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ZSA Moonlander: A next-generation ergonomic keyboard (zsa.io)
202 points by olivernn 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 272 comments





I've been getting deep into the home office ergonomics hole now that I'll be working from home indefinitely. There's a real danger here - I generally pride myself as someone who is conscientious of consumerist tendencies, but it's become clear that my drive for better ergonomics is no longer about the actual facilitation of work or avoidance of injury. I have spent more time researching ergonomic setups than could ever be saved by marginal improvements in productivity, and my poor posture is by far the greatest risk for injury.

It's become about completing myself. Filling the void. Materialism: the belief that acquisition of something outside myself will finally bring me permanent satisfaction. But if you'll excuse the metaphor, the void we try to fill is a black hole of the cosmic variety: its pull grows as it is fed. Shoveling in expensive ergonomic equipment is little different from shoes or bags or guns or radios or funko pops.

Anyway, this next $250 I spend on an endlessly-adjustible retractable keyboard tray & fancy ergonomic keyboard will surely address all my complaints...


> Shoveling in expensive ergonomic equipment is little different from shoes or bags or guns or radios or funko pops.

It is and it isn't. It depends if/when you stop. I just got $250 keyboard. My last one was also in that range. Though it lasted me around 10 years.

I don't think its evil wanting to have nice things. Its problem when 'you life to buy things, not buy things to live.'


I have never spent more than 30 € on a keyboard and mouse combo, and that's over the span of the last 10 years...

I have never peeked over the price wall into the higher end stuff because it genuinely has never occurred to me that my current keyboard+mouse were hindering my productivity.

High contrast screen? Sure, squinting hurts. Office-cancelling headphones? Sure, loud noises ruin my concentration

But keyboard and mouse have never been am issue... When did you start to suspect that you needed to get a better keyboard?


If you don't have repetitive stress problems already, then ergonomic keyboards aren't necessarily about improving your productivity right now. They're about preventing a serious reduction in your productivity years from now.

(However, after buying a mech keyboard to deal with finger joint pain, and training myself to type without bottoming out much, I discovered I was typing faster.)


The three most impactful things you can do to avoid wrist injuries are:

(1) Ensuring your chair, desk, and keyboard are set up so your wrists are straight when typing

(2) Using a split/tilted keyboard so your wrists do not need to rotate as much when you type

(3) Using a vertical mouse so your wrist does not need to rotate as much when mousing

You can accomplish all of this for very cheap. A bit more than you're spending, but not an order of magnitude more (unless your desk or chair are very bad). Once you get into mechanical keyswitches or exotic keyboard layouts you're just messing around imo. Membrane keyboards are fine. They're fine! And very quiet.


While I have an ergodox, I completely agree with this. I'm still suffering from some RSI, but following this has helped me tremendously. I also want to add, just as you're suppose to turn away from the monitor every once in a while, make sure you stretch out your hands/arms and return it into the neutral position.

For those looking for a cheap split keyboard, a used microsoft sculpt can be found around $40 on eBay.


I second the Microsoft Sculpt as one of the most comfortable keyboards I have ever found. Unfortunately, I seem to destroy one in about two years.

I'd add (or even put on top): Work out. There's nothing better than working your muscles to prevent injuries. Even hand grippers help already.

Yes, this has also helped me (at one point my wrists were bad enough I had to start mousing with my non-dominant hand). It seems like pulling exercises such as deadlifts or pull-ups or just rock climbing in general help the most.

Which cheap split keyboard do you use?

Currently I use the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000, an enormous dinosaur which can reliably be bought for $20 used. I had the Microsoft Sculpt keyboard for a few years before that, which I liked, but the build quality was very bad and I had two break on me.

I'm going to switch to either a goldtouch or kinesis freestyle soon, since I don't like the number pad. Those are $80-$120 but I hope the build quality will pay off in the long run.


Thanks! I'll check those out.

I have the Kenesis Freestyle2 and I find it unusable without retraining much of my muscle memory.

1. The extra 2 columns of keys on the left edge somehow reliably disorients me.

2. the lack of an extra (potentially redundant) row of keys on the inner edges throws me off b/c I tend to reach across the middle from either side, e.g. press B with my right hand.


For me, it was about 2 weeks ago. My left wrist is just a _little_ sore, but constantly. I've noticed that if I rotate my keyboard towards my left hand, the pain gets better, so now I'm starting to think that it's something that I'll need to actually get better hardware to prevent getting worse.

I've indulged in a nicer keyboard once before, but only because I was intrigued by the novelty of mechanical keycaps. Now I'm thinking that I'll need to take the plunge and get something more ergonomic, because I've still got a lot of career left.


I bought a keyboard.io model 01 recently, because I was desperate (and I'd been intrigued by its programmability for a while). I bought a vertical mouse (cheap Anker) at the same time.

I've had RSI issues in the past, but this spring (when I bought those two), I was in intense pain for days at a time, even when not at my desk. Otherwise good ergonomic setup: external monitor, adjustable desk and good chair, etc.

I'd suggest you at least take small steps to improve/optimize your ergonomics before you have a problem. It really does suck to be in pain like that, especially when doing your work, which you have to do to pay the bills, makes it worse. I was looking forward to weekends just for some relief.

For what it's worth, having a programmable keyboard is super cool even without the ergonomic benefits. It's just fun to tinker and optimize your layout, macros, etc.


When I couldn’t sleep at night because of how much pain my wrists were in :(

I wish I cared more earlier. The injury in my left thumb may never go away fully, and it’s taken me a really long time to come to peace with that.


overly hyperbolic. though there's something good to be said about abstaining from _needless_ things, what you need is a matter of taste and personal experience.

there's more to keyboards. why do i have a nice one? to enjoy the typing experience - feedback + sound + appearance.

nothing wrong with nice things that make your life better. i spend an obscene amount of time with a keyboard. i want the experience to be as perfected as possible.

specific to this keyboard: i want an ergo layout, but would not buy this keyboard unless there was a switch-less and cap-less option - 365 (plus fees + taxes + shipping/whatever) is a lot to pay and then also buy switches and keycaps


The best keyboard I can think of is one that tells me to get my butt out of the chair and go for a walk every two hours.


You can probably make that happen with the QMK firmware: make the whole thing stop two hours after being plugged in. Or have a key sequence to restart the timer. (so that you don't have to unplug and plug it all the time)

That'd be an interesting feature honestly.


The keyboard in the submitted post comes with a buzzer built-in. I think they had one in the Planck that beeped when it turned on or connected to bluetooth or something. So you could program QMK to do this almost certainly! :)

And also negate your ability to by-pass it since oops your keyboard doesn't work any more.

Hook up a cattleprod on a timer?

Or, maybe better, glue on a stopwatch.


> this next $250 I spend

The price seems irrelevant based on the rest of your post (I mean, assuming spending $250 doesn't put you at financial risks). The only question that you should ask yourself (but I'm sure you already know) is if you need a new and better keyboard or not.


FWIW, the keyboard is 360$, not 250$.

Isn't that what Fight Club was about.

I wish people would just copy the MS Natural Ergonomic 4000, but with better keyswitches. As things stand, every split keyboard with nice keyswitches has a different layout from every other, which is odd, considering how much this type of device relies on muscle memory to work.

(Also, most of them miss one or more of F keys, symmetrical meta keys, standard navigation cluster layout, volume buttons - it's like they want their devices to be less useful, not more!)

Particularly annoying when there's such a wide range of non-split keyboards with nice keyswitches. You've got all the bizarre layouts you can eat, but you still get the option of a more standard one too.


I love mechanical keyboards. My favorite switch is ALPS.

But IMHO, the most ergonomic switches are low-travel ones. They increase my typing speed, reduce latency and make long sessions effortless.

Luckily, low-travel versions of many good quality keyboard switches are being produced and developed more often now to cater the gaming market.

For a simple, readily available option, I find the Apple Magic Keyboard more than good enough. It has really low latency [1]. I wonder if other low-travel switches are the same or if it has a particularly speedy firmware.

[1] https://danluu.com/keyboard-latency/


For a low-travel and ergonomic keyboard, check out the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic. It's wireless and has a standard layout which doesn't require any learning, including a real row of function-keys, full size arrow-block and pg-up/down. And it just cost 1/4 of the Moonlander. No per-key dedicated backlight, no programmable ARM Cortex or any other thrills, it's just a simple, comfortable, plug in and start using keyboard. I wish they offered an even cheaper version without the silly Mouse in the package.

It has a reputation for bad build quality but i've been lucky with mine. Also be careful to not loose the wireless dongle as the keyboard becomes a brick without it.


This is awesome keyboard.

Fn keys do suck tho and are cheap. Also, forearm gets dirty in few days and keyboard start to look like it is used for years.

I also gave silly mouse a chance and it turns out I like it very much now - not for games but otherwise very good and fits in hand great.


> I find the Apple Magic Keyboard more than good enough

I liked the previous gen better. It has slightly longer travel than the new one, very similar to the pre-butterfly Macbooks.

Having said that, I prefer the feel of the butterflies over the magic ones. Even though the travel is very short, it's very tactile.

I had a great surprise with the - haha - Raspberry Pi keyboard. It has a firm touch, good travel and small footprint. It feels much nicer than any keyboard in its price range has the right to feel.

I'd love to try the Kinesis, but I'm not sure I like its footprint. I already have a Unicomp 122-key Battlecruiser on my Linux box and it's quite enough .


Kalih Brown are quite soft (40g) and quite low-travel (1.1 mm to actuation). I wish even softer Kalih scissor switches were an option.

Kalih Blue are an option if you prefer to pound more (not offered with this keyboard, though). But I only find clicky switches acceptable if you're working from home, or have a personal office. Sitting next to someone else's clicky keyboard is not all that enjoyable.


