Common or Special
Somehow, “Building own keyboard” is trending in around my techie friends of Japan since the beginning of this year. I’m not interested in that initially, because such the keyboard may break easier. I loved to use the specially built keyboard (Especially, TEX Yoda TrackPoint Keyboard was my best), but sometimes faced breakdowns and hardness to repair or replace with same products due to that is “specially built”. Then I completely switched to Apple Magic Keyboard, Happy Hacking Keyboard or hit keys on my laptop directly. They provided significant stability in my typing life again.
On the other hand, I knew about ErgoDox EZ by my friend, Yohei’s blog. He especially mentioned that his stiff shoulder was absorbed by using ErgoDox EZ. That turned me on the separate keyboard since I’m feeling fatigue on my shoulder after coding recently. So, ordered immediately when I read his article.
Actually, felt certain improvements in my posture, although losing my typing speed and making tons of typos. Eventually, I couldn’t adopt ErgoDox EZ for my usual coding. Its key-pitch and keycaps’ size didn’t match to me, too big, wide and high. The frustration had beaten the pain of my fatigue, unfortunately.
My main keyboard was filled by HHKB again then.
Meet to Zen keyboard
However, I couldn’t abandon using the split keyboard after I knew my thumbs got more duties. During that, found Zen keyboard. That has the more compact body and fewer switches than ErgoDox EZ. That looked my ideal. Then looked around similar keyboards, but most of the keyboards which I interested in was sold in Japan limitedly. Especially, Fortitude 60 and Helix are so dope. Zen was only available to get in San Francisco (Apparently made in Boston).
After ordering, I learned about keyboards of today. My knowledge was only “Key switches have color on its axis to show touch feelings”, yes totally a beginner.
For building, luckily, I had some experiences in tech college. The soldering, even for surface mounts was my favorite time with nostalgia (felt my aging though). Though I had a problem that a key does’t work (Probably my soldering was not enough and disconnected by the shock of assembling), recovered by bypassing with reading Zen’s circuit layouts.
I left my building process on Instagram frequently:
Build Keyboard - @hmsk
See Instagram 'Build Keyboard' highlights from Kengo Hamasaki (@hmsk)
Software part was not a critical blocker too. And thanks to Ergodox EZ, I could learn about QMK to customize keymaps, to build firmware on my laptop. I could build my keymap for Zen smoothly. Only a difference is a writer software.
My keymap is frequently updated:
Currently, I’m enjoying to use Zen. Don’t feel any frustration, or rather chilling by daily typing. Essentially, my typing speed got slower but the experience “I built this” is much absorbing any stresses lol.
My next target is Sol which is the successor of Zen. I can’t wait that’s dispatched in November. Happy to have my new hobby.