Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stenotoppers: 3D Printed Keys for Your Mechanical Keyboard!

The most exciting recent news in the Open Steno sphere is Jason's new Stenotoppers models, which you can print on any 3D printer (or have printed for you by a 3D printing shop, though that can get pricey), to turn your staggered-layout mechanical keyboard with steno-unfriendly beveled keytoppers into an ortholinear steno-style layout with smooth interfaces between rows.

It works with any Cherry or Gateron switches (I recommend clears/whites if you're in the market, since they have the lowest actuation force) and is entirely free to download and modify. If you have a mechanical keyboard and a 3D printer or access to one via your local makerspace, this is a great robust alternative to our laser-cut acrylic keytoppers, which are sometimes a little fiddly to align. Please note that these are unfortunately not compatible with the Zalman NKRO keyboard, which at $45 is the cheapest solution for entry level steno. Most mechanical keyboards with compatible switches are in the $100 to $150 range, so budget accordingly.

Speaking of which, if you'd rather just buy an ortholinear keyboard at the outset, the Planck is currently available on Massdrop for another 5 days. I have one, built and donated to me by the fantastic Scott of SOFT/HRUF fame, and it's quite a nice little machine. A little clickier than my beloved StenoMod, and somewhat bulkier than the sleek and compact SOFT/HRUF, but a very strong contender in the dual qwerty/steno keyboard bracket. Even better, the firmware comes with a Plover layer built right in. You'll have to assemble it yourself, but I've been told it's not terribly difficult, even for beginners.

The Plover README file has been updated to include recent developments in the Open Steno community.

Finally, there's a new expanded StenoJig landing page that allows you to customize your drills in a more flexible way without editing the URLs as you had to do previously. Extremely convenient!


Anthony said...

On Amazon, from the Seller , I'm getting the Zalman for $12.
I have a 3D printer, would it be difficult to get these toppers working on the Zalman?

Mirabai Knight said...

Wow, that's a great price! Make sure it's the right Zalman (the ZM-K600S), with NKRO!

These toppers won't work with the Zalman, unfortunately, because it's a non-mechanical keyboard. You need something that supports Cherry or Gateron keyswitches. Sorry. :(

Anthony said...

Oh, I know they won't work as is, I meant with tweaking the design before printing.
And yes, it appears to be that keyboard! I'm getting two haha

Mirabai Knight said...

Gotcha. I know nothing about 3D printing, so I couldn't tell ya, but if you're able to make a design that works, it would be awesome if you could publish it online!

Pat said...

Hi Mirabai,
You mention you're using a Planck; do you use it with standard keycaps?
I ordered one on Massdrop and found out about Plover a couple days later so I'm thinking this will be interesting to try steno with this nice little keyboard (I tried and failed with a "standard" one, too much space between keys to hit several at once with one finger)

Mirabai Knight said...

I don't use the Planck much anymore, as I tend to prefer the StenoMod (and to a lesser degree the SOFT/HRUF) when not using my Infinity Ergonomic professional machine, but the Planck I have has flat, non-beveled relegendable keytoppers.

teacherfelix said...

Hi Mirabai,
Is the utopen stenoboard for plover still available?
Where can buy it?

or any alternative product keyboard for plover.

Mirabai Knight said...

Not sure about the status of the Stenoboard, but I'd recommend the Stenomod: