This is not a rant - alternative keyboards

This keyboard supposedly works with Windows, OSX, Android and iOS. It performs very well with iOS and Android. Haven’t tested yet with the Mac or a Win machine. Might try it later and post the findings.

But if what you say is correct then having more than one channel seems to do the trick (and works very well in a low cost keyboard).

You are typing in one device and press another channel button and what you type immediately goes to the new device and can switch constantly back and forth with zero lag.
Perhaps you are right and all 3 channels are really connected all the time. If that is the case it would seem a very simple and straightforward solution to the jumps issue.

If on any device I disable bluetooth and make it active again it immediately connects.

BTW, supposedly works for months with 4 AA batteries. So supposedly battery efficient. Time will tell.

Perhaps what is happening with the TB jumps is a limitation on the original hardware design relying on only one channel and trying to circumvent through complex firmware might not be the fastest or easiest solution ?
(Just an assumption for the sake of discussion)

I have not opened it up to check the innards, but I assume these “Bastron” guys are not using state of the art 22nd century technology, but it works extremely well.

Well, remember you are using a heck of a lot bigger keyboard. I don’t know how much space additional channels would take up, but clearly what would probably not be noticeable on yours may well be a big problem on a TB size device! Also, 4 AA batteries is a lot of power. TB doesn’t have room for that and, if all the channels are active at once, I assume that uses more power. TB has plenty as is, but that may not apply if more channels were added.

Curious about the disabling of BT and “immediately connects” when you enable it. Is that like “instantly” or a couple seconds?

I’m not concerned about the speed of the TB jumping. It is quick - just not instant. I’m not waiting for 10 seconds or something, let alone 30 like I’ve read for some other devices. And, like I said, I suspect you couldn’t keep it so small if you had the space needed for channels and more battery to supply them.

Latest tech isn’t always ideal. As I understand it, ordinary BT is more dependable that BT low energy. But if low power is important, you sometimes have to go with the more difficult tech in some areas to get other benefits.

Interesting the tree continuous connected channels. I thought bluetooth weren’t able to maintain multiple channels at same mime.

But I think if TB can connect with multiple channels, can define a window of last connections with a predefined maximum, and maintain connection for the last jumps.
Possibly to maintain connection with all configured jumps can be a horror but maintain only the last 3 jumps for example. I think 90% of the time will use only one device, and only in some cases two at the same time and rarely 3 of them. It will make an instant switch and avoid the jump issues except extremely rare cases like working with 4 devices or more at the same time.

All - we’ll test one of the Bastron units to time the actual channel change, and report back.

Bastron actually says it takes about a second. Not sure it’s actually different, since we clocked our jumps at 1.5 sec typical.

If they use 3 Bluetooth chips to maintain 3 concurrent links, it’s a huge power loss.

This may be why they need 4 disposable AA batteries every few months, and why it weighs 1.5 pounds instead of 1.5 oz.

Both we and Microsoft deploy the jump in firmware, which is far more efficient. But you need a lot of firmware engineers to do it, whereas Bastron appears to use the default rom.


Time measurement can be tricky as they can legitimately be made from different points, though my preferred measurement is time from first hitting the chord (or a switch in some devices) until I can type. But that isn’t the only approach.

For example, rough estimate from the time I hit the jump chord to go to my iMac - slight delay till the lights come on, release after lights come on and another delay till they go off. And there can be another slight delay before typing will work. Actually, there are more levels to that last part. Sometimes if I start typing too quick, it will miss the first character or so. If just a slightly longer wait, the first characters may not show up right away, but then they all do (nothing is actually missed - just delayed). Or enough of a delay and everything shows up as soon as I start typing.

Now, before anyone starts panicking about all these delays, normally I can start typing as soon as the lights go out - and the first few letters lag a bit, but they all show up. But the total time from when I hit the chord to when the lights go out is just over two seconds. If I start measuring from when the lights come on, the time is about 1.5 seconds as you report.

However, further complicating the measurement, is that one of the settings for timing is one for the jump chord. I have it set in the middle. If I set it to the faster position, that would reduce the brief wait for the lights to come on.

But hey, the total is just over 2 seconds - it really doesn’t matter if I save a half second to me.

My concerns about how long any jump may take (any devices) is when you wait far longer. Oh, instant would be great, though I suspect it wouldn’t actually affect what most people do.

Thanks for the feedback on the Bastron.

@waytools: it would be interesting to hear from you after you test it. As all 3 channels are “visible” to any devices scanning for a BT connection seems to confirm that all 3 channels are active all the time. so perhaps not that practical for the TB due to power consumption, but seems to work very well.

