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Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (ultimatehackingkeyboard.com)
317 points by TomAnthony 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 291 comments





Regardless of whether you like the keyboard or not (or have no opinion), I strongly recommend you check out their blog: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/blog

They gave a very thorough overview of the (many, many) challenges involved with "kickstarting" a hardware product - and how they overcame them (from issues with banks to FFC and CE certification). It's a great source of knowledge for anyone who considers doing the same.

Laci also did an AMA on Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3tkyme/iama_l%C3%A1sz...


Funny that you would recommend their blog, I was going to do recommend the blog[0] by the people behind keyboard.io[1] for the exact same reason.

[0] https://blog.keyboard.io

[1] http://keyboard.io (If anyone from keyboard.io is looking, please consider enabling TLS on your main domain.)


I ordered a couple of these a couple of years ago. Still waiting.

Hadn't internalized the lack of an ESC key, so they are probably going into a closet.

I'm really happy with my Kinesis Gaming keyboards. Half a dozen of my cow-orkers have bought them based on just a few minutes of using the one on my desk. They're the best keyboards I've used in the last 20 years, since Microsoft's Natural keyboards started to crater in design and build quality.


Hi there! You ordered your UHKs within 2 years, and they are just being manufactured. Please check out https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/delivery-status

You should finally have them in about a week or two.

We're catching up, and will deliver every pre-order in about two months. Thanks for your patience!


I set up a linux trick recently where the caps lock key that's already being remapped as control when it's held down is also set up to emit an ESC when it's pressed and released using xcape. Works quite nicely, but I don't know if complex behavior like that can be implemented as a hardware mapping.

Yes, they call it Dual-role keys. On their blog there is a recent update about how this is now also visualized in their configuration-software. Seems the firmware and their configuration-tool is quite powerful.

I do the same on OSX using Karabiner. I cannot live without it.

Ooh, gotta do this on my laptop! I have an Ergodox and have z and / set up to be control if I hold them, and the key left of a is Esc or GUI (I use GUI a lot for i3wm). I'll have to try this with the laptop, thanks!

I did the same thing, albeit with my space key. If I press it shortly, it now acts as Ctrl key. This was literally the best thing I ever did to fight my RSI-like symptoms.

Used to be able to do this on macOS until the latest release broke karabiner. Hoping that, one day, this will be an os feature.

I have a UHK and a Kinesis gaming. The UHK keys are mounted on a steel plate and it feels super solid. The Kinesis feels pretty cheap in comparison. The Kinesis does have separate function keys, arrow keys, and a (big honking) esc key, but it also takes up a whole lot more room in my desk.

They both have apps for mapping keys, but the kinesis app is Windows and Mac only, the UHK app runs on Linux (probably those others too. I wouldn't know).

You can fit the two halves of the UHK together to form a regular non-split keyboard. That is impossible with the Kinesis.

I like them both, but the Kinesis just feels so nice and solid. I made the left-side space bar a function key and that makes the function keys and ESC usable enough for me. I'm an emacs user so I don't use those that much anyway.


> I like them both, but the Kinesis just feels so nice and solid.

Was that a typo? Above you said the Kinesis feels pretty cheap.


Yes. I meant to say the UHK feels solid. Too late to edit, apparently.

I've been using my first 60% for about two weeks and haven't even thought about the single esc/tilde/tick key since its initial mapping. It's not even an issue.

The esc key is not a problem for me. You have the mod always under your left thumb (left half of space-bar). Keyboard is so small that you easily reach mod and esc at the same time with your left hand. Takes a day to internalize. Since you are getting them anyway, you should definitely give them a go for a week or so when you get them.

Damnit, why did you have to tell me this existed? I was perfectly happy with my Kinesis Freestyle II, and now I'm lusting after the Edge :(((

But seriously, I really enjoy split keyboards. I've got a trackpad in between (!) the keyboard halves, and I really like that kind of setup.


All the keys are mappable, you can put Esc anywhere you want. I made the key marked ` into Esc, and put `~ on Fn-T (for tilde)

What do you use ESC for? It doesn't seem particularly common these days, and ^[ tends to be just as good, in my experience.

It's not just VIM and NeoVIM where one can find the escape key commonly used.

One can drive GUIs with keyboards to an extent, including the escape key to cancel dialogues and pop-up/drop-down menus. This is true for many full-screen TUIs too, including orthodox file managers for starters.


Nearly 40 years of muscle memory with Emacs. I often use ALT for meta, but sometimes forget, and it's jarring.

vim?

You can map caps-lock to escape to reduce travel but some HN folks turned me on to the idea of avoiding it altogether: http://vim.wikia.com/wiki/Avoid_the_escape_key

I map Caps-lock to Ctrl, purely so I stop hitting it by accident. It works well, I find myself using it as CTRL often.

THEN I Use someone eLSEs keyboarD AND...


I've never used ESC in vim. I learned ^[ first, and it's less travel.

Just to clarify most common things:

1) This is a 60% keyboard - an accepted standard.(https://www.keyboardco.com/blog/index.php/2017/08/full-size-...) If you want arrows, F keys, - get a 75%, TKL, or fullsize board.

2) No ESC key? This board is fully programmable. You can make ALL keys to be ESC at the same time! Settings are saved ON THE board , so even if you go anywhere else, you can still use your ESC key.

3) This board is actually shipping. It’s not a Kickstarter “we will make it someday, maybe” thing. Guys did a great job keeping every backer updated on current status in their monthly blog. Read it here, it’s amazing: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/blog


Re 1) and 2): Even if the keyboard is fully programmable, I still don't see where I would put the arrow keys, F1-F12 and ESC here… Yes, you can come up with all kinds of key combos but at the end of the day it will still take you longer to press one of the F keys and, even worse, it will be far less ergonomic if you have to press one such key combination repeatedly—especially if the required super and meta keys are below your pinky & ring finger (= your weakest fingers), instead of your thumb.

In my opinion, keyboard for hackers should have more keys than regular ones, not fewer. I like what the people at TrulyErgonomic[0] did here, namely put a lot of keys in reach of your thumb and index. If only their support wasn't abysmally bad…

[0] https://www.trulyergonomic.com


So you simply dont like the 60% board format.

Yup. I normally wouldn't complain but once you've had RSI you'll notice that the state of things is that ergonomics are rarely taken into account and your options when it comes to good ergonomic input devices are limited.

Preamble:

I've so far only used my UHK for "regular text" usage, i.e. writing text, CLI, browsing and some light wasd + trackball gaming...

I've also activated an option for the left Mod key so that pressed alone it gives me a space character but together with other keys it works as Mod.'

I have the brown switches which I find satisfyingly clicky enough and at the same time easy to press.

--- * arrow keys

are very comfortable with holding my left thumb on Mod down and then using the right fingers for jkl and i (I was a bit skeptical at first but even the left thumb on Mod + left pinky on Ctrl to jump words etc. is working well for my fingers).

In some instances I've also used the right thumb on the frame switch ( Mod; which I find not as comfortable to press as the regular Mod/Space keys but works well enough) plus jkli for one-handed operation. Also, if you need to do a lot of arrow-work at once you can toggle the Mod key held by double-tapping it (same for the mouse and fn keys).

For applications / games where you use the arrow keys and other keys at the same time a lot and where input speed is critical I would look into creating a custom mapping though, if possible. It's very easy to duplicate an existing layout and modify it with the UHK Agent (and also to switch between layouts. Later on a feature to automatically switch layouts depending on foreground application is planned, IIRC).

--- * ESC

left-handed Mod+q has become almost second nature after a few "training" sessions with vim :) and if you don't want the burden to hit the q key exactly, Mod+` (key in the upper left corner) works as well in the standard mapping.

--- * F1-F12

I barely had the need to use them since I switched to the UHK.

I can imagine that it might be an issue in e.g. certain games where you would want to use F1-F12, 1-12 and Ctrl+1-12 and Ctrl+F1-F12 at the same time and quickly. For the occasional F2 or F4 in htop it is more of a mental hassle (for me) to figure out if the description is supposed to be left or right of the F* label than pressing Mod+number, especially since the F* are printed on the vertical sides of the caps.

Besides, if there was an extra row of keys above the numbers I wouldn't be able to reach them with my fingers anyway without lifting my hands from the (excellent! wooden) palm rest.

--- * thumbs vs. weak fingers

there are extra switches on the frame right "below" the split mod/space key which you can use or reconfigure the same as any other key (if you don't want to have secondary actions like I have set up with the left Mod key). One of the addons (Key Cluster Module) will also bring extra keys into the split.

