Keyboard opinions (OpenRPN)



#28

Decisions, decisions, decisions... Okay everyone, it's really a toss-up here so I need some help! What kind of keys do you prefer. They will be using stainless steel domes for positive tactile feedback. The main choices we're faced with are: classic/voyager shape, pioneer, or we design something new.

I, personally am leaning towards creating a new design... Basically like those found on the voyager models but with more rounded edges.

The only major difference in construction is that they will be made using epoxy resin and will be molded directly into an EPDM rubber sheet/gasket that will form a watertight seal at the edges of the face plate.

Let the flood begin!


#29

I really like the Voyager's keyboard and format, and the mode rounded design can be interesting if we can print on the key the normal label and the "blue" label, leaving the aluminium(?) plate less cluttered. On the other side, if we print only the primary function on the key we can leave the second/third(?) functions on replaceable overlay (plenty of blank overlays ready to print on inkjet printers??)

<crazy mode on>

How 'bout a transparent keyboard that we can insert below the printed overlay of ALL functions, inclusive the key tops? The transparent key must behave like some lens to the top function appear on the top ;) I have a old Ericsson cell phone that use this concept, and it is easy to build a retro-illuminated keyboard... The cell phone keys evolved much more than the calculators' keys. This Ericsson keyboard is composed of a transparent silicon rubber layer with the contacts and molded (welded, melted, glued???) rigid keytops - it is hard to describe, I can send some pics.

<crazy mode off>

Another concern about keyboards is the servicing. The keys or the entire keyboard must be replaceable, or composed with individual contacts (domes? micro-switches like some cell phones?) that can be replaced and/or cleaned. I really like the idea of being water-proof, just wash the whole thing on the sink! BUT it must cover its I/O with some rubber cover and the battery (lithium coin?) must have a screwed cover with some rubber O ring, like water-proof watches.

Talking of water, the principal reason (as I remember) to a leaked LCD display is moisture and battery leakage (as I saw on many Voyagers). The battery compartment must be sealed, as long as any other compartment (SD card?). IF the think gets wet the moisture doesn't enter in the circuit, is only a matter of drying the thing with a hair-dryer (BUT the LCD is heat sensitive, isn't? care must be taken!).

Best regards,

Nelson

Edited: 15 Apr 2004, 1:49 p.m.

#30

Alright, this is totally opinion, but I prefer the keys on the later 41's and the 71 and the many others that had that kind. I hate the newer styles where designers, whether of calculators, cars, alarm clocks, or anything else, got carried away on their 3-D CAD and made slanted elipses and so on. It's like when someone tries to be too funny-- instead of becoming more humorous, it just gets stupid.

Having the lines at right angles and using the rounding only just enough to keep corners from being sharp gives a simple impression of neatness and order.

#31

I also like the newer 41 type keys. I wonder if it would be possible to make the keyboard modular and replaceble form the top of the unit. Mounted w/ a rubber o-ring type gasket and four SS screws, one at each corner. This would be handy for keyboard replacement/repair, as well as giving a sort of industrial look.

Take care.

Wayne.

PS - Or even crazier, interchangebale keyboards which latch into place that would allow changing the calc from scientific to financial (or custom) based on the board which is used. (I think someone already mentioned something simliar to this).

#32

I'd vote for the 41 style keys. I'd also suggest keeping the layout simple, i.e. keep the key labels big and clear and only having a top and front label. Keep surface labels simple and basic and provide overlays (in writable plasic preferably).

It should be remembered that command and function design should drive labels and single/shifted key access. As the number of available ROM functions grow the keyboard confusion can also.

As an example look at the transition from the HP41/42 to the HP48/49. After using a 41, jumping to the 48/49 can produce quite a level of frustration.

Since a new software will undoubtably have as many functions as the 48/49 line (or more) access is very important. Do you want multiple shift keys, alpha shift, etc. Is "arrowed" navigation of the screen important. Is direct access, indirect access (XEQ "alpha") or menus most important?

The simplest solution might be a keyboard of 1 on/offkey, 26 keys (alpha mode: the 26 letters) plus oversized enter key plus 1 shift key plus 4 navigation keys. Then allow the user true capability to create their own keyboard maps.


#33

HP-200 LX keyboard, but calculator functions on keytops and a large vertical ENTER (like in the 71B)



A vertical model could be an extended 48SX style
with maybe a Motorola type flip-up display.

[VPN]

#34

I would cast my vote for 41/Voyager style keys. I prefer 3 labels per key in WYB style, regardless on whether Blue will be alpha or function. And it spells HP. Although this is, technically, not an HP project I think it is, more than HP itself.

1234


Edited: 15 Apr 2004, 4:55 p.m.

#35

I lean towards the 41 style, and I have one other item to add; the use of a separate on/off key as opposed to a Clx/Off shifted function.

It may be just my age, but using a newer HP with the shifted off/on/cancel keys is really frustrating for some reason.

12345

#36

I like the original "high-top" 41C/Spice/Woodstock series keys...

The sharper angle between the front and top surface of these keys keeps my finger from slipping when I push a key a bit forward (towards the display) as opposed to straight down.

