Many of my projects are not born of necessity, but out of amusement or curiosity. Well, here’s one that does both. Without tools, I can be pretty forgetful, especially of mundane things. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at knowing this about myself and coming up with solutions. This is the first physical solution I’ve built, though.
As some of you might know already, I like to nerd out about input devices. I’ve had the desire to build and try out a chorded keyboard ever since I first watched The Mother of all Demos. Chorded keyboards have had some popularity with wearable computing enthusiasts due to their one-handed use, but I thought they might also be interesting for ergonomic reasons. Building a chorded keyboard would also be a great learning experience as a deep dive into the workings of USB HID devices.
Keyboards are important to me. I used to love pretty, low-profile scissor-key style keyboards. After trying a ergonomic keyboard a few years ago and having it relieve my occasional wrist pain, I never went back. Typing on a non-split keyboard even feels strange now. For about two years I’ve been using the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 Keyboard both at home and at work. There are a bunch of reasons that this is my favorite keyboard lately: the keys have a very solid action (not as much as the wonderful old IBM Model M, sadly), the enter key is on a single line (as opposed to keyboards with backwards-L shaped enter keys, which push the \ key to be moved elsewhere, often making for a smaller backspace key) and the angle and split of the keyboard has really helped my wrists.