---

Granted, SysRq makes you think a while before you get it right the first time :)

One of the biggest advantages yet for me has been the ability to put my trackball where the numpad used to be and thus have it in an even more comfortable position for my right arm and shoulder. I'm looking forward to the addons though to see if they will obsolete the need for any extra pointing device.

That brings me to my biggest hurdle so far: I've yet to create a numpad-layout to more quickly enter lots of numbers and that will definitely feel just weird on a staggered key layout compared to a regular numpad (after half a decade of very frequent and regular usage). If all attempts to retrain my fingers on that would fail there are still those USB-numpads availble though for the now more occasional number-after-number sessions and it's an expense and inconvenience I am willing to potentially endure for the satisfaction the UHK gives me so far in all other typing and ergonomic aspects.

HTH

PS: all and any typing and other errors are mine and not the UHK's ;)

[EDIT: formatting]


It looks like a cool product, but ...

I'm not a mechanical keyboard guy. I much prefer something like the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic ... but it always made me sad that that style of keyboard didn't have more competition.

The enthusiast keyboard scene seems to be mostly mechanical and I kinda want something that feels more "in-between" what I think of as a heavy mechanical and lighter laptop thing...


I used an MS ergonomic natural 4000 for a long time. I switched to a kinesis advantage a few years back and I will never go back.

Not all mechanical keyboard switches have the same feel. The advantage uses cherry brown, which is quiet and requires relatively low force.


I also recently switched to an orthonormal ergonomic keyboard and I'm having a very hard time going back to typing on non-aligned qwerties.

Are cherry browns less force than the MS Natural keyboard? or was that in comparison to other cherry switches?

My perception is that cherry browns require less force than the MS natural 4000. I say this after comparing the two side by side.

There is another advantage to the cherry browns (or mechanical keyboards in general)... they last a LOT longer. I've had my main work Kinesis for 4 years. The key strokes feel the same today as the day I got it. I would burn through an MS natural 4000 at a rate of 1/year; the spacebar & alt/ctrl keys would become too sticky after.


I have the UHK with Cherry MX Brown switches and my old MS Natural (105KB?) which I had purchased second hand.

I feel that my UHK keys require less force than the Natural.

My Natural has a bit more prominent click points (which require more bundled force at a certain point) but an overall "stickier/mushy" feeling (to be fair, I hadn't cleaned it a lot :)).

My UHK keys feel more springy and one might not particularly notice the click point but I still get good tactile and auditory feedback.

It took me about 2 days to get comfortable with the new keys. Overall the UHK feels smoother and less strenuous.

I hope you can make some sense out of the above, otherwise please feel free to ask for clarification :)


You might like Topre switches (I do, my daily keyboard is a Novatouch), but I'm not aware of "ergonomic" Topre boards.

An ergo topre would be nice, but I don’t think they exist. I very much need my kinesis.

There is one made in Japan, but it's hard to get. Called the uTron.

Unfortunately the μTRON was discontinued in early 2017 and finding one online now is incredibly rare - I know because I've been looking ever since!

Some TRON heritage lives on in the Esrille NISSE and the Keyboardio Model 01, although they don't feature Topre switches.


I picked up a mechanical keyboard, because it looked cool. I liked the idea of a higher quality keyboard, programmable functionality looked potentially useful, and I liked the looks of some custom key cap sets.

Unfortunately I was not happy with it at all. For some reason I ended up getting hand fatigue. It's probably a combination of usually typing with my wrists on my desk and a habit of bottoming out, and switch type. But I ended up boxing the keyboard back up.


This echoes my first experience trying to switch to mechanical. But after a few retries I figured out what I needed.

1) Switches can make a huge difference and there are WAY more choices than often implied. Seems almost everyone references 3 types but there are more. I go for a non-clicking, extremely short trigger threshold style because I have typed on laptop keyboards for 20+ years and the light touch is what I know. Specifically, I'm using Cherry RGB Speed Silver.

2) Get a wrist rest. You probably never needed one before but if you have a mechanical with a normal depth of case, it makes a huge difference if you can't adapt easily.

And don't compromise on your layout. If you don't like ergo don't get one. If you NEED certain keys, get them. There are tons of choices out there, many more than you see listed on popular sites or stores. Sometimes you have to partly build them. It's not very hard. There are plenty of kits that don't even require soldering.

In the end I'm running a GK64, with the aforementioned switches, and I've never been happier with a keyboard.


+1.

I want an ergonomical keyboard with quiet action. Ideally it would combine the feel of the old Thinkpad keyboards with the ergonomic layout of an ErgoDox keyboard.


Browns and clears are both quiet. You can make them even quieter by adding O-rings to the keycap stems.

Clears are probably my favorite so far. I despise browns. Every key press feels and sounds like two slightly rough pieces of plastic are grinding against each other. I miss the loud keys on the old IBM boards but my coworkers or family would kill me.

I like browns because I can feel the actuation. That bump is an assurance that I can proceed with the next key. And if you bottom out your keys you can always add o rings.

I bottom out like a barbarian. I think it’s fair to say that you type faster than I do if that actuation is a concern.

There are "low profile mechanical" switches now that are more chiclet-like, but I'm not sure if they've been put into an ergo design yet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lAokeiYbzo

I personally like Matias Quiet Click switches for a good feeling, quiet switch. But the keys and keyboards from Matias have a deserved reputation for being finicky.

I have a Matias Ergo Pro - which I otherwise like - but once in a while keys on the left half will chatter until the board is unplugged. https://matias.ca/ergopro/pc/


Just rubber o-rings on regular switches (instead of low-profile switches) might be enough to reduce travel length, and as a bonus to make bottoming out soft and silent, like on rubber dome keyboards. At least on MX, not sure about dampening rings on Matias.

Also, to add "chickletness", there are XDA and G20 keycap profiles, which are, AFAIK, especially popular to put on "ergonomic" splitted boards.


Same here. When it works, it’s great. But a bunch of keys either don’t register at all or will stick. Unplugging etc. doesn’t fix so I’m mostly left with a $200 conversation starter.

The Ergo Pro can be used vertically. https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=79810.0

Ergodox EZ lets you pick which keyboard switches you prefer. Its another crowdfunded split keyboard, but fully opensource.

Cherry MX Brown switches are normally recommended for very light activation pressure and "super-fluid motion". That is an option available.

You can order parts for yourself, make it yourself, and everything. It is opensource hardware, built around the "teensy" opensource controller. But it ends up cheaper just to buy the keyboard unless you want to build something custom.

While it sports up to 32 custom layers, it does lack a dedicated hardware module for a mouse. It is completely programmable.

I only mention it because I love mine.


I have Ergodox EZ and absolutely love it as well.

IMHO Dampened Cherry Red switches configuration is almost as good as Topre if not better.

The ability to program it has been the killer feature for me, I have a layout that works absolutely perfectly for me! f.e. dual function keys! I have ' set as dual function key so if I hold it is Shift, if I just tap it is ', in place of usual Caps Lock location I also have Shift, having moved both Cmd/Win keys to usual Shift location. Home row Shift has improved the typing comfort so much! I also remapped function keys and made many other tweaks.

Also have alt/ctrl mapped with dual key feature to z/ctrl x/alt and ./alt //ctrl, this way all modifier keys are clustered together and easily accessible. I don't think I can ever go back! the mind did get used to switching between the two layouts though, so thankfully I can still use the laptop keyboard on the go :)

For anybody interested you can have a look at their configurator https://configure.ergodox-ez.com/keyboard_layouts/new


I have an Ergodox EZ, with many customizations, and I love it too.

I wanted to use dual function keys, but as soon as there is one such key on the keyboard, I feel a delay for all the key presses. It is ok for the dual function key (the firmware needs to wait to decide a tap or hold), but not for all the other keys. So I avoid using this in my layouts.

Maybe this has changed recently? I have not tweaked my layout for about 6 months.


I cannot notice any delay at 100+ wpm, but one thing I had to get used to is typing key combinations faster/holding the key for the right duration, I still lift a bit too fast a few times per week, f.e. getting 'a instead of A, but it is definitely becoming second nature, and even if I cannot eliminate it completely the ergonomics of home row shift, and other handy dual function keys, makes it still totally worth it for me.

You can get pretty much any feel you want from a mechanical keyboard. For soft you go with the "non-tactile" i.e. "linear" keys like cherry mx red. You can also get rubber rings to put on the stem of the swich so you get a softer landing. Available in different hardness, shore a40 or a50.

