Author Topic: fixing the ergodox thumb section  (Read 31952 times)

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Offline jacobolus

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fixing the ergodox thumb section
« on: Tue, 16 September 2014, 23:09:53 »
A bunch of folks (myself included) have criticized the layout of the ergodox ďthumb clusterĒ for making most of its keys hard to reach for people of small or average sized hands.

As a community project, the Ergodox has been a smashing success, and many people are excited to build their own keyboard kit and try an unusual layout. But I wonder how many people end up deciding to stick with the Ergodox for the long term, or are perfectly happy with its layout. For example, one long-time proponent, Daerid, somewhat recently posted his thoughts here Ė http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=58673 Ė describing how he ultimately abandoned the Ergodox for a standard-layout keyboard. I suspect that there are many like him (for instance, me) who initially thought the Ergodox seemed like a neat design, but ended up disliking it in practice.

From my perspective, the Ergodox is basically a prototype design, developed to scratch a few peopleís personal itch, that then took off, without anyone pausing to examine the designís flaws or make adjustments based on popular feedback.

The Ergodox as a concept, as I see it, is build on a handful of fundamental ideas: (1) include all the keys on a standard 60% keyboard plus a few extras, (2) make a split keyboard where each half is one single flat PCB + plate, for ease of manufacturing/assembly, (3) Put the main finger section into a column-stagger layout instead of the standard-keyboard row stagger.

While the Ergodox layout, proper, is fundamentally similar to the Kinesis Advantage (and takes its design for the thumb section from there), I donít think copying the Kinesis thumb section design is essential to the concept, or the reason for the Ergodoxís success. Therefore, I think we can make a new design for the thumb section (and possibly tweak some other design choices) without ruining the things that make the Ergodox concept compelling. Even some fairly minor tweaks could I believe make a big improvement in usability.

Here are some sketches. What do you folks think?



Please feel free to critique these, suggest other ideas, or even advocate for the original Ergodox design. :-)

Btw, here were some other ideas that showed up in that thread of daeridís:

Findecanor:


plainbriny:



me:


Matias:
« Last Edit: Tue, 16 September 2014, 23:25:45 by jacobolus »

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 16 September 2014, 23:39:01 »
It isn't out yet, but I like the thumb keys on the Keyboardio. In your first picture, the middle bottom layout is similar. I haven't tried a keyboardio obviously so that's just a guess based off staring at my hands for too long.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:05:48 »
Yeah, I donít want to straight-up copy the keyboard.io layout (they have some substantially different design elements to anything shown here), but both the design evolution of Jesseís prototypes and the keyboards they were inspired by (e.g. various Japanese keyboards from the 80s and early 90s) as well as some other keyboards inspired by the same design ideas (like the Esrille keyboard) are useful ideas to learn from.

Esrille keyboard:

http://www.esrille.com/keyboard/


NEC keyboards:

http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/article/20010313/ipsj.htm


http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=45456.msg1464260#msg1464260
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:13:50 by jacobolus »

Offline Melvang

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:12:46 »
I feel that your bottom middle layout would be about the best.  The only other thing I could think of would vr to have it on a separate PCB and be able to adjust the angle of it independent of the rest of the board.  I do realize that would add a lot of complexity to the build though.
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Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:29:58 »
I've been using an ErgoDox as my primary keyboard for almost a year now. I have two of them now -- one for the office, and one for home. I have no plans to ever switch back to a normal staggered keyboard. I will still use one, but only the builtin one that's on my laptop.

I think the image you have labelled as "me:" is closest to how I use the ErgoDox. The bottom row, left-most key that you have slightly turned -- I like that. I'm already hitting that key with my thumbs, so pushing it a bit more away from the rest of the fingers would work well for me.

I'm not sure about the large "1u" key, mostly because I think finding a keycap like that would be not so easy. And if I didn't have a keycap of that size, I would probably put normal sized 1u keycap, and then it would be hard to hit. I don't think the existing 2u keycap in that position is optimal either. I wonder if pushing the switch a bit closer to the fingers and using a 1.25u/1.5u keycap, turned 90deg would work better.

Along that same idea, maybe also change the other 2u to a 1.25u/1.5u keycap turned 90deg, and drop the last 1u completely. I think I like the idea of using a 1.25u keycap for these 2 keys because 1.25u with a Row4 profile are pretty easy to find (existing alt or ctrl caps). I would probably invert the cap, so that it slopes down. This is just off-the-cuff thinking -- I have no idea if this would be comfortable to hit with the thumb.

Personally, I find that I don't use most of the 1u in the thumb cluster very often. I have them mapped to some less used keys. And when I do use them, I end up using my index finger to hit them.

That's my thoughts for now.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:38:37 »
I think the image you have labelled as "me:" is closest to how I use the ErgoDox. The bottom row, left-most key that you have slightly turned -- I like that. I'm already hitting that key with my thumbs, so pushing it a bit more away from the rest of the fingers would work well for me. [...]

Along that same idea, maybe also change the other 2u to a 1.25u/1.5u keycap turned 90deg, and drop the last 1u completely. I think I like the idea of using a 1.25u keycap for these 2 keys because 1.25u with a Row4 profile are pretty easy to find (existing alt or ctrl caps). I would probably invert the cap, so that it slopes down. This is just off-the-cuff thinking -- I have no idea if this would be comfortable to hit with the thumb.

Personally, I find that I don't use most of the 1u in the thumb cluster very often. I have them mapped to some less used keys. And when I do use them, I end up using my index finger to hit them.
How do you feel about the 4 suggested ideas at the top of the thread?

(I should probably break these into separate images and name them so folks can annotate them separately.)

Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:45:44 »
How do you feel about the 4 suggested ideas at the top of the thread?

(I should probably break these into separate images and name them so folks can annotate them separately.)

If the current ErgoDox layout is "A", and the bottom middle one is "E", I would pick "E", but with some changes.

For my layout, the outermost 4 keys of the bottom row, on the right hand, are mapped to the arrow keys, vi-style. It's only the innermost key that I use with my thumb. So I would probably change the 1.5u closest to the three 1u keys back to a 1u. *shrug* I know my layout is weird compared to what most people use.
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:51:32 by nomaded »
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:55:11 »
For my layout, the outermost 4 keys of the bottom row, on the right hand, are mapped to the arrow keys, vi-style. It's only the innermost key that I use with my thumb. So I would probably change the 1.5u closest to the three 1u keys back to a 1u. *shrug* I know my layout is weird compared to what most people use.
Personally, I think if we want arrows, we should just add arrows:

(But I guess that is a bit suggestive compared to the standard ergodox design. Some folks may prefer to use those keys for modifiers or whatever. Personally, I think those last four bottom row keys are basically useless, and during the time I used an Ergodox I just set them to do nothing. But Iím not the guy to ask, since I generally think the Ergodox has way too many keys, and would for myself prefer something much more minimal.)
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:58:24 by jacobolus »

Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 00:59:12 »
I would not be against this new "F" layout.

I went with the vi-style arrow keys on the bottom row mostly to fit the keys I had available to me.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 01:14:48 »
I think the new layout you posted is fantastic. The fan of thumb keys plus arrow keys would work great for me.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #10 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 01:33:56 »
Also, Iím curious to hear from current Ergodox users how you feel about the amount of stagger between each column. Speaking only for myself, I find the stagger between the two main columns of index finger keys a bit odd. Also, I find that the middle finger is not staggered far away enough, and the pinky is not staggered close enough, to match my handsí relaxed resting position.

Would it be better to leave the ergodox stagger exactly as is, or to tweak it a bit? (Personally, Iíd even bring the pinky columns down by another half key or so.)

Anyway, hereís that last layout again with some minor tweak (in particular I got rid of the extra angle on the last thumb column; but including it might be better):


Or using ďshifted DCSĒ keycap profile (see http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62444).
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 04:07:03 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 05:34:14 »
Looks quite good.
I would do these changes:
  • Use 1x1 keys for outer pinkie column.
    • They are still very near to the pinkie home location. There will not be a problem to hit them accurately.
    • It will make the whole keyboard a bit smaller which is good for reaching e.g. a mouse.
    • 1x1 keycaps are easier to source.
  • Move the two top 1x1 thumb buttons nearer to the main keywell. Care about making keys easier to reach instead of visual appeal of the alignment to the thumb buttons below.
  • Make the keycap height difference between the left-most top 1x1 thumb button and the 1x1.5 thumb button below it bigger. Use row2 or row3 keycap for the bottom 1x1.5 key.

The next text is just may personal preference and probably not valid for most folks.

It does not have enough thumb buttons and I do not like the separate arrow cluster. One needs to move hand to reach it. So it is almost useless to me. On the other hand, if the bottom row is not tilted it is useless too. An almost useless arrow cluster is a bit better to an almost useless bottom row.

Maybe the thumb cluster can work with 6 keys only. I believe all modifiers should be on thumbs. We have 4 standard modifiers (Shift,Ctrl,Alt,Win) and we need a layer shift too. That is 5 plus space/backspace. It probably could do. Just barely. It just does not allow extension for more like e.g. Meta (which could be useful as a separate modifier on linux).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 12:34:57 »
I would do these changes:
Then it starts getting pretty far from the original Ergodox. I just want to tweak it, not make a completely unrelated design. (These seem like okay ideas though. Wanna try your hand at a mockup?)

Personally Iíd skip the arrow keys too, but many folks seem to like them.
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 12:39:16 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 14:30:03 »
Itís getting a bit further away from the Ergodox, but since the original Ergodox has a bunch of extra space along the top used by the Teensy etc. it also seems like there might be room for an extra row of F keys. Iíve seen several people criticize the Ergodox for not having those. (Personally, I donít need F keys, but people seem to like them..)


Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:02:43 »
I think the closest thumb key to the bottom row should be angled slightly, again.

I actually prefer my keycaps to be all the same height/plane, like SA Row 3.

I also don't need dedicated F keys, so I probably wouldn't use them too much.

I'm not sure about the increased column stagger. I think I'd have to try it before I could say one way or another. That said, I like the feel of the existing stagger on the ErgoDox, and I also like the stagger on the TECK. But even a more matrix layout would be better than the standard stagger.

With the modified bottom row/arrow cluster, that gap between the left key and the bottom key of the middle finger row, visually, I want to see another key there. I'm not sure if it makes sense, though.

I think I would be OK with 1u keycaps for the outermost column, but I would still put the shift keys in their normal locations. That's one old habit I can't break -- I couldn't get used to hitting shift with my thumbs, even after a month.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:23:49 »
I think the closest thumb key to the bottom row should be angled slightly, again.
Just for the visual appearance, or to get it slightly closer to the hand, or..? Would you leave a gap in the top 2 thumb keys? (Or just take those out entirely?) Care to sketch how youíd do it?

Quote
I actually prefer my keycaps to be all the same height/plane, like SA Row 3.
Is this for aesthetic reasons, or because you want to use a non-QWERTY layout, or because you like spherical tops, or...? Is it mainly the different angles at the top that bother you, or the different heights?

Have you ever tried using a column-stagger board with a greater-than-usual height step for the top rows? (Note, my proposed profile here is DCS but with row 3 basically skipped, so that the QWER and 1234 rows are noticeably taller than usual for OEM/cherry/Alps/DCS profiles compared to the height of the ASDF and ZXCV rows.) Speaking only for myself, Iíve been trying this out on both standard layout and column-stagger keyboards for the last week, and I really like it.

[Obviously it would be quite possible to use this layout with whatever keycaps you wanted; but I think the sculpturing is helpful.]

Quote
I'm not sure about the increased column stagger. I think I'd have to try it before I could say one way or another. That said, I like the feel of the existing stagger on the ErgoDox, and I also like the stagger on the TECK. But even a more matrix layout would be better than the standard stagger.
On the TECK, are there any keys you find it difficult to reach? For instance, how comfortable is it for you to type the N and B keys (in QWERTY layout; or substitute whatever key your layout puts there)? What about the Alt and AltGr keys? What about - + ` ī keys? [Iím not trying to critique their layout, Iím just curious how you find it in practice.]

Quote
With the modified bottom row/arrow cluster, that gap between the left key and the bottom key of the middle finger row, visually, I want to see another key there. I'm not sure if it makes sense, though.
Does the similar gap on the TECK bother you? Would you find a use for an extra key stuck in there?

Quote
I think I would be OK with 1u keycaps for the outermost column, but I would still put the shift keys in their normal locations. That's one old habit I can't break -- I couldn't get used to hitting shift with my thumbs, even after a month.
How do you feel about using the keys directly to the right/left of the pinky fingers for shift, the way the TECK does it? (Various other keyboards also do this; personally I think itís quite a bit better than the standard shift location, but I think a thumb key is also nice for shift.)
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:33:41 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #16 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:40:21 »
I think I would be OK with 1u keycaps for the outermost column, but I would still put the shift keys in their normal locations. That's one old habit I can't break -- I couldn't get used to hitting shift with my thumbs, even after a month.
It took me about two weeks to feel more comfortable with Shift on thumbs (instead of on pinkies). I did not do any special training for that. Only the first few days were hard (I made a lot of mistakes).

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #17 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:53:07 »
Wanna try your hand at a mockup?
Katy has a priority now (at least till the first releasable version). Then I may try this kind of thumb cluster too. May be on a contoured version. My feeling is that it will not be better than the Maltron like thumb cluster, but it looks nicer and usable too.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #18 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 18:58:06 »
My feeling is that it will not be better than the Maltron like thumb cluster, but it looks nicer and usable too.
By ďMaltron-like thumb clusterĒ you mean the one the Ergodox currently has? Or you mean something on a fully sculptured keyboard like a Maltron?

These designs Iím sketching in this thread are definitely not what I would use on a fully sculptured keyboard. (But those are much more expensive to mass produce.)

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 22:09:50 »
The thumb part here might be somewhat more like what a couple of you are thinking:


This feels a little less ďergodoxyĒ than the earlier one though.

Offline Findecanor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 22:22:44 »
I suppose that the idea is to make a revised ErgoDox design that is backwards-compatible with the old ErgoDox'es components and firmwares ...

Use 1x1 keys for outer pinkie column ... make the whole keyboard a bit smaller
I did some measurements on my modified ErgoDox and tests in QCad... and I think that your suggestions would work and still with support for 1.5u wide keys.

If you would want support for Alps or backlighting of Cherry MX, then keys with those features would be restricted to one size only: either the same or opposite sizes.

Apropos 1◊1 outer columns:
The Maltron keyboards has 1u wide outer columns. The Shift keys are actually vertical: 2◊1 extending down to the row below. I would be interested in what long-time Maltron users think of them - if they tend to hit them differently than on the ErgoDox and Kinesis.
The TypeMatrix keyboards also have 2◊1 Shift keys, but one row up, I.e. the left Shift is next to the A and Z keys.
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 22:37:02 by Findecanor »
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 17 September 2014, 22:37:38 »
I suppose we could also do this sort of thing for the pinkies:


Again, it starts feeling less ergodoxy as we make this sort of change though.

Personally I think shift keys immediately next to the pinky ďhome rowĒ position work pretty well, even if theyíre just 1x1 keys.

For instance, I think this would be quite an effective ďstandard-ishĒ keyboard:
« Last Edit: Wed, 17 September 2014, 22:39:26 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #22 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 03:45:18 »
By ďMaltron-like thumb clusterĒ you mean the one the Ergodox currently has? Or you mean something on a fully sculptured keyboard like a Maltron?
8 key thumb cluster like on contoured Maltron. The thumb cluster itself does not need sculpturing (a planer PCB is ok) but it needs height difference and some tilt. That means it cannot be on the same planar PCB as the main keywell. If all the switches are in the same plane then one can compensate with different keycaps a bit but I do not know whether it would be enough.
I think that even the original ergodox thmub cluster is not bad in its general shape. But has two big problems:
  • it is too far away from the main keywell
  • it misses height difference (this can be at least partially compensated for with good keycap selection)
If all the switches must be in a plane then yours arch-thumb cluster looks like a safer bet. If I would be called to to final decision I would need mock-ups of both to compare. Without mock-ups I would leave the arch version. I would only make sure the 1x1 keycaps in the arch are significantly taller.

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #23 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 03:58:13 »
My reasoning for 1x1 keys for pinkies is that the more far away from home location is the bigger it should be. All the pinkie keys are not far away to justify bigger size. Moreover notice that the top outer pinkie key is 1x1 and the rest are 1x1.5. That does not make sense. If you can hit well enough the outer top 1x1 key then you definitely can hit the nearer ones.
So using 1x1.5 keys for pinkies looks more like visual appeal which is not practical (because it makes the keyboard bigger (even when it is a tiny bit only) and more expensive (more material, more rare keycaps)).

1.5x1 keys on thumb arches can make sense since not everybody has the same length of thumbs. It also means that for some of the top arch 1x1 keys will be harder to hit but one cannot make one size fits all keyboard anyway. If I would design it for myself I would use 1x1 keycaps for thumb arches too. But in such a case it is an easy decision because I can position them exactly for my hand. That also means I can make the top arch in the ideal position for me.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #24 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 04:26:41 »
My reasoning for 1x1 keys for pinkies is that the more far away from home location is the bigger it should be. All the pinkie keys are not far away to justify bigger size. Moreover notice that the top outer pinkie key is 1x1 and the rest are 1x1.5. That does not make sense. If you can hit well enough the outer top 1x1 key then you definitely can hit the nearer ones.
The reason to leave 1.5u keys on there is that thatís how the original Ergodox does it. The reason to make the top outer key a 1u key is so that it can use a 5th row DCS keycap (which are not available in 1.5u size).

Otherwise I agree with you that 1u keys are sufficient. The ďexpenseĒ is pretty much negligible, so I wouldnít worry about that.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #25 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 04:29:36 »
As I think about this though, I think changes to the pinky section might be okay.

On the thumbs, I still think that the design where the last 2 rows are next to each other feels more ďergodoxyĒ to me, and isnít really any worse, functionally, than a version with a more uniform amount of rotation for each key.

Hereís a mockup showing the rough positioning of the standard ergodox case. If we can reduce the excess space on the top, we can get away with adding F row keys without making the keyboard any larger overall:


Or perhaps:
« Last Edit: Thu, 18 September 2014, 04:49:04 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 04:48:13 »
Here is what I though for a keyboard which would require all switches to be in one plane:
77492-0
Though if I would design it for myself I would go with only 1x1 keys for both thumb arches. It would allow to pack them a bit more. Yeah, and without the F-keys.
If one has a reprap 3dPrinter at home then contoured always wins, even from the price point of view. Therefore I stick with Katy for now.

Offline Canut

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #27 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 16:19:11 »
TL;DR:
1. Use the programmability and layers to your advantage; don't repeat old problems by overloading certain digits (the thumbs) with too many keys and lots of stretching;
2. Do-able: Reconfigure the hardware so the inner column has three 1u keys vertically, thereby moving the home position inboard and closer to the existing thumb clusters;
3. Not do-able: There will always be certain limitations of a two dimensional layout that doesn't allow movement in three dimensions like Maltron / Kinesis / Acidfire's Nexus. But changing that would result in a totally new keyboard.

Long version:
IME, the Ergodox is a great improvement on a standard layout ergonomically; and also in terms of programmability -- which also helps with ergonomics, since it allows various functions to be accessed by staying near the  home row and shifting through the layers rather than over-stretching the fingers (or in this case, the thumbs). I could never touch-type the top row (numbers / symbols / fn keys) on a standard layout, but the non-staggered ergodox layout is much more intuitive (your brain may vary) and now I'm pretty good.

