Mechanical Keyboard Recommendations with special caps lock snowflake.
January 20, 2015 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I have looked through the older questions here, and here and there are plenty of great potentials there, but I have a question about key remapping in hardware/firmware to which I cannot find a clear answer.

I'm full time in programming/ops using an Apple bluetooth keyboard for my day to day work. The first flaw in this keyboard is that the bottom left key is not Control, but "fn" and I have a piece of third-party software that fixes that. All of the potential mechanical keyboard purchases solve that issue, so no problem there.

The biggest issue for me is remapping Caps Lock to Esc. This is entirely too complicated in OS X (xmodmap being one thing I miss from my desktop linux days). Plenty of the mechanical/hacker keyboards seem to have built in switches to send Control or Alt for Caps Lock, and some mention "fully customizable" keys, but I can't find a clear answer to how I can have a nice keyboard that doesn't require me to install multiple pieces of software to remap the keys.

The newest Das Keyboard models appear to be exactly what I want, but I want to know before I drop that kind of cash if I can remap Caps Lock to Esc via the hardware.

Any recommendations for a mechanical keyboard that really has "full" customization, or at least will let me send Esc from Caps Lock?
posted by ndfine to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Full customization is possible with the Ergodox [see my current configuration here], though the price is certainly above and beyond most mechanical keyboards, besides the fact that you have to put it together yourself and the fact that it has a non-standard layout (grid, as opposed to staggered). If you're willing to deal with writing code for it, I believe you can also create one-key macros which trigger multiple keypresses, but that seems beyond the scope of your question.

As a current owner and operator of an ErgoDox, I'm very happy with mine. I'm not necessarily any faster than on my more standard mechanical keyboard that's at home, but I find that my wrists are more comfortable over a given period of time. Being able to remap my keys almost at will is very nice.
posted by jangie at 10:12 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't believe Das Keyboards are remappable on the keyboard side.

Here's a couple off the top of my head - they're almost all split grids, since we're crossing the tracks into Keyboard Wonk City.

Remappable with just the keyboard:
Kinesis Ergo Advantage

Firmware remappable keyboards out of the box:
Truly Ergonomic
Keyboardio (when it's released)

Hackable or custom stuff:
Happy Hacking (once you hack it)
Ergodox (once you build it)
posted by zamboni at 10:53 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My wife just got a Das 4, I can confirm that it isn't hardware remappable.

I know you're looking for hardware solutions, but have you tried Karabiner? I'd be happy to try out the customizations you've mentioned after work and report back.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:22 AM on January 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I actually use Karabiner now, and it works wonderfully. I was mostly looking to lessen the need if the right keyboard existed for my own particular quirks. Good suggestion, though!

I will definitely pick up an Ergodox if/when Massdrop does another drop, though I'm still not 100% sold on a split keyboard.

Until then, I think I'll probably go for the Das or a WASD board and continue with Karabiner.

Thanks for the tips, everyone!
posted by ndfine at 2:05 PM on January 20, 2015

Agree with the above: Karabiner and/or Seil seem to be almost too simple and painless.
posted by turkeyphant at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2015

There is a fully-programmable 60% keyboard up on Massdrop that is extremely well priced for what it purports to be. I know this is really late, but if you're a perennial ditherer like me, you might appreciate the heads-up. Just hurry up if it interests you, because they've almost hit the cap of 500 units.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:22 PM on June 27, 2015

If we're updating this AskMe, the Keyboardio Kickstarter is live. Fully programmable split ergo keyboard in a maple enclosure. Custom keycaps with LED backlights, Matias Quiet mechanical switches, $10 extra for clicky switches. $299, theoretically shipping April 2016. Seriously, look at this thing. If you want to see one live, Jesse and Kaia are doing a cross-country roadshow.
posted by zamboni at 12:09 PM on June 29, 2015

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