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Comfortable Computing

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 5 months ago


Home > Comfortable Computing


There are several aspects of the AlphaGrip that appear to make it more ergonomic than a standard keyboard and mouse. For more information please see the page on our website entitled, Is the AlphaGrip AG-5 an Ergonomic Keyboard.


Tailoring the AlphaGrip to your particular hand size may make it more ergonomic. For more information please see the page on our website entitled, Modifying Your AlphaGrip AG-5 Keyboard and Trackball.


Below you'll find interesting user comments and modifications intended to make using an AlphaGrip more ergonomic.



From: Carl Andersen Date: Tues, Mar 21 2006 12:17 am

I have RSS to the point that with a normal keyboard I absolutely have to use a rigid glove on my right hand that immobilizes the wrist or within about 20 minutes I have to stop typing. Even with the glove, I need to ice my wrist every so often. My left hand is better, although not perfect - I suppose this imbalance of injury is caused by years of mousing with the right hand. I also tend to hit normal keyboard keys too hard and this causes a different kind of (probably arthritic) pain.


The AG is wonderful at reducing the latter kind of pain. The motion required to hit the finger-side keys is minimal, and the keys are so near your fingers that you never hit them too hard.


My main ergonomic problem with the AG is that it spreads your thumbs too far away from your palms. This is fine when your thumbs are at rest, but when they are not you have to work hard to lift them. This translates into wrist pain for me. I find using the trackball painful after only 10-20 minutes.



I now prefer an optical trackball (cut from a Logitech Trackman) mounted on the front of the AG-5. My right-wrist RSI is far enough gone that I like to also use my index finger to mouse, although I still use the thumb-ball about half the time. I don't know if I would recommend this system to everybody, but it's a nice relaxing ride for me...


Here is a video of Carl's Trackball in action http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1342324889914829679


Here is a picture of Carl's Trackball setup


Large Hands

Should fingertips be used to press keys

From: Chris Boyce Date: Mon, May 1 2006 1:22 am

I just got my AlphaGrip today, and I'm trying to determine the best position for my fingers on the underside keys. I have fairly large hands ( I can just interlace the tips of my fingers if I put my palms right against the sides of the AlphaGrip). Since my fingers extend a ways over the keys, I'm not sure if it'll be more efficient to have my fingers sort of perched up above the keys so I can use just the tip of the fingers to press the buttons in either direction, or if I could rest my fingers on the buttons, and sort of 'push' or 'pull' my finger against the button to select from the two directions. I guess I'm asking if the buttons on the back are supposed to be 'typed' or 'rocked'. Thanks much.

Use Fingertips

From: Mike W Date: Mon, May 1 2006 7:32 am

They were intended to be typed by pressing both sides of the rocker buttons with the tips of your fingers, but whatever works. You may want to try gluing some foam pads to each side of your AlphaGrip to make it wider as shown here: http://alphagrip.pbwiki.com/Accessories#EasyStand, or you may get some ideas reviewing the user modifications shown below.

User Modifications

Below are modifications some users designed to make the AlphaGrip experience more comfortable. Also see:

Andersen Modifications

From: Carl Andersen Date: Mon, Oct 16 2006 10:35 am

Several months ago I experimented with some new modifications of the Alphagrip and wanted to show them to you all. When the Alphagrip wiki goes up, I'll write up more about them as well as a guide to making foam addons.


The first three pics show a dual-Alphagrip model I experimented with in May. The two alphagrips are connected with two Panavise camera mounts that have ball joints, so you can swivel them to most any angle you wish and then lock them in place. Note the foam addons for the keys and the trackpoint pointing device that I mentioned in other posts. I made this model to see if holding the AG and typing with it at different angles would be easier. I found that the angle I liked best was kind of like a steering wheel, with one's fingers falling over the top of the keys. Ultimately, though, the bulk of two AG-5's got to be a little much.