I'm not a mechanical keyboard guy. I much prefer something like the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic ... but it always made me sad that that style of keyboard didn't have more competition.

I tried one, but I believe that's the Bluetooth-only version that never quite seemed to work right on MacOS. Pity MS didn't make a wired version.


Actually it is not Bluetooth, it is has an USB dongle that does RF

Have you tried cherry mx reds? Those feel like a smoother version of what you get on a standard keyboard.

I use a Kinesis at work and a sculpt at home. They’re close, but the Kinesis is better imho.

I am a keyboard fanatic. Two soldered, one repaired, two custom builds, QMK, 60%, 75%, 96, TKL, you name it. It’s a total disease to get hooked on this stuff. I use both AHK on Windows and Karabiner on MacOS to map all my shortcuts with more than 3000 lines of code to get them all working. CapsLock is my Fn key and every key (literally all of them) have secondary functions with Caps held. I also have hold macros, double taps, tip taps, two button simultaneous combos, it’s crazy. I’m bragging about the awesomeness but also complaining about the time spent on something so out there.

Back to UHK. The build quality is amazing, and allows me to rebind many of the shortcuts so they work in HW instead of the OS, allowing me to use my favorites on any computer.

If you’re looking for a starter, map your UHK Fn + hjkl to arrows (see Vim), b to home “beginning”, n to end, d to page down, and u to page up. After a week you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Bonus points if you map another to “delete word” by Option+BS or Ctrl+BS depending on your poison.


> CapsLock is my Fn key and every key (literally all of them) have secondary functions with Caps held. I also have hold macros, double taps, tip taps, two button simultaneous combos, it’s crazy.

I would love to hear more about the specific key chords you use and your overall setup! Do you have a blog somewhere?


https://github.com/StitiS/AHK

If you find it interesting and end up poking around to try it, feel free to ask questions and I'll eventually get it updated to my latest.


I've been using it for a few months now. I didn't know how to touch-type before it arrived and I forced myself to learn. Without that, this keyboard is not very useful.

That said, after learning to touch type, I found some layout decisions surprisingly intuitive.

Most notably, it turned out that having arrow keys on my home row is a great idea. Only after I got used to that did I realize how annoying it is to leave the home row on a normal keyboard.

Still not sold on escape and fn keys. I believe that it would've been better if had an extra row for those, but I might learn to appreciate that too in the future.


> Most notably, it turned out that having arrow keys on my home row is a great idea.

Those are the original vi cursor movement keys, so when you're in command mode you can move around without leaving the home row (and I suspect it was originally used on systems without arrow keys...). Tried and true for multiple decades. :)

Edit: Actually, it's not the same as vi cursor movement keys, since it uses i for up, instead of having them all on the home row. I didn't notice that originally, but anamexis comment reminded me. :/


> (and I suspect it was originally used on systems without arrow keys...)

This is correct! The vi editor was originally created on a ADM-3A terminal which had the arrow keys on HJKL.

http://www.catonmat.net/blog/why-vim-uses-hjkl-as-arrow-keys...


If you're on macOS, you can move around without reaching for the arrow keys on a regular keyboard using emacs style movement keys.

https://jblevins.org/log/kbd

Chrome changed something a couple months ago and now some of these do the wrong thing so you have to use Safari.


I have a decent keyboard with a small form factor but I can't get over having to toggle the mode of the keyboard to turn on the arrow keys when I need them (which is annoyingly often in macOS) or using a modifier key. I wish I hadn't had such a hard time getting the WASD keys to work as toggle-able arrow keys because I felt like my muscle memory there could have helped bridge the gap. I should give it another go because I otherwise really like that keyboard.

I know exactly how you feel which is why I feel this is the best compact customizable keyboard around: https://kbdfans.cn/products/gk64-mechanical-keyboard-64key

No gimmicks, just compact with the right keys and 3 hardware programmable layers so you don't have to mess with OS specific settings if you don't want to.


Make the left space bar a function key. Makes it way easier to get at those secondary functions

Not for me. It's seems to be designed by someone who do not really use keyboard, just plain classic Windows-style.

I'm an Emacs user, coming from Vim. I think as tons of other. I do not want Vim-in-Emacs (evil-mode) but I do want single-keys commands and modifier+single key commands, no multiple big combinations.

Having function keys only combined with shift, fn etc means that the designer NEVER really use function keys. Missing hyper modifier (that I admit make sense only for Emacs users, but it's support is still there in any GNU/Linux distros, "easy for dummy" included) is another BAD move. Mini-trackball are not IMVHO a good move. In the past we have many trackball/trackstick like solutions, they ALL fail. The sole, lone, survivors are Logitech style, thumb trackballs, and spaceballs (essentially a "hand centered" trackball) only for 3D design.

For now, for me least bad "high-end" keyboard still in production is the freestyle edge. I'd like an ancient keyboard for I do not remember witch vendor with full row of functions keys + a second row of shift+function keys.


Emacs user here. I have the UHK and I love it. I'm not sure if you realize that you can remap anything on this keyboard. My Emacs setup uses Ctrl, Meta, Super and Hyper. Thanks to the UHK I can also have non-conflicting keybindings for window management (i3 on Linux, various apps on the Mac).

I use EXWM so not much conflicting problems, at maximum coherence problems for non Emacs apps... My main problem is not remapping but to few single physical keys.

I love to have notmuch open with a single key, notmuch-mua-new-mail with a single key or at maximum S-$notmuchSingleKey, a single key for eshell, a single key for a featured terminal emulator, a single key for a browser, single keys for windows manipulation/buffer killing or switching etc. Split, tilting etc are nice layout but I need 150%-200% keyboards, possibly with backlit and custom-printed caps. In the past I love Sun keyboards (type 6 and 7 for most), now I'm struggle to find good o possibly better alternatives.

I do not look for "fast typing", I'm not a machine paid to write fast, but keyboard that enable me to use a real keyboard-based UI with comfort. Software "solution" (like hydra, evil etc) are not good enough.

On remapping: why the hell anyone try to offer application for that. What's wrong with a dirty-cheap flash storage on-board and a text files or few text files and dir in witch you can flash a new fw, remap with simple text config etc?

That's why I say no actual keyboard OEM really use keyboards...


> On remapping: why the hell anyone try to offer application for that. What's wrong with a dirty-cheap flash storage on-board and a text files or few text files and dir in witch you can flash a new fw, remap with simple text config etc?

Man, I would love a text-based config! (Especially since one could then put it under version control.) These GUI tools suck.


> [...] text-based config! (Especially since one could then put it under version control.)

At least for the VCS part: The config is saved in ~/.config/uhk-agent in a json file (don't know if the file name there changes though) and there are Export and Import options in the UHK Agent available.

The source for UHK Agent is available at https://github.com/UltimateHackingKeyboard/agent so at some point someone could make some CLI utility to load a pure text config...

That said, the UHK Agent is available as an AppImage and it works astonishingly well for me, even on a non-mainstream Distro (Void Linux).


do not get me wrong, I'm very happy to read about open source design and code, it's a must for me, something we should demand by law to guarantee common freedom.

I simply criticize the resulting product since it does not fit IMVHO any IT professional use case, it may fit well writer's use case, from journalist to bloggers etc, but not people who really want a keyboard-driven comfort UI and so a good keyboard to interact.

Also for me offer things like AppImage, Docker, Snaps, Flatpack is a MINUS, not a plus. As said before a (small) flash memory, easily accessible as USB storage, easily usable with a simple hardware switch/key combination that trigger "apply actual config" or "use previous and reset" is FAR simpler, far less error prone, far comfortable, far easier, far effective and even safe due to a very reduced attack surface. Today we have the REALLY bad habit to follow big-corporation made trend, but those trend are instrumental and useful for them, not for us.

A stupid, on-the-fly example: a simple flesh memory exported ad USB storage, Fat32. A directory named fw_update with a README inside "put new fw in my pwd, hit this key combination and new fw is applied. If id does not work previous one will be restored and here you'll find logs to debug". Another dir named docs with plain text or pdf documentation, a subdir ex_configs and a top level dir. configs in which we simply type with a small DSL our config. Eventually on their website a webui to do the very same things with a GUI, eventually a local app to do the same, but as wrapper to this barebone, simple interface. Cross platform by it's nature and friendly to any "professional" user and also didactic for dummies. The local apps can be a simple static binary for most common OS (GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Windows, OSX at least), a VERY simple one, with a super-simple web-ui served by a super-simple http server, can be easily done with few SLoC in python or go for instance.

