Reverse (Backside of Tablet) Split Keyboard
#1
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This idea has been cooking for a long time, and finally there is a perfect device to warrant further development. The basic idea is a slim split keyboard that attaches to the back of the tablet. The two halves are mirrored, with the top rows facing toward the middle of the tablet when you are holding it long-wise.

It has not been done, but is trivial on an open source low-profile mechanical keyboard with thumb keys to wire keys on both sides of the PCB. So for this design, most of the keys would be on one side of the PCB, as in most keyboards, while a few of the thumb keys would be on the flip side, peeking up from the sides of the tablet when in use. I saw someone wire a PCB this way and even describe how it could be used in a tablet keyboard with velcro almost exactly as I am describing, but I wasn't able to find the post again just now, I will do more research and find it.

Essentially: imagine holding the tablet long wise, with hands on both short ends (landscape), your palms would push on the sides of the tablet to hold it in place, likely as you regularly hold a tablet, but on the back of the tablet device would be a complete keyboard (or at least all the letters and numbers and punctuation, say 42 keys) underneat where your fingers naturally lay for each hand, half under your four left fingers, half under your other right. Facing you, alongside the screen of the tablet, would be at least two thumb buttons, as your thumbs naturally remain on the front side of hte tablet when in use. These would be enter,space,shift, etc and other layer keys.

People have pursued chording keyboards to a similar end, but I think the size of a tablet allows for a relatively complete, small, low profile mechanical keyboard to fit on the back and allow extremely fast touch typing on a tablet, and the pine note is perfect for this. This would allow you to very easily use the device as an extremely powerful word processor in your lap, and possibly even as you are walking, and would be a vast improvement over touch screen typing, or even thumb typing on a physical keyboard.


https://hackaday.com/wp-content/uploads/...ze=400,206

There have been at least three insights into this design that other people have had, though I think generally have been over-engineered. For example the blink keyboard is based on the same premise https://hackaday.io/project/174087-blink-keyboard

https://hackaday.io/project/158377-mecha...nd-tablets

https://hackaday.io/project/158377/logs

I will try to find the other examples and post more soon. Let me know what you think. I think this is already 80% availiable to produce just using existing open source split ergo low profile keyboard pcb designs.
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#2
Here are some links to low profile splet mechanical keyboard PCB designs/projects. As is these would practically stick right on to the back of a pinenote and provide touch typing experience, except that thumb keys would be inaccessible. The solution, which would likely require some iterations, would be to take the thumb keys and wire them on the other side of the pcb, meaning most of the keys would be normal, but two to four keys would be on the opposite side of the pcb, peaking out on either side of the tablet screen. I think probably a custom pcb would be required to make everything ergonomic, but I think would be relatively inexpensive to iterate. A bounty on a custom mechanical keyboard forum would probably result in some good crowd-sourced designs.

The next step would be figuring out some way to connect the keyboard to the device flush, using pins I imagine, and perhaps having some kind of case so that the two keyboard halves don't just end up individually velcro'd to the back of the tablet.

https://github.com/pierrechevalier83/ferris
https://www.reddit.com/r/ErgoMechKeyboar...ith_weact/
https://oddrocketkeyboards.blogspot.com/...it-v1.html



alternatively, there are pcbs out there with even smaller switch designs, which might be preferable.
https://www.40percent.club/2020/11/feegle-xs.html


the software for most custom keyboards is either tmk or qmk, both of which I believe are fully open, so in line with pine64 philosophy.
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