I have small hands, but I have no problems with accessing the thumb clusters on the ergodox. As mentioned above, I have assigned the smaller thumb keys to lesser used functions, and to various Auto Hotkey macros such as automated file backups or google search on highlighted words, which naturally involve a pause in my typing / workflow. So I sometimes pause and look for those keys by sight; move off the home row; and take a moment to relax. But I can still hit them by touch when needed.

The various mods to the thumb clusters shown above seem to exacerbate the need to stretch the thumbs. Thumbs and associated tendons are not immune to stress from repeated stretching, and the layouts above place disproportionate emphasis on the thumbs and the need to stretch in a wide arc rather than a quick shift-and-tap with the present layout.

Instead of radical changes along two dimensions, the ergonomics of the dox would benefit more from incorporating curvature like a Kinesis or Acidfire's amazing work. But that would require so many physical changes that it would become an entirely new beast rather than an incremental change.

One way to make the general thumb cluster area more accessible is to move closer to it. By which, I mean moving the hands inward: replacing the existing 1.5u vertical keys with 1u keys that become the "new" homing keys [F and J, or whatever are the "bump" keys in your preferred layout] and then tweaking the "vertical stagger for finger length" of the plate mounts accordingly. For me, I rarely use those inboard vertical keys (to the extent that I can't remember what I have assigned to mine). Moving the home keys inboard not only gains one key per side (3 1u keys arranged vertically rather than two 1.5u), but it also gives one more vertical column on the outer edge, under the pinkies, for things that the current layout forces one to relocate elsewhere. On a Mac: [()'"/{}] etc. OnEuropean layouts, many of the umlaut characters, etc.

All IMO, of course (and under the influence of a couple of beers, so don't flame me  :thumb:).

[edit]

As mentioned  in a previous post, the v1 ergodox is a revelation for me, and keyboards of this style (and from this open-source origin) are surely the future: I have no intention of returning to a standard layout. Huge thanks to everyone whose talent and perseverance made it a reality.

I earn my living using a keyboard. I can type for extremely long periods on the ergodox without discomfort, whereas a long day on a standard keyboard now leaves me in pain (hence I jumped on the first dox buy). The sort of incremental damage that was noticeably harming my harm my health and career prospects. I DO have some "normal" keyboards on my "do want" list, But more because of the "n+1" theory, and not because I have any intention of reverting to a standard board as my daily driver.

Despite not being entirely convinced of the thumb layouts suggested here, I welcome any improvements to ergodox v2, as it has literally saved my ability to keep on working. Unless the rumoured new Kinesis is a radical improvement on the previous version; or unless Acidfire knocks everything else into oblivion, then constructive community  discussion on the future iterations of  this great project should be strongly encouraged.

(thanks for reading :D)
« Last Edit: Thu, 18 September 2014, 16:45:34 by Canut »

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #28 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 16:33:41 »
I'm currently using an 80key layoutówith my rather small hands. I've used a normal 76key ErgoDox before.

1x keys under V and M are easy to access (assigned to AltGr), the outer ones next to them (under C and ,) are okay as well (assigned to an extra layer in firmware). It's a pity there's a gap under the B and N keys, it's truly the biggest problem for me.

Thumb clusters are tricky like this. Using 1x keys avoids daerid's problem, with thumb knuckles IIRC, I think. It requires quite a lot of dealing with various keycap profiles to get it right though.

I like the outer part of the bottom row as it is, because I can press the modifiers with my palms.

Offline Canut

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #29 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 17:00:58 »
I'm currently using an 80key layoutówith my rather small hands. I've used a normal 76key ErgoDox before.

1x keys under V and M are easy to access (assigned to AltGr), the outer ones next to them (under C and ,) are okay as well (assigned to an extra layer in firmware). It's a pity there's a gap under the B and N keys, it's truly the biggest problem for me.

Those triangle gaps between the keys are where I rest my thumbs. There was some discussion about the need for the Kinesis to place the thumb clusters lower (like the Maltron). Those gaps on the ergodox are my solution to that. On the left and right, I have the keys below CV and M< assigned to text navigation, text scrolling, and mouse wheel functions (via auto hot key) in order to navigate and edit technical documents. Also for AltGr as a further modifier. I tap them with the edge of my thumb and otherwise leave the thumbs resting lower in those gaps  (you can even make a deeper gap / or "thumb well" between the keys by removing the top layer of the case). We all have personal ergonomic preferences and needs. It's nice that the dox can be hacked to accommodate those preferences.

Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #30 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 17:38:56 »
I'm going to reply a bit out of order...

I'm not sure about the increased column stagger. I think I'd have to try it before I could say one way or another. That said, I like the feel of the existing stagger on the ErgoDox, and I also like the stagger on the TECK. But even a more matrix layout would be better than the standard stagger.
On the TECK, are there any keys you find it difficult to reach? For instance, how comfortable is it for you to type the N and B keys (in QWERTY layout; or substitute whatever key your layout puts there)? What about the Alt and AltGr keys? What about - + ` ī keys? [I'm not trying to critique their layout, I'm just curious how you find it in practice.]

When I was typing on the TECK on a regular basis (for about a year), I didn't find any of the keys hard to reach at all. After using my ErgoDox layout for a while, I find it "annoying" to reach for the Escape and Delete keys, because of distance away from home row. It's the same with the function keys, but I don't use those keys nearly as much as Escape and Delete.

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With the modified bottom row/arrow cluster, that gap between the left key and the bottom key of the middle finger row, visually, I want to see another key there. I'm not sure if it makes sense, though.
Does the similar gap on the TECK bother you? Would you find a use for an extra key stuck in there?

The gap on the TECK does not bother me, but that's because the gap is smaller than what you have, due to the different column stagger amounts. Again, I don't feel like I need a lot of stagger. I would be fine with a full matrix, even, as long as I can keep each half separate (unlike the Typematrix).

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I think I would be OK with 1u keycaps for the outermost column, but I would still put the shift keys in their normal locations. That's one old habit I can't break -- I couldn't get used to hitting shift with my thumbs, even after a month.
How do you feel about using the keys directly to the right/left of the pinky fingers for shift, the way the TECK does it? (Various other keyboards also do this; personally I think it's quite a bit better than the standard shift location, but I think a thumb key is also nice for shift.)

...

Personally I think shift keys immediately next to the pinky "home row" position work pretty well, even if they're just 1x1 keys.

On the TECK, I promptly moved the shift keys away from home row. I've had left control mapped to where capslock is normally for years, and on the right side, the shift key is remapped to [single quote / double quote] because that's where [hyphen / underscore] is on Dvorak. Years of Emacs usage has trained my hands to hit control on the left side (and only on the left side). I was able to successfully move left control to my left thumb, but I had no luck with moving the shift keys to my thumbs. Instead I have a layer change to access most symbols on the closer 2u in the thumb cluster.

I find these to be reasonable compromises for the times that I need to type on a laptop (relatively often) and when I need to type on someone else's computer (not so often) Between Dvorak and the ErgoDox, I also have a regular Dell keyboard connected to my computer at work, in case anyone wants to "drive".

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I think the closest thumb key to the bottom row should be angled slightly, again.
Just for the visual appearance, or to get it slightly closer to the hand, or..? Would you leave a gap in the top 2 thumb keys? (Or just take those out entirely?) Care to sketch how you'd do it?

Your image http://i.imgur.com/qyWXNcq.png with the arching thumb cluster matches what I had in mind with this statement.

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I actually prefer my keycaps to be all the same height/plane, like SA Row 3.
Is this for aesthetic reasons, or because you want to use a non-QWERTY layout, or because you like spherical tops, or...? Is it mainly the different angles at the top that bother you, or the different heights?

Have you ever tried using a column-stagger board with a greater-than-usual height step for the top rows? (Note, my proposed profile here is DCS but with row 3 basically skipped, so that the QWER and 1234 rows are noticeably taller than usual for OEM/cherry/Alps/DCS profiles compared to the height of the ASDF and ZXCV rows.) Speaking only for myself, I've been trying this out on both standard layout and column-stagger keyboards for the last week, and I really like it.

[Obviously it would be quite possible to use this layout with whatever keycaps you wanted; but I think the sculpturing is helpful.]

I don't type Qwerty, if I can help it. That said, I usually keep the keycaps as Qwerty. I touch type Dvorak, so I normally look at the keys. But it's nice to have a "reminder" for the times I need to switch to typing Qwerty on my keyboard.

Honestly, I don't have much experience with keycaps that aren't OEM/Cherry profile. I think the closest to what you describe with large variation of keycap heights and the column stagger would be the TECK, and even then there's only a small amount of variation -- I would say less than the Cherry profile. But with my small amount of experience, I know I like the feel of the same profile on the ErgoDox.

This opinion could very well change if I ever get a chance to type on a highly sculpted layout like what you have proposed. I'm certainly open to new ideas.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #31 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 17:46:30 »
1x keys under V and M are easy to access (assigned to AltGr), the outer ones next to them (under C and ,) are okay as well (assigned to an extra layer in firmware). It's a pity there's a gap under the B and N keys, it's truly the biggest problem for me.

Those triangle gaps between the keys are where I rest my thumbs. There was some discussion about the need for the Kinesis to place the thumb clusters lower (like the Maltron). Those gaps on the ergodox are my solution to that. On the left and right, I have the keys below CV and M< assigned to text navigation, text scrolling, and mouse wheel functions (via auto hot key) in order to navigate and edit technical documents. Also for AltGr as a further modifier. I tap them with the edge of my thumb and otherwise leave the thumbs resting lower in those gaps  (you can even make a deeper gap / or "thumb well" between the keys by removing the top layer of the case). We all have personal ergonomic preferences and needs. It's nice that the dox can be hacked to accommodate those preferences.

Currently, I also rest my thumbs in those gaps. But I would prefer to move the key under V and M more into the gap, and the adjacent 2u in the thumb cluster towards the gap from the other direction.

Personally, I have the key under C mapped as [forward delete] and the key under V as [backspace]. On the right hand, under [comma / less than] I have [left arrow] and under M, I have [space]. The two adjacent 2u from the thumb cluster are mapped as layer toggles (same layer) for easy access to navigation (left side) or symbols (right side). A link to my layout (via Massdrop) is in my sig.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #32 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 18:10:55 »
1. Use the programmability and layers to your advantage; don't repeat old problems by overloading certain digits (the thumbs) with too many keys and lots of stretching;
2. Do-able: Reconfigure the hardware so the inner column has three 1u keys vertically, thereby moving the home position inboard and closer to the existing thumb clusters;
Well (1) the thumbs are the strongest and most agile digits we have, and currently keyboards give them 1-3 keys for both thumbs (depending on how you count); with the Ergodox there are instead 2-4 reachable keys for each thumb, plus several unreachable keys; by contrast the right pinky alone gets 10+ keys on a standard keyboard. Iím just proposing giving each thumb 4 reachable keys (and leaving the two harder-to-reach keys mainly as an homage to the original Ergodox design)

(2) Moving the hand position on a standard Ergodox and just putting 1u keys on the inner columns makes the stagger not line up with the fingers, though it probably does slightly help for the thumbs. Might work for some people but seems suboptimal to me.

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IME, the Ergodox is a great improvement on a standard layout ergonomically; and also in terms of programmability -- which also helps with ergonomics, since it allows various functions to be accessed by staying near the  home row and shifting through the layers rather than over-stretching the fingers (or in this case, the thumbs). I could never touch-type the top row (numbers / symbols / fn keys) on a standard layout, but the non-staggered ergodox layout is much more intuitive (your brain may vary) and now I'm pretty good.
Absolutely! A column-staggered keyboard with sufficient tilt/turn/separation between hands is a nice improvement over a standard keyboard.

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The various mods to the thumb clusters shown above seem to exacerbate the need to stretch the thumbs. Thumbs and associated tendons are not immune to stress from repeated stretching, and the layouts above place disproportionate emphasis on the thumbs and the need to stretch in a wide arc rather than a quick shift-and-tap with the present layout.
Hmm, Iím skeptical of that: I put the original Ergodox layout in blue lines underneath the proposed alternative layouts to show how the revised designs make all of the thumb keys closer and easier to reach than on the original. There should be *less* need for thumb stretching. (Thereís nothing that precludes you from moving your hand to press the thumb keys in the alternate design.)

Those triangle gaps between the keys are where I rest my thumbs.
You can always just disable the key in that position and/or replace the switch with something super heavy so that resting your thumb on it doesnít actuate anything. Or just rip that key out entirely. ;)
« Last Edit: Thu, 18 September 2014, 18:12:59 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #33 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 18:18:22 »
For the folks worried about thumb stretching, how did you feel about this version?

« Last Edit: Thu, 18 September 2014, 18:22:00 by jacobolus »

Offline nomaded

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #34 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 18:34:20 »
I like it.

I would add two 1u keys to the top of the thumb cluster, to keep the same number of keys as we have now. Those are currently "pick up hand and stab with index finger" keys for me, like the [windows / command] key.
Dvorak
ErgoDox fullhand (clears) w/Nuclear Green Data SA || ErgoDox classic (clears) w/SA Retro || TECK 209 (browns) || TouchStream ST
Kensington Slimblade Trackball || Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman || Apple Magic Trackpad
Current Dvorak-based ErgoDox layout || Current Dvorak-based TECK layout

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #35 on: Thu, 18 September 2014, 19:35:53 »
I feel the thumb cluster is perfect AS IS..

because even if you made those other 1x thumb cluster keys slightly easier to reach.. They would partition out to the same functions..  and those functions are not vital in terms of smooth use-transitions..

If important quick transitions are required,  it's still better to map to a separate layer to prevent wrist lift..


So if anything  having the 1x thumb cluster keys HARD-to reach is a GOOD THING.. because that way, they can be reserved for keys you don't want activated by accident.

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #36 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 00:07:16 »
I think the prior designs were a little better. I don't get how any of the proposed layouts would cause thumb issues. If anything the Ergodox as-is has the thumb cluster too far out.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #37 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 00:15:34 »
I think the prior designs were a little better.
As in you like this type Ė Ė better than this type Ė ??

Me too. Iím just trying to figure out which designs various people prefer. :-)

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #38 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 00:19:55 »
I feel the thumb cluster is perfect AS IS..
Cool. Thatís helpful feedback. So if you could make any arbitrary change to the Ergodox thumb section, youíd leave it precisely the way it is? What about other parts of the design?

I suspect the original design will be popular for a long time in the future, even if we can convince someone to produce kits of an alternative design.

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #39 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 03:56:12 »
Show Image

Looks worse to me. Making thumb keys wider only stretches the thumb cluster which makes the side keys more far away or removes them completely. It is not a problem to position thumb precisely in horizontal direction. It can be different in vertical direction because of different thumb lengths.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #40 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 04:17:40 »
It is not a problem to position thumb precisely in horizontal direction. It can be different in vertical direction because of different thumb lengths.
Iíve definitely heard folks around here disputing that, explaining that they move their hands around as they type, and happily press the spacebar wherever their thumbs happen to be at the moment. (Something relatively easy when the spacebar is 7+ units long.)

In general I agree with you though.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #41 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 04:17:49 »
I feel the thumb cluster is perfect AS IS..
Cool. Thatís helpful feedback. So if you could make any arbitrary change to the Ergodox thumb section, youíd leave it precisely the way it is? What about other parts of the design?

I suspect the original design will be popular for a long time in the future, even if we can convince someone to produce kits of an alternative design.

i think the layout is fine..

but of course, I'm still for the separate PCB to ANGLE the thumb cluster inwards..   and making the first thumb button just a bit closer..

But that's not so useful if the cluster isn't angled.

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #42 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 04:29:45 »
I don't see the point of making minor changes to the ErgoDox layout, because it breaks compatibility with ErgoDox keycap sets and cases.

I'd rather focus on Axios; it's modular after all.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #43 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 05:16:04 »
I don't see the point of making minor changes to the ErgoDox layout, because it breaks compatibility with ErgoDox keycap sets and cases.
Well, the Ergodox has existed for ~2.5 years, and its popularity grown substantially in popularity in the last year. If no other similar keyboards come out / no changes are made to it, itíll presumably continue to be quite popular. However, in my opinion the Ergodox design is, to some extent, a half-baked prototype, with some obvious flaws.

If we are optimistic, and assume that more Ergodox-like programmable split ergonomic keyboards are sold in the next few years than in the previous few years, then the small handful of existing Ergodox keycap sets shouldnít be considered a design constraint because theyíre relatively few and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. If a new design becomes popular, there will be future keycap sets targeting it, and since itís an open design Iím sure the existing Ergodox design will continue to be available for quite some time regardless.

If we can make a few design changes and end up with something better (more comfortable, more capable, ..), itís worth doing relatively soon.

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I'd rather focus on Axios; it's modular after all.
Personally I think the Axios is on totally the wrong track, and also is going to have considerable difficulty with manufacturing and probably take at least another 8Ė12 months to have a shipping product considering how much theyíre trying to bite off for v1 (but maybe theyíve made more progress than shown so far on geekhack and can go faster, weíll see). Fortunately for everyone, thereís a lot of choice now, and hopefully even more in the future, with the Matias ErgoPro, the keyboard.io, etc.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 05:18:53 by jacobolus »

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #44 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 05:16:17 »
I don't see the point of making minor changes to the ErgoDox layout, because it breaks compatibility with ErgoDox keycap sets and cases.

I'd rather focus on Axios; it's modular after all.


Ghers are obsessed with Keycap sets compatibility ... They need to grow up, Stop dressing up keyboards like Dollies...   and Focus on typing faster, more often, and more ergonomically..

/the important computer stuffs.


Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #45 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 05:44:25 »
Let's be specific, WHO will manufacture and distribute it? Because it took about two years to get ErgoDox from an overpriced DIY kit to at least a readily-available DIY kit with optional assembly, and that's mostly thanks to what some people in the community do in their free time. It's a problem similar to preinstalls on desktops.

I have nothing against technical masturbation, but it's better to be clear whether it is the case, or not.

Speaking of keycaps, I'm quite excited about GH36, because about a half of it can be harvested from a G80-11900óno dealing with cheap-ass DCS/DSA and absolutely no Matias/keyboard.io vendor lock-in.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #46 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 05:59:48 »
Let's be specific, WHO will manufacture and distribute it? Because it took about two years to get ErgoDox from an overpriced DIY kit to at least a readily-available DIY kit with optional assembly, and that's mostly thanks to what some people in the community do in their free time. It's a problem similar to preinstalls on desktops.

I have nothing against technical masturbation, but it's better to be clear whether it is the case, or not.

Speaking of keycaps, I'm quite excited about GH36, because about a half of it can be harvested from a G80-11900óno dealing with cheap-ass DCS/DSA and absolutely no Matias/keyboard.io vendor lock-in.

I don't think we need to do any of that..   

Keep it exactly the same..   CUT the current dox, drill 2 holes for brackets and put up a wiring guide.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #47 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:12:54 »
Mini version:
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:16:07 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #48 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:17:59 »
Let's be specific, WHO will manufacture and distribute it? Because it took about two years to get ErgoDox from an overpriced DIY kit to at least a readily-available DIY kit with optional assembly, and that's mostly thanks to what some people in the community do in their free time. It's a problem similar to preinstalls on desktops.
Well, for example, I think if the design seems better (especially if it seems like people would prefer it given the option), then it should be possible to convince MassDrop to distribute it. Iíve talked to them about other ergonomic keyboard ideas in the past, and they seem pretty receptive to trying new things.

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #49 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:18:48 »
Why don't you keep the corner key?

Also, these angles and bigger thumb keys look like made for typing with resting wrists.

