The Atreus is a small mechanical keyboard that is based around the shape of the human hand. It combines the comfort of a split ergonomic keyboard with the crisp key action of mechanical switches, all while fitting into a tiny profile.
The Atreus's Cherry MX blue switches enjoy great popularity among keyboard enthusiasts for their precise, crisp action. Most keyboards use a layer of rubber to provide resistance under the keys, but each Cherry switch has a separate spring and emits an audible click to let you know precisely when the switch has activated.
Many ergonomic keyboards offer a split design where each hand can be naturally positioned at a different angle, but nearly all of them use the typewriter-style staggering where each row is shifted over a bit to allow the striking arm to come up. Instead the Atreus staggers by column to reflect the fact that the fingers of the human hand are of different lengths. There are four thumb keys on each side, because putting more keys under the strongest fingers and fewer under the weakest fingers just makes sense.
The case measures merely 26x12cm, and a fully assembled board weighs only 285 grams, (380 grams in acrylic) making it easy to take on the go. It could even fit in a jacket pocket. The small size means that your fingers never have far to reach, and it fits easily in your lap, where your arms can stay in a comfortable, neutral position.
An Arduino-compatible microcontroller drives the keyboard, making it extremely flexible. The open source firmware starts with three layers: one with a fairly typical layout of letters and modifiers along the bottom, one containing the punctuation and digits, and one containing arrow and function keys. The punctuation layer is active while holding the fn key, and pressing L2 activates the third layer. The punctuation layer includes keys that are normally only accessible using shift, ensuring that you should never have to use both shift and fn together.
The firmware can be completely rearranged or modified to support more layers if desired. For instance, if you type in Dvorak, you can add a layer to switch it to QWERTY to let a friend type. You can also easily write your own functions in C that can be attached to key presses.
Please note that adjusting to a radically different keyboard layout takes time. Allow for a few weeks before you approach your normal speed.
Nothing quite matches the satisfaction of typing on a keyboard you've constructed yourself. The Atreus kit contains all the parts and detailed instructions you need. With a soldering iron setup, hookup wire, wire strippers, a glue gun, and a free afternoon, you'll be ready to roll. Some soldering experience will help, but it's difficult to make a mistake that can't be easily corrected.
Shipping within the continental US is included. 10% of proceeds go to relief efforts in Burma.
Note: there are currently some delays sourcing the parts. Kits ship faster than assembled keyboards, but expect several weeks before delivery for either.