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In my attempt to try a chording keyboard I built a spiffchorder with a modified keymap and extended software (macros, built-in help and some very special chords which do not only create a single keypress).

It did not take too long to get those chords into my head, but I didn’t really gain typing speed. Maybe I’ll try again using a hardware which makes my fingertips press the keys.

chord1a.jpg chord1b.jpg chord1c.jpg

1. keymap changes

Basic symbols have not been changed but most others have — to make them easier to remember (at least for me). For example binary numbers are chorded like their binary representation.

This sheet is helpful, as long as unchanged chords are used.

I used training lessons published in this document.

Pressing all keys at once prints out a simple keymap which looks as shown below. Some end of lines comments have been added and show how to remember some symbols when prefixed with n (near thumb). Some prefixed chords are not used yet. There are much more unused chords (most single chords which include center and near thumb at the same time). Some chords are still missing, for example escape, ctrl prefix and alt prefix.

Left four columns show prmi (pinky, ring, middle, index finger). Next two columns nc (near and center thumb key). Next columns shows generated symbol without any prefix chord and symbol generated when prefixed by n (near thumb) key.

p        w
 r       y
pr       u _     // underscore
  m      r ()
p m              // unused
 rm      h #     // hash
prm      s /     // slash
   i     i -
p  i     b \     // backslash
 r i     k :
pr i     z ;
  mi     d $     // dollar
p mi             // this is really hard to chord, don't use it!
 rmi     e !     // exclamation mark
prmi     t +     // t looks similar to plus
p     c  f []
 r    c  g >     // greater than
pr    c  v {}
  m   c  c ^     // caret
p m   c          // unused
 rm   c  p %     // percent
prm   c  n
   i  c  l <     // less
p  i  c  x *     // they look similar...
 r i  c  j
pr i  c  q ?     // question mark
  mi  c  m =
p mi  c          // this is really hard to chord, don't use it!
 rmi  c  a &     // ampersand
prmi  c  o |     // or (in programming languages)
p    n   8
 r   n   4
pr   n   .
  m  n   2
p m  n           // unused
 rm  n   6
prm  n   ,
   i n   1       // with near thumb prefix: replay macro number one
p  i n   9
 r i n   5
pr i n           // cycle through "'@~°`´µ€§-=, see below
  mi n   3
p mi n           // this is really hard to chord, don't use it!
 rmi n   7
prmi n   0

Not printed from the keyboard (because it is not that easy as the printable symbols above):

fingers   meaning
--------  --------------
      c   space
prmi nc   start macro
       f  shift prefix
p      f  enter
 r     f  right
pr     f  down
  m    f  backspace
p m    f  unused
 rm    f  delete
prm    f  page down
   i   f  left
p  i   f  end
 r i   f  tab
pr i   f  home
  mi   f  up
p mi   f  unused
 rmi   f  page up
prmi   f  unused

Pressing far thumb once means "use shift for the next symbol"; pressing it twice means "shift lock".

Prefixing a number (1-9, 0) with far thumb results in (F1-F9, F10).

Prefixing cursor movement keys, backspace and enter with near thumb will send CTRL together with the next key to the computer.

2. special features

2.1. record and play macros

Chording prmi nc starts macro recording, i n (1) prefixed with near thumb stops macro recording (if recording is active) or plays back the recorded macro (if recording is not active). It might be better to use something without prefix to replay the macro. On the other hand one could store and replay more than one macro using this scheme (number prefixed with near thumb).

2.2. parenthesis, braces

Usually you use them pairwise and not an opening without a closing one — this keyboard is not optimized for smileys). So there are chords generating

() and left arrow
[] and left arrow
{} and left arrow

so one can just continue typing within those braces.

2.3. select/mark text

…by sending SHIFT+movement to the computer: press the far thumb key once (which is "shift prefix" as usual) and use one of the cursor movement chords (arrow keys and so on) afterwards will make "shift prefix" sticky. It will remain sticky as long as only cursor movement chords are used.

2.4. prefix and rarely used symbols

Chording pr i n cycles through a list of characters. With every repeated press (which actually is a release on a chording keyboard) the previous character is deleted and the next one send. The first attempt of a list which I thought to be useful (for me) is


The first one (double quotation marks) is special. If you press one of aous afterwards you get one of äöüß (my mother tongue is german so I regularly need them), with every other character you just get the quotation mark.

This chord is handy for rarely used symbols. If you use something rarely it is hard to remember and it does not hurd if you have to cycle through a list until you find the desired symbol.

Letzte Änderung: 20.10.2014 21:38
Jens W. Wulf