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Keyball44

Keyball44

Regular price $84.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $84.00 USD
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Keyball is a family of keyboards that feature a 34mm thumb trackball with the widely used PMW3360 sensor. In partnership with Yowkees of Shirogane Lab, the creator of this wonderful integrated trackball design, we're happy to bring Keyball to a wider audience.

The trackball sits in an injected molded housing with 3 ceramic bearings. The ball slides snuggly into the housing and moves smoothly in all directions thanks to the bearings.

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Keyball44 is the 40% version in the Keyball lineup with 44 keys.

The base price comes in kit form and includes a pair of black PCBs, SMD diodes, reset switches, TRRS jacks and a trackball kit which includes the PMW3360 sensor, trackball housing and additional hardware.  This purchase doesn't include a 34mm ball.

Use the build service to get a keyboard with all the electronic components soldered (assembly still required), or a fully built, assembled and tested keyboard.

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Please read our Buyer's Guide to help navigate through the various options.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
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K
Korean07

The build quality is good.
Although delivery took a month, it was worth the wait.
The trackball has excellent sensitivity.
Mapping software is also convenient.

E
Emiliano Perez
Silly Board Good!!!

I like building and collecting silly keyboards and this one is fun to use. I thought using the trackball was gonna be a pain at first but no I picked it up pretty quickly. Borrowing my friend's trackball mouse my mind would want to push the absolute unit around the table instead of pushing the ball but I believe since this trackball is attached to a keyboard my mind recognizes it for thumb use only.

I'm really cheap so most of my other keebs have some level of jank and in turn personality. I really tried (didn't try?) and it came out way nicer than expected. Mismatched MCUs, 3 different kinds of switches, and keycaps from an old typewriter.

Typing experience has taken me a bit to get used to. I'm used to 36 keys and much more aggressive pinky columns so I keep accidentally pressing the extra columns and I have repeating buttons because I don't know what to do with them.

I used remap to flash my keyboard and it worked great for me. My only minor issue was the spacers for the choc thumb cluster that was too short. Or maybe the others were too long? I printed some better fitting ones and it works fine now. I might get actual ones when I'm not lazy...

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Elliot Yu
Excellent keyboard that scratches an itch

I'm relatively new to split keyboards, but in the few months since starting my journey, I have already developed some preferences and pet peeves that I was really hoping to find an easy solution for. Keyball44 fills that role pretty well.

The first is a need for a pointing device. I had been a Thinkpad user and was always partial to the track point, but most split keyboards with trackpoints mount them off to the side of the keys instead of embed them in between keys. Granted that would require custom keycaps and clever modifications to the PCB, so I understand why this hasn't become a popular solution. Otherwise my main pointing device has been a trackball mouse, so transition to the Keyball44 was seamless. The placement of the trackball is also quite appropriate. The MX switches increase the height a little bit, which provides the right amount of clearance between the trackball and the palm.

The second is a need for a 3-key, spread out thumb cluster. Plenty of keyboards satisfy this requirement, but my first split keyboard is a ZSA Voyager, which has only 2 keys per side, so the need for a slightly larger but well-placed thumb cluster is sorely felt. The 3/2 arrangement on the Keyball44 turns out to be perfect.

The rest of the features of the Keyball44 more or less just turned out perfect for my needs. For example I preferred a 6-column layout since I need some extra keys for international layouts, and I have been getting used to a 3-row layout in order to reduce hand movement.

Finally I took advantage of Idan's soldering service, which was very helpful, because my own soldering skills leave much to be desired, and I also wanted per-key LEDs and hot-swap sockets.

All in all, this was a great purchase. The only hiccup in the experience came after the keyboard was put together, because flashing the firmware was a bit of a hassle. The initial keymap seems to be a Japanese layout, so the lower-right key doesn't send a character when using other locales. This confused me into thinking that the hotswap socket was detached and led to some extra fiddling. Nevertheless all was well in the end.

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B.L.
A real split keyboard and mouse solution

I've used quite a few split keyboards already, from the ergodox ez to the dygma defy but I've always wanted a split keyboard that has a mouse solution.

The Keyball44 is the first keyboard I've tried that answers this problem.

I ordered my Keyball44 fully assembled, I have little to no experience soldering something successfully so I am unable to provide any insight here. All I can say is that the keyboard seems sturdy.

The Good: This keyboard is great, the trackball is very useful. Aside from preventing the need for me to reach for my mouse, the trackball allows me to scroll both vertically and horizontally when in layer 3. This is extremely useful and I feel this can't be understated. Being able to scroll vertically and horizontally while keeping my hands on the keyboard adds a level of convenience that I almost can't live without.

I thought customizing this keyboard was going to be somewhat bothersome, as you will have to clone a forked branch repository off of QMK that is custom developed to handle the Sea Picro controller that HolyKeeb uses, however I found that I was still able to flash my keyboard by just using the web app remap-keys. The web app has some limitations such as a max of 3 layers but I found I was able map all the keys I needed.

Both halves of the keyboard can be flashed to have separate layouts depending on which side you plug the usb c cable into.

The Bad: The 40% layout is kind of limiting, I do wish there was a version with more keys, specifically for numbers. I've gotten used to the current layout somewhat however I would say that it's best suited for productivity. Gaming on this keyboard will be too difficult especially if you rely on number keys.

Switching to the keyball44 was difficult for me even having used several split programmable keyboards before. I had to rearrange my space, backspace, enter and tab keys as I now have less thumb keys than I did previously.

Currently, it doesn't look like a lot of people use this layout yet outside of japanese customers who have purchased this keyboard from Shirogane Labs. The few videos I've found on youtube are all in Japanese. If you do purchase this you should understand that you are sort of a pioneer in this space until there is more consumer adoption for a keyboard like this.

There is a discord community specifically for HolyKeebs however, so feel free to pop in if you have a question before or after purchasing your keyboard.

Conclusion: If you are okay with some tinkering and have always wanted a convenient keyboard trackball solution then I think you will enjoy this keyboard. You will have to provide your own keycaps and trackball but if you're someone who's already gone down the split keyboard rabbit hole like me then that shouldn't be too much of an issue. I definitely think keyboards like this are closer to the end game solution. I will definitely be buying another keyboard from HolyKeebs so I don't have to carry this one to and from the office!