€2,093 pledged of €5,460 goal
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By Cristian Adam
€2,093 pledged of €5,460 goal
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About this project

This project is about creating a Cherry keyboard with a Romanian layout.

Not any Romanian layout but the standardized Romanian layout, which just works on a Windows, a Mac, or Linux computer.  

You will get a “reliable standard keyboard, tried-and-tested a million times over”, namely the Cherry G83-6104/G83-6105 keyboard.  

Keybo.de can print on the above Cherry keyboard any custom layout. One “only” needs to order in batches of 65 keyboards.  

Basically, the scope of this project is to gather enough pledge to order one, or more 65 keyboard batches.  

The Romanian layout would be conforming with the Romanian keyboard standard – ASRO SR-13392:2004. More about this standard later.  

Notice that the name of the Cherry keyboard has two parts, which represent two layouts:

  • G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys 
  • G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys

Below you will find the pictures (click on the images for bigger resolution) of a black G83-6104 US layout with 104 keys, and of a gray G83-6105 UK layout with 105 keys.

G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys
G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys

 

G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys
G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys

 

The layout is pretty “boring”. But boring is good. It has no multimedia keys, no weird sleep keys, which then would force to have the Insert / Delete key block directly over the arrow keys, no small Backspace key, tilted “ergonomic” keys, or any other marketing silliness.   

This is your standard, run-of-the-mill, keyboard.

The search for a standard Romanian keyboard

After the communism fell in Romania in the 90‘s, IT companies like Microsoft, Apple, IBM decided to localize their operating systems (Windows, Mac, OS/2) for the Romanian market.  

Unfortunately back then there was no Romanian keyboard standard and everybody created their own version of a Romanian keyboard! Each version was different than the other.  

The first Romanian ASRO (the Romanian standardization group, like ANSI in USA) keyboard standard, based on QWERTY, came in 1998. It was ignored by the above IT vendors.  

In 2004 the ASRO keyboard standard was revised, and Microsoft, Apple have added support for the Romanian keyboard layout in their operating systems. The software side was fixed!  

On the hardware side the keyboard manufacturers didn‘t bother to implement the ASRO standard. When questioned about it, they would always say there is no demand for Romanian keyboards in the Romanian market.  

It is true that Romania is not one of the wealthiest country in the EU, but Romania is on the 7th place (~18M) in the EU when it comes to population.

By comparison Iceland, which is not even part of EU, with a population of ~330K has Icelandic keyboards on Amazon, keyboards made by Dell, Lenovo etc.

The Romanian language specialities

If you wonder what‘s so special about the Romanian language, this part is for you.  

Romanian is a Romance language. In writing, the Latin alphabet has been in use since the 19th century, when it replaced the Cyrillic alphabet.

Romanian has five special characters, which do not exist in the English alphabet:  

  • A with circumflex – â Â  
  • A Breve – ă Ă  
  • I with circumflex – î Î  
  • S Comma – ș Ș  
  • T Comma – ț Ț  

The written Romanian language has two more needs:  

  • Dialog line – (en dash symbol) used to indicate a dialog. The English language uses quotes for this case.  
  • Quotes. The 99 down and 99 up („”) are the Romanian quotes. For the quotes in quotes case the «french quotes» are used. 

And that‘s all folks.

Now, how hard is it to put all of these on an existing layout and be done with it? 

The Microsoft QWERTZ legacy keyboard

Microsoft "Legacy" Romanian keyboard layout
Microsoft "Legacy" Romanian keyboard layout

 

Legend has it that Microsoft went to the Police in the 90‘s to find out what type of layout the police was using to write the official documents / ID cards / drivers licenses.   

As it turns out the police had QWERTZ type writers and decided to craft their Romanian keyboard layout based on QWERTZ. The Romanian type writers were mostly QWERTZ: Remington, Erika, Consul, Olivetti.

PC Manufacturers like Dell, HP slowly adopted the Microsoft layout. Cherry also produced QWERTZ Romanian keyboards.  

In reality the Romanian PC market was filled with EN-US keyboards, which are by definition QWERTY. The difference between EN-US QWERTY and Romanian QWERTZ is bigger than the simple Y with Z swap.  

Below you have an animation with a slider comparing the Microsoft QWERTZ keyboard layout and the ASRO QWERTY keyboard layout (click on the animation to go to a live comparison page):

Microsoft "Legacy" vs Romanian Standard
Microsoft "Legacy" vs Romanian Standard

 

The Romanian Standard keyboard layout

Primary keyboard layout from the SR13392:2004 Romanian standard
Primary keyboard layout from the SR13392:2004 Romanian standard

 

ASRO used the EN-US QWERTY layout and then added the Romanian language specialities on top. The special letters were kept on the right, like on the Microsoft Legacy keyboard, but one could access they original EN-US symbols by the means of the AltGr key.   

ASRO also kept the “dead keys” from the Microsoft Legacy keyboard, added Romanian quotes „”«», dialog line – and the € symbol, even though Romania hasn’t adopted the € yet.

Also S and T Cedilla (ŞŢ) have been updated to the correct S and T Comma Below (ȘȚ) characters.

