design

2015 Nov 25

Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) Top Questions

By |2018-10-21T19:10:57+00:002015-11-25 00:40|design, features, news|0 Comments

Reddit mascot holding the UHK

Thank you everyone for participating in the Reddit AMA! You’ve asked loads of thoughtful questions, so I thought I’d share some of the particularly interesting ones.

Q: Will you offer alternative keycap printing other than QWERTY? Like country-specific prints or Dvorak / Colemak?

A: Andras is currently looking into the possibility of offering fully custom keycap printing. If we can make it happen, then we’ll send out an update and you’ll be able to update your order accordingly. If this is an option, we may also be able to create layout design software, allowing you to design your own keycap printing layout!

Q: Assuming everything goes good with the Crowd Supply stuff and so on, i.e. everything goes according to plan and all the backers receive their keyboards in July\August some time, then what? What are the plans further, if you actually have made any yet, that is :) What I’m most curious about here, is, when I get my keyboard, and presumably love it, I will definitely want one or two more, any idea when that will that be possible?

A: There’s no shortage of plans. :)

After shipping every unit in July, we plan to spin up production so you’ll definitely be able to order some more UHKs / modules pretty quickly.

Going forward, we plan to design other UHK variants of different shapes and sizes based on our unique hardware-software architecture. We also plan to design additional modules based on community feedback and demand.

Q: What are your thoughts about alternative split keyboards? What do you think the UHK does better, other than the extension modules?

A: I believe that the UHK has a couple of benefits compared to other split keyboards, apart from the extension modules:

The UHK is very compact, especially for a split mechanical keyboard, enabling you to easily carry it around.

The UHK is modular and extensible. I don’t only mean the modules but the whole design from the ground up. For example, the palm rest is also an optional accessory. You can even use the stainless steel inserts on the back of the UHK to mount it to your armchair or almost any object.

The UHK uses a sophisticated protocol to communicate between the keyboard halves and the modules, making it quite advanced compared to other keyboards. Imagine using our configuration application, then merging and splitting the halves, adding and removing modules and witnessing these actions happening visually in the configuration application real-time. Then you can click on the trackball module for example and adjust its pointer movement speed.

When you reconfigure other keyboards, you generally reflash the whole firmware of the keyboard. The UHK implements a custom protocol and uses an internal EEPROM for storing configuration data. I think our approach is beneficial because we don’t need a compiler toolchain to produce the firmware, just an application that speaks the protocol. It’s also faster to transfer the updated configuration, and it’s possible for the configuration software the read the configuration from the EEPROM. Reconfiguring the UHK is a one-click action, instead of using an external web configurator, then downloading a firmware, then uploading it to the keyboard with another application.

Q: I’m very excited to hear that you’re going open source. What was the biggest influence on that decision?

A: Being a Linux user and software developer, open source is very natural to me. On top of that, I’ve had various negative experiences with closed products. One of my routers didn’t allow me to use a 3rd party dynamic DNS providers that would be trivial to script if I had shell access. Then my sister bought a DVD player, the subtitle fonts were too damn small and there was no way to enlarge them. We’re surrounded by devices driven by general purpose processors that’d enable us to do pretty much anything with them, but if the firmware / software / protocols are closed then we’re disabled to improve / customize these devices. I’d hate to disable people by building yet another black box.

Q: How are you guys combining this with your "real" job? Maybe you do this full time, or do you plan to in the near future? Good luck with the project. Can’t wait to get mine.

A: I was working as a freelance software developer for various companies over the years, and Andras has a family business going on. It was originally super challenging to develop the UHK due to the lack of free time.

Starting from 2015 September, I cancelled my freelancing gig in order to prepare for the campaign. Andras also started to put more and more resources into the project, and development significantly accelerated.

Going forward, I’ll be working on the UHK full time by earning the absolute minimum required until we grow. Andras will also handle the project as his number one priority after the campaign. Full time is the only way at this point to create a truly exceptional product and deliver on time.

Q: Will there be a DIY version any time soon? I guess there must be more keyboard hipsters like me who have their exotic choice of lubed MX switches with custom springs laying around so a DIY version would be easier to assemble (rather than desoldering the stock ones) and also would cost a little bit less.

A: We’ve actually already had a backer who wanted his UHK without switches and without the case. Being quite DIY-friendly, we offered him such a version at a reduced price point and he took the offer.