Also I see they offer additional keycaps, very good. But they are the same of the built-in one. You sell a keyboard of this kind without a vast selection of all-the-icons style keycaps and optional custom printed for extra fee? Of course, nearly all vendor do the very same. And it's really a shame IMO, it's clearly depict they do not know their customers or they are not really "keyboards OEMs".

No optional backlit version? If there are cheaper Chinese keyboards for around 10 euros with it and no on a high end devices? Even as paid extra option?

For a high end device an optional secondary USB cable to the computer and a couple of USB (perhaps USB3) port on the keyboard?

For a high end device aiming at IT pro, not gamers, an optional extension with a card reader pcsc compatible?

The world is complex, trying to satisfy anyone it's hard, one size does not fit all, so from a keyboard OEM, not a cheap one, I expect a sort of "modular platform" that can be tuned both for IT pro, gamers and even hard-core typist outside IT world. There are plenty of "high end" keyboard that are substantially the same, trying to being different for the sole reason of business competition not technical reasons.


Kinda bummed to see that they don't support qmk. Why write your own firmware when a sweet oss firmware with tons of backing already exists?

Note that each half of keyboard and module has a separate microcontroller. Somewhere in the blog they even showed a monstrosity consisting of one right half and 3 left halves connected together. In theory you could run qmk on the primary controller (someone will probably do that) but you would still need secondary firmware for all other parts. It might be more productive to add common import/export format for some of the keyboard layout creation tools than trying to share firmware.

Many sane assumptions made by qmk wouldn't apply to UHK which is possibly more complicated than a keyboard should be. Keyboard layouts in qmk are hard-coded in firmware and replaced by building a new firmware. That is a reasonable approach for 8-bit AVR MCU supported by qmk, not so much for UHK which has an order of magnitude more resources.

Maintaining all of that in single codebase might be more difficult to maintain for both UHK and qmk developers than doing it separately. Ifdefs all over the code would be a mess (there is not much room for abstractions using 2K of RAM). Testing if the functionality added by UHK developers doesn't break anything on 10-50 keyboards supported by qmk would also be a significant burden.


Qmk can handle multiple controllers though. My helix is a split keyboard with an Arduino and OLED display in each half and it runs qmk.

Because it's a tad easier to configure the UHK via Agent than QMK keyboards. http://ultimatehackingkeyboard.github.io/agent/


There are ways to do this with QMK as well.

I believe you, but I don't think they come close to Agent.

They do because they work on more than one keyboard.

Then show me a QMK GUI configurator that is as intuitive and powerful as Agent.

Massdrop has a really nice one.

Why did they name a keyboard with no escape, no arrows and no function row a "hacking" keyboard?

Because the escape key heavily used by VIM was placed there since it used to have the position of where the caps lock is currently located. Hence all elite users map the escape key to the caps lock key. As far as the arrow keys are concerned the keyboard used for the original vim had arrow keys placed on the keys h,j,k & l. Which is what real hackers use to navigate apparently.

This is not the case. The ADM-3A keyboard (which vi was developed for use upon) had Esc where Tab is now commonly located, and Ctrl where Caps Lock is now commonly located.

I stand corrected still it explains the lack of an escape key though.

Not sure I qualify as an “elite” but I’ve never seen an original keyboard with the escape where thr caps is on a modern keyboard.

I’ve seen them in the place of the tab key but never on the home row.

Personally, as a long time Vi user, I think you’re better off mapping the caps key to Ctrl and using C-[ for escape. That leaves you with many more Vim insert mode commands within easy reach.

E.g. C-r <buffer> — to put a buffer

C-h — backspace

C-i — tab

C-m — CR

C-xC-f — complete filename

Etc, etc.

h,j,k & l are really only the simplest od vi navigation keys. Once you know how to, say, jump to 3rd paragraph or to jump or to the middle of the screen you won’t use them anywhere near as much.

Much as I love vi navigation owning a Pok3r keyboard has shown me how annoying it is to not have dedicated cursor keys for GUI applications.


Any keyboard can do it, it's just a software thing. Mac even supports switching the Caps lock to escape in the system preferences.

Yep. It’s portability is what I love about it.

I have Caps remapped to Esc and Ctrl swapped with Alt. This way both Ctrl and Esc are easy to reach, and my left pinky doesn't hurt.

You can easily remap escape on the "Mouse" key (which is where Caps Lock is on most keyboards) using the agent software that comes with it.

Not all elite users- I generally use C-[ to return to normal mode, and prefer to use caps as an fn modifier key on my UHK.

Ctrl-c can be used to exit insert mode as well. Caps-lock key was also historically the location of the ctrl key.

Ctrl-c is a poor substitute for escape as it messes up your history and stops things like mutiline visual inserts working.

You’re better off using ctrl-[ which is exactly the same as escape in functionality.


truly elite us keyboard users map caps lock to ctrl and, when forced to use vim, use ctrl+[ to change modes.

(ctrl is useful enough in vim to merit that binding, even if you are a full time vimmer)


True elite users overload capslock to act as esc when pressed short and as ctrl when pressed long. I wonder whether this UHK supports this too.

Just add "inoremap jk <esc>" to your .vimrc and you're set.

Only drawback is you get so used to it you start typing it all the time in editors that don't support vim.jk


You can still reach all those functions with a modifier key [1]. I find this actually quite appealing, lifting your hand to search the arrow keys while touch typing has always been a nuisance to me and this seems much better.

1: https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/wordpress/wp-content/upl...


How does this work with other essential arrow combos that already require many modifiers, such as Alt+Left=Back, Shift+Arrow=selection, Ctrl+Up/Down=scrolling, Ctrl+Left for jumping one word, Shift+Ctrl+Arrow for selecting one word, Win+Shift+Left=moving window to next screen, etc. Now i instead have to do do do Modifier+Win+Shift+I? Modifier seems to be a cheapo button also unless you want to sacrifice having space on both sides.

Because technically capable people tend not to have difficulty understanding the concept of keyboard layers.

All those functions are present, they are accessed by holding down the mouse, mod, or fn keys. That way you don't have to move your hands ever.


Jamie Zawinski wrote a fairly critical review of it

https://www.jwz.org/blog/2018/08/ultimate-hacking-keyboard/

Warning: jwz doesn’t care much for HN, so you will be referred to a NSFW image if you follow the above link. I recommend copying & pasting the URL :-)


Jamie wasn't looking for a 60% keyboard, yet he purchased the UHK which is a 60% keyboard. That directly resulted in his review. Imagine you want a sedan but buy a truck.


> Warning: jwz doesn’t care much for HN, so you will be referred to a NSFW image if you follow the above link. I recommend copying & pasting the URL :-)

Or use the opportunity to disable the referer header. In Firefox, it's network.http.sendRefererHeader in about:config.


> network.http.sendRefererHeader

In case anyone else wondered like me, change to 0 to stop completely, or to 1 to still work on click (no images)


uMatrix also has this feature (works on both FF and Chrome), it can be setup globally and per site/domain.

For someone so wrapped up in hacker culture, JWZ seems extremely allergic to changing factory defaults. ALL of his complaints could be resolved by 10 minutes in the configuration software.

>It's is 5 rows tall instead of 6. This means that there is no Function / Media row, and most critically, no Escape key.

>I'm going to say that again to let it sink in. There is no Esc key. You type Esc by holding Mod and typing tilde.

He is so committed to the glyph painted on the keycap that he made it a major part of his review. That is a wild thing to witness.


I agree with some of his points, but I don't think they are design flaws. Firstly, the micro-switch buttons-- I fully expected those to be uncomfortable when I first saw the design concept. Using them as a space bar would really only be useful for programming without spaces. The function keys are also not important to me, so I plan to re-map them as additional space bars (fixing the issue of a narrow space bar). As for the display, it does look pretty ugly, but I don't this is a problem for a first product with other priorities. As for why it's there at all, I don't think its utility will be limited to displaying the key mapping; that's sort of the point, to make this keyboard hackable. I think it was a good decision to omit the escape key-- it's just not that common to use because it's difficult to reach. I'm not as familiar with Vi as I would like to be, but I would probably re-map escape even if there were an escape key. This keyboard definitely won't lack modifier options. Arrow keys suffer from the same problem, and any logical layout wastes space. As for home, end, page up, page down, etc... The placement of these keys is so variable between keyboards these days that I feel like some people would be unhappy with any placement. I probably would have preferred a more full keyboard layout, but I really don't think it's necessary given this level of flexibility, and spacing everything out like that is inefficient.

