Author Topic: The Humble Hacker Keyboard  (Read 64195 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline dmw

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 90
    • http://humblehacker.com
The Humble Hacker Keyboard
« on: Thu, 18 June 2009, 21:09:21 »
A project that I've been working on off and on for more than a year now, the Humble Hacker Keyboard (i.e. a keyboard for humble hackers like me) is an idea for a keyboard that I believe would appeal mostly to programmers, though it could have more widespread appeal.  This is a big project for me, and I was hoping to have a complete working version before I made it public, but time being as scarce as it is, that could be a while.  In the meantime, since I found geekhack, I thought this would be the perfect place to introduce it to the world.



I've got a page set up at http://humblehacker.com/keyboard (design shamelessly ripped off from some page at apple.com).  I've planned to set down all of my ideas there, but haven't had the time yet to do so.  If this post sparks some conversation, maybe that might help.

The ideas behind this board are an amalgamation of features from some of my favorite keyboards.

    [*]Hand separation: Despite the keyboard being only 2cm longer than a Happy Hacking Pro, it has quite a bit of hand separation (12.5cm).
    [*]Multiple layers:  It has four fn (layer switching) keys, two of which are placed in position easily reachable from the home row.  This makes things like embedded cursor keys really convenient and comfortable.  All of the punctuation keys, like parens and brackets are available through alternate layers.  And none of this is set in stone.  All of the keys can be remapped, even the fn keys!  You can even create more fn keys if you wish.
    [*]Non-staggered layout:  Those familiar with the TypeMatrix keyboards will appreciate (or not) this feature.  I've typed on a Kinesis Contoured keyboard for years, and I believe from this that a staggered keyboard layout is not a necessary feature for a good keyboard.
    [*]Gestures:  The idea for the multiple layers actually came about from my use of the nearly excellent Fingerworks Touchstream keyboard.  They had multitouch gestures for just about everything.  I realized that keyboard chords are much like gestures, but they are often inconvenient on a standard keyboard.  Hence the well-placed extra fn keys.
    [*]Compact keyboard:  We love 'em.  Happy Hacking, TypeMatrix, the various Tenkeyless keyboards, Lowpoly's beautiful compact keyboard, etc.
    [*]Fully programmable:  I like the programmability of my kinesis, but the Touchstream again wins the prize here.  I wanted my keyboard to be as malleable as possible.
    [*]Non-tradtional placement of keys:  This I got from the TypeMatrix.  Once I got the idea of moving the outer keys to the center, a whole avalanche of ideas fell out from there.  I realize that the standard keyboard layout is unbalanced and unsymmetrical, with a bunch of hard to hit keys bunched up around the right hand.  By moving these keys to the alternate layers, I could keep a very compact size while at the same time separating the hands as much as possible.
    [*]Control key where it's supposed to be:  The Happy Hacking keyboard is the obvious influence here, yet I've been swapping my caps lock and control key for years before I ever saw one.  If you've ever used emacs, you'll know it as a near necessity.
    [*]Thumb operated keys:  The Alt (windows) or Command (Mac) keys are bottom center, and very easy to hit.  There is also a thumb operated backspace key.  These ideas all come from the Kinesis Contoured keyboard.
    [/LIST]

    My TypeMatrix 2030 hacking project that I posted here some months back is the programming side of the project.  The firmware for that will eventually become the firmware for the Humble Hacker Keyboard.  This is an open-source project, but it's in such a narrow area I'm not sure I could get many people to work on it with me.

    The keyboard you see here is a real prototype.  It's built using salvaged blue alps sliders.  There were many compromises I had to make due to the cost of custom keycaps being exorbitant.  For example, the center shift keys were actually supposed to be combined with the center return keys to make them larger and easier to hit.  That would have been $1500 minimum.  Ouch.

    update
    The keys were custom made by Signature Plastics.  As I alluded to in the previous paragraph, I was limited to key shapes that they already had the tooling for.  Anything more would have been too expensive.  Signature Plastics did a great job and were very easy to work with.  I expected that they would be resistant to working with someone who is just a hobbyist, but that was not the case.

    Speaking of cases, the case was also custom made.  This is one of the coolest things ever.  I made a 3d model using Google SketchUp, and sent it to ShapeWays.  A short time later, an exact plastic copy of my 3d model appeared at my doorstep.  Simply amazing.
    end update

    All that remains to be done to make this a working prototype is to build the circuit board and finish the programming.  I have also started on a desktop companion application to make creation and sharing of layouts easy. But like I said, time being scarce I'm not certain when that will be finished.

    Back from the dead

    "Perfect is the enemy of good."  This is my new mantra.  This project has lain dormant for so long because I could see ahead of me all the work that it would take to bring to life my platonic ideal of a keyboard, and it seemed overwhelming.  I finally decided that it just needed to get done, and that I could fix problems later, in version 2.  So I bit the bullet, ordered some PCBs and got to work.

    I ordered two PCBs from ExpressPCB (minimum order).  I decided to assemble one board as a test, and use the second for the final build.  It turned out to be a good idea.




