Author Topic: Mini Keyboard with Trackpoint  (Read 272882 times)

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #50 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 13:53:32 »
So, I'm thinking, the following configurations...

60 MX Black + 1 Grey Linear
59 MX Black + 1 Alt Action + 1 Grey Linear
60 MX Brown + 1 Grey Tactile
59 MX Brown + 1 Alt Action + 1 Grey Tactile
60 MX Blue + 1 Green
59 MX Blue + 1 Alt Action + 1 Green

61 Strongman White
61 Strongman Black

Of course, right there, that means that you've got two different PCBs (unless lowpoly has an idea for running both Cherry MX and Strongman switches on the same PCB,) eight different switch configurations to run on the production line, and two different sets of keycaps (and that's just for one color.)

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #51 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 13:56:20 »
by the way I'd probably never use the usb port and power adapter thing. if it saves any significant money, maybe a version without those (and without trackpoint) as a lower cost version maybe.

Oh, and dont forget european layouts.

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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #52 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 13:57:01 »
I look at this board and I have the urge to put it between two loaves of bread and eat it.

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #53 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 13:59:34 »
I almost wonder if we could expand to those layouts after this thing takes off. The US market has the weakest selection of good keyboards, IMO.

(There may also be the fact that I want one of these, and I want US layout with horizontal enter. :p)

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #54 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:05:45 »
every one of these should ship with an iMav-knitted keyboard sock. (personalized with your name on it).

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #55 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:12:25 »
Well, they are fully programmable, actually, already. ;)

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #56 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:13:45 »
it should definitely come with a set of dip switches that do stuff. For instance control/capslock switching can be done that way right? That way a bunch of minor variations can be taken care of with dip switches.

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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #57 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:15:01 »
Quote from: webwit;14446
I bow deeply and humbly while retreating backwards for geekhack's new king.


LOL! Walking backwards is quite a skill (did you see 'the madness of king george'?)

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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #58 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:24:59 »
Quote from: wellington1869;14406
lowpoly what r u planning in terms of manufacturing? To take it to an oem manufacturer? Is that different from what metadot guy did?

(And yes I think we'll need multiple versions of this (both layout and switches) to make everyone here happy ;) I'd definitely only want normal layout (and preferably with normal function keys since I use them a LOT, both for custom functions and for programs, tho I might buy it even if they were just tied to function key). The trackpoint I could live either with or without.) But normal layout on the remaining keys is a must... at least on one version of the board...

As for OEM, can't say that yet. So, IF it will go into production: I agree that multiple versions would be good. Much can be done by programming the controller and moving keys around. Different switch brands will be more difficult. Everything that requires a different pcb layout will be a lot of work.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14408
That is elegant, but my idea does put End on a home key (whereas the NEO layout doesn't,) and it puts Home one row above a home key.

Of course, maybe I could just do what wellington said, and solder in my own alternate action switch. :P


Quote
Row 2:

W should be Up Arrow
U should be Insert
I should be Home
O should be PgUp

Row 3:

CapsLk should be a physically locking Fn
A should be Left Arrow
S should be Down Arrow
D should be Right Arrow
J should be Delete
K should be End
L should be PgDn

So, if you don't have the double action Fn: This would require constant change of the Fn key? Assuming that the other hand will press Fn. I think I'd prefer all the cursor keys on the left hand. Like f/v for home/end and g/b for pgup/pgdn (which I rarely use anymore).

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #59 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:26:18 »
And there's even been mention of giving it blank keycaps. ;)

Edit: If you're going to use that approach, I'd do f/c and g/v. B is a bit of a reach for a left hand key.

Offline bigpook

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« Reply #60 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:28:24 »
You guys have all added some interesting changes but wouldn't that add to the difficulty of getting it mass produced.

I am thinking of the guy that did the Das keyboard. It was probably a big deal just to get the one designed and built.

I wonder what the minimum manufacturing lot would be for something like this. Would they need to make 1000 keyboards to be even interested?

I could be all wrong here, please don't flame me.
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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #61 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:35:14 »
Quote

Different switch brands will be more difficult. Everything that requires a different pcb layout will be a lot of work


well thats for the manufacturer to figure out, right? Or are you seriously thinking of taking a soldering iron in your basement and pumping out custom versions for individual geekhacker requests? Good god man, hand over the manufacturer to an oem and be done with it! You'll make a killing with the licensing fees.

the different switches will be crucial to its wide appeal I think, since if the poll above is any indication, there's no huge agreement on what switches geekhackers would prefer. There will probably be a cherry pcb and an alps pcb at the very least.