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #50 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:26:10 »
Let's be specific, WHO will manufacture and distribute it? Because it took about two years to get ErgoDox from an overpriced DIY kit to at least a readily-available DIY kit with optional assembly, and that's mostly thanks to what some people in the community do in their free time. It's a problem similar to preinstalls on desktops.
Well, for example, I think if the design seems better (especially if it seems like people would prefer it given the option), then it should be possible to convince MassDrop to distribute it. Iíve talked to them about other ergonomic keyboard ideas in the past, and they seem pretty receptive to trying new things.
They don't even have the updated normal PCB design yet.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #51 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 06:54:04 »
Also, these angles and bigger thumb keys look like made for typing with resting wrists.
I canít parse this. But anyway, I donít think palm rests are at all necessary, but might be helpful for certain amounts of tenting.

They don't even have the updated normal PCB design yet.
Whatís that? Updated by who, when, how? Does it have some substantial advantage compared to the previous one?

That doesnít really prove anything. They have a very small staff, not including anyone directly doing keyboard engineering, and also not including anyone compulsively reading geekhack. Have you tried reaching out to them about this updated PCB design?

In any event, this is getting fairly off-topic IMO.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 07:00:16 by jacobolus »

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #52 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 07:37:08 »
Also, these angles and bigger thumb keys look like made for typing with resting wrists.
I canít parse this. But anyway, I donít think palm rests are at all necessary, but might be helpful for certain amounts of tenting.
How would you press the bigger thumb keys? With joints, or fingertips?

They don't even have the updated normal PCB design yet.
Whatís that? Updated by who, when, how? Does it have some substantial advantage compared to the previous one?

That doesnít really prove anything. They have a very small staff, not including anyone directly doing keyboard engineering, and also not including anyone compulsively reading geekhack. Have you tried reaching out to them about this updated PCB design?
Someone has forked the PCB design, fixed some technical stuff and added support for backlighting (which is something many people want, although I don't really get it). MD supposedly worked with him on pushing it to actual users... well, that was many months ago.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #53 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 08:47:26 »
Let's be specific, WHO will manufacture and distribute it? Because it took about two years to get ErgoDox from an overpriced DIY kit to at least a readily-available DIY kit with optional assembly, and that's mostly thanks to what some people in the community do in their free time. It's a problem similar to preinstalls on desktops.
Well, for example, I think if the design seems better (especially if it seems like people would prefer it given the option), then it should be possible to convince MassDrop to distribute it. Iíve talked to them about other ergonomic keyboard ideas in the past, and they seem pretty receptive to trying new things.
this could work. Call it the ergodox 2.0

I thought I'd posted already, but of the layout in the image in the OP,

I like the last one the best followed by the upper right. I'm not sure about the two wider keys for thumbs though I think they'd be harder to hit like that, but they are certainly not as "wide".

I have pretty flexible hands (not like paganini but close) so I don't have too much issue with reaching the thumbs.

They don't even have the updated normal PCB design yet.
Whatís that? Updated by who, when, how? Does it have some substantial advantage compared to the previous one?

That doesnít really prove anything. They have a very small staff, not including anyone directly doing keyboard engineering, and also not including anyone compulsively reading geekhack. Have you tried reaching out to them about this updated PCB design?
Someone has forked the PCB design, fixed some technical stuff and added support for backlighting (which is something many people want, although I don't really get it). MD supposedly worked with him on pushing it to actual users... well, that was many months ago.
even worse, they are not even using the most updated official PCB from the ergodox website! It has support for PCB mount stabs. The leeku clone PCB that MK has uses that one.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 08:49:26 by dorkvader »
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Offline Analogy

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #54 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 15:59:21 »
The fundamental problem with all of these thumb clusters IMO is that they're on the same plane as the finger keys, when the thumb articulates in a plane 90 degrees to the rest of the fingers. The solution is to turn the thumb cluster vertical so that the thumb is pressing buttons by curling inward, like the rest of the fingers do. Designing the keyboard this way gives you the correct tenting angle for free, uses less space on the desk, and gives your thumb access to far more keys than any other design I've seen, with far less movement needed.


Offline Analogy

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #55 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 16:02:04 »
Downside: More complex build, needs more PCBs and more individual case elements, and a ribbon cable to connect the thumb cluster back to the main keyboard. But it seems worthwhile to me?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #56 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 16:49:26 »
The fundamental problem with all of these thumb clusters IMO is that they're on the same plane as the finger keys, when the thumb articulates in a plane 90 degrees to the rest of the fingers. The solution is to turn the thumb cluster vertical so that the thumb is pressing buttons by curling inward, like the rest of the fingers do.
This is how Ooblyís DIY keyboard is set up, but personally Iím convinced itís suboptimal design. A completely flat half is also suboptimal, in a different way. Iím not convinced that either is especially better than the other. I think the Maltron is better than either one (but very expensive to mass produce), and I think there are alternative designs that would be better still (but would again be difficult to mass produce).

To understand why requires thinking about hand and thumb anatomy. When you make a squeezing motion with your thumb in toward your palm, you mainly flex the metacarpophalangeal joint (that is, the second joint from the fingertip). The muscles/tendons that flex this joint are not nearly as strong, and the joint itself is not nearly as flexible, as the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb (for one thing it doesnít have as long a lever so it gets less fingertip motion for the same amount of muscle contraction; for another, the muscles are physically weaker and smaller). If you do some detailed study of what positions and motions of your thumb have the best strength and agility, I think youíll find that pressing roughly downward (like the motion youíd use on a standard keyboard spacebar) is quite a bit stronger than the squeezing motion youíd use on your proposed setup. Finally, the squeezing motion canít benefit from some slight assist from a rotating wrist that you sometimes get with a downward-ish press.

The same is true for the finger joints: we almost exclusively flex the carpometacarpal joint to actually press finger keys, and we extend or flex the distal two joints (particularly the metacarpophalangeal joint) in between keypresses to locate various key-tops. If we were using the fingers in the same way as you suggest using the thumbs, the keys would all be pointed such that youíd press them by squeezing toward the body like a trigger, rather than pressing downward.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 16:55:43 by jacobolus »

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #57 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 17:00:36 »
The thumb can move *forward* just like other fingers though, i.e. not lying flat on the keycap, or the "squeezing" motion can happen just like when clenching ones fist.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #58 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 17:02:55 »
The thumb can move *forward* just like other fingers though, i.e. not lying flat on the keycap, or the "squeezing" motion can happen just like when clenching ones fist.
I donít understand what you mean. (Can you explain either in technical anatomy terms, or draw a picture, or something?) Which direction is ďforwardĒ in this context?

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #59 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 17:43:56 »
Take a look at trackballs: Logitech TrackMan Marble (angled) and Kensington Slimblade (flat). Buttons can be pressed with fingertips  or whole fingers in either case. Clawing the marble is indeed a potential issue. So is pressing slimblade buttons with whole thumbs (down-up motion), while it isn't a problem on the marble (in-out motion, gripping).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #60 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 18:34:56 »
I still donít understand what your point is.

(Based on my own relatively limited experience with these devices and what seems like a natural motion to me...) Logitechís finger trackball, and Kensingtonís trackball, are mostly spun side to side via whole hand movement based on rotation at the wrist; theyíre spun forward back via a combination of wrist and finger movement. None of these movements are similar to keyboard presses.

Logitechís thumb trackball is spun forward/backward using a combination of whole-hand movement and movement of all 3 thumb joints; itís spun side to side almost exclusively by the carpometacarpal joint. Spinning the thumb trackball to the left is sort of similar to motion used for a standard keyboard spacebar press. The other thumb trackball motion is not similar to any of the keypress motions weíve been talking about in this thread.

All these trackballsí buttons have nearly no travel, making them substantially different from keyboard keys. Personally I think both the kensington and logitech finger trackballs have pretty bad button positioning and orientation, while the logitech thumb trackball is okay (but Iíd prefer longer travel lower force switches).

Maybe you can explain your thinking in a bit more detail / provide some more contextual description about your thoughts about mouse/trackball ergonomics or your experiences? Iím having trouble figuring out how this relates to our discussion of keyboard keys.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 18:40:24 by jacobolus »

Offline plainbriny

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #61 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 21:34:00 »
This whole thread is very interesting.

However, the major issue is that many proposed changes require redesign of the PCB and case.

Does anyone willing to take the job?

As for angled or flat design, I have 3 ergodoxes in use now, one with the original design, with 2x thumb keys, the second one is the one with angled thumb cluster, the "frankendox", and the third one is a 80 key variant of the original, with the 2x thumb keys replaced by 2 1x keys.

I have to say, these are all not optimal, but I can live with them. So far I prefer the angled design, but it is more complicate to make than the flat design.

I have no idea what the optimal design would be, however, at least to me, the major issue is not the thumb cluster, but the pinky finger.

======= below has nothing to do with thumb cluster, you can just ignore them =======

The problem is that with the current layout (qwerty), my left pinky is too heavily loaded. There are two approaches to solve my problem, one is to redesign the layout, but I would need some to retrain my finger and this would be a long process. I don't have time for the time being. The second means is to adjust the staggering of the pinky column, because I use the '1', 'q', 'a', 'z' keys a lot, yet to reach '1' and 'q', the left pinky finger need larger movements. Thus lower the pinky column can shorten the moving distance of the pinky. However, this require the redesign of the PCB, which is beyond my ability now.

==========================================================

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #62 on: Fri, 19 September 2014, 22:32:38 »
However, the major issue is that many proposed changes require redesign of the PCB and case.

Does anyone willing to take the job?
Thatís correct. If we can come up with a design that people like, Iím happy to design a lister-style case, and Iím quite confident I can convince someone to help out with the PCB. Making a PCB takes work, but itís relatively straightforward work, without too many design decisions. Figuring out the design to make is the harder part to get right.

Quote
I have no idea what the optimal design would be, however, at least to me, the major issue is not the thumb cluster, but the pinky finger.

The problem is that with the current layout (qwerty), my left pinky is too heavily loaded. There are two approaches to solve my problem, one is to redesign the layout, but I would need some to retrain my finger and this would be a long process. I don't have time for the time being. The second means is to adjust the staggering of the pinky column, because I use the '1', 'q', 'a', 'z' keys a lot, yet to reach '1' and 'q', the left pinky finger need larger movements. Thus lower the pinky column can shorten the moving distance of the pinky.
Youíll notice that some of my mockups have the pinky columns shifted down a bit compared to the current design. The optimal spot is probably almost a full key below the ring finger column, but Iíve heard from at least two people who didnít like quite so much stagger, and I wanted to stay relatively close to the original Ergodox design, so I only shifted it down by a little bit.

The other very helpful change is to use keycaps for the further away rows which are taller than the keycaps for the nearer rows. For instance, thatís what I was indicating with the colors in mockups like this one:



(this is a diagram slightly more relevant to a standard keyboard, but you get the idea)

Even better would be to have all the pinky keys raised up higher than the other rows, the way e.g. the Maltron has, but that requires abandoning the single flat PCB/plate, and makes a keyboard much more difficult to manufacture. But just shifting the pinky row closer to the body by half a key and using taller keycaps for further-away rows is a big improvement.
« Last Edit: Fri, 19 September 2014, 22:52:00 by jacobolus »

Offline dorkvader

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #63 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 12:33:55 »
To understand why requires thinking about hand and thumb anatomy. When you make a squeezing motion with your thumb in toward your palm, you mainly flex the metacarpophalangeal joint (that is, the second joint from the fingertip).

This is my issue (with people's proposed ergo designs): so many people's hands are different, you can't make an ergo KB for them all, or even most. I think the only thing you can do is just make a KB individualized to each person.

For example, I just tried this and notice that my second joint from the tip does not move much at all. Almost the entirety of my thumb's motion comes from moving the other two joints. My left hand, which is significantly more flexible is different: there' I have enough mobility in my second joint to do that sort of motion as you describe.
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Offline PieterGen

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #64 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 14:33:39 »
...there are alternative designs that would be better still ...If you do some detailed study of what positions and motions of your thumb have the best strength and agility, I think you’ll find that pressing roughly downward (like the motion you’d use on a standard keyboard spacebar) is quite a bit stronger than the squeezing motion you’d use on your proposed setup. Finally, the squeezing motion can’t benefit from some slight assist from a rotating wrist that you sometimes get with a downward-ish press.


^ Agree ^ Good explanation. Thanks by the way for all thoughts & sketches, they really help me, as a source of inspiration, in the design of my own keyboard.

Edit: The silly USA patent system lets keyboard ideas be patented. Yep, hand separation, tenting and angling are patentable "break through inventions", apparently....  Anyway, I found a patent that was issued to a certain Redmond based patent giant, that nevertheless contains interesting figures. Of field test with respondents who could indicate their optimal degrees of tenting etc.   http://www.google.com/patents/US7338224

« Last Edit: Sat, 20 September 2014, 15:35:12 by PieterGen »

Offline PieterGen

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #65 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 14:49:57 »
We have had some discussion on whether or not bigger (than 1x1) keys are needed for the thumbs. I'd now like to pose the same question for the pinky keys.  ;D

Fact #1: The part of the pinky that touches the keycap has a small surface. Smaller that that of other fingers
Fact #2: The bones in the pinky (called the phalanx bones: the distal phalanx, carrying the nail, the middle phalanx, and the proximal phalanx) are shorter than the bones in the other fingers. Meaning: if you flex or extend the pinky, that little finger does not move far. In other words: both the bottom row key and the top row key should be closer to the how row key. 

Smaller keycaps, more closely together (vertically) might solve the problem. We will get away with smaller keycaps, since our pinky tips are smaller; and it givces the possibility to put them closer together. A problem is though: are there smaller keycaps on the market for Cherry MX switches? And is it possible tou mount the switches closer together?

Thoughts? Or am I solving a  non-problem?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #66 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 16:40:11 »
Smaller keycaps, more closely together (vertically) might solve the problem. We will get away with smaller keycaps, since our pinky tips are smaller; and it givces the possibility to put them closer together.  A problem is though: are there smaller keycaps on the market for Cherry MX switches? And is it possible tou mount the switches closer together? [bold added]
Not really, no.

In general, slightly rectangular keycaps would be beneficial for all the keys on a column-staggered keyboard, for everyone with small-to-average-sized hands. But for a project aiming to be similar to the Ergodox, itís nice to let people use standard 3/4" keycaps.

I agree with you that the pinkies donít need 1.5u keys on the sides. Iím not sure whether itís better to stay similar to the standard Ergodox, or better to try to make improvements to the pinky columns by altering the design a bit.

I think something like this design would work pretty well, but it might be better to just stick to the way the Ergodox does it.
« Last Edit: Sat, 20 September 2014, 17:18:13 by jacobolus »

Offline Findecanor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #67 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 18:12:53 »
Iím happy to design a lister-style case, and Iím quite confident I can convince someone to help out with the PCB.
I don't feel ready to lead the PCB design, but I would be willing to proof-read Kicad and QCad files. (and suggest improvements, of course... )

Quote
I have no idea what the optimal design would be, however, at least to me, the major issue is not the thumb cluster, but the pinky finger.
Youíll notice that some of my mockups have the pinky columns shifted down a bit compared to the current design.
I think we should look at the Japanese M-system keyboards for how big the staggering should be. Who has one that we could measure?

Even better would be to have all the pinky keys raised up higher than the other rows
You could lift them a little bit using different keycaps, but that will give you only a very small difference.
I did that on my ErgoDox (see OP) where I got custom WASD keyboards caps in OEM profile made to match my BTC caps in DCS profile. Shifting one row would be even better.

A problem is though: are there smaller keycaps on the market for Cherry MX switches? And is it possible tou mount the switches closer together?
1: Not really. 2: You could cut away portion of the skirt on each keycap and mount the switches closer together, but then more of the switch would be visible.
Daily driver: Phantom (Lubed Cherry MX Clear, Lasered Cherry PBT keycaps with Row A. Plastic "Frankencase". Custom firmware, Swedish layout)

Offline SonOfSonOfSpock

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #68 on: Sat, 20 September 2014, 22:23:16 »
This thread talks a little bit about smaller key caps.
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=61786.0

I am glad you brought up the keys being closer for the pinky column. I like that idea and have thought that for flat boards, that would be more ergonomic. I think if this design were to bring the pinky keys closer together, we would have to switch to Alps or Matias switches which are slightly more compact than Cherry MX switches. Getting compatible Alps key caps for such a board would be much more difficult.

Offline PieterGen

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #69 on: Sun, 21 September 2014, 08:53:05 »
This thread talks a little bit about smaller key caps.
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=61786.0
Thanks.  Still, bringing the keys closer together is hard (without using different switches, like Alps etc).

suka found, in a way, a nice solution for "raising the key caps of the pinky row". If you look here you see a curved board. Compared to a flat tented board, the pinkies are raised (farther away from the surface of the earth, so to speak)

Suppose you take such a curved board, let's say for the left hand. You put it on the table. You put your thumb keys on the table as well, roughly near the Menu and Meta keys... then you have, I think, a fairly good height difference between the finger keys and the thumb keys.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #70 on: Sun, 21 September 2014, 14:03:43 »
suka found, in a way, a nice solution for "raising the key caps of the pinky row". If you look here
Show Image
you see a curved board. Compared to a flat tented board, the pinkies are raised (farther away from the surface of the earth, so to speak)
This is nice for making a one-off DIY keyboard that is very small and looks pretty, but itís both ergonomically sub-optimal (if anything the pinky keys should be oriented so they angle very slightly the other way Ė while still being raised up Ė since thatís the direction the pinkies actually move) and also very difficult to mass produce.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #71 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 01:30:12 »
I made a quick laser-cut acrylic prototype of the ďminiĒ version. Ignore the specific legends shown on the keycaps here; I was just trying to get keycaps that were close to the right profile (some of them could be a bit better, but this is okay).




I added an extra .25 units of stagger to the pinky columns compared to the version shown upthread, based on my own hand shape. I found this to be a pretty good layout, but Yao, who has smaller and a bit differently shaped hands than I do, found that for her the main pinky column is staggered a bit more than she would prefer; I think the stagger shown earlier would be good for her. So Iím going to try making another version soon with some tweaks, including scooting the pinky column(s) a bit.

Iíll take some better pictures of this one in the daytime when thereís some light.
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 03:28:15 by jacobolus »

Offline kurplop

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #72 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 07:49:15 »

Show Image



I like this design.  It has an adequate number of keys for a multi layer keyboard.  It looks comfortable and simple.  The thumb keys appear to be well placed and everything is within reach.  By keeping the thumb cluster tight, it avoids the problem of getting too tall when tenting; This is especially important if using a pointing device between the halves.

I would recommend the less aggressive pinky column stagger if in doubt.

Why did you choose the staggered number row?  It seems to me that keeping them in their corresponding columns would keep everything tighter, be more consistent with conventional placement, avoid gaps between them (unless you use larger caps which would be difficult to find), and could allow room for an additional key per side in the same footprint, if desired.

I'm excited about this.  Overall, I think you've got yourself a winner there.  It's what the ErgoDox should have been!

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #73 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 07:52:18 »
Quite nice!
I would like to have the top row packet (no so sparse) but I like it anyway.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #74 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 13:20:48 »
Why did you choose the staggered number row?  It seems to me that keeping them in their corresponding columns would keep everything tighter, be more consistent with conventional placement, avoid gaps between them (unless you use larger caps which would be difficult to find), and could allow room for an additional key per side in the same footprint, if desired.
This way the number row keys are extremely easy to find and impossible to make mistakes on. They pretty much follow the natural shape of the hand if you just open your fingers out; if they were all tightly packed, then most fingers would end up just slightly off of a key when you open your hand out.

The reason this is particularly important to me is I want to make a layout where I use the top row keys as modifiers (option, command, control, shift; with shift probably also duplicated to the side of the pinkies or on a thumb). This makes it very easy to use keyboard shortcuts, even ones with 2Ė4 modifiers, without the awkward hand contortions required by a typical keyboard.

