Keyboard layout [mechanical keyboards]


ible

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some day it'd be fun to build a computer, and here are some preliminary keyboard designs. since we all miss the keyboard layout wars...

60% non-split keyboard
keyboard-layout.png

(for some reason the apostrophe key is missing the single apostrophe on the png, but obviously that would be present.) i could scooch things over on the right so that backspace/enter are a bit more standard size, but then R-Ctrl is a bit too wide for my tastes (though i guess i could shrink R-Alt and R-Ctrl, and add a R-Win key). i liked having a bit of symmetry about the space-bar, however, and having the Ctrl row a bit bigger might help with actually using it. would you really use R-Win? would you??


60% split keyboard
keyboard-layout (1).png


i'm not strongly opinionated about the keys that aren't in the standard US key position, e.g. PgUp/PgDn in either version, or F1/F11 in the split version (i'm open to suggestions). obviously these would be user remappable so it's a bit moot exactly what they have on them; people are going to change them anyway, but it's nice to have a sane default. i'd prefer to map Caps to Esc myself, probably, though it'll take me some learning either way (since i'm used to jumping up above ~ for it).

raw code for http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com:
non-split
Code:
["~\n`","!\n1","@\n2","#\n3","$\n4","%\n5","^\n6","&\n7","*\n8","(\n9",")\n0","_\n-","+\n=",{w:1.5},"Backspace","Del"],
[{w:1.5},"Tab","Q","W","E","R","T","Y","U","I","O","P","{\n[","}\n]","|\n\\","Ins"],
[{w:1.75},"Caps","A","S","D","F","G","H","J","K","L",":\n;","\"\n'",{w:1.75},"Enter","Home"],
["Esc",{w:1.25},"Shift","Z","X","C","V","B","N","M","<\n,",">\n.","?\n/",{w:1.25},"Shift",{f:7},"↑",{f:3},"End"],
[{w:1.25},"Ctrl",{w:1.25},"Win",{w:1.25},"Alt","PgUp",{w:2},"",{w:2},"","PgDn",{w:1.25},"Alt",{w:1.5},"Ctrl",{f:7},"←","↓","→"]
split
Code:
["~\n`","!\n1","@\n2","#\n3","$\n4","%\n5","^\n6",{x:1},"^\n6","&\n7","*\n8","(\n9",")\n0","_\n-","+\n=",{w:1.5},"Backspace","Del"],
[{w:1.5},"Tab","Q","W","E","R","T","PgUp",{x:1},"Y","U","I","O","P","{\n[","}\n]","|\n\\","Ins"],
[{w:1.75},"Caps","A","S","D","F","G","PgDn",{x:1},"H","J","K","L",":\n;","\"\n'",{w:1.75},"Enter","Home"],
["Esc",{w:1.25},"Shift","Z","X","C","V","B",{x:1},"F11","N","M","<\n,",">\n.","?\n/",{w:1.25},"Shift",{f:7},"↑",{f:3},"End"],
[{w:1.25},"Ctrl",{w:1.25},"Win",{w:1.25},"Alt","Fn",{w:2},"","F1",{x:1},{w:2},"",{a:4},"Fn",{w:1.25},"Alt",{w:1.5},"Ctrl",{f:7},"←","↓","→"]

looking into it, seems like building my own mechanical keyboard would be a pain. but i like the design phase :)
 

levi

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I think if I were ever to consider making my own keyboard I think the only thing I'd change over the standard US keyboard layout is removing the win and menu keys (I note you've eliminated the menu key in your designs, but preserved the win key so I'm not sure if that deliberate). I think also I'd more likely go tenkeyless rather than 60%, as I like the space around the arrow keys, and pgup and down being out on their own on the end of a block is also to my tastes.
 

PowerGod

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removing the win and menu keys
I used to criticize those keys, but on Windows OS I find those pretty useful for shortcuts without even touching the mouse.
The Windows key can be also triggered with CTRL+ESC, but only as a single key... so something like "WIN+X" doesn't work that way...
About the MENU key, it can be called with SHIFT+F10, but that combination doesn't work everywhere and you'll have the same limits above...

A pretty unknown shortcut is "WIN+B", that gives focus to the Traybar icons, then you can change selection with arrow keys, and while on them you can use the MENU key to access their options or close them... without even touching the mouse.
 

λ the β-Redex Reducer

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If I made my own keyboard then I would make it a matrix layout for sure. Granted, I would not be to use my keyboard on typewriters, but I do not use typewriters anyway. The improved ergonomics would be much worth it for me. I might also consider switching to Dvorak instead of Qwerty. And of course, I WOULD MOVE CAPS LOCK BECAUSE CAPS LOCK IS ALMOST USELESS YET IT STILL HAS ONE OF THE MOST ACCESSIBLE PLACES ON THE KEYBOARD WHILE USEFUL KEYS SUCH AS ESC GET A SHIT POSITION (though esc can often be simulated using ctrl+[).
 