    I simplified this board from some earlier designs I had done.  For one, I decided to use a Teensy++ board and solder to my PCB rather than try to solder all those tiny pins on an AT90USB1287 MCU.



    I'm saving my blue Alps sliders for the final build.  For this test build, I'm using some white Alps sliders from an Apple Extended Keyboard II.  To mount the keys to the PCB, I used a hot glue gun.  This way, I could try to align them before the glue set - something that would be very difficult once they are soldered down.  After all the switches were glued in place, I soldered them, the diodes, and the teensy++.




    Then I mounted one of my two sets of key caps.




    With that complete, I just had to load my firmware and I'd be off and typing!

    I mentioned that building a test board was a good idea.  Here's why.  Despite how much time I spent going over the PCB design to make sure I hadn't made any mistakes, I somehow totally missed a very obvious error.



    That trace should have gone between those holes, not through them!  Doh!  So I had to cut the traces and reroute with jumper wires.  



    The part that sucks the most about this is that I had already mounted my SD card reader to those pins, and I'm pretty sure that I destroyed it trying to remove it.  It took me a while to discover what the problem was.  I thought at first that it was a firmware problem.  Imagine my surprise.


    HumbleHacker I - The Final Build

    At long last, we arrive at the final leg of our journey to create this keyboard. First, I had to trim the corners off of the bottom of the board so it would fit in the case.  Then, learning lessons from the previous build, I first added the previously mentioned jumper wire repair.  After that, I mounted the pin headers for the Teensy++ and the SD card reader.



    Then I mounted the nearly 100 diodes for each key.




    After the diodes were mounted, it was time to trim off their leads:



    Next came mounting of my precious blue Alps sliders!









    Then, insert the PCB, and solder it down:





    Done!



    « Last Edit: Mon, 05 July 2010, 13:51:56 by dmw »

    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #1 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 03:51:04 »
    Wow, that's really amazing, how'd  you do that??? lol
    Good luck on getting the software made for it!! Wish I could help.
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline lam47

    • Posts: 1567
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #2 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 05:09:08 »
    Its a stunning board! I love the look of the layout too.
    May I ask where the key caps were made? They look very nice.

    Great work!
    Keyboards. Happy Hacking pro 2 x2. One white one black. IBM model M US layout. SGI silicone Graphics with rubber dampened ALPS. IBM model F. ALPS apple board, I forget what it is. And some more I forget what I have.

    Typewriters. Olivetti Valentine. Imperial Good Companion Model T. Olympia SM3

    Offline lowpoly

    • Posts: 2516
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #3 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 05:27:13 »
    Very, very nice.

    How did you do the case and keys?

    Miniguru thread at GH, preview site at guru-board.com
    The Apple M0110 Today

    Offline IBI

    • Posts: 648
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #4 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 06:39:19 »
    I can't see a semi-colon key?
    Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

    Offline DarthShrine

    • Posts: 45
      • http://blog.darthshrine.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #5 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 07:15:31 »
    This is really quite an awesome project! Was the case made from scratch?
    Das Keyboard Ultimate
    IBM Model M 1391401 (born in 1990)
    Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional 2

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #6 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 09:40:56 »
    Thanks for all the kind words. I've updated the article with more information about the case and keys, and corrected some minor mis-statements (apparently, I can't tell my left hand from my right).

    IBI: The layout is Dvorak, so the semicolon key is found on the bottom-left, next to the left shift key.

    Offline itlnstln

    • Posts: 13093
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #7 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 09:49:37 »
    Beautiful keyboard.  Great work.  How much did the key cost?  I love the font on the keys, and I think it would be cool to replace the keycaps on my Filco with a set of those (in black, preferably, but white might be nice, too, similar to what iMav did with his HHKBs).  Do you know if they have Cherry interfaces?


    Offline IBI

    • Posts: 648
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #8 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 10:25:28 »
    Quote from: dmw;97599
    IBI: The layout is Dvorak, so the semicolon key is found on the bottom-left, next to the left shift key.


    Ah, it's so faint I'd assumed it was the ¦ \ key that I'm used to seeing there.

    Now that I've had a closer look uou do seem to be missing various other common characters characters though, where is equals for example? On one of the blank keys?
    Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #9 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 10:37:28 »
    Quote from: itlnstln;97600
    Beautiful keyboard.  Great work.  How much did the key cost?


    Everybody sit down for this one.  The amount of money I've spent on this keyboard is rapidly approaching the cost of an optimus maximus keyboard.  For $500, I got two sets of keycaps - the ones pictured, and another set of blank black caps.  The case was around $200.  Circuit board, when I finally get it made, will be another $250, provided I get it right on my first try.  Then there's all the components for the circuit board, and a steel backplate to finish it off.

    Quote from: itlnstln;97600
    I love the font on the keys, and I think it would be cool to replace the keycaps on my Filco with a set of those (in black, preferably, but white might be nice, too, similar to what iMav did with his HHKBs).  Do you know if they have Cherry interfaces?


    Signature plastics does have the tooling for Cherry keycaps as well as Alps (and maybe others).  I looked again at my original purchase order, and my set of blank black keys was $140.  Adding labels adds another $300.