I think we’ll offer assembled PCBs forever, but bare, unpopulated PCBs are not planned. Given the potential errors in assembly, customer support would likely be too crazy.

That’s it for the top AMA questions! But if you have any that have remained unanswered, please ask!

2015 Nov 17

The UHK modules and palm rest are for sale!

By |2018-10-21T19:09:32+00:002015-11-17 01:36|design, features, modules, news|0 Comments

The UHK with palm rest

Good news, everyone: From this moment on, every one of the 4 originally suggested modules, along with the palm rest, are available for purchase! Here’s the full list of new perks to purchase:

  • a module for $50
  • 2 modules for $80
  • 2 modules and 1 palm rest for just $100
  • 1 palm rest for $30

We will cover shipping costs for the modules, so there is no additional fee for you!

Plus: the first 100 people to get modules will enjoy special early-bird pricing, so get yours now!

None of these perks are stretch goals. As it turned out, the tooling costs of these additions are fairly reasonable – so we wanted to make them immediately available to you.

Module poll results

UHK modules stats

We included a poll in the previous update, and according to the results, you were super eager to participate. Here are the results as we are writing this message:

Our main goal behind running a poll was to find out if there were any modules that people just didn’t really want. But according to the results, each module has a healthy demand! This gives us good reason to make every one of them.

Most of you opted for a key cluster, which is reasonable because it’s the only left-handed module, and it complements any of the others quite nicely.

Most popular questions

There was a comment field in the poll which you’ve made a good use of. When the comments started to flow in, I diligently wrote response emails to all of you, one by one. But I quickly realized that it’s a fight against windmills, and I’m simply not able to keep up with the heavy flow of seemingly endless comments.

So I decided to extract the most popular thoughts into the following FAQ to address them. If these FAQ entries don’t cover your own question, and you still didn’t receive an answer from me, then you either didn’t specify your email address or you’re one of the 5 people whose email requires further, longer discussion and I haven’t answered yet.

Q: The trackpoint needs to be up by the Y/H keys, not down by the N/Space.

A: Believe it or not, we found only a single kind of trackpoint module in all of the Internet. This trackpoint sits in the middle of a 3×3 cm sized printed circuit board, so not only we can’t put it near the Y/H keys but we can’t even move it higher because the stainless steel guides that hold the module and the keyboard together are in the way.

Q: Is there an option to make the pointer modules attach higher, roughly between g and h keys, so that they could be easier to reach with the index finger as opposed to the thumb?

A: In most cases, this is not possible because, again, the stainless steel guides that hold the module and the keyboard together are in the way. It’d also make the modules very bulky because they connect electrically via the bottom connectors of the UHK so the module would have to stretch all they way down.

Q: Is the touchpad multi-touch capable?

A: Unfortunately, it isn’t. A while back, I contacted with Synaptics, another huge multi-touch touchpad manufacturer. When I asked for their datasheets, they wanted me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). I didn’t want to corrupt the open source spirit of the UHK, so I refused. Based on your comments, I’m sure that many of you feel the same way. If any of you know a multi-touch touchpad manufacturer who doesn’t insist on NDAs, then please get in touch with me and I’ll contact them.

Q: Can

[your favorite module] be switched from moving the pointer to scrolling by keeping another key pressed?

A: Yes, this will be possible. You’ll be able to specify a set of layer switcher keys (of Mod, Fn, Mouse), and keeping one of those key pressed will activate the non-default mode of pointer modules (moving vs scrolling). You’ll also be able to specify the default mode for each module, of course.

Q: Is it possible to right click and scroll with the touchpad alone?

A: Yes! By default, these features are supported out of the box. The upper right region of the trackpad emulates right click. There’s also a scroll zone on the right side and an outer drag and drop zone.

Q: Is there a way to design these modules to plug into either half of the keyboard? Currently, it looks like each given module will only work with one half (for instance, the trackpoint only docks on the right half).

A: It’s possible to design the trackball, trackpoint and touchpad modules to be both-sided but that’d make them very bulky and unappealing, so we decided against it. We’d like to make other-sided modules available at some point in the future.

Q: I’d like to have extra buttons on the trackball / trackpoint module.

