NHYTGB Keyboard

Type up-side-down!

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Traditionally layouts are named after the first six keys from top row (except for Dvorak and Colemak, where the egos of the authors prevailed).  So I called this keyboard NHYTGB. What kind of weird layout is that?

Well, it's two halves of a traditional QWERTY layout, split and rotated 90° each. The idea is that you use this keyboard up-side-down, by holding it by its sides, with most of the keys facing away from you (the dark keys are for thumbs, and the are on your side of the keyboard). This way you have room for a tablet or phone or other screen in the center of it.

Will this actually be usable? I have no idea. But I have been toying with this idea for years now, so I decided to finally try it.

  • Results

    deʃhipu06/20/2024 at 12:10 0 comments

    I just realized that I never updated this project with the results of my experiment.

    In short, I'm disappointed.

    I was hoping the muscle memory and learning from a traditional split keyboard would transfer to this layout, but it turns out that our muscle memory seems to operate in terms of absolute positions, not relative movements, and that rotating the keyboard by 90° and flipping it completely defeats any learning you might have benefited from from use of a regular keyboard.

    The keyboard is possible to use, but you basically have to learn to type on it from scratch.

  • Bodge, Bodge, Bodge

    deʃhipu11/06/2021 at 20:48 0 comments

    Finally the weekend is here, and I had some time to actually program and test this device. Right away I found this tiny little problem on the PCB:

    It's hard to see, but there is a trace between PA01 and PA02 pins. One is part of the key matrix, the other goes to the analog joystick, so this would give us some really interesting effects — fortunately I noticed it, so I could desolder the chip with hot air, cut that trace, and solder it back again.

    Next, I had some fun getting the D-pad and the mouse buttons to work. For some reason they were ignored. After about an hour of experimenting, replacing switches, replacing diodes, cutting traces, adding bodges and so on, I finally figured out what is happening. I made two footprints for buttons in there, both SMD and THT, so that I can experiment with different buttons. But I didn't notice, that the THT buttons I used this time, have some of the contacts sticking out on the sides. Those were making contact with the SMD pads, resulting in the switch always being on. Since the keypad module is event-based, and the switch was on even before the code started, so we never got a keypress event, and obviously it also never was released to generated a key release event, so the key was basically being ignored. To make it more interesting, those contacts are only one one side, so the problem was only present for about half of the buttons — depending how they were rotated. In the end, I just rotated the misbehaving buttons 180° to fix this.

  • Version One

    deʃhipu11/02/2021 at 18:46 0 comments

    I assembled the first version of the device, and tested it mechanically (I still need to write the code for it). As far as I can tell so far, mechanically it should work, though the thumb keys are pretty awkward, and the whole thing is really sensitive to the size of one's palms.

  • PCB Design

    deʃhipu10/24/2021 at 00:03 0 comments

    I'm going to start with just a very simple mechanical design, just a PCB with the switches on both sides. I can think about improvements if the basic idea proves workable. So after compiling the very latest version of Fritzing (the appimage they released doesn't work on my system), I went to work and created this:

    Yes, the traces have right angle bends. I don't care. This is a prototype. I can clean it up some other time.

    I also added a joystick and a d-pad on the front side, for those moments when you are not typing. The USB socket is on the bottom, because that's where many devices have their socket as well — you can use a short OTG cable to connect them.

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kelvinA wrote 04/15/2022 at 22:08 point

Looks nice. I'm working on a vaguely similar keyboard and was looking around to see what had been done before for ergonomics research.

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deʃhipu wrote 10/25/2021 at 21:56 point

Sadly, Dvorak would be BDF YIX, and Colemak KHJ GDB...

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danjovic wrote 10/25/2021 at 21:48 point

Cool concept. The layout looked oddily familiar at first glance, before I started to read the details.

The problem is now I can´t help thinking your keyboard with the first keys being sorta

[D][V][O]   [R][A][K]
[N][C][L]   [E][M][P]

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