Getting Started

Congratulations!

You’re the proud owner of a new Moonlander. Thank you for picking our keyboard! If you’ve only ever used traditional keyboards, this tool can seem a bit intimidating, but don’t worry: This guide will take you through everything you need to start your journey towards a more ergonomic writing experience.

Remember, this is a journey — a typing adventure if you will. You’ve been typing with staggered, old-style keyboards for years; you’ll quickly notice your bad habits when starting with a Moonlander. Don’t fret: With this guide and practice, you’ll be able to regain your typing speed and enjoy a keyboard that’s perfectly customized for your individual needs. Soon you’ll be left wondering why this isn't the standard layout!

What’s in the box

  • Keyboard: Both halves, with the Wing wrist rest attached.
  • 3.5mm TRRS cable: Goes between both halves of the board. TRRS stands for tip-ring-ring-sleeve (the connector type) and can be replaced with any other TRRS cable if you want to customize or extend it.
  • USB Type-C cable: Use this to plug the keyboard in.
  • Key puller: Use it to remove keycaps and keyswitches, to customize your board over time.
  • Extra keycaps: Decide if you want the bump on the F and J keys, or if you want the label on the bottom left key.
  • Hex key: Use it to loosen the screw on the thumb cluster before you adjust its angle, then tighten it back down.
  • Carrying case: Use it folded for a compact (and thicker) footprint, or place it in your backpack unfolded, for a flatter distribution.

Here's a video that goes over what's in the box in greater detail:

Connecting the keyboard

Connecting the keyboard is simple. First, connect both halves using the 3.5mm TRRS cable. Then plug the USB cable into the keyboard’s left half, and connect it to your computer.

When you connect everything up, the status LEDs on the board should light up in a ripple effect to show that the keyboard is connected.

Positioning your Keyboard

You want to avoid having the two pieces too close to each other: Don’t replicate what you do with your normal keyboard. Instead, we recommend that you begin by placing the two pieces at shoulder width, ensuring that the home row aligns with your fingers. Your posture should be completely relaxed — just extend your arms naturally at shoulder width, note where your hands fall, and put the keyboard there. Let the board come to you, not the other way around.

Note the angle of rotation of both halves relative to your body. They don’t have to be straight — you can angle them outwards slightly, so that your wrist does not have to flex in any direction at all.

At this point, without typing, your position should feel completely relaxed and natural. You’re just laying your hands on the desk in a very comfortable way… and there happens to be a keyboard right under your fingers.

Moonlander MK1: Left side

Important note on screw directions

  • The right side tightens right. Turn it left to loosen.
  • The left side tightens left. Turn it right to loosen.

This is so the thumb cluster doesn't come loose when you place weight on it.


The legs act as you'd expect. Both sides are righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.

Moonlander MK1: Right side

If you'd like, you can now tent the unit by adjusting the angle of the thumb cluster and the support leg. The wrist rest will self-adjust to lie against the table, no matter the angle. You don't need to choose the exact same angle for both hands — one can be more extreme than the other.

Watch the following video for tips on how to tilt and tent your keyboard:

Starting to Type

Now that you have your Moonlander in place, it’s time to start typing!

Your keyboard comes preloaded with the default layout shown below, explore on your own or start a guided tour by clicking the Tour this layout button above the layout!

Note: If you don’t like it, jump straight into the configurator to make your very own!

Live Training

One of the best ways to get started with your new keyboard is to use the Live Training mode. This feature shows your keymap dynamically on your screen, in real-time, including all layer changes. Here's how it works:

This is one of the first things you should try with your new keyboard, especially as you follow along the next section on typing.

Practice, practice, practice

Remember: You’re relearning how to type, so it’s going to take some time before you get back to your normal typing speeds. It might be frustrating at first, but with practice, you’ll improve.

If this is your first serious ergonomic keyboard, you’re going to find yourself discovering some of those bad habits you acquired with your old keyboard. That’s okay, you’ll get there! Just keep on practicing until you’re back to your normal speeds.

