- Published on
How I Made the Perfect Keyboard Mine
After years of hunting and trying new things, I've finally found the perfect keyboard for me.
The ZSA Moonlander MK I.
Why This One?
There are a few killer features that come with the Moonlander, but I'll highlight the ones relevant to me.
I've had Carpal Tunnel since I was 13 or 14. As a result, I have to use various input devices in an attempt to prevent any flare ups.
No Companion Software
I switch between computers multiple times a day. From MacOS, to Windows, to Linux, I use them all. Most other keyboards require you to install some sort of "companion" program on your computer for all of the customization you've done to actually work on that computer. With the Moonlander, that is no longer a thing.
You can customize the layout of your keyboard on the ZSA website and compile it to a bin. You then use their program "Wally" to flash the new firmware to the keyboard, making it so all of your custom settings are installed to the board.
Say goodbye to regular key combos. Instead of having things such as "launch this program" tied to something like
Cmd+Shift+Alt+Ctrl+L, you create another "layer" of keys with one key that launches the program.
If you're not familiar with this concept of layers, it's likely this doesn't make much sense so let me elaborate. Take the following screenshot for example:
You'll notice three tabs at the top of the board, those are the three layers I have configured and ready to go, with each one serving a different purpose. When it comes to switching between those layers, you have two options:
- Press & Hold
- A key that must be held down in order to activate the alternate layer.
- A key that toggles on the alternate layer until it's pressed again.
To that end, if you look closely enough you'll notice the keys that do what I mentioned. The one in the bottom left that says
LT -> 1 means it's a key that activates Layer 1 while the button is pressed. Letting go will return you back to your normal layer.
If you want to toggle the layers, that's where the "boxed 1" key comes in. I should note, I call this key the boxed # key, but that's because I don't know of a better alternative 😅 The key I'm referring to is this one:
When you press the boxed key, it enables the layer you specify until it is pressed again and you're returned to the previous layer.
So... How Did You Customize Yours?
Well, when I first got the keyboard I just hooked it up and set out to get back to my original WPM. I'd never used an ergonomic keyboard before so when I first switched I went from my average of 100 - 120 WPM down to 20 - 30 WPM. I'm happy to report that after a solid 7 days of using it, I'm back to my original speed but with more errors as I get used to the fine motor skills of using this keyboard.
Since I'm still adjusting to the keyboard, I haven't done anything fancy with my keys in any of the layers. Now that I'm getting better with it, I'll be tinkering with the actual keys being pressed and mess around with the layers. When I do get to that point, I'll be sure to post it here 😄
Adjustment aside, I have done some serious customizing of my board. The biggest thing being color coding various keys based on the function they serve. For example, all of my multi-function keys and layer based keys are all red-ish. This makes it easier to take a glance at my board to know what I need.
All regular keys such as the alphanumeric ones are green, and specialty keys that aren't covered by the above color are set to yellow. The yellow keys include things such as left/right arrows, shift, backspace, etc.
I'd never really gotten involved with custom keycaps before. For some reason it just never seemed appealing to me; until I got my Moonlander anyway. When I was about 50% "converted" over to this keyboard, I began poking around for custom keycaps to use for my special keys. I found a good number of keys I liked and ordered them. At the time of writing this, I'd say about 30% of the keys I ordered have arrived. That said, I'll be sure to include plenty of photos of the ones I've already received and the ones I'm waiting to receive.