I've found Kailh Blue low profile to be the sweet spot for mechanical but low travel. My absolute favorite keyboard is the HAVIT HV-KB395L [1], unfortunately the switches seem to not be very durable (or I'm just very rough on my keyboards). I have two broken ones around (left control key is flaky), considering if I want to buy another one.

This is literally the only keyboard I have found that uses those switches.

[1] https://www.prohavit.com/products/hv-kb395l-low-profile-mech...


I have the TKL version of same keyboard and it is a great value for the price but it has several flaws. The Kailh Blue switches can click and not trigger if you don't press hard enough. So the audio feedback is basically worth nothing. Also there are no rubber feet at the back if you decide not to use the stands. There are also no rubber feet in the middle below the space bar where I would expect the keyboard to flex the most (it does only when pressing really hard though).

I’m also a fan of low actuation force and short travel keyboards. I really like the Magic Keyboard in virtually every way except the key layout.

Reading through the various switches they offer, it seems the Kailh Silver might be the closest match of what they offer to Apple’s switches, but I sadly am not willing to spend nearly $400 to find out.


for low profile mech keyboard in traditional arrangement, there is the keychron.

For low profile switches there is the Kailh Choc family, though there is a limited choice of caps.


The new MBK caps for them are getting some good reviews. Though the one downside of Choc caps is they are directional. Some of the split layouts need 2u vertical and that just doesn't exist.

I'm decently happy with my Matias Ergo Pro [1]. They make their own ALPS-derived switches. Only other ALPS I've ever used are verrrrrry oldddddd Apple boards. Are there any other mass-produced ALPS keebs I should be aware of, or is it mostly just hobbyists harvesting old switches for custom boards?

[1] https://matias.ca/ergopro/programmable/


Latest Apple magic keyboard is awful. The key tops rock all over the place. Back on my Cherry MX board 1.0 with red switches.

It’s better than the cancerous lump of excrement that is the Magic Mouse 2 though.


I want a more ergonomic keyboard since I may be developing wrist problems, but I don't understand why none of them seem to have function keys. I use the function keys all the time and when I switch to a 40% layout I get seriously annoyed by the lack of them and end up going back to a full layout keyboard because of it. I spent twenty minutes searching for a split keyboard with function keys and found only one thread where someone made a "theoretical" split layout with function keys and discussed it for a long time, and then gave up in the end by going back to a function-keyless keyboard and saying that he simply learned to live without them and even argued that having no function keys is healthier as it reduces finger movement, so there's no real point in having them.

Is this some kind of cultural thing, where nobody in the DIY keyboard space is interested in making such a keyboard, even though there are keyboards marketed as ergonomic with cheap dome switches I don't prefer but still have function keys? Are "split keyboard" and "function keys" mutually exclusive properties? I don't understand.

EDIT: Okay, I did not look hard enough at all.

https://www.zergotech.com/

This looks like the kind of keyboard I would be interested in using.


Most reduced ergo keyboards are heavily reliant upon layers to provide access to function keys, media keys, numpad, etc. I have several ergo keyboards, and my favorite (and one I'm currently typing on) is the Atreus [1]. In the default configuration it's one press with the thumb to access the numpad without moving the hand [2], and another keypress puts the function keys there instead (with the same layout for 1-9) [3]. This is all customizable of course.

It definitely takes some getting used to, but once you do it's such an efficient and enjoyable typing experience.

[1] https://atreus.technomancy.us/ keyboard.io also recently completed a kickstarter campaign for mass-produced Atreuses and are taking pre-orders for the next run: https://shop.keyboard.io/products/keyboardio-atreus

[2] https://atreus.technomancy.us/i/layout-fn.svg

[3] https://atreus.technomancy.us/i/layout-bonus.svg


I understand, I've used a 40% layout (Poker II) and I liked the keyfeel and portability. I did like typing on it way more than using my laptop's keyboard. I liked everything about it except the fact that I ended up trying to use the arrow or function keys or numpad all the time for things like I used to with my larger keyboards (gamedev), get tired of mispressing them over and over, and end up going back to a full layout keyboard. (I'm typing this on a Filco Majestouch.) If I'm understanding the links correctly the Atreus doesn't even have a number row, which at least the Poker had.

Maybe I just haven't fully internalized the "you'll get used to it after some time" part yet. Maybe the "some time" part is actually around six months of continuous usage instead of about three. I'm not sure.


I think the reason for lack of f keys is a two fold:

1. It's cheaper and easier to have less switches on a board. Some people are using switches that push a dollar or more a switch. That's an extra ten bucks for keys that... most people don't use that often. It also makes it easier for board layout I imagine, but I'll admit I don't have much knowledge on creation of custom PCBs.

2. One of the things I've seen complained about with the Ergodox and the reason most of the variants (Gergo, Iris, Corne) is the same thing your friend said. The extra keys that aren't in easy reach add more hand movement. When you have a thumb cluster as a lot of these boards do adding more layers is relatively trivial. Most of these boards have software that lets you output macros as well meaning that you can essentially output key short cuts that would have used the f keys, or any other 3 plus combination of keys as just two. Germ over a Gboards has taken this concept to absurdity with the Ginny. It has ten keys and is heavily inspired by stenography style chording.

I used to be in your boat, not thinking I'd ever want something smaller then maybe a 75% or ten keyless. However I recently got a 64% keyboard that has a split space bar. I'll admit I haven't found myself missing the f keys as much as I thought I would. The closer positioning of the arrow keys has left my elbows feeling better at the end of the day. It's also close enough to a normal keyboard that even with a few substitutions (esc is now where caps lock is. Backspace is right thumb.) my muscle memory seems to be fine when switching back and forth.


Thanks for the details, that makes sense. Maybe I'm just a bit too grounded in my thought process from using full key layouts all the time. I guess this means if I'm wanting to go more ergonomic while still staying in the mechanical keyboard sphere then I really would just have to get used to macros, because having one key serve multiple purposes means needing less space for keys to be socketed, meaning less hand movement, meaning less hand strain.

Also, a lot of people seem to have macropads or separate numpads and use them for basically the exact same purpose I'm currently using the function keys for, so that could be a good compromise if I still want something like the Ergodox with a split layout.


Well they are more time consuming and expensive to build for hobbyists, but I think that the main reason is that when you get a fully programmable keyboard it enables a lot of useful features that obviate things like dedicated function keys and the number pad. Using a columnar/grid key layout the number pad is strictly obviated by a layer switch to number pad keys under the right hand, and I use the same layer on my left hand for the function keys. It's honestly a lot easier this way having F1 thru F4 on the homerow. Coupled with "sticky modifiers" so that they can be tapped instead of being held down to do things like Alt+F4 I don't have any desire to go back to dedicated function keys.

https://keeb.io/collections/sinc/products/sinc-split-stagger...

Keeb.io has a split keyboard with F keys on top, and macro keys on the left. Not a full layout with a numpad, but getting closer. I built a Quefrency by them and like it a lot.


Have you looked at the kenesis advantage? Solved my wrist problems and it has function keys.

The Kinesis does look pretty interesting, I'm doing some research on it. $349 seems a bit pricey, but at least it does have the full key layout (even if the function keys are rubber).

The Kinesis Advantage 2 does not use rubber dome switches for its function. They are cherry ml switches.

Cherry ML are terrible. I'd prefer rubber domes.

For what it's worth, I don't find the ML switches on my Advantage 2 nor the rubber domes on my Advantage 1 particularly offensive; if you are using the function keys constantly then your viewpoint might differ.

As someone who uses an advantage kinesis & dvorak, laptops & dvorak, and other people's computers & qwerty:

You get used to switching back and forth in ~2 weeks.

If you spend all your day typing, definitely spend the $ and the time to learn to type on an ergonomic keyboard with good quality switches. I think the kinesis or maltron have the best research on their ergonomics & build quality. I highly recommend them.


The Kinesis is based on sound research. The Maltrons have a lot of keys positioned in ways that add nothing to ergonomics.

Maltron also makes the claim that you can type 80 wpm with their 1 handed keyboard but there seems to be no publicly available evidence of anyone getting anywhere near that fast.

I agree its pretty easy to switch back and forth between different split keyboards and to traditional keyboards.

I use an Ergodox-EZ and a Dactyl Manuform on a daily basis for 2 different systems.


I use an Ergodox-like keyboard (Centromere v2) and am currently typing on my laptop (normal Dell keyboard). I switch between the two completely effortlessly, without thinking about it.

I can no longer type on my old Das, though, as I haven't used it ever since I got the Centromere. I would not get a wireless keyboard now, it's not very unreliable, but enough to be a slight nuisance for no benefit.


I tried to use one for months before giving up because I felt it was too big. I mostly enjoyed typing in the key wells, but I ended up getting thumb pain because of how much I had to stretch my hand in order to reach the enter/backspace/modifier keys.

What do you use now?

The Dactyl was partly modeled after the Kinesis. It has the key wells and a curved thumb cluster. Still, the thumb cluster isn't perfect and its hard for most people to reach all of the keys.

However, the Dactyl Manuform keeps the amazing key wells and has a completely redesigned thumb cluster.

Its also designed to be easily customizable. There are versions with 2,3,4,5 and 6 keys per thumb cluster. Unlike the original Dactyl, the Ergodox, and the Kinesis, I have no problems at all using all 6 keys per thumb cluster on the Dactyl Manuform. IMO its the best split keyboard unless you want to go for something smaller and use layers to gain access to more keys.

Unfortunately if you can't 3d print the case yourself and hand-wire it, its pretty expensive to acquire one. I just built mine recently and it almost instantly replaced my Ergodox-EZ as my favorite keyboard.


I ended up going with the Logitech ergonomic keyboard. It’s honestly not that different than a regular keyboard but it does the job.

