Mini mechanical keyboard splits down the middle

Craving a mechanical keyboard with a split layout? The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard might be just the thing.

Source: Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

This mini mechanical offering arranges Cherry MX switches on two halves of a steel endoskeleton. Metal guides and neodymium magnets hold the two pieces together when the keyboard is joined, while a cable completes the connection in split mode. Another cable connects the keyboard to the host system.

Although the compact layout lacks a numpad, paging block, and other important keys, additional functions can be accessed via a layering system that changes the keyboard mapping. Pre-baked layers are loaded with common functions, media shortcuts, and even mouse commands. Users can also define their own mapping preferences and custom macros. As an added bonus, the Agent software used to program the keyboard runs on Windows, OS X, and Linux.

The Ultimate Hacking Keyboard isn't available yet, but it should pop up on Kickstarter soon. If the funding drive is successful, the folks behind it promise to release the firmware, software, and electronics design source code under an open-source license. The bootloader is apparently public already, but the company is giving itself five years to open up the CAD files for the physical design.

Comments closed
    • psuedonymous
    • 5 years ago

    As an already split keyboard (no mucking about with hacking membranes of cutting apart and bridging PCBs) it’d be great for putting on either arm of a simpit chair.

    • geekl33tgamer
    • 5 years ago

    From their Website:
    [quote<]The halves merge together as one piece, which is useful for transportation purposes or if you happen to prefer a one-piece keyboard.[/quote<] So, you can save a tonne and buy a regular programmable keyboard instead then?

    • Hattig
    • 5 years ago

    Control isn’t in the right place. And wtf is a Mouse key anyway.

    Hacking … but key coding characters still require the use of shift – ( ) { } :

    Good things – tenkeyless, compact, ergonomicish, no function keys. Super key nice (presumably it’s the windows key) if made use of by the OS. The control keys are large.

    The lack of a cursor T is problematic, although a true hacker will ctrl-key his way round the code far faster than using them. Sadly, I still use them.

    Maybe if the Super/Meta/Fn/Control/Caps/Mouse keys were left unlabelled for personal preference for arrangement… I’d like Fn where the Mouse key is perhaps (or ctrl).

    • Shoki
    • 5 years ago

    I want one but I’d rather just have a simple cable to use when splitting. Those retractable cables are kind of a gimmick in my opinion.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      In my experience, those retractable cables give out, eventually doing one of two things: either never locking into place, so it’s always tense, or never retracting so it’s just floppy.

    • anotherengineer
    • 5 years ago

    For that rare moment when your kids fight over who gets to use the keyboard………..there is your half and there is your half………………

    • Peter.Parker
    • 5 years ago

    Looks fine to me!
    [url<]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sh1MQPprztI/U59LDpdIJ9I/AAAAAAAAAGE/MENY4BVFhPg/s1600/Looks+Fine+to+Me.jpg[/url<]

      • derFunkenstein
      • 5 years ago

      Second time I’ve seen that pic today (first was on Facebook) and it makes me giggle.

    • albundy
    • 5 years ago

    just when you think they couldn’t make a more laughable keyboard…they go ahead and make this!

      • AdamDZ
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah, but this the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard!!! It’s hacked in half and still works!!!

      • txgs
      • 5 years ago

      It is a very small niche market keyboard, the only true usefulness over a regular or tenkeyless keyboard i could see would be for low sensitivity fps gamers. I’ll take myself as an example, I play counter strike global offensive, using low sensitivity. I use a large mousepad and I tend to use it fully due to the low sens. On a regular tenkey (with numpad) keyboard, I would be at a quite uncomfortable open arm position since keyboard would be too much to the left, or mouse too much to the right, in order to be able to use the mousepad, and even then, I would hit the right side of the keyboard waaay too many times with the mouse. On a tenkeyless keyboard (no numpad), I almost reach the perfect spot, but I still hit the right side of the keyboard plenty of times when turning left in game. This split keyboard would be perfect, since for counter strike, I only need the left half, allowing me to push the right half up and out of the way. I would be able to fully parallelize my arms when playing for more comfort.

      That’s the only thing I cant think of, and well, portability I suppose? Other than that, you are right, I don’t see this getting anywhere on normal keyboard users.