A: We’ll try to add 2 buttons to these modules, but we’re not sure whether there’ll be enough space for them. We’ll keep you updated on this.

Q: I worry about the ergonomics/usability/quality of [your favorite module].

A: We’re very serious about these issues. We’ll get all modules tested by many of you backers, and iterate accordingly to make sure that ergonomics/usability/quality is up to very high standards. The ergonomics and shape of the modules are not finalized yet.

Q: Will the modules be compatible with the palm rest?

A: Yes!

Q: Will 3rd parties be able to make and sell their own modules? Open API, 3D-printable CAD data, and easy-to-buy connectors are really expected for 3rd party module developers.

A: The answer is yes to all of the above. We’d love to see more modules and empower the community to make them!

Suggested modules

You were really creative when it comes to new module possibilities. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • LED/LCD display
  • USB hub
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Analog joystick
  • 8-way directional thumb-pad
  • NFC module
  • Wireless charger
  • Motion sensor like Leap Motion or Project Soli

Not all of these modules are feasible – only low-bandwidth (no more than 10-100 kbps) and low-power (no more than tens of milliamps) modules can be implemented. This means that the USB hub, the NFC module, and the wireless charger are out of question. And I’m not sure how bandwidth-intensive the fingerprint scanner is. The rest should be feasible, I believe.

We’re super stoked about all the extra perks, so now is the time to make them come to life!

If you have any questions, please ask us!

2015 Nov 12

Introducing UHK modules!

By |2018-10-21T19:11:26+00:002015-11-12 15:05|design, features, modules|2 Comments

The UHK with modules

The key design principles of the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard are productivity and ergonomics. Over the past 4 weeks the UHK has taken the Internet by storm – proving that our philosophy is on-target. The encouragement we got led us to announce something nobody else has done before.

To take productivity and ergonomics even further, we’re excited to introduce modules to the UHK. A video shows so much more than I could ever tell:

As far as we know, this is the first time anyone has created a truly extendable keyboard – and it really opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Let’s take a closer look at the modules featured in the video.

UHK key cluster module

The key cluster module features 3 regular keys, 2 buttons and a mini trackball which can also be pressed – acting as an extra button.

In-line with the UHK itself, all of these keys and buttons are fully programmable, and you’ll even be able to configure whether you want the trackball to move the pointer or scroll in documents.

Moving vs scrolling is not only configurable for the key cluster module, but for every other module featured below! The modules can be used in conjunction with each-other, so personally, I’d use the mini trackball of the key cluster for scrolling and one of the modules below to move the pointer.

UHK trackpoint module

The trackpoint module surely brings back fond memories for those of you who have owned an IBM ThinkPad laptop in the past. With it, you can not only move the pointer, but click by pressing it.

UHK touchpad module

The touchpad module shouldn’t be stranger to anyone, given that it’s a part of pretty much every laptop and netbook ever manufactured. This module takes it to another level by placing the touchpad where it’s easier to reach – right at the middle of the keyboard. Of course, you can emulate clicking with a simple tap.

UHK trackball module

The trackball module features excellent precision and usability and is well-suited to be used by a thumb.

The UHK is an extensible platform

I cannot emphasize enough that the UHK is a truly extensible platform. In addition to the above modules, we plan to design and manufacture countless others in the future. But we at UGL shouldn’t be the only people able to make new modules.

Just as promised, we’ll open-source the firmware, the electronics and the host-side software. We’ll also extensively document the protocol via which the modules communicate with the keyboard and publish the 3D files that enable you to design new modules yourself. We even use I2C as the basis of our protocol, enabling crazy stuff like chaining multiple modules, or creating submodules of modules.

I personally get all excited when thinking about the range of possibilities. Wanna build a scroll wheel, or a joystick module? How about a mouse sensor that would make the UHK slide and act as a mouse? The possibilities are truly endless!

Which modules do you want?

uhk-modules

So which modules should we start with? You tell us! We’re interested in your preferences and opinions. Given enough interest, we may end up manufacturing every one of the above modules during the campaign.

Even though there are standalone pointing devices with which you can both move the pointer and click, we recommend using 2 modules for improved productivity. That’s because even though you can emulate left click with the trackpoint, drag and drop is a pain and you can’t emulate multiple buttons. The thumb cluster provides you all the 3 mouse buttons, drag and drop becomes easier and you can configure its small trackball to scroll instead of moving the pointer. Basically, you can offset the downsides of any pointing device simply with another module!