    Offline itlnstln

    • Posts: 13093
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #10 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 10:39:59 »
    Quote from: dmw;97610
    Everybody sit down for this one. The amount of money I've spent on this keyboard is rapidly approaching the cost of an optimus maximus keyboard. For $500, I got two sets of keycaps - the ones pictured, and another set of blank black caps. The case was around $200. Circuit board, when I finally get it made, will be another $250, provided I get it right on my first try. Then there's all the components for the circuit board, and a steel backplate to finish it off.
     
     
     
    Signature plastics does have the tooling for Cherry keycaps as well as Alps (and maybe others). I looked again at my original purchase order, and my set of blank black keys was $140. Adding labels adds another $300.

    Ouch.
     
    It's worth it for a prototype, though.  Hopefully you can get it into production and recoup the investment many times over.


    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #11 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 10:43:31 »
    Quote from: IBI;97606
    Now that I've had a closer look uou do seem to be missing various other common characters characters though, where is equals for example? On one of the blank keys?


    All of the keys you're looking for are found on secondary layers.  Basically, hold down Fn2 (on the right), and you'll have them all right under your left hand.  To give you some perspective, the Fn2 key would be in about the location of the left [ on a standard keyboard - not a difficult reach at all.  I'll dig up my layout documents and post these to the article.

    [update] I couldn't find any of my current layout images.  They're all tied up in xml files and it seems my xml to pdf conversion program has died of bitrot.  Until I can resurrect it, here is a very old preliminary image that shows some ideas of what you can expect with the multiple Fn layers.

    « Last Edit: Fri, 19 June 2009, 11:36:20 by dmw »

    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #12 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:09:00 »
    Quote from: dmw;97610
    Everybody sit down for this one.  The amount of money I've spent on this keyboard is rapidly approaching the cost of an optimus maximus keyboard.  For $500, I got two sets of keycaps - the ones pictured, and another set of blank black caps.  The case was around $200.  Circuit board, when I finally get it made, will be another $250, provided I get it right on my first try.  Then there's all the components for the circuit board, and a steel backplate to finish it off.



    Signature plastics does have the tooling for Cherry keycaps as well as Alps (and maybe others).  I looked again at my original purchase order, and my set of blank black keys was $140.  Adding labels adds another $300.

    That's really amazing.  It's nice to know it's still possible to completely design a new keyboard at all.  So Signature Plastics can make custom keycaps like that?  I asked them about keycaps for my siig minitouch which uses alps keys and they didn't seem to be able to do anything...   I may have to ask them again...


    It's also nice to see you used Shapeways.  I plan to use them for an upcoming project.   How much would it have cost to get shapeways to make the keys?  Or is the plastic not of a high enough grade or something? It cost $200 for a top and bottom from them for the case?  Don't they have a thing where subsequent people can order the same design as well? So if we wanted to buy the case from them we could, and you'd get a commission or something?

    Who is going to do the circuitboard?  Or what are your plans? That's the part that's really going to fascinate me and has held up so many of my ideas....this is really mind blowing to me!!!
    « Last Edit: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:23:49 by chimera15 »
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #13 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:29:16 »
    Quote from: itlnstln;97611

     
    It's worth it for a prototype, though.  Hopefully you can get it into production and recoup the investment many times over.


    its amazing that you can have a completely custom keyboard made at all. I dont think a thousand (or even two thousand by the time its all done) bucks is all that much for a completely custom design from scratch including internal electronics.  If I ever have the time I'd love to do something like this from scratch.

    It does look very original and neat. I'd have minor quibbles with layout (naturally ;) (for instance, why no home/end keys near the cursor keys? Or are the there and I cant see them?). But if its going to be user-programmable anyway, then even those things wont matter.
    Also I've never used a non-staggered board, though I did ogle the typematrix for a while.

    Really like the concept of multiple Fn keys for multiple layers. My autohotkey layout works similarly (I have "three layers" i guess).

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #14 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:30:53 »
    what kind of switches by the way? (or did i miss that in the above discussion?)

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #15 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:44:07 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97667
    what kind of switches by the way? (or did i miss that in the above discussion?)


    He said he used salvaged blue alps.
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline zwmalone

    • Posts: 676
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #16 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:47:36 »
    I hope the final version has StrongMan ALPS whites... IIRC, you can pick up a box of 4,000 switches for ~$520 US
    Can't get enough of them ALPS

    Offline itlnstln

    • Posts: 13093
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #17 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 13:53:37 »
    Quote from: zwmalone;97670
    I hope the final version has StrongMan ALPS whites... IIRC, you can pick up a box of 4,000 switches for ~$520 US

    Looking at his layout, that should take care of about 45-50 keyboards.  That's a pretty good bargain.


    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #18 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 14:57:50 »
    Quote from: chimera15;97669
    He said he used salvaged blue alps.


    classy. Glad he's using alps instead of the ubiquitous cherries.

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline itlnstln

    • Posts: 13093
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #19 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 15:00:23 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97699
    classy. Glad he's using alps instead of the ubiquitous cherries.