The alternative way to get this kind of spread would be to angle the full columns of keys, but unfortunately unless smaller / differently shaped keycaps are used, this ends up taking up more space overall. It also would pull the design noticeably further away from the Ergodox design.

For folks who want the extra keys packed in on the top row, I think Iíd recommend just using the bigger version, which is more suited to copying layouts from the Ergodox or a conventional keyboard:
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 13:22:45 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #75 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 16:04:07 »
Adding some more images:


Top row still takes a bit of hand reach; would be a bit better with a slightly taller keycap, but this is still much better than a standard keyboard or even an ergodox IMO:


With the index finger raised so you can see the other three fingers on the bottom row:
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 16:16:48 by jacobolus »

Offline sordna

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #76 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 16:17:29 »
This thread talks about fixing the thumb section, but all the proposed designs ruin the bottom row (some of us actually like the kinesis advantage style arrow keys).
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #77 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 16:24:03 »
This thread talks about fixing the thumb section, but all the proposed designs ruin the bottom row (some of us actually like the kinesis advantage style arrow keys).
Well personally I think the row two rows below the home row is hard enough to reach that Iím not going to use those keys for anything either way, so I couldnít care less what happens to it (at least, for the keys not within reach of the thumb). However, of the people Iíve asked about it, the majority seem to appreciate arrow keys in an inverted T or diamond shape. I think this is just one of those things that folks are going to disagree about.

I wouldnít be averse to a straight row across the bottom if more people prefer it that way.

By Kinesis Advantage style arrows, you mean up/down on one hand and right/left on the other hand? Personally I think that sounds terrible, since many of the times I want to use arrow keys come when Iím simultaneously using a pointing device with my other hand, but Iíve never tried it, so I canít properly judge.

Do you have a preferred layout idea? Care sharing a picture?
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 16:33:14 by jacobolus »

Offline sordna

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #78 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 18:41:04 »
In my case I do use the left-right arrows on one hand and up-down on the other. Basically I use the Kinesis layout on my ergodox except I swap up-down to mimic the use of index/middle fingers on VI.
However other folks put all arrows on one side.
Anyway my main point is that this thread is about the thumb area, but has strayed into other areas of the keyboard that aren't really problematic :-)
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #79 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 22:54:05 »
Anyway my main point is that this thread is about the thumb area, but has strayed into other areas of the keyboard that aren't really problematic :-)
Well, personally I donít like the bottom row, right-hand side, or amounts of column stagger on the Ergodox, either. Itís just that the thumb section is the most obviously flawed (IMO).

But someone who wants to build an ergodox using one of the thumb sections proposed here, or some spinoff Ė and otherwise leave the rest of the keyboard precisely like the existing ergodox Ė is welcome to.

Anyway though, did you have an opinion about any of the thumb key designs proposed here? Or other ideas for how youíd prefer the thumb keys to be arranged?
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 22:56:22 by jacobolus »

Offline sordna

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #80 on: Sat, 04 October 2014, 23:10:58 »
My opinion on the thumb clusters is to simply bring them closer to the hands. I had posted these photos on the original ErgoDox thread as there are 2 possibilities for bringing them closer, one involves moving them inwards and down, and the other inwards but shrinking the innermost column bottom key to 1x so it fits.
« Last Edit: Sat, 04 October 2014, 23:19:00 by sordna »
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #81 on: Sun, 05 October 2014, 02:40:10 »
My opinion on the thumb clusters is to simply bring them closer to the hands. I had posted these photos on the original ErgoDox thread as there are 2 possibilities for bringing them closer, one involves moving them inwards and down, and the other inwards but shrinking the innermost column bottom key to 1x so it fits.
Have you tried either of those out on your own hands, e.g. on a paper mockup? I find that the Ergodox thumb keys are already closer to the body than ideal (i.e. downward along the "y axis"; at least for someone with small to medium hands), but both of your alternative versions are moving them even closer.

So I take it you find the layout of the thumb keys to be effective. If you could design any keyboard shape possible, would you leave it with thumb keys in that current shape? Or you just think itís okay, and youíre now familiar with it?

What do you use the keys for? I suspect I would still find 3Ė4 of the keys in your ďfixedĒ layout basically unreachable for routine typing; do you you use those 1x1 keys frequently?

Online daerid

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #82 on: Sun, 05 October 2014, 13:42:04 »
TBH, the ErgoDox would be absolutely fantastic for me if the thumb clusters were just a small distance closer. That way I wouldn't have to move my thumb laterally to hit the space bar, which is what was primarily causing my hand pain.

Also, I think at the very least I'd probably want a 2x space bar on the right side (since I only hit the space bar with my right thumb).

Acidfire's project still seems like it's going to be the jackpot in modularity and customizability.

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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #83 on: Sun, 05 October 2014, 15:30:21 »
TBH, the ErgoDox would be absolutely fantastic for me if the thumb clusters were just a small distance closer. [...] Also, I think at the very least I'd probably want a 2x space bar on the right side.
These two goals are impossible to simultaneously satisfy in a simple way. The corners of the primary thumb key and the corner index finger keys (N/B in QWERTY) coincide. If you start moving the thumb keys up and in, you have to make them smaller or they collide with those finger keys.

If you relax the 2x1 size constraint though, then this kind of thing would be possible:

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #84 on: Sun, 05 October 2014, 17:31:05 »
If you relax the 2x1 size constraint though, then this kind of thing would be possible:
Show Image

Now make the inner column keys all 1x1 and that moves their bottom border a little bit up and then you can also move the top two thumb cluster keys more to the right ... and you will have it almost like on Katy  ;D

Well, for a flat keyboard, I think your acrylic prototype looks better, except that sparse top row  >:D

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #85 on: Mon, 06 October 2014, 00:51:42 »
Small, medium, large:

Offline nacitar

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #86 on: Mon, 06 October 2014, 11:49:17 »
TBH, the ErgoDox would be absolutely fantastic for me if the thumb clusters were just a small distance closer. [...] Also, I think at the very least I'd probably want a 2x space bar on the right side.
These two goals are impossible to simultaneously satisfy in a simple way. The corners of the primary thumb key and the corner index finger keys (N/B in QWERTY) coincide. If you start moving the thumb keys up and in, you have to make them smaller or they collide with those finger keys.

If you relax the 2x1 size constraint though, then this kind of thing would be possible:
Show Image


This one is the best so far imo.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #87 on: Wed, 08 October 2014, 20:51:01 »
Tweak to the mini version prototype:


I think the pinky column is probably almost as good for me (the top row key is now a bit more of a reach; pinkies are short!), and better for some other people; overall probably an improvement. The tweaked thumb section tweak is noticeably better: the angle of further keys is closer to the angle the thumb actually sits at, and the other two bottom row keys are slightly less reach; the two taller 1u keys are about the same.

I now find these thumb keys extremely usable. For people with large hands the closer 1.5u key is probably going to be best as a spacebar. For people with small hands (or medium sized hands who angle their hands a bit more relative to the keyboard) the further 1.25u key (in this pic, the blue arrows) might be better. All 6 of the thumb keys should be pretty easy to reach for almost all hand shapes (though certain types of RSI might make some of them harder to use).

For the folks who donít like the spread-apart top row: donít knock it until youíve tried it. I find these keys now very easy to target, noticeably easier than the top row on an Ergodox, because they follow the natural spread of the extended fingers. In general, I advocate assigning them to something other than numbers, and putting the numbers on a layer in either a numpad layout or

Comparison to Ergodox:


Note that because the pinky row is .5u closer to the body than on the Ergodox (ďdownwardď in the ďy directionĒ), the hand ends up at a different angle to the keyboard, so the two big thumb keys here end up a bit closer in practice than on the Ergodox, even though from this comparison they look to be in about the same spot.

That is, in practice the comparison is a bit more like this:


* * *

Iíll try to prototype one or more larger keyboards sometime in the near future.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:18:09 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #88 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:07:19 »
For the folks who donít like the spread-apart top row: donít knock it until youíve tried it. I find these keys now very easy to target, noticeably easier than the top row on an Ergodox, because they follow the natural spread of the extended fingers.
Just my opinion about this.
Also that is true for index finger and little finger when in most relaxed straightened position (if we can call straight finger relaxed at all). Index finger and little finger are quite good at small radial movement when almost straight. The more bent they are the more packed the natural position is. So the sparse top row leads you to two less keys in the top row for hardly any improvement in reachability. You are replacing two keys with one key at the position just between them. And you are doing it for both index finger and little finger.
May be a good trade for people who like layering a lot. I'm more in the group of people who like a lot of keys (if they are still reachable without moving the hand).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #89 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:18:57 »
The people who like a lot of keys can choose from many other keyboards. :-)

Anyway: give it a shot. You might find that you like the gaps. It makes it almost impossible to make errors on these keys, something which definitely cannot be said for the number row on a conventional keyboard.

Also: the potential two extra keys that could be added, one on each end (if we crammed the rest of the top row together), would be quite noticeably harder to reach than any of the keys that are currently on this keyboard. Personally I think the extra index finger key would be especially uncomfortable to reach, but the top row pinky key there already takes some hand movement, and a key scooted half a unit further away would also be that much harder to get to.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:24:22 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #90 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:50:50 »
Comparison with split TKL board:


On this keyboard every key is easily reachable, and pretty much every easily reachable spot has a key on it. (At least, to the extent possible on a flat keyboard.)

Really highlights how many of the keys on a standard keyboard are hard to reach (in particular escape, delete, return, right shift, and all the ctrl/alt/meta keys, all very important in modern operating systems), and how much some valuable possible motions are wasted (especially for the thumbs).

The comparison doesnít even quite do it justice, because on a standard keyboard the hand is usually angled over (because thereís no tenting), making the index fingers and pinkies both less able to reach than if they hands were comfortably straight above the board.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 October 2014, 03:57:20 by jacobolus »

Offline kurplop

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #91 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 08:29:50 »
I can see how the spread top row keys could be more natural to reach and if you're convinced that it is you shouldn't compromise what you think is ideal spacing.

My concerns are more visual. As it is, it reminds me of a mouth badly in need of orthodontic work, and with the staggered columns a simple 1.25 cap fix would still leave small square cavities in it. Also, while the extra top keys may be more difficult to reach and might be unnecessary with layers, a case could be posited that it could be desirable to have a few keys that are less convenient to access; layer locks for example.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #92 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 17:19:07 »
My concerns are more visual. As it is, it reminds me of a mouth badly in need of orthodontic work, and with the staggered columns a simple 1.25 cap fix would still leave small square cavities in it.
Yep, it would be possible to put 1.25 caps in there (and for that reason it might even be worth scooting the other index finger cap over by an extra .25u to make that uniformly possible, or scooting both index finger keys closer by .125u so that if the other three get 1.25u keycaps there will be no gaps), and I think that sounds like a generally reasonable idea.

This kind of thing:


The reason I have them shown as 1x1 keys is that I want to use SPís DCS keycaps on this thing (since those are fairly easily available), but not quite the standard way: I want to use DCS row 5 on the top row, so the profile of each column looks like:

(note that Iím skipping the traditional ďhome rowĒ [row 3] keycap shape, so I can get some increased height to the further-away rows; this makes them easier to reach, and easier to fully press with an extended finger without touching the neighboring keys)

But DCS row 5 only comes with 1x1 size keycaps.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 October 2014, 17:36:56 by jacobolus »

Offline kurplop

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #93 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 19:00:12 »
If you are sold on the upper row positioning, I think the ergo factor should trump the look and given the DCS availability, you should stick to your earlier plan.

Will all of the components fit within the footprint shown?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #94 on: Thu, 09 October 2014, 20:40:12 »
Will all of the components fit within the footprint shown?
What do you mean? Like, can a PCB be made within that footprint? Sure. An ARM chip that will drive a keyboard is a square less than half an inch on a side (like .35Ė.4"?), so it will fit pretty much anywhere.

* * *

Also, the outline here is just what I was using for my laser-cut acrylic mockup. It might be better to make a case for this in a different shape. For instance, itís possible to make a very simple keyboard case by just using one piece of bent metal, which serves as both the plate and the ďcaseĒ, with nothing on the other side of the PCB; such construction is relatively cheap because the whole keyboard is just 2 pieces of cut and then bent sheet metal, two PCBs, switches, keycaps, a cable between the halves, and a handful of other components, mostly surface-mount. Or a case could be made from layered Acrylic, or two pieces of metal with standoffs in between, or a big block of CNCd plastic/wood/metal, or.... Different construction methods call for somewhat different shapes, I expect.

For the simple bent metal case, for example, it might be necessary to have some straight sides, for the bend. So maybe it would end up along the lines of:

Or maybe something totally angular. Or maybe like something else entirely, Iím not sure.
« Last Edit: Thu, 09 October 2014, 20:52:54 by jacobolus »

Online daerid

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #95 on: Sat, 11 October 2014, 23:48:26 »
I'm sorry, I forgot to clarify (been on my honeymoon).

When I said 2x1 spacebar, I meant horizontal. Having some lateral distance available for the space bar is probably the most important

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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #96 on: Sun, 12 October 2014, 01:12:01 »
I'm sorry, I forgot to clarify (been on my honeymoon).

When I said 2x1 spacebar, I meant horizontal. Having some lateral distance available for the space bar is probably the most important
Aha. Youíd probably like Matiasís new 2.5x1.5 spacebar keycaps.

I wonder if thereís a good way to support both skinny and wide spacebars; personally I donít find the skinny ones to be a problem, provided theyíre in the right spot.

Also, congrats! :)

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #97 on: Sun, 19 October 2014, 00:41:42 »
One possible embedded numpad layout, which stays fairly close to the standard numpad.

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #98 on: Thu, 23 October 2014, 06:53:49 »
One possible embedded numpad layout, which stays fairly close to the standard numpad.
Show Image


You guys are just asssuming that those angles for the thumb key will fit.. 

It'd be better if that piece is horizontal. 

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #99 on: Thu, 23 October 2014, 16:17:54 »
One possible embedded numpad layout, which stays fairly close to the standard numpad.
Show Image

You guys are just asssuming that those angles for the thumb key will fit.. 
It'd be better if that piece is horizontal.
What do you mean assuming that the angles will fit? I built a physical copy of this and wired it up. I like it much better than the Ergodox, at least for my own size/shape hands (fairly medium sized).

Offline PieterGen

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #100 on: Sat, 25 October 2014, 16:28:45 »
I really like your Mini version. So much, that I'm volunteering to be your guinea pig :-)  In other words, I like to build it and share my thoughts. What are the keycaps in your pics? Are those the profile you recommend?

How reachable are the upper thumb keys (ESC and = in Reply #97) ? What use do you envision for the thumb keys: modifiers that need to be held down (like ctrl, alt, or layer shifts) or rather "normal keys" like the ESC and = keys  [yes I know this is in the numbers layer] ? 

Related: what would be the best switches? 'hold down' keys may be better served with linear switches, right? reds? blacks?  How about reds or blacks for all thumb keys and blues for the rest ?

Slightly off topic: My ideal would be a completely wireless setup. The easiest & safest may be: each half having it's own controller plus a (low energy) connection, be it wifi or Bluetooth (LE). This combined with a receiver that contains the "brains". Preferably small, the size of a USB-drive). This means 3 things to transport (2 halves + USB receiver) . But: no cords. Plus it's safer, because eavesdroppers can only intercept the individual keys, that do not have much meaning in a layered keyboard. They cannot hear the actual key codes that are sent to the computer, because those are calculated in the USB-receiver.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #101 on: Sat, 25 October 2014, 22:56:03 »
I really like your Mini version. So much, that I'm volunteering to be your guinea pig :-)  In other words, I like to build it and share my thoughts. What are the keycaps in your pics? Are those the profile you recommend?
The (Alps mount) keycaps in my pics come from a Canon typewriter. They are maybe halfway between Signature Plasticsí SS and DSS profiles.

I like the profile reasonably well, but itís not quite ideal. I wouldnít recommend it because itís very difficult to find a copy of.

I would highly recommend using something sculptured. DCS is fine, or SS, or Cherry profile, or ďOEMĒ profile, or whatever. I wouldnít recommend using SA or DSA.

Quote
How reachable are the upper thumb keys (ESC and = in Reply #97)?
Very easy to reach, provided that the keycaps are sufficiently tall. They need to be tall enough compared to the other thumb keys so that when you press one all the way down your thumb doesnít touch the key below. One thing that would work would be to use DSA profile for the lower thumb keys and SA (not sure which row is best) for those two keys. Alternately DCS row 5 works pretty well for these.

Quote
What use do you envision for the thumb keys: modifiers that need to be held down (like ctrl, alt, or layer shifts) or rather "normal keys" like the ESC and = keys  [yes I know this is in the numbers layer] ? 
I can imagine this keyboard being used in several different ways, depending on personal preference. Iíll try to give some specific layout ideas in the near future.

Quote
Related: what would be the best switches? 'hold down' keys may be better served with linear switches, right? reds? blacks?  How about reds or blacks for all thumb keys and blues for the rest ?
Personally Iím not a big fan of Cherry MX, but Iíd use whatever switches you like. My little prototype is Matias clicky switches, but I just used those because I had a handy bag of them and they were pretty cheap so I donít mind if I break some.

Quote
Slightly off topic: My ideal would be a completely wireless setup. The easiest & safest may be: each half having it's own controller plus a (low energy) connection, be it wifi or Bluetooth (LE). This combined with a receiver that contains the "brains". Preferably small, the size of a USB-drive). This means 3 things to transport (2 halves + USB receiver).
I wouldnít recommend this for a prototype, but sounds like a great idea for someone to play with. Maybe HaaTaís firmware could be tweaked to support such a setup.

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #102 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 04:01:09 »
Jacobolus, when you want to compensate for contoured keywell with keycaps maybe you can get access to a cheapest 3dPrinter ever - some reprap. It is actually possible to print usable keycaps with a reprap: http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=43362.0
It will not look very pretty but you can achieve funny shapes. Though it may not be practical since you may want to use only off-the-shelf keycaps.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #103 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 15:17:31 »
For just experimenting, piling some kind of polymer clay or silicone on top of low-profile keycaps is sufficient to make various shapes, in just as effective a way as a cheap 3d printer will manage.

But yeah, for a flat PCB/plate keyboard, the goal is to figure out which easily available keycaps work best.

Offline Findecanor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #104 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 17:28:51 »
I think you are changing too much. Do the thumb clusters, fix the bugs and add some options. Changing the numeric row is unnecessary.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #105 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 17:38:08 »
The way I personally plan to proceed is to advocate that Massdrop:
(1) Continue to offer the Ergodox kits in their standard layout, but with the PCB and plate/case redesigned to save a bit of bezel space and move an ARM chip directly onto the PCB instead of using a Teensy 2.0, and of course to be compatible with Alps/Matias switches. Possibly use a different connector like a 4P4C telephone plug instead of TRRS. Possibly offer different case construction methods, for instance something like the Infinity keyboardís bent metal construction, instead of layered acrylic. Even if itís layered acrylic, slightly improve the thicknesses of the various layers.
(2) Additionally offer alternate-layout kits, in maybe a couple of designs. I want to figure out the best layout I can that is spiritually similar to the Ergodox, but I donít feel any strong responsibility to preserve particular layout features in a new design.

I think you are changing too much. Do the thumb clusters, fix the bugs and add some options.
Well, for example, I think the current column stagger on the Ergodox is a significant design flaw. Increasing the amount of column stagger allows the hand to be positioned at a much straighter angle to the columns, and brings the thumb keys much closer to the natural resting position of the thumb.

