DEV Community

Cover image for My journey to create the ADM42 keyboard, optimized for developers
Lorenzo Leonini
Lorenzo Leonini

Posted on • Updated on

My journey to create the ADM42 keyboard, optimized for developers

Hi All!

About 2 years ago, I started a great journey: to design a keyboard for "developers" based on the open source firmware QMK and all the hardware that goes with it, otherwise it would be far too simple :-)

At first it was for my own comfort, I was hacking QMK on existing hardware (e.g. Redox, Planck and Idobo keyboards), then quickly I wanted to have a really optimized physical layout (lots of split keyboards like ergodox are just too constraining for me, space on the desk, tilt adjustments, not usable while traveling, ...) even if we can find them to have a superior ergonomics on certain points.

Proto 3

The most important ideas about the physical part are:

  1. Being able to reach all the keys without moving your hands is the most ergonomic and it is what allows, in the long term, to reach maximum typing speed while also minimizing errors. This thought is therefore directed towards minimalist keyboards (40%). Some are not very ergonomic (like the Planck), others are, often split and often DIY (like the Corne).
  2. Thumbs should be used to the maximum: if the keys are in the right place and at the right angle, only standard keys are needed. To my knowledge, my keyboard is the only one-piece that shares the middle thumb key between the 2 hands.

A lot of the work was done on the "logical" layout: modifiers, symmetry and improving the fluidity of the dual function keys.


Of course Esc is on the thumb (nothing to remap anymore for vi users), directional keys are under HJKL... but CTRL (and other modifiers) are on either side. Also TAB is on the home row, very convenient.

Additional information on the layout are here.

Once I had made my first "handwired" prototype, I started on a PCB with Kicad, then on the design of the case. My idea was to make a keyboard, ergonomic, compact, light and also using standard switches: I like "full size" switches much better than "low profile" (in addition, there is no standard in that category).

Finally, I decided to start a crowdfunding campaign because the production costs (especially the aluminum part) are very high: it is not really possible to produce less than 250 pieces to get an acceptable pricing.

Tell me if you're interested in knowing more about the software, the hardware design (multiple revisions and production!) or the fundraising campaign and I'll do a more detailed article in the future.

The keyboard is now available on the ADM42 Keyboard shop.

Discussion (0)