    Are you a hater?


    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #20 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 15:08:35 »
    Quote from: itlnstln;97702
    Are you a hater?


    only of light switches :)



    « Last Edit: Fri, 19 June 2009, 15:14:32 by wellington1869 »

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #21 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 16:27:57 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97707
    only of light switches :)



    Show Image

    You could always replace them with alps grey caplocks switches. lol


    Although I don't know if they'd be 120 vac rated... lol
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline itlnstln

    • Posts: 13093
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #22 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 16:32:36 »
    Quote from: webwit;97744
    Your wish is my demand, sir. Dark switches for you!

    Those are sexy. Where'd you find those at? I know what my next home improvement project is.


    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #23 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 16:34:35 »
    Quote from: webwit;97744
    Your wish is my demand, sir. Dark switches for you!

    Show Image

    Hmm..  I wonder if there's a keyboard like that..  are mac keyboards that way? So you don't actually press anything?  You just run your finger over it, or tap it for the actuation?
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline pmyshkin

    • Posts: 110
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #24 on: Fri, 19 June 2009, 18:36:18 »
    This is really awesome. I like the symmetry of it, but it seems like you've gone overboard with the redundant modifier keys. The shifts in the center don't seem necessary to me. You could put ESC there to satisfy the vim users. And what are those blank keys by 1 and 0?

    BTW, it seems like you can almost replicate this keyboard with a rectangular POS type board, for example, the Cherry G86-63400, and a lot of software keymapping. But the layout is completely novel. Now I'm thinking about buying a G86-63400 and trying this out.
    « Last Edit: Fri, 19 June 2009, 18:43:48 by pmyshkin »

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #25 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 00:01:14 »
    Quote from: webwit;97744
    Your wish is my demand, sir. Dark switches for you!

    Show Image


    those *are* sexy. I want those in my house too!  tactile bump, nice. But is it clicky? :)  Probably just the bottoming clack :)

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #26 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:02:52 »
    Quote from: chimera15;97661
    It's also nice to see you used Shapeways.  I plan to use them for an upcoming project.   How much would it have cost to get shapeways to make the keys?  Or is the plastic not of a high enough grade or something?


    I could use Shapeways to prototype some keys, but I doubt the plastic would hold up under actual use.  The plastic, although rigid, is very light.  I don't think I would have to try extremely hard to break it.  When you get down to something as small as a keycap, especially the point where it attaches to the switch, I think it might cause problems.

    Quote from: chimera15;97661
    It cost $200 for a top and bottom from them for the case?  Don't they have a thing where subsequent people can order the same design as well? So if we wanted to buy the case from them we could, and you'd get a commission or something?


    It was $200 for the top case.  The bottom is going to be a piece of heavy sheet steel.  If I make my design public, then yes, I think you could order one up as well.  I don't know about commission though.

    Quote from: chimera15;97661
    Who is going to do the circuitboard?  Or what are your plans? That's the part that's really going to fascinate me and has held up so many of my ideas....this is really mind blowing to me!!!


    I've already drawn up the circuit board using one of the free programs out there.  My only problem is, I've never done it before and I'd like to have a way to be fairly certain it was going to work before I plunk down $250.  I can significantly reduce costs if I put all the major components on a smaller board, and build the bigger board with all the keyswitches myself.

    This is really mind-blowing to me too.  I've had this much of it done for quite a while now, and I periodically stick in on my keyboard tray and pretend to type with it - wishing that it were already done.  I really think it's going to be an extremely efficient keyboard.

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #27 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:14:41 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97666
    its amazing that you can have a completely custom keyboard made at all. I dont think a thousand (or even two thousand by the time its all done) bucks is all that much for a completely custom design from scratch including internal electronics.  If I ever have the time I'd love to do something like this from scratch.


    Yes, time and money.  I never seem to have them both at the same time.

    Quote from: wellington1869;97666
    It does look very original and neat. I'd have minor quibbles with layout (naturally ;) (for instance, why no home/end keys near the cursor keys? Or are the there and I cant see them?). But if its going to be user-programmable anyway, then even those things wont matter. Also I've never used a non-staggered board, though I did ogle the typematrix for a while.


    I expected much more complaints about the layout than I've been getting.  There are dedicated home and end keys, btw, just not on the colored image above in the thread.  That was a very very early prototype design.  Take a look at humblehacker.com, and you'll see all the usual suspects in the center of the keyboard.  As far as staggered vs. block layout, it does take a bit of getting used to.  I've also imagined another design where the keys are staggered like a regular keyboard on the right, but exactly the opposite on the left.  But the whole keyboard would have to be longer for that to work.

    Quote from: wellington1869;97666
    Really like the concept of multiple Fn keys for multiple layers. My autohotkey layout works similarly (I have "three layers" i guess).


    Originally, I only had two Fn keys.  It was only later that I realized I could fill out the bottom row and add a couple more.  But since that's where you normally find a control key, and I've always hated trying to hit a control key in that position, I don't really know how much I'd use Fn3 and Fn4 in practice.  The Fn keys can be programmed to be toggles, rather than momentary, so I thought maybe these two would be good for that.  Could be an easy way to switch between QWERTY and Dvorak, for example.

