It arrived today. This evening I cut up a couple of my old leather steno keypads, and laid out a steno machine on its keys.
This is a terrible webcam shot (I'll try to get a proper one with my partner's digital camera later), but you can sort of see the shape of the thing if you look for the non-illuminated black squares:
And here it is with the equivalent steno letters superimposed on the image by means of Microsoft Paint. Yeah, we're pretty high tech up in here.
I've tried it out, and the touch is actually not that bad. Some of the twistier steno outlines are a little awkward because the keys are quite a bit closer together than on a regular machine, but the anti-ghosting is working like a dream. I wrote the phrase "So is this working?" in steno six times and got this:
AV or VA is "so" (SO)
A is "is" (S-)
WR or RW is "this" (TH-)
DVL or DLV or LDV or VDL is "working" (WOG)
RU or UR is "?" (HF)
The order doesn't matter in steno, so this amount of key-recognition consistency should really be all we need to make a relatively functional machine. I'm very excited. My Python tutor can't meet next week, but the week after that we might try to get the Sendkeys issue resolved, or we might backtrack a bit and see if we can get this $60 steno machine (plus $10 worth of keypads) working with our dumb terminal version of Plover. How amazing would that be, huh?