75% ortho layout?


Here’s my first attempt at designing my ideal keyboard layout:

I would like an ortho layout, but would like to keep all the keys from a standard 75%.

a few notes:

  • I wanted it to be the same size as a regular 75% so I could use a KBD75 case or something similar… I ended up one column short, though… any suggestions for this are welcome
  • not sure about the 1u shift keys, i’d prefer them to be larger, but this is closer to a true ortho layout, and I suppose easier to find keycaps for
  • vertical enter - I’m an ISO user so I went for something similar to an ISO enter. could probably also be a horizontal 2u key and put the “Ž” (or what have you) above it … perhaps an universal plate to support both versions might be possible?
  • I’ve tried a split keyboard variant as well, but I need my language’s extra alpha keys on the right, and an uneven split would really bother me …

Opinions? Comments?


The easiest way to cut out the top row (and make it fit in the usual GH60 cases) is to cut out the function row and put it on a layer
(but then of course you wouldn’t be using all of the standard keys), or…

cut out the number row and put it on a layer (maybe as a numpad)
(but then of course you wouldn’t be using all of the standard keys), or…

cut out both and the nav keys, put them on layers and make them accessible via modifiers, most easily accessed by thumbkeys or on the sides with your pinkie (Some prefer their modifiers in the middle and to press them with their index fingers) and you end up with something like a planck/preonic or an ergodox/redox/iris
(but then of course you wouldn’t be using all of the standard keys).

If you want to go smaller you will have to cut down on standard keys to variing degrees.

How to cut down on keys without layers? Well… by using layers… without a modifier:
1st step: Loose caps lock or put it on a layer on the shift key or sth. Nobody needs capslock. In fact it’s pretty annoying most of the time.

With most custom keyboard firmwares out there you can make it differeciate between a short and a slightly longer press and even a hold. Maybe access the F keys by pressing the number keys a bit longer. Maybe convert each letter of the (english) alphabet to CTRL+letter on a long press, then you can loose one of the 2 CTRL keys (keep the other for the other CTRL combinations - also if you game this could be an issue).

With the hold funtion you can make any key you usually don’t hold (space, enter, comma, point, esc(, numbers?)) into a modifier ONLY if held. On a short press it will put out enter, space point, comma, whatever. If you then put them in the thumb row they are very comfortable to reach and you’ll be using the space the space bar usually takes up more efficiently.

All these things will of course take varying degrees of proficiency in coding. Nothing unmanagable though.

Hope that helped!


Thanks for the feedback, these are some very cool suggestions regarding programming the layers.

However, the motivation behind this is exactly NOT to lose any of the standard keys. 75% is by far my favorite form factor, but I want to try an ortho layout and still keep the size (and all the keys).

If I wanted to go smaller, I’d probably just get an XD75 (which I might end up getting anyway, in which case your suggestions for setting up the layers/modifiers will be invaluable).


Which language is that? Czech? I’ve been designing a multilingual friendly layout. Would you need to use altgr still, or are those 5 accented letters pretty much all you need? I’ve only got about 5-8 extra keys so unfortunately I just can’t cover some languages.

ps. I’m a fan of the 2u vertical enter with a 2u backspace.


It’s croatian. The same layout is used in all countries that used to be Yugoslavia, meaning Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia all use pretty much the same layout. Serbian and Macedonian might also have aternative cyrillic layouts, not sure about that.

Those 5 keys are all that are needed. Alt-gr is still used, though to access the symbols displaced by the extra glyphs, so we have stuff liike @[]{} on the third alt-gr layer.

It’s almost the same layout as ISO-DE (so also QWERTZ), except you have ČĆĐŠŽ instead of the german umlaut letters. And for some reason the brackets etc. on the third layer are in completely different places, even though it’s the same characters.

I had the idea of designing a Slavic keycap kit similar to the usual NorDe kit, to cover most slavic languages including Czech, Polish, Slovak, Bulgarian etc… then I went looking at the layouts used in all the various countries and it’s a complete mess :frowning: Even though most of these languages use a lot of similar glyphs, the layouts are all over the place, it would be mission impossible to cover most of them with a keycap set of a reasonable size :frowning: