I recently bought a 3d printer (makerbot replicator 2…story to come soon) and I have been playing around with printing some chorded keyboard chassis.
This is the first prototype. The Z axis of the print is away from the pad of my hand, and perpendicular to the cross bar int he back. I was concerned about rigidity, and the size of the print. Overall, it is not horribly uncomfortable, but it raised several issues. Obviously, this thing is tiny in comparison to my hand. Unfortunately, it is pushing the build area limit on the printer. Second are the thumb buttons. This is a 7 key-board, inspired by the spiffchorder and BAT keyboards. As they are, the thumb buttons are going to be miserable here. I will have to modify it. Also, there is no way to keep this thing from moving without a base. This is bad, because right now there is no “base” connection.
Here is the second concept. It is meant to be used, stationary on a desk, like a trackball mouse. Here is the print in my hand:
The shape and layout is pretty comfortable, especially because I adjusted the key spacing to be that of my hand when it is at rest. I ahve noticed that my ring and middle fingers touch when my hand is relaxed, while my pinkie and index fingers are .5-.75″ away from their neighbors. I also adjusted the heights to match my fingers.
I also decided to do away with the 3 thumb keys, and to replace it with something like a D-pad or three position switch. that way, my thumb doesn’t have to move much, which should help hold the keyboard steady.
Unfortunately, the keyboard wells did not come out quite right. Here, you can see the piece in the print orientation. Note the copious amount of ABS strings hanging off the wells. No good. I told the slicer to generate support material, but to no avail. That is something that will need to be fixed…