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #62 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:35:22 »
bigpook, you raise an excellent point.

We want lots of configurability, but we're going to have to make them all the same for an initial run. And I can fully understand why people wouldn't want the locking Fn... but I'd need it.

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #63 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:37:33 »
Quote from: bigpook;14454


I wonder what the minimum manufacturing lot would be for something like this. Would they need to make 1000 keyboards to be even interested?

.

i have no idea either on what it takes, but new products come to market so often, and the barriers of entry keep going down, and a metadot former computer programmer could do it in such short notice, that I cant imagine its really that big a deal.  It might be worthwhile to contact metadot guy and ask about his experiences.  But basically I imagine that once you have a few prototypes and some basic buzz (the buzz is already done, he has geekhack specialty forum behind him), I think you go to a bank for initial funding and quite honestly they take it from there and you sit back and get royalties. I mean really, they're not expecting the inventor (in this case, lowpoly) to know all the ins-and-outs of venture capital funding and legal issues and manufacturing line technicalities. All they want to know is a) how is the product differentiated from its competition; b) is there a market niche. Thats it, they'll really do the rest, thats what they do for a living.

(the above is based on what i know from movies, so dont flame me either ;)

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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #64 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:43:11 »
Quote from: webwit;14458
7:08 :eek:


LOL again :) I have the john adams series in my netflix queue, hated that I missed it cuz I dont have cable ;)

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Offline bigpook

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« Reply #65 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:57:06 »
I don't know. There may be buzz, but unless Lowpoly has something going on on his end then the buzz is limited to geekhack. We have around 200 users. And not all may be interested.
An OEM is probably not interested in a small run. I would think they need some kind of volume before they consider it.
 A run of 100 units would be a specialty item, and quite expensive not doubt.
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #66 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 14:57:37 »
I've posted it on The Tech Report, and there's some weak interest there. But not much.

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #67 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:04:57 »
Quote from: bigpook;14463

An OEM is probably not interested in a small run.

but if I remember from my engineering days there are OEM's who specialize in small runs (prototypes and such).

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

using: ms 7000/Das 3

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #68 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:05:29 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14464
I've posted it on The Tech Report, and there's some weak interest there. But not much.


I think we should get one or two versions into the hands of reviewers too. (like maybe endgaget, gizmodo, other places that do reviews). The feedback will be useful to the development cycle anyway.

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

using: ms 7000/Das 3

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #69 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:07:12 »
TR would be a good site, too - there's a few clicky keyboard fans there, including one of their writers. Basically, I think we should hit major sites that have liked either the Das III or the HHKB. We're going for "HHKB layout, but better" and (with a Cherry blue model) Das III feel.

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #70 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:09:15 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14468
We're going for "HHKB layout, but better" and (with a Cherry blue model) Das III feel.



true, although the normal layout version with alps would be "like tp2 but super spacesaver" ;) It kinda looks like a mini tp2 actually.

edit: come to think of it, the initial run will most probably be whatever lowpoly decides he wants on the board for himself first :) Since i'm sure he wants it in his own hands asap.  The rest of our ideas will no doubt have to wait for future production runs ;)

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using: ms 7000/Das 3

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #71 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:10:10 »
Or "like CVT Avant." ;)

Offline itlnstln

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« Reply #72 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 15:11:52 »
DSI can OEM.  They were suggesting that they could OEM a split-ergo board with blue-Cherries that I had wanted, but since it wasn't going to be a big run, they weren't interested.  I didn't get any details, so you may want to contact them and see what they offer.  George Tsai was the person with DSI that contacted me.  here is the thread with a few details: http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?t=713.


Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #73 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 16:23:48 »
Thanks for the comments. I just realized I can't keep up with the pace of this thread. :)

Quote from: wellington1869;14436
by the way I'd probably never use the usb port and power adapter thing. if it saves any significant money, maybe a version without those (and without trackpoint) as a lower cost version maybe.

Oh, and dont forget european layouts.

It needs the USB port to feed the Trackpoint and the keyboard controller into a single USB cable. That cable is detachable. That's a 4 port hub and I use 2 ports internally. I'd like to keep the removable cable. Without Trackpoint it might work but that would be another variation.

