Author Topic: Katana60 v2 Concept  (Read 5450 times)

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Offline RominRonin

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Katana60 v2 Concept
« on: Fri, 25 January 2019, 10:08:14 »
3 years ago I built my first Katana prototype. It was angled, tilted and glorious to type on, just like the MSNEK4k which is was my main influence.

In my efforts to make a mechanical version of the MSNE4k, I tried a few different designs and discovered that it was possible to fit an approximation of that layout in a standard 60% board - the Katana60 was born.

Since then, I've discovered that there have been many others who have pursued the symmetrical, staggered row layout, such as these:

Mtei's project stood out for me.

Being someone who makes heavy use of symbol layers, I couldn't appreciate the importance of providing a sensible default layer for people who just want to buy and use a Katana60. I see now the importance of that for the success of projects in the community.

Mtei semi-ergo layout proposal is fairly comprehensive and valuable because he considered many challenges which most of us in the community never consider - like ISO layouts, alternative language layouts, mac/windows alternatives and more - while also providing flexible solutions to these challenges. Mtei if you're listening: I'm a fan of your work!

One particular layout stood out for me though, one which is forming the basis of a new Katana board: the 'Draft of MacBook/lMac US key set mapping':

Improving the Katana60

Modern Apple keyboards are 14.5 keys (units, or just 'U') wide. A standard 60% keyboard is 15U wide. That 0.5U changes the gap widths in the middle, such that row 2 has a 1.5U gap, row 3 has no gap and row 4 has a 0.5U gap. Those gaps can be filled with keycaps in the correct row profile. That is an improvement over the original Katana60.

So with this as a starting point, I started sketching ideas in KLE for a new iteration of the Katana60:

Based on the HKKB, this variant would require a lot of custom keycap sizes and legends, and would be expensive to realise:

This variant uses only existing keycaps in the correct row profile, although the correct legends do not exist (yet?):

The meta key (♢) provides access to a text editing layer, with quick access to text selection, home, end, page up/down, as well as cut/copy/paste and the f-row.

I'd love to hear feedback on this from you all, to get some second opinions on the layout - especially regarding the bottom row, before going through with a first prototype PCB.

Offline CandyKeys

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 28 January 2019, 08:31:05 »
Dropping by here! I am happy to announce that this project was a hit for V1 and worked really well with great feedback! Of course, now due to issues with V1 there were some delays in shipping due to some Crystal issues that meant a lot of DIY work. The new PCBs and KATANA products will be offered on NovelKeys and on Zfrontier in STOCK!
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Offline _GMK_

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 28 January 2019, 08:40:37 »
I can't imagine what are the positive aspects of this layout. Beside that, it seems really difficult to get accustomed to it.

Offline phuke

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 28 January 2019, 22:39:40 »
I'm quite a fan of the original Katana but I've had some minor gripes with it and this seems to possibly entirely fix them. I think I prefer the variant over the custom though, I'm actually pretty fond of that larger bottom row.

Offline funderburker

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 29 January 2019, 07:29:55 »
I gotta say that I can't figure out what to do with so many keys on the bottom row. Even if I used more thumb keys (I use two rn) then I would use 4 at max. No it's just an F row on the bottom :D
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Offline josefadamcik

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 29 January 2019, 14:25:39 »
As daily user of katana60 I have a few notes based on my experience with the first version.

1) I like that hands are moving a little bit closer (0.5u). On the original katana60 I am not using the middle keys at all since they are very hard to reach.

2) I really appreciate that you keep in mind availability of keycaps for the board. Regarding that, is it common to have two 2.25 keys with correct profile for the bottom row in one set? I honestly don't know since at the moment I have only DSA profile keycaps.

3) There are no arrows on default layer. Even though I use mainly the arrows on the extend layer with katana60, this might be a problem for other users. But maybe you could design the PCB that an alternative layout for the right side of the bottom row (with 2 more 1u keys instead of the 2.25u spacebar on the right) so that arrows could be easily mapped there.

As a programmer I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts and it's important for my muscle memory to have all modifiers (cmd, opt, ctrl) on both sides of the bottom row in the same order (mirrored, of course) and at least kind of symmetrical. I usually press modifiers with one hand and the letter with the other hand. What I did with the original Katana60 was that I modified 3 of the arrow keys at the bottom row to work as arrows only when tapped, and as a modifier (cmd, opt, ctrl) when pressed.


4) The ctrl in the middle of the bottom row would give me a hard time to relearn and might actually impossible to use for me. But this is hard to say without trying. But it's true that I could easily remap the bottom row. I actually don't need the extend button on the right so the layout would, in the end, work for me.

You can check my layout here (github, image included) if you are interested.

Offline greenjack

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Re: Katana60 v2 Concept
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 29 April 2020, 01:41:01 »
Hi, and first of all, I was highly impressed with katana60 project and the symmetrical layout idea as well.
However don't you think about the same story with a Russian layout? Cause the more letters caused more issues with button replacement.