Ergodox Keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Ergodox is a open source do-it-yourself keyboard. You buy the kit, and assemble yourself. The kit is over $230, and pre-assembled ergodox is about $300, as of 2017-03-07.

ergodox keyboard 2015 JvwKmR9
ergodox keyboard. 〔image source. photo by tricheboars

Total key count: 76.

ErgoDox is designed by Dominic Beauchamp. Original idea by Nestor A. Diaz. The idea is heavily borrowed from Kinesis Contoured Keyboard, which is borrowed from Maltron Keyboard.

ErgoDox EZ Keyboard, unboxing and first test

Number of Keys Compared to PC Keyboard

Here's keys of a compact PC keyboard.

` 12345      67890 -=⌫   ⎀↖⇞
⇥ qwert      yuiop []\   ⌦↘⇟
⇪ asdfg      hjkl; '⏎
⇧ zxcvb      nm,./ ⇧     ↑
⎈❖⎇     ␣     ⎇❖▤⎈     ←↓→
Keys of a compact PC keyboard.

Here's the same symbols rearranged on the ergodox.

⎋ 12345-    =67890 ⌫
⇥ qwert[    `yuiop \
⇪ asdfg]    'hjkl; ⏎
⇧ zxcvb      nm,./ ⇧
⎈ ❖⎇●●      ␣⎇❖▤ ⎈
      ↖↘    ↑↓
    ⇟⇞ ⎀    ⌦  ←→
       ●    ●
ergodox keys rearranged close to PC keyboard as much as possible. The symbol BLACK CIRCLE ● represent extra key. [see Unicode Keyboard Symbols ⌘ ⏎ ⌫]

The ergodox has 4 extra keys. But it doesn't have the 12 function keys.

Superb Physical Layout Design

The ergodox's design is superb.

[see Computer Keyboard Design Flaws]

Programable Keys, Powerful Firmware

The ergodox has one of the most flexible and powerful firmware. Not just one, but several, and it's all open source!

For example, it lets you remap keys, or create layers (such as dead key, compose key), and you can also program key macros.

[see Keyboard Firmware]

[see Ergodox Firmware and Layout]

Programable Key User Interface

Ergodox does not have a easy-to-use software to reprogram the keys as in gaming keyboard.

Most ergodox vendors provide a web-based user interface to configure keys. It works like this:

  1. Visit a keyboard config web page, it shows a keyboard diagram, then you click or drag around keys to create a custom layout
  2. Download the layout you created.
  3. Download a firmware updater.
  4. Run the firmware updater you just downloaded to upgrade firmware to use the new layout.
ergodox infinity configurator 2017 03 07
ergodox infinity configurator, as of 2017-03-07.
ergodox infinity keyboard 25150
ergodox infinity, with custom keycaps of elvish alphabet tengwar [image source reddit, by MassdropAlex]
ergodox 20191117 m8y6r-s1601x756
ergodox ez, with custom keycaps of elvish alphabet tengwar [photo by pundrak 20191117]

Bad Points

• No physical function keys F1 to F12. To press a function key, you have hold another key to activate a layer. This is not convenient.

[see Why Function Keys Are Useful]

• 2-pieces design, so you have a wire connecting them. That's a bit unwieldy. Harder to carry around, prone to tug damage. You have to adjust each piece's position everytime the keyboard is pushed.

Ergodox Thumb Keys Pain

ergodox has 1 major problem. Thumb keys are hard to reach for smaller hands.

Ergodox Keyboard Thumb Keys Pain

Keyboard Case Wear Shine

The case is made of ABS plastics, and the thumb area may become ugly with shine. [see Keyboard Keycaps: ABS, PBT]

ergodox z5x2z-s520x693
Keyboard Case Wear Shine. (2019-12-09 thanks Nabi Yang for image)
ergodox kx6v9-s520x693
Keyboard Case Wear Shine. (2019-12-09 thanks Nabi Yang for image)

Do It Yourself!

You spend some $250 for it, then you have to spend half a day to carefully assemble it, including soldering.

Pre-assembled ones costs about $300. At that price point, there are many other keyboards to chose from.

ergodox ez keyboard 14304-s
ergodox ez keyboard. [image source reddit by RuntimeErr0r] 2000×1500

Ergodox Firmware and Default Layout

Ergodox Firmware and Layout

Where to Buy?

search on amazon ergodox

Layout for ergoemacs-mode and xah-fly-keys

If you use emacs, I recommend:

[see Kinesis/Ergodox layout for xah-fly-keys]

For ergoemacs-mode, i recommend you set one of the thumb key to Alt.

For evil-mode, i recommend you set the traditional CapsLock key to Escape.


Ergodox Keyboard Gallery

Ergodox Keyboard Gallery

If you have a question, put $5 at patreon and message me.