- 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 F1–F12 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
from Adafruit explains the
- 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
- 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),
firmware supports QWERTY, Colemak, and Dvorak. Others are easy
- 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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
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".