Jun 9, 201611905 views

Where Did All My Keys Go? A Look Into the Function Layers of the MiniVan

So you find yourself looking at these so called 40% keyboards, and all you can do is scratch your head and ask, "How do I do numbers?" A fine question indeed. In this post I want to break down the layout I am using on the MiniVan and alternatives for you.

The following image is my default layout, the layout of the keys without holding down any function keys.
As you can see, for the most part, it is standard qwerty. Caps lock, enter, left alt, and right shift have been replaced with function layer activation keys. I purposely wanted to be able to activate two layers with either hand thereby giving me access to every key on each function layer. If you don't need this you can reprogram (a programming guide is in the works) every single key to be whatever you want it to be. Right shift has shifted, pun intended, to the bottom row. I only ever used Control on the left side so the right control went bye bye. Alter was rarely used so I kept the right one to make room on the left for the FN2 key. Kept the left windows key, but again, I only need one so the right windows key is gone. I found that I only hit space with one thumb so moving enter to the other thumb naturally made sense.

The following image depicts Function Layer 1 which is activated by the red keys on the default layer.
By pressing either FN key (the light red) the layer is activated and the keys change from their default behavior to the dark red keys shown above. You can see special characters across the top row, programming characters in the middle row, as well as, arrows. Escape in the bottom left corner, led toggle, and print screen. Alternatively you could put the numbers across the top row. I had my layout setup that way in the beginning, but didn't like switching between hands when typing long strings of numbers. Remember, anything you don't like placement wise, can be reprogrammed. Move the exclamation point if you want. Put the arrows somewhere else. It can all be customized 100%.

"I still don't see any numbers!"

The following image is my Function 2 layer
I've got a numpad on the right which I find extremely useful for punching in numbers quickly, the best part being that I don't have to move my hands from home row. There are a couple keys for controlling volume, some programming characters as well. The numbers also go across the top row. I don't ever use the numbers that way anymore, but it shows the progression I went through.

My layout has changed significantly from the very first iteration. As I have moved things around and tried out different ideas, I have honed in on what I like and what works well for me. Your optimal layout might be drastically different. I encourage you to explore different layouts and to try different configurations.

Oh I almost forgot. I have a lock layer setup for gaming. This allows me to lock in something that doesn't really work for typing, but allows me the ability to play my favorite games.
Can you guess which games I play primarily based on my gaming layer?

I hope this post was informative for you and helped give you some ideas for what your optimal layout might be. As always, you're welcome to post questions and I'll answer to the best of my ability!
naverlands, Vira, and 32 others

While checking around, I came across this post. Thanks, for providing your minivan function layer layout!
no problem!
Hey Evan, do you have a layout map please with the size of each key? I'm purchasing some nice blanks for the mods and want to ensure I get the right sizes! Cheers. :D
Is there support for macros?
Pretty interesting Evan, very nice to see the layers organized like this. I play some games every once in a while, so in case I happen to up(down)grade from my 60% I'm definitely getting a Van! Fantastic job, great looking case as well!
EDIT: Forgot to say that the Arrow layout looks like it would work better for me since I don't need more than one Shift/Control. Also, do you have any plans for RGB underglow?
rbg is something that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time.. I have some ideas, but nothing noteworthy yet. I hope to add more of these features over the next year :)
Hey Evan! Would you mind telling me how you ordered those custom made keycaps? thanks!
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does the cost drop a lot? I just ordered a custom set of DSA caps and the cost is insane...
yes, if you can get to 50 sets it starts to become pretty reasonable. the more you can buy the lower the price will be per set.
You play DOTA 2
Edit: That potentially should read "You play LoL, but you should be playing DOTA 2."
Thanks for this!
@evangs you are making this so hard for me! I just ordered a WhiteFox, and I'm on the verge of joining this drop too. 😎
That's what she said XD if you do end up joining, you won't regret it. This is a great little travel board, but also works nicely as a daily driver.
Story of my life, except I already have. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
My bad. Location makes sense.
I've noticed that you only have an ESC key on the lock layer. Do you not use ESC?
I have esc on function layer 1
I will need this later
Wish I hadn't read this. Made me want one so bad. I don't even have a soldering iron.
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I meant the added cost of pre-assembled boards, but I suppose knowing how to solder would lead to purchases I'd have otherwise not made. A net loss in money either way, hah.
Yeah, I just meant that it is a long, slippery slope. I played around a little with electronics as a kid, and came back to it a while back. A friend broke her USB thumb drive - sat on it and snapped off the jack, and of course it had un-backed-up Super Important Files on it. So I dug out an ancient iron and gave it a go, and surprisingly, my crappy soldering job worked well enough to get the data off.
Little did I know that that moment would lead to what is simultaneously the worst time sink since Tetris during finals and the worst money sink since cocaine.
An iron, fine. Helping hands and a maybe a PCB vice, a solder-sucker, a heat gun - those just make sense if you're going to use an iron. A multimeter, hey, that's handy around the house. But warning signs include lingering over the technical charts for oscilloscopes, ordering components that aren't earmarked for a project because you had trouble sourcing them in the past, and downloading Eagle. If you ever wake up in the middle of the night with a great new feature that only means rearranging half your board, it is time to consider rehab.
Oh. This explains a lot. So with 2 function layers means you get 3 layers total with the default. Can't wait until there is OLED display keyboard/keycaps.
This post convinced me to join the upcoming drop despite having no idea how to solder. Thanks.
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I prefer 1.8mm water clear less from eBay
The company name Hakko is written in Japanese as "白光", which means "white light".
Regarding LEDs, I found the following thread to be quite helpful: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54702.0
Please remind me to make sure this default layout is accurate for the QMK firmware.
Excellent post - roll on R2!
This is great! I love having a reference for the layout. Do you have a link to keyboard-layout-editor for the layouts?
Thank you Evan,
for anyone new to experience/try out layers and the (dis)liking of it, i can only recommend to try out TouchCursor: http://martin-stone.github.io/touchcursor/ It's a free amazing tool, but bond to Windows OS.
clearly for Kerbal Space Program
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The B next to space is a dead giveaway ;)
This is an awesome article! Thanks :)