Thanks for letting me know about dactyl though! For some reason that one flew under my radar. I guess I kinda gave up spending time looking for a perfect solution after I decided the Kinesis wasn’t working for me, but it looks like something that might work for me.


I realized I might have worded the above in a confusing way. You may have already understood in spite of that just in case there are 2 primary families of Dactyl keyboards, the Dactyl, and the Dactyl Manuform. The Manuform version has the better thumb cluster IMO.

The Dactyl is a beautiful piece of design and engineering, I've been thinking about getting one. What variation of Dactyl Manuform are you using, i.e. 4x6, 5x6?

I'm using the 5x6 layout. For me it seems like the fewest amount of keys (64) I can drop to without having to use layers. I pretty much only use layers for the function keys.

I just ordered a 5x6. I came to a similar conclusion. The 4x6 looks really cool, but I felt I was already pushing it in terms of the amount of change I was talking on, i.e. going from rectangle to a split, going from 75% layout to ~60%, etc. I may try out a smaller model if I really love the Dactyl and want to experiment more with layers.

Exactly this. If you have distinct work and personal computers and setups, use different keyboards and layouts for each. The learning curve takes a couple months for good proficiency, but the ability to manually switch modes at a moment's notice is an enormous boon that saves you from having to reconfigure everyone else's keyboards just to type, or making continual mistakes when doing so.

Yes, I can switch between layouts, and I don't mind doing it when it's for short periods on other people's PCs. I just draw the line at having to do it for the PCs I use regularly. I use this thing for 6-8 hours a day. Comfort and familiarity is what I want, and I want it now, with no retraining required. I may be stuck in local minimum, but I'll take that risk.

So I am just wondering why it's so hard to find a nice split keyboard with a standard layout. (And symmetrical meta keys.) It's not like this layout is unusual. That's what I find so odd about this!


I love my Kinesis Advantage, but there's definitely a learning curve that new users should expect.

I'm a recent'ish convert from the MS Natural Ergonomic after decades. I'm glad I switched.

Ortholinear layout really is better but as the marketing says, it takes a bit and is a journey.

I have missed the clustered nav keys but have also really enjoyed having them closer to standard hand placement.

The 'layering' approach makes the function keys as simple as ctrl-×.

FWIW, I'm a happy customer and you may need to read this comment accordingly. I'd suggest it might be worth trying it out. I still have my MS keyboard but never want to use it.


> I wish people would just copy the MS Natural Ergonomic 4000, but with better keyswitches.

Same, but for the Natural Keyboard Pro[1].

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_ergonomic_keyboards#...


A billion years ago (2006 or so probably), I impulse bought four or five of the Elite model all at once. Probably to save on shipping or some dumb thing, I don't remember. At the time I had gone through three of the keyboards by spilling water on them. Even a little water destroys the membranes inside, so I was like hey, I'll just stock up so I don't have to wait to order.

Then they stopped making them. I have one remaining in storage, and two in active usage. One of those (this one I'm typing on now) has a flakey 1 key. I'm really dreading the day I finally destroy it and have to find some new keyboard to replace it. Nothing I've ever seen compares to the original MS Natural Elite.


Still got it attached to my server box. Other than comfort being able to pop it in the dishwasher for deep cleaning is my fav feature.

I wouldn't mind seeing overlapping keys. Why can't TGBYHN be on _both_ sides of the keyboard...

I transitioned over to the ergo k680, and have really enjoyed it. The only keyboard I've stuck with after the MS4000

Thanks for the tip! Haven't seen this yet, and collegues complain about the MS4000's loudness when I type.

There was a slight learning curve, as things are just...a tad different, but I would not go back now.

Agreed, that keyboard minus the numeric keypad and equipped with Cherry Blue switches is basically my dream keyboard. I use a Filco Majestouch 2 and it's great but I prefer the MS keyboard's ergo layout for sure.

I've been eyeing the Ergodox-EZ for a few months and this was an instant buy for me. Lately I've been rotating between TKL keyboards and the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic, but my right wrist is still getting worse.

I looked at over a dozen split keyboard options. Seems like no matter if you build or buy, it'll cost around $300. I decided I didn't want to also buy a soldering kit and wait months for parts to arrive.

Here's a comparison site between all the known split keyboard layouts (no moonlander yet though): https://jhelvy.shinyapps.io/splitkbcompare/


Try the Kinesis Advantage, got one with red switches, I do not type faster, but it’s very comfy for my old wrists and I do not make many mistakes. Bonus, the configuration is stored as text files that shows up in a “usb drive” on the desktop.

If you're eyeing the EZ but want a more ergonomic split version and to save money, check out the Nyquist/Levinson from Keebio. I built my current keyboard for less than $120 and I love it!

Full Disclosure: - soldering the switches is required (I didn't include the price of the soldering iron or solder in the $120) - I used Gateron Brown switches which are some of the cheapest mechanical switches - I got blank DSA keycaps from Amazon(I bought special deep dish caps for the f and j keys from pimp my keyboard)


One thing I have never been able to understand about split keyboard designs is why they don't put the characters on the split ("Y/T G/H V/B/N") on _both_ sides of the keyboard. I mean, are key caps a high cost? There's a correct way to type, but it doesn't need to be so strict. Sometimes (often) the natural use of a keyboard (like holding down a control character for a sequence of keys) makes it so that we type on the wrong side because one hand is badly out of position.

This keyboard, and the Erdogox EZ I bought a month ago are reprogrammable! There's a slick web UI that can generate firmware for you so you can reflash a keyboard's firmware.

You can also download the source code of your keyboard;s layout, program it and flash it yourself. It's called QMK

Here's mine: https://configure.ergodox-ez.com/ergodox-ez/layouts/64YXl/la...

Last but not least, on this keyboard and most mechanical keyboards you have the ability to change keycaps to whatever you want.

I'm a touch typist, so i switched to blank keycaps https://pimpmykeyboard.com/dcs-blank-keysets/


But the keys in the middle are differently sized; there are two of them for the three rows of keys. You can reprogram, but you can't just add a regular "Y" key on the left and a "T" key on the right that are where they are supposed to be.

The hardware is open; you can build or modify the keys as you please. There a number of variants with different key layouts: https://deskthority.net/wiki/ErgoDox

There's basically two directions that people are going... Splits with lots of keys so you can have keys dedicated to whatever you want or going more and more minimalist.

The minimalism idea is that since these are all programmable, we can design them to require much less finger/hand movement by taking more advantage of layers, various strategies of key activation, key layouts, etc.

There's an active Discord for the whole genre of the smaller, 40% keyboards.


Yeah when I tried split keyboards I found the exact same problem. I don't touch type perfectly using the "official" method. I press B with both hands.

We can't be the only ones surely? It's such an obvious problem and they all get it wrong.


This is one of the two major issues I had with my last split keyboard. I also found that I orient myself by the edge of the keyboard, so an extra row of keys on the left side really throws me off.

This keyboard seems to solve both of those problems so I may take the plunge and buy one.


When I first bought a split keyboard, I found that I was stretching far too much to reach the "Y" key with my left hand. I'm grateful for the strict layout so that I type more ergonomically.

Also keycap set makers generally just include one of every key.


You can do that. I have 123456 on the left of my ErgoDox and 567890 on the right.

The keyboard is programmable using a visual editor or C code: https://github.com/dharmab/ergodox


The keyboard layouts are entirely customizable, so you could configure the keys to the right of T and left of Y to be the other one.

The thing i like best about ZSA, is that they are selling products. Just buy, configure with a nice web tool. No soldering, assembly or programming required to make it work.

All other Ergodox, or Ergodox alternatives, seem like much more work to get working the way you want.

Anyway, the thumb clusters were my primary annoyance with my Ergodox, so i ordered a Moonlander. I hope it works out.


For another take on thumb clusters, check out the Diverge: https://unikeyboard.io/product/diverge/

Honestly, the three-normal-buttons thumb cluster seems worse than the three-long-buttons in Moonlander. But would be nice to try it if i get the chance.

You press the key on or close to the the near edge using your thumb either way, so it really doesn't matter.

(This comment typed on an Ergodash: https://github.com/omkbd/ErgoDash It would be possible to press the key labelled with the noodle bowl using my thumb, although I'm not in the habit of doing so. I might try and make it a habit, now I think about it. The top half of the "Enter" on the right side is pointless; my keyboard has 2 small keys instead of the large one.)


Thanks for reminding me of this, really glad they're still iterating. We need more options with long-term companies and support. $393.40 shipped is too steep though, for that price I think the ergodox / moonlander is a better option.

That layout looks nice! Would be good to compare it to the Moonlander, I wish there was somewhere I could try out these different keyboards in person.

When we're out of virus times look for a mechanical keyboard meet up near you. A lot of times you'll run into a ton of people who will want nothing more then talk to you about their choice of split keyboard.

For similar ergonomic keyboards (mostly DIY), there's of course a GitHub awesome list: https://github.com/pvinis/awesome-split-keyboards.

My personal favorite is the Lily58: https://old.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/d9g3qe.... It avoids having a preposterous number of thumb keys and has a number row. And the OLEDs are a nice touch.


I recently forked the "awesome" list as it seemed a bit abandoned, but I haven't added anything to it just yet.

https://aposymbiont.github.io/awesome-split-keyboards/

(If anyone actually enjoys writing JavaScript, or can do it in their sleep, feel free to take over. I'm 95% a backend dev, so I was just aiming for something easy to maintain, ideally generated from something like a CSV file. The intention is to link to it from Reddit's /s/ErgoMechKeyboards.)


Nice visualization! I like how you added filters for all the different options. The repo I linked to is a fork of the original abandoned one; it seems to be being updated regularly (last merge 8 days ago).

