ATREUS


How do you type with so few keys?
All the digits, most of the punctuation, and the arrow keys are accessed by holding down the fn key. (See the cheat sheet.) Other special keys like home, end, insert, delete, and F1F12 are hit by switching the keyboard into "L2" mode with fn+ESC. These changes are a pretty big adjustment, and it can take several weeks to get back up to your normal speed. However, it significantly reduces the amount of finger movement necessary for typing, which contributes to a more comfortable typing experience.
But I've used the fn key on my laptop, and I hate it!
Laptop fn numpads usually make the mistake of placing 1, 2, and 3 on the home row and 7, 8, and 9 way up on the top row. This means you can't hit all the digits from a neutral position. The fn numpad on the Atreus is placed right in the middle of the home row. There are a lot of keys that need fn to hit, but even on a conventional keyboard most punctuation needs the shift key already, so it does not require additional keypresses. Also laptop fn keys are usually held with your pinky, while the Atreus fn key is under a thumb.
How long does it take to construct a kit?
Soldering a regular kit takes one to three hours, depending on your experience level. This time-lapse video shows the construction process (minus the wood finishing) over the course of a few hours, and the list of build logs contains descriptions of many different experiences of the construction process. Finishing the wood case takes a few hours due to waiting for multiple coats of lacquer to dry, but you can use the keyboard before all the coats have been applied.
I'm not very good at soldering; I think I would mess it up!
You should order a presoldered kit. All the tricky soldering has been done for you, and you only need to solder the switches. This is really easy to do and can be done in half an hour. It is nearly impossible to accidentally damage the switches with your soldering iron, and even if you do there are some spares included in the kit.
How loud are the clicky switches?
They're louder than most keyboards, but quieter than the legendary IBM Model M. Some have compared the sound of a keystroke to that of a ball-point pen clicking.
What if I don't own a soldering iron?
Nothing in the kit requires much precision—it is all through-hole soldering, so a budget soldering iron from Radio Shack will get the job done just as well as something fancy. If you buy something low-end that doesn't have temperature control, making sure it's low-wattage (around 25W) will reduce the risk of damaging the controller. If you've never soldered before, this excellent video from Adafruit explains the process well.
Where is the Mac OS X ⌘ key? How about the Windows key?
These are both labeled super on the cheat sheet and diagram, which is a platform-agnostic way to refer to this key. By default it's in the middle of the bottom row on the left side, but of course you can change the layout to move it anywhere you like.
What keyboard layout options are offered?
Like any keyboard, you can change the layout in the operating system without changing the keyboard. However, if you'd rather change the layout in the keyboard itself (for instance, if you want to use an alternate layout on someone else's computer), the firmware supports QWERTY, Colemak, and Dvorak. Others are easy to add.
Wait, the layout looks different from before?
The older layout is still available as an option in the firmware, but the new default layout places the arrow keys on the fn layer, making them much more accessible than before. It also moves the reset key to where it's harder to hit by accident, and adds volume control. The default firmware used to be the custom atreus-firmware codebase, but now the TMK firmware is recommended, which is more featureful.
How much does shipping cost?
We use USPS Priority Mail for the packages. Within the United States it costs US$10. Prices for international customers vary by country; usually between US$35 and US$47. Customers outside the US may also be charged import fees by their country of residence; these vary widely.
How long does it take to ship?
Orders usually ship within a handful of days. Except in the case of special orders or delayed payment, kits should not take more than a week to ship at maximum.
What parts does the kit contain?
Kits include a laser-cut mahogany ply case, a circuit board, a controller, key switches, key caps, diodes, sandpaper, a USB cable, rubber feet, and screws. The keyboard has only 42 keys, but a few extra parts are included in case of loss or damage. There is also a cheat sheet and assembly instructions. If you have your own switches and/or keycaps, let us know and we can ship a partial kit that excludes these for a discount. Wood colors vary between lighter to deep red; if you have a specific color preference, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. You will also need lacquer or other wood finish, a soldering iron, solder, and wire cutters.
What key switches are used?
The non-clicky kits use Matias Quiet Click switches for most of the keys, while the clicky kits use Matias Click switches. Some non-tactile non-clicky keys are included for the modifiers (shift, ctrl, etc.) because modifiers are meant to be held down rather than tapped, so they do not benefit from tactile response. However, if you'd rather leave them all the same, enough regular switches are included to do so.
What kind of keycaps are used?
We use blank keycaps constructed with PBT plastic in the DSA form factor, which has a round indentation in the top to guide your fingers. There is no difference in keycap shape between the rows apart from the elongated middle thumb keys.
I would like to customize the colors of the keycaps.
We don't stock any custom keycaps, but you can buy them from third parties like Signature Plastics. Please note that the Matias switches used in the kits are not compatible with most aftermarket keycap sets, which use a Cherry mount. We have a limited supply of Cherry cases for those who want compatibility with these sets; however, you will need to source switches separately. When you place your order, select "partial kit" and note in the bottom of the shipping field that you want a Cherry case in your kit with no switches or caps.
Why isn't bluetooth an option?
Fitting a transceiver and battery in would require redesigning an enlarged case, since there is virtually no free space in the present design. While it's a possibility for the future, at this time we are focusing on shipping the most compact design we can.
Will using an ergonomic keyboard ease the pain in my hands/wrists?
This really depends on what is causing the problem. Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) can have a host of causes, some of which can be alleviated by a better keyboard and some which can't. Purchasing equipment is no substitute for seeking medical advice, improved sitting posture, or taking frequent breaks.
What options are offered for payment?
Within the US, Square Cash is preferred, which accepts US debit cards. For customers in other countries or without a debit card, PayPal is used.
Help! I broke it.
Email me! I'll help you diagnose the problem and step through the process of fixing it. It's important to me that every customer is able to get their kit successfully constructed.
What if I have more questions or need to change my order?
Please feel free to email phil@hagelb.org with any further questions. General questions can go to the mailing list too.