@dabigkahuna: it feels instantaneous. The time it takes for you to hit the channel key and continue typing seems to be fast enough with no character “loss”. If it takes 1 sec as mentioned above seems a good enough “delay” not noticeable in practical use for me.

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I think a single chip can handle multiple connections. Never think on it before, but I use my Surface with a bluetooth keyboard and bluetooth mouse at the same time.

Other thing is the power usage, I can estimate it no more than 0.5x the normal drain (only the signals gets duplicated or triplicated). For me is fair to have less battery time when using multiple devices.

Xwolfoveride - FYI got a Bastron sample today (thing is huge - bigger than Apple desktop Bluetooth keyboard).

Can confirm that It has 3 redundant Bluetooth chips wired to the same keyswitch array. This lets them hack the standard firmware with almost no changes, to avoid software development engineering costs.

There’s still a nonzero switching time between channels since they have to disable matrix scan on the current chip and enable it on the next chip. If all 3 chips strobe rows and read the keyswitch columns to scan concurrently, they’d risk contention.

So it eats batteries 3X faster than typical Bluetooth keyboards. Requires 4 AA batteries, (not included), so it costs another 6 bucks every other month or so.

Will do some precise lab measurements, but looks like it burns about 10X more power than TextBlade. To match TextBlade’s 6 slots, they’d need 6 chips - at 20X power consumption.

Will post more info after we finish testing it.


Don’t waste time looking at this other keyboard in detail

Instead please ship me my keyboard



Samuraijack - Don’t worry, not spending cycles on that. Looking was quick, and useful to answer questions from users. We know what’s important to you, and that’s our focus.


@waytools [quote=“waytools, post:50, topic:5230”]
We know what’s important to,you

  1. Monthly status page updates pushed via email
  2. Shipping estimate
  3. Transparent TREG consideration
  4. Opt-in to current production hardware with OTA firmware updates.
  5. Consistent communication (see#1)

They know.

They also make their own plans in handling our wishes.
But yeah, somewhat more planned updates would be nice, even if they’re null updates at times: no new problems, squashing at known issues. It would save us all the intermittent refreshing and slot machine like action :wink:


Communication, @waytools.


While I love my homemade dactyl keyboard, I really need a portable keyboard for my upcoming business trip in January.

Now that i have been using a mechanical keyboard for over a year with an ortholinear layout, I couldn’t face using a staggered keyboard non-mechanical keyboard again. In addition, since I switched to Colemak a year ago, I wanted a keyboard that would give me Colemak entry.

After a lot of searching I found a few suitable candidates. I ordered an atreus keyboard, which I think will do the job. While not as portable as the textblade, it does have mechanical keys, vertical columns and thumb clusters.
So for other people also waiting on a textblade but in need of a quality solution right now, I think it is worth considering.


I recently ordered the OLKB Planck via Massdrop. Looking forward to getting it.

I am expecting it early next year. I do wonder which will arrive first the Planck or the TB.

I just purchased a new Dell laptop; linux install later this week; but it has a terrible keyboard. Would be nice to have the TB to use with the new laptop!

The atreus kit arrived and after spending an evening soldering, varnishing etc, I now have a portable mechanical keyboard with an orthogonal layout, that I can use with my phone for my upcoming business trip. I also made a soft lined bag for it this weekend. The OTG adapter that can be seen on the cable -> usb c so I can plug it into the usb-c on my phone.

I made the default layout Colemak with different layers to access symbols etc as there are only 42 keys.
Here it is…


Good luck! Let us know how you like it after using it for a bit…

Nice job!

Still nothing that may compare with TextBlade but I thought this could be of interest to some.
Prior to TextBlade I know I wanted backlight and e-ink keys but now with TextBlade I almost never need to look down.
I can see the utility with the Adobe suite of products… there’s a lot of functions there to try and memorise.

They call it portable but we know better. Hopefully by the time they release they will have improved on the ‘more than a day’ battery life.

At a suggested price between $300-$500 that’s a lot of TextBlades.

An update on using the atreus keyboard.
I have now used it on 2 business trips.

Overall I am happy using it as a portable keyboard.
The keyfeel is good, it works flawlessly and after settling on a layout for the different layers (which is rather critical given that it only has 42 keys) I am happy typing away. It allows me to use my phone rather than a laptop for typing notes, answering emails, and using messaging clients.

It is definitely not as comfortable as my dactyl keyboard, but the layout is still much better for me than a standard (non-orthogonal layouts) and the extra thumb keys are indispensable.

I can recommend it as a keyboard or a portable keyboard if you don’t need to stick it in your pocket.
I think that the price is also quite reasonable compared with other keyboards of this type.

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