This is pretty cool. I was thinking about ordering and building a dactyl manuform [1] after my latest upgrade, the kyria [2] which improved the inflammation in my index fingers, failed to truly solve my issues because they put my thumbs in a very contorted position. I love how you can rotate the thumb keys as its unnatural to have your thumbs press keys in the same direction as the rest of your fingers.

Having started with very generic ergonomic keyboards, and now progressing to hand built keyboards have taught me that if you are experiencing some sort of tendon, nerve, or joint issues from standard keyboard use, you really need to dive into the deep end and get the most ergonomic thing out there even if $300 for a keyboard, when you can buy one for under $20, sounds incredibly expensive. If you don't, you'll likely end up paying that much to just keep fixing or improving the situation. And if you don't try to fix the situation you'll pay for it in damage to your hands which to me has no monetary value* .

I might still choose to build the manuform, but it's nice that there's an option out there with adjustable thumb keys, I've never seen that before and I hope it becomes a trend in the split ergonomic keyboard world.

[1] https://tomoakley.me/article/2020/01/1-month-with-the-dactyl...

[2] https://blog.splitkb.com/blog/introducing-the-kyria

* okay, maybe there is an exact amount in terms of how much money you can no longer make through typing ability that is lost, but my point is there is an intrinsic value to having fully functional hands.


I just got a $1900 bill from my last appointment with my Hand Doctor at UCSF.

So the ~200 I spent on my custom Dactyl that has actually taken my pain from a level ~4 to near 0 is really a drop in the bucket for my health.

(+1 for the DM! I have the normal Dactyl because a thumb injury makes the cluster unusable for me, but I have plenty of friends who love the DM.)


There is this person selling assembled to order Dactyl manuforms: https://dactyl.bigcartel.com/

Can you add more details about the problems you had with the Kyria thumb positioning? Too much usage of the inward thumb keys? Angles?

Its the angle of the thumb keys, which is the restriction of printing all the keys for one hand on one board. I like the keyboard linked here because the thumb keys are at a different angle. I really like the kyria though because of the aggressive staggering. It resolved a lot of issues I got because my middle finger is so much longer than my index finger. But in order to take advantage of the stagger, I have to keep my wrists at the same angle of the plate, and if I keep my wrists at that same angle then my thumbs have to hit the keys with their side and tuck to the side of my palm like a trex because there's not as much space between the thumb and the keys. The ideal angle that the thumb bends is roughly perpendicular to the angle the rest of your fingers bend. The thumb cluster though is a fantastic improvement over pinky modifiers, that's not my complaint.

I see. Yeah, sounds like a one of the Dactyl Manuform's is in your future. :-) Given the parametric nature, it seems like you be able to tune it to your specifics.

For me, on the existing flat thumb ergos, hitting the thumb buttons with the side of the thumb actually feels normal to me in terms of thumb & wrist motion. The primary issue is the angles and arc of the splaying of the thumb to hit the keys without having to contort my thumbs any. This is my biggest issue with the Kinesis Advantage and ErgoDox.

The second biggest factor is that the tall Cherry style switches and keycaps requires a lot of travel distance for activation. One the more recent ergo boards, I've switched to lower profile switches and that makes a non-trivial improvement as well. My upcoming build is with the choc minis + low profile keycaps but with heavier springs so they feel more like the last generation of the 17" MBP keyboard (as opposed the crap that's Apple's done with their recent keys).


The Kyria...that looks like a lot of thought went into it.

And I like that you can download templates so you can print them out and find the right size.


I love my kyria, The number of keyboards the author went through before making this design in my opinion highlight all the issues he solved.

I like the idea of it, it's different enough from the standard design that it seems well thought out - but it's one of those keyboards/products I would love to be able to try for a while before committing myself to a purchase, to ensure I can get used to it and would enjoy typing on it. It'd be great to see some kinda local computer hardware/keyboard store open up for this purpose, but I guess it'd be too niche really to be profitable/popular...

That's one of the reasons I said in mu post that I'm happy that split keyboards are getting more attention.

Most of the people still don't know about them. If more people knew about the benefits they bring, problems they solve, they would be much more popular. That would bring the price down, increase the choices available, bring them closer to the users. So you could probably go to a local shop and test it.

But they would lose the exclusivity feeling they have now. Which one do you choose?


I think it would be better for the health of the population if split keyboards were less exclusive, along with different keyboard layouts like Colemak instead of most people being stuck on Qwerty which was designed to be awkward to slow down the typist to prevent typewriter jams.

Sure, it would be harder to tell who the early adopters are, in case it is any measure of skill or determination, but that's a trade-off I would be happy with - instead of being the odd ones out, we'd be pioneers setting the trend ;)


I think it's coming. More and more people are having problems caused by the position used with standard keyboards. But it will take some time to educate everyone, starting with doctors who need to keep up with 'modern health issues' caused by using the computer whole day.

Let's be philosophical: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. We'll get there.


I was in the same boat, the solution to my predicament came in the form of my friend, who is a keyboard geek and has a few tens of them. He lent me one, I liked it and bought it from him. I greatly enjoy it now and would not go back to a non-QMK keyboard (or a non-split one), though I wouldn't have gone for a columnar keyboard if I knew.

I would also have preserved the full layout, to prevent having to needlessly retrain some muscle memory, but being able to do things like remap "Tab+hjkl" to "{}[]" is fantastic.

I should actually finish writing up that post I started writing in December...


This is why I appreciate my friend who loaned me his spare Ultimate Hacking Keyboard for a couple months to help with my tendonitis. When it goes back to him, I'll probably order one myself.

I’ve found my UHK’s (three of them) to be great but prone to a few problems:

1) the rubber legs tend to fall out and go missing 2) they’re very susceptible to static electricity shocks on the exposed metal parts 3) the usb cable connector is fragile and I’d you move much, it can get damaged inside the keyboard requiring you open it up to fix. I wish they had used usb-c and put it in a better/easier location.


Hi there, thanks for your huge support, and sorry to hear about the issues!

Issue 1 has been fixed quite a while ago. We provide spare rubber feet if you need some. I'm unsure if we faced with issue 2 because your description doesn't contain many details about this one. As for issue 3, this is quite a rare one, and we'll provide a new UHK version featuring USB-C and tons of improvements.

PS: I'm the founder of the UHK. I may forget about this thread, but feel free to reach us via https://UltimateHackingKeyboard.com/


re: #2 ...

I live in a dry area, in the winter sometimes when I sit down to type a static shock will go off if I brush the edges of the case where there is exposed metal. When this happens it will often lead to the keyboard disconnecting from usb. Or staying connected (power on) but not responding to input. So far unplugging and replugging has always fixed it, but it's an annoying feature.

Re: #3 ...

Glad to hear that you're making design changes to fix this. It has happened on two of my boards now where the usb connection has become loose. I contacted support on it a few months ago and they suggested I try to open up the case and fix it. I haven't been able to do that yet but will give it a try.


This is interesting.

I have an ergodox, well two of them, and I think this does improve on the design. I read a user comment somewhere that said that the ergodox seems like the design got solidified when there were still improvements to be made, and for me that has been true.

Let's talk about some changes they made that I really like:

* The left side is the primary. If I ever want half a keyboard, I'll want just the left side. On the ergodox, the right side is the primary side.

* It's thinner. The bulkiness of the ergodox ez makes it look cheap, which it very much is not.

* The tilting of the thumb cluster might make that 3rd key accessible to me. On my ergodox, my thumbs can only operate two of the buttons.

* They tried a new layout on the thumb cluster.

Some other thoughts I have:

* I find it strange that the default layouts for both keyboards split the arrow keys. Some games use the arrows for moving the viewport, and I find split arrow keys unworkable for that.

* The rotating hinge for the thumb cluster is neat, but what about just moving them closer? The keyboardio Model 01 manages to get 5 workable thumb buttons with this. But it did sacrifice the rows beneath zxc and ,./ Maybe that is inevitable.

* The site is responsive, loaded fairly fast (550ms, which is good considering I'm on my work VPN. HN takes 250ms), and is smaller than I expected considering all the images (1.6MB).

* I find it hard to come up with uses for the fancier things the keyboard firmware can do (eg dual purpose modifier keys, space cadet shift, macros etc).

* EDIT: I have been curious if a design where the thumb buttons push inward is workable. That direction seems more suitable to the thumb. Again, I think the issue is being able to fit the buttons without affecting the keys for the fingers.

Still, I'd probably give this a try if I needed a new keyboard.


There's defiantly layouts that have been made with the thumb buttons moved in. The Iris[1] or Corne[2] for example. Though you're now in custom keyboard territory which means you're either building it yourself, or finding a person/company to assemble it for you.

[1] https://alexjj.com/images/iris-example.jpg

[2] https://alexjj.com/images/iris-example.jpg


Mhm. Mhm.

I ended up looking at the options in https://github.com/pvinis/awesome-split-keyboards based on your comment. I noticed all the ones that moved the thumb cluster in, also don't have the bottom row that the ergodox does.


The ErgoDash[1] has 7 keys along the bottom, of which either 3 or 4 are thumb keys (the 4th key can be soldered in two positions).

At least the way I set up my ErgoDash, either side can be primary. I think this is now standard.

> I find it hard to come up with uses for the fancier things the keyboard firmware can do (eg dual purpose modifier keys, space cadet shift, macros etc).

- I have[2] a simultaneous press of T and 5 set to be F5. Similarly for the whole top row.

- A short tap of my media key is "Media Next". A solid press is "Media Play/Pause". A long press is "Ctrl + Media Stop", which my media player recognizes as "Stop after current track". Something similar for the volume key.

- Enter is a thumb key, but when held down it's Ctrl.

- I have a window switching key, which holds down Alt and presses Tab, but keeps Alt held down for 0.5s in case of subsequent presses.