As for European layouts: My current laptop has ANSI layout but german keycaps. So there are options without pcb redesign.

I started with ANSI layout because I prefer it to ISO. Left shift and enter are just easier to reach.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14434
So, I'm thinking, the following configurations...

60 MX Black + 1 Grey Linear
59 MX Black + 1 Alt Action + 1 Grey Linear
60 MX Brown + 1 Grey Tactile
59 MX Brown + 1 Alt Action + 1 Grey Tactile
60 MX Blue + 1 Green
59 MX Blue + 1 Alt Action + 1 Green

61 Strongman White
61 Strongman Black

Of course, right there, that means that you've got two different PCBs (unless lowpoly has an idea for running both Cherry MX and Strongman switches on the same PCB,) eight different switch configurations to run on the production line, and two different sets of keycaps (and that's just for one color.)

I think I'd start with Cherry. It would be just easier to call or visit them. Depending on the construction of the alternate action switch it might be possible to add one to the package.

Quote from: wellington1869;14448
it should definitely come with a set of dip switches that do stuff. For instance control/capslock switching can be done that way right? That way a bunch of minor variations can be taken care of with dip switches.

The controller doesn't support dip switches.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14452
And there's even been mention of giving it blank keycaps. ;)

Edit: If you're going to use that approach, I'd do f/c and g/v. B is a bit of a reach for a left hand key.

f/c and g/v is better, yes. And blank keycaps shouldn't be too difficult. Cherry has done it before. :)

Quote from: bigpook;14454
You guys have all added some interesting changes but wouldn't that add to the difficulty of getting it mass produced.

I am thinking of the guy that did the Das keyboard. It was probably a big deal just to get the one designed and built.

I wonder what the minimum manufacturing lot would be for something like this. Would they need to make 1000 keyboards to be even interested?

I could be all wrong here, please don't flame me.

Actually, the variations I was thinking of so far would be keycap/programming variations. Like a version with Mac keys pre-programmed. If it sells, the more difficult variations - like an Alps pcb - should be doable. Like Costar/Filco did it with the Tenkeyless.

Quote from: wellington1869;14455
well thats for the manufacturer to figure out, right? Or are you seriously thinking of taking a soldering iron in your basement and pumping out custom versions for individual geekhacker requests? Good god man, hand over the manufacturer to an oem and be done with it! You'll make a killing with the licensing fees.

the different switches will be crucial to its wide appeal I think, since if the poll above is any indication, there's no huge agreement on what switches geekhackers would prefer. There will probably be a cherry pcb and an alps pcb at the very least.

I have the feeling that this is too far away from what the OEM manufacturers generally do. Still, it might be possible. I'm not going to solder myself. :)

Quote from: bigpook;14463
I don't know. There may be buzz, but unless Lowpoly has something going on on his end then the buzz is limited to geekhack. We have around 200 users. And not all may be interested.
An OEM is probably not interested in a small run. I would think they need some kind of volume before they consider it.
 A run of 100 units would be a specialty item, and quite expensive not doubt.

It doesn't have to come from a single manufacturer. Some company in far east could do the pcb and controller manufacturing. Case could be cut from an Aluminum block here in Germany. Keycaps from Cherry in Czech republic. Assembly could be somewhere. Something like that.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14468
TR would be a good site, too - there's a few clicky keyboard fans there, including one of their writers. Basically, I think we should hit major sites that have liked either the Das III or the HHKB. We're going for "HHKB layout, but better" and (with a Cherry blue model) Das III feel.

I think the most important feature of this board is that you don't have to leave the home row.

Quote from: itlnstln;14471
DSI can OEM.  They were suggesting that they could OEM a split-ergo board with blue-Cherries that I had wanted, but since it wasn't going to be a big run, they weren't interested.  I didn't get any details, so you may want to contact them and see what they offer.  George Tsai was the person with DSI that contacted me.  here is the thread with a few details: http://geekhack.org/showthread.php?t=713.

Thanks for the link. Costar and DSI would be the ones to talk to.

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Offline bigpook

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« Reply #74 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 16:41:31 »
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this but is there a need to patent/trademark your design?
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #75 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 16:53:12 »
itlnstln mentioned it. I'll check it, thanks.