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #28 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:17:38 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97699
    classy. Glad he's using alps instead of the ubiquitous cherries.


    I really do prefer the blue Alps to the blue Cherrys.  I've always found the sound of the blue Cherrys to be too sharp, like little scissors going snik! snik!

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #29 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:35:27 »
    Quote from: pmyshkin;97766
    This is really awesome. I like the symmetry of it, but it seems like you've gone overboard with the redundant modifier keys. The shifts in the center don't seem necessary to me. You could put ESC there to satisfy the vim users. And what are those blank keys by 1 and 0?


    Overboard indeed.  Those center shift keys were a last minute decision when I discovered that the 2-row-high return keys I wanted would have been $1500.  I was forced to split them into two keys, and a snap decision means that they are forever to be labeled 'shift'. I almost wish I had just left them blank.  The Esc key is a good idea, I could put Esc on one, colon on the other, and call it The Humble Vim'r Keyboard™, Special Edition®.  Though, as far as redundant modifier keys are concerned, I do like the idea of a right-hand control key that's not way out in never-never land like it is on most keyboards.  It remains to be seen whether I actually end up using it, though.  For people that can't stand the center return key, the right control key could be remapped to make them happy.

    Quote from: pmyshkin;97766
    BTW, it seems like you can almost replicate this keyboard with a rectangular POS type board, for example, the Cherry G86-63400, and a lot of software keymapping. But the layout is completely novel. Now I'm thinking about buying a G86-63400 and trying this out.


    I thought about trying that out myself.  I did program my TypeMatrix hack job with a layout as similar as I could manage, and having the punctuation and cursor movement keys on the separate layers worked really well.  But that was as much proof-of-concept I could manage before I jumped in head first.  If you do give it a go, let me know how it works out for you.

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #30 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:35:31 »
    In a way, you know what might be ideal?  This keyboard, but with blank keys, and shipped with no layout whatsoever, so that the consumer programs the layout themselves completlely (it should ship with software to create the layout, then the user plugs it in and it 'flashes' the firmware on it with taht layout).

    ie, why not sell a version which is simply _completely_ _blank_?

    Because a) its the fantastic key layout that you're selling. That is the selling point.  b) you're aiming it at geeks and programmers anyway, who would not only have their own ideas of what keys they want where and on what layer, but would in fact also enjoy the process of programming and flashing it themselves.

    At least one version of this board should be like that - a completely blank board (no pre-flashed firmware, no printing on the keys). So geeks can "roll their own".

    And what it offers over autohotkey or software solutions?  Clearly it offers:
    a) the uniquely ergonomic layout, mirrored on both sides. You just cant get that with software.
    b) the speed and instant response of a firmware layout solution. yes, autohotkey hiccups now and then - and certain keys cant be captured by it easily (like the Fn keys).  All hiccups are bypassed with a firmware solution.

    I would totally buy a 'blank' one of these so I can roll my own layout.

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #31 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:41:50 »
    Quote
    I expected much more complaints about the layout than I've been getting. There are dedicated home and end keys, btw, just not on the colored image above in the thread. That was a very very early prototype design. Take a look at humblehacker.com,


    well I could have more gripes about layout but its too early ;) I know you're still tweaking it.  I checked out the site. I suspect one reason you dont have home/end placed right above the left/right keys, is because on Macs you can do home/end with option key and arrows (right?).  This wouldnt be the case on a windows computer. On a windows computer home/end above left/right would be very handy.

    Similarly, four shift keys seem like overkill to me; personally i'd move that center cluster around a bit. (Like getting rid of the shift keys in the center cluster; moving home/end down so they're right above left/right; moving the return keys to where the shift keys are in the center.)

    Tab and backtab are nice features and i'd leave those where they are.

    I'm not sure what i'd put in the current home/end locations. Maybe leave those as user programmable.

    Anyway, so you see speaking for myself anyway, i would have issues with the center cluster esp for usage on a windows machine.

    anyway, you may have multiple versions later on, or you could have a fully user-programmable model (which maybe the ideal) as an option anwyay for purchase.


    But in terms of the hardware "clustered and mirrored" layout of the keys, their shapes and sizes, I think its got real potential and real appeal.  (As another example, the small-sized and right-side-only location of the space bar, I think is perfect and quite original.  I know other keyboards have split space and backspace like that, but in your model even the sizes are down to almost normal-key size, and I think that works actually and is kind of neat.)

    Some other things to consider -- integrated trackpoint? (maybe where that del key currently is in the center of the center cluster?)  Or an integrated trackpad under those option keys (or in place of them even)?   Or better -- if you dont want to deal with integrating a mouse -- how about a split keyboard like the m15 or the kinesis freestyle?  (Then users can place their own mouse between the two halves).  The two halves are "mirrored" here anyway, they would make for a convenient physical split between them. (connected by a wire of course).
    « Last Edit: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:47:32 by wellington1869 »

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #32 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:45:33 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97848
    In a way, you know what might be ideal?  This keyboard, but with blank keys, and shipped with no layout whatsoever, so that the consumer programs the layout themselves completlely (it should ship with software to create the layout, then the user plugs it in and it 'flashes' the firmware on it with taht layout).

    ie, why not sell a version which is simply _completely_ _blank_?

