[Gllug] Chorded keyboards

Frank Scott lists at frasco.org.uk
Sat Jul 17 11:21:10 UTC 2010

On Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 09:14:15AM +0100, Walter Stanish wrote:
> Happy with this success I am now looking at QWERTY alternatives and  
> found a UK manufactured device known as the CyKey (~80GBP) and an  
> international one known as Twiddler2.  The second appears - after STFW  
> - to be out of stock and of dubious manufacturing quality, so I'm  
> going to try out the first.
> Has anyone used any of these devices before, specifically with Linux?  
> I am particularly interested in custom chords (a bit like physical  
> gesture macros) and    any experience using these input systems with  
> vim.

I have a CyKey which is a descendant of the original MicroWriter which
morphed into the Agenda PDA. This had a plastic casing molded to fit the
right hand with long travel microswitched buttons for each finger and
two buttons for your thumb. The original device had a small LCD screen
 and minute amount of RAM and was a sort of portable note taker. They 
later sold a gutted version with no screen and the electronics replaced 
by a resistor network as an input device for the BBC micro and called 
it a Quinkey. I had one and it worked fine except the 4 finger and 2
thumb keys didn't give enough combinations to encode the function keys
on the BBC. It was very quick to learn and comfortable to use.

The Cykey uses the same system with the addition of an extra thumb key
to give a full set of keycodes (it actually has a symmetric layout of 9
keys to accommodate left handers, but you only use seven). It is a flat
pad device with chiclet style keys.

I find it a lot harder to use the Cykey than the original MicroWriter.
The original's sculptured shape provides a more restful position for the
hand and gives a good 'home' location. The microswitches are much nicer
than the rubber pads. The CyKey is obviously designed for use with
mobile devices (they specifically mention Palms on their website),
rather than as a keyboard replacement.

I have had no problems using the CyKey with vim, but I'm thinking of
adding another microswitch and an Arduino to my Quinkey and resurrecting
it as a replacement keyboard.

Your hands are probably nimbler than mine, but I suspect that if i used
the CyKey for a lot of input I'd soon develope RSI


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