All that said, I do think some of these problems should be solved with time. For example, offering long key-caps to span the mod/space and fn switches. Offering a more cushioned hand rest would be nice if it's easy, but I would much rather let them focus on developing core functionality.

On the topic of accessories, I just found this: https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/wiki/numpads

Modular is always better.


Yeah I pretty much agree with that whole review. The microswitch buttons are stupid.

Probably worth mentioning that it's a NSFW image since it's the middle of the workday.

I have the UHK and I love it. I would recommend this keyboard to anyone who needs to work with several different operating systems. I have it set up with keybindings for Mac, Linux and Windows and switch between the three quickly. You can set things up so that switching is relatively painless, e.g. the same shortcut will do similar things in all OSs that you work with (well, to the extent that Linux apps do similar things given the same keypress...).

What I also enjoy is that I can place the halves on both sides of my laptop, with my MacBook in the middle. A very comfortable typing setup.

BTW: Jamie Zawinski writes "I don't know about you, but the frequency with which I change my keymap is: exactly once ever. So I don't really need this thing glowing at me. You can turn the light off, but even when unlit it's still ugly as sin. It begs for a piece of electrical tape over it. Also, I'm baffled that they chose to devote so much physical space to such a useless indicator."

I guess I'm different: I switch keymaps all the time. And this is a killer feature of the UHK: easy management of keymaps, fast switching (using shortcuts which I can define!) and a visible indicator of which keymap is currently active. But then this is a keyboard for hackers, who I'd venture to guess routinely use several computers, right? :)


There's visible and there's ridiculously large display. Two low brightness caps lock style LEDs showing Mac or PC seem a better solution for it to me. Though I've almost never switched a keymap - I have a selection of keyboards!

Aside from that I like the look, the split, especially the trackpoint, then I get to the show stopper. Two micros switches instead of real switches for space and mode so going to be used an awful lot. I once had a keyboard with a few of those on rarely used switches, and despite being expensive it got donated long before the warranty was up. Seems like spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar.


> But then this is a keyboard for hackers, who I'd venture to guess routinely use several computers, right? :)

Yes, and usually they all come with their own keyboards. I don't think many are rich and crazy enough to spoil 300-400 Euro per keyboard just to have the same at work, home and for the random access on the go. Not to forgotten that you need to sync the settings for all of them when you change something.


This is one of the big stumbling blocks for me when it comes to fancy keyboards. I'm not going to spend $1000 on keyboards, and I'm definitely not going to be dragging a keyboard back and forth between work, home and the garage.

So for me it's a $99 CM Masterkeys Pro M at work, a saved-from-the-trash IBM Model M at home, and a brilliant machine washable Logitech K310 in the garage.


So, as a side note, the other thing I really like about the UHK is the size. The two halves put together as a sandwich (bottoms facing each other) take up very little space, which makes for convenient carrying around.

> this is a keyboard for hackers, who I'd venture to guess routinely use several computers, right? :)

This brought me back to the old days where the sysadmins had a physical knob that would switch their keyboard+CRT between the several different boxen in their office. Thanks for the memory.


I've had mine for about 2 months now. I like it better than my Ergodox, but it's not perfect (yet). Maybe I need to train muscle memory more still, but I'm looking forward to the extra modules shipping for having extra thumb keys. Furthermore I'm still annoyed at the arrow keys needing a modifier, where the Ergodox has an extra row of keys for that. Hardware build quality is impeccable, software/firmware is only just getting there though. Programmability is better (well, easier) than w Ergodox, although I imagine that by now there are graphical tools for that; back when I configured mine, I had to hack the C firmware to get it to do what I wanted.

Why do you like it over the Ergodox?

Because all keys are printed, build quality (I have an Ergodox EZ and it's ok but not like the UHK), the palm rests are attached, the tenting works better, I like having a proper graphical config tool. I think those are the main ones but I'm not sitting at my desk looking at it, so I might forget something :)

Ergodox EZ has a graphical config tool.

There's quite a difference between the configurator of the ErgoDox EZ and Agent. Agent is a tad more polished, allows multiple keymaps, editing macros, directly saves configuration to the keyboard, restores configuration based on keyboard memory, and allows customizing mouse speeds.

Another split keyboard alternative to this and the UHK is the freestyle edge: https://gaming.kinesis-ergo.com/edge/

Had way less of a learning curve than my ergodox.


> Had way less of a learning curve than my ergodox.

The big difference to the keyboard you linked, the Ergodox is an ortholinear keyboard. It is to be expected that that comes with a learning curve if you've only typed on a staggered keyboard. I personally think ortholinear is worth the learning curve.


It's a shame that the Ergodox marketing blurb implies that they invented it.

> archaic design, which we fixed

It was fixed a long time ago, by other people.

Maltron keyboard designs have had this since the 1980s. Lillian Malt criticized "[t]he uneven stretches caused by the diagonal slope of the rows of keys on qwerty" in 1977. PCD Maltron's first demo keyboard from 1976 eliminated that slope.

* https://www.maltron.com/maltron-history.html

That wasn't a novel criticism even then.


I bought one of these when they came out, and my first weekend with it I just couldn't stop typing, it was so much fun.

The only misdesign I can think of is that the DEL key should be bigger. (The ESC key is huge and hard to miss, which is fantastic).


I use the Freestyle2 Blue, and absolutely love it. Enough that I have one for home and work. I don't have the gaming one yet for my gaming PC, but I'm seriously considering picking it up. The difference is I don't use my gaming PC for typing much, so it's less of an issue.

Still, It's a wonderful keyboard.


I have a Freestyle Edge and I love it.

Although I'm intrigued by the integrated pointer options, I don't think I'll make the switch due to the pricetag and 60% form factor.


It’s the best split keyboard on the market right now.

Maybe VEA is better but good luck finding the first revision and second one is nowhere in sight


Maybe just make it one row wider or taller so that it can have an escape and a `~ key simultaneously? The need to make these things so small that compromises like having to choose between esc and `~ is very strange to me. This is not a portable device.

I have had a Mistel MD650L for the last 6 weeks, and I didn't notice that it had the same issue as this one -- you need to press a mod key to switch between esc and `~. I use both enough that this is a major PITA. I remapped the "del" key to `~ for a while, but then I started to have to hunt around for that key on my laptop.


You can remap the ~ key on the UHK to be Esc by default and ~ via the Mod layer if you want to.

We plan to design further UHKs of different form factors. I don't get however why you don't consider the current model compact.


> I don't get however why you don't consider the current model compact.

Are you referring to this?

> This is not a portable device.

The way I read it, drewg123 wasn't saying that this particular keyboard is not compact compared to other keyboards. Rather, a keyboard in general doesn't need to be particularly portable, so why attempt to shave an extra inch off by eliminating useful keys?


Yes, that's exactly what I'm trying to say. I didn't notice the tradeoff on the kbd that I have now before I bought it. So every time I go to use tilde, I need to stop, think, and hit the mode key. I'd much rather have another row with fn/esc above the numbers, just like on regular keyboards. I was actually hoping this keyboard had that. I can't seem to find a "mild" ergo split mechanical keyboard with enough keys; I'd buy one if I could find one..

There is the matter of desk estate, because of which some people prefer more compact keyboards, to have more space available. Some also prefer this 60% keyboards because it force them to avoid "harmful" keys and let them focus on their touch typing-usage. And other just take it it as a matter of aestetic. Though, this keyboard isn't really looking good, so I say not many will choose it beacuse of look.

Gotcha, thanks for clarifying! Well, 60% keyboards are not for everyone.

A "hacking" keyboard without a numpad and f-keys? Lame..

Numpad would be useful for hacking if it had letter keys for hexadecimal numbers. With only decimal digits, it's only suitable for hacking sales reports in Excel.

BTW, it really exists https://www.ipv6buddy.com/ (but does not have +, - and other traditional numpad keys).


Can't think of any terminal application that heavily uses function keys, really.

All IDEs use function keys for code navigation and debugging.

midnight commander and htop come to mind

Doesn’t having a numeric keypad hurt ergonomics?

Healthier wrist positions should take precedence?


Different keys for different tasks.

If you're doing numerical data entry the keypad is a star. If you're doing programming/writing, stick to the number row.

But even if we ignore that omission the lack of F keys is a complete deal breaker. There's a reason I won't touch the new Macbook Pros with Touchbar, this is worse than that.


That's the whole point of this keyboard though, the only thing it's missing is the physical keys. You want F-keys? Add it in as a modifier on the number-row. You do a lot of spreadsheeting? Make a layer with a numpad and maybe some macros and wasd->arrowkeys on the left to make life easy.

