Twiddling my thumbs!

Twiddling my thumbs!
Just twiddling my thumbs!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Dvorak Keyboards

About a million years ago, in high school, I took a typing class. Being one of those people that read for pleasure, I read the intro in the typing textbook. There I found a short, but surprisingly thorough, history of the typewriter. The QWERTY layout was designed to slow down the typist in order to prevent the mechanism from jamming. Dvorak was among the layouts that were going for speed and efficiency.  Unfortunately the technology was not up to the task and QWERTY became the default standard.
I've always wanted to learn Dvorak, but I've always had to share a computer until about five or so years ago.  I had picked up a copy of "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, 5", which is the last version to feature Dvorak, so all I needed was a keyboard.

The first one was the simplest to achieve; take the keys off of an old keyboard and rearrange as needed.  Two problems with this approach; the keys are molded in a way that improves the interface, but when you rearrange them you get weird angles. I could deal with that. The second problem was specific to my long ago broken wrist; trying to hold my hands in a correct typing position would cause excruciating pain after a couple of minutes.

 I moved on to the ergonomic board.
I got this board used for five bucks and figured I would pop the keys and rearrange as before, BUT, the keys would break instead of come out so the simple conversion became more complex. Steampunk keyboards were hot stuff at the time so I thought that's what I would make this one into.
 These are Lego axles that I was testing as a base for a key replacement.
This project will probably never move forward. I would have to manufacture each individual key. I could do this, but the desire isn't there. Steampunk has gone mainstream-ish and it just wouldn't be as cool a thing anymore.

 Anyway, I still needed a keyboard. I think I paid $12 for this one. Then I bought some good quality stickers. This is the better way of converting.  The letters are printed on the underside of a lexan sheet so they don't wear off and if you take some time and clean the key tops thoroughly the stickers are essentially permanent.

I had to do a little trimming on the home keys.

Eventually, Ol' Sticky started failing and I had to replace her. I bought this beast brand new with a pack of stickers. Only the stickers wouldn't fit.

Because the board itself has so many adjustments, I wondered if the keys were all alike. They mostly were so I could rearrange them to my hearts delight.
Except for the home keys; they had an extra something on them that prevented them from being moved to another position. Clever monkey that I am, I figured out what was different and performed surgery on the home keys. a little spot of JB Weld on the new home keys and here we are!

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