Hi everyone. I appreciate the response I received yesterday. Thank you. Here’s a formal intro.
My name is Peter. I’m a software engineer (mostly c++ but a bit of everything). I’ve been doing this professionally since the mid nineties (and really ever since I was a kid with gwbasic on my pcjr and my dad’s XT). I’m here for different reasons than most (hopefully all) of you. I have serious health issues. The tldr is spinal cord damage and a very bad right side. I’m not in a wheelchair (brace/cane) but it’s not good.
I type and mouse almost entirely lefty (even though I’m right handed). It is fatiguing to sit at a desk for long stretches. Something has to give soon.
So I have decided to start working from a recliner instead of a desk. The first thing I needed was a 1H keyboard that can work on a recliner arm. I explored a ton of commercial options, but none were quite what I was looking for, but stumbled on the MK scene. THAT was what I was looking for.
I’m here out of need now, but this hobby is really right up my alley. Other than PC building I stink at hardware but enjoy fiddling anyway. I don’t keep one anymore, but I used to control my saltwater aquarium with an arduino. I use Pi’s now to help with home automation. If I can muddle through the hardware and get to the code I can fly.
My current daily KB is a logitech G413 carbon, but it’s time for a change (and hopefully less wobbly and mushy switches).
I’m optimistic too. I have more ideas than skills at the moment, but I think what I want is unique but doable from my reading. I’m going to start with something basic and stop gappy while working on a breadboard for the hard stuff. At least that’s the plan today…
HA is definitely a rabbit hole. There’s way more there than I’ve touched. Right now I’m using it to stitch together Alexa with a big multihub custom rule Hue setup, Harmony, and the home theater. I’m planning on adding the AC next. HA is so so valuable for integrating these disparate systems.
If I remember correctly, both the Ergodox EZ and the newer Moonlander are splits designed to allow you to use only the lefty side. If you haven’t tried one, that might be a great place to start exploring (and figuring out your preferred keymap for doing so). Hope that helps!
Going into making a custom design already? You’re really diving way into the deep end right off the bat!
In terms of one-handed boards, I’m not sure how well it would work but there are quite a few split ergo designs that have enough keys to have everything you need in layers. I would suggest looking into making a Dactyl; there are tons of 3d print files for different layouts, both in terms of ergonomics and number of rows/columns. It does require hand wiring but it seems like you’re already leaning in that direction
I also agree with @iaman, the Ergodox EZ was my first thought when it came to split boards with enough keys to use one-handed. Their customer service is top notch as well so I’m sure they could clarify on left-side-only operation. It isn’t cheap but if you want something to use while you work on your own thing that would be my top suggestion. You can also get them at a steep discount on Ebay since a lot of people buy them and then decide they don’t want to put in the time/effort to get used to the layout.
Also, I know you said you got turned off reddit already but you might want to browse through /r/ErgoMechKeyboards for ideas. It’s a much smaller community than the main mkb subreddit and from what I’ve seen they’re more receptive to helping people.
I’ve got some right-side spinal cord damage myself, but have so far been lucky enough that it’s only minimally limiting - still looking for a desk that works for me, though. My stop-gap there has been a couch and a plank of wood on my lap, which works infinitely better than a desk. I can only imagine adapting to just using my non-dominant hand.
I admire your perseverance - and I think you’ve come to the right place in terms of facilitating your project. Aside from being something the community can assist with for the sake of assistance, it’s also an engaging puzzle for bright and curious minds to chew on.
Aside from the obvious and the aforementioned wobbly mush, what qualities do you like and dislike about your G413?
I looked heavily into the ergodox. I can confirm 100% from their support that left only works. I also had a great experience with their rep, so kudos there. It’s so so close to what I’m looking for, but just not quite enough buttons for me. The 3 prebuilts I heavily considered were the ergodox, the maltron, and the matias. At the end of the day the ergodox is still tempting. I also never thought about snaking someone else’s regret on ebay!
I did look at the dactyl quite a bit. I forget the exact version, but the larger one was very interesting. I think I’m afraid of switching to a curved keyboard like that or the maltron on a recliner. I also can’t get it out of my head. It’s so interesting.
I’m definitely building at least two. These sorts of projects are all sorts of fun for me, and I just can’t find what I want. Physically putting it together is going to be difficult but for soldering I have intelligent helping hands, my wonderful wife, who already volunteered without asking! I can talk her through it and help with one hand.
My (in flux) plan is to first hand wire something similar to half a BFO 9000. It’s enough buttons to play with layouts and sort out how much I really need vs what I think I need. Plus I need to learn rather than going nuts right out of the gate. Round 2 in my head is if the left halves of the bfo and the ergodox had a baby with a trackball at the thumb. Between the ergodox, dactyl, and keeb.io suggestions you all ended up where I did. It took you one night instead of 1 month though! Nice to hear I’m on the right track.
Speaking of trackballs and Dactyls, there’s a cool build log somewhere that adds a TB to the dactyl. Fun read.
Deadeye, it sucks but life is about getting the most out of the cards you’re dealt. Regarding the logitech, I don’t dislike it. The keys are wobbly and mushy but I still prefer it strongly to the laptop and run of the mill desktop keyboards I use at work. The case is really nice. The leds are stellar.