Just to avoid any misunderstandings, we want to make clear that the key cluster module mounts to the left keyboard half, and the rest of the modules mount to the right keyboard half. Although it’s possible to design both-sided modules, such modules would be more bulky so we’d rather not make the sacrifice. Over time, we may end up designing both left-handed and right-handed versions of these modules. It all depends on your level of support.

The modules that get chosen will be made available for purchase on Tuesday. The expected price is around $50 per module but we’re planning to offer some good deals if you choose at least 2 modules.

2015 Nov 10

The tale of 5 prototypes

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-11-10 16:48|design, prototype, tech talk|0 Comments

Semi-assembled UHK prototype

You purchase the gadget of your dreams and open the box with excitement – it’s beautiful, functional, well-designed and puts a smile on your face. It’s hard to imagine that at one point, your gadget was nothing more than a big mess of wires. The final product has come a long way, and in many stages, from wires to being ready for a campaign.

Engineers shed blood and tears working out endless technical challenges all for the sake of a fully functional and reliably working prototype. This is our condensed story of trials and tribulations.

Prototype 1

The basic goals were clear – build a truly split, compact mechanical keyboard that merges as one piece. This is a good start, but still pretty vague. So it’s not surprising that our first prototype ended up like this:

UHK prototype 1

As you can see, we were flirting with the idea of building a USB hub into the UHK, which was ditched later on because of the lack of space. Small Molex connectors were used to connect the two keyboard halves, which saved space but they lacked robustness and repeatability, so they had to go.

The above PCB (printed circuit board) didn’t have any wires, so it wasn’t functional by any means. We really just wanted to get an idea how the keyboard would look. Making the electronics work started on a breadboard like this one:

The UHK on the breadboard

The development boards at the bottom are the brains of the left and right keyboard halves. The buttons above them implement a 2×2 key matrix, yielding 4 keys per keyboard half. The boards are connected by a wire, making the left board able to send key press and key release events to the right half. The massive board at the top is an Open Bench Logic Sniffer, enabling me to see the communication between the two boards for troubleshooting purposes.

Prototype 2

Finishing the electronics breadboarding, it was time to turn the wires into traces on a PCB to have a functional prototype. This time, we tried a retractable S-Video cable to connect the keyboard halves. The bulkiness of the plugs is obvious, but what you can’t tell is their lack of reliability. 3 LEDs were used per keyboard half to display status information just because it was a simple solution to implement at that time.

UHK prototype 2

Prototype 3

With the PCB started, it was finally time to come up with the final shape of the UHK and get its case 3D printed. On the following picture, the left half was printed using an EOS SLS (selective laser synthesis) machine and the right half was printed on an Objet polyjet. Unlike the left half, the right half is painted and polished. We ended up using SLS for our prototypes because even though it has lower resolution than polyjets, its shape reflects the shape of the CAD model more accurately, and its mechanical qualities are better. This time we switched to an RJ11 retractable cable, which is a lot less bulky than the previous S-Video cable – but it turned out to be similarly unreliable.

UHK prototype 3

Prototype 4

Apart from fixing a lot of errors on the PCB, we added stainless steel inserts to this prototype, letting users to mount the keyboard halves onto many objects. The other day, a disabled person emailed us who will use the inserts to mount the keyboard halves onto his armchair. We’re very glad that our keyboard supports such scenarios out of the box.

At this point, we realized that retractable cables of all kinds are supremely unreliable, and only a cord cable would do the job.

The back of the left keyboard half

The inclusion of stainless steel inserts reshaped the contour of the PCB quite a bit, as you can see below:

UHK prototype PCB

Prototype 5

Our last generation prototype featured only very minor improvements to the PCB. We also found a super talented professional who polished and painted the 3D printed case to make it resemble the final look of the injection molded plastic case.

During the course of working on the UHK, we put more than 10,000 hours into it, and failed numerous times. Every failure taught us a lesson – a way to do something better. There is an industry term called MVP, which stands for Minimum Viable Prototype. The UHK is already far beyond this point.

UHK prototype 5

The prototyping is done, but it’s not quite the end of the story. We have yet to unveil some one-of-a-kind, game changing addons. Stay tuned!

