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Buckling-spring laptop keyboard

Laptop keyboard with good feel
  [vote for,

Most laptop keyboards are designed so that the keys are in the "full up" position when the case is closed. This means that every milimeter of travel requires adding a milimeter of thickness to the case.

I would propose keys using something like the "buckling spring" design, but where the springs are all tied to a slider which is operated by opening or closing the case. When the case is open, all the springs would be compressed in such a way as to push up on the keys. Closing the case, however, would release the springs allowing the keys to all fall down. An electrical interlock would prevent the "depression" of the keys in this case from causing any keystrokes.

Using this sort of approach, it should be possible to get a decent tactile key response from a keyboard which, when in "flat" mode, was not significantly thicker than current units.

supercat, Dec 18 2003

compaq armada http://www.morochov...atch/cw/ff60620.htm
baked in the fourth paragraph. [neilp, Oct 04 2004]


       With conventional notebook keyboards, most of them are only 2-3mm thick anyway. I can see your attempt to get a lower-profile laptop, but I would think tha the mechanism would take-up greater space than the keyboard that is in there already.
Letsbuildafort, Dec 18 2003

       does the screen hold them down then? isn't it bad to apply pressure the the screen?
luecke, Dec 18 2003

       No, the keys are retracted to a lower position via a slide that buckels the springs, thus lowering them when the screen is closed.
Letsbuildafort, Dec 18 2003

       quite right... sorry. I swear I did actually read that second paragraph before I questioned... maybe it's time for a nap
luecke, Dec 18 2003

       Each spring would be an arched piece of metal; the keys would apply pressure at the center of the arch. Pressing a key would cause the arch to flex until it buckled, whereupon the resistance level would drop appreciably. To allow the pressure on the keyboard to be released at the appropriate times, one end of each arch would rest against a sliding piece which would be operated by the laptop cover (alternatively, the two ends of each arch could be on counter-moving sliding pieces, but that would probably add complexity for little benefit).
supercat, Dec 18 2003

       I like it, but why the interlock? <closes computer>   

AO, Dec 18 2003

       Is the thickness of a laptop greatly influenced by the thickness of the keyboard bit? I always imagined it was the screen and all the gubbins inside that took up the room?
dobtabulous, Dec 19 2003

       Once upon a time there was a Compaq that lowered the keys on the keyboard when you closed the lid. Unfortunately I don't remember the model. I had one maybe 5 years ago, but it wasn't new then. I'm not entirely sure if it actually compressed the keys, it might have just raised the whole keyboard when you lifted the lid so the keys could stick up above the surface when open.   

       Regarding the comments about the thickness of current laptop keyboards, sure some may be only 3mm (I measure my laptop keyboard to be more like 5mm), but with this technology, you could have a keyboard that is very flat (maybe less than 2mm) when closed, yet has keys that move like a normal keyboard (I measure my desktop keys moving 4mm) along with the buckling spring feel which some people seem to like so much.   

       My guess is that the selling point wouldn't be that it's thin. If you want thin you can always go for a membrane keyboard. The selling point would be that it feels like a real keyboard, but is thin enough for a laptop.
scad mientist, Dec 19 2003

       what [scad] and [letsbuildafort] said, the compaq laptops def. used to retract when you closed the lid, so that they are all depressed when the lid's shut. soo. it's baked.
neilp, Dec 19 2003

       I wonder how Compaq does theirs physically? Although I didn't mention my conceived physical implementation until an anno, I did have it in mind when I wrote the original idea. I wonder if Compaq does something similar or different?
supercat, Dec 19 2003

       I like it, but why all the spring mechanisms? Why not just a recessed button that a projection on the monitor hits, which would pull down the keyboard? or it could be built into the hinge.
-----, Dec 25 2003

       My keyboard is slightly recessed.
-----, Nov 06 2004

       I'd *kill* for a laptop (or highly-portable lunchbox-type) system with buckling spring keyboard and Trackpoint. Laptop keyboards are the reason I could simply NEVER use a laptop, "as is", as my real computer. On a Lexmark-type buckling spring keyboard, I can easily type 110-120+WPM. On a typical laptop, I can barely manage half that rate.   

       If someone made a laptop with buckling spring keyboard, it would weigh about a pound more, and be an inch or so thicker (most of a Lexmark keyboard's weight comes from the steel plate at the bottom added for that exact reason).   

       I wish to god I had the tools and equipment to make my own molds and plastic cases. I'd buy a high-end laptop, then take the guts of a stick-equipped Lexmark keyboard and fashion the parts to mount it to the laptop's chassis, then make a new top shell , replace the LCD ribbon with a longer one (since it's probably *exactly* the right length for its original configuration and wouldn't reach if the lcd panel were moved a half inch or so further away from the motherboard in the base.   

       Alternatively, I'd buy an ultrathin laptop, and fashion an external buckling spring keyboard that could just sit directly over the laptop's bottom half.   

       Sigh. I need a new computer, and should probably buy a laptop, but as if the current awful crop of laptop keyboards weren't bad enough, NOBODY (repeat: NOBODY) makes a Turion or Athlon-64 based laptop with pointer stick. And the only touchpads I can halfway tolerate are the ones on Averatec notebooks (I have no idea what makes them different, but they *are*), which are nowhere close to middle of the line, let alone high end.
miamicanes, Jan 31 2006

FlyingToaster, Aug 12 2011

       Keeping very thin metal springs compressed most of the time would cause them to wear out, likely in a manner of months. Steel implements only hold their temper indefinitely if not under strain when stored.
Alterother, Aug 12 2011

       Oh I don't care, I'e just been plagued by tpos since I startedu sing a laptop keyobard: some the direct fault of the keyboard, some th efault of having to jog my own elbow while typing.
FlyingToaster, Aug 12 2011

       I don't think a greater key travel is a bonus - it's just a question of what you're used to.   

       Each time I've changed computers, the keyboard has been shallower and with less travel. Each time, I have cursed the new keyboard for a few hours.   

       Yet, if I go back to an older laptop or a desktop machine, I absolutely hate the big clunky keys that have to be pressed sooooo far.   

       Have any of the previous annotators subsequently come to love their low-profile keyboards?
MaxwellBuchanan, Aug 12 2011

       Part of the problem is ergonomics, lack thereof: unless the laptop is at the same distance/angle all the time, the fingers don't get the same feel. Arguably even a Model M would suffer under the same circumstances. But not much.   

       I'd o for thte thick laptop with a bs keyboard. It'd be thicker, marginally heavier, and I wouldn't have any goddam typose to continually correct.   

       Arguably a 'portable' rather than a 'laptop'.   

       As long as I've got something thick enough for a clicky, may as well have something thick enough for a snooker-ball trackball.
FlyingToaster, Aug 12 2011

       It probably wouldn't be "clicky" enough for good typing but replace the springy steel with compressed air which is very springy. Hard plastic-topped keys with collapsible soft sides fold down to nothing but pop up again when re- inflated by a pump mechanism like on those air-fitted running shoes.
AusCan531, Aug 13 2011

       It's not the low profile of laptop keyboards that gets me, it's the arrangement. I realize there's limited space, but that doesn't mean you can't at least take a stab at an ergonomic layout. Of course, I'm a tall guy with big hands, so others may not share this gripe.
Alterother, Aug 13 2011


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