Steno Keyboard Modules

The Framework 16 keyboard module system allows much greater flexibility in terms of what keyboard options are or could be made available for consumers. Keyboard modules don’t need to restrict themselves to the standard ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts - the system allows for even more options, such as a stenography keyboard module.

How much demand would there be for a module like this? Would it be feasible for Framework to make? How feasible would it be for a third party to manufacture them?

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I feel like this would be a really good DIY project for someone, I’m assuming there wouldn’t be a lot of demand but it would be interesting to use it.

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How hard would it be to DIY a reasonable quality keyboard module?

Honestly? No idea. But we have pretty hardcore DIYers in the community, I’m sure someone did it before and can tell us :slight_smile:

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Good question, since you seem interested in it, do you think there’s many people that would want this? It’s a pretty specialized way of doing input.

Technically I’m sure they’d be able to figure out a way, but unless there’s enough demand, I highly doubt they’d do it themselves. I can see them lending some sample parts and a bit of technical advice to anyone wanting to do one themselves.

Certainly feasible, Framework certainly wants 3rd parties to make Framework compatible modules and accessories. If there was someone trying to make commercial parts, I’m sure they’d do some partnership/technical help/etc.

But again…what’s the demand that makes a 3rd party want to make one?

The only real thing I can think of is for a court stenographer and similar folks who don’t need to carry around a bulky extra device that plugs into the computer, they just carry around a Framework with this keyboard as the input. Maybe there is a decent market for that, although niche.

Why don’t you go do some research and find out if the idea excites people using these every day? Maybe it does, and you can put together a business plan with both paid support & pricey, specialized input module that sits on top of a Framework system, go out and a sizable business loan and hire some good engineers to make it happen?

Or at least get enough money to make a janky prototype that works, and get some VC funding to get the rest of the way there? I’d actually recommend that, get a prototype working, even if not pretty, that may not look good but is mostly usable. Getting from that to a full-blown component still isn’t easy, but you’ve put time and your own money into it to get to a point that you have something working, and just need the money to get all the tooling setup and get supply chain, sales, marketing, etc going.

I don’t mean to sound dismissive, although I suppose I do a bit, but anything over a prototype/DIY solution that’s not super elegant and integrated is going to boil down to “is there enough of a market that I can make money off of it in not too distant future, and what will it cost to start making that money”.

That’s the bit that makes it unlikely to happen, IMO, other than maybe a couple of DIYers here. I’d LOVE to see you take this and run with it and make it happen, even though I’d never ever use one/buy one. Because it’s cool, and it helps make Framework ecosystem better, and because someone else is making what they want a reality.

It would probably make more sense to offer some kind of orthogonal layout with more keys (which would presumably have more demand) and then use the QMK firmware or software to put the keyboard in “steno” mode. The thin keys will likely be pretty low force anyway (which is one of the tricks to combos on steno keyboards), and you won’t be able to fit the level of sculpting seen in the keyboard in the image with the limited keyboard depth.

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This post makes it sound like it would be somewhat difficult to find switches and a PCB that would work for any custom keyboard layout. Designing a deeper chassis for "mechanical" keyboard module

In this Thinkpad keyboard mod thread, one poster notes that a hinge shim mod (to increase the distance between the screen and keyboard) should be more straightforward in the FW16 than in the 13. This could allow more ambitious keyboard projects, if anyone wants to go that far.

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Very. There is simply not the headroom for discrete switches. As referred above, people are considering jacking up the hinge. Whilst this kludge may work, it would presumably work just as well on anyone else’s brand of laptop, so it does not strike me as a Framework “exclusive”.

Even in this case, would a stenographer want to be hiding behind a 16" laptop? Stenography is not somethin I know about but I believe their machines are pretty diminutive as they are so proficient they don’t have to look down at what they are typing but up at the general proceedings. The little pocket reform - a computer that intrigues me but I am unable to be confident it would suit my needs - would probably make the most wonderful stenograph DIY project.

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