- I have single keys for Ctrl+PgUp and Ctrl+PgDown, which switches tabs in many applications.

[1] https://github.com/omkbd/ErgoDash

[2] http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/gists/501437fce9123e...


This doesn't feel like a big step forward, like something new and revolutionary.

It's more like an iteration of previous models, with some small tweaks and perks.

But I'm happy that split keyboard market is getting more and more attention.


Yes, I'm disappointed to see that this isn't a contoured keyboard -- still waiting for a contoured keyboard (e.g. Advantage2) with the customization of the ErgoDox without having to build it myself (e.g. Dactyl Manuform).

This. After using Advantage2 for 10ish years I can't really go back to a flat keyboard. I liked my Keyboardio Model 1 but the Advantage2 is just more comfortable.

I love the idea of customization but the flatness has me looking at all these as non-starters.


I hate to add to the Advantage2 fan club, but Kinesis absolutely knocked it out of the park in terms of ergonomics. Makes constant typing ridiculously comfortable.

How does the customizability of the Advantage2 compare to the Ergodox EZ?

Nowhere close.

There are DIY mods that people have done to be able to run e.q., QMK as well as make them bluetooth.

My impression is that people who really want the concave keywells are building variations of the Dactyl Manuform.


Thanks for the info! I'll take a closer look at the Dactyl, although at first glance it doesn't look very stable.

Skip to original Dactyl and look at the configurability/customizability of the Dactyl Manuforms.

Personally, after using the Kinesis Advantage for many years, I'm going a different direction... fewer keys, lower profile, etc. E.g., Corne, Kyria, Ferris.


Do you only use the Advantage at home/work? I.e., what do you do when you're traveling (or just using your laptop away from you desk)?

I don't bother traveling with the Advantage2 at all... it's a bit too big to do that comfortably.

I find it pretty easy to switch between laptop keyboard and Advantage2, so no problems there. So the Advantage2 remains on my desk while I just use my laptop's keyboard for meetings/on-the-go. I think the layouts are so different, my brain processes them separately.


Indeed. I started with the original Advantage a long time ago. After getting used to it, switching back and forth with the laptop keyboards doesn't scramble my brain.

But making the jump to the modern, smaller splits + multiple layers, etc. is another huge jump in ergonomics... and they are portable enough to travel with.


I also use an Advantage which covers probably 80% of my computer use. I have no problem switching between it and other keyboards. If I'm on my laptop in the living room or away from home, I'll use the built in keyboard. If I'm gaming, I use a Kinesis Gaming keyboard.

Not OP but I just just use my Advantage at Home/Work (currently the same thing) and the Mac keyboard if I'm mobile. I tend not to do much heavy coding if I'm not at my desk due to the reduced screen size. If I had one of the newer Macs with the crappy keyboard I'm not sure what I would do. This hasn't been an issue since every work Mac since 2015 has been a the old style keyboard for some reason.

Neat! If you're interested in this kind of thing, I recommend also checking out the Kinesis Advantage.

I used a Kinesis Advantage for a few years before switching to the Kinesis Freestyle Edge RGB.

My main complaint about the Advantage is that I kept hitting the arrow buttons in the bottom row unintentionally. Partly poor typing form, I'm sure, and of course I could have remapped them.

The other thing is that the Advantage is tall, so it's not great up on a desk, and it's not that comfortable on your lap. I think it's best in a tray, although some trays may not be tall enough for it.

As for the Freestyle, I like the split design, the customizable layout, and the customizable lighting (I have a different color for QWERTY and Dvorak). Add a couple of USB ports, and it would be nearly perfect. The "6" key is on the wrong half, and I might experiment with a layout that isn't staggered typewriter style.

I do tend to fidget with the position of the Freestyle throughout the day. This is another keyboard that might work better in a tray.

I don't know if I'd call this Moonlander "next generation," but it's an intriguing combination of what I like in the Advantage and Freestyle.


I have an advantage as well, and I've never accidentally hit the arrow keys or any other keys to be honest. How are you doing so? They're in a pretty out of the way location if you let your hands rest on the home row.

The Kinesis Advantage is the gold standard here. Have been using Kinesis keyboards for many years.

Kinesis could of course have gone with an ortholinear layout but they didn't because the layout they chose much better maps to the actual geometry of the hand. Yes, it takes a few hours to learn to adapt, typically spread out over a couple days, but no that's not difficult and no it doesn't impact your ability to jump over to a normal keyboard.

100% stop to serious repetitive stress injury problems I had been experiencing with other keyboards, fully programmable layout, and a great high grade mechanical design that's lasted a decade or more without complaint.


YES YES YES.

I've had an Advantage as my daily driver for 14 years. I've only ever had to replace the rest pads.

It's a fantastic and VERY VERY comfortable keyboard, but you do have a little bit of a learning curve due to the unusual layout.

It's also wired and has no backlight, but simple is sometimes better.


Yes, I love my Kinesis.

Looks line ZSA is borrowing Kinesis's idea of putting a number of special keys into a "thumb-bar". Not sure if Kinesis actually invented that idea, but I think they were the first to bring it to market.

And yes, the Moonlander looks very interesting!


I believe Maltron did it first and Kinesis stole the idea from them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltron

Maltron keyboards are excellent but expensive and hard to source, particularly outside of the UK.


I've had both and the kinesis def feels more solid. The Maltron probably came up with the original design, and they're great for that, but the keys of the Kinesis feel better/sturdier. I've had to resolder connections in the Maltron several times; luckily its easy to do... they're just unshielded wires going everywhere!

Kinesis Freestyle Pro is more similar, except for the ortholinear layout.

I switched to an Ergodox EZ from a Kinesis Freestyle 2 bluetooth. It basically took me a month to get used to an ortholinear layout, but it's been working great so far

I had a slightly different experience. I don't like Bluetooth (too much fiddliness, especially when batteries are running low, and I'm always at my desk so I could just use a cable), and I don't like the ortholinear layout, I think it's too much hassle for no benefit at all.

I recently bought and Ergodox-EZ, after previously getting my first mechanical keyboard (the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard, which I love).

I'm not a huge fan of it. So far, it seems like it's been a lot of work relearning habits, for little gain.

But oddly enough, my biggest gripe with the Ergodox isn't something I've heard people complain about - the lack of an extra column of keys on the right part. Basically, on a normal keyboard, to the right of the "l" key, you've got another 3 keys - a ;, a ', and the enter key. They're all pretty important.

But on the Ergodox, you only have 2 more keys. Meaning you either have to move the return key to somewhere else, or move the "'" key somewhere else. Both of them break tons of muscle memory, and for no real benefit IMO.

In addition, the lack of that extra column means that symbols like [], like -=, etc can't be in their regular locations. Obviously, as a programmer, these are all keys I use a lot.

I don't know that much about mechanical keyboards, but I really don't get why this choice was made. It seems like a completely self-own here, making it so much harder to get used to this keyboard.


Those far keys are usually triggered by your weakest fingers -- return, for example, is triggered via your pinky and can often require you to stretch your pinky (and ulnar nerve) in unergonomic ways, leading to Cubital Tunnel Syndrome.

I find that a good introductory layout to this kind of keyboard is the Kinesis Advantage 2 [1]. As you can see a bunch of common keypresses usually delegated to the pinkies have been set on the thumb clusters. On my Ergodox, I also have symbols layers that allow you to reach common symbols without moving my fingers significantly from the home row. It definitely takes an adjustment period but my RSI definitely thinks its worth it!

[1] http://xahlee.info/kbd/kinesis_keyboard_howto.html


This is exactly why I love my Ergodox. My biggest hand issue was pinky pain, and with the ergodox I've moved basically all of the 'stretch' pinky keys to thumb/index finger. In particular moving backspace/enter/ctrl to the thumb cluster makes me feel like I can never use a keyboard without one again. It's completely eliminated pinky pain on both of my hands.

As somebody who really enjoys the enter key position, I've found I struggle to go back to standard layouts. Having a thumb cluster with more important keys makes far more sense than having thumbs that effectively only press spacebar or cmd/super. The keyboard wasn't designed with programmers in mind, or web browsers. Ergonomically, moving a few keys around makes sense, even at the expense of a bit of muscle memory.

For what it's worth, you'll eventually have complete muscle memory and be able to switch back and forth without even thinking. It's liberating to try out different layouts and see what ends up making sense for you over time.


I also currently use (and love) the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard. How well does the thumb cluster work on the EZ?

That's what most people complain about, and rightly so in my opinion - it has 1/2 useable keys, the others can be used but you have to reposition your hand.

The columnar layout thesis ("your fingers move vertically, not horizontally!") is wrong. Your fingers can move both vertically and horizontally, but moving them vertically requires tensioning and releasing the tendons that travel through the carpal tunnel, while moving them from side to side does not. It's the exact opposite of what you want to be doing if you have wrist RSI.

I got partway through an Ergodox build before realizing this and will probably never use this thing.


> It's the exact opposite of what you want to be doing if you have wrist RSI.

Do you have a reference for this? I don't have it but use ergonomic tools to avoid such in the long term.


I switched to a columnar layout split QMK keyboard a few months ago. The columnar layout was easily the worst decision, it took me months to learn to be fast on it again, for basically zero benefit. Yes, I was typing "wrong", but who defines what's right when it works fine for me?

I would definitely recommend getting a QMK split keyboard with extra keys, I love mine, but I would advise that people get a staggered one to avoid having to learn to type again from scratch.


Well, from personal experience, normal keyboards give me wrist pain, even mechanical ones, while the ergodox does not. Obviously everyone is different and the movements that cause me pain may be comfortable for you, but it's not right to say that the columnar layout is inherently flawed. If it were cheaper, I would advise you to try for yourself and see, but as it stands if a normal keyboard works for you, there is probably no reason for you to switch.

