Author Topic: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean  (Read 9027 times)

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Offline Tye

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Thank you to everyone on the forum who helped me get to this point. It's my first hardware project so the learning curve was quite steep.

The hardware is now done, but I still have some work to do on the firmware. Right now, I can either use firmware that works with the keyboard, or firmware that works with the Trackpoint. I can't get them both working at the same time. I am working hard on getting the QMK firmware to reintegrate this feature from TMK (I would love some help on this...)

Everything is modular. So, if the Trackpoint breaks, I can just swap it out for another one. The circuit that helps the Trackpoint talk to the Teensy is also a separate unit so if I use a Trackpoint that isn't Lenovo I can change that. Even the entire set of mouse buttons is a tiny removable unit. I already have some ideas how to improve the buttons so I can try different ideas without hacking together an entirely new keyboard. It was a long but fun project.  :D

Anyway, here's some shots of the completed hardware. I'll upload build pics sometime in the future.
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Offline E TwentyNine

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 03 June 2016, 14:00:30 »
Pretty slick.
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Offline TheVengeance

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 03 June 2016, 15:20:36 »
This is excellent

Offline chuckdee

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 03 June 2016, 15:31:57 »
Pretty cool mod!  How did you decide on the location?  And how's the travel?  One of the things on the trackpoints, is that the keycaps are molded to give a bit more travel.  Do you find that it's wedged in tight?

Offline kurplop

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 03 June 2016, 19:59:14 »
Very clean. Looks like a great place for the Trackpoint.

Offline Tye

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 05 June 2016, 02:36:27 »
Pretty cool mod!  How did you decide on the location?  And how's the travel?  One of the things on the trackpoints, is that the keycaps are molded to give a bit more travel.  Do you find that it's wedged in tight?
I basically had a few requirements and the design came from there:
1. It had to actually be comfortable to use. If the Trackpoint was placed where my palm rests or in some wacky location then I wasn't interested in trying the project. I spent a ridiculous amount of time playing with a Lenovo keyboard and its buttons, button shapes, and placement. After that, I have a new found respect for how well done Lenovo's layout is. The placement of the mouse buttons on this mod follows that too. I just came to the conclusion that this was a good spot.
The only other spot for it might be between the yuhj keys on a qwerty board. However, on the Ergodox there are a lot of traces there and my lack of modding experience made me think I couldn't pull off drilling a hole through the traces and successfully rerunning everything. The current location luckily had no traces in the way so I could drill easily. It also is a nice exit point between the keycaps.

2. It had to look attractive and "stock". I only work in offices some of the time. So when I go to visit an office, I want to make sure my equipment looks professional. The Ergodox looks odd enough already without strange wires or PCBs poking out from it.

3. I didn't want to give up any of the stock Ergodox keys. I honestly don't have a good reason for this. I think it just goes along with the "look good" requirement above.

The keycaps are snug around the stalk. I had to Dremel away material from the two vertically aligned caps. There's probably about .5mm of clearance between the Trackpoint cap and the caps. This has been perfect because it somewhat corrals the Trackpoint but the caps don't hit it when typing so the mouse cursor doesn't jump around when typing. The Trackpoint had to be extended to get from the case up through the caps. As you noted, Lenovo uses a pretty short and slick system for theirs. I didn't have that luxury. (but I have an idea.... For the future.)

The Trackpoint travel is really nice and fluid. When I was building this, I was worried because the mouse cursor would jump all over the place before I mounted the Trackpoint. However, now that it is solidly mounted and everything is assembled, everything feels really nice.

(now, if anyone reading this has the PS2_MOUSE_ENABLE flag working in QMK, please contact me!!!)

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Offline Tye

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 05 June 2016, 02:42:15 »
One of the other forum members, plainbriny, actually also really made me rethink where I was originally going to place everything. So, I'm grateful for the input there. I originally thought about placing the trackpoint between the uijk keys on qwerty and flanking the buttons around that because the Ergodox is a matrix layout. In the end, I'm glad I stuck with a more normal layout.

