Sat, 01 Sep 2007

Mark XII keyboard

This keyboard is finally salable. It has worthy electronics which will give you a nice long battery life. It's sturdy. It's replicable on a reasonable basis. Right now I'm still building it on a custom basis, but I have some ideas for how to fit people with different size hands.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get past the custom firmware hurdle. I'm using a driver on the Linux side which pulls in seven different keys and implements the chording algorithm. It works well enough, but it's restrictive to need a driver. Can't sell into the Windows or Mac market without modified firmware. Blue Packet has offered to modify the firmware for a stiff price. Unfortunately, that requires a larger committment than I can put forth given my current lack of understanding about how to fit multiple people.

Plus, not only is the fit a problem, but everybody (everybody, everybody) thinks it's hard to learn how to use. It isn't, because the most common keystrokes are also the easiest ones to make. Given the cheatsheet, you can type your name within five minutes. It's really not that hard, but it's so unfamiliar to people that it looks hard.

Here's the front of the keyboard, folded for pocketing. Notice the classy 1/4" plywood and ground-off wood screws. This is for strength. Relative to the stresses on the keyboard, the 1/4" plywood is quite strong, and the hinges ensure that the wood meets up with a hard stop at the limit of its extension.
front, folded for pocketing (Thumbnail)

With the keyboard unfolded for use, you can see the whole wood and brass steampunk thing going on here. The previous keyboard fell apart in several ways. This one won't, not even if you throw it into a soft suitcase and take it on an international trip.
front, unfolded (Thumbnail)

You can see how the upper piece of wood hangs off the knuckle of your first finger, and how your thumb rests on the top of the AAA battery box. The piece of wood at the bottom rests against the base of your palm, and provides one end of the lever that allows your finger knuckles to reliably press against the keys.
back, unfolded (Thumbnail)

Here's how you grip the keyboard. The thumb only holds the keyboard. You press the keys with the knuckles of your four fingers.
underside, gripping (Thumbnail)

Here's how it looks from the edge, or top, of your grip.
top, as you grip it (Thumbnail)

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