Recently, I had my introduction to mechanical keyboards. After starting with a second-hand Pok3r and trying out a Ducky One 2 SF, a Tab 75 and a Cypher, I think I found a good match.
- Vortexgear Cypher (65% layout)
- Single spacebar (yes, because there’s a version with two spacebars)
- Cherry MX Clear switches (medium stiff, tactile, non-clicky)
- ISO-UK layout (big return key)
A cool feature of most Vortex keyboards is the ability to program and override almost any key. This especially important on smaller keyboards, like their Core 40%, but it’s still quite useful in order to tune a keyboard just for your use case.
I’ve used their Pok3r and it was almost perfect, but the fact it had no dedicated arrow keys (they were only reachable by pressing
Fn plus other keys) was a deal breaker to me. The Cypher model corrects that and, with a few changes, ticks all the boxes for me. Here’s my current layout (lighter grey highlighting the keys I’ve changed):
- Windows and Alt key functions were basically swapped because I use macOS everywhere at the moment;
) — otherwise accessible withFn+Esc`;
- The Delete function is in a weird place (
Fn+'), so I mapped it to
- Finally, the CapsLock is now two Control presses! This means that pressing this key will be the same as double-tapping the Control key. This sounds odd but iTerm2 has a hotkey feature that allows you to show/hide it either with a key (I’ve used
±on other keyboards, but Cypher doesn’t have this key) or by double-tapping a modifier key (I’ve found that Control is the one less prone to false double taps).
I won’t include in this post how to customise the keyboard, you can read that directly from the source (by checking the Cypher’s and Pok3r’s manuals). After a few tweaks, this is my final layout (with preprogrammed media keys Vortex keyboards already include):