    Because a) its the fantastic key layout that you're selling. That is the selling point.  b) you're aiming it at geeks and programmers anyway, who would not only have their own ideas of what keys they want where and on what layer, but would in fact also enjoy the process of programming and flashing it themselves.

    At least one version of this board should be like that - a completely blank board (no pre-flashed firmware, no printing on the keys). So geeks can "roll their own".

    And what it offers over autohotkey or software solutions?  Clearly it offers:
    a) the uniquely ergonomic layout, mirrored on both sides. You just cant get that with software.
    b) the speed and instant response of a firmware layout solution. yes, autohotkey hiccups now and then - and certain keys cant be captured by it easily (like the Fn keys).  All hiccups are bypassed with a firmware solution.

    I would totally buy a 'blank' one of these so I can roll my own layout.


    Nicely stated. If I were to try to sell these, this is pretty much what I had in mind.  I had thoughts of taking it even further and selling it as a kit where the buyer could source their own keys, solder them to the board, and assemble.  The firmware and programming software would be available online as an open source project.  There's a lot of different tastes in keyswitches out there, so it would be hard to please everyone.  But how many geeks/hackers would want a keyboard that they've actually had to solder the keys on themselves?  I know I'd buy one ;)

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #33 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:48:56 »
    (p.s., I added some more to my two most recent posts above ;)

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #34 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 01:53:35 »
    Quote from: dmw;97851
    Nicely stated. If I were to try to sell these, this is pretty much what I had in mind.  I had thoughts of taking it even further and selling it as a kit where the buyer could source their own keys, solder them to the board, and assemble.  The firmware and programming software would be available online as an open source project.  There's a lot of different tastes in keyswitches out there, so it would be hard to please everyone.  But how many geeks/hackers would want a keyboard that they've actually had to solder the keys on themselves?  I know I'd buy one ;)


    You could have maybe two DIY versions. One with the PCB holes pre-drilled for the major switch types. That one, a "hardware DIY" version, is for the soldering-geeks.

    Ideally though they'd also be a "firmware DIY" version, which either comes with some standard switch (blue alps would be decent, for instance; or even more ideally, maybe the user can choose which switch?), and this one you could charge more for it, but it would arrive fully pre-assembled, with only the layout missing (which the user does via software and then flashing the firmware).

    So that would give two DIY versions (hardware version and firmware version (the latter being more expensive cuz of pre-assembled switch hardware).

    You're right that true geeks would be picky about switch-type; but a lot of geeks would also pay extra to not have to do the soldering themselves, to be able to just pre-order it with the switches pre-installed, even if it costs $100 more. (I know i would!).
    « Last Edit: Sat, 20 June 2009, 02:32:04 by wellington1869 »

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline lal

    • Posts: 716
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #35 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 02:23:45 »
    Quote from: dmw;97844

    I expected much more complaints about the layout than I've been getting.


    Lately I tend to ignore things I'm not interested in.  But if it helps I'll tell you that any keyboard that deviates significantly from the standard ANSI qwerty layout is an immediate fail for me.  The reason is I think that the potential productivity gain of a "better" layout like yours doesn't outweight the irritation and needed time getting used to when switching from one keyboard to another.  That's my personal opinion.
    BS: Customizer, Model Ms; Alps: CSK-2101, FK-2002, AT-101 (SGI & Dell), MCK-860, FKBN87Z/EB; Cherry: Poker X, FKBN87MC/EB, WY60, G80-3000, G84-4100, TDV 5010

    Offline lal

    • Posts: 716
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #36 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 04:21:59 »
    Maybe, I don't care.  The keyboard is a tool and I want to start working instantly whenever I get at a machine, and I have to use lots of different machines during the day whose peripherals I can't change (unfortunately).  It's annoying enough having to switch between different country layouts all the time.
    BS: Customizer, Model Ms; Alps: CSK-2101, FK-2002, AT-101 (SGI & Dell), MCK-860, FKBN87Z/EB; Cherry: Poker X, FKBN87MC/EB, WY60, G80-3000, G84-4100, TDV 5010

    Offline zwmalone

    • Posts: 676
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #37 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 05:57:38 »
    Quote from: wellington1869;97855
    "which either comes with some standard switch (blue alps would be decent, for instance;"


    Except the blue ALPS where replaced with white ALPS long ago, which is why I recommended white Strongmans.
    Can't get enough of them ALPS

    Offline IBI

    • Posts: 648
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #38 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 08:44:51 »
    Quote from: dmw;97844
    I expected much more complaints about the layout than I've been getting.