2015 Nov 06

Ultimate configurability

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-11-06 17:59|design, features, tech talk|0 Comments

Many of you have asked us to talk more about the various ways in which the UHK can be configured. It’s certainly not a trivial matter, so let’s take a detailed look.

To explain configuration as precisely as possible, we should start by examining the exact definition of a key.

UHK key IDs

It’s actually pretty misleading to describe keys by their standard function (the Tab key, the Backspace key, “A”, etc.). A better way to talk about keys is using their explicit location, like A1, B5, or C10 (see above graphic).

This is because a key like Backspace is really just a scan code that the keyboard sends to the host computer. On the UHK any of these scan codes can be triggered by any of the keys. So using the base layer, the following correlations are made:

  • A14 yields Backspace
  • C1 yields Tab
  • C2 yields letter “A”

But what are layers? A layer binds actions to keys and 4 layers compose a keymap. Let’s visualize the 4 layers of the factory keymap.

UHK layers

Given the above, in a way, the UHK is not 1 keyboard but 4 keyboards right on top of each one another. “But how can I move across layers?” – you may ask.

Layer switcher keys to the rescue! Let’s see the default ones.

UHK layer switcher keys

While keeping a layer switcher key pressed, the relevant layer gets activated – and as soon as you release it, the base layer becomes the active one again. It’s that simple! (Of course, with the UHK, you can make any key a layer switcher key)

As mentioned above within a layer, keys are mapped to actions. But there various kinds of actions. An action can be a key action, mouse action, macro action, or a keymap switcher action.

A key action emits a scancode like “L”, along with optional, additional, modifiers. So the single keypress can also emit shortcuts like Left Alt + Tab. A key action can also be dual-role, which acts as a normal modifier, like Control when pressed along with another key, but behaves as another key like Escape when pressed in itself. (We may add a user-specifiable interval for the latter case so no accidental keypresses will be emitted.)

A mouse action is one of movement {left, right, up, down}, scrolling {left, right , up, down}, or clicking {left, middle, right}. The mouse layer of the factory keymap contains every one of these sub-actions intuitively laid out.

UHK mouse keys

A macro action is composed of a sequence of key actions, mouse actions and delays. It will also have a loop flag which will loop the macro until the associated key is pressed.

A keymap switcher action switches to the specified keymap. This allows you to make many different keymaps, each for their own use-case.

When you make your configuration comprised of keymaps of layers of actions, it’s all saved right in the UHK’s on-board memory. So when you plug it into another computer, your configuration remains intact! The on-board EEPROM has enough to store a very large amount of configurations.

There are even more parameters that you can control with the UHK, like maximum speed and acceleration of the mouse pointer.

As you can see, you are given a lot of freedom configurability-wise. And with this freedom comes the chance that you can screw up your own keymaps! But fear not, that’s exactly why there’s a factory reset switch on the back on the UHK which you can press with a toothpick. No worries, this won’t erase your configuration, merely restore the factory keymap.

That’s it! Hopefully, I was able to clear up any questions you may have had about UHK configuration functionality.

2015 Nov 03

Repair for the win

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-11-03 00:19|design, features, tech talk|0 Comments

UHK fully disassembled

The UHK is durable, super durable – and adding to that innate strength, it’s highly hackable and repairable. Contrary to the attitude of most keyboard manufacturers, we believe that you should have full access (and ease of access) to tinker. Keep reading for a complete picture, or click through to the campaign page for more UHK info.

The UHK differs from usual keyboards in a number of ways. You can tell by starting at the back of the board.

UHK keyboard halves viewed from underside

There’s a lot of content here, but I’d like to highlight something specific. The wrench icon:

Durable and repair icons on the back of the case

It says “Repair friendly”. This is not something that companies usually like to put on their products – and there are a number of reasons why:

  • Psychology – The first question that this icon may trigger in customers is, "Oh, crap, is this product gonna break?!". Which is ironic if you think about it, because everything breaks eventually. Nothing lasts forever. To combat this reaction, we put a Durable icon next to the Repair icon because the fact of the matter is that we designed the UHK like a tank.
  • Future profit – If a gadget can be repaired, that means that when something goes wrong, you don’t need to just go out and get a new one. As profits and sales numbers are the single most important focus to most companies, most companies are very averse to repairability.
  • Extra work – Helping customers repair their gadgets takes support resources. So rather than be creative, and make it easier for customers to conduct their own repair, most companies strive to make repair as difficult as possible.