Offline chuckdee

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 05 June 2016, 09:30:35 »
One of the other forum members, plainbriny, actually also really made me rethink where I was originally going to place everything. So, I'm grateful for the input there. I originally thought about placing the trackpoint between the uijk keys on qwerty and flanking the buttons around that because the Ergodox is a matrix layout. In the end, I'm glad I stuck with a more normal layout.
Thanks for the response.   Again I say how cool it is,  probably one reason is because of how well you thought it out. Kudos!

Offline suicidal_orange

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 05 June 2016, 13:19:54 »
This looks great and not just the trackpoint, you don't see many G20 caps but when you want short they're perfect.

Lets hope you don't have to make use of that modularity and it all works flawlessly for many years to come :)
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Offline Moistgun

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 05 June 2016, 13:21:30 »
Wow, that was integrated very nicely.

You wouldnt even know it was modded. 
Very nice work op.

Offline csmertx

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 06 June 2016, 00:12:48 »
I really like your wiring system, it looks very tidy.
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Offline nephiel

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 06 June 2016, 01:20:19 »
It looks really clean. Good job! :thumb:
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Offline Tye

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 08 June 2016, 13:29:04 »
This looks great and not just the trackpoint, you don't see many G20 caps but when you want short they're perfect.
I really like the DCS profile in general but they hurt my thumbs on the Ergodox because of the sharp edges. I didn't even think anyone would notice the G20s. Guess I have to remember the crowd I'm writing to!

It looks really clean. Good job! :thumb:
Your idea to hacksaw a motherboard standoff for the stalk was genius. That stalk was seriously one of the hardest parts of this mod. Some companies wanted to charge $20 for a small internally threaded extension nut. After you answered my post I couldn't believe I had dozens of them in a box in my closet.

Offline GEIST

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 24 June 2016, 08:55:33 »
Your build looks sooo good (by the way also the case and the caps). I'm really impressed how well you integrated the trackpoint. I would like to know why you didn't use the regular thumb keys of the Ergodox as mouse buttons ?

Offline Tye

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 08 August 2016, 17:03:59 »
Your build looks sooo good (by the way also the case and the caps). I'm really impressed how well you integrated the trackpoint. I would like to know why you didn't use the regular thumb keys of the Ergodox as mouse buttons ?
Thanks! Glad you like it.
My layout already has the thumb keys above the mouse keys mapped to the same left and right click functions. However, I really wanted to separate the functions in my brain. I spend a lot of time in console and command line. But some of my work can only be done in a browser (and therefore, heavy mouse use). This is a really abrupt change for me mentally and the pure separation of mouse and keyboard functions was important.
Beyond that mental separation, it was just a personal challenge to see if I could do it and make it look good.  ;D

Offline GEIST

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 01 November 2016, 04:22:12 »
Sorry for my late reply, I didn't noticed yours. I was just here to check out your mod again.
So if I understand you correctly it wasn't through technical limitation, more something which seems to feel more natural to you right?

Offline Tye

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Re: My Ergodox Trackpoint mod - Hardware is Complete - Very clean
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 01 November 2016, 18:38:59 »
Correct, there was no technical limitation. It was purely for my own preferences.

After having used it for many months now and reading my reply I can now provide some more insight.
First, I wasn't clear about how I use the keyboard keys. The keyswitches above the mouse buttons are actually mapped to Return and Backspace. There is a navigation layer on my Ergodox which happens to use those Return and Backspace keys for left and right click. The keyswtiches are not always mouse buttons like I somewhat implied in the previous post.

If you are thinking about a similar mod and use the middle mouse button, do NOT make that button as small as I did. It seemed like a good idea at the time but your thumb won't like the contortion if you use it to scroll content. Left click and right click aren't too bad because it's a click-then-release motion instead of holding the button down while scrolling. Learn from my prototype and just copy the Lenovo layout as closely as possible. They really did their ergonomics research, here.

I think that a better layout would be to make the lower-left thumb cluster button the left click mouse button, and make the middle click and right click similar to what I did. That lower-left key is hard to access for me as a keyboard while touchtyping but easy if my hands are positioned for using the Trackpoint nub. It's a worthwhile trade off to lose that one thumb key (in my opinion).