    • rechicero
    • 5 years ago

    I admit I can’t understand how things like these exists plus hundreds of “yet another mechanical gaming kb” (I don’t say it’s bad!) and nobody, absolutely nobody makes something capable of replace my old (and I mean “it stopped being supported before the arrival of 64 bit CPUs” OLD) MS Office Keyboard:

    [url<]http://activewin.com/reviews/hardware/keyboards/ms/office_keyboard/index.shtml[/url<] The extra large supr/del key, the left pad with the awesome scrolling wheel... I guess nobody gives a **** about productivity keyboards. If anybody know of a possible replacement...

      • bthylafh
      • 5 years ago

      Logitech has some wireless keyboards with a similar layout, modulo the scroll wheel.

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        Couldn’t find one… Anyway, there are some keyboards with mouse scroll wheels (and without the copy-cut-past, back forward, scroll module of the left). But that’s no better than the mouse :-(.

        Anyway, I know it’s a lost cause. Luckily, there are some ppl out there who love this keyboard and made a Hotkey macro to simulate the wheel (and the office keys) with 64bit drivers, so I can still use it.

        But the first capable of doing a modern clone of my KB will have my money.

          • bthylafh
          • 5 years ago

          The MK320 and MK550 combos or K350 keyboard appear vaguely similar.

            • rechicero
            • 5 years ago

            Yeah, if my kb finally dies, those are the alternatives. But losing the left panel with awesome scroll wheel and buttons for copy-cut-paste, back/forward, and next/previous window would be a pain. When copy pasting from different docs, they save a lot of time. And when working, time=money.

            Thanks a lot anyway!

      • slowriot
      • 5 years ago

      Some thoughts…

      1. Hundreds of virtually identical mechanical keyboards exist because the vast majority of them are just rebrands or slight cosmetic changes from the many others, all largely coming out of the same handful of factories. There’s rarely a noteworthy functional difference. Therefore there’s not much of a barrier to entry with the mechanical keyboard market and you will get tons of clones.

      2. That Microsoft keyboard is using a non-standard layout for the Del/Insert/Paging block. That’s why you don’t see it very often. There’s no productivity enhancement from it. Personally that layout would drive me mad.

      3. Instead of that scroll which requires you move your hands away from home row, I rather see the use of touch points (like on a Thinkpad laptop). The touch points give you both the ability to move the cursor and scroll without moving your hands from home row.

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        1.- You’re probably right. Anyway, that’s good for the buyers.
        2.- As every non-standard layout, when you are used to it, you can’t live without it. IMHO it makes sense. I use the Del key a lot, much more than the rest. it makes sense to have a bigger Del key (again, IMHO).
        3.- The important thing (to me) is no moving the hands away from the keyboard (for the scroll) or using combination of keystrokes (like ctrl-c). But, again, it’s just a matter of being used to it. And, of course, of the work you do. When copy-pasting from several docs, I have one hand in the left panel, one in the mouse (for selecting) and it helps a lot.

        Anyway, I don’t say other KB are bad. It’s great you guys have so many options. But I’d like to have just one…

      • Generic
      • 5 years ago

      I really don’t mean to offend, but all those extras are available on a standard keyboard and mouse, are they not?

      I use a white light version of the below; a “boring” and productive mechanical keyboard if there ever was one.
      [url<]http://www.maxkeyboard.com/max-keyboard-nighthawk-x8-blue-backlit-mechanical-keyboard.html[/url<]

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        No offense taken. But… No. You are completely mistaken. The MS Office KB improved my productivity in 10% aprox (number of words processed). And that was calculated in the second month after the transition, now I’m more productive with it. If I had to go back to a standard KB I’d probably lose 15% of productivity (after the “retraining”, of course, the first month would be awful, but that’s a given with any change).

      • funko
      • 5 years ago

      The Logitech DiNovo Edge had the large Del key, but the scroll pad and touch pad were on the right side. Gained tons of avid fans because it was a workhorse, then it was discontinued. Now the rare units are going for over $700 if you can find one. (were at $300-$00 just last year)

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        That’s the thing, these keyboards are great for working. And they make you earn a lot of money. I’f probably pay that kind of money…

      • apertur3
      • 5 years ago

      Plenty on eBay…

      [url<]http://www.ebay.com/itm/Microsoft-Office-Keyboard-PS2-USB-with-Scroll-Wheel-NEW-SEALED-NIB-/251811654596?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3aa124ebc4[/url<]

        • rechicero
        • 5 years ago

        Thanks a lot!! Do you know if I’d be able to use another language keyboard frontal? (maybe changing some dome in the membrane)…

    • Zizy
    • 5 years ago

    Beh, pointless. The choice is still crappy membranes of natural 4k or crappy layout of mechanical keyboard. Minus possible kinesis and stuff, but I don’t fancy learning that. Not sure what is worse. I settled for natural one, at least it doesn’t wake the dead except when using spacebar.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Yuk.

