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Layouts - Ortholinear keyboards

ortholinear keyboard layout banner


Have you ever heard about the term ortholinear and do you know what it means? No? Well, don't worry about not knowing that, since the word doesn't really mean much. Its direct translation would be something like straight-straight, or maybe straight in both vertical and horizontal axes. The term was coined by the mechanical keyboard community and represents keyboards with a special grid-like layout. These keyboards usually don't have any stagger in the position of keys and consist mostly of 1u and 2u wide keys.


Ortholinear Plank MIT keyboard layoutOrtholinear Keyboard Layout, 12x4 grid


The ortholinear keyboard layout has alleged ergonomic reasoning behind it and it is often utilized in split keyboards, however, more on this topic in the next section. Several ortholinear boards utilize the layout for its aesthetic qualities, or to save space.

A board full of 1u keys can fit up to 75 keys (15 columns * 5 rows) into the space of a 60% board, which usually has only 61 keys. That means around 20% more keys in the same area. Another great thing about grided layouts is the flexibility of some PCBs, which allow you to choose where and how many 2u keys your board will use. The most commonly seen is the so-called MIT layout on the keyboard kit called Plank. This board can be referred to as a 40% ortholinear and has a grid size of 4 rows by 12 columns, while the specific MIT layout then uses a single 2u key in the middle of the bottom row (47 keys, instead of 48).

Some of the notable ortholinear keyboards are Plank, Preonic, ID75/XD75, Conundrum, and others.


ortholinearID75 Ortholinear Keyboard Kit

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