand section now, will post more here when I have those done and get back to thinking about the thumb areas again.
« Last Edit: Mon, 23 September 2013, 03:25:26 by Oobly »
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline philpirj

  • Posts: 18
  • Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #23 on: Wed, 09 October 2013, 21:20:32 »
Does it make sense to make two rows of thumb keys? I would prefer three in a single row. Since it's being pressed by side of thumb, it feels much better if it's 1.5x, not 1x.
Looking forward what you finally come up with.

Offline Oobly

  • * Esteemed Elder
  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 3929
  • Location: Finland
Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #24 on: Sun, 20 October 2013, 03:12:19 »
Have you seen AcidFire's latest update to his design? http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=44940.msg1082156#msg1082156

A good step in the right direction!  ;)

With the double thumb keys I can press two modifiers at the same time, which is needed in order to use my layout effectively.

P.S - I typed this post with the thumb clusters in this thread  :D
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline sordna

  • Posts: 2247
Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #25 on: Sat, 30 November 2013, 16:43:22 »
I have found that gravity is a significant aid to pressing keys. I love tenting but it makes keys harder to press since gravity doesn't help as much. However on a tented board, angled thumb keys can help towards making the thumb key movement vertical, so at least that part will be helped by gravity.
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 banditsf

  • Posts: 12
Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #26 on: Mon, 02 December 2013, 17:51:24 »
Howdy!

Just started reading your thread and find it to be pretty cool.
I actually just built an ergo controller for myself and 3D printed the "shell" that holds  keys+joystick+laser and a customized palm rest.


Maybe you might want your own housing for your angled keys. BTW I find that having the thumb buttons help a great deal.

I'm actually helping another geekhack member with his/her custom controller and building out a 3D model first to print out.

Maybe you might be interested too?


Cheers
B
Cheers

Offline yakitysax

  • Posts: 51
Re: Thumb key cluster - Flat or angled?
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 11 December 2013, 13:59:55 »
I have progressed in building my hacked up keyboard and have been testing the thumb clusters (mounted with steel wire and duct tape  :) ). As a result I have come to a few conclusions. I really do prefer an angled cluster, but the positioning needs to be just right. The way it is now, the cluster is too far back and a bit far out. I plan to cut the mount plates so it can fit with the front thumb button almost next to the lowest alpha key, as close in as possible.

Also, the distance to the outer buttons is a bit far, so I'll switch to 1x size keys. Another idea I had is to use the existing plates, but bend them so the "inner" (closer to the main plate) buttons are at a steeper angle and the outer buttons are at a flatter angle relative to main plate. The tops of the keys will be even closer together than if I use a flat plate with standard 1x distance between them. I'll take pics once I have tried it.

Here are pics of the current test mount and how the thumb actuates the modifier keys (Shift and AltGr for left thumb, Ctrl and Alt for right). First resting position, then front pressed, rear pressed and both pressed.
I think the 4 cubes in the thumb cluster is interesting; do you have it set up so that pressing 2 thumb keys simultaneously acts as 1 overall button press, so that there are effectively 6 buttons in that area?