Its purpose is to give everyone what they need, but without needing them to have a bajillion different physical interfaces on their desk/s. You want F-keys, someone else wants a numpad, another wants Logitech's G-keys, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The UHK says enough. You can do it all on one set of buttons. It may not be your style, but saying it's lacking F-keys is disingenuous.


This really depends on OS. I never need an F-key.

> Doesn’t having a numeric keypad hurt ergonomics?

Absolutely. I will never buy a keyboard with an attached numpad because it splays my mousing hand way out to the right in an very awkward manner. That is one of the reasons I bought the UHK.

One of the really cool features of the UHK I was surprised to discover after I received it is that it can control your mouse cursor and right/left/middle buttons by using the Mod keys and h/j/k/l keys. Yes, I'm sure you can download some utility that enables this on any keyboard but it's nice to have it built into the firmware.


Good on them for shipping. Followed them for awhile, but eventually went with a keyboard.io. I'm rarely traveling whilst needing a dedicated keyboard, and all the extra add ons weren't necessary for me.

I was curious so I looked at their marketing vid. "I found a bunch of research about keyboard design [...] and every keyboard design in the last 20 years has flat out ignored it"

It also seems they flat out ignored the single most beneficial feature for a keyboard on hand ergonomics: having your hands rest at a negative slope. The UHK seems to have this feature.


It does support negative tilt, though only with the palm rest attached.

You can just spin the base and have whatever slope you want

interesting, thanks for pointing that out. I am attracted more to the finishes on the keyboardio than the uhk, it will be a tough decision for me

got a keyboard.io as well but gave up on trying to learn typing on ortho.

Yeah, I had high hopes for the keyboard.io, but it turned out to be an ergonomic disaster. After a couple of weeks trying to transition, I just gave up. It's a shame.

I'd buy a keyboard from keyboard.io with a less radically different layout. I don't think I could reprogram the existing one to the point where I could retain my current typing speed.


Staggered keys. Seriously?

I'll never stop being amazed by how conservative these designs are.


I have an Ergodox and a TECK (I prefer the latter to the Ergodox) and I cringe every time I need to use a "standard" (horizontally) staggered keyboard. It boggles my mind on how this industry continue to adopt a layout that was the result of technical limitations of the 1800, fuck ergonomics, we don't want to confuse our customers... Bah!

Could also be due to the product being aimed at touch typist audience with lots of muscle memory of traditional keyboards?

Not in my opinion.

I think I've learned to touch type on a mechanical Olivetti typewriter, the hand stance was different and it required a lot, and I mean it a lot of force applied to the keys to print a character, anyway I probably used to touch type on staggered keyboards for more than 10 years, the transition to columnar keyboards was painless and I'm not going back.

The only two problematic keys are probably Y and B where you can learn to reach both with the same hand (I think my instructor left us freedom and I probably used the right index for both).

I switched 2~3 years ago to Colemak, I thought Dvorak moved too much keys around, and I have the impression that I'm slower than when I was on Qwerty and I still confuse the R with the S (I need to think to press the key instead of simply thinking the word, that is more than a decade of muscle memory) so you have a sample of one that is a weak argument. ^__^;


Same, it's like "hey let's completely redesign this product but leave critical elements as remnants of the 19th century type writers".

I quite like mine. I haven't used it continuously - still getting used to the no-other-keys on a minimal keyboard. I like the cursor keys being a mod, but that seems like a lot if you want to do a lot of cursoring.

I haven't delved into the software at all - i need to.

I am just happy to have a split keyboard. I've waited yeeaaars for two-halves.

It feels like a very solid product. I like the purposeful click as the two halves join together.

It did take a couple of years, but I was in no hurry. I await my addon-modules.

Oh, and I also got a Das 5Q about the same time. Looks pretty but a very different mechanical feel than the UHK, which I just love.

I have nothing but good things to say about this thing at this point. A joy to type on, with both arms wherever-the-hell i want them.


Why are we still designing “ergonomic” keyboards where all of the keys — for both hands — still angle to the left?

I know that would be straying from a long-lived standard, but if we’re going to split the middle, why not also go ahead and angle the keys on the left half to the right?


More to the point, the keys should't be angled any way, the key blocks should be. That is, each half should be ortholinear. Because fingers aren't angled on the joints.

Also a flat keyboard isn't “extremely ergonomic,” because human fingers rotate on joints instead of being extendable and retractable. The keys should form a bowl for each hand, like on Maltron and Kinesis Advantage.


The advantage is great. The bowl-form is now a must for me - and while I've dreamed of a split-ergo keyboard with a trackpoint on it for ages, I can't go back to a flat keyboard.

I've been using this keyboard for 8 months, always split; in my workplace we tend to move stations very often to work in pairs, so I can just merge them, move around and split them. Turns out it is very easy to carry them from home to the workplace, and around the workplace.

I'd say it's what makes this keyboard very different from other splits, since all the rest (remappable keys, layers, etc.) are commonly found in keyboards that lack the function row or arrow keys anyways. If it weren't for the ability to carry it easily I would have definitely looked at the competition for other split keyboards.


I'm highly skeptical of any "ergonomic" keyboard that doesn't use some form of columnar layout.

Very neat, totally want, just with ortholinear keys and with a low profile.

> [...] totally want, just with ortholinear keys [...]

This. I was actually pretty hyped about the UHK, but seeing the delivery schedule, opted for an ergodox. After a week or two I really started noticing how annoying that shift between the key rows is on a normal keyboard.


I used an ergodox for a while, but I was chafing my thumbs on it. I seem to do better with low profile keys. Currently I use the TypeMatrix for 6 years now (and have 3 of them).

The key tactility isn't where I want with the TypeMatrix, but the low profile (as well as good labeling for non a-z keys) design seems to be most comfortable.


Wish you could 'rent' one of these for a few weeks. $300+ is a lot of investment for something you may not like. I bought a Kinesis and it's just gathering dust on my desk.

You can just return your UHK in 30 days if you don't like it. You'd have to pay for shipping, but it's not a major expense. See https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/shipping-and-warranty

FWIW, it looks like the Kinesis boards, at least, hold their value well... There's only one used Advantage 2 board available on Amazon, at practically the price of a new one.

(The used market might be a reasonable stand-in for rental, too, once enough of these keyboards get into circulation.)


I ordered mine a couple years ago but honestly it'll be worth the wait. I don't care much for the mechanical keyboard, what I'm itching to finally use is the on-board remapping of keys.

At the moment I use dvorak and there are some applications that simply refuse to listen to the OS configurations. Especially remote desktop on windows and anything that isn't rdesktop on linux (which like to read direct keycodes an use the guest OS' configuration I guess?).

Having the keyboard handle this in-hardware means the computer can never make these mistakes, it'll just think it's a qwerty. Also in going to other people's desks at work, I can just carry this tiny KB with me instead of switching my brain over back to qwerty on their KBs.

On top of dvorak though, I though to myself "why only move the alpha keys in the name of ergonomics?", so I've also really mangled my non-alpha keys using .Xmodmap and autohotkey for my windows machines. https://i.imgur.com/4Q51VIL.png

As ridiculous as it looks this is an amazing setup. Having shift pressed by the thumbs is incredibly easy, especially contrasting it to using the pinkies. Moving backspace and other command keys to the centre was also a really liberating change, I never have do move my hands.

Like dvorak though, using software to implement this is problematic. Autohotkey/windows for instance likes to lock my shift key in occasionally when I use my moved alt key, requiring a logout :/ Having these issues dealt with via a hardware solution is going to be extremely satisfying.


Lots of keyboards let you remap keys directly on the hardware. I'm currently very happy with the kinesis (which has backspace, delete, space, enter, ctrl/alt, pageup/pagedown, and home/end on the thumbs).

Wow, whoops, thanks. It's a serious wonder how I hadn't ever seen these guys before. I looked into it a bit before going "well I guess I should get this". Kenesis' SmartSet is basically UHK's Agent. The Advantage series looks bulky as but the Freestyle is basically the same keyboard as the UHK but is so much cheaper.

All I came across where huge keyboards, or ones paneled of wood, or some bowl ones and ones where the keys were orthogonal (although I use dvorak and have a trackball, I wasn't ready to completely jump in the deep end and get one of those flight-control looking beasts). The 'programability' was usually in-software like with Logitech's LGS, but it seems if I found this in my search it's what I would've gone with.

