Mounting a Magic Trackpad on a Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

Update: The Magic Trackpad 2 fits in the same spot but you might have to use a different sticky material. See these tweets for details.

Way back in early 2009 my wrists started acting up. As a professional software developer only two years into my young career, this was super concerning. I asked around at the office and my coworkers told me I should get a Kinesis Advantage Pro keyboard, which aside from being super goofy looking, seems to have cured a lot of people of their RSI symptoms. I looked into it and eventually broke down and bought one, and then another one because the first developed some sticky keys but I didn't want to part with it to send it back for service.

Using a mouse with the Kinesis is a little bit tiring, though. It's a much larger keyboard than you might be used to, so the reach from keyboard to mouse is in kind of a weird direction and your mouse might be in a weird spot. I've been using an Apple Magic Trackpad for the past few years and after awhile I got sick of the reach and stuck it in the obvious place, the giant blank spot between the keywells of the Kinesis, like so:

Kinesis and Trackpad

It's not an exact fit, though, so I added a little shim made of two wrist rest pads stuck together:

Wrist rest pads

This worked alright but as time went by the trackpad started slipping around and I had to adjust it every few seconds. I started dreaming about designing and 3D-printing a bracket to hold the trackpad in place so it wouldn't move around but wasn't permanently attached to the keyboard in case I need to replace it. That's expensive and tedious and probably not that fulfilling in the end, so I investigated a bunch of other options and finally hit upon the Heininger 1065 CommuteMate DashGrip. It's intended to be slapped onto a car dashboard so you can perch your sunglasses and keys (wait aren't they in your ignition?) and spare change and 40oz Slurpee on your dash, without worrying that they'll scatter everywhere when you take a corner too hard.

The DashGrip is basically a rectangle of sticky gel-like material that's surprisingly difficult to photograph:


In this photo I've already cut it to size and attached it to the trackpad. The other half is still in it's original shipping wrapper. It's easy to cut down to size with scissors, and with it the trackpad fits snuggly but very securely in it's designated spot. By snug I mean very strong. Strong like ox:

Very strong

The coolest part is that it doesn't leave any adhesive residue on the keyboard or trackpad. I'm not really sure how this stuff works but it seems pretty magical. Here's a side view of what it looks like put together:

Side view

There's two caveats to this otherwise great solution. First, it's not going to work for you if you hate tap-to-click. The switches for clicking are actually inside the two front feet of the trackpad, which in this setup are not really in a clicking kind of mood since they're embedded in soft sticky gel. Relatedly, if you want to use the trackpad away from the keyboard it's going to be kind of a pain, because of how super strong the bond is (see photo above). I happen to love tap-to-click, though, and don't use the trackpad away from the keyboard often enough to care.

If you can live with those two things, I suggest you try out this setup, especially if you already have a Magic Trackpad and a Kinesis. It's pretty awesome.

Posted in: Hardware  

Tagged: Hardware