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New Ribbon Cable

Posted: 31 Aug 2010, 14:27
by jmadison
Hi Everyone.

Lately I've been experiencing more discomfort at my desk, so I've been rethinking my ergonomic setup, and trying different tent stands, chair and monitor adjustment, and keyboard placement. I finally (after years of thinking about it) ordered a longer ribbon cable for my TS and I just installed it last night.

It really wasn't hard at all to change the cable. I gently pulled the existing cable out, and replaced it with a new 18 inch long cable. I didn't bother trying to push the new cable through the slot in the frame, but just went underneath the frame into the socket. I'm typing with it right now.

If anyone is curious, I did have a method for deciding on the 18 inch ribbon. I set up my TS in front of me, and put some masking tape on my desk. I then placed my hands on the TS, as though I was using it, and marked a line on the tape to represent the location of each of my thumbs. I then relaxed, allowing my arms to rest more naturally at my sides, and resting on the arm rests of my chair. I then marked the location of my thumbs again. Measuring, I found that I needed about 7 additional inches on each side. So, that would be 14 inches, plus the two inches of the original cable. My "ideal" cable would have been 16 inches. Digikey sells them in either a 12 or 18 inch length. So, fearing that the 12 inch would still be too restrictive, I went with the 18.

Anyway, I'm sure it's going to take some time, and more experimenting to get the pads set up nicely. I may end up fabricating a new tent-like stand later. For today, I have the pads placed on two empty 3 ring binders on my desk. That has allowed me to get a decent spacing, and a bit of an angle to each pad. So, I'll have to just see how things work out.

Posted: 01 Sep 2010, 09:39
by TorbenGB
Thanks for sharing! This will help others in the same situation understand what their options are and how to actually to the modification.

I guess the two TS halves are now just lying flat on the table, right? Have you done anything to keep them in place, like double-sided tape?

Is the angle between the two halves still "original"? How does this feel in combination with the larger distance of your hands - is the original angle suitable? Or is the angle now different (causing a little bulge in the cable), and how did you determine what the best angle is? I often fidget around with the angle but can't decide on it.

Posted: 01 Sep 2010, 15:44
by jmadison
Hi Torben!

My keyboard is the TS LP... at the time I bought it, Fingerworks was selling the tent stand as an optional accessory. I didn't buy one then, but over the years I've made a few different tent stands of my own. Some pictures are here:

So, I've played a lot with the angles of the pads, tilting them up and down and rotating them. But, I've always felt that they were too close together. I guess I just finally got up the nerve to change the cable.

Today is my second day with the separated pads. I could not use them laying flat on my desk for two reasons: First, my desk is too high, so even with my chair all the way up, it was still uncomfortable to reach the pads. Second, the twisting of the forearms (pronation) was very uncomfortable. So, today I brought in a board that is resting on an adjustable keyboard tray that's under my desktop. That lowered the pads, but the pronation was still a problem, so I've just finished rigging up some wedges to help hold the pads at an angle. This reply is the first real thing I've typed with my revised setup. So far, so good. If I like it, I'll probably fabricate something more robust that looks a little better.

I'm sure there will be plenty of tweaking of the angles and the placement. It will take a while for me to really decide what I like the best.

Posted: 02 Sep 2010, 07:57
by TorbenGB
Great webpage of your keyboard project. Your stands look really good.

I've just unboxed my TouchStream and started using it again after a looong hiatus. It was in the same trunk as the iGesture NumPad I've just auctioned off. It feels good to have the TouchStream in use again, and my typing precision is remarkably good. I stopped using it because I felt that I typed faster on a regular keyboard and I was too impatient. Also, I can't feel the "home position" so finger drift was a problem for me and I made many mistakes because of that. I tried using my TouchStream flat on the desk for a while but failed miserably. I found that the wrist pads have one enormous benefit: they help you keep your hands still and avoid drift.

I can see that you have the QWERTY layout (me too). Have you considered, or tried, Dvorak layout? What are your experiences? All other Dvorak/Qwerty arguments aside, I think Dvorak may be well suited for touch surfaces because the layout doesn't require as much finger- and hand movement, so drift is less of a problem. Personally, I would prefer Dvorak but mostly use Qwerty because I can't remember the lesser used characters. I've got a Dvorak MacNTouch/Digitouch in the livingroom and it's nice except that some odd characters like \ / ? aren't where the printed image says.

Posted: 02 Sep 2010, 14:12
by jmadison
It's great to be talking about these keyboards again!

Yes, mine is a qwerty keyboard. But, I do use the Dvorak layout. At the time I bought my TS, I only knew how to type qwerty, so that was naturally my choice. After some time, however, I read of the benefits of using Dvorak, and I forced myself to learn it.

It was a frustrating experience at first to learn the new layout. I had to switch all computers that I use (at work and home) to Dvorak for a while. Then, after some time, I just kept Dvorak on the Touchstream, and one laptop. Now, I have this funny muscle-memory. Whenever I'm using the Touchstream, I naturally type in Dvorak and whenever I touch real physical keys I naturally type in qwerty. I don't really have to think about it.

I do still have the same issue you mentioned: Remembering where the lesser used keys are. To solve that problem, I have a small printout of the TS Dvorak layout taped to the monitor at my desk. That way, if my fingers don't find the key right away, all I have to do is look at the paper, and then look at the right key to hit it.

Anyway, I'm on day 2 of my new setup, and I think this might work out pretty well for me. I'll give it some time, then probably make some wedge stands that match my cardboard-and-tape prototype.

Thanks for the compliment on my other tent stands.

Posted: 05 Sep 2010, 15:31
by Meesters
Hi jmadison,

Just looked at your TS on your webpage. They look really good, also like the case for transporting the touchstream. I might get such a case myself one day. I'm interested in your extension of the ribbon cable. Keep us posted how it wil work out.