Going forward I guess I can be satisfied by the more solid design of the UHK (7segment LED for layout display instead of some lights, a replaceable and much longer cable between the two halves, magnetic rejoining of the halves for transport, and the addition of modules whenever they finish designing those).

Looks like it's not as revolutionary as I thought, but I'm still pretty chuffed with how much of an improvement it seems to be in the evolution of these keyboards. I haven't got mine yet, but I doubt my opinion will sway as I'm yet to read a bad thing about them (that would affect me like 'where are my f-keys' or 'I hate staggered rows') for the people who have received theirs.


I was part of the pilot run so hsve been using it for a couple of months now. I love the fact that I can easily put it in my bag and travel around with it. I use mac but it's so easy to change to ubuntu layout when Pairing and you just keep on being productive.

I use emacs, vim, visual studio code and intellij with vim plugins on non native vim and the esc / ctrl modifier is great. It's a 1000 times better than the normal ctrl.

One thing that I appreciate the most about the UHK is @mondalaci's drive to make this a brilliant product. From the newsletters to responding almost instantly to any query someone might and even helping me out with my config.

I was starting to get very sore wrists after typing a lot and now, during one of the most intense coding years of my life, no sore wrists!

The UHK is part of my kit now and sure, there are a couple of things to get used to and some things I would have liked to change in beginning but have gotten used to. I really dislike typing without it now


Happy hacking keyboard has been my main for 10 years. The pushes feel very comfortable, Ctrl is in the middle row, small enough to carry around and no need to reach out on any far keys as keys are in your reach. Your friends amaze at you with the version without any characters printed on the keys even.

I just figured Bjarne Stroustrup is using it.

https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/4dsv9i...

(Even a photo of RMS using it in the thread.)

There's also a black version.

https://www.pfu.fujitsu.com/direct/hhkb/images/detail_hhkb-p...

(HHKB lite is a complete different thing which I will never buy.)


I have been looking at this recently with great interest!

A problem I have with all other split layout keyboards is that they place the B key on the left side of the keyboard. However, I type the letter B with my right index finger, not my left. I know this is "incorrect", but it is firmly ingrained in my muscle memory and while I've tried changing it in the past, I've had little success.

I got very excited when I saw the "key cluster" module, since if it were available for the right side, it would allow me to just place my own B key next to N where I want it.

Is this planned? I would buy this in a heartbeat if so.


I used to have this habit as well. I ended up borrowing a ErgoDox Ez from a friend when my normal keyboard broke a few years ago, and bit the bullet and unlearned this habit and a bunch of others, and it was, to me, worth it.

I also always typed shift with my left pinkie, no matter what the next character was, even A. I also would ALWAYS look when doing numeric keys, and sometimes other combinations. I ended up with blank keycaps, and broke that habit.

You can do it!


I've been using a Truly Ergonomic for close to a decade, heavily used every day (yes, the same unit) and it still is the best keyboard I've ever used. Highly recommended.

https://trulyergonomic.com/


What is the deal with the wire between the two halves I see on all of these split keyboards?

My first thought is that if they were two wireless pieces, then timing of the receiver could be an issue and it could see key strokes in the wrong order(?)

I guess power is also a thing. Perhaps it would require two usb sticks a receivers?

I've been keeping an eye on these discussions for some time and seeing some that are so close to my vision of a perfect design, the wire in between the two pieces limits one of my use cases.

Noticed mention in the thread about "Let's Split" - a quick search shows some pics that appear to show some without a wire between them, so maybe it's an easily solved issue, or could be trick photography hiding the in between wiring(?)

Glad to see more and more people working on better keyboard layouts!


There are a couple of complications regarding a wireless truly split keyboard. As you correctly assumed, the wireless communication between the halves and having separate batteries would complicate things very much and make the design more expensive.

I doubt that it'd be possible to offer a wireless UHK under $300 if we insisted to our current features and quality standards. The market is limited, it's a huge R&D effort for a small company, and a large company couldn't care less for a niche product like this.


According to Laci, power + modules made them decide not to go with wireless: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/3tkyme/iama_lászló_mo...

Great find! Didn't even remember of talking about this.

I actually had some trouble finding it, but I had strong memory of reading the answer to the wireless question in the past, since I wondered the same.

Have you considered adding it to the FAQ? I feel this is a thing many are curious about.


I'll build a knowledge base on the UHK site soon, and I'll add it.

> the wire in between the two pieces limits one of my use cases

curious about your use case. Would 3 meters of cable help?

https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/faq


Yes I suppose longer cable would make it more do-able.

I've been wanting to have half a keyboard just below each of my pockets. Maybe with some kind of thigh-holster kind of thing.

So two wireless halves would work, but have a longer cable would also make this possible. I plan to be sitting / lounging when using, not walking, so could be possible.

I think that would be the most comfortable position for typing for me, and keep it fast and for long periods. Hoping to combine with a zero G chair from relax the back store kind of thing and monitors on swing arms up above a bit.

Now to think more seriously about the size, this could work.


I'm very happy with mine. I did not notice the lack of a dedicated escape key when I ordered mine, but I it's turned out to not be an issue for me. My wrists are very happy. Anyone who bought one and doesn't like it and wants to sell theirs, I'll give you $50. ;-)

I personally use a regular keyboard rather than a split ergonomic keyboard; I've never really had any discomfort even typing for long periods, so have never really felt the need, and I have a tenkeyless keyboard that I'm very happy with.

The main thing that I notice when I try out split keyboards is that the middle keys on the keyboard are forced to "choose a side". My typing style admits some degree of alternation; I may use my left hand to hit the 'h', especially when my right hand is doing punctuation work on the side of the keyboard.

So my question is why aren't these keys simply replicated. Just have t/y,g/h,v/b/n on both sides of the divide so that you don't have to make a choice; just like the spacebar is replicated.


> I've never really had any discomfort even typing for long periods, so have never really felt the need

See, the thing about Repetitive Stress Injury, at least in my experience, is it just starts hurting one day out of the blue, and at that point you are screwed because you can't just "take a break" from using a keyboard/mouse. Every day you just worsen it and freak out wondering if your career is going to be over because it hurts so much to do your job. In my case throwing away corny rainbow-led gaming keyboards/mice and getting a split keyboard & vertical mouse saved my life. But I wish I had never got to that point!


Split keyboards are primarily designed for touch typist who consistently hit keys with their fingers. Replicating middle keys would result in extra bulk.

I purchased this keyboard two years ago, and it was absolutely worth the wait. My thoughts after 2 weeks of use:

- The lack of an escape key was initially a real pain point, but with agent it was easy to change the backtick key to escape - The feel of the keys are incredible, but I am coming from a cheap dell keyboard so I don't have a solid basis for comparison - Mapping mod + hjkl to the arrow keys has been incredibly efficient - The mouse mode in the keyboard is unusable in its present state, but hopefully the extra modules solve this

Overall I'd give it a solid 9/10, presuming that you remap the keys to fit your individual workflow


Whoever made this didn't seem to program much in vi or emacs.

- you need as modifier for esc. - control is shoved in the corner. - return is too small - no easy arrows

I'm sure I could get used to other issues like needing a modifier for function keys, but those three are a real deal breaker.

If you are going to do a hackers keyboard, make it so you don't need shift for the parens, brackets, or other commonly used symbols when coding or at a shell prompt.

(My emacs setup makes heavy use of function keys including modifiers with them so that might actually be a deal breaker too. Having to be a world class pianist to compile doesn't sound like a step up.)

Edit: i hate hn formatting so very much


I mean, no product HAS to be for you, but part of the point of the board is that it's really, really easy to change the keymappings on a whim. If/when they finish the adaptive mode on Agent, you can in-fact make it switch bindings when you're in an editor/shell. Swapping ESC for ~ will take you no more than a few seconds using Agent, and doing any other remapping isn't drastically harder; I've messed with my maps plenty since I got my device.

As someone used to ANSI boards who doesn't use the arrow keys routinely (since I use a LOT of vim binding), it's generally pretty spiffy.


No keyboard would be a hacking keyboard if it were not hackable.

The central feature of the UHK is how extremely easy it is to reprogram, you can put any key anywhere, with 4 layers to work with (normal, fn, mod, and mouse) and borrowings from qmk like different behavior on a key when is tapped vs held, one-shot-mods, and tapdancing.


what are one-shot-mods and tapdancing? I'm new to this terminology! :) thanks.

One-shot-mods is when you press a button once, and then release it, and it has an effect on the next button you press. For example, to get to upper case, instead of holding shift and pressing buttons, you can press shift once, and only your next button press is shifted.

