From Pain to Perfection: A Software Developer's Quest for the Ideal Keyboard

From Pain to Perfection: A Software Developer’s Quest for the Ideal Keyboard

As a software developer with a decade of experience, I’ve always been passionate about optimizing my workspace, and one crucial component is my keyboard. Over the years, I’ve experimented with various keyboards, ultimately settling on three favorites: the Kinesis Advantage2, the Keyboardio Model 01, and the Ergodox. Currently, the Kinesis Advantage2 serves as my daily driver.

I’ll share a story of what led me down the path of trying new keyboards:

My journey into keyboard exploration began in 2013. I used a Ducky 60% keyboard for my first three years in the industry, but in early 2015, I started to experience pain in my lower arms. The pain intensified, sometimes requiring painkillers. This prompted me to investigate the potential hazards of my profession, leading me to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

After recognizing RSI symptoms in myself, I sought solutions to alleviate the strain. My strategy involved two key elements:

  1. A trackball: Minimizing arm movements while using the mouse cursor would reduce stress on my right hand.
  2. A split keyboard: Positioning my hands at shoulder width would promote a more natural typing posture.

I acquired a Kinesis Slimblade trackball and an Ergodox split mechanical keyboard with MX Blue switches. This setup provided temporary relief from RSI, but the MX Blue switches’ audible clicks disturbed my coworkers.

In 2015, I discovered Keyboardio’s Model 01 Kickstarter campaign and eagerly backed it. Two years later, I finally received the keyboard, and it exceeded my expectations. It offered superior ergonomics over the Ergodox and employed silent tactile switches, making it office-friendly. Shortly after getting the Model 01, I purchased a second one so that I could have one at home and one at the office without hauling it back and forth.

However, four years later, I began experiencing finger cramps. I attributed this to the Model 01’s traditional flat keyboard design, despite its sculpted keys. Driven to find a solution, I invested in a Kinesis Advantage2, known for its unique split design and sculpted keywells.

The Kinesis Advantage2 provides a comfortable typing experience, but the stock MX Brown switches felt too “loose” for my preference. I fondly recalled the satisfying clicky sound of the MX Blue switches in my old Ergodox. Thus, I embarked on a challenging endeavor: replacing all the switches with Kailh Box Autumn switches.

Kailh Box Autumn switches stand out for their integrated “Clickbar” feature, which delivers a tactile bump and an audible click both on press and release.

To replace the switches, I’ll follow a meticulous process:

  1. Dismantle the keyboard
  2. Desolder the existing switches from the PCBs, ensuring not to damage the delicate components
  3. Carefully remove the hot glue holding the switches in place, questioning the wisdom of using hot glue on a $500 keyboard
  4. Apply hot glue to secure the new switches within the keyboard case
  5. Solder the new switches to the PCBs
  6. Assemble the keyboard, restoring its original form

This keyboard upgrade project will undoubtedly test my soldering skills and patience, but I’m determined to craft the perfect typing experience for myself