I don't understand what you are saying. It seems to me that the finger tips have to move both horizontally and vertically regardless of the layout.

I badly want this, but with Topre keys. I have a couple of Topre FC660Cs and absolutely love the feel, durability and quality of the keyboard. A split would be really nice though.

I'm with you. I have the FC660C. Loved the feel and sound, but the tiny form caused my RSI, which prompted me to buy an ErgoDox EZ. Had to go back to Cherry switches, but I would love some CYO Topre switches to throw in there. I wish there was a bigger market for CYO switches, but I haven't found anywhere to get them.

CYO meaning choose your own?

I wouldn't hold my breath on the Topre front, the company is notoriously conservative in their offerings. They're also not mechanical switches; there's really no way to offer hotswap Topre switches. But there is a whole world out there other than Topre and Cherry. And you can swap them out easily since you have an ergodox ez. You can buy mechanical switches from several hobby sites like https://novelkeys.xyz/collections/switches, it's pretty much plug and play


Already had somwthing like this. The wires made it useless for me.

I never understood the appeal of wireless keyboards. Sure I understand for mobile but for a primary workspace the wire has never bothered me on the keyboard. I mean it just sits there and replacing batteries is a pain. Mouse is a different story since it moves. Is it just mobile or is there some other reason you hate wires on a keyboard?

2 reasons why wired keyboards are annoying:

  1. Aesthetics; the wire looks ugly on an otherwise clean desk
  2. The wire takes up space that could be used for a notebook, coffee cup, mobile phone or whatever
I've had wireless keyboards at home and wired at work for years - wireless is much better IMO. On the batteries, they seem to last a very long time - I guess I change them once a year, or possibly 18 months, and that's with me using it all day, and then someone else often using it for a bit in the evening too.

Yeah, the wire between the two doesn't look that long. I wonder if it's a portable connector. From the bottom picture, it kind of looks like a headphone jack, but I'm doubting that's the case. I wish they'd have mentioned the connector type to see if there are alternative cables available.

As it is, it seems too short to comfortably have each half to my sides when laying down.


It's probably a standard headphone jack like the one on my Ergodox EZ. The cable is removable

The Ergodox EZ actually uses a four-connector TRRS connector, not the three-connector TRS connector you use for ordinary stereo headphones.

Hyper is Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Win/Cmd, while Meh is Ctrl+Shift+Alt. No sane application on your machine uses these, which means you get free system-wide shortcuts.

Ugh I wish Illustrator would let me use these, it only lets me assign shortcuts to cmd, cmd-shift, cmd-alt, and cmd-alt-shift. I would be so happy if I could add ctrl I to the mix, I have about thirty keypresses left unassigned and they are all kind of terrible choices.

I guess this means my setup is insane. I’m fine with that.


What OS do you use? Could you use something like Karabiner on OSX, I'm not an expert but I think it allows you to map arbitrary key combinations to other key combinations that the program will accept

I'm on OSX and am already using Karabiner to remap capslock to cmd-alt-shift and fn to cmd-alt! The problem is that Illustrator only has so many key combinations I can set up, and I have all but thirty of them allocated.

I suppose I could do something terrible like have Quicksilver grab shortcuts that involved control and make it press menu items for me, I already have a couple of keypresses that invoke scripts to make AI do things that way, but that has complications like "now my key shortcuts are managed in two places" and "some of these shortcuts don't show up in the menus, which makes things complicated when I am doing a less-frequently-used shortcut".

(Now that I think about it I could maybe solve the second issue with OSX's keyboard shortcuts settings... oh, nope, "you cannot add keyboard shortcuts for the application Adobe Illustrator 2020". Also I'd have to remake them every time there was an update that changed the name.)


But you can already map the keyboard's keys to anything you want, no need to map twice.

Unfortunatley, I believe it's a mistake to move away from the 1.5u outer column used by the ErgoDox, since the pinky is a less accurate finger and benefits from the extra key width.

There isn't anything this does that the ErgoDox-EZ doesn't do, besides the adjustable thumb cluster and apparent build quality.

I wouldn't call this a next-generation ergonomic keyboard unless it also had integrated pointing device options like the UHK has.


My take after building my own fully-custom board is that the best ergonomics is had by ditching the outer column entirely to completely remove pinky reaching.

The thumb clusters need to be bigger and closer to the alphas so they're more powerful and more easily reached.

My board: https://flic.kr/p/LJdbeC


You are a legend, sir! I recall this being posted to reddit years back. I upvoted it then, and do so again now.

I started out with an Atreus42 in 2016 and really loved it, so I totally get that outer columns are superfluous in most circumstances. The same could be said about most extra features on this ZSA Moonlander board overall, although I think there's some utility in being able to leverage the non-essential keys when it's convenient, especially when it costs that much. Say for example one wants to use it for gaming - most games expect there to be an outer column.

(Shameless plug) Here's my keymap. It doesn't require outer columns, and needs just 34 keys: https://github.com/1MachineElf/qmk_firmware/tree/sb4dv/planc...


The main critique about the ErgoDox-EZ was always the thumb cluster. This one seems a bit better designed, but can't tell from the pics if they solved that particular issue - I suspect not. Agree about the pinky column, not an improvement.

I like the visuals of the ErgoDox-EZ the most, but still willing to wait for the new keyboard.io, whenever that one comes out.


I recently built a Dactyl Manuform and thought the same thing with the 1.5u outer columns.

For me, at least, it's not a big win. I'm mostly touching the inner edge of the key because my pinkies aren't that laterally flexible.

I like a lot of tilt and low to the desk, and that extra 0.5u of width ends up raising the whole thing more than it needs to.

I have large hands and the ErgoDox thumb cluster is just too damn far away. Bringing it within reach is a meaningful improvement.


As split keyboards go, there's a lot of different ones developed by the semi-pro community. Like for example Quefrency (https://www.reddit.com/r/MechanicalKeyboards/comments/9jl46t...)

Looks interesting. I think the Keyboardio Model 01 (or its successor) appears to be higher quality (an perhaps ergonomics) for slightly less money.

Is there a similar keyboard in the $100 range? I do not need changeable keyswitches or an ARM processor in my keyboard. Currently I have the Microsoft natural ergonomic keyboard 4000 and I am quite happy with that. I just do not need a num block and think a split keyboard is easier for travelling. Are there any good split keyboards with hand rests in the $100 range?

The Kinesis Freestyle 2 [A] with the VIP3 Tenting Accessory[B] (for wrist rests and tenting) will run you $125 on Amazon.

It's got two independent halves that you can angle how you want, and put at actual shoulder width apart. It lacks the ortholinear layout, mechanical switches, and programmability of the Moonlander.

I went from the MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 (which I used for years and loved) to the Freestyle Pro (same layout, but with mechanical switches and programmability) and it made a huge difference in my posture and shoulder tension.

It definitely takes up less space than the MS 4000, but it's still two pretty bulky halves that don't pack up to travel particularly easily.

[A] https://kinesis-ergo.com/shop/freestyle2-for-pc-us/ [B] https://kinesis-ergo.com/shop/freestyle2-vip3-accessory/


Try the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic, $60, works well and looks nice, but not mechanical.

You do need an ARM processor, though. It's fantastic to be able to remap the keys to anything you like. I didn't think I'd need it until I tried it, but now I can't live without it.

I wonder if you could put an Arduino into the MS Sculpt and get the best of both worlds. Or maybe you could make an Arduino with a USB port and just have it remap keys on the fly.


There is such a device. Hasu's USB-USB converter works with qmk/tmk and will work with (almost) any keyboard.

https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=69169.0

https://www.1upkeyboards.com/shop/controllers/usb-to-usb-con...


That looks great, thanks!

Ah this is really cool, quite similar to a keyboard I’m designing - https://imgur.com/a/z31Zfoa - haven’t designed a case yet.

They have taken an interesting approach with thumb cluster, single key on farend and 3 on near end of thumb. I did the opposite of that, on account of thumb being not that flexible in bent position.

Over the years my daily driver has been kinesis advantage2. I tried ergodox but really disliked thumbcluster placement and additional middle keys. I made a keeb.io Nyqist recently and got a few pcbs printed for Redox, need to build that out.

It is really hard to go back to non-split keyboards after using split for a while, and kinesis advantage is still the gold standard imo, concave keywell alone is the reason to spend north of $350 on it.


I appreciate that there is a market for ergonomic fancy keyboards, but can't we just get the standard keyboard right?

I wish that there was a keyboard company out there that focused on standard keyboards with attention paid to supporting all locales. Choice for the US consumer might be great but elsewhere in the English speaking world you start getting compromises. Essentially you can get a US keyboard with a few of the keycaps moved around. What you actually want is more than that, things like a double height enter key.

I dread to think what keyboard layout crimes go on outside the English speaking world.

Now, tenkeyless. Having the number pad is great if you do a lot of book-keeping but for most people it is not needed. If you are left handed then it makes as much sense as a fish with a bicycle.

But getting to know the jargon - 'tenkeyless' and 'tkl' is a journey in itself. If you are using your keyoboard to type words then you do want the keys for navigation - Page Up, Page Down, Home, End, Delete - plus the arrow keys. But mini keyboards just mess with the layout to maybe give you half the standard keys in non-standard places.

So, effectively 'tkl' plus a non-US locale means you are going to have a limited choice.

Now let's put in a few other common requirements - backlighting, wireless and wired operation, coffee proofing and silent operation. You can't get all these things with a non US locale and a 'tkl' keyboard. Sure there are many switch variants and fancy LED lighting schemes with ghastly keycap designs, but if you just want standard layout then it isn't going to happen.

It is sad to see Logitech, Microsoft and others offer us compromised designs that cost either a pittance of serious money. Why can't there just be a manufacturer that goes for the niche of standard ISO rather than ergonomic, or with too few keys, or with some emphasis on buckling spring style feel?