The last pic is the system I use now. The vertical piece of foam and the little rectangle of foam make my hand fall over the AG-5 a little more like a steering wheel. The foam key addons allow typing with minimal finger movement. The pieces of wood let the AG-5 sit in my lap without my having to hold it up. I now prefer an optical trackball (cut from a Logitech Trackman) mounted on the front of the AG-5. My right-wrist RSI is far enough gone that I like to also use my index finger to mouse, although I still use the thumb-ball about half the time. I don't know if I would recommend this system to everybody, but it's a nice relaxing ride for me....



Dolph Modifications

From: brad - Date: Mon, Oct 23 2006 7:47 am

Having listened and learned from what Carl has done modification wize, I made some modifications that have helped make the device more comfortable for my purposes. Hopefully, other people may also benefit.


In terms of the next version, the three things that stand out to me are the keys, trackball and the need for a size adjustment feature.


Like Carl, I have found that modifying the keys so that they can can pivot has made the device much easier to use. I have uploaded some pictures and made comments for those interested in reviewing. They can be viewed with my comments at http://braddolph.blogspot.com/


Mike, perhaps the sides of the device could somehow be modified so that they could extend out allowing for larger hand sizes. With reguards to the trackball, I think a larger trackball would be more user-friendly. Perhaps about threequarters of the size of the Microsoft and Logitech trackballs?


Saying all that, the device is a wonderful advancement and with some minor enhancements, it has become my choice of input device over a keyboard any day.



Dickenson Modifications

From: Toby Dickenson Date: Sun, Oct 29 2006 10:00 am (responding to Brad)


On Sunday 29 October 2006 06:55, brad wrote:


> The index finger keys are still bothering me....I reckon it could be

> done better. One idea I have is to attach (glue) 4 springs or similar

> (maybe shortened ballpoint pen springs) to each index finger key (eg

> M,U,N &H) and then attach one diamond shaped piece of plastic that sits

> on top of all of the springs. The user could then rock the index finger

> back and forth and up and down to press the key combiantions. Could get

> awfully fiddly but I'm thinking it could work well.....not sure? Have

> you tried anything like this before?


Ive been using something similar. photos attached. Rocking this lever upwards presses the M key because the extension pivots around the NU key. Like an 80's joystick.


You can see the extensions for MUNH and GTFR are made from three layers. I have had some trouble with the glue unsticking - rocking the lever upwards acts to pull the top layer apart. I might try rebuilding these with the layers arranged vertically.


I found I needed to remove some extra foam material around the narrow part of NU key to avoid rubbing, to ensure a clean pivoting action.



Willner Modifications


Inspired by the user modifications described above, I decided to give it a try.


First I made my Grip wider by gluing some foam padding to the sides. Then to stop my hands from sliding up too high on the Grip, I added a couple of "wings".



On the back of my Grip I glued add-ons to the keys. I carved a V-shaped groove into the middle of each small rectangular foam block where I intended to apply pressure with the tips of my fingers. This was supposed to minimize my finger movement. As it turned out I would have to make the Grip much wider, creating more distance between my palms, for my fingertips to naturally fall into the grooves. At present, my fingertips hover over the "inside" portion of the add-on and I merely press down to generate the character on that side of the key. I must slide my fingertip toward the "outside" portion of the key to catch the groove and generate the character on that side. This still results in less finger movement relative to having no add-ons.




If you have longer fingers, you would want to position the add-ons toward the center of the Grip and with shorter fingers you would position the add-ons toward the outside edge.




                                                                               for longer fingers                                                                                          for shorter fingers




Ergonomic Testing

As part of an ergonomic study, Didgers (Scott Rodgers) created a Java Analyzer that compares total lateral finger travel distances when typing with a qwerty keyboard versus an AlphaGrip AG-5. You can see a screen shot of the Analyzer at Scott Rodgers' Java Analyzer.


To test the Analyzer, go to http://www.eng.utah.edu/~rodgers/program_8.html, enter your text, and hit "calculate." Results will appear at the bottom of the page.

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