Below you have an animation with a slider comparing the EN-US keyboard layout and the ASRO Romanian (“primary”) keyboard layout (click on the animation to go to a live comparison page):

American English vs Romanian Standard
American English vs Romanian Standard

 

The Romanian “Programmers” keyboard layout

Secondary keyboard layout from the SR13392:2004 Romanian standard
Secondary keyboard layout from the SR13392:2004 Romanian standard

 

The Linux operating system had implemented a more practical layout – by using AltGr key and base characters to generate the special Romanian characters:  

  • AltGr + A = Ă  
  • AltGr + S = Ș  
  • AltGr + T = Ț  
  • AltGr + I = Î  
  • AltGr + Q = Â  

Q was used as base letter for  because A was already taken for Ă, which appears more often in words than Â.

The Romanian “Programmers” layout is based on the EN-US layout, plus the Romanian language specialities.  

This layout is part of the Romanian keyboard layout ASRO SR-13392:2004 as the “secondary” layout.  

One might argue that there is no need for Romanian Programmers keyboards, but I beg to differ. How else would one know where the Romanian quotes („”«») are? Or the dialog line –? Not to mention the useful “dead keys”?  

Romanian Programmers keyboard layout is present on Windows starting with Windows Vista. Unfortunately Apple didn’t bother to implement it in Mac OS X. Fortunately there is a 3rd party implementation on github.

Below you have an animation with a slider comparing the EN-US keyboard layout and the RO-PRO keyboard layout (click on the animation to go to a live comparison page):

American English vs Romanian "Programmers"
American English vs Romanian "Programmers"

 

A keyboard for ethnic minorities

When ASRO redacted the standard for the Romanian keyboard they took into consideration also the ethnic minorities that had representation in the Romanian parliament.  

This is the reason why ß, Đ and Ł are directly labeled on the keyboard, in order to support the German, Serb-Croatian and Polish minorities.

Please note that the Microsoft “Legacy” Keyboard layout used to have for Đ and Ł also the lowercase version đ and ł.

The “dead” keys

A “dead key” combination is a combination which when pressed doesn't result in a character being generated but instead will affect the next key you press.  

For example one presses first «AltGr+¨» then «a» and «ä» will be generated.  

With the “dead keys” one can introduce the specific characters of the following languages:  

  • German: ä, ö, ü, ß  
  • French: é, ê, è, à, ù, ô, û, ç, ü, ÿ, ë, ï  
  • Italian: à, è,é ì, ò, ó, ù  
  • Polish: ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż  
  • Czech: á, č, ď, é, ě, í, ň, ó, ř, š, ť, ú, ů, ý, ž  
  • Hungarian: á, é, í, ö, ó, ő, ü, ú, ű  
  • Serb-Croatian: č, ć, đ, š, ž  

The degree dead key can be also used to generate the temperature degrees °C or °F!

The price “pie”

The price for a keyboard, including shipping anywhere in the world (with Deutsche Post) is 42€. This price “pie” looks like this:

Price pie
Price pie

Technical specifications

The following part comes from Cherry‘s “EN_G83-6104_G83-6105.pdf"

Reliable standard keyboard, tried-and-tested a million times over . 

The CHERRY G83-6000 is the reliable standard keyboard, tried-and-tested a million times over - with soft operation of the keys and completely recyclable.  

Key benefits : 

  • Compact, corded standard keyboard
  • Easy to clean keys with scratch-resistant inscriptions (Laser inscripted)  
  • NTK technology for pleasantly soft operation of the keys  
  • Uniform switching characteristics (elastomer keys with membrane contact switches)  
  • 20 million operations for each key  
  • Can be recycled  

Specifications:

  • Weight (product): 662 g (1.46 lbs)  
  • Total weight (with packaging): 810 g (1.79 lbs)  
  • Cable Length: approx. 1.75 m (5.74 ft)  
  • Storage Temperature: -20°C to 60°C (-4°F to 140°F)  
  • Operating Temperature: 0°C to 50°C (32°F to 122°F)  
  • Current Consumption: typ. 16 mA  
  • Dimensions (product): approx. 458 x 170 x 42 mm (18.03 x 6.69 x 1.65 inches)  
  • Packaging dimensions: approx. 493 x 210 x 47 mm (19.41 x 8.27 x 1.85 inches) 

Keyboard batches

The G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys would be perfect for the Romanian “Programmers”, while G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys is a better match for the Romanian Standard layout.

Now that the layouts are set for the physical keyboards, the only remaining issue is the color of the keyboard.  

Based on a small survey I decided for the following combinations:

  • G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys, Black.
  • G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys, Gray.  

The keyboard will have an USB connection.

Production and shipment

  • Keybo.de will print the layout on the keyboards and deliver them in eight weeks.  
  • Shipment time will be proportional to the distance to Germany.  
  • Keyboards are “Made in Germany” by Cherry.

 

Risks and challenges

The only risk I can think of is not to gather enough pledges to order the batches of 65 keyboards.

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    Pledge €7 or more About $7

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    This amount will be gathered and the keyboards will be donated to a school picked in a live draw by random.org

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    Romanian "Standard" Keyboard

    G83-6105 layout – EU style with 105 keys, Gray.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge €35 or more About $37

    Romanian "Programmers" Keyboard

    G83-6104 layout – US style with 104 keys, Black.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 18 backers
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Funding period

- (36 days)