> Why can't there just be a manufacturer that goes for the niche of standard ISO rather than ergonomic, or with too few keys, or with some emphasis on buckling spring style feel?

Those features are what the mass consumer market wants. Also, I'm sure Logitech and Microsoft have always offered a standard ISO keyboard.

> Ergonomic

People value the long-term health of their wrists.

> Too few keys

Usually to reduce desk space. In the case of the Planck, it's also to reduce finger travel.

> Emphasis on key feel

If I'm typing at my job all day, I want the thousands of keypresses I do to feel good.

> niche of standard ISO

Honestly, I think standard ISO/ANSI is awful -- the vast amount of design decisions are a relic of the typewriter age.

The rows are staggered because typewriter keyboards had physical vertical bars under the keys that would otherwise overlap. An ortholinear solution makes much more sense in the modern age.

The second most-used key, backspace, is positioned in the far right corner of the keyboard. One must move their entire right hand (or have a long pinky) to hit it. The spacebar, on the other hand, is wasted real estate because it completely occupies two of the strongest digits -- the thumbs. Thus, a better solution would be to split the spacebar with one half being backspace.

This isn't even going into the nightmare that is QWERTY. Regardless of keyboard, almost everyone is using an inefficient layout designed to place common keys away from each other.

Conclusion: just because it's standard doesn't mean it's the best choice. IMO, when it comes to keyboard layouts, the standard is the worst choice.


The ISO layouts for the UK have a two-row enter key.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_and_American_keyboards

US keyboards don't. There is a backslash key above the single row enter key. Which is a key I have no real great use for. Maybe it rocked in the MS-DOS days but backslash doesn't really need that priority place.

So look at the Logitech keyboards for the UK. They offer one model with the true layout, i.e. a double height enter key. The rest have some US keys with UK labels on.

Now look at Microsoft. Again there is some massive backslash key instead of an ISO UK keyboard in all its glory.

What happens is that they take the US board and change a few of the key caps. They do not go to the effort of doing it properly.

There are other layouts, for example, German, that should have the big enter key.

Standards might not be optimal solutions. But at least you know where you are. You know what to expect. But with keyboards nobody sticks to the standards. If you look at the Logitech ones for instance they all have different fudges, such as arrow keys mangled together differently, just enough to trip you up if swapping between Logitech keyboards. Then things like rounding off the corner keys including escape. They do these awful design decisions on far too many of their keyboards.

The tenkeyless requirement is reasonable, laptops don't tend to have the num-pad. But is there a tkl keyboard out there with a standard ISO layout? Not if you combine that feature with wireless or a desire for backlighting. Nevermind switch choice.

Some people struggle with an Apple keypad due to the different modifier keys. God help anyone having to press a few keys on any of the ZSA boards. Might as well learn Dvorak keyboards. Or go all the way with a chord keyboard. QWERTY works and we all know it is not the best. But standards are not kept to when you move out of the US layout.


Take a look at Durgod Taurus K320 TKL ISO UK version - classic look, Cherry MX brown switches.

For the real classic look, I just had to replace the 2 oddly colored keycaps (provided in the box).


That is a gorgeous keyboard. Perfect in every way except for the dealbreaker...

The dealbreaker for me is the connectivity. A keyboard should be able to connect over a wire (and/or a wireless dongle), Bluetooth 3, Bluetooth 5 and telepathy.

A £10 mouse can connect with a dongle that is stored inside the mouse, or via BT 3/5. There are chips for this.

I might have to send an email in block caps to Durgod with my demands, since their products are so nice, down to the keycaps labels.

Thanks for the tip.


Why bother with one standardized keyboard for all locales? What's wrong with different regions having their own?

I am at the point where I like to move my fingers minimally and with very low force required. I have an Apple wireless keyboard and I love the switches. Even my 2018 15" MBP is great.

I also desperately need a split keyboard. But these are dealbreakers:

* Requires me to learn a different finger pattern than the Apple keyboard (even ones with the Fn where "the control should be" are a problem for my muscle memory). I use the MBP too.

* Requires a lot of vertical movement, i.e. big deeply depressed keys

* Tall keys that require my wrists to hold my fingers in the air, or for my wrists to lay on supports which put all the weight on my wrists instead of my arms.

I have a Kenesis Freestyle for Mac, and I don't use it for these reasons, even though it relaxes my wrists rotation around the vertical axis.


I don't know of one that exactly fits your constraints. But there are so many and more being created all the time. Trying asking on https://www.reddit.com/r/ErgoMechKeyboards/

In terms of the tall versus short keys... Look for one that you can get/build with either Kailh low profile "chocs" or their even lower profile "choc mini" switches. The "linear" versions will be most like the feel of the Apple keyboards.


Anybody else thought this is about a spacecraft when they saw the first two words of the title? For a moment I thought ZSA referred to some little-known space agency. Maybe Zambia or Zimbabwe Space Agency.

My wrists ache badly if I type too much, despite all the adjustments I’ve made over the years.

I’m currently using an Apple wired keyboard angled so the front edge is higher, with my hands floating above it or sitting on silicon rests.

I also use Filco tenkeyless mechanical keyboards - one with blue and one with brown switches. I prefer the feel of these and make fewer mistakes, but I’m convinced they make my wrists worse.

I think the next options for me to try are split, tenting and staggered columns.

Is there a chance of trying these out without spending this kind of money? I don’t think I’m up to the task of soldering switches, unfortunately.


Depending on the number of rows and columns you want there is quite a cottage industry of ergo keyboards.

I think the main ergo flat keyboard (staggered columns) with 3 rows 6 columns are the Gergo / Kyria / Corne depending on the number and placement of thumb keys (they can be found assembled to order).

For 3d / sculpted keyboards, this person is selling assembled to order Dactyl manuforms: https://dactyl.bigcartel.com/

A good reference for flat boards is https://jhelvy.shinyapps.io/splitkbcompare/

via https://www.reddit.com/r/ErgoMechKeyboards/comments/f5h3d6/s...

Then for the sculpted keyboards, mostly the Dactyl/ Dactyl Manuform families there are a bunch of vendors. The cheapest one is in the first link. Otherwise one guy is currently selling some of his split on reddit's mechmarket.


Brilliant thanks! That top link looks like it might be exactly what I was hoping to be able to buy

Might not be the right time of^W^W year for this, but at hacker events like CCC there are always "bring your keyboard" type of events where you can play around with many different variants.

if you want to demo a split keyboard you could plug two keyboards in and put one hand on each

That’s an amazing idea!

If anyone is interested in building their own split ergo:

https://blog.splitkb.com/blog/introducing-the-kyria


I think the Kyria would be perfect for me if it had individual RGB backlit keys. I love the idea of the rotary encoders.

Very interesting design. The page could really use a video of someone using it.

Why do split keyboards charge a premium? Microsoft makes contoured keybords for 100usd. In India great quality mech keyboards costs $40, you bang it all day on games and it lasts.

I can pay for innovation but this style is old


There are only a couple competitors that are split, ortholinear, and mechanical (ergodox and some small custom others). They all charge over $300 afaik. You can get decent split/standard/membrane keyboards for $80-120 from goldtouch or kinesis.

Lower volume (also quality is bottomless hole, I know people that own PVD coating equipment because they find that the kind of finish taht you can buy isn't good enough). I have built myself a couple of Nyquist ortho splits and with my even lower volume I spent even more despite providing the labor and part of the design work.

Economies of scale. I bet Microsoft sells more Sculpts in a month than ZSA does in a year. Plus microsoft can make slim margins on their keyboard and make it up elsewhere; ZSA just sells keyboards and related accessories.

Stop making split keyboards! You don't need 2 separate pieces; all you really need are slightly angled keys away from the center. See the Truly Ergonomic keyboard[1] for example.

That layout also has the advantage of being a design you could use for a laptop, if only manufacturers put actual effort into their laptop keyboards.

[1]: https://trulyergonomic.com/ergonomic-keyboards/


There's room in the world for both designs; it's not really a zero sum game (unless you consider that people designing truly split keyboards would otherwise spend their time designing angled keyboards). Split keyboards can help accommodate people with different body types from yourself. I have a Kinesis Advantage 2 and it is ever so slightly too narrow for what i'd prefer for comfort with regards to my shoulders. When a keyboard is truly split you can adjust each side to be placed where it is best for you.

> all you really need are slightly angled keys away from the center.

Citation needed. What if I don't like the angle TECK chose? Laptops for sure should start slightly angling, but if the unit is separate from the computer, why rant against user choice?


Keyboards should be truly split for two reasons: a) different people need the spacing between the sides to be different. Ideally, based on the length of your shoulders. b) some people, like me, like to put our pointing device (mouse) in-between the two halves

Split keyboards are really popular amongst the Japanese mechanical keyboard scene for some reason. Tons of people making and selling DIY split / ortholinear split kits.

I think this has historical roots in the japanese [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRON_project from the eighties which also had something like these [2] http://xahlee.info/kbd/TRON_keyboard.html

And from Sci-Fi Anime from the time, and afterwards.

This was their [3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifth_generation_computer project, and those keyboards belonged to it. So that concept has been in the air from then on, at least.


Sounds interesting, do you have some links?

There isn't a great single resource I can point to, but try the twitter account Yusha Kobo[0], which is a keyboard shop in Tokyo. Not just their posts, but if you look at the feeds or likes of people they retweet, you should be able to find a bunch of examples.

[0] https://twitter.com/yushakobo


I've had the EZ for a while now and my only gripe has been how much of a pain it is to travel with. The folding and carrying case made this an instant buy for me.

Is there any science when it comes to ergonomy and tall keys? I would expect tall keys to be more damaging to wrists over time due to awkward position and longer travel time.