    Well, with the unconventional layout I'd imagine a lot of people don't want to comment on what works and what doesn't as they don't have experience with this sort of keyboard.
    Owned: Raptor-Gaming K1 (linear MX)(Broken), IBM Model M UK, Dell AT102W, Left-handed keyboard with Type 1 Simplified Alps.

    Offline wellington1869

    • Posts: 7381
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #39 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 11:50:00 »
    Quote from: zwmalone;97867
    Except the blue ALPS where replaced with white ALPS long ago, which is why I recommended white Strongmans.


    white strongmans would be cool too. :)

    Quote from: lal;97858
    any keyboard that deviates significantly from the standard ANSI qwerty layout is an immediate fail for me.  .


    btw I'd agree with lal here; for me too, I'd want a qwerty layout.  (i'm also not 100% sure of the non-staggering, tho i'd be willing to try it I guess). But as far as layout, so long as its 100% user configurable, then I can put the qwerty layout in myself, so I wasnt too worried about it for that reason. But ya, i'd be using it with a qwerty layout.

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

    using: ms 7000/Das 3

    Offline pmyshkin

    • Posts: 110
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #40 on: Sat, 20 June 2009, 13:12:00 »
    Concerning having to work on different machines: If the keyboard was programmed in firmware, then you can just take it around and plug it into whichever computer you need to use. I would imagine that everyone should be allowed to at least plug in USB peripherals.

    There's also ssh ... the beauty of never having to leave your own computer.

    Offline lal

    • Posts: 716
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #41 on: Sun, 21 June 2009, 03:53:51 »
    Quote from: pmyshkin;97929
    Concerning having to work on different machines: If the keyboard was programmed in firmware, then you can just take it around and plug it into whichever computer you need to use. I would imagine that everyone should be allowed to at least plug in USB peripherals.

    There's also ssh ... the beauty of never having to leave your own computer.


    Short story: I absolutely *have* to use the local boards that are already connected.
    Long story: Working as a trainer for computer stuff with complete n00bs most of the time I have to give a helping hand a lot - log them in, input URLs, paths et cetera.  There's no time connecting my own kb first, not to mention making a complete fool of myself bringing my own board to the place when there is one already. Remote control over network isn't possible for several reasons, too.
    BS: Customizer, Model Ms; Alps: CSK-2101, FK-2002, AT-101 (SGI & Dell), MCK-860, FKBN87Z/EB; Cherry: Poker X, FKBN87MC/EB, WY60, G80-3000, G84-4100, TDV 5010

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #42 on: Sun, 21 June 2009, 11:55:22 »
    I'm with lal here on this one.  Not everyone has the luxury of being able to go against the status quo.  When you sit in front of the same keyboard all day, every day, you can afford to experiment with more efficient designs.  But Qwerty boards are ubiquitous, and as much as I'd like to see that change, it's not going to any time soon, if ever.  And if you have a job like lal's, it can be highly impractical to switch boards.  

    With that said, I commonly switch from my Kinesis Contoured at home and my standard staggered layout on my macbook without any problem at all, so learning to switch is not an insurmountable obstacle.  Now switching from Qwerty to Dvorak and back, that is a pain.  I've heard some people claim to be able to do so, but every time I try, my typing speed in both layouts slows down quite a bit, and stays that way for a while even if switch back to just using my usual Dvorak.  I'm sure with a lot of practice I could probably become proficient at it, but it's not important enough for me to do so, just as the possibility of a more efficient layout is not important enough to lal to justify learning to switch keyboards or "making a complete fool" of himself by bringing his own.

     I have no delusions that my keyboard design is going to take over the world.  It was designed for a very small market - namely me.  I'm excited at the prospect of seeing my ideas come to life, and I'm very excited others on this board also see some value in it, but I know it's not for everyone.
    « Last Edit: Mon, 22 June 2009, 12:52:15 by dmw »

    Offline cb951303

    • Posts: 111
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #43 on: Thu, 25 June 2009, 07:54:25 »
    very nice project

    I was working on something like this too except I never started to build a prototype :)

    I don't know if you already designed the PCB but if you didn't AVR ATTiny48 chip was the best candidate for me because it had enough ports and horse power to support a full keyboard matrix and software USB at the same time (http://www.obdev.at/products/vusb/index.html). This way you don't need an extra USB chip. It will cut costs down if you ever start production. cheers
    Filco Zero FKBN87Z/EB
    Kensington Orbit K72337US

    Offline noneme

    • Posts: 1
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #44 on: Thu, 25 June 2009, 21:25:28 »
    dmw, first off, this project looks awesome. I've been bouncing between Happy Hacking keyboards, the TypeMatrix 2030, and apple keyboards for the past year and I'm still not happy with any of them. You design looks like it would resolve 95% of my issues out of the box and I could get the other 5% if its customizable. I'd love to see you get this thing out for sale.

    Also, speaking on behalf of electronic musicians, the 'roll your own' kit might do very well. I don't know if you've ever seen the monome control interface, but these kits sell out extremely fast despite they require a decent amount of soldering.

