Pearl's Unique Layout

If you haven't realized it yet, Pearl has a very unique layout. 2 of its 4 rows are offset differently than what a traditional 40 percent, even full sized keyboard offers. A layout is what explains the physical positioning of keys and their sizes on any keyboard. Some examples are ANSI and ISO. Pearl is based off the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) layout. Lets dive deeper into this issue and see if we can't come up with a nice, shiny Pearl!


Here is a traditional 40% layout, such as the blocked JD45 layout, overlaid on an ANSI layout.

You should notice right away that all the alpha keys line up. This means the stagger is the same as what most people should be used to. The modifier keys on the outside are different sizes of course, but traditional 40%s have done this to ensure the correct stagger remains.

Notice the alpha keys are the same, but the modifier keys are not.

Now lets move on to the Pearl. The rose colored keys are the ones that are different on Pearl to a traditional 40% like a JD45. You can see that rows 2 and 4 are different. Why is this? Well because both rows 2 and 4 are offset to the right a bit. I own many legacy keysets where i just bought the ALPHA and MODIFIER sets, or simply put the TKL set. This means that the only 1.75u key that came in the set was the caps lock key. Since most 40%'s require 2 1.75u keys (one in the caps lock position and one in the enter position), most people like me would not be able to fill in the board. That was incredibly annoying to me.

Traditional 40%'s use a 1.25u key at the leftmost position on row 2, and a 1.75u key at the rightmost position on row 2. Pearl uses 1.5u keys on both ends. This means 2 things, the first being that the stagger is offset to the right a bit. The second is that you can now use the TAB and |\ keys at the ends. For the bottom row, i decided to center it with the case. Aesthetics.

Here is a better picture of the differences in Pearl to other 40%'s. Row 2 is the most affected.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Pearls rows 2 and 4 are offset a bit from normal to accommodate more keysets, and for aesthetics. Its a triple edges sword really, because it solved 2 problems but introduced the weird stagger. Here is a picture of Pearls full layout.

If you would like to know more or have any questions or comments leave them below or shoot me an email!

1 comment

  • Very interesting concept! I’m not sure I could get used to the “weird” stagger that was introduced, but you were able to solve the problem of how to use a standard ANSI keycap set with a 40% keyboard, without the need for a special kit of modifier keys. I hope this is a very successful design for you, and that it will increase interest in top quality 40% keyboards. Keep up the great work! -jdcarpe

    JD Carpenter

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