The Ultimate CAD Keyboard?

Over the years the number of peripherals on my desk has grown, and changed.

When I started out it was with a keyboard and mouse that someone was throwing out, so they could best be described as modest. I’ll skip the blow by blow account of the various options I have tried over the past decade and get straight to my current setup, starting with the oldest component first, and finishing with what I have now termed the ultimate CAD keyboard. Yes, the inner nerd in me gets very excited by this stuff!

My first purchase, in my very first CAD job 10 years ago was the 3D Connexion Space Mouse Compact: I am left-handed so perhaps it was a bit easier for me to adjust to using it as such, but either way these devices are essential for anyone working in 3D modeling. It has greatly sped up my workflow, and just as importantly made my design work smoother and easier to execute. Touch wood, after 10 years of intensive daily use it is still going strong.

Then we have the Logitech G502 hero Mouse: The reason why I chose this over the 3D Connexion CAD mouse is for the extra buttons under by forefinger and thumb which I can’t live without. I have mapped out Enter, Esc, Del, and Ctrl-S. Then there is the scroll wheel which is solid metal, and set to smooth scrolling (much easier for zooming). It has 3 additional inputs. Pulling the wheel to the left, which I have mapped to middle click/pan. Pull to the right which I have mapped to Ctrl-Z, which I use a lot! And the down-click which I find uncomfortable and don’t use. It also has incredible DPI. As I have a 27 and 24 inch screen side by side, I can’t take up half my desk for the range of cursor movement I need. I have the DPI set to 7 500, of the available 16 000. I do prefer the bigger form factor of the Logitech MX Master, but it’s lack of extra buttons and low DPI motivated me to buy the G502. While it is a bit smaller I am still happy with it. And not to forget a nice smooth mouse pad, it makes all the difference at high DPI settings.

And last but not least, the ‘ultimate’ CAD keyboard. The Cooler Master SK622: . It started out with me wanting to have a numberpad for my left hand, as I found my right was constantly jumping from my mouse to my standard keyboard numberpad every time I wanted to put in a dimension. Of course this happens very often! So I thought why not buy a separate numpad for my left hand. What seemed like a good idea was a fail. There was no space for my 3D mouse, numpad, big keyboard and mouse all next to each other. My hands had to splay out because of the extra combined length to seriously uncomfortable positions. So I thought, perhaps there is a keyboard out there that chops off the numpad, as well as the arrow/pgup etc. keys. I can live without them. Tenkeyless (numpad free) keyboards are readily available, but finding one without the arrow/pgup block was much more difficult. As far as I know, this is the only one of this type readily available here in South Africa. This is my first experience with a mechanical keyboard (low profile blue switches) and in spite of being slightly louder I absolutely love it. The experience of typing is completely different, and much more pleasurable than a standard keyboard.

So my overall peripherals length has shrunk on my desk, bringing my hands in, to much more comfortable positions. And each component is high quality, making long days at my desk easier. So this was not cheap, and way more expensive than a basic set up. But considering the thousands of daily mouse clicks and keyboard inputs I make, worth every cent.

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