Oh no, I broke my nerdboard. How DIY electronics skills and open source software saved the day, and my hands.

My hands were hurting. I work in software development, spending many hours each day typing, and I also play bass guitar in two bands (one coincidentally named Static Hands). The toll this took on my hands became so great that I was experiencing muscle spasms that immobilized my right thumb. Ouch.

At the greatly appreciated suggestion of a coworker, I looked at the Kinesis Advantage ergonomic keyboard. The reviews promised it would be like typing on clouds, but the price is steep at $350. I found one used for $150, a bargain, but this one had a defect. The tilde key was sticking, not the key cap as happens from a spilled soda, but inside the switch underneath. Uh oh.

DIY electronics skills to the rescue! I opened the keyboard and desoldered the offending key from the cool, curved circuit board that reminded of samurai armor.

The Kinesis Advantage “Nerdboard” comes with space for your favorite action figure.
Inside we see the curved circuit boards that the keys are soldered on to.
The desoldered key’s now empty circuit board contacts.

With the sticking key gone I still needed to re-map the tilde key, because I use the back tick character (which also lives on that key) for quoting code in Slack. An open source, free application called Karabiner did the job with ease, after a few puzzled minutes figuring out its quirky user interface.

Should you ever need key re-mapping, please support the creator of Karabiner with a $10 donation. Many open source software projects survive on donations alone, and they are worthy of our support. In the realm of audio, there is the venerable Audacity, which has saved me on more than one occasion when expensive audio editing applications broke down… but that’s for another post.

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