Alex Johnstone

All the keyboards: Ergodox

Keyboard series


The original

I’d heard / seen online about the ergodox. I feel like it was one of the early custom design keyboards that turned into a product line. The design was made available to anyone and in the beginning you’d have to build it yourself or join a group buy. This progressed to a couple of online stores stocking parts so you could build it yourself and I think massdrop (now called used to do a run of it every so often.

I think at this point, I’d never made a keyboard and wasn’t sure about it. I’d watched a couple of massdrop runs come and go and I might’ve even ordered one but then cancelled it. It was also my first sortie into the expensive keyboard domain! The Poker wasn’t exactly cheap but this was on a higher power of 10.

The vomit board

I then found this company, ergodox-ez who were selling prebuilt ones complete with tenting kit (legs at the side to prop it up) and wrist rests. Their price was competitive with build it yourself ones and the quality looked good, so I ordered.

Now is a good time to introduce the term Ortholinear. Perhaps Jack, the maker of the Planck, came up with it or perhaps someone else but it means that the keys are all in a vertical row, as opposed to being offset like a regular keyboard layout. Supposedly it reduces travel time and fatigue, meaning you can type faster for longer.

Your fingers don’t travel sideways

That’s the theory, but with all new keyboard layouts you have to account for the fact that the past 20+ years of using a regular keyboard you have a lot of muscle memory to overcome. New layouts do offer the chance to correct any bad typing habits you have, and the ergodox gave me a prompt schooling in my bad habits.

As a split board there’s no ability for one hand to type the other’s keys. Turns out I’m quite the left handed typer and my will stray all the way over to J, Y, H, N area. Now with those keys on a separate board at least 10 cm away that wasn’t happening!

I typed slowly and fiddled around with the layouts and layers, I tried many different key caps, and I tried tenting, but all of which didn’t make me want to use or keep this board. My wrists grew uncomfortable and it was generally unpleasant to use. I contacted ergodoxez to see if they had any suggestions but in the end I gave up. I think my thumb didn’t like the angle to press the thumb keys, which were spacebar and enter, so pretty common keys.

Like many of the boards I sold it on reddit.