The current Ergodox is basically an as-close-as-possible copy of the Kinesis Advantage layout, but a flat design needs some layout tweaks to continue to be effective, compared to a sculpted design, since the shape of human hands doesnít change.

* * *

With that said, if you have a particular layout that you want to see happen, go ahead and make some mockups (or better yet, build a prototype!). Or are you entirely satisfied with your modded Ergodox design?
« Last Edit: Sun, 26 October 2014, 17:46:27 by jacobolus »

Offline sordna

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #106 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 21:04:40 »
Well, for example, I think the current column stagger on the Ergodox is a significant design flaw.

Actually the stagger is not too bad. If anything I would lower the pinky columns a bit. I disagree with designs showing a very pronounced stagger because while the middle finger is longer when extended, when you curl your fingers to hit the bottom rows, the fingers all come to very similar positions. You need to take into account the finger position for all rows of the keyboard and find a column stagger that is the best compromise.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #107 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 21:34:18 »
Actually the [Ergodox] stagger is not too bad. If anything I would lower the pinky columns a bit. I disagree with designs showing a very pronounced stagger because while the middle finger is longer when extended, when you curl your fingers to hit the bottom rows, the fingers all come to very similar positions. You need to take into account the finger position for all rows of the keyboard and find a column stagger that is the best compromise.
Have you tried it?

Having just tested this (a couple weeks ago) by directly comparing a couple of prototypes, I can safely say the for my hands at least, 1/4u stagger between the middle finger column and the index/ring finger columns makes a substantial improvement when compared to 1/8u stagger. For myself, I would make the stagger even a bit more than that (perhaps 3/8u or even 1/2u of stagger), but I think 1/4u is a fair compromise.

I donít plan to use any keys which are two rows below the home row, or if I did, I would build a sculpted board which orients those switches at a steep angle. For just one row below the home row, I donít imagine anyone is going to have a problem with 1/4u stagger of the middle finger. Iíve tested the 1/4u stagger on friends with tiny hands and with enormous hands, and it seems to be reasonably effective for everyone.

The stagger on the Ergodox is much too limited, in my personal experience/opinion, and the experience of several other people Iíve talked to about it. Prototype keyboards with more stagger are substantially more comfortable.

As for the pinky column: when you say lower, you mean move it closer to the body? Yes, I agree. For myself, I would put the pinky column 3/4u closer to the body than the ring finger column. However, in testing, several people found that to be too much stagger for that column. As a compromise, 1/2u of stagger for the pinky column seems to work pretty well for everyone Iíve tested it on, even though it now requires a bit of reaching to get the pinky to reach the top/number row.

Obviously, testing on even more people would be helpful.

One thing to note: the angle of the hand relative to the keyboard makes a large difference. Most people are used to angling their hands quite a bit relative to the keyboard, as well as tilting their wrists slightly upward on the thumb side, because they are used to a standard QWERY keyboard. If you switch to a completely straight grid/matrix board, then itís still natural to angle the hands quite substantially relative to the direction of the grid (maybe 20Ė30į) and tilt the wrists. However, on a column-staggered board with sufficient stagger between columns, it suddenly becomes possible/comfortable to orient the hands quite straight relative to the columns, and re-orient the whole half keyboard to best align with the wrist, turning, tilting, and moving it until it is maximally comfortable.

Itís obviously a bit better to add some vertical height difference between columns, which reduces the need for a horizontal stagger between columns (the Maltron and Kinesis both do this, the Maltron more effectively than the Kinesis in my opinion), but that gets much more difficult and expensive to manufacture.
« Last Edit: Sun, 26 October 2014, 21:45:15 by jacobolus »

Offline kurplop

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #108 on: Sun, 26 October 2014, 23:27:48 »
I found that too much of a stagger complicates the profiles of the keycaps. That is, an over aggressive stagger was interfering with lateral finger movements on one of my prototypes.  Like Sordna, I found that with curled fingers a minimal stagger was adequate.

The problem is that not everyone has the same size hands or the same hand positioning on the keyboard. I think you're on the right track getting as many people as possible to test your layout and then find a compromise that will accommodate most people. I do think that you have a very good design already.


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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #109 on: Tue, 28 October 2014, 06:48:44 »
but that gets much more difficult and expensive to manufacture.
I've been thinking in terms of origami recently, particularly curved folds.

Offline PieterGen

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #110 on: Fri, 31 October 2014, 11:55:56 »
@jacobolus and others:

- any hints on where to find some DCS row 1,2,4,5 profile thick PTB blank keys? (Yes, I know the All Keycaps Site List)

- or would an 'OEM profile' do as well?

- lastly: if you would mount the switches stepped and at an angle, you could use uniform keys, right? Like, DSA. The construction of the board itself would be more difficult, but it would be much easier to find printed key caps, because now uniform key caps can be put on any key. I have no idea if this is doable?

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #111 on: Fri, 31 October 2014, 14:33:11 »
- any hints on where to find some DCS row 1,2,4,5 profile thick PTB blank keys? (Yes, I know the All Keycaps Site List)
DCS keycaps can be ordered from signature plastics. This is expensive in small batches, but becomes still-expensive-but-not-world-ending at larger order sizes.

Quote
- or would an 'OEM profile' do as well?
It might, try it out! I donít have any OEM profile keycaps with an extra-tall function row, but I do believe they exist. (Though at that point those caps are getting really tall and youíll probably get some bonus wobble.)

Just the standard rows of OEM, Cherry, DSA, SS, or similar profile work okay for the main keyboard section. I just think skipping a row and using extra-tall-f-row caps for the number row works even better.

Itís pretty important on the Ergodox (or on my designs) for the two further-away thumb keys to be substantially taller than the closer ones, so that when you press the further ones the closer ones donít actuate. The number row and home row of Cherry profile or DSA or whatever might have enough height step for this, but the extra-tall f-row caps are recommended. (Or if using spherical caps, I think SA row 2 for the far keys and DSA for the close thumb keys would work pretty well.)

Quote
- lastly: if you would mount the switches stepped and at an angle, you could use uniform keys, right? Like, DSA.
I would mount them stepped but not at an angle (or a bit of angle might help for the bottom row). The angled tops are not crucial if you can add your own arbitrary height step. But yeah, thatís much more difficult and expensive to produce, especially at scale.

Offline steve.v

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fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #112 on: Sat, 01 November 2014, 23:39:03 »
Have you considered making the pinky column a few cm(s) lower to compensate for its shorter length? I understand that each hand/fingers sizes are different among people; however I believe our pinkies are shorter than the other fingers and may benefit with a slightly lowered pinky column keys.

-update
After reading some recent comments, I am surprised to see the mentioning of a lowered pinky column; I thought I was the only one. The ergodox is truly a stepping stone in the right direction for a fine ergonomic keyboard, I think your layout may finish it and bring it very close to perfection. For me the two biggest changes that I would make to my ergodox is, have a closer thumb cluster of buttons, which you've implemented; and second, have a lowered pinky column cluster than the ring fingers.
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 November 2014, 00:45:43 by steve.v »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #113 on: Sun, 02 November 2014, 00:34:23 »
Have you considered making the pinky column a few cm(s) lower [...] For me the two biggest changes that I would make to my ergodox is, have a closer thumb cluster of buttons, which you've implemented; and second, have a lowered pinky column cluster than the ring fingers.
This prototype had a very aggressively shifted pinky column, which I quite liked, but got feedback from 3 other people who tried it that the pinky column was shifted too much:


So in the next prototype I shifted it back a little bit:

Offline steve.v

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fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #114 on: Sun, 02 November 2014, 00:45:57 »
Looking at your mockups I noticed the columns next to the index fingers are of same stagger positions, such as the T G B keys on the left hand; do you think a very small adjustment to have it lowered might be beneficial? I think that due to the natural lateral movements of the index fingers to reach other keys outside of its column it should be slightly lowered.
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 November 2014, 00:51:21 by steve.v »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #115 on: Sun, 02 November 2014, 01:17:44 »
Looking at your mockups I noticed the columns next to the index fingers are of same stagger positions, such as the T G B keys on the left hand; do you think a very small adjustment to have it lowered might be beneficial? I think that due to the natural lateral movements of the index fingers to reach other keys outside of its column it should be slightly lowered.
Personally I find reaching diagonally sideways-and-upward to be a much easier motion than diagonally sideways-and-downward. Note that with the more aggressive stagger for the middle finger and pinky columns (compared to the ergodox), the hand will naturally fit at a straighter angle relative to the columns, making the direction of index finger motion a bit different than it would be on the ergodox.

It would probably be possible to guarantee every key was ideally reachable with a layout that drops some keys, like this, but then it would be basically impossible to put a QWERTY (or Dvorak, Colemak, etc.) layout on it:
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 November 2014, 01:20:09 by jacobolus »

Offline plainbriny

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #116 on: Sun, 02 November 2014, 01:51:50 »
QWERTY or even Dvoark are not very ergonomic.

I think layout is secondary to the physical arrangement.

I have been considering custom layout on my ergodox seriously,
but haven't got the time and determination to do it.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #117 on: Sun, 02 November 2014, 02:03:29 »
QWERTY or even Dvoark are not very ergonomic.

I think layout is secondary to the physical arrangement.
Absolutely, it makes sense to design a new letter map to go along with a new physical layout, but if one of my design constraints here is to make something thatís a spiritual successor to the Ergodox, I think itís a bad idea to make it impossible to put QWERTY on it, since itís entirely reasonable for people to want to move the physical keys but not totally invalidate their muscle memory.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #118 on: Sat, 22 November 2014, 23:19:43 »
I'm really, really liking the direction this is going in , but I still think I'm going to need a wide spacebar. Lemme see if I can draw something up

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #119 on: Sat, 22 November 2014, 23:53:55 »
If this works out, I would love to make a custom layout Model F with split halves along the lines of:

or

Where the spacebars are Wheelwriter ďcodeĒ keys. (And with two sets of capacitive pads under any 1x2 keys, in case someone preferred to have two 1x1 keys instead.)

(Since a Model F plate is curved, everything has to be aligned to a grid.)
« Last Edit: Sun, 23 November 2014, 00:01:35 by jacobolus »

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #120 on: Mon, 24 November 2014, 17:30:46 »
I like this very much.

Offline Zustiur

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #121 on: Tue, 25 November 2014, 00:14:28 »
I have to say that of jacobolus's sketches in the OP, the last of these is the most immediately appealing to me.
I'm still trying to digest the rest of the thread images because change in the bottom row for arrow keys doesn't sit well with me (my arrows are on layer 2, not on the bottom row)

I also have to echo the suggestion to increase the tilt of the thumb cluster relative to the matrix. On my Ergodox, I can only just reach inwards enough (with out leaving home row obviously) to brush the bottom-inward most 1x1 key. The other 1x1s in the thumb cluster are useless to me when touch typing, but I can reach further back towards my stomach quite comfortably.
I would also be in favour of the additional top row for F# keys, but that's a lesser concern, and something I should really fix with my layers.

Perhaps, for my hand and body size, the solution should be to remove the inner most column of the thumb clusters (the 1x1s) and add in the F# row.

I'm also in favour of a slight increase of the stagger, middle finger up a bit, pinky down a bit. Probably only by .025 in each case.

And a request I have not seen mentioned, I'd like the outer most bottom keys (ctrl on a standard keyboard) to be widened as I still insist on pressing these with my palm/knuckle rather than any fingers.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #122 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 12:17:48 »
I've been watching this thread for a while.

My only input is that the curved/arced/fanned thumb cluster would work much better, aesthetically, with arc-segmented (think cheese wedge) key caps.  When you use traditional rectangle key caps on them they lose a lot of visual appeal (which is important for attracting people to your new way of doing something), mostly because of the empty space between keys.  I also believe that, by filling in the gaps between keys better you create more surface area with which the thumb can actuate the switch.

Overall I applaud the effort and hope that it continues.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #123 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 13:16:32 »
My only input is that the curved/arced/fanned thumb cluster would work much better, aesthetically, with arc-segmented (think cheese wedge) key caps.
I totally agree. Know anyone who sells those? :P

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #124 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 13:29:33 »
mkawa can probably print them if you provide a model
... and shapeaways can definitely print them

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #125 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 14:09:53 »
mkawa can probably print them if you provide a model
... and shapeaways can definitely print them
Both of these are going to suck compared to injection molded parts.

https://twitter.com/keyboardio/status/535882466934808576

Maybe fine for a one-off personal project where you donít care too much about quality, but totally unacceptable for a commercial or semi-commercial product. (Same goes for 3d-printed anything to be honest.)

It would be possible to CNC mill acceptable-quality keycaps out of wood or plastic, but thatís way too expensive and time consuming to scale to more than a handful of units.
« Last Edit: Wed, 26 November 2014, 14:13:46 by jacobolus »

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #126 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 18:14:05 »
Are custom molds an option? How are the guys making artisan caps doing it?

I realize artisan key caps are considered "low volume", but when you get up to a point where you need high volume production any of the injection molding guys should be willing to work with you. I'm pretty sure SP does this kind of work all the time. Up front costs for tooling would be understandably high but the cost per cap should be reasonable, especially if you're doing blanks.

Just a thought.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #127 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 18:17:47 »
Up front costs for tooling would be understandably high
Iím guessing at least $500, maybe substantially more. But it probably depends on whoís making the tooling.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #128 on: Wed, 26 November 2014, 18:21:19 »
Up front costs for tooling would be understandably high
Iím guessing at least $500, maybe substantially more. But it probably depends on whoís making the tooling.
I think it's $45 for a new legend, so your estimate is probably close. You'd also need a fairly precise 3D CAD drawing of your cap.

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #129 on: Thu, 27 November 2014, 09:02:56 »
Up front costs for tooling would be understandably high
Iím guessing at least $500, maybe substantially more. But it probably depends on whoís making the tooling.
If it is only in the range of $500 - $1000 then it does not sound bad at all. A group buy should handle that.

A 3dPrinted part does not look nice if one is not wiling to sand and polish it. As for as strength, it is in the range of 60 - 80% of an injection molded part. Since strength grows with square of part thickness, it is easy to compensate for in most cases. 3d printing is not good for higher volume stuff since injection molding gets cheaper with volume.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #130 on: Thu, 27 November 2014, 18:31:33 »
It would be possible to CNC mill acceptable-quality keycaps out of wood or plastic, but thatís way too expensive and time consuming to scale to more than a handful of units.
Hmm, would CNC milled wood be stronger than 3d printed plastic for small things like keycaps? It looks to me that such a small pieces would like to break along growth rings. I have seen some keycpas made from wood but I did not notice any information about their longevity.

CNC milled plastic should do OK though.

Offline kurplop

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #131 on: Thu, 27 November 2014, 22:26:08 »
I agree with Data's concern with the aesthetics of the gaps between the radial keys. Unfortunately the entire layout is riddled with gaps and holes that would require many custom shaped caps to fill in. This defeats the original design concept of using readily available caps to build an ergo-superior board.  If the design shows promise of being mainstream, then it would almost have to tool-up for custom shapes but for now I think it is more important to press ahead with the stock caps.
 
My own experience making wedged shaped caps for radial thumb keys was good. I milled an aluminum prototype to make a silicone mold, then cast the caps in urethane. I was surprised to find that the caps have proved to be not only attractive but quite durable, which was something I had concerns about. The bigger issue might be color matching and texture matching to stock caps.

If enough people sign up for the design, having injection molds is definitely the way to go, although the $500-$1000 estimate to make a mold is probably way too low.  In the meantime, urethane casting might be a good option on a small scale, that would be less expensive than milling and more durable and attractive than 3d printing.

It would be possible to CNC mill acceptable-quality keycaps out of wood or plastic, but that�s way too expensive and time consuming to scale to more than a handful of units.
Hmm, would CNC milled wood be stronger than 3d printed plastic for small things like keycaps? It looks to me that such a small pieces would like to break along growth rings. I have seen some keycpas made from wood but I did not notice any information about their longevity.

CNC milled plastic should do OK though.

I would not normally recommend using wood cross grain for keycap stems but not all woods are created equal. This was demonstrated to me today when my brother in law brought over a 5/8" fine threaded wood dowel today that came out of a 50+ year old motor from the shipyard. The rod was broken to remove it but the threads were intact, super hard and in flawless condition. Probably some variety of ironwood. 

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #132 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 01:37:27 »
Hmm, would CNC milled wood be stronger than 3d printed plastic for small things like keycaps? It looks to me that such a small pieces would like to break along growth rings. I have seen some keycpas made from wood but I did not notice any information about their longevity.
Depends on the type of wood. Woods have a huge variety in material properties.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #133 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 08:20:23 »
The woods I have experience with must be some crappy cheap types.

It is probably better to forget about special keycap shapes for this keyboard if tooling can go above $1000 and more.
Or even better, you can do a poll how much more people are willing to pay for thumb keycaps which do not leave gaps, i.e. keycaps which do not increase ergonomic but improve visual appeal.

I was only surprised the price estimate is the range of low thousands since there was some documentary about LEGO on Discovery and they claimed few millions for tooling for a new brick shape.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #134 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 16:10:19 »
I was only surprised the price estimate is the range of low thousands since there was some documentary about LEGO on Discovery and they claimed few millions for tooling for a new brick shape.
Tooling costs have a pretty big variation and Iím no expert. The kind of tooling Iím thinking of is a small number of molds for making just one keycap shape, milled out of aluminum, for use on a small-scale injection molding machine. Still, Iím really not sure what tooling would cost. I was putting $500 as a very very low lower bound, in an attempt to point out that even at that price it wouldnít be worth it without like 100 people who care more enough about keycap aesthetics to spend extra on it (and yet would still not mind having a keyboard with various other odd alignments and gaps). Itís quite plausible that even the cheapest tooling would cost several thousand dollars. Youíd have to make a CAD file and shop it around to shops in China to figure out what the actual lower-bound price is.

Lego needs to make gajillions of bricks to unbelievably tight tolerances, so they need to mill molds out of steel for use on super-fancy enormous injection molding machines, and make a whole bunch of them.
« Last Edit: Fri, 28 November 2014, 16:15:21 by jacobolus »

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #135 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 16:13:17 »
The woods I have experience with must be some crappy cheap types.

It is probably better to forget about special keycap shapes for this keyboard if tooling can go above $1000 and more.
Or even better, you can do a poll how much more people are willing to pay for thumb keycaps which do not leave gaps, i.e. keycaps which do not increase ergonomic but improve visual appeal.

I was only surprised the price estimate is the range of low thousands since there was some documentary about LEGO on Discovery and they claimed few millions for tooling for a new brick shape.
At the tolerances LEGO is working with, and the fact that they replace the molds after a certain number of production runs, that figure doesn't surprise me. This could be a few steps less precise and still fit neatly on an MX stem. But we're really just guessing, honestly.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #136 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 16:20:12 »
The woods I have experience with must be some crappy cheap types.
Just because a wood doesnít have extremely fine grain, or isnít absurdly hard, doesnít mean itís ďcrappyĒ. Different woods are good for different things. I wouldnít try to make a model airplane out of ebony, I wouldnít try to make a baseball bat out of balsa wood, and I wouldnít try to make a keycap out of pine.

Check out e.g. this chart: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/rn/rn_nrs38.pdf

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #137 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 18:18:30 »
Jacobolus, that document is interesting but unfortunately it is geared towards lumbering since it contains things like densities, bark ratio, and moisture content. Hardly relevant for cap making.