We recommend training daily for the first three weeks, using the typing lessons from Live Training. Ten minutes per day will get you far. Here's a video showing a guided typing lesson:

Making this a daily habit over the first few weeks will help you tremendously.

There are also some third-party options you could try out:

For regular typing practice, we recommend KeyHero.com.

For coding typing practice, we recommend typing.io. It lets you work with real code in several languages, so you get to practice parentheses and curlies, etc.

If you’ve been typing for years, suddenly practicing it may feel awkward at first. It’s all good — deliberate practice is an important thing and it will help you improve rapidly.

Make it pretty,
turn on the lights!

You can turn on the LED Lighting of your keyboard by pressing the “Lights on” switch located on Layer #1 (if using the default layout). Here’s a quick GIF:

More Control! (Customizing the firmware)

Your Moonlander requires no software to work. All the customization is done on your board, at firmware level. This means that nothing you do here will burden your machine, and it’s all cross-platform and portable. Just plug your keyboard into any random computer, and your familiar custom layout is right there, zero installation needed.

The layout that comes pre-loaded on your unit is not perfect for you — it can’t be, because in ergonomics, one size does not fit all. It’s time to unleash the power of the Moonlander and truly make it your own.

Before we get started on the firmware side of things, let’s get some terms out of the way.

Firmware
Permanent software programmed into a read-only memory.
Software
The programs and other operating information used by a computer.
QMK
Quantum Mechanical Keyboard Firmware. This is the open-source firmware running on our keyboards, as well as a number of other keyboards. You can check it out on GitHub.
Configurator
Our custom Graphical Configurator: Oryx, which acts as an easy-to-use frontend to common QMK operations. The configurator generates a C file, and QMK then compiles it into code that can run on your keyboard.
Dual-function Key
Tap your Z key, and it sends the letter Z as expected. Press and hold it down… and it becomes Alt. That is the power of dual-function keys: When tapped, they send a character. When held, they act as a modifier. Alt, Ctrl and friends have never been easier to reach.
Layer
With QMK, your keyboard has multiple virtual layers. Layer 0 is the base layout, at the bottom of the stack. You can then add any number of layers on top, and redefine one or more keys per layer. So your second layer (layer 1) can have number keys right on your home row, for example. So instead of reaching for far-away keys, you just toggle a layer, and the key you need is right at your fingertips.
Layer toggle types
  • Momentary (MO):
    This is like a Shift key. Hold down a momentary toggle, and you’re taken to another layer. Let go, and you drop back to layer 0.
  • Toggle (TG):
    This is similar to a Caps Lock. Tap once, and you’re moved to that layer. You’ll stay on that layer until you tap the layer toggle key again. Depending on the type, you’ll momentarily/permanently have access to the key bindings of that specific layer.
  • One-shot (OSL):
    Tap this key, and you’re moved to the layer. Tap a single key on the layer, and you will then be sent back to layer 0. Like Shift, but without having to hold down two keys at once.
  • Tap-Toggle (TT):
    A combination of Momentary and Toggle. Hold this key, and the layer is active only as long as you hold it. Tap it briefly, and you’re moved to the destination layer until you tap it again.
  • Direct switch (TO):
    All other layer switches go up (allow you to switch from layer 0 to layer 1, for example). TO is the only one which also allows you to switch down (from layer 3 to layer 2, for example).

Using the graphical configurator

Changing the keyboard layout is easy — at a high level the process is as follows:

  1. Create a new layout using the online configurator.
  2. Compile it and download it to your computer.
  3. Flash it to the keyboard.

Following are text and screenshot explanations, but we also have an entire YouTube channel full of tutorials.

Creating a new layout

You can create a new layout by clicking “Modify layout”.

This will take you to a new view where you will be able to add new layers, modify individual keys, and more.

Customizing the layout

After cloning a layout you’ll get a very similar view to the one that you saw before, only now you can actually change things.

Let’s begin by explaining the main elements on the screen:

1. Layout Name.

You can specify a name that describes your Layout. Our users sometimes append a version to this field, for their own reference, though if you're logged in, we will keep track of your layout revisions for you.

