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Make your own physical Colemak board!

  • Started by DreymaR
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  • Registered: 09-Jun-2009
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I would also like to know if there's anywhere that I can get a a split spacebar.  Ethana2's idea about the left thumb not doing anything is really bothering me.  As a new (currently learning) Colemak convert, I would like learn everything all at once rather than having to deal with learning to use the left thumb later.

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First of all I am interested in improving the use of the modifier keys with the thumbs. To see what my preferences are read my post and follow both links there.

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I recomend MANTA MM952 Slim black (or MM951 Slim White) I found their switches awesome!!! And the keycaps can be easily changed around. The switches are very light touch, rubber based but they work excellent - shallow press space with possibility to overdrive (I guess that you have to press them about 2mm and you can extend the press about additional 1mm till you bounce back). They very resembles mechanical switches.

http://www.manta.com.pl/product.php?kat … =en&Item=1

I was so impressed by the first touch that I have bought one - however I feel a pain in my wrists working on it :( Nothing can compensate for ergonomically-split keyboard.

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george.ausheimer said:

I would also like to know if there's anywhere that I can get a a split spacebar.

Maybe a Japanese keyboard would be an idea (if you can manage to get one)?

kbjapanese.jpg

There are some of them on ebay.com (USA).

I think it's a shame we can't use our thumbs more on a standard keyboard. Standard keyboards really suck no matter what issue you consider.

Last edited by spremino (03-Sep-2009 02:35:21)

Dvorak typist here.  Please take my comments with a grain of salt.

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  • From: London
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Just a bump to say a Cherry ML4100 makes a good candidate for swapping keys.
As I said here: http://geekhack.org/showpost.php?p=146379&postcount=8
you can use it as a visual guide for a non-modified main keyboard and also for those awkward typing moments when you really benefit from having the right legends on the keycaps.
attachment.php?attachmentid=6800&d=1262131194

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  • From: Oslo, Norway
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I seem to remember fiddling with a board looking very much like that one and breaking a part of the key cap jig which made me a sad sad customer. If I'm right and careless handling of those babies costs key lives, could you give some advice maybe? Tools, techniques for the would-be cap poppin' papa?

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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One of those U-shaped IC extractor tools is hard to beat. As well as hooking under the keycap nicely you can squeeze them firmly to ensure you have full control, then rock from side to side a little if necessary.
This board was fairly easy to take the caps off of, but I didn't touch the space bar or large Shift/Enter keys, so I don't know if they have stabiliser mechanisms. For such keys I remove all the surrounding normal keys to try and see what I'm dealing with, then pull the cap off using the maximum control/shortest distance possible. Making a fist around the IC extractor gives great control.

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Updates to the topic, including the new Hooleon board and 4keyboard stickers!

I should've posted a picture of my Unicomp Spacesaver, but I'm still fiddling with it. Basically, the caps are readily movable and I went for that extra bag of blank black caps for style points. A good choice for the mechanical-switch enthusiast I think.

To solve the index finger bump problem I let the left hand be anchored by the F bump on the middle finger (I find that to work just fine - it's the right hand that's tricky), and replaced the UNEI 'nav block' keys with black ones so I could put a cap with a homing bump on the N key. That little black 'arrow cross' in the middle of the grey letter block looks cool I think.

Last edited by DreymaR (05-Jan-2010 14:17:54)

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Time for a little backlinking:

Unreasonable Man (cool sig quote!) has a really nifty board with some upside-down keys that are hella stylish in my opinion.

A tips from user fastback (at the Geekhack forum): CVT has a board named Avant Prime and another with extra keys called the Stellar, that have hardware remappable keys. So you could use them even with a Playstation or something else that doesn't easily remap in software! They use nice mechanical keys too which is awesome. To me, it looks like the key caps should be moveable on those boards (but I'd check before buying). But to pay for all this goodness, they're quite expensive.

Last edited by DreymaR (22-Feb-2010 13:15:49)

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Re: split space bar

I have an old compaq that has a split space bar.  The left hand side defaults to a backspace, must be the same short as the real backspace.  Wanted to use it, but as I computer hop, I just use the usual backspace. 