The interesting stuff is young modulus across and along the grain. ABS plastics has it at about 2GPa and it is uniform. Oak (probably one of the stronger woods) has it at 11GPa along grain. That looks great. But the problem is you cannot CNC keycap all along grain. So the number which is actually interesting is young modulus across grain. And I did not find that number on-line quickly. And I'm afraid it will be significantly lower. At least that is what my experience hammering nails into wood indicates. One should be careful not to drive a nail along grain in thin pieces. Otherwise bad things happen :)

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #138 on: Fri, 28 November 2014, 21:05:13 »
Jacobolus, that document is interesting but unfortunately it is geared towards lumbering
Sure, that chart is only really talking about specific gravity. My point is just that thereís a huge variation from one type of wood to another. Thereís similar variation in many other properties, including tensile and compressive strength with and against the grain, etc.

Hereís a better set of charts:
http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr190/chapter_05.pdf

The best woods for keycaps (especially the ability to machine small details accurately) are probably various imported hardwoods like rosewood, bubinga, teak, ebony, purpleheart, paduak, bocote, etc. Iím not really an expert though. It would take some experimenting to figure out which woods worked best.
« Last Edit: Fri, 28 November 2014, 21:16:51 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #139 on: Sat, 29 November 2014, 11:52:03 »
Ok, that is a better document. Thanks. On page 5-26 we get Overcup Oak tensile strength parallel to grain of 77.9 MPa, on page 5-6 we get Overcup Oak tensile strength perpendicular to grain of 5 MPa. ABS plastics has tensile strength of 40 MPa. So ABS keycaps are about 8 times stronger than Overcup Oak keycaps (provided the dimensions are the same).

The best wood I noticed in that document was American Beech with tensile strength perpendicular to grain of 7 MPa. Still significantly worse than ABS. This also indicates that ABS 3d printed keycpas (strength at least of 24MPa) would be significantly stronger than the woods in the document which have tensile strength specified.

As jacobolus indicated, some exotic woods may be better and some of the woods in his list are even mentioned in the document but none of them has tensile strength specified.

Anyway, CNC machined wood keycaps will probably have as thick stem as my 3d printed examples so they should do OK compared to off-the-shelf ABS keycaps. We need only √8 ≅ 2.8 times thicker stem which is easily doable.

What is more interesting for me is that wood is about 16 times less strong perpendicular to grain compared to parallel direction. That is the number I wanted to find. And my experience driving nails into wood is now theoreticaly supported thanks to jacobolus' data :D

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #140 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 20:20:25 »
just how the heck did I miss this?

YES, I am one of those people who went and bought an ergodox (because in my case it was cheap) and found that the thumb cluster distinctly not to my liking!!!!
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Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #141 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 14:03:08 »
jacobolus,

What do you think of this layout. This adds a space for a directional keypad, with the loss of only one non alphanumeric key. If you type in QWERTY, this would be the right hand "/ ?", if you type in Dvorak it would the left hand "; :". If you didn't want to add directional, it would still work without it. I wasn't a big fan of the staggered number keys, so I straightened those out. The thumb section is perfect with your new layout. The two 1.5U left most thumb bars, could be 2U (The 2U felt slightly more comfortable against my thumb), with the two 1.5U bars to the left of the home row moved up to make room for the 1U on top of the thumb bars. The pinky 1.5U bars are replaced with 1U, but they would probably be just as good with 1.5, as  before. If it is possible, the teensy/ microcontroller could be moved from the top, to a vertical position in the top left corner. Then, the PCB could be made smaller, and a potential to plug the USB cable directly into the teensy. Comments?

83845-0
« Last Edit: Wed, 10 December 2014, 14:11:42 by teshdor »

Offline luisbg

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #142 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 15:45:46 »
jacobolus,

What do you think of this layout. This adds a space for a directional keypad, with the loss of only one non alphanumeric key. If you type in QWERTY, this would be the right hand "/ ?", if you type in Dvorak it would the left hand "; :". If you didn't want to add directional, it would still work without it. I wasn't a big fan of the staggered number keys, so I straightened those out. The thumb section is perfect with your new layout. The two 1.5U left most thumb bars, could be 2U (The 2U felt slightly more comfortable against my thumb), with the two 1.5U bars to the left of the home row moved up to make room for the 1U on top of the thumb bars. The pinky 1.5U bars are replaced with 1U, but they would probably be just as good with 1.5, as  before. If it is possible, the teensy/ microcontroller could be moved from the top, to a vertical position in the top left corner. Then, the PCB could be made smaller, and a potential to plug the USB cable directly into the teensy. Comments?

(Attachment Link)

I like this very much. Considering building this from scratch.

I would probably remove the arrow keys but I understand a lot of people love them down there.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #143 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 16:26:46 »
What do you think of this layout.

Letís directly compare and note changes you made:

- Made the top left index finger key further to reach. Iím -1 on that
- Reduced the column stagger on the pinky column. Iím -1 on that
- Shifted the far pinky column up quite a bit. Now the top two pinky keys in that column are very hard to reach IMO. Iím -1 on that.
- Added dedicated arrows. Personally I donít have need for dedicated arrows, so Iím +0 on that.
- Switched the corner pinky key from 1.5u to 1u. Iím -0 on that. I think the previous one is pretty good for a shift or other modifier key.
- Put the number row into alignment with the columns. Personally I think this is worse functionally, but possibly better aesthetically (though there are so many gaps and funny shapes on this keyboard that I donít think itís a big deal. Iím -0.5 on that change.

Iím guessing I personally would prefer my version, but I havenít physically tried yours, so itís hard to be sure.

I personally think the best way to best meet the needs/preferences of different folks is to have one very compact version without dedicated arrows, and one larger version with an extra pinky column, an extra thumb column, a number row that doesnít have gaps in it, dedicated arrows, and possibly F keys. On that one, it should be possible to basically copy most of the layout over from an existing TKL board.

Anyway though, donít take my criticism personally: Iím just telling you my own personal preferences, and a lot of this is pretty subjective. Thanks very much for proposing something, and I hope you and other folks keep tweaking and offering alternative suggestions.

Quote
If it is possible, the teensy/ microcontroller could be moved from the top, to a vertical position in the top left corner. Then, the PCB could be made smaller, and a potential to plug the USB cable directly into the teensy.
If this makes it to production it would be an ARM chip directly on the board, and theyíre so small they can fit essentially anywhere. No need to actively worry about where to fit it until we actually start designing a PCB.

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #144 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 16:41:21 »
If this makes it to production it would be an ARM chip directly on the board, and theyíre so small they can fit essentially anywhere. No need to actively worry about where to fit it until we actually start designing a PCB.

ARM? I thought it would be Teensy/Arduino like most customs. That way we can reuse most of the firmware source code (and forks) we already have.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #145 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 17:20:38 »
Oh also, teshdor, welcome to geekhack!

Offline luisbg

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #146 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 17:40:26 »
Welcome teshdor! First post :)
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #147 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 18:52:22 »
ARM? I thought it would be Teensy/Arduino like most customs. That way we can reuse most of the firmware source code (and forks) we already have.
HaaTaís firmware works on ARM. ARM chips are just as cheap (or even slightly cheaper), just as small, and much more powerful, and thereís a lot more work going into the ARM world these days. I think it makes more sense as a way forward in the future.

Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #148 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 21:05:35 »
jacobolus,

Thank you for your through comparison, between these layouts. I printed out a paper version of your layout and tried it out. I used DSA keycaps, as that is all I have. I'm not sure what percentage of Ergodox users use DSA, but due to the fact they were easier to obtain, cheaper in cost, and ability to freely customize their locations, that is what I have. Note,  I have medium/small hands. This is what I found,

Quote
Made the top left index finger key further to reach. Iím -1 on that
I agree with you here, I think reach in your original version, outweighs having bulkier keys.

Quote
Reduced the column stagger on the pinky column. Iím -1 on that
I also agree here, the pinky column stagger was ok, and put noticeably less strain on my pinky overall throughout hand movements.

Quote
Added dedicated arrows. Personally I donít have need for dedicated arrows, so Iím +0 on that.
Arrow keys definitely arn't for everyone. From your previous designs, it looks like you tried to incorporate a directional pad similiar to the one on the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard. I think that style of directional pad is too close to where the wrist sits, and could be uncomfortable for some users. My version was there to be optional (as it used one of the primary pink keys), but integrated enough, so it would be out of the way of the wrist.

Quote
Switched the corner pinky key from 1.5u to 1u. Iím -0 on that. I think the previous one is pretty good for a shift or other modifier key.
I agree, bring back the 1.5U, in fact bring back a whole row of 1.5U. Going back to the original ergodox design, one part I really like is the chunky 1.5U rightmost keys (especially on my left hand, for ctrl, shift, and escape). Although, they are not as easy to reach due to them being in pinky range, they are large enough to side palm, and I like to move my entire hand and take my index or middle finger and hold them down for some shortcuts. This is a personal preference, and though these keys could be mapped to the thumb area. I really enjoy them. I would like to see how otherwise view this row of keys.

Quote
Put the number row into alignment with the columns. Personally I think this is worse functionally, but possibly better aesthetically (though there are so many gaps and funny shapes on this keyboard that I donít think itís a big deal. Iím -0.5 on that change.
Here is a picture of the columns in the staggered layout, as you have them now.
83894-0
Testing each key for comfort, 7, 8 and 9 all felt quite comfortable. Looking at the natural curve of my hand, I instantly could tell why. As my fingers extend they naturally spread apart, and land almost perfectly with the the locations of the 7, 8 and 9 staggered keys. However, when it came to the 6 and 0, each was somewhat painful (The 6 more than the 0). The 7 key is in a perfect spot for the extension of the index finger, but the 6 key is a stretch. In a non-staggered layout, my fingers were more cramped in the middle keys, but do not have to stretch as far for the outer numbers. Personally, I like the numbers, non staggered, as close to home row as possible. I urge everyone in this forum to try it for themselves, and report their hand size as well to see how they like it.

I am sure that staggered layout is good for some people, so I made a few changes to your original layout to come up with this,
83896-1

Since I prefer the non staggered layout, I just alligned the number keys and came up with this (adding right side 1.5U keys, with a 1U for delete,
83898-2
To fill it out, I added an additional top left 1U key and extended the 1U top right to a 1.5U. These buttons are not easily pressed, but makes it look nice, and allow sparingly used keys, that are annoying when you can't find them, like ~.

Thank you, and let me know what you think.
« Last Edit: Wed, 10 December 2014, 21:55:52 by teshdor »

Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #149 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 21:30:53 »
Also, just because I could...

...bam.....Numpad! and 3 1U to the top left.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #150 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 21:33:19 »
Quote
Put the number row into alignment with the columns. Personally I think this is worse functionally, but possibly better aesthetically (though there are so many gaps and funny shapes on this keyboard that I donít think itís a big deal. Iím -0.5 on that change.
Here is a picture of the columns in the staggered layout, as you have them now. Testing each key for comfort, 7, 8 and 9 all felt quite comfortable. Looking at the natural curve of my hand, I instantly could tell why. As my fingers extend they naturally spread apart, and land almost perfectly with the the locations of the 7, 8 and 9 staggered keys. However, when it came to the 6 and 0, each was somewhat painful (The 6 more than the 0).
Youíve got me: my personal preference is to actually not use those for numbers, but for some other purpose (with numbers on a layer near the home row, e.g. in a numpad-type layout). Therefore if the ď6Ē key is harder to reach itís not too big a deal, I can put something uncommon there. I still think they work okay for numbers though. That 6 is still *much* closer than on a standard keyboard (at least half a key, given the difference in hand orientation). As for the ď0Ē, I donít think pushing it outward is too big a problem if youíre pressing it with a pinky. If you wanted to press it with your ring finger, then it would make some sense to bring it tightly in.

Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #151 on: Wed, 10 December 2014, 22:43:45 »
Quote
Put the number row into alignment with the columns. Personally I think this is worse functionally, but possibly better aesthetically (though there are so many gaps and funny shapes on this keyboard that I donít think itís a big deal. Iím -0.5 on that change.
Here is a picture of the columns in the staggered layout, as you have them now. Testing each key for comfort, 7, 8 and 9 all felt quite comfortable. Looking at the natural curve of my hand, I instantly could tell why. As my fingers extend they naturally spread apart, and land almost perfectly with the the locations of the 7, 8 and 9 staggered keys. However, when it came to the 6 and 0, each was somewhat painful (The 6 more than the 0).
Youíve got me: my personal preference is to actually not use those for numbers, but for some other purpose (with numbers on a layer near the home row, e.g. in a numpad-type layout). Therefore if the ď6Ē key is harder to reach itís not too big a deal, I can put something uncommon there. I still think they work okay for numbers though. That 6 is still *much* closer than on a standard keyboard (at least half a key, given the difference in hand orientation). As for the ď0Ē, I donít think pushing it outward is too big a problem if youíre pressing it with a pinky. If you wanted to press it with your ring finger, then it would make some sense to bring it tightly in.

My roommate has enormous man hands, so we can put him in the large hand category. He liked the position of all the keys in the staggered row with the exception of the pinky finger, which he thought felt awkward, but not painful. He types on a standard IBM style keyboard, and mentioned that he uses his left hand to type numbers 1-7. Not very scientific, but worth something.

Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #152 on: Thu, 11 December 2014, 09:44:47 »
ARM? I thought it would be Teensy/Arduino like most customs. That way we can reuse most of the firmware source code (and forks) we already have.
HaaTaís firmware works on ARM. ARM chips are just as cheap (or even slightly cheaper), just as small, and much more powerful, and thereís a lot more work going into the ARM world these days. I think it makes more sense as a way forward in the future.

Are you referring to using a teensy 3.0/3.1/ McHCK with THT, so users can easily solder it to PCB? Or having the boards preassembled with the ARM processor from the factory, like they are doing with HaaTa's Infinity keyboard? How much does preassembly add to the cost? Since Ergodox uses a reversible design, would that be one ARM processor on every board, or two separate boards for each hand? Or perhaps, you are considering users hand soldering the ARM processors? If cost isn't too much, I think preassembly (ARM, diodes, USB) would lower complexity and increase adoption to users who fear hand soldering diodes. HaaTa's and MassDrops price point for the Infinity was quite low, so I think there may be some merit there.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #153 on: Sat, 13 December 2014, 18:39:16 »
Hereís a pic where the comparison to the Ergodox is a bit more realistic: in practice, the change to the stagger between columns on these designs makes it more comfortable to orient the hand straighter relative to the columns, so comparing showing the same angle as the Ergodox (as some previous images in this thread did) is a bit misleading.



The version on the left here should have enough keys to fairly closely copy existing layouts from TKL boards.

Or compared to a standard keyboard, with a couple of columns on the standard keyboard duplicated so you can effectively compare:




Vs. a similar comparison between a standard keyboard and the Ergodox itself:
« Last Edit: Sat, 13 December 2014, 19:42:37 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #154 on: Wed, 17 December 2014, 03:35:16 »
Hereís a diagram that might be a bit clearer to compare (but maybe harder to see the layout on top):

« Last Edit: Wed, 17 December 2014, 03:45:09 by jacobolus »

Offline araif

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #155 on: Sun, 25 January 2015, 10:50:01 »
is there any progress on this?

Online Data

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #156 on: Mon, 26 January 2015, 14:53:50 »
Hereís a diagram that might be a bit clearer to compare (but maybe harder to see the layout on top):
Show Image

Show Image


I have to say, I really like this.  I hope it gets made some day.

Offline steve.v

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fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #157 on: Mon, 16 February 2015, 20:26:16 »
In my opinion, the h, n & y keys should be lowered to a height between the ring and pinky columns. It seems your thumb sections aren't much of a change compared to the ergodox. I personally would prefer a horizontal 1.5-2.0 space bar key right below the letter n so the thumb isn't stretched too far out and the wideness of it will accommodate wrist movement. Typing on my hhkb, I noticed my alternating thumbs can sometimes hit in different spots on the spacebar depending on the stretches. 1 year with the ergodox, I miss the long spacebar the most.
« Last Edit: Mon, 16 February 2015, 20:35:55 by steve.v »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #158 on: Mon, 16 February 2015, 20:59:51 »
In my opinion, the h, n & y keys should be lowered to a height between the ring and pinky columns.
Can you explain why? On the couple peopleís hands I tested, that makes the N more annoying/harder to reach, while making the Y a bit easier. Not sure the trade-off is really too helpful.

Quote
It seems your thumb sections aren't much of a change compared to the ergodox.
Yep, the goal is not to be radically different, but clearly a spiritual successor to the Ergodox, just with some tweaks. The difference is instead of 1 key falling slightly too far away for a small-to-medium-sized hand to hit comfortably, now instead you get one key that falls right where the thumb does, plus one more key a bit closer than that. In practice, Iíve found this makes a huge difference for me, and even more for my wife, whose hands are smaller than mine.

Quote
I personally would prefer a horizontal 1.5-2.0 space bar key right below the letter n
If you go look at the first page, a number of such layouts were proposed. I tried several of them out on paper and made quick acrylic prototypes of a couple, and wasn't super enthusiastic about them.

Offline davkol

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #159 on: Tue, 17 February 2015, 06:10:59 »
I wanted to post this a long time ago, but have forgotten the context in the meantime. Anyway, it's the stock ErgoDox with 80 keys and a mix of keycap profiles. Alphas are obviously Cherry; I've harvested 1.5x modifiers from winkeyless OEM keyboards (some BTC here) for the inner columns; thumb clusters have old tall F-row keys (from OEM keyboards, such as Chicony 5191) at the top and bottom-row Cherry caps rotated 180į at the bottom. The tall thumb keys create an illusion of tenting and eliminate a lot of thumb strain from the "flat" motion (can't think of better wording atm) IME.

91070-0

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #160 on: Wed, 11 March 2015, 02:18:48 »
I've been thinking about these "one size fits all" ergonomic designs and came to the conclusion (purely theoretically, without even reading anything) that it doesn't work.

As fingers extend naturally the distance between the tips widens so it makes sense to have the finger areas set out kinda like \|l// where bigger hands will want the keys near the top of the spread and smaller ones near the bottom.  Have one disproportionate finger?  No problem!

The thumb cluster could remain static as the finger keys would move away an appropriate distance by design.

Has anyone tried making a plate with long slots for switches along with spacers to go between them?  I might give it a go, shouldn't be expensive to get cut...
                               
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #161 on: Wed, 11 March 2015, 02:27:46 »
I've been thinking about these "one size fits all" ergonomic designs and came to the conclusion that it doesn't work.
Well, that goes without saying. To hit everyone requires probably at least 3 distinct sizes, ideally with some keyswitches/keycaps that can be spaced a little closer than the standard ones. But we can do reasonably well for maybe 70% of hand sizes.

Like any generic design (i.e. something not targeted at a single specific person), there are a bunch of compromises here.

Quote
As fingers extend naturally the distance between the tips widens so it makes sense to have the finger areas [spread out]
Yeah, check out this prototype:


Quote
Has anyone tried making a plate with long slots for switches along with spacers to go between them?  I might give it a go, shouldn't be expensive to get cut...
Some people have tried something like that. I donít have a link handy, but if I remember I wasnít too impressed with the mechanical design. Give it a shot though, maybe you can make something work.

Offline petrock

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #162 on: Tue, 17 March 2015, 10:22:21 »
Hey I have been following this thread for a while and was thinking of making some CAD models of your design in this picture here (http://i.imgur.com/173wo6I.png). I was actually thinking of making a pair for myself because I've used Ergodox before but they just felt off somehow. Anyone interested in the models? After I finish them I can post them here.

Offline teshdor

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #163 on: Wed, 18 March 2015, 12:18:08 »
Hereís a diagram that might be a bit clearer to compare (but maybe harder to see the layout on top):
Show Image

Show Image


I have to say, I really like this.  I hope it gets made some day.

