ErgoJourney - Choosing a new keyboard layout

After multiple injuries to my right wrist due to a multitude of activities (sports, bad typing1 and an act of god) I decided to change my keyboard layout to one that could possibly demand less work off of my hands.

First let’s go through a small history of keyboards I’ve previously used. Unfortunately I don’t actually have pictures of them as I don’t have the habit to take pictures of things (which I should reconsider!). Briefly, the complete list is the following:

  1. IBM Model M
  2. ThinkPad X230
  3. HyperX Alloy FPS Pro (Cherry MX Blue)
  4. Keychron K2V2 (Cherry MX Red)
  5. Corne V3 (failed attempt, the PCB wasn’t delivered)
  6. SZA Moonlander Mark I

Previously used keyboards

Let’s talk about the keyboards I have owned for the past decade. There was a place near (São Paulo is huge but everything is close if you can walk to the subway) my work called Santa Efigênia. At the time, this was the biggest place to go look after tech gadgets here in São Paulo.

As all places like this, there were a lot of second-hand shops. Places that bought boxes after boxes of old corporate hardware. And this is how I got my hands on an IBM Model M! I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t know it was a rare keyboard nor that it was an icon of some sort. I just liked the design and bought it for a cheap price as it was the cooler PS/2 keyboard I could find there.

After selling my Model M way cheaper than I should (😭) I got a ThinkPad X230 that I used for about 10 years or so. I really liked the feeling of the keyboard and even tried to mod it to use the X220 but I have the unpopular opinion that the X230 has the best keyboard.

While using my X230 I finally discovered what a mechanical keyboard is and instantly regretted my decisions on the Model M and got a HyperX Alloy FPS Pro with Cherry MX Blue switches for a steal. For the price I paid it was an actually OK keyboard, however the full price was not worth it in my opinion. I found the switch too heavy for hours of typing and the sound was just… weird. I can’t explain but for me it was not that pleasant type on it. Anyway, I ended up selling it too.2

Current keyboard

My current keyboard is the Keychron K2 Version 2. It’s Wireless, Hot-swappable (meaning that I can swap the switches), Compact layout (84 keys3) and Gateron G Red Switch (pre-lubed).

Some things I learned with this keyboard is that I more fond of linear switches than clicky/tactile ones. The thing that bothered me the most is that the keycaps accumulated a lot of grease and started to get too shiny4.

Future Keyboards

Corne V3

One of the first things you discover when you start to look after ergonomic keyboards is that you can build one yourself. There is a multitude of communities, projects and contents over the internet.

I really liked some models:

  1. Sweep is a 34 keys split keyboard. I wanted a bit more keys, so I discarded this one.
  2. Cantor is a 42 keys split keyboard. The problem with this one is that I couldn’t find the required low-profile switches for cheap, so I discarded this option. However, it was my favorite design!
  3. Corne is a 36 keys split keyboard. This is probably the most famous split keyboard. I chose it because it was basically the cheapest option for me and also had more keys than Sweep.

Although I bought everything needed to start soldering the Corne together, my country’s post office probably lost my PCB during delivery. So I don’t have much to say about, if they happen to deliver it I might write about my experience soldering it or just straight out buy the complete kit from KeyHive.

SZA Moonlader Mark I

At the moment I’m waiting for my Moonlander SZA Mark I to arrive. I didn’t do much research on the keyboard as I wasn’t intending on buying one (too expensive here) and instead I got one as a gift! Given this, I thought it would be cool to wait for a cool unboxing experience to a novel technology for me.

Drinking the Colemak Kool-Aid

Considering this huge introduction, my conclusion was that I should probably take advantage of this new keyboard form I’m getting and learn a new keyboard layout. This might give me some benefits upon my wrist injuries and make typing less painful.

I was between Dvorak and Colemak but the thing is, all the discussions around these layouts seemed to be mostly about personal preferences so I decided to pick one with the most sensible technique: the coin flip and the coin told me to go with Colemak.

Through my small research I found out that Colemak ships by default on most Linux distros and it works very good with other languages (Brazilian Portuguese 🇧🇷).

I guess that the only thing left is to practice typing on it now!

  1. I’ve never learned how to touch type correctly and as such I only use at most 3 fingers on each hand. ↩︎

  2. Yuri was the friend of mine that bought it and actually liked to type on it. Different people, different switch tastes. 😊 ↩︎

  3. Most known as a 75% layout. ↩︎

  4. I fixed this with a cheap keyset from AliExpress that meant to go to my Corne V3. ↩︎

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