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 keys are usually hit with your weakest finger, (the pinky) while on the Atreus it's hit with your strongest (the thumb). Also the numpads on laptops 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 much additional pressing.
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.
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 without changing their settings), the firmware supports QWERTY, Colemak, and Dvorak. Others are easy to add.
I changed my layout, and now I want a new cheat sheet.
You can print a fresh one and write in the keys where they belong in your new layout.
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.
What parts does the kit contain?
Kits include a laser-cut case, a circuit board, a controller, key switches, key caps, diodes, sandpaper (for wood kits), 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. You will also need a soldering iron, solder, and (unless you order a presoldered kit) wire cutters. Wood kits also need lacquer, shellac, polyurethane or other wood finish.
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 offer 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 comments field that you want a Cherry case in your kit with no switches or caps.
If I get my own Cherry switches, should I get PCB-mount or plate-mount?
Either will work fine; the PCB-mount switches are designed to work when there is no plate present, but they will work with a plate too.
What are the differences between wood and acrylic?
The acrylic builds are somewhat easier to construct because there is no sanding and finishing needed, but they can crack if they are dropped on the ground. Usually such cracks are cosmetic and do not affect the overall strength of the board. The acrylic also smudges and shows dust and fingerprints more readily than the wood. It weighs about 30% more, but you can see inside the case.
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.
Why doesn't it have a detachable cable?
The Atreus cable plugs directly into the controller inside the case, and when the case is closed it locks the cable in place. This arrangement protects the port from potential damage from the cable being knocked around in travel, which due to the small size is much more likely with the Atreus than with a typical keyboard.
Does the Atreus have N-key rollover? (NKRO)
Yep! Each switch has its own diode, and the firmware supports pressing an unlimited number of keys simultaneously, as opposed to most keyboards which are limited to six or in some cases only two keys at once.
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 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 single customer is able to get their kit successfully constructed.
I want to make my own version of the Atreus!
That's great! Please feel free to do this if it's done in a way that respects the license of the original work. We would ask that you not use the name "Atreus"; instead if you want to name it in a way that reflects where it came from please use the term "Atreoid".