MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 + Kensington trackball mouse

This is a story about how I embed Kensington trackball mouse with Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000.

I work as a programmer – that means 8 h/day 5 days/week I sit and stare into a screen. Although I mostly type, you can’t really avoid mouse. The problem is that I also have a severe issues with my forearms and wrists. I tried everything that can be tried:

  • multiple chairs
  • all possible positions (except standing)
  • a couple of mouses and keyboards

Not to clutter this post with common 21st century health issues, let me just point out what I discovered: pain in forearms comes from upper arm, shoulders and eventually back, even though back might not hurt. In most cases (assuming that changing to the best sitting posture didn’t yield any results), pain is caused by muscle tightness or unequal tension, which is mostly caused by stress. Yes, stress, every day issues, things that get on our nerves. I found the most “make-sense” explanation and a way to recovery in somatics. TLDR: beside of discovering what is causing stress, do exercise to learn (again) the mind and body how to feel and relax the muscles.

Anyway, some things still can be optimised, but I discovered there are not many options available. One of the main problem is the mouse and constantly moving hand/wrist. In my case I tested several mouses, work with both hands but still, writs/forearm hurts at the first attempt to use the mouse.
Since one of the experiments was also with trackball mouse which currently wasn’t in use, I decided to give it a try. I like my MS keyboard, especially after a hack that zoom button can work as scroll button.

The Mission

Simple: eliminate large hand/wrist movement and bring the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible. Similar to laptop trackpoint but larger and more comfortable.

The Implementation

Actually, there is not much to say – whole thing was a worry-less improvising. I didn’t really care for the estetics, and there is sure a lot of room for improvement. After all, buying new keyboard + mouse is a bit cheaper than buying new hands.
See the picture comments to see how I did it.


Image 1 of 15

Removing F-lock key was the first thing I did. Fucking annoying. Roller-eyes are just to faster orient fingers without looking at keyboard, for example, while coding in VS Code.

NOTE: I really think it is important that you are aware of the cause of any pain. As said previously, if good posture and basic preventive actions does not resolve the pain, you must stop blaming the harware (mouse, keyboard, chair, …) you are using, since the reason is probably in the muscles controlled by your mind and unconsious things you do (I noticed that I often hold fingers high above keyboard, for example). No hardware can fix stress, you have to deal with it on your own.

Anyway, at the end of this post I figured I must libricate the space button a bit, but overall usage is great.

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