The more I use my Ergodox, the more I miss physical F1-F12 keys and an arrow pad. I think this layout is good enough to try moving forward wit a PCB design, and churning out some prototypes.

Offline jamadagni

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #164 on: Fri, 24 July 2015, 22:24:13 »
Hey I have been following this thread for a while and was thinking of making some CAD models of your design in this picture here (http://i.imgur.com/173wo6I.png). I was actually thinking of making a pair for myself because I've used Ergodox before but they just felt off somehow. Anyone interested in the models? After I finish them I can post them here.
Yes I'm interested. Please post it. Also please include tenting of about 15į though I'd like to have Jacobolus chime in on that as well.

His apparent deep research and that he has given a lot of thought to this appeals to the academic in me!

I want to call this the ErgoJax (for Jacobolus)! :) From my lesson in trying to call my layout the ErgoMax, I googled for the word, and apparently some lurker has that username on some minor websites, so one can't be too much worried about that.

Offline Zustiur

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #165 on: Sat, 15 August 2015, 22:20:48 »
I've just reread this thread after several months' gap. This thread is what originally inspired me to start my own custom board: ZusDox. At the time when I started this project I had a few statements from this thread firmly in mind.
* Move the thumb cluster closer to the palms
* Move the pinky columns 'down' in the y axis - closer to the body
* Reinstate F# keys

Now that I have built and used the first functional prototype, I've come back here to reexamine the thumb clusters specifically. I can finally understand benefits of Jacobolus's designs that were incomprehensible to me before. Even with my latest revision, 3 of the 1x thumb keys would be unreachable.

I'm having a real battle with myself today regarding direction. I'm torn between minimizing and the desire to keep certain keys so that I don't have to relearn.
The idea of moving shift and ctrl keys to the thumbs scares me but at the same time I'm really tempted to drop the bottom row entirely and move all of those functions to the thumbs.

Other than space, backspace, delete and enter, what else usually gets relocated to the thumbs?

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #166 on: Sun, 16 August 2015, 05:53:32 »
Other than space, backspace, delete and enter, what else usually gets relocated to the thumbs?
In my case, it is shifts. It takes about 2 weeks to completely adjust if you go cold turkey (without training).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #167 on: Sun, 16 August 2015, 13:10:10 »
Putting shift either on the thumb or on or directly adjacent to a finger home position is a big advantage. I had a fun prototype layout where the shift keys were directly to the side of the home index finger keys (in a QWERTY context, think G and H), but moving them directly to the side of the home pinky keys works pretty well too. A thumb shift is probably best overall.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #168 on: Sun, 16 August 2015, 13:12:20 »
Now that I have built and used the first functional prototype, I've come back here to reexamine the thumb clusters specifically. I can finally understand benefits of Jacobolus's designs that were incomprehensible to me before.
:-)

Prototypes are a great help to understanding. I think people trying to make a new layout should try to first come up with a system where they can iterate on layouts as quickly as possible and test out lots of ideas physically, with their hands.

Offline Zustiur

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #169 on: Sat, 22 August 2015, 23:33:46 »
Prototypes are a great help to understanding. I think people trying to make a new layout should try to first come up with a system where they can iterate on layouts as quickly as possible and test out lots of ideas physically, with their hands.

Indeed. If only that were easy. I think those best placed to do that kind of experimentation are people with ready access to laser cutters. I can knock up a new CAD design in a few hours now, but cutting that design out of cardboard (or anything more substantial) is a real chore.

I liked the little prototype picture you showed:

Has there been any more development on that idea? The more I read your posts the more I feel that you've really looked into these things in greater detail than the rest of us. I'm very interested in what your (personal) ideal design would be when you're not constraining yourself to Ergodox compatibility/familiarity. I'd love to see both a flat and a tented (with differently angled thumbs) design based on that concept pic.
What angles were you using between the columns?
Am I right in thinking that the {[, }] keys in that picture are to be hit with the ring finger rather than the pinky?

Offline AKmalamute

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #170 on: Sat, 05 September 2015, 16:31:06 »
 Alright I'm gonna weigh in, having read close to nothing of this thread.

 That's because I've never had a problem with the ergodox thumb clusters. Well, yes I have they're too close together and I keep mashing the wrong key. The version with the angle in it, so you'd use the tip of your thumb for the cluster buttons, would probably help but I have a plain old stainless steel encased ergodox.

 My problem has been this: that bottom row is all but unusable. The corner key maybe but after that there's at least three in the center I can't reach without taking my hand completely off the keyboard, reorienting to find which one I want (using novelty keys on that row isn't helping this step ;) ) then re-center on my bumpless dvorak layout's home row which itself has oddly proven difficult.

May I present my current attempt at fixing this problem? I've only typed a little bit on it, and haven't moved the keys yet to reflect what they do now, but once I get used to the bottom row right hand being off a step (left hand was okay after a few hundred words -- of course, almost nothing I normally type uses those keys / letters, so...)

Input of course, would be welcome. If you'd like to compare to what my fingers are used to, this would be the link to follow.

I like where I've put backspace / delete, but space/enter being right next to each other was the other reason I changed -- too many typing mishaps. This way if I mash the wrong key, nothing gets printed so it will be easier to correct, and I almost never mashed the backspace when I was reaching for the space. (almost)

HHKB-lite2, Dvorak user

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #171 on: Sat, 05 September 2015, 18:43:23 »
AKmalamute:
> Alright I'm gonna weigh in, having read close to nothing of this thread.


You should at least skim it and look at the pictures. :-)

> That's because I've never had a problem with the ergodox thumb clusters. Well, yes I have they're too close together and I keep mashing the wrong key.

Not sure what you mean by too close together. But anyway, thatís fine. I find that on the people Iíve tested, who have hand sizes ranging from small to above average, the Ergodox thumb section is a poor layout, with a weird gap where the thumb naturally falls, and several completely unreachable keys. For very large hands, or particular people, it might work a bit better. Use what you like.

> My problem has been this: that bottom row is all but unusable.

This problem is addressed by several of the layouts proposed in this thread.

e.g.


> May I present my current attempt at fixing this problem?


Still far from ideal. The thumb keys are still just as far out horizontally but now are also awkwardly close to the finger keys. Pressing most of them is going to take scrunching your hand up or moving it quite a bit.

(By the way, you should screencap your proposals and embed the images directly. Then itís much easier to follow than clicking on links and navigating back and forth between pages.)
« Last Edit: Sat, 05 September 2015, 18:47:33 by jacobolus »

Offline AKmalamute

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #172 on: Sat, 05 September 2015, 19:27:45 »
> You should at least skim it and look at the pictures. :-)

 Oh I've glanced through it, but I get the impression there's a lot of serious thought going on in here, that is in a direction that rapidly loses my interest.

> Not sure what you mean by too close together.

 I mean, I'd like to add, say 0.1u between each of the thumb-columns. Yes that puts them farther out (and at 5'6" I hardly have 'large' hands ... not sure what I've done with them that my thumbs work differently than the people you normally meet ...) but with my former layout (I've screen-capped before and been told my screen is illegible so I figured links would be less painful than .jpegs) what I found with the right hand cluster, was whenever you wanted to use one, roll a D20:

on 1-16, you get a space.
on 17 through 19, you get a carriage return. If this was not what you were wanting, reroll, and the space's range is extended, eating one from the CR chance.
on a nat-20, backspace over whatever you just typed. if this was not what you wanted, flip a coin. tails, you add a carriage return as if that had been your roll. heads, you add a space and reroll normally.

 Notice anything? Like, it doesn't matter what you wanted to start with, the thumbs just give you random keystrokes? After a year of owning an ergodox, that's my opinion of them as they stand now. Random gibberish.

> > My problem has been this: that bottom row is all but unusable.
> This problem is addressed by several of the layouts proposed in this thread.
>
>e.g.
> Image inlined...

 Nope. Nope, nope nope. That one would be worse.

 Honestly, if I were to do my own layout, I'd get rid of the 1u thumb keys entirely, and move the two 2u keys out, away from the hand about half a u. Maybe a quarter, with that 0.1u gap between them. It might be that increasing the angle would be an improvement, but I'm a little less convinced of that. Short of increasing the number of planes so the thumb can be used dexterously instead of just for side-mashing, I at least should simply not rely on thumb buttons for anything important.

 Haven't tried any of this yet, but I may since I'm hoping to make a model-F ergodox once the related GB gets underway.
« Last Edit: Sat, 05 September 2015, 19:31:46 by AKmalamute »

HHKB-lite2, Dvorak user

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #173 on: Sat, 05 September 2015, 22:00:15 »
AKmalamute
> Notice anything?


Apparently your typing is intermediated by a cruel dungeon master.

> Nope. Nope, nope nope. That one would be worse.

My strong recommendation is to build some prototypes out of laser-cut acrylic or something, or at least make some paper printouts. Itís really hard to judge what is better or worse without actually trying it

> Short of increasing the number of planes so the thumb can be used dexterously instead of just for side-mashing,

ďSide mashingĒ actually uses the strongest muscles in the thumb. It can be done at a faster rate and with similar precision compared to other types of thumb motions. The ideal ďside mashĒ angle is a bit more to the side than the plane of the keyboard though. Take a look at the shape of the Maltron to see a pretty good position and orientation for this type of motion. On a flat keyboard, using slightly taller keycaps for thumb keys is helpful.

Offline RominRonin

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #174 on: Wed, 24 February 2016, 14:43:35 »
I've read through many of the first page of this thread, and was inspired to whip up a prototype. jacobolus, I tried a minimal layout that probably isn't the most ergonomical, but is aesthetical (because that's important to many people too). Here are a couple of photos:



and along with an earlier attempt, with two extra buttons beyond the thumb:



What I like about this thumb layout it the minimal case that can be printed. I also think it's important that the case (and a pcb) could be made to be symmetrical - at least as far as the switch plate goes - by adding a mirrored cluster on the opposite site to the thumb cluster.

Having never used an ergodox, or any keyboard that utilises *that* thumb cluster layout, I find it hard to think or develop ideas beyond my current use cases right now. I hope once I finish this build I can contribute more to this thread (and the larger keyboard community).
« Last Edit: Thu, 25 February 2016, 02:19:22 by RominRonin »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #175 on: Wed, 24 February 2016, 16:24:26 »
I've read through many of the first page of this thread, and was inspired to whip up a prototype.
Fun!

Note that by using the [img] tag (e.g. [img]http://i.imgur.com/5SbhlWJ.jpg[/img]), you can directly embed images in your forum posts:



Quote
What I like about this thumb layout it the minimal case that can be printed.
Pretty compact.

Some ideas:

* With the stagger as you have it now, itís clear that you intend the hand to still come in at a slight angle to the board. Thatís not an unreasonable idea in the context of a flat plate construction where all the keys for separate fingers are at the same vertical height. Personally, I like having the hand angled a bit straighter to the columns, and as a consequence I donít want any stagger between index finger columns, and I want a more aggressive stagger for the pinky.

* The top corner keys on both inside and outside need a bit of a lunge to reach, either moving the hand off the home position or rotating the wrist outward. Iíd make sure to stick relatively uncommon functions in those positions, and probably nothing that requires a modifier on the same hand.

* The innermost column keys are going to be slightly tricky to hit accurately (theyíd be easier with slightly wider keycaps or at least wider spacing between them, or fewer. But your design is probably a reasonable compromise if you want that many keys.

* I think you might benefit from moving the arrows slightly over to give your thumbs easier access to 2x1 keys, instead of poking over the top of the inside arrow.

* The thumb section isnít my personal cup of tea, but I think it should work reasonably well. You have 3 keys on each hand which are pretty accessible.

Overall, definitely better than a standard keyboard.  :thumb:

Iíd love to hear your further impressions after youíve used it for a while.

Offline berserkfan

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #176 on: Wed, 24 February 2016, 20:05:55 »
. I hope once I finish this build I can contribute more to this thread (and the larger keyboard community).

You so called prototype, when it becomes a fully tested PCB, I guarantee you many people in the community will be interested. I suggest you do a group buy for the PCB when you want to put it into production, because making 1 PCB is often the same price as 3, and only twice more expensive than 10.

You will have an order for 2 sets (4 PCBS) from me alone.
Most of the modding can be done on your own once you break through the psychological barriers.

Offline RominRonin

  • Posts: 19
Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #177 on: Thu, 25 February 2016, 02:18:31 »
Quote from: jacobolus
Note that by using the [img] tag (e.g. [img]http://i.imgur.com/5SbhlWJ.jpg[/img]), you can directly embed images in your forum posts:
Ah THAT's what those tags do! Thanks.


Quote from: jacobolus
* With the stagger as you have it now, itís clear that you intend the hand to still come in at a slight angle to the board. Thatís not an unreasonable idea in the context of a flat plate construction where all the keys for separate fingers are at the same vertical height. Personally, I like having the hand angled a bit straighter to the columns, and as a consequence I donít want any stagger between index finger columns, and I want a more aggressive stagger for the pinky.
Interesting. I've never used an ergodox before but I thought the stagger seemed too subtle. I didn't consider the angle of my hand in relation to the board would have informed that subtlety. I guess my thumb arrangement relies on a slight angle (between the hand and columns). Otherwise, my thumb in its natural position would be restricted by the DT keys.


Quote from: jacobolus
* The top corner keys on both inside and outside need a bit of a lunge to reach, either moving the hand off the home position or rotating the wrist outward. Iíd make sure to stick relatively uncommon functions in those positions, and probably nothing that requires a modifier on the same hand.
Good point.
I'm currently using a pair of function layer modifiers that double as the space and backspace keys (just like spacefn), so I rarely move my fingers from home row.


The introduction of more thumb keys and an additional inner column on each plate means the outer keys (columns) are currently redundant. Personally I'll either assign them to standard keyboard functions (so a lay-person can use the board) or use them as function layer toggles (or both, I guess!).


Quote from: jacobolus
* The innermost column keys are going to be slightly tricky to hit accurately (theyíd be easier with slightly wider keycaps or at least wider spacing between them, or fewer. But your design is probably a reasonable compromise if you want that many keys.
I've used another custom board for several months now with no inside keys. For this project I wanted to include them for the sake of experience. Others have also made the point that wider or taller keys would have been a better choice. It'll have to be one for revision 2.


Quote from: jacobolus
* I think you might benefit from moving the arrows slightly over to give your thumbs easier access to 2x1 keys, instead of poking over the top of the inside arrow.
You're probably right. Though I keep thinking about the potential for a symmetrical key layout. Maybe I could move the thumb keys OUT by 1/4u instead?


Quote from: jacobolus
* The thumb section isnít my personal cup of tea, but I think it should work reasonably well. You have 3 keys on each hand which are pretty accessible.
I'll see how it goes in testing. In terms of the design, there's room for additional thumb keys if I go for wider inner keys (or just a second inner column of 1u keys).


Quote from: jacobolus
Overall, definitely better than a standard keyboard.  :thumb:

Iíd love to hear your further impressions after youíve used it for a while.
Thanks for the extensive feedback, I'll be back when I've used the board for a while.





Quote from: berserkfan
Quote from: RominRonin
. I hope once I finish this build I can contribute more to this thread (and the larger keyboard community).

You so called prototype, when it becomes a fully tested PCB, I guarantee you many people in the community will be interested. I suggest you do a group buy for the PCB when you want to put it into production, because making 1 PCB is often the same price as 3, and only twice more expensive than 10.

You will have an order for 2 sets (4 PCBS) from me alone.
Wow, I wasn't expecting that! I'll need to improve my grasp of PCB design first though.

Offline berserkfan

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #178 on: Thu, 25 February 2016, 10:33:15 »


Quote from: berserkfan
Quote from: RominRonin
. I hope once I finish this build I can contribute more to this thread (and the larger keyboard community).

You so called prototype, when it becomes a fully tested PCB, I guarantee you many people in the community will be interested. I suggest you do a group buy for the PCB when you want to put it into production, because making 1 PCB is often the same price as 3, and only twice more expensive than 10.

You will have an order for 2 sets (4 PCBS) from me alone.
Wow, I wasn't expecting that! I'll need to improve my grasp of PCB design first though.
[/quote]

If you have the interest and time, check out samwisekoi's Gh36 thread. Lots of people have worked on that PCB so it is really sound. You might be able to use that as a starting point.

GH36 required 1 teensy shared between two sides. But if you use 1 teensy per side, you can have far more options and probably designing would be easier.
Most of the modding can be done on your own once you break through the psychological barriers.

Offline rsac

  • Posts: 47
Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #179 on: Sat, 19 March 2016, 19:15:47 »
I made a mockup of your design (plus arrows) and ergodox using paper and a weak double sided tape. I wanted to understand better the key positioning, especially the thumb keys. It is not as good as an acrylic mockup where I can press down the keys, but at least let's me iterate the position of the keys very easily (and is much cheaper).

131592-0131594-1

Well, for example, I think the current column stagger on the Ergodox is a significant design flaw. Increasing the amount of column stagger allows the hand to be positioned at a much straighter angle to the columns, and brings the thumb keys much closer to the natural resting position of the thumb.

I disagree. The column stagger in ergodox works well with the hand hand positioned at a slight angle, with the pinky and ring finger more contracted (so it is easier to reach higher keys) and the index finger more extended, because it can easily extend even more straightening the hand. It is basically the same that I do in a non-column staggered keyboard, but without the horizontal staggering I can easily target the number and bottom rows.

131596-2131602-3

When you increase the vertical stagger to make the hand straight, the spreading motion to reach the numbers favors/requires your spread number row placement, and the lateral motion of the index finger asks for the adjacent column to be on the same height as the FJ column (or a little higher maybe, more on that latter). On the ergodox staggering, because the hand is angled, the index also moves a little down relative to the keyboard when moving sideways. All in all, both your and ergodox layouts are quite internally consistent.

131598-4131600-5

However I liked the Ergodox stagger more. I'm finding some keys harder to reach with the index and pinky fingers in your design, because the hand starts of as more extended. Curled fingers reach longer, and the bottom row is not much of a problem. Also, the increased middle finger stagger makes a little more awkward to use an inverted T arrow in a FN layer on keys ESDF.

Offline rsac

  • Posts: 47
Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #180 on: Sat, 19 March 2016, 19:52:33 »
After experimenting, here the thumb key arrangement that I reached based on the original stagger of ergodox:

131604-0131608-1131610-2

The key above the leftmost thumb cluster key should probably be removed. I couldn't find a good place for it, and it is the hardest one to hit. It could be placed above the right arrow by moving it a bit lower into a inverted T formation. Either way, this modified ergodox retains the same number of keys than the original, but with no 2u key and the addition of a arrow cluster (but it kinda "ruins" the bottom row some people like). The bottom right most key in the main cluster should probably be an 1u key like the rest to reduce the need for special keys, but that 1.5u key there is not bad either.

I think this is a pretty good design. You see that it is pretty similar to the hack done by this user:

131606-3

I also tried to make a version jacobolus second prototype with less stagger for the middle finger. This also corrected the insufficient stagger for the pinky because my hand position changed a little. On the other hand, I had to adjust the thumb keys position to match my new hand position.

At that point I finally realized that I can move the thumb keys anywhere I want (with reason) just by adjusting the stagger! This has more or less been talked about before in this topic, but I didn't absorbed it at the time. So I went about raising a little the A column, dropping a little the G column, and adjusting the number row spread to alter a bit more my hand position for optimal packing of the keyboard (and a little less extended hand)! This is the final design I reached:

131612-4131614-5131616-6


Compared to the modified Ergodox it has one less key per side, and more or less keeps a pretty nice bottom row for people who like a linear arrow cluster. On the other hand the slightly spread number row may turn off some people (it isn't much worse to pack it, but this way is more comfortable). I plan to use a 1u key in the F5 place, as in the photo, both because the row height that I want and because I'm short one 1.25u key to complete both sides of this board symmetrically.