The above mindset leads directly to the following image:

ewaste dump

Image is courtesy of TheConversation.com

But there’s a better way! It’s actually possible to design for repair in a number of ways, and some of ours are pretty unique. We can:

Print instructions right on the circuit board! "Unscrew the 5 large screws below the keycaps and the 1 screw on the PCB" – it’s hard to get any clearer than this.

Repair instructions on the UHK PCB

Print similar instructions on the case.

Repair instructions on the case of the UHK

Display not only component types, but also their value, right on the PCB. See the 10 ohm resistor, and the 0.1 microfarad capacitor.

UHK PCB labelled

Little things like the above go a long way, but we’re planning to do even more – like creating a repair manual and repair videos.

In addition, one of our most innovative concepts is to log the number of keypresses for each UHK key-switch. This way, you can keep track of the wear on each individual key as they approach their 50 million keypress lifespan, so you know which will need to be replaced before they even get close.

iFixit said that "Above all,

[the UHK] is proof positive that even compact, performance-designed, single-purpose gadgets can be designed for repair, from the ground up – complete with repair documentation".

This feedback makes us very proud and assures us that we’re on the right path.

2015 Oct 27

Layout matters

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-10-27 19:27|design, features|0 Comments

Make use of both thumbs!

At first glance of the UHK, the layout may seem relatively standard – but we’ve packed in a lot of special features that really make a huge difference in productivity. Read more about it below!

Did you know that touch typists using regular keyboards all around the world only use 9 of their 10 fingers? That’s because we are heavily conditioned to use either our left or right thumb to press the space bar, leaving the other thumb unutilized.

UHK keyboard layout with Mod and Space highlighted

Please note that the UHK Space layout (the Space and Mod keys are swappable/remappable).

The thumb being our strongest digit, a traditional wide Space bar is just a huge waste. But with a split Space bar, we can put our second thumb to use for anything we want – like switching layers. In the UHK factory settings, the Mod layer is right at your second thumb.

How does the Mod layer make your life easier? Apart from housing navigation keys, it give you easy access to convenience shortcuts!

UHK keyboard layout with the the navigation cluster highlighted

Chances are that you use Alt+Tab hundreds if not thousands of times on a daily basis to switch windows. You may not notice it, but this shortcut is slowly stealing your time. People typically bend their thumb beneath their palm to reach Alt and also leave the home row! What if there was a better way?

On our factory keymap, Mod+D invokes Alt+Tab. No awkward thumb bending, no leaving the home row. Even better, just as when you hold down Alt and press Tab many times in sequence to switch to the next window, you can keep Mod pressed and press D many times in sequence to do the same. You can also compose with Shift to switch backwards. But this is just the tip of the iceberg! Let’s see the other convenience shortcuts, too:

  • Mod + D → Next window ( Alt + Tab )
  • Mod + W → Previous tab ( Ctrl + PgDn )
  • Mod + R → Next tab ( Ctrl + PgUp )
  • Mod + E → New tab ( Ctrl + T )
  • Mod + C → Close tab ( Ctrl + W )
  • Mod + S → Previous workspace ( Ctrl + Alt + ← )
  • Mod + F → Next workspace ( Ctrl + Alt + → )

Don’t like all of these shortcuts? Feel free to remap it! Also, for those of you using a Mac, we’ll have a Mac-specific preset layout with shortcuts using the Cmd key.

And that’s it for today, ladies and gents – have a great day!

Current event: The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard will be demoed tomorrow (Oct 28, 2015) at the Hackware v1.2 in Singapore. Join the event to see it in action!

2015 Oct 23

Tilt, tent, and screw with the UHK

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-10-23 19:10|demo, design, features, news, prototype|0 Comments

The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard gives you options!

Most keyboards don’t have a lot to offer in terms of ergonomics. But with the UHK and our new stretch goal, a super-high-quality palm rest, you’ve got tons of them.

Take a look at the palm rest set up in various arrangements, starting with the flat setup:

flat-stand

Tilted setup:

tilted-stand

Tented setup:

tented-stand

András is quite serious when it comes to durable mechanical design. So much so that the base of the palm rest is a solid stainless steel sheet. We surely don’t expect people to wreck this anytime soon. As you can see, the palm rest also comes with a set of legs which can be set in various configurations. It’s up to you which set-up is most comfortable.