Tap dancing is when a button does different things for how many times you press it in a row. For example, one of my keyboards has the button to the left of the pinky finger (the one usually labeled "caps lock") with this schema: tap: backspace hold: control double tap: escape double tap-hold: super


Looks very nice, a big bonus that it is available as an ISO layout. The difficulty with finding a decent keyboard is, that as a German, I need an ISO layout, which rules out a lot of potentially great keyboards. But unfortunately it is missing the row with the escape and function keys and the cursor keys.

Currently I am using the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard, and I am mostly happy with it, except that the escape/function key row is only half sizes. If it were full sized, I probably would be compeltely happy with it.

I would be willing to shell out serious money for my dream keyboard, but so far the offerings are few and scarce.


Following a link in this discussion, I found the matias, which is avaliable in ISO layout and has the extra keys: https://matias.ca/ergopro/pc/ does anyone have experience with their "quit click" keys?

I've tried so many styles of keyboard over the years and nothing has ever made me feel as 'at one with the computer' as the HHKB Pro 2.

It's so close to perfect. Typing feels amazing, it has a really pleasing 'thunk' if you bottom out, the CTRL key is in the correct position, it's almost symmetrical and everything's within reach. When used with a suitable wrist rest I can type for hours on end without complaint.

Worth every penny.

Additionally, I've seen "pimped" versions of the HHKB and it's honestly ridiculous. Why take something beautiful and minimalist and have weird-shaped keys?


Is it programmable? I don't suppose programmability is absolutely necessary since I use emacs and so "everything is programmable" but still, while I'm updating my keyboard from shitty MacBook Pro keyboard, I might as well get something programmable.

Not programmable. Programmability isn't something I care for in a keyboard.

I understand it's a must for some people though, it's a good thing that there's plenty of choice these days.


Lookup up your beloved HHKB Pro 2. The placement of the backslash key alone is enough for me to say "No fucking way" to ever even trying that thing.

After using the Comfort Keyboard system [1] for about 10 years, I made the switch to the Koolertron split keyboard [2]. I'm a huge fan of having the left spacebar programmed to backspace. It comes with extra key caps so you can make them all black.

http://www.comfortkeyboard.com/keyboards_ergoflex.html

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076FTNXDX/


Are there any chiclet style split keyboards?

Can't think of any off the top of my head, but you could build a Let's Split (or Chimera, or... actually there are a lot) with Kalih low profile switches and keycaps.

There is a Let's Split kit with Kailh Choc low profile keys. It's not chiclet, but it's short travel.

sold out :/

Yes, Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic is your friend.

There are plenty of keyboards that do this exact same schtick with better firmware, better layouts, and/or at less cost. The only thing this adds are the add-ons which are gimmicky...

This is one of the few I see with a trackpoint / trackpad as an option.

Having a separate mouse next to a programmers keyboard sort of defeats the purpose, because it makes you move your hand constantly. But a pointer device is often the most ergonomic option if one of your tools is a browser.


There are hardly plenty of truly split 60% keyboards on the market, especially if you add to the requirements tenting, negative tilting, or having a configurator as powerful and polished as Agent.

I like it from the description, but I'm not sure about the fact that it's not ortholinear (i.e. keys are not in a grid).

How do people feel about the effect of ortholinearity on ergonomics?


I find Massdrop's CTRL mechanical keyboard [1] fascinating. AFAIK it is the only keyboard whose keys are not soldered on the PCB, which allows you to swap mechanical key types out or mix-and-match.

[1] https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-ctrl-mechanical-keyboa...


The CTRL's predecessor, the K-Type, also featured hot-swap socket.

There are a few others (like the GK64 and the Ergodox EZ) that also feature it!


Thanks, I did not know about these keyboards.

This should be accessible even for not registered people:

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-ctrl-mechanical-keyboa...

There is allegedly a reason about it...


requiring login to view the price is a big nono for me

yup. I will never know what this product is.

I for one am very excited about this. Loud, directionless, and without escape is exactly how I prefer my keyboards. It is unfortunate that the modules aren't ambidextrous, but I hardly use a mouse anyway and I'm right-handed. Rather than fixing that, I hope they start working on Bluetooth modules next. Maybe some battery modules and get this baby working on my phone.

I wonder if one can use a USB OTG adapter to make it work on a phone? I will certainly try once I get mine. Thanks for the idea!


I just came here to say HHKB and rubre domeh. I actually moved on to custom myself but still stick with the original HHKB format.


Congrats on shipping, Laci!

This. I've been following this product since it was first announced and I know it's been a looooooong road to travel for the team. If anyone is pondering doing a similar hardware product, you should check out the UHK blog because Laci goes into a lot of technical detail about development, procurement, and certification issues the UHK team ran into over two years.

I was mad when the projected date was missed, but as time went on, I strangely got less mad until I just threw up my hands and said "It'll be here when it's ready." I'm glad they didn't cut any obvious corners trying to get this out to meet angry customers mad about the ship date.


Thanks for the nice words! Our backers have been super nice about the announced delays, and cherished that we insist to quality so much. We're so glad to finally ship!

Thanks Tom!

I'm using a Pok3r and the programming is great for remapping keys - I definitely need Ctrl on Capslock. I bought it because my Unicomp was taking up too much desktop space.

To get to the point: Even as an Emacs user I am missing the arrow keys and Insert and Home. Tenkeyless is better.

So for me the above keyboard wouldn't be the ultimate hacking keyboard.


Maybe a naive question, but why should one reprogram keys in hardware instead of software (xmodmap, xkb, xcape etc.)?

I dual boot Windows and Linux, and remapping on both platforms consistently (incl. system updates, etc.) is a pain in the ass. I also need to use a remote desktop connection with a normal keyboard from time to time, which makes the software solution even more annoying.

Hardware level configuration is beneficial if you switch between computers, (especially which you don't have control over) on a regular basis.

to have it transfer between different computers i would assume.

I use caps as my modifier. Then I can CAPS+HJKL for arrow keys. I'm a vim user though so this already feels pretty natural to me.

Same here (just with a different keyboard). Plus you can establish a few mappings more and get a minimalistic "Vim layer" going that works everywhere (say mapping caps+w to ctrl-right). That's great if you're stranded in Windows and have no options to opt for Vim-like input on almost all text widgets.

I use CAPS+IJKL on my pok3r (the defaults) and I love it.

Interesting. I'm going to build a Nyquist (60%, split, ortho, I picked Zealios 67g switches) in a few days, I'm currently waiting for a few parts to arrive, maybe I should consider designing some kind of wrist-rest that allows for a negative slope.

Unfortunately availability of many of the products mentioned here are limited in Europe, require int shipping and which makes it also hard to try out and send it back. So it becomes tricky looking at a 300 Euro somehthing product

UHK is shipped from Europe.


The website is down. I was wondering if it looks anything like Typematrix 2030.

Typematrix 2030 + Dvorak layout == high accuracy stealth flying experience.

My fingers fly on a Typematrix 2030. Give it a try, you are going to love it!


I type in Dvorak and used a typematrix 2030 for about 2 years. I never got as fast on their board as I could on a standard, staggered layout. Don’t know why...

I’ve a UHK arriving soon, stoked to try it out. It’s been a lot of years and a lot of keyboards (goldtouch split was probably my fav), will the uhk win me over? Time will tell :)


Just enabled the cache, so hopefully you should be able to open the UHK site now.

Why is it so small? TKL (tenkeyless meaning a keyboard without a numpad) is just small enough, and honestly I use the END/HOME/DEL keys a lot, so I cannot conceive a keyboard without them.

Better posture?


The UHK is a 60% keyboard which only features the alphanumeric block. The idea is that the hands shouldn't move, only the fingers should move. This design results in heavier chording, so it's a deliberate compromise with which some are comfortable, others are not.

The sounds don't work, that's mostly what I wanted to hear.

The idea that pouring time into customizing your keyboard just so will boost productivity is madness. Is typing speed really the bottleneck for anyone?

That said - beautiful keyboard.


It's not (just?) the typing speed though - for many it's the ability to limit hand and arm movement, and alleviate the effects of many types of RSI. I just ordered one, and as I type this through noticeable pain in my right wrist, I eagerly anticipate this keyboard helping me continue a healthy career.

Are there any info/specs on the touchpad module? I love having the touchpad next to my thumbs on my macbook, but I'm admittedly spoiled by how nice this one is.

Any specific questions, feel free to ask me.

I guess I don't know hardly anything about touchpads. Does it support multi-touch?

Yes, it does.
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