Programming a Pok3r mechanical keyboard


A few months ago, I decided to give the mechanical keyboard thing a try.

Compactness being an important factor of decision, I hesitated between a Ten-keyless (KUL ES-87) and a 60% (Pok3r). I decided to be a little adventurous and went with the Pok3r.

The Pok3r being a programmable keyboard, I tried different configurations that I’m exposing here.

For more details about the programming feature, here is the keyboard manual.

A very first try: Dip Switch 3 + HJKL

Being a OS X user, the very first thing I did was swapping Alt and Win keys.

I also enabled DIP Switch 3 to make Caps Lock a FN key and I made FN + HJKL arrow keys.

A first try

Verdict: Even if it was fine overall, I terribly missed dedicated arrow keys outside of VIM. Using FN + HJKL as arrow keys did not really feel natural.

A potential improvement: Swapping FN to LCtrl

Swap Ctrl and Caps Lock

Verdict: It was better but I still really missed dedicated arrow keys. I use a lot of shortcuts that involve arrow keys and adding an additional key to them was not convenient at all.

Trying to get dedicated arrow keys

Fortunately, the keyboard comes with a built-in feature that allows transforming Shift + FN + PN + RCtrl keys into an arrow cluster by pressing LWin + Space + RAlt.

So, I gave this a try and ended up with this layout:

Dedicated arrow keys

Verdict: That was really great but I then terribly missed the right Shift.

What if we program FN and PN to be down and up so we can save right shift key?

FN and PN keys are not programmable by default but that’s where DIP Switch 4 gets useful. By moving FN and PN to the bottom left, we can make FN and PN keys programmable.

DIP Switch 4

Verdict: Moving FN and PN keys to the bottom left made me lose the Option key. But losing Option was not an “option”!

Karabiner to the rescue!

DIP Switch 4 is useful but I don’t want to lose a key on a 60% keyboard.
That said, using bottom right modifier keys as VIM-like arrow keys just felt awesome. Can’t we make the world a better place and make this happen without losing a key?

Unfortunately, I think it’s just not possible at the hardware level.
So maybe Karabiner Elements can help?

What if we use LWin + Space + RAlt to turn RShift + FN + PN + RCtrl keys into an arrow cluster and use a Karabiner Elements config to map Ralt to Left, Left to Down, Down to Up and Up to Shift?

Karabiner to the rescue

Verdict: That looks like the best of both worlds and I’m pretty satisfied with this config. Downside is that I have to press LWin + Space + RAlt each time the keyboard gets unplugged.