Emacs Keyboard Design 31 and 32: Give Emacs More Logical Modifiers

  • Impossible to design and fabricate a custom for a reasonable price in time and money
  • Use a XKE-128 instead

  • Rubber dome switches and caps
    • Disassembled a Dell keyboard
    • Found it had rubber dome switches (obviously, spongy)
    • Good to see and know
    • Been using them for years, and they were fine
    • Mechanical switch probably isn’t required by me
  • N-Key rollover
    • You could quickly hit
      • Control, Meta, Super, Hyper, Shift, j
    • If you designed the keyboard out to make it easy
    • 6 NKRO is probably fine
  • You must choose a keycap style
    • DSA makes it easy to try different layouts so use that
    • Cost is a big topic
    • Maybe a grab bag is a good option?
  • If you want a lot of rows and columns then you need a microcontroller with a lot of connections like the Teensy++
  • You must choose available key sizes
    • The design tools let you make a keycap any size which helps exploration
    • At build time you needs fabricated keycaps in that size
    • Easier to use pre-made caps
    • 3d printing caps is another option, but I don’t want to do that
  • Reality is that doing a custom build
    • Will require 3x iterations
    • Will cost 3x as much
    • Reviewed the Ergodox EZ and it’s not for me
      • Thoughtful ideas about OS-Hyper key
  • Might be best to use the XKE-128 instead
    • Zero fabrication costs
    • Well-built body
    • Rubber-dome is OK
    • Cherry MX compatible stems
    • No way I could built for less
      • Hobby-ish
  • Converting to XKE-128 follows
  • Make power keys 2 wide because they are available from PI or SP
  • Left align QAZ
  • Make PgUp PgDn 1w
  • Moved arrows to bottom right
  • Added CapsLock back under right super
  • Added Ultra* so had to move PgUp to each side of Enter row by shift
  • Added a space down the middle to occupy 8×16

keyboard-layout-31.png

  • Decided that it would be nice to have a space and return that went from C to M so expanded that
  • Move Alt and Gui up to middle because
    • They are important modifiers
      • Alt-Tab is always two-handed, that is OK
    • Their importance doesn’t overlap with Emacs modifiers so you use them in a cognitively different place
  • PgUp PgDn go all the way left
  • Didn’t add back ScrollLk and Break, can add later if needed
  • Swap Super and Shift
    • Muscle memory makes Shift happier as expected location
    • Makes super-shift easy negating opportunity for Super*
  • Every Emacs modifier with * appended includes shift
    • Wherever it isn’t easy to do by hand, and free keys
  • Add Hyper* to left of hyper making it one key
    • This placement of hyper makes sense if you recall the feel of the layout of a typical laptop keyboard after you made CapsLock super. Using your thumb to go to C, M, super with your pinky, and H with your thumb again are natural
    • C-s and M-s are natural
    • H-s is even natural and H*-s is doable
  • Ultra shift is easy now, so U* can go away
  • Added Xtrm key for Emacs
    • C-M-s
    • Ultra below it
  • You an go “all out” with Emacs modifiers if you like
  • H* still makes sense

keyboard-layout-32.png


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