I had only one goal, to replicate my Moonlander layout in the Voyager and it took longer than I had expected.

Installing my 34-key layout into the Voyager

I already have a good setup for the Moonlander and I wanted to simply copy-paste my Moonlander layout in the Voyager. I use a 34 key layout inspired by the Ferris Sweep. It fits perfectly into both the Moonlander and the Voyager boards and I expected it would be possible to simply transfer my layout from one board to the other, I was wrong.

Oryx lacks the ability to transfer a Moonlander layout to the Voyager. In ended up configuring my Voyager layout from scratch, key by key, slowly and painfully.

It could have been worse. I knew exactly what each key should do, so I was able to almost mindlessly replicate each key assignment without thinking too much.

I would summarize this experience as follows:

  1. there is no keyboard friendly to use Oryx
  2. you cannot reuse a Moonlander layout for the Voyager
    • this means that your layouts are bound to become out of sync :'(
  3. you cannot duplicate a key using Oryx
    • swapping keys is possible, so I'm guessing copying/duplicating a key should be easy to add to Oryx
  4. I need macros that are longer than Oryx allows

Duplicating a layout: no can do

I expected to be able to export my Moonlander layout and then import it into the Voyagers'. This is not supported out of the box. Some people 1, 2 have been able to achieve reuse by managing their layouts in code but that's above my level of commitment for the moment.

It took me a couple of days to replicate the important parts of my layout, I have a small child so I could only work here and there when I was free of my parental duties.

The experience is improved compared to the Moonlander where I constantly need to poke my board with a paperclip, having a real button is nice.

Duplicating a key: no can do

You cannot duplicate a key and there is no keyboard friendly way to edit a key assignment, which is ironic.

While trying to mindlessly replicate my Moonlander layout I came across some problematic layers; layers that are full of macros, which can be long and tedious to configure.

I use Emacs Org mode and I have groups of macros mapped to Org mode commands. Commands that are part of a group, typically have the same prefix, e.g.,

  1. C-c C-x C-i: clock in
  2. C-c C-x C-o: clock out
  3. C-c o: open link
  4. C-c l: create link
  5. C-c a a v c: view clocked time

Many Org commands start with C-c and after configuring a few in Oryx, I wished there was a way to duplicate a key assignment, so that I would only need to work on the differences.

I also wished there was a faster way to assign macros, too many clicks are required to configure just one macro.

I use Vimium, a Chrome extension that allows you to reduce mouse use when interacting with websites. Using it to set up macros helped but the experience was not optimal.

Long macros

Over time I have accumulated patterns – common keybinding sequences – for Org mode. One of them is to look at the agenda, find an item, clock-in, open the item and close all other Emacs windows, I call this pattern: Start. It allows me to focus on the task at hand and start tracking time on it.

The sequence goes like this:

  1. Open my agenda
  2. Find a task
  3. Go to task: RET
  4. Start:
    1. Narrow to sub tree: C-x n s
    2. Delete other windows: C-x 1
    3. Clock in: C-c C-x C-i

The important part is Start and I wanted a macro for it. However, such macro exceeds the maximum length allowed in Oryx.

I found a workaround, but I paid the price in time. I had to read some Lisp code and the Org mode docs, which was more than I was willing to commit before I started.

The result was a short macro for the global keybinding: C-u u, which fits within the Oryx limits. The macro in turn calls an elisp function to do the rest:

(defun zsa-start ()
  "Focus on task and clock in"

;; set global keybinding
(global-set-key (kbd "C-c u") 'zsa-start)


  1. The Voyager looks amazing, feels amazing and is tiny, compared to the Moonlander
  2. It's great that you don't need to carry an Allen key and a paper clip every time you change locations
  3. I love not having to worry if this is the last time I can unfold the thumb clusters and have them still work
  4. I was skeptical about the lack of wrist support but the Voyager is so thin that I don't miss them at all, same goes for tenting
  5. There is room for improvement in terms of:
    • Layout re-use across board models
    • Keyboard-friendly method to assign keys

My ZSA keyboard layouts

I'm just going to put these here, you know, just to show off a little bit =P … and also 'cause they look cool.