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Offline D-EJ915

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« Reply #76 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 17:10:27 »
Quote from: wellington1869;14459
LOL again :) I have the john adams series in my netflix queue, hated that I missed it cuz I dont have cable ;)
my dad bought it on DVD and says it's excellent

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #77 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 17:44:21 »
Quote from: lowpoly;14482
I think the most important feature of this board is that you don't have to leave the home row.


And that's a strong argument for making Caps Lock an alternate action Fn, because then it would be on the home row, and you truly wouldn't have to leave home row for a lot of stuff.

But, it does go against the whole... Ctrl in Caps Lock location thing.

(Anyway, I'm about to go to Micro Center, to try to play with a Das III, so I can feel what Cherry blues feel like.)

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #78 on: Fri, 12 December 2008, 20:50:07 »
Something I'll note... there's some more interest on that one forum I posted it on, but several people there have mentioned that they'd like a bezel for it. So, you might consider adding a bezel, even though I personally prefer the bezel-less design.

Offline bigpook

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« Reply #79 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:11:13 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14500
Something I'll note... there's some more interest on that one forum I posted it on, but several people there have mentioned that they'd like a bezel for it. So, you might consider adding a bezel, even though I personally prefer the bezel-less design.


What forum is it that you posted on?
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #80 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:12:38 »

Offline bigpook

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« Reply #81 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:21:05 »
got it. I didn't think of a bezel. I think it looks great as is. But I do like the minimal design. There was some grief over the key placements but they can be remapped, big deal.
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #82 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:37:52 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14488
And that's a strong argument for making Caps Lock an alternate action Fn, because then it would be on the home row, and you truly wouldn't have to leave home row for a lot of stuff.
I usually press the Fn key with my thumb, that's why they're next to the space bar.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14500
Something I'll note... there's some more interest on that one forum I posted it on, but several people there have mentioned that they'd like a bezel for it. So, you might consider adding a bezel, even though I personally prefer the bezel-less design.
Maybe they didn't click the link and see the other pics? The case is hard to see in the first pic. Maybe post this and this as well? Personally, I'm not too happy with a bigger case because one of my goals was to make the case as small as possible. But I'm not sure if I fully understand what's meant by 'bezel'.

Edit: You can easily pick it up with one hand by grabbing it from above. And of course you need a bag to protect it when you carry it around (for ex. if you leave the house).

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #83 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:40:29 »
I'm afraid you DO understand what is meant by bezel. So, they want it to be bigger than it is. ;)

But, I went ahead and posted the pics.

That reminds me... the remapping software... what platforms does it run on?

I'm assuming Windows only? Linux and Mac support would be a good selling point.

Offline bigpook

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« Reply #84 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:44:42 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14572
I'm afraid you DO understand what is meant by bezel. So, they want it to be bigger than it is. ;)

But, I went ahead and posted the pics.

That reminds me... the remapping software... what platforms does it run on?

I'm assuming Windows only? Linux and Mac support would be a good selling point.


Right, the bezel in the pics is unobtrusive, the way it should be . If you were going to increase the size I would take my cue from the Filco mini. http://www.diatec.co.jp/shop/det.php?prod_c=579

Anything larger than that would ruin the 'board.
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #85 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 10:54:32 »
It actually feels better to grab than the HHKB but I might be biased. :) That's because the bezel on the HHKB is quite low and you don't have the additional support of the keycaps. So it feels your thumb could easily slide off.

The mapping software is Windows only I think. But I'd have to talk to the mfgr. of the controller chip anyway, this would be one of the topics. Also, the text file based programming, while it's easy, isn't something with end-user appeal.

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #86 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 11:07:35 »
And they're asking for a frickin' Model M-sized bezel, on TR. Well, enough to put buttons on the front NOT vertically, anyway, so at least Unicomp SpaceSaver/EnduraPro sized.

As for the text-file based programming not being user friendly, that's not a big deal, it's not exactly hard to write an app that generates the text file.

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #87 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 14:40:32 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14580
And they're asking for a frickin' Model M-sized bezel, on TR. Well, enough to put buttons on the front NOT vertically, anyway, so at least Unicomp SpaceSaver/EnduraPro sized.
Thanks for running the TR thread. :)

The donor board I took the Trackpoint from had similar buttons. I didn't like them too much. They were sort of hard to press. But a huge bezel like that will be too much anyway.