I think I might go so far as to say this edge of the key should be even smaller radius (sharper) than the HP design.

Of course this is only a useful consideration if the key has the hinge at the front. Otherwise the front face of the flatter keys is easier to read.

Regardless of the key shape decision, I do quite like the front hinge design. Is that under consideration?


#37

Front hinge with tactile stainless steel domes is exactly what I'm using. Randy Sloyer is graciously sending me some voyager and 41 keys from which the design will be based. The final keys will be a modified version of the originals, but with more rounded edges for comfort/aesthetics.

I'll be posting some proposed renderings of the keys and the case very soon. I'm actually working on their designs in SolidEdge at the moment. It's looking *very* nice, I just know everyone is going to love how it's turned out. This first design is based on the voyager form factor, next up is the vertical pioneer/41/42 type.

Once these drawings are done I can finally get some good quotes from some machine shops too.


#38

Depending on what format the files are in (if you can give me CNC code), I could probably run some prototypes for you, just to test out the key before you send it off to a machining shop.

Just to make sure I understand, you are designing a mold cavity, correct? The keys will then be produced via injection molding?

We have 2 (relatively small) CNC mills at school. I have access to these, but the way they are set up they only allow for material up to about 4x4 inches to be used.

-Ben


#39

Correct, I'm setting up molds. Although no injection molding unless some remarkable deal comes along. I'll be using epoxy resin instead. The files will be in SolidEdge format, and I will make them available to all. My university has laser sintering (both plastics and metal), CNC and injection molding capabilities... So I'll be seeing if they can cut me a good deal.

By the way 4x4 is plenty! I could run a full set of keytops with that. The only problem is detail, the text on each key is very fine... probably best left to laser engraving.


#40

Here is a gizmo that might help you make arbitrary key shapes and/or markings: http://www.versalaser.com (as well as slicing out HP41 keyboard overlays - another recent topic).

The versalaser has been advertised in PC Magazine for the last several months. It appears to be a CO2 laser cutter that looks like a printer as far as the PC is concerned.

It ain't cheap ($10 grand!), so it probably isn't suitable for prototypes, but depending on its capabilities and speed, it might be able to crank out small production runs.


#41

Funny you should mention that grimble, one of my best friends has been looking into getting one to start a small business. I'll bring this up to him. Between etching keys and keyboard overlays he could probably pull in a moderate income pretty quickly.

That said, great suggestion!!! Going that route could save a large amount of two things: time and money. Plus, we get excellent detail and fully customizable keytops! I will definitely be looking into this option, it solves so many logistical issues and it's a very simple solution.

Thanks again for your contribution. I'll report back soon with my findings.

#42

Quote:
Randy Sloyer is graciously sending me some voyager and 41 keys from which the design will be based. The final keys will
be a modified version of the originals, but with more rounded edges for comfort/aesthetics.

I'd recommend not rounding the edges of the keys. The 41 keys are perfect just as they are, and the closer you come to duplicating them exactly, the better they'll be. In fact, the rounded keys are the only thing I dislike about the keyboard of my 48GX.


#43

I agree with Wayne Brown. The keys on my 41C are the best I have ever touched on any electronic device. I think an exact replica of these would be just fine.

Take care.

Wayne


#44

I actually like the rounded keys of my pioneers and charlemagnes BETTER than the keys of the voyagers and 41---I was resistant at first, but I think the feel is actually better--though that may be due more to the design of the spring sheet than to the keys themselves. Appearance-wise I am quite partial to the older keys; however my most objective "designer's sense" sees no advantage from an appearance standpoint.

The big advantage of the old trapezoidal keys was that you could put the shifted label on the oblique facet. However, if you are tending towards an overlay system, I would keep the functions OFF the keys and make space for the info on the overlay.

Regards,

Bill

Edited: 19 Apr 2004, 3:36 p.m.


#45

Nothing is final on the keys yet, but I do want everyone to keep an open mind about it and at least take a look at the renderings when they are ready. I don't want to give up the key labels, so *the keys will still have two faces*. Just give it a chance and we'll see how all the opinions pan out.

#46

Hi Hugh,


1) I would make the ENTER key the same size as the rest--the large ENTER wastes space.

2) I feel that the operators should be to the right, just as is the case with the Pioneers, Voyagers, Charlemagnes (and most other brands as well). The 41 series, Classics etc have the left side format--which is fine except that most of the world is on the other side, and so compatibility is not there.


3) I would leave generous space between the keys. The 41 is superb in this respect, the Voyagers are inferior. In fact, I would rather give up keys to do it--as the customization and overlay seems to be a central concept--so leave space for the key notation. I would even leave the keytops blank for all but arithemtic operators, numbers, and stack functions.

I happened to ask my wife's opinion the other day on keyboards--I laid out a 20s, 15c, 41cv, and 48gx next to each other. She said she thought the 20s was the very best display, best over-all, very readable, but the 41 had an even more readable keyboard. She also said it looked "old fashioned" like from the 60's or 70's (not far off!). She said the 48gx was just horrible--especially the screen (Of course I had Metakernel with 5 lines running so the text was really small). She also rated the 15c display nearly as good as the 20s, but she thought it not so easy to read the shifted functions--in other words the 41cv and 20s were easier to read.