With Dvorak my left thumb generally just sits in the air out of the way - and looking at other videos of Dvorak users they do the same.  I would have learnt to use it for spacing, but was worried I might use the compaq again and end up in a world of pain.

A few people must use their left thumb for spacing.  Guests at my keyboard naturally hit the space and cause a deletion.

Last edited by pinkyache (05-Jul-2013 10:30:34)

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I managed to Colemak my laptop ok but gave up on keyboards as I had purchased three different brands and all of them would end up with certain letters becoming wedged when snapped into position.  I eventually settled on stickers...but they were already starting to peel and become bothersome.

So today I figured I would try my luck again with a Dynex ($26.99) and much to my delight all of the keys fit !  :)

http://www.dynexproducts.com/products/c … -WKBD.html


dsc04082w.jpg


Other keyboard with peeling stickers.

dsc04072w.jpg

Last edited by slowfingers (30-Nov-2010 00:57:40)
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Today I get an old Mitsumi keyboard from my office and try to make it a Colemak keyboard with a hand knife.

Luckily all keys are the same (include F & J) and here's the result :

img6764q.jpg

Look closer, how dusty it is!
img6761a.jpg

Since this keyboard costs only 3-4USD in my country, I am glad that I can have a physical Colemak or any keyboard layout anytime!

Last edited by Tony_VN (11-Jan-2011 05:57:17)
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All these lovely Colemak boards... *sniff*  :)

Congratulations guys, now you have something to show your disbelieving friends (and otherwise)!

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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Keytronic keyboard has uniform keycaps, so here is another keyboard with Colemak layout:

img6797w.jpg

Last edited by Tony_VN (17-Jan-2011 12:35:58)
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I'd just like to mention that I've changed a HP board of that dirt-common type you get with every office computer nowadays, to the AngleWide(ISO) ergonomic mod (that's the one where you rotate the ZXCVB> keys one step to the left, and the right-hand half-rows one step to the right).

Remapping such a board to Colemak would lead to a bumpy result but this mod preserves all keys on their original rows so it's okay. Furthermore, while it's quite okay for me to type Colemak without visual guidance I do prefer to see the Wide mod because it moves symbol keys and it's also a tad nicer to have the homing bump in the right place again (although that's a minor point).

The keys snap off and come back on just fine, but as is often the case there's a special consideration to take with the J key (I'm not moving F in this mod) because the bump keys are used as an anchor when building the keyboard. There's a tiny plastic ridge in the key cap's chute that fits into a notch on the key cap, so that you cannot place the bump key in any other position nor place any other key in the bump key's position.

This was easily remedied, however. I just scraped off the ridge carefully with one blade of a pair of scissors on the chutes that held the old and new positions for the bump key. The key worked perfectly afterwards, with no slack or anything! Obviously, that notch didn't fulfil any other real purpose than to guide the keyboard montage.

Just don't be a complete brute and cut the membrane below or something - and if you lose the tiny plastic filing into the chute you might want to try and blow it away I guess (it stuck to the scissors so I got it out clean for one chute, and I blew the other one out of the chute when it dropped in).

Happy hacking!  :)

Last edited by DreymaR (20-Jan-2011 10:53:11)

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WASD Keyboards is a company that sells mechanical keyboards with custom labeling. You can even pick Colemak legends as a default for less than full customization: http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/ … board.html

Here's some pictures for a custom set of Colemak keys I got for a different keyboard (though I also bought a keyboard from them too): http://imgur.com/a/re4XB

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oneproduct said:

Here's some pictures for a custom set of Colemak keys I got for a different keyboard (though I also bought a keyboard from them too):

[...]

TKq6vh.jpg

Thanks for sharing, that looks really really neat! A proper WARS navigation block always looks very hard core I think. :)

And that quote is good too. Like like like.

Last edited by DreymaR (16-Nov-2011 12:39:31)

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WASD Keyboards is great, they can do a lot of neat things and are very easy to work with, professional, and creative. I'm a big fan, they've been very helpful to me.