    Lastly, about this QWERTY status quo thing... yes, you must respect that status quo. This is why I bothered to learn QWERTY again and thoroughly after I learned Dvorak. It just takes practice and conditioning, no different than what you'd do to get serious on a musical instrument (e.g. guitarists deal with being able to play the exact same note in several different physical locations on a guitar neck). I can switch between QWERTY and Dvorak pretty fluidly. While there is a bit of a speed hit, after 10 minutes of typing in QWERTY I'm at 80wpm with it.  If you switch your modifier keys around, maybe once a week, this helps too - you begin to get good at quickly adapting to having literally any key on the keyboard changed and just using it without thought. While all of this might be a pain for some people, you can gain the ability to adapt to the status quo when needed and still choose to use what's comfortable when typing on your own terms - it does take some extra patience and practice though. Considering I'll be typing a lot until I drop dead, I find it worth the investment.

    Offline lowpoly

    • Posts: 2516
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #45 on: Fri, 25 September 2009, 14:46:06 »
    Any updates?

    Miniguru thread at GH, preview site at guru-board.com
    The Apple M0110 Today

    Offline urlwolf

    • Posts: 149
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #46 on: Sat, 26 September 2009, 06:49:12 »
    awesome project!
    keyboards: Cherry G80-3494- cherry reds | filco majestytouch - cherry browns | kinesis contour - cherry browns | cherry G80 - 1800 cherry blacks.
    mice: filco touchpad | logitech G9x | wowpen joy | kensington orbit trackball | zalman fpsgun | intellimouse v1 | logitech rx1500

    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #47 on: Mon, 28 June 2010, 13:29:04 »
    Just a quick note that I've updated the article page with my latest developments.  More coming soon!

    Offline chimera15

    • Posts: 2240
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #48 on: Mon, 28 June 2010, 15:21:56 »
    Awesome stuff. ;)
    Alps boards:
    white real complicated: 1x modified siiig minitouch kb1903,  hhkb light2 english steampunk hack, wireless siig minitouch hack
    white with rubber damper(cream)+clicky springs: 2x modified siig minitouch kb1903 1x modified siig minitouch kb1948
    white fake simplified:   1x white smk-85, 1x Steampunk compact board hack
    white real simplified: 1x unitek k-258
    low profile: 1x mint m1242 in box
    black: ultra mini wrist keyboard hack
    blue: Japanese hhk2 lite hack, 1x siig minitouch pcb/doubleshot dc-2014 caps. kb1903, 1x modified kb1948 Siig minitouch
    rainbow test boards:  mck-84sx


    Offline dmw

    • Thread Starter
    • Posts: 90
      • http://humblehacker.com
    The Humble Hacker Keyboard
    « Reply #49 on: Mon, 28 June 2010, 18:03:48 »
    Thanks, Chimera.  And thanks for helping me squash the bugs in my firmware!

    Now that the keyboard is built, and I've had a chance to actually use what so far has only been an idea, I'm really pretty amazed at how well it actually works.  I had a lot of concerns.  For example, I worried that the plastic enclosure + circuit board would be too flexible for typing.  When I first got the case and mounted the keys to it to test, it flexed so much that you really couldn't type on it.  But once the case was sandwiched between the keyswitches and the PCB, and everything was soldered down, it became rock solid.  It feels like a real production keyboard.

    The other thing I was concerned about was the double-width keys.  I couldn't afford to have keys built that included stabilizer bars, so each of the double width keys actually has two key mounts under it.  I mounted one switch and one dummy for each of these.  (The dummy is just a switch with the guts removed - everything but the slider.)  Up to now, every test board with this double key setup has been problematic.  Mostly due to misalignment of the two keys causing stiction on the sliders - too much force was required to press them.  It really was awful, and had me worried that the finished product would turn out to be unusable.  (Another reason this project has been delayed as much as it has.)  These fears as well turned out to be completely unfounded.  The double width keys, once properly mounted, perform beautifully!

    So, the bottom line is, this keyboard is a success.  I'd go so far as to call it a resounding success.  I'm not bragging here, I'm really just incredibly pleased that the product ended up so close to the ideal.

    I'm taking the time now to get used to it, and play with the maps to find the most efficient layout.  The fact that I can change any key to anything I can imagine is really incredible.  Much better than any other programmable keyboard I've used.  You can do things like have a key whose shifted and unshifted states produced completely unrelated things, which makes it possible to create layouts like Programmer Dvorak, where the number keys are produced by pressing shift, and the brackets and such are unmodified.



    The only thing left to do to this keyboard to be able to call it 'done' is to paint the enclosure, finish the bottom plate, route the USB cable and mount some feet.  After that, it's all firmware updates.  I recently threw out my original firmware, and basically started from scratch.  The new firmware does some things better than the old, but some features are still missing (like the ability to map Consumer Control keys - volume, mail, browser, etc.).  I've also added the micro SD card reader, but I haven't even begun to figure out how to make it work.  And I've already got ideas for the HumbleHacker II!

    Side note: HumbleHacker, Humble Hacker, humblehacker, humble hacker:  I can't seem to make up my mind on the canonical form of the name.  Anyone have a preference?  I kind of like the no-caps version - it's more humble ;)