Author Topic: Katana - custom angled, tilted, programmable keyboard.  (Read 2425 times)

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Offline RominRonin

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Katana - custom angled, tilted, programmable keyboard.
« on: Sat, 05 March 2016, 14:06:12 »
I've been developing a custom angled, tilted keyboard based on the microsoft natural ergonomic 4000, and since some early interest has already been expressed, I'd like to finalise the design.

I've been using my first prototype since January, here's the build log:

and how it looks now:

I like that the the keyboard is a one piece design (though I am working on my own ergodoxian split keyboard as well), I think keyboards like the MSNE4K, and by extension the Katana, appeal to touch typists especially. As such, I consider the wrist rest as an integral part of the overall design. I'd like to accomplish this with a 'contemporary custom keyboard' design (layers of laser-cut acrylic anyone?). I'll post my design ideas when I have the time.

Things I believe work well:

  • Programmable keys and function layers!
  • The various angles of tilt and rotation, including that of the wrist rests, combine to make an extremely satisfying feel.
  • Left-right symmetry. It pains me to see new keyboards which don't fix the legacy row stagger.
  • Though there a little adjustment time is required, most people can immediately recognise and use this keyboard. That's not necessarily true of column staggered boards like the TEK, ergodox and Kinesis.
  • The small profile one-piece design has the same advantages of other tenkeyless keyboards.

Things I'm looking for feedback on:

  • Designing PCBs downright intimidates me. Having built a hand-wired model, I understand well what is going on behind the scenes, but not enough to develop a mature, easy to use design like eg. the Planck. This is something that will take me a while to learn.
  • The MS NE4K has a zoom slider tacked on in the middle, as well as various indicator LEDs. I'm currently leaning towards additional thumb keys (I mean, for SURE) and LEDs. I'm open to other ideas, especially universally useful ones.
  • I've streamlined the keys somewhat since I make heavy use of programmable function layers. Have I gone too far?
  • I like the idea of customiseable wrist rest surface material. I've tried reconstituted mouse mat as well as leather. Both feel good. I'd like an easy to upgrade method of switching materials. Ideas welcome.
  • Given the inter-dependence of the switch plate and wrist rest, I'm looking for a solution that allows easy switching between cherry/DCS/OEM profiles and SA profile (which is higher). I can imagine this being a simple matter of an intermediary screw-on component. I'm just not aware of the options for such things.

Leave your comments, interest and feedback below.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Katana - custom angled, tilted, programmable keyboard.
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 09 March 2016, 08:49:30 »
I think the center zoom thingy on the 4K can be replaced by like palm switches or the thumb switches like you suggested. kurplop has even integrated a trackball into the center of his boards so that might be a cool idea.

I think I'm missing your keycap idea. Are you saying you want a way to have the SA caps sit lower into the board so they're not as raised in comparison to Cherry?

And I think the angle and tilt is great. But the layout would be unusable for me. The bottom row is a nightmare of too many buttons and I really dislike 1x backspace. I think multiple buttons instead of a large spacebar is a good idea on a keyboard but not a whole bottom row of 1x. Maybe something like the JD45.

I loved the layout and angle of the M4K so it's great to see other's taking inspiration from the board. You should check out VoteforDavid's project as well.