What is this all about?
This is a project to make your own split keyboard; but why do I need one, you ask?
Well, “ergonomics” seems to be the buzz word nowadays, from standing desks, to ergo chairs, it’s all about minimizing health risks during the time you spend in front of a computer screen.
Your everyday scenario: When you use a normal keyboard to type, you bring both your hands close together, which also gets your shoulder blades to point inwards and forward in a sort of a hunched posture. This stresses your upper back muscles over time, and shrinks the chest muscles. It also deteriorates your posture over time, and you get used to keeping your shoulders hunched and rolled inwards, even when not in front of a computer.
The solution: A split keyboard; with a split keyboard, you can keep your hands apart (Note: You should be good at touch typing (typing without looking down at the keyboard) to be able to operate the split keyboard as there will be no interaction between the left hand side keyboard and the right hand side. If you are not, you can start by keeping the keyboards close together at first (just like your normal keyboard), and moving them further away once you get better at touch typing)). I suggest you practice a little touch typing for a couple of days, it’s not very difficult.
With the split keyboard, it’s not only healthier for you and better for your posture, you will surely impress your friends and colleagues with it, ‘cause once complete, it also looks rad af!
I highly recommend you watch the video of the complete project before going through the steps:
Step 1: What You Need
Keyboards X 2 (Yes, you need two fully functional keyboards for this project).
Screwdriver (sized as per your keyboard screws).
Cutting tools (regular household grinder/cutter will do; something that will cut plastic and thin steel).
USB ports on your computer X 2.
Step 2: Open Up Your Keyboards (carefully).
The first step is to open up your keyboards.
I would suggest you do not buy expensive keyboards (I used two $10 keyboards for this). Unscrew the back panel, and carefully remove the keypad, the plastic circuit, and the microchip.
If you are having trouble, watch the above video 'What's inside your keyboard' to understand the basics of the keyboard and how to open one.
Step 3: Split 'em
Once you have your keyboard open, and all the parts out, it is time to split them. Use one keyboard to make the left hand side of your split keyboard, and the other to make the right hand side. Mark the keyboards, on the back with a marker/sharp object along the line (see photo with marking).
Make sure you cut from the back-side of the keyboard (flipped over), because cutting from the front will damage your keys. I would suggest you use a hot knife/cutting tool for the plastic if a grinder is proving too much of a challenge. You do not want to break your keys! I used a grinder for the steel back panel of my keyboard, and a hot solder gun with a knife end for the plastic keypad.
Tip: Even if you break your keys, don’t, worry, you will have a lot of leftovers at the end that you can replace and use.
DO NOT cut the foldable plastic circuit shown in the image above. You need this circuit to be intact.
Step 4: Reattach All the Parts
Attach the plastic circuit sheet to the chip, like shown (for both the left and the right side).
Make sure they are really tight; if the circuit and the chip are not tightly pressed together, the keyboard will not work.
Now it is time to put back together the keyboards. Attach back the keypad halves of the left hand side, and the right hand side, respectively, on the plastic circuit sheet, make sure they sit in the right places, and sit tight. The plastic sheet will be, at this point, like your keyboard's tongue hanging out from both keyboards (see photo). You can fold these back at this point, and hot-glue it to the back panel.
Step 5: Done!
Now that you have reattached the 2 halves on their panels,and folded back the plastic circuit sheet, you are done! You have a split keyboard, ready for action.
Step 6: Test Your Project!
Success is only a few keystrokes away! Go ahead and plug
your keyboards into your computer’s USB ports, and start typing!
You can now place the 2 halves of your keyboard at any distance and orientation that you like to facilitate better typing, and maintain good posture.
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