Most of stress injury derives from the "time under tension" component which is not necessarily a matter of key travel distance. In this case it's a combination of switch mechanism and keycaps. Flat and light keycaps have less force at rest than tall, heavy keycaps. A higher resting force means the needed activation force is lower. In both cases, the switch is governing how much force is needed in total, and whether there's a "tactile bump" indicating activation before the switch bottoms out completely.

When the switch bottoms out, it's like your fingers have hit a wall: this is the norm with most membrane switch designs, and with linear mechanical switches, which are usually light. With tactile and clicky switches, the concept is to reduce bottoming out by indicating the activation with heavier force partway through the downstroke. A pairing of heavy keycaps and heavy tactile switches is often considered satisfying for typists because then the heft of the switch has been balanced out; a light tap will fling the key down past the tactile bump and spring it up without the same degree of muscle activation as a linear switch. And it is possible to have "too heavy" keycaps for the switch, which simply won't work(always activated).

With the key height, as well, what will matter is tension at rest, which will depend on overall posture. In theory you move the keyboard down if the keys are taller.


I learned that the proper way to type is with your hands floating above the keyboard, and resting your hands on a wrist rest when not typing. I don't always do it, but when I do, the height of the keyboard relative to the table becomes irrelevant, instead it's more about height of keys relative to my shoulders and maintaining right angled elbows.

Also, to me the Moonlander keyboard and its keycaps do not seem particularly tall.


I use a wrist rest as well.

It's hard to get a good wrist rest - they seem to last for a month or a year on amazon, and when I want to re-order, they are unavailable.

I have a memory foam one about 3-4" deep and the width of the keyboard. It is soft enough, lifts and supports my wrists and keeps them warm.

I think the wrist support on this moonlander keyboard is a good idea, but making it out of cold, hard plastic does not make it look comfortable.


I find gel wrist rest better. It has less give while still feeling soft to my wrists.

I used to use a gel wrist rest but the one I bought disappeared. I tried a plain foam one (glorious gaming), but it was too hard.

Be careful using wrist rests. The pressure can cause the carpal tunnel on the underside of your wrist to compress, increasing the friction on the tendons running through the tunnel and exacerbating or causing carpal tunnel syndrome. It's much much better to train your muscles and posture to keep your wrists from resting on a surface while you type.

I don’t know any science off the top of my head, but professional stenographers generally prefer low profile keys and short key caps. As someone who is recovering from RSI, short keys and light switches have been a god send.

When I see this I am really looking forward to just talking to my computer like to a real person :P

Keyboards are nice and in many cases a far superior input interface compared to a mouse/touchpad but in my opinion it is just a stepping stone towards "the real deal".

After voice interface there will be thought interfaces and then we can be productive if the hardware, apps and os-es are good enough.


My take:

- It's basically Ergodox EZ for the main part, from the same company.

- The thumb block is more comfortable now, but 2 keys smaller.

- The position of wrist pad is adjustable.

- Backlight, legs, and wrist pads are included in the base set.

- The price of the whole thing is about the same as of Ergodox EZ in a minimal set, without backlight and wrist pads.

Still not barrel-shaped as e.g. Kinesis Advantage; you can put the parts quite far aside, though.

Looks like a buy if you were planning to buy a mechanical ergonomic keyboard.


I've been working on redesigning one of my own. https://gitlab.com/EllisGL/glt-esokb1/-/tree/development

I do plan on making a normal staggered version of this, along with the other 40% in both normal and staggered columnar.


I highly recommend the kinesis freestyle edge keyboard which costs around $200 but has roughly all the same features besides the thumb module.

I also highly recommend a split keyboard in general: my shoulder issues are noticeably better when using them.

A split keyboard may not help with wrist pain. Personally I was able to get rid of any wrist pain by strengthening through climbing.


I'm not sure if I agree with the Freestyle being an equivalent alternative. The Freestyle uses a traditional row-staggered layout while this keyboard uses a column-staggered layout. A column-staggered layout IMO is much more comfortable since your fingers are given their own dedicated column without having to awkwardly twist your wrist.

I agree this might be significantly better for some. The tenting is probably also better than the Freestyle Edge (which has only a couple settings).

If someone wants a first split keyboard though I think the Freestyle Edge is a much better starting point given the price difference and the fact that the non-letter/number keys don't have normal placements on the Moonlander.

Personally I tried the ErgoDox EZ and had to return it because it damaged my productivity since it doesn't support just using a normal keyboard layout. With a closer look this keyboard seems fundamentally the same actually so I wouldn't recommend considering to try it unless you use a keyboard all day long and even then be prepared to return it if it doesn't work out. The Freestyle Edge on the other hand is a sure bet.


Has anyone come across an ergo keyboard like this that has a mouse roller on the thumb pad? I think my arms would appreciate a way to interact with the mouse without moving my hands away from the keys.

I'm using a Kinesis Advantage2 right now, but I still need to move my hand to get to the touchpad.


The Kyria keyboard has sockets for rotary encoders on it, but that's more like a scroll wheel than a trackball. I've seen some folks hack them so that they can use Playstation style joysticks or thumb trackballs instead.


Next-generation? What separates this from Ergodox or Keyboardio? And all of the above seem to be a step backwards from the Maltron and Kinesis Advantage which have been around for decades. Dactyl and the like are the only ergo keyboards I might label "next-generation."

a serious problem with these exotic keyboards is, you need two. They're too big to take with you to work.

I would not have coped well if not for Covid-19. When I am at the office im just there for meetings, because getting things done now on a normal keyboard is frustrating.

But really, my shoulder pain is so much less, it's ultimately relaxed being able to work both arms on shoulder width. Ban the mouse as well, and no more arm-swinging.


At that price it's in competition with fully contoured (i.e. not flat) mechanical keyboards.

Yeah. It Looks cool, some nice features. But splits with most of these features can be had for $150 or less, so I don't really see the appeal of spending 200 more without a commensurate doubling of functionality, ergonomics, etc.

can you provide some examples?

If it's built as well as my Ergo from them. I look forward too it. They make some very refined and well thought out implementations of otherwise obvious keyboards. And they're open source firmware support is amazing.

It still doesn't compare to a Kinesis Advantage 2 [1].

It’s concave!

[1]: https://kinesis-ergo.com/shop/advantage2/


Woof that thing is huge.

If it was 150Eur I'd go for it, 300+ is beyond my keyboard budget.

Is there something like this that is wireless between the two halves? Split ergo keyboards look really neat, but like to keep my desk as clean looking as possible.

No video of someone using it, at speed? Seems a bit sketchy.

I mean, it's a keyboard. Are you expecting the flux capacitor to get backed up and thrash the alluvial dampers or something?

Why does it need to contain an actual ARM processor?

Need to? It doesn't. Why might users care? Well, the kinds of people who are into custom keyboards often use custom firmware too... while this keyboard advertises QMK support, if I don't like QMK and want to use something else, which chips are inside matters.

Making this even more concrete, I am in the market for some new keyboards, and at least one of them is one I'd like to write my own firmware for. Rust is far more supported on ARM chips than on some of the other popular chips that are used to build keyboards, and so knowing this has one makes me more likely to buy it than others. I don't want this specific keyboard, so it isn't a win for me, but there are surely dozens of folks like me, dozens!


I think OP meant "Why does this keyboard need so much computing power". Most keyboards you can program use an AVR chip, which is more than enough, and you can also program that from Rust.

The jump from that to this ARMv5 CPU is similar to that from this ARMv5 to an Intel Xeon. And sure enough, if someone were to build a keyboard with an Intel Xeon, you could also program that from Rust. But the question still remains: why would anybody do that ?


So, this is 100% speculation, but....

Specifically, this has a STM32F303xC. Looks like (depending on quantity, of course), you're looking at $3 to $5. Their other well-known keyboard, the Ergodox EZ, uses an ATMEGA32U4-AU. It's also $3 or $4 on Mouser. I don't know what the actual BOM looks like in total, but it seems like this isn't significantly different in price? Especially at the likely volumes here?

I'm still new to this game, so maybe I'm missing something.


Thanks, this is an interesting discussion. I thought the arms would be much more expensive: https://www.reddit.com/r/olkb/comments/6wt6mi/evaluating_mcu...

Nice, thanks for that link!

EDIT: oops, you edited substantially from when I replied with what's below.

------------

That's correct, yes. I guess I didn't say that explicitly, but that's another decent reason to advertise this, it's not exactly the norm.

(And for my personal quest, the latest Rust nightlies do work on AVR!)


Actually, there are people who have already written firmware in Rust for their DIY/kit keyboards. Nothing yet mainstream like QMK. Here's a write up of one of them: https://josh.robsonchase.com/rest-of-the-keyboard/

Meet the Ferris keeb that was just recently developed. Currently built using QMK but will eventually have Rust firmware. https://github.com/pierrechevalier83/ferris


I know some people have, but part of the fun is doing it yourself :)

There's also https://github.com/TeXitoi/keyberon


Indeed!

Was just looking at that yesterday.


I would hazard a guess because it allows a ton of configuration and key remapping options.

While Cortex-Ms are surprisingly powerful compared to the microcontrollers of yesteryear, they're still targeting the same segment. They are not comparable (in terms of cost, power consumption, performance...) to the ARM in your smartphone, let alone the ARM in AWS Graviton. They have kilobytes, not gigabytes of RAM. They run at double digit megahertz clocks.

It could use an AVR but you don’t save much and the world is on ARM. You would “need” an ATMega 32u4 anyways for hardware USB support. A purposed KB IC probably wouldn’t handle split halves.

Why not? They are affordable, accessible and common microcontrollers. Where you might have used an AVR or PIC before, nowadays a small ARM is also a completely normal choice.

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