2. Layers

Here you can add or remove layers.

3. Key Binds

This is where you’ll spend most of your time. You can click any key to modify its function.

4. Per-layer Color

Assigning unique color for a specific layer or specific keys has never been this easy, follow the instructions in the configurator and let the show begin.

For example, let’s say that you want to modify the “M” key. You can go ahead and click the key, and a box will appear which will show as follows:

From here you can press another key to override the keycode that is assigned to that key; however, you can always click the dropdown and search for the available options. In this example, let’s say that we want to have the “M” key send the “M” keycode if tapped, but momentarily switch layers if you hold the key.

So we begin by searching for “Layer”. This will show us all the Layer related functionality. You can read what the available functions do by reading the description in the dropdown.

Based on what we want and the description on the search results, we can see that “TG” is a perfect fit, so we go ahead and select it. This action will add a couple of options to the box, Layer and Command. We select Layer 1 as we want to momentarily switch to said layer, and we select “M” as the command.

After doing this we can click outside of the box, and your keybind will be displayed:

You can repeat this process as many times as you want to build your own layout. We recommend that you take your time to explore the multiple options that are offered to you. Remember: This is a journey keyboard. This won’t be the last time you edit your layout!

Once you’re happy with your layout, hit the ‘Compile this layout’ button. This will lock your changes and generate a .hex file which can be understood by the chip on the keyboard.

Flash the firmware

The process of installing a new firmware is called ‘flashing’. To do this you’ll need to download a small flashing application called Wally. You can read all about Wally here. This application will guide you step by step through the process of flashing your keyboard.

Customizing in code: Working with the underlying firmware

The firmware running on the Moonlander is the Quantum Mechanical Keyboard Firmware (or QMK, for short), which we actively support. It’s a third-party open-source project running on multiple keyboards, with over 300 contributors and thousands of forks.

If you enjoy working directly with the code driving the keyboard, you can dig right into QMK on GitHub, compile it locally, and customize your keyboard at the deepest levels possible. This is a good starting point — QMK is extensively documented.

Changing your keyswitches

Use the right tool for the jobThe Moonlander comes with a double-sided key puller, designed to make it easy and safe to pull out both keycaps and the keyswitches that lie under them. Before you begin, make sure you have this key puller to hand.
Use the right tool for the job
Pull out the keycapsFirst, you’re going to have to pull out your keycaps. Use the “wire loop” side of the key puller for this.
  • Place the puller over the keycap and push down
  • The wires will part and “hug” the keycap from below
  • Pull directly up, gently but firmly
Pull out the keycaps
Grasping a keyswitch correctlyNow comes the fun part. Here, orientation matters: Insert the tweezers under the switch where you see the little tabs.
Grasping a keyswitch correctly
Pulling it outSqueeze the tweezers around the switch and pull up with a smooth upward motion. The keyswitch will come out - victory!
Pulling it out
Inserting a new switchOnce you have your switch out, you’ll see the socket. Before you insert the new switch in, make sure its pins are straight and that it’s correctly oriented. Then, simply push straight down, and the switch will click into place.
Inserting a new switch
You’ve got it!Repeat for as many keys as you'd like. Then, bask in the satisfaction of a job well done: You just did something most mechanical keyboard owners can't.
You’ve got it!

Warranty

We understand that keyboard is a serious investment in your future well being, and our warranty reflects this.

What is covered by our warranty?

Basically, any reasonable use. If a keyswitch starts chattering, we’ve got your back. If the board stops working one day without you having done anything to it (never happened so far, but it is covered). It’s a two-year warranty, and we really care, so just email us.

What is not covered?

Any damage that is caused by accident, abuse, misuse, liquid contact, fire or environmental causes. Don’t spill coffee on your keyboard; it doesn’t need it.

Please note that your warranty is non transferrable. Our keyboards are not marked with serial numbers — we use your original proof of purchase. If you didn’t buy a keyboard directly from us, it is unfortunately not covered by our warranty.

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