Tyler Robertson

One-handed typing on the ZSA Moonlander

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

One of the things I find most interesting about the ZSA Moonlander is that the left-hand "queen" side of the keyboard can operate wholly separately from the right-hand "drone" side (connected by a TRRS cable). This was designed with gaming in mind, but I always felt that abandoning the right side was more likely to leave me stranded in a chat, negating whatever benefit the extra mouse-space might afford.


If I could access the full keyboard from just one side, I could theoretically abandon the other entirely, as though I was using one of these fancy keyboards designed for just that. As the Moonlander gives more-or-less full control over the keys, the idea has always been technically possible, it's just a matter of how. I have been using the keyboard to learn stenography over the last few months with Plover, which does help reimagine the keyboard a bit, but is definitely a two-handed affair. Then recently, I discovered ASETNIOP, a project that fits the whole keyboard into just ten keys!

Taking inspiration from ASETNIOP and using the "layers" in the Moonlander software, here's what I came up with.

The QWERASDF layout allows me to disconnect the right-hand side of the keyboard and continue typing, by "galloping" across the left in one- or two-key strokes. The layers are set up such that the order of the keys doesn't matter, just the pairing. All of the numbers are available by double-tapping. I can also hold combinations to access alternate characters, which is especially handy (pun) for programming. Here's a grid in Google Sheets that might help visualize that better.

While it's far from perfect (or quick!), I have to say that I'm incredibly pleased with how easy it is to transition in and out of. I've adjusted several keystrokes to make at least some phonetic sense (Q and E make a K, for instance) as well as trying to make some of the more popular combos ergonomically-friendly. Words ending -ing are especially fun. I expect I'll be making several edits now that I've posted it, but so far I'd call this a success. Case in point: I wrote this post—and spent an entire day answering emails—entirely one-handed.

What do you think? Are there changes I should make, or things I missed? Let me know!