ClockworkCoder

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I always swap the mapping for caps lock and escape.

With a split keyboard, I'd also shift the keys to be more ergonomically lined up and rotated by 10 degrees or so, so your wrists can be straight whilst typing with your elbows resting naturally.
 

pmprog

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I must admit, i did think about designing a mechanical keyboard too, to go with the FPGA 8/16 bit computer... But it'll probably end up the same way.
Anyway, i definitely think a Fn key is useful, as it'll help double up your number keys to F1 to F10
 

ible

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slight iteration -- of course with the split design both halves would be movable, so you could tilt them as desired. i have something like this (though i've remapped some keys since some of those keys suck), and i'm realizing how little width you need, space wise, to accurately hit space (with the right hand), so i'm shrinking those up and making Ctrl easier to hit:

keyboard-layout (3).png


code:
["~\n`","!\n1","@\n2","#\n3","$\n4","%\n5","^\n6",{x:1},"^\n6","&\n7","*\n8","(\n9",")\n0","_\n-","+\n=",{w:1.5},"Backspace","Del"],
[{w:1.5},"Tab","Q","W","E","R","T","PgUp",{x:1},"Y","U","I","O","P","{\n[","}\n]","|\n\\","Ins"],
[{w:1.75},"Caps","A","S","D","F","G","PgDn",{x:1},"H","J","K","L",":\n;","\"\n'",{w:1.75},"Enter","Home"],
["PrtSc",{w:1.25},"Shift","Z","X","C","V","B",{x:1},"Fn","N","M","<\n,",">\n.","?\n/",{w:1.25},"Shift",{f:7},"↑",{f:3},"End"],
[{w:1.75},"Ctrl","Fn",{w:1.25},"Win",{w:1.25},"Alt",{w:1.5},"","Esc",{x:1,w:1.5},"",{w:1.25},"Alt",{w:1.25},"Win",{w:1.75},"Ctrl",{f:7},"←","↓","→"]
 

ClockworkCoder

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I usually use my right hand for space, and my preference would be that the right space bar be a little to the right. My thumb naturally sits halfway between M and N (on a normal keyboard) and I feel I would be stretching slightly to reach that.
 

levi

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I suspect escape being right in the middle of the space bar might take a bit of learning. But at least the worst that ` can do in vim is combined with a letter risks jumping through the document to that mark, so at least it doesn't actually change anything.

I do appreciate ctrl now being as big as caps lock though, although I do still tend to think they should be swapped round.
 

ible

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@PowerGod -- the 6^ keys would be individually remappable, but i find that i sometimes use my right hand for that key, thus the duplication.

@levi -- if Ctrl and Caps are the same size, you can remap them and swap the keycaps for your own perfect personalization. i also like the fact that i wouldn't have to think as hard for hitting some of the modifiers, with them being a bit bigger. the escape would be a bit beyond the center of the spacebar (normal spacebar center is the exact middle of B), so it would be hard to hit unintentionally. again, PrtSc and Esc could be swapped, so at least your Left Pinky would still feel like it's doing the escaping...

@ClockworkCoder -- my thumb sits naturally just below N (a little bit towards B), thus the layout, but i'm curious; what happens when your hands are approaching the keyboard perfectly straight? e.g., if you just were using your right hand, with fingers on jkl; and your wrist is straight; where does your thumb end up? for me, it's somewhere around B, so with a bit of tilt (elbows away from the spacebar), i get into a position that would be comfortable to hit the layout above.

i think i could be also happy with this layout:
keyboard-layout (4).png


["~\n`","!\n1","@\n2","#\n3","$\n4","%\n5","^\n6",{x:1},"^\n6","&\n7","*\n8","(\n9",")\n0","_\n-","+\n=",{w:1.5},"Backspace","Del"],
[{w:1.5},"Tab","Q","W","E","R","T","PgUp",{x:1},"Y","U","I","O","P","{\n[","}\n]","|\n\\","Ins"],
[{w:1.75},"Caps","A","S","D","F","G","PgDn",{x:1},"H","J","K","L",":\n;","\"\n'",{w:1.75},"Enter","Home"],
["Esc",{w:1.25},"Shift","Z","X","C","V","B",{x:1},"Fn","N","M","<\n,",">\n.","?\n/",{w:1.25},"Shift",{f:7},"↑",{f:3},"End"],
[{w:1.75},"Ctrl","Fn",{w:1.25},"Win","Alt",{w:1.75},"","PrtSc",{x:1,w:1.75},"","Alt",{w:1.25},"Win",{w:1.75},"Ctrl",{f:7},"←","↓","→"]
 

ClockworkCoder

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if you just were using your right hand, with fingers on jkl; and your wrist is straight; where does your thumb end up?
Hmm... yes (I see your point, and you're absolutely correct), when I have my forearm perpendicular (90 degrees) to the keyboard, my thumb does sit under the N. While this position is unnatural and uncomfortable for me using a conventional keyboard, a split keyboard would likely not have the same problem.
 
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