Personally, I like a good condition singapore 48 keyboard mechanical feedback most of all out of all the machines I have used. Except for the nostalgia of a mint 11c. The 48 keys are really perfect in the snap, travel, resistance, force vs distance curve, sound, speed.......I say this only after having used a voyager more than any other, and then a Pioneer for 10 years straight.


A worn voyager is actually pretty lousy for table top use (but fine in-hand where the thumb is opposing the fingers in the squeezing). I find that If I use an old voyager after having used a pioneer or charlemagne, I tend to miss a few keystrokes! (Mint new voyagers are nice--I don't miss keystrokes with them).


I am becoming more and more excited about this project!


One "radical" departure that I considered I some sketches I did some time ago was to put the sin cos tan ln etc, along with ENTER buttons BELOW the numbers, and the stack operators above the numbers----this makes a vertical machine balance better in one hand for number entry (what you do most). The enter key is then literally central and directly below the "0".

Regards,


Bill

find email at:
hypertext protocal :// plattdesign dot net


#47

I disagree with Bill (both)!



"1) I would make the ENTER key the same size as the rest--the large ENTER wastes space."



It's the trademark of RPN! No way!



"3) I would leave generous space between the keys. The 41 is superb in this respect, the Voyagers are inferior. In fact, I would rather give up keys to do it--as the customization and overlay seems to be a central concept--so leave space for the key notation.
"


I Disagree.

The 48-series has overlay option.

I would like to ALPHA and cursor keys operation at the same time, which requires one more row of keys.



"I would even leave the keytops blank for all but arithemtic operators, numbers, and stack functions."



I Disagree.

This would make the user even more confused.

There are keys that you never assign anyway.



"I happened to ask my wife's opinion the other day on keyboards"

I understand that you value your wife's opinions, but the rest of take her as only one user poll in the statistics.



More opinions from all of you and your wifes, friends, collegues, etc. are needed.

Keep them coming!


[VPN]


#48

I've been meaning to reply to this part of the thread. A double length enter key makes a lot of sense to me, hell look at the keyboard in front of you as you read this... How big are the enter keys? at least double length. It makes entry much easier. I say this as a former TI user, where all I ever had was a little "=" button. Then I got into RPN a few years ago while I was studying mechanical engineering. After aquiring an 11c, it was all over, what a well thought-out great feeling calc. Since that time I have pondered a good way to make a similar calc with some needed updates

Having said this, I am doing my best to keep form factor, keytops, etc. as easy to play with as possible. Thanks to laser cutting and etching, it will be possible to create any format of keys one could desire within reason. This also makes my life easier in terms of casting the keys in resin. Plus, the end result will have the same appearance as the triple injection molded keys we're used to.

Why am I going to so much trouble for all of this? I've said it before, I will fight divisiveness any way I can, it's the great pitfall of most open dev. projects. Perhaps my favorite thing about OpenRPN is that I can feel sure that superior quality RPN calculators will be perpetuated. The would of science *needs* mil-spec calcs! Regardless of their profitability.

While I'm at it, I'll make an announcement here and will post a bigger thread soon. I have secured a hosting agreement! A phpbb based board will be up by the end of the week, and I will work on the main page to show up to date progress.

That's all for this rant. Keep brainstorming all! If I can find a way, your ideas will all come to life.

#49

Quote:
I would make the ENTER key the same size as the rest--the large ENTER wastes space.

That would be a show-stopper for me. If it doesn't have the large ENTER key, then I'll have no interest in buying it.


#50

Worry not, I want both options to be available (although I will be using the big one myself)


#51

Sounds good. In general, I like the ideas you've been discussing very much. (Especially the part about "mil-spec calcs." :-)

#52

"Worry not, I want both options to be available (although I will be using the big one myself) "



OK, if user rips of the keytop from the big [ENTER]

and replaces it with two smaller keytops then you will have one more key to play with,

[ENT] and say [PRV] for previous (or [BST] for backstep)



[VPN]

#53

Hi,

By all means, keep the BIG ENTER key if all but my opinion is in favor of it!


Regarding Overlays: Yes, the 48 has overlays, and I use them, but they are CROWDED. The 41 keyboard is much more roomy.

The reason for the idea of having no keytop stuff on all but the basic functions and stack, is that if you are going to have an open architecture thing going, then the physical keyboard will be more versatile--and if you have ample space between keys, then there is no need for any markings on the keys. Make the keys small (like a 41) and pleanty of wspace between!


For example, maybe a "financial" version will want no Sin Cos TAn but PMT FV etc. If you make this an open architecture thing, then switching back and forthe would be simply a matter of changing the overlay and choosing the ROM (or ROM equivalent), or am I missing something?

Best regards,


Bill


plattdesign ____ net


#54

"The reason for the idea of having no keytop stuff on all but the basic functions and stack, is that if you are going to have an open architecture thing going, then the physical keyboard will be more versatile"



OK, I C. What about detachable keytops?! (C) Veli-Pekka Nousiainen 2004

"Basic" calculator could be engineering, but you could buy financial etc. key sets?!

[VPN]


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