Take in mind the limitations of my prototyping. I'm not 100% sure if the Tab and F4 keys will be easy to press with the thumb w/o hitting the keys under it, especially the F4 (I'm not even sure if I should keep that key). I was also preferring to hit the thumb keys with my knuckle, because they are hard. When over a key switch will I prefer smaller key caps a little higher up to hit with the tip of my thumb? A large 1.75u space bar may not be such a good idea with the problem of hitting it off-center (it is the biggest key w/o any stabilization). On the other hand, I can always change to a smaller key afterwards, but it will not be so optimally placed. I'm not sure if I can make a hole to fit safely both sizes.

The Tab key is relatively easy to hit if you float your hand up a bit, but is bad for holding while hitting other keys, so ctrl can't be put there, for example. In order of easiness of hitting, there is Shift, Ctrl, FN 1, and then I'm not sure anymore but probably Tab as I don't use a wrist rest. Tab can also be hit fairly easily by the index finger, as can F4 if needed.
« Last Edit: Sat, 19 March 2016, 19:58:35 by rsac »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #181 on: Sun, 20 March 2016, 01:24:24 »
The column stagger in ergodox works well with the hand hand positioned at a slight angle, [...] It is basically the same that I do in a non-column staggered keyboard,
Fair enough.

The issues I have are (1) the switch axis is not parallel to the direction of finger flexion, (2) even with such a hand placement, the the closer-in pinky keys and the further-away index finger keys get hard to reach and in general the index finger ends up with a flexed proximal joint at the top of a key, making it weaker and less comfortable (luckily the index finger is pretty strong, so this isnít a complete dealbreaker), (3) flexing the index finger at the second joint lands it on the bottom key of the middle-finger column, etc. [a row-staggered keyboard accommodates this: the fingers go from FDS to CXZ and from JKL to M,. when you flex them], (4) on the Ergodox itself, that puts the thumb keys even further away, when theyíre already too far for comfort for small-to-medium hands when the hands are straight (not necessarily a problem if you move the thumb keys).

Quote
I'm finding some keys harder to reach with the index and pinky fingers in your design, because the hand starts of as more extended.
The fingers should not start out extended. They should start out in a neutral position, which is a kind of quarter-circle arc shape, with the distal phalanges at a maybe 70Ė85į angle to the direction of the forearm, depending on your specific body shape and typing style.

Quote
the increased middle finger stagger makes a little more awkward to use an inverted T arrow in a FN layer on keys ESDF.
If you want an inverted T (or in this case more like a diamond shape) Use DSCF instead. :-)

For instance:


Or better, use middle and ring fingers as left/right (or right/left, depending on which hand and your preference), and put up/down on the index finger and thumb, respectively.

Quote
At that point I finally realized that I can move the thumb keys anywhere I want (with reason) just by adjusting the stagger!
Something like that, yep. Itís even easier if you can adjust the vertical height of the keys in different columns.

* * *

Your result looks pretty good. If you make a working prototype, let us know how it goes!

Quote
I'm not 100% sure if the Tab and F4 keys will be easy to press with the thumb w/o hitting the keys under it,
Theyíre going to be fine, IF you make sure to use extra-tall keycaps. Something like SA or ďOEMĒ profile keys when the rest of the caps are DSA/DCS/Cherry profile, or if you can find some, maybe the extra-tall F-row caps from Cherry or DCS profiles.

Quote
When over a key switch will I prefer smaller key caps a little higher up to hit with the tip of my thumb?
My preference is to use the side of the whole distal phalanx of the thumb to press the primary thumb keys.

If you ever get the chance, I recommend borrowing a Maltron keyboard for a few days, and trying to understand why they chose their particular position and angle of thumb keys.

Quote
A large 1.75u space bar may not be such a good idea with the problem of hitting it off-center
1.75u will be okay without stabilizers (2u really isnít). I think 1.5u works slightly better though. YMMV.

Quote
The Tab key is relatively easy to hit if you float your hand up a bit, but is bad for holding
It will be totally fine as a modifier/shifter if you use an extra-tall keycap.
« Last Edit: Sun, 20 March 2016, 14:56:10 by jacobolus »

Offline LuX

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #182 on: Sun, 20 March 2016, 05:17:58 »
Nice layouts jacobolus. Almost makes me want to cancel my ErgoDox and build my own keyboard.
I'm beginning to worry that the thumb cluster is too far apart for me as I like to hold my thumb closer to my palm rather than have it extended.

Offline vvp

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #183 on: Sun, 20 March 2016, 11:24:09 »
Quote
I'm not 100% sure if the Tab and F4 keys will be easy to press with the thumb w/o hitting the keys under it,
Theyíre going to be fine, IF you make sure to use extra-tall keycaps. Something like SA or ďOEMĒ profile keys when the rest of the caps are DSA/DCS/Cherry profile, or if you can find some, maybe the extra-tall F-row caps from Cherry or DCS profiles.
+1
Even 3-row thumb clusters work quite well if you are careful about keycap height differences.

Offline rsac

  • Posts: 47
Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #184 on: Mon, 21 March 2016, 00:08:07 »
Quote
I'm finding some keys harder to reach with the index and pinky fingers in your design, because the hand starts of as more extended.
The fingers should not start out extended. They should start out in a neutral position, which is a kind of quarter-circle arc shape, with the distal phalanges at a maybe 70Ė85į angle to the direction of the forearm, depending on your specific body shape and typing style.
It is the neutral position, not completely extended. My middle finger may be more at a 85į angle, but my index and pinky fingers are less angled than that in relation to the forearm. In the ergodox they might be more curled up, maybe. I'm not sure. It might just be how accustomed I'm by the regular keyboard hand position.

Another explanation is that the direction the hand extends helps to reach diagonal keys with the index finger, like the Y. And the pinky finger opening a bit radially also increases it's reach.
Quote
If you want an inverted T (or in this case more like a diamond shape) Use DSCF instead. :-)

Or better, use middle and ring fingers as left/right (or right/left, depending on which hand and your preference), and put up/down on the index finger and thumb, respectively.
The first suggestion is interesting. That uses an even more radical stagger for the middle finger also.

I was unsure if I would like the diamond shaped arrows over the inverted T that I'm familiar, so I did a hybrid in the layout I printed. And I quite liked that hybrid so I'm keeping it in my dedicated arrows. The FN layer arrows are more of an experiment also, but I may grow up to like them so an acceptable positioning is important. For now I think I will go with my reduced stagger anyway.

Quote
Your result looks pretty good. If you make a working prototype, let us know how it goes!
I already have all the parts for hardwiring it (though I might substitute the teensy by another part coming by mail), minus the case that I need to design. I will make a topic with my project in Making Stuff Together! in the coming weeks.

Quote
Theyíre going to be fine, IF you make sure to use extra-tall keycaps. Something like SA or ďOEMĒ profile keys when the rest of the caps are DSA/DCS/Cherry profile, or if you can find some, maybe the extra-tall F-row caps from Cherry or DCS profiles.
I have a OEM set, but shinny thin ABS. But I guess it is usable for the F4 key position. The texture difference might even be a good thing.

Quote
Quote
The Tab key is relatively easy to hit if you float your hand up a bit, but is bad for holding
It will be totally fine as a modifier/shifter if you use an extra-tall keycap.
The trick seems to be to press that key with the tip of my thumb, so I can still reach the bottom row of the keyboard with the same hand. The tall OEM keycaps I have help a little as they have a wider top. Well, I will see when in actual use.

Quote
My preference is to use the side of the whole distal phalanx of the thumb to press the primary thumb keys.

If you ever get the chance, I recommend borrowing a Maltron keyboard for a few days, and trying to understand why they chose their particular position and angle of thumb keys.

1.75u will be okay without stabilizers (2u really isnít). I think 1.5u works slightly better though. YMMV.
Ok, so the part before the widest part of the thumb (the knuckle)? I doubt I will ever have the chance to touch a Maltron...

I would also love triangular rounded keycaps just especially for thumbs, like Esrille and Keyboard.io have. I also noticed they are a bit wider than normal, even in the base. I might be overestimating the precision of my thumbs with this relatively packed design. I'm not sure if spacing more my 1u wide thumb keys is the answer though... probably not. On the other hand Maltron and Kinesis had packed thumb clusters for a long time and people don't seem to mind. But they are not as spread out laterally...

Offline b0f0

  • Posts: 72
Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #185 on: Mon, 21 March 2016, 01:03:57 »
Just asking, is these thread somehow a base for the future ergodox 2 maybe ? It seems like you are doing a good job and you think a lot about how to fix the present ergodox. I ordered my ergodox just a few days ago, still wainting for the package. When I get it I will also comment how it is with usability of thumbs on ergodox.
To me the biggest mistery is how do you guys or the developers of ergodox, take in the information for different hand sizes. What I mean to ask is when you develop a keyboard how do you know that the developed keyboard will be okey for all hand sizes. Not to mention we have different lenghts of fingers and so on. Also the thumbs are different sizes. I guess this part is realy difficoult to develop.
How do you apply different hand and finger sizes when developing an ergonomic keyboard like ergodox ? Just asking because it came to my mind.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #186 on: Mon, 21 March 2016, 01:05:29 »
[...]but my index and pinky fingers are less angled than that in relation to the forearm.[...] It might just be how accustomed I'm by the regular keyboard hand position. ∂ Another explanation is that the direction the hand extends helps to reach diagonal keys with the index finger, like the Y.
If you put your hand on a standard keyboard with all the fingers in a relaxed position, your fingers will land on e.g. JIO; keys, not JKL; (more realistically, they wonít exactly be centered on the keys, but you get the idea). Moreover, with your wrist not-fully-pronated (i.e. wrist and top of hand not strictly parallel to the keyboard plane, but angled a bit down toward the outside) so that the pinky is resting comfortably, the index finger ends up noticeably more flexed at the first joint (i.e. the joint at the base of the finger, the metacarpophalangeal [MCP] joint) than the other fingers are. This reduces the strength and agility of the finger.

If you made a standard-layout one-piece row-staggered keyboard, but increased the vertical height of the 567RTYUFGHJVBN keycap tops by e.g. 2 millimeters (maybe more for 567TY), then your index finger could be in a posture much closer to the rest of your fingers, and wouldnít need to do as much reaching to get to the key tops. The Y and T keys (and especially the 567 keys) would still be a somewhat further stretch than ideal, but noticeably better than before

If you have a column-staggered keyboard with split halves, and full control of the positioning of the keys (at least in 2 dimensions plus sculpted keycaps, but even better in all 3 dimensions), then you can accomplish much the same thing by turning and ďtentingĒ the whole keyboard half, so that your forearm can be much less pronated and so that the columns are roughly aligned with the direction of finger flexion/extension. By shifting the columns relative to each-other so that when you put each finger in a neutral-ish position it rests right on the top of a home row key, you can optimize each fingerís ability to reach keys across multiple rows, and have the strength to press them. Ideally, you want a very aggressively sculpted keycap profile, with a significant step between the home row and further away rows. This lets you extend your fingers at the middle joint (the proximal IP joint) to reach the top of further-row keys without needing to flex the MCP joint too much except when actually pressing the key.

I am partial to using keycap profiles with an extra tall F row, and then shifting the last 2Ė3 rows down by one. In the diagram below, purple outline is standard DCS profile. The green outline is row-shifted DCS, where the ASDF row has keycaps from the QWER row, the QWER row has keycaps from the 1234 row, and the 1234 row has keycaps from an extra-tall F row. The black outline shows a hypothetical even more aggressive keycap profile:


[This is all easier to explain in person with some ability to point to parts of the hand and move around in 3d space and so on, or even with some video/picture support; text is a crappy medium. Iím too lazy to make a bunch of graphics about it right now though.]

Offline jacobolus

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #187 on: Mon, 21 March 2016, 01:07:22 »
Just asking, is these thread somehow a base for the future ergodox 2 maybe ?
Hopefully yes. Itís not something that will happen without a considerable amount more work (mostly organizational/administrative kind of work) though.

Quote
how do you guys or the developers of ergodox, take in the information for different hand sizes.
The only way to do this is try a prototype keyboard out on a bunch of people, and see what they think.

The Ergodox itself was primarily designed by and for one person (Dox).

Offline alexjj

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #188 on: Mon, 28 March 2016, 15:14:16 »
I just found this thread after searching for thumb issues with ergodoxes. It was reassuring to find it wasn't just me being odd. I really want to use my ergodox but after 20 minutes of using it my shoulder is so sore it makes me feel nauseous. I've got an Ergodox EZ with the tenting, but no matter what way I adjust it or tent/tilt it I cannot get rid of the pain. It's definitely the thumbs though. I thought about moving space and enter to the last key on the 1u row, that'll probably fix it but then there's no point in having the ergodox.

Offline rsac

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #189 on: Fri, 15 April 2016, 23:43:21 »
So, I still haven't started to build the design I talked previously, I'm changing it again:

+1
Even 3-row thumb clusters work quite well if you are careful about keycap height differences.
(Attachment Link)
Looking the thumb cluster of Loonie and remembering what vvp said made me want to try this stepped and non-curved thumb cluster style. And I quite liked it. I didn't like Loonie's aggressive staggering though, so I replaced that for the Ergodox one. Latter I saw that something similar to this stepped thumb cluster is also used in the 80key Ergodox mod and people who did it seem to like.

134558-0

It is very compact, meaning less thumb stretching. The difference in height and the different motions for different keys, both sideways and arcs, makes easier to hit a key and go back more precisely to hit another, even with the smaller spacing between them. It fulfills the minimum of 4 thumb keys per side that I wanted with a large margin.

I'm designing a flat board, so 3 levels like vvp is probably a stretch, though I'm kinda doing it with the higher F4 key there. For it being hit by the thumb it probably depends on having some space on the sides and it can also be precisely hit by the index finger using the thumb at space as guide. I will also probably enjoy the plenty of empty space above (and due to the height difference below too) the space key. That is present in my other designs too, but now I think a 1u key is probably sufficient given that.

After that I tweaked a bit the design to have a more visually appealing thumb cluster but still retaining the same form factor. Just increased the stagger a tiny bit compared to the Ergodox, and there I have the (hopefully) final ErgoSquare!

134562-1

Those images have 80keys packed in that little space, more to show what is possible than anything, but I will probably discard 2 or 3 per side when I build mine. Still, I'm clearly erring on the side of more keys when in doubt even with 74 keys total, as I'm not sure if I can live w/o a dedicated arrow cluster.

This design also ended up in a nice format for cheap mass production (it was not my fist goal). I think it is a real shame that all those ergo boards are so expensive. The PCB of each side could be a neat 13cm x 13cm square (hence the name) with everything SMD. It also makes the case, packaging and shipping cheaper. I see no reason why something like it couldn't be sold for $150 (plus shipping) assembled by a Kickstarter project like the one that did the EZ Ergodox. And it could get to even less than $100,00 if the lower cost enables a larger scale than previous Ergodox experiences. I expect that my personal BOM for this project will be around $120 (I actually spent about double of that, but I have material to make almost three keyboards), plus lots of time. The biggest costs being the Acrylic case (a injected plastic one could be $5) and the two colour blank PBT keyset.

One detail though is that I will not be doing a PCB and this design won't have any natural place to put a teensy or maple mini, so I will extend a bit one of the upper sides for that. I will also use that space to latter put a small LCD screen. It will end up looking a bit like the Ergodox Infinity.

I also tried to make it so that it is easy to provide keycaps for it from any standard full-size key cap kit. I'm not sure if I succeeded, as counting with the arrow keys, it theoretically needs a lot of 1u bottom row keys. And the F4 key benefits from a higher key from a different profile. But most of the keys bigger than 1u could be replaced by 1u keys with little to lose.
« Last Edit: Sat, 16 April 2016, 18:43:06 by rsac »

Offline Phenix

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #190 on: Mon, 25 April 2016, 11:23:52 »
I would suggest making all keys on the left (and mirrored on the right) 1.25u. If needed you can let off left/right arrow.

I assume this will be nicer (and more like the ergodox..)
Winter is coming.

Offline rsac

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #191 on: Mon, 25 April 2016, 18:04:20 »

I would suggest making all keys on the left (and mirrored on the right) 1.25u. If needed you can let off left/right arrow.

I assume this will be nicer (and more like the ergodox..)
Two reasons why I'm not keen on this:
- I don't have that many 1.25u keys
- I can use higher profiles for them. I liked it with cherry D row on home row and E row for the other two above.

I'm putting a wider key on the bottom row because the different nature of the movement to reach it. You need to move your whole hand to the side to press it, while the other keys you mostly only move your pinky finger. Thus a larger area to hit is more needed there, I think. The regular US keyboard on the right side also has 1u keys for home and upper rows, but longer key for the bottom row.

I'm finishing designing the case, I will be able to test it soon (TM).

Offline Phenix

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #192 on: Mon, 25 April 2016, 18:09:14 »
OK. Sounds better after you described it..

typos due to my touch screen are possible

Winter is coming.

Offline Scoox

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #193 on: Sat, 07 January 2017, 00:44:22 »
Personally I find 3 keys for each thumb is more than adequate. On my Ergodox I'm only using one of the thumb keys, and two of the bottom row keys as thumb keys. I find most of the thumb keys to be too far to reach comfortably, even though I have very long fingers. I've also attached an extension to the thumb key I use; without this simple hack I probably wouldn't be using my Ergodox now.

156985-0

I rely on layers and I put my modifier keys along the top row of both hands, so for example, the key that normally is "1" on a standard keyboard is the Windows key, key "2" is Shift, key "3" is Ctrl, key "4" is Alt. The same for the right hand but mirrored. This way both hands have access to all modifiers, and any combination of modifiers can be pressed comfortably with one hand (quite handy for mouse modifiers!).

Offline tp4tissue

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #194 on: Sat, 07 January 2017, 00:55:24 »
Personally I find 3 keys for each thumb is more than adequate. On my Ergodox I'm only using one of the thumb keys, and two of the bottom row keys as thumb keys. I find most of the thumb keys to be too far to reach comfortably, even though I have very long fingers. I've also attached an extension to the thumb key I use; without this simple hack I probably wouldn't be using my Ergodox now.

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I rely on layers and I put my modifier keys along the top row of both hands, so for example, the key that normally is "1" on a standard keyboard is the Windows key, key "2" is Shift, key "3" is Ctrl, key "4" is Alt. The same for the right hand but mirrored. This way both hands have access to all modifiers, and any combination of modifiers can be pressed comfortably with one hand (quite handy for mouse modifiers!).

I've taped a piece of cardboard there in the beginning myself..

But eventually i realized that it's really unnecessary.


If you've not gotten over this difference in spacing,  YOU WILL, if you keep using the ERgodox..



It only feels odd, because the normal muscle routine to hit the key is different than what it would take with the new spacing..



However,  this will be a problem if you use your ergodox (untented).

While you shouldn't be doing that.. untented,  it's more the rotation of the wrist that makes this difficult, because it's a slight extension of the thumb + a rotation..

when you're tented , there's no rotation,  it's just a slight extension , and easy to get used to..


But when it's flat..  you have to rotate out for the outside keys, then back in to hit space.

Online Yotaka

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Re: fixing the ergodox thumb section
« Reply #195 on: Mon, 09 January 2017, 03:21:27 »

Separate left and right hand design,who are using this? how do you guys feel about this?
Personally I think this might be good if you spend time and get used to this,
 but for combination key, most time  need one hand for this, instead of two hands to balance the pressure.