Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Ultimate Hacking Keyboard Version 2 came out.

Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (version 1) was announced in ~2015, and started shipping in 2018-12.

UHK 20181214 980-s1542x649
Ultimate Hacking Keyboard 4032×1696

Total key count: 63. Plus 2 mouse-buttons for thumb.

First impression: compact, solid, well built. In fact, been using it in the past 2 days for real work. Super impressed with the software. It is the most intuitive firmware UI and most advanced keyboard software i've ever seen.

Ultimate Hacking Keyboard v1 Video Review

Xah Talk Show 2019-01-19 Review of the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard

Split Keyboard

UHK 20181214 split 0dfd2-s1155x866

When the 2 pieces are connected, no connecting wire is necessary.

To disconnect them, just pull them apart.

UHK connector 8d1e9-s1155x866
UHK connectors, with magnets. 4032×3024

2 extra mouse-button-like buttons in thumb area. Can be programed like any other key.


UHK 20181214 led pf84n
UHK LED display. The {mod, fn, mouse} on upper-left lights up when the modifier is pressed or locked.

The big letters indicate current keymap. The letters can be programed to display any alphanumerics.

By default:

Mechanical Key Switch

Several switch types of Kaihua Kailh Switch

Programable Keys

Base Layer

UHK base layer c9c05
UHK base layer

There are several layers:

Base layer
Normal typing.
Mod layer
Hold down Mod key, other keys become navigation keys, such as arrows and page up/down.
Fn layer
Hold down Fn key, switch layouts (qwerty, dvorak, colemak, PC/Mac.), multimedia keys, sleep key.
Mouse layer
Hold down Mouse key, other keys move cursor or do mouse clicks.

Press any of {Mod, Fn, Mouse} twice to lock it. Press it again to unlock.

When any {Mod, Fn, Mouse} key is locked, corresponding indicator lights up.

Mod Key Layer

UHK mod layer a0fc1
UHK mod layer

The Mod key layer gives you all the navigation keys, and switch tab/window/workspace.

Hold down the Mod key to change other keys into navigation keys.

Function Key Layer

UHK Fn layer a41a1
UHK Fn layer

The Fn key layer lets you switch among QWERTY, Dvorak, Colemak, PC/Mac layouts, and gives you multimedia keys.

Mouse Key Layer

UHK mouse layer 98044
UHK mouse layer

Hold down the Mouse key to change keyboard into a mouse.

It's nice for casual use, but if you do a lot image editing or 3D modeling, a real mouse is much better.


The software to program the key into memory is called UHK Agent. It's available for Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux.

I use them on Microsoft Windows and MacOS.

UHK software 02ebe
UHK Agent software

Download at:


It is also open source:


It is the most smooth, most intuitive, and most feature rich keyboard software out there.

One particularly nice feature is that a key can also work as a modifier. For example, when Space is pressed once, it inserts space, but if held with another key pressed, it acts as Ctrl (or ⌘ command, Alt, ⌥ option, or any special modifier such as Mod, Mouse, Fn) Note, some Operating System based keyboard app lets you do dual key function, but they go thru OS, so is not reliable and have glitches. The dual key function is hardware on UHK. This means, it's 100% reliable. [see Keyboard Firmware]

As Programable Keypad

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My Ultimate Hacking Keyboard as programable keypad


Ultimate Hacking Keyboard unboxing
ultimate hacking keyboard 20181210 aad8e
ultimate hacking keyboard 20181210 841

Bridging Cable

The bridge cable is 11cm (4.3 inches) collapsed, expands to 30cm (11.8 inches).

If you want to buy your own, the cable must:

telephone 4P4C reverse wired NzGjg
telephone 4P4C reverse wired


For keyboards of 60 keys class (no numpad, no arrows, no function keys), this is perhaps the best.



The programing power of this keyboard also the best. i'd say better than Ergodox Keyboard and better than all gaming keyboards. The software is the most easy to use. Because of the programable power of the keyboard, you can actually buy this keyboard and use it as a programing pad by itself. example: Buy two of it, and use one as main keyboard and use another as macro keypad. Since this keyboard is so compact, it works well that way. The ease and intuitiveness of the software makes it super easy.

The keyboard is highest quality built.

The additional trackball/trackpoint/touchpad modules, are true innovation. (it's not released yet as of 2018-12-15.)

My wish list for next version:

Actually, i can't say i have any cons for this keyboard. I would like a ortholinear grid layout, but if you do that, you reduce potential buyers by some 90%, because vast majority of people are still very used to the staggered layout.

Also, i'd wished there's physical arrow keys. The way they did it, by holding thumb key (Mod) and right hand I J K L becomes arrows, works fine. Also, press Mod twice will lock it into place. So, you can play pacman while eating pizza with this keyboard. But still, physical arrow keys are nice.

Layout for emacs xah-fly-keys

Xah Fly Keys Layout for Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (UHK)


UHK 20191021 d263m-s1416x854
UHK 20191021 4032×3024
UHK 20181214 qqh7s
UHK 20181214 qqh7s
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UHK 20191021 cqktv 4032×3024
UHK 20181214 222gj
UHK 20181214 222gj

Where to Buy


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Ultimate Hacking Keyboard