Your key caps are excellent! Really like it :)

An Evil Screaming Flying Door Monkey From Hell typing with Colemak saved my life!

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Crazy. The Maximus is like $2k now. It's still awesome, but I was thinking I'd make the switch to a hardware Colemak from unicomp once I get the layout down pat. Under a hundred bucks and great B/S response seems like the winner here. (Though I can't wait for the future when keyboards like the Maximus will not be a boutique thing . . .)

SF&F Writer Harper Jayne
Creating brave new worlds, one word at a time . . .

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Harper_Jayne,

I contacted Unicomp to see what options were available for the Colemak layout. They replied very quickly and this is what they told me:

"We could do the Classic [in PS/2 only] and the UltraClassic in PS/2 only with a Colemak layout. To order, place the keyboard you want in the shopping basket. The[n] place a quantity of 2 customization fees in the shopping basket usign [using] the link below.
http://pckeyboard.com/page/KBDCFG/CUSTOM
In the customization box enter "please make using Colemak layout"

Unfortunately the USB models cannot support the Colemak at this time.

The Colemak layout removes the Caps Lock functionality from the keyboard. This keyboard will be a uniquely customized product is non-returnable and non-refundable.

Best regards,

Customer Service"

So it seems like a pretty good deal to me since I really like the buckling spring feel and I would definitely prefer it to the rubber dome versions. I really do not like the feel of labels and glue under my fingers while typing and I must confess that I am not a good touch typist and do spend part of the time looking at the keyboard to find a key or two.

I hope this is of help to you and other seekers.

AntiCarpal

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jlaustill said:

Here's mine.  Feel free to steal the pic for use if you so desire!

https://bp0.blogger.com/_sulMHgE2L0s/R7 … yboard.jpg

Sorry. I was going through this thread and came across the pic. WOW. What keyboard is that? would appreciate a reply.

All I did was change the keys on my old powermac G4 keyboard. Its awesome. But I would like to have a split keyboard like that.

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AntiCarpal said:

Harper_Jayne,

I contacted Unicomp to see what options were available for the Colemak layout. They replied very quickly and this is what they told me:

"We could do the Classic [in PS/2 only] and the UltraClassic in PS/2 only with a Colemak layout. To order, place the keyboard you want in the shopping basket. The[n] place a quantity of 2 customization fees in the shopping basket usign [using] the link below.
http://pckeyboard.com/page/KBDCFG/CUSTOM
In the customization box enter "please make using Colemak layout"

Unfortunately the USB models cannot support the Colemak at this time.

The Colemak layout removes the Caps Lock functionality from the keyboard. This keyboard will be a uniquely customized product is non-returnable and non-refundable.

Best regards,

Customer Service"

So it seems like a pretty good deal to me since I really like the buckling spring feel and I would definitely prefer it to the rubber dome versions. I really do not like the feel of labels and glue under my fingers while typing and I must confess that I am not a good touch typist and do spend part of the time looking at the keyboard to find a key or two.

I hope this is of help to you and other seekers.

AntiCarpal

What if you wanted a USB colemak keyboard with the capslock feature? That should be an easy thing for them to do.

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  • From: Oslo, Norway
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I have a Unicomp buckling spring keyboard with Colemak. That talk about CapsLock is just confusion. I remap all keys in software of course.

   Cmk-AWideSl_Unicomp_DreymaR.jpg
      My beloved Unicomp model M, with the UNEI cross spirited off so I could use the arrow key homing bump on N with style ;)
      Note the modded LED panel, because the Unicomp logo is really ugly...

Last edited by DreymaR (10-Apr-2014 10:26:41)

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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While the idea seems enticing at first... For touch screens the immediate "bottoming-out" has to hurt a lot. I don't like the idea of it. Besides, there are very decent options such as MessagEase which take up much less screen space, are fast and powerful and utilize dragging which is a great asset of touch screens.

One thing that'd be way cool on a touch screen would be another advantage of the Optimus: Changing key graphics! Using that for programs with many shortcuts sounds nice.

*** Learn Colemak in 2–5 steps with Tarmak! ***
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