    Still no ergonomic mechanicals worth getting in the “Microsoft Natural” layout which is favoured by many.

      • Vergil
      • 5 years ago

      Do you even Keyboard? This keyboard here is a mechanical 10 keyless high-grade gaming keyboard. Actually, it’s 15 keyless.
      That bulky ergonomic relic of the past is only used by people who type with 2 fingers and use the arrow keys at the bottom right for directions in games, lol.
      BTW: ESDF > WASD

      • cyrogenic
      • 5 years ago

      [url<]https://www.kinesis-ergo.com/shop/advantage-for-pc-mac/[/url<] uses Cherry MX Browns, and is absolutely fantastic. I've been using one for a year now, and can heartily, heartily recommend it. It may not be obvious that it uses wells, but it does. Each set of keys is angled. It uses a fixed distance that is much further apart, so it doesn't need the angling that the "Natural" layout uses. They also make the Advantage LF, which uses Cherry Reds. They also have more traditional "split" keyboards, though I don't know it those use mechanical keys. Expensive? Oh, yes. Worth it? In my book, yes. Oh and they are moddable, such as: [url<]https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=56923.0[/url<]

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        Too different.

        The MS Natural layouts are really great because they’re still standard 105-key layout. No need to relearn and anyone can use them.

        [url=http://xahlee.info/kbd/i3/microsoft_natural_keyboard_elite_2.jpg<]This is the classic ergo layout[/url<] and as far as I know there are no mechanicals in this layout yet.

          • Generic
          • 5 years ago

          That is still a lovely layout to this day. 🙂

      • funko
      • 5 years ago

      Agreed. I love the negative incline, the gentle split with subtle curving of the MS natural layout with built in padded wrist rests. the 4000 is the best, the MS sculpt is pretty good. Having my wrists bend inward for any straight keyboards for extended periods of time feels very unnatural and cramped. I can even keep up with RTS and FPS gaming with above average gamers (but not pro level) with the MS Natural layout.

      Comfort is king.

      • dymelos
      • 5 years ago

      I wonder how well a Microsoft made mechanical keyboard built just like the 4000 would be like, I have used the 4000 for years now and will continue to until they stop producing them.

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        Well, I assume they’d last even longer than the MSNK Elite, which was dismantleable and could be thrown in the diswasher with the PCB removed. I chucked mine out after about 10 years, and then went through three MSNK 4000s because they weren’t made as well.

        I still love the 4000, but it’s quite expensive, it’s mushy membrane-actioned and they really do feel awful within a year of heavy use, because the spacebar and oversized keys all wear out and start to squeak and rattle, which is a shame.

        I switched to a Das. Great keyboard, wish it was a more ergonomic layout.
        The market seems to be saturated with straight mechanical keyboards, but there are no 105-key ergonomic models AT ALL.

    • odizzido
    • 5 years ago

    ….would it really be all that difficult to do this? They’re offering hardware/software designs up on kickstarter like a prize but is the prize really worth anything?

      • mondalaci
      • 5 years ago

      Hardware/software designs are worthwile to someone who want to mod the keyboard in deeper ways. We are giving away the bulk of our intellectual property to empower a small percentage of customers to fully customize their product. Such a move can also increase innovation over time because one can build on the design of another. It’s open source in practice and we think it’s worthwile.

      László Monda – Ultimate Gadget Laboratories Kft.

    • Vergil
    • 5 years ago

    Now I know what keyboard to get, to be an ultimate hacker.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 5 years ago

    This is that age old problem of just because you CAN do a thing does that necessarily mean you SHOULD do that thing?

      • just brew it!
      • 5 years ago

      I tend to agree. This thing is probably more appropriate as a movie prop, in those obligatory cringe-worthy “Stand aside, I’m a hacker… I’ll crack that encryption for you, just give me about 10 seconds…” scenes.

        • RickyTick
        • 5 years ago

        NCIS, perhaps??

    • bthylafh
    • 5 years ago

    Looks a bit like the old IBM Model M15:
    [url<]http://deskthority.net/wiki/IBM_Adjustable_Keyboard[/url<]

      • UberGerbil
      • 5 years ago

      I’d forgotten about that one. Just the other day I was talking about IBM’s “Butterfly” Thinkpad keyboard to a young’un who’d never heard of it.

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