When I decided to make the case flush with the keycaps I knew that you would see part of the switch and the lower edge of the keycap. Things you usually don't see. And I wondered if people wouldn't like it. I was a reminded of that when he said 'unfinished'. However, I think that's a small price to pay for the smallest footprint possible. Impossible to do without compromising somewhere. I'd rather shape the lower edge of the keycaps to mirror the sheet metal. However, custom keycaps are another can of worms.

I also thought about creating a kind of blind, a small stripe of flexible black plastic - as wide as the 'board - that will run from the switch pcb into the keycaps. So you wouldn't be able to see the switches anymore. I have to check if there's enough space when the cap is pressed down. Probably not but I'll try that on Monday.

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #88 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:01:12 »
How about this, extend the aluminum case up vertically, and bend it so that it nearly touches the switch bodies, with it at a height such that the keys nearly touch it when depressed?

That way, you get your "blind," without any additional parts, and it looks more finished.

The only problem is that serviceability goes down, as you're bending the keyboard's body over the internals. But, if you made it so that the bottom of the keyboard could drop out, you could remove the keycaps and drop it out that way...

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #89 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:21:30 »
When I press a key then the cap will almost touch the case. There's just not enough room for this. You'd have to bend twice, first in at 90 then up again but that won't work either as some switches are too close to the case for that (I have the board right in front of me, making it easy to check).

It would have to run into the keycaps and you'd have to cut slits into the sloped part or the caps won't go down at all. That's why I mentioned the (black) plastic blind. Cutting slits into that is easy.

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #90 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:23:58 »
How about a 90 degree bend at the current height? At least it'd help make it look a little more finished.

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #91 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:38:03 »
Come to think of it, even if it were just rolled over, it'd help it look more finished.

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #92 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:43:11 »
The switches touch the case, there's nowhere that bend could go. Maybe a piece of plastic that you screw onto the switch pcb that's flush with the upper case edge and touches it, just not there where the switches are.

More room at the sides, still I'd rather use an extra part as the bend will be difficult to do.

So the problem seems to be the upper edge... I don't mind it but I can see that it's uncommon.

The other question is whether the final case will be made from sheet metal, plastic or cut from an aluminum block.

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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #93 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:43:55 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14619
Come to think of it, even if it were just rolled over, it'd help it look more finished.

Rolled over?

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #94 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 15:48:45 »
Right now, as I understand, the case is shaped like the top drawing. The bottom drawing would have it rolled over, at least hiding the edge of the aluminum.


Offline bigpook

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« Reply #95 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 16:19:23 »
While that will make for a more finished look, it won't do much to hide the key switches.
Not that it bothers me.
Let me ask this though, after looking at the pictures again, its plain to see that the keycaps are floating above the board, which is nice, but on the other hand, there is nothing to protect the keys. Don't know if this is a problem or not. I look at my other keyboards and the bezel that wraps around the keyboard seems to offer some protection.

Maybe the keys being so exposed will increase the chance of damage to them?
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #96 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 16:22:54 »
Ah, thanks. This might break the Aluminum though. Basically, bend it once and back and it will break. A 180 degree bend may be enough to make it brittle.

This is what it looks like:



Switch corners are the same height as the upper edge. Case is 0.8mm (0.0315") Aluminum.

Number row is the same situation. I had to remove part of the backspace level bracket or the case wouldn't have fit.

The corners are round inside because that's where the open edges are glued together.

Even with a small 90 degree bend the pcb couldn't be moved in from the top so a two part solution would be needed. Instead of removing the bottom - which would introduce new structural problems - I could remove a part of the back wall and slide the pcb in from behind. Might work especially well with a machined aluminum case.

Maybe just paint the upper edge black? :)

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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #97 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 16:29:51 »
Quote from: bigpook;14626
Maybe the keys being so exposed will increase the chance of damage to them?
I dropped the whole board from 3 feet and nothing happened. It landed on the case though.

What kind of damage szenario could that be? If I dropped my HHKB on the floor I wouldn't expect it to survive that.

The keycaps are tough as can be. You'd need a big hammer to break them.

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Offline bigpook

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« Reply #98 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 16:31:35 »
If it can't be bent, perhaps sanded for smoothness?
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #99 on: Sat, 13 December 2008, 16:35:16 »
I did that. Looking at it now I should have done it again after stripping the first paint job.

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