Usability of default Atreus configuration / placement of Fun key

I’ve been using the atreus as my primary keyboard for some weeks now. And I generally like it a LOT. As it does not have so many keys, I’ll have to use the FUN modifier a lot, and to reach this key I would use my thumb. Then, characters such as & and * are very awkward as I need to reach ‘over’ my thumb with my index finger. This caused strain on my hand.

I thought about it and decided to swap the FUN and ALT keys. This worked great for me. And with the new Chrysalis software, it was very easy to configure this change.

Am I ‘holding it wrong’, i.e. should I use a different finger placement on my keyboard, or is the default location of the Fun key just not so optimal?

Can you print screen your atreus layers?

Using Chrysalis, you can add some modifiers where they work best for you. I configure most of the home row keys to do double-duty as modifiers using the “Modifier when held, normal key otherwise” option.

When held down, pinky fingers are Ctrl, ring fingers Fun, and index fingers Shift. That way, I have modifiers on both sides of the keyboard and I don’t have to do any one-handed contortions to get the key combinations I need.

I use the number pad keys on the right side of the keyboard frequently, so having a Fun key on the left side of the keyboard makes that much easier.

Don’t pay too much attention to the rest of the layout. There are some oddities specific to my strange setup. I use a Dvorak layout. But I didn’t configure the keyboard for Dvorak directly. Instead, I have my Dvorak selected in MacOS keyboard preferences. That way, I can type using the Dvorak layout on the built-in keyboard and the external keyboard without switching that preference. Thus, the only placed [ key, which is actually / when I press it.

With the middle finger on the left hand, I shift to a layer that I use as a cursor pad. H, J, K, L (their normal QWERTY placement) become left, down, up, right, vi-style. The keys on the row above are Home, PgUp, PgDn, End. The row below, mouse- left, down, up, right.

I still have some changes to make but this layout is working well for me.

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Late response, but here it goes.

I believe the problem is not the placement of the Fun key (it is on the same place as the Raise key of some other ortholinear keyboards like Planck and Preonic), but the lack of a second function layer accessible from the base layer. Since there is only one function layer, almost all numbers and almost all symbols plus arrow keys are crammed in there, some of which are hard to reach with the same hand while your thumb is pressed down. Same goes for the Shift key; personally I found it too difficult to type V and B and ~ for example.

I solved this by setting Space and Backspace keys as Shift key when pressed down, and used the position for the Shift key in the default layout for another layer. I tried to love ‘home-row mods’, but couldn’t find a setting that keeps me accidentally triggering the mod function.

Basically, you can access the 9 others layers from the base layer, just by choosing where you want to put the assessors :toolbox:

My base layer is in QWERTY and I have a second one in BÉPO, witch use letters and symbols that are not on the QWERTY layout, so I use layer4 for MAJ letters, layer5 for numbers and symbol, layer6 for AltGr’ed keys and layer7 for the functions…


Happy hacking :smile:

Sorry for the misunderstanding, I meant to refer the default Atreus layout, which only has a single function key on the base layer.

I also tried wilder approaches in layouts like Miryoku, which heavily relies on dual function keys and provides access to 6 other layers from the base layer. But to be honest, I tend to frequently get lost when using more than 3 layers :sweat_smile:

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The main issues around of layers with the Atreus I found so far are:

  • Locking layers do not work nice because it lacks any LED, to have an indicator of what layer I’m on, so having a persisting layer change makes it rather common to forget what layer is on.

  • Layers cannot be on the same key as modifiers (see Making a key shift-to-layer AND lock a key (like ctrl) )

  • There are just 6 keys accessible with the thumbs, space and backspace cannot be use as layer switching keys because it is rather common to hold for repeat. So CTRL, ALT, SUPER and SHIFT use all those keys.

So I found no good place to add switching layout keys on thumb (except missing the SUPER key as the default layout does).

The best I could find so far is:

But as far I got, I’m still struggling with this issue.

There’s a pending change to Qukeys that will allow users to get repeating characters for the primary key value by using a “tap-hold” gesture (tap the key, then quickly press and hold it).

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That sounds interesting, but I think it seems counter-intuitive (tap for space, hold for shift, tap-hold for spacehold), I will need to test that…

Anyway, I see you added a lot of documentation on the code, that seems awesome, as it is quite cryptic.

My layout - fully custom - “moves” the bottom-row modifiers to dual-use keys on the bottom row of my QWERTY layout. This means I get a “Z” when I tap the Z key, but if I hold it, it serves as the Left Ctrl. X is LSHIFT, V is LALT. Likewise on the other side, with M, period, and / also serving as RALT, RSHIFT, and RCTRL, respectively. I also do this on most of my other layers.

I’ve only got one CTRL, one ALT, and one SHIFT on the bottom row. But the CTRL and ALT are in positions I never use - they’re there mainly to make my keyboard…less useless to someone else who sits down to it. The SHIFT on my bottom row is directly under my left thumb, and is used for typing. (The dual-use SHIFT keys are only used for shortcut combinations.) Since I don’t waste any of my thumb-accessible keys on modifiers (other than one SHIFT key), I’ve got three dedicated layer-shift buttons on the bottom row of my base layer.

I feel like the Atreus gives me far more layers, along with easy access to them, than my original X-Bows did. (It is capped at two layers over the base, and has fewer thumb-reachable keys.) Despite only having had my Atreus for a few days, it’s easy the most flexible and accessible keyboard I’ve had the pleasure of using.

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See if you like my configuration which has a dedicated key to switch back and forth between the numeric keys:

This… is why I do not have any layers that lock. If I need (to access) a different layer, I’d have to find a key that I can map a shift to layer. +version 2 needs to have backlit keys.

Other than that, I don’t use my M01 anymore. Its still on one of my other machines, luckily the layout is intuitive, so its like riding a bigger bike, when I use the atreus its like riding a super nimble bike. Sport bike vs honking cruiser.

I did not think I’d like the atreus so much but its awesome. I thought the M01 would be the last kb I’d like or get but I’m waiting for J&K to perform some more magic and see what they come up with next.

Additionally impressive is the palm rest. I can use it comfortably with or without the palm rest. I do not like the M01 untented.

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