You can even screw in your UHK.

We’ve heard from a few people who love the UHK because it will help them handle their disabilities. One creative backer even suggested that they would be attaching each keyboard half to an armchair. In situations like this, we’ve got you covered!

Mountable case

The keyboard features four threaded stainless steel inserts per keyboard half

As far as we know, the UHK is the first keyboard to use stainless steel mounting inserts. These are perfect for screwing your keyboard into almost any situation.

If you’re mounting your beloved keyboard (like to an arm-chair) and need a little more room than the provided cable can allow, not to worry! We’ve got you covered here, too. You can use any standard telephone cable. A while back, I even tried a 20 meter (66ft) long cable. Check it out:

2015 Sep 09

ANSI or ISO? Which keyboard layout is more ergonomic?

By |2016-11-07T20:51:57+00:002015-09-09 12:29|design|45 Comments

Lately, I've written about the ergonomics of the "6" key and given the vast popularity of that post, I decided to compare the ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts in the same manner from an ergonomics standpoint. Let's start with ANSI.

ANSI ergonomics

As you can see, the keys of the home row on which our fingers reside in touch typing position are filled with red. There's a thick red line in between to show the center of the keyboard for measurement purposes. I also painted Left Shift and Enter in green and Backslash in blue because these keys differ on ANSI vs ISO.

Now let's take a look at ISO.

ISO ergonomics

(Please note that we won't provide a full-blown ISO layout, but a half-ISO layout featuring the extra ISO key and a bar-shaped Enter key.)

Now we have an extra ISO key painted in yellow, but Left Shift and Enter got farther from the center of the keyboard which is a bummer given their frequent use. How much farther, exactly?

Enter distanceLeft Shift distanceBackslash distance
ANSI64.56.75
ISO6.755.54.5

Based on the above, it's hard to argue that ISO is more ergonomical. Enter and Left Shift is pressed at least hundreds, if not thousands of times per day and they're about 1 unit (20 millimeters = 0.8 inch) farther from the center on the ISO layout. Backslash is closer by 1 unit and there's an extra ISO key but they aren't that frequently used so it's not a great tradeoff.

Regardless of ergonomics, many of you have made it clear that the ISO key is a necessity for you and some of you are too used to the L-shaped Enter and aren't willing to unlearn your muscle memory. I get it, we're creatures of habbits.

On the other hand, it's also interesting to see that a fair number of people use the opposite standard that they should be using based on their home country. For example, I as a Hungarian should use ISO but using ANSI. On the Hungarian layout the ISO key translates to "í" which is a Hungarian accented character, but I write Hungarian text almost solely with US characters, without accents. Also, as a developer, I strongly dislike that my native layout unnecessarily remaps dozens of characters like !, @, # compared to the standard US layout.

How about you in this respect? Let us know in the following poll until it's open!

ANSI vs ISO poll result

2015 Aug 14

Where should the "6" key be?

By |2019-01-19T13:34:24+00:002015-08-14 18:09|design|31 Comments

Some of you have told us that we're doing it wrong, because the "6" key should really be on the right keyboard half, not on the left. In reality, the situation is more complicated than that.

For US people, it's a natural assumption because they're taught to press the "6" key with the right index finger, but not all countries are created equal. For example, in Hungary, we're taught to press "6" with our left index finger. Go figure!

Let's investigate this issue from an ergonomic standpoint. On the following picture, the keys of the home row on which our fingers reside are painted in red. There's a bright red line exactly between the left and right block of these keys. The "6" key is painted blue. As you can see the bright red line is rightwards of the center of the "6" key which means that given its position, it should be more ergonomic to press it with the left hand.

'6' key ergonomics

Now let's take a look from an aesthetic standpoint. Here's the actual UHK layout where the "6" key is on the left keyboard half.

symmetric version

And here's the alternate layout where the "6" key is featured on the right keyboard half.

asymmetric version

It's apparent that the former layout is way more symmetric.

Of course, there's a lot more to this. You're welcome to read the relevant thread on Deskthority which I started a while back when thinking about this issue. Those folks know a thing or two about the ergonomics and history of keyboards.