ErgoDox EZ Users

James Passmore

Product Designer
James Passmore

Who are you, and what do you do?

I’m James Passmore and I’m a product designer, machinist, and industrial artist. I am the owner of CAD9 Design, a small design firm and prototyping shop, and the designer for Singularity Computers. I design mostly high-end consumer products for startups and established businesses, but also do one-off artistic pieces, like this custom PC case for Post Malone and Jayztwocents, and help out on projects like this and this.

What hardware do you use?

I currently use a somewhat out-of-date system I built a few years ago, but it was a beast in its day, and still holds its own. The CPU is an i7-5930K clocked to 4.5GHz, with a last-gen Titan X GPU, also overclocked, and a Glgabyte X99 motherboard. The OS drive is a 500GB Samsung 860 EVO SSD, with 2 5TB Western Digital Blacks in RAID 0 for a program drive.

Setup
Setup

This is all in a Corsair 760T full-tower case. For peripherals, I have two ErgoDox EZ keyboards with Cherry MX Blues, one at my shop and one at home. My mouse is a Logitech G600 MMO mouse, because of the programmable thumbpad, not for MMO’s. In addition I use a 3D Connexion Spacemouse Pro, for CAD, and a Wacom Intuos Pro for concept drawings.

I’ve got three 27” BenQ PD2700Q’s for monitors. I’ve got a Sennheiser HD650 set of headphones for music, and an Audio Technica M50X for recording and video editing. Got a lot more plugged into what is probably not enough USB headers, but that covers the daily use stuff.

For my work in meatspace I have an ancient Fadal 4020 CNC mill, a home-built router, a very ancient Southbend lathe, and a ton of other tools. For 3D printing I use a Prusa MK3 and a Form 2 from Formlabs. My workbench is one from Sjobergs, and is one of my favorite tools. My desk is a nameless Staples special, fairly beat up, but it’s a working desk, and I am forcing myself to put up with it to motivate me to build a custom one. My chair is one of those cheesey DX Racers, but I really like it. Good lumbar support and comfortable.

And what software?

Software depends on the job and the client, but for design I mostly use Fusion 360, SolidWorks, and Rhino.

For machining I use Fusion 360 almost exclusively. For rendering I use Fusion and Modo. For sketching I use Autodesk Sketchbook.

My OS is heavily modded to optimize my workflow, with DispalyFusion for multi-monitor management, Divvy for window management, Breevy for text expansion and app launching, and Rainmeter for just because it is an awesome way to keep an eye on my system. Also f.lux and PangoBright so I can work all night without burning out my retinas. LastPass, Privacy Badger, and uBlock Origin keep me safe online, and Acronis makes sure I don’t regret my RAID 0 setup with backups 3 times a week.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

Setup
Setup

My keyboard setup is a black ErgoDox EZ with the standard blank DCS keycaps. I have tried various custom keycaps but I keep going back to the DCS. My layout is one fairly standard layer with a few custosmizations, and a layer with a left-handed numpad and some custom CAD-specific shortcuts. Another layer is for media control. Both my custom layers are left-hand only, as my whole setup is geared towards as little taking my hand off the mouse as possible, without losing the efficiency of keyboard input. To help with this further, my mouse is a fully programmable MMO mouse, with software-specific shortcuts and basic Windows functions mapped to the three-layer, 12-key thumbpad. I swear I did not set out to create a setup unusable by anyone but me, but this is just what evolved over the years. I have two configurations for my setup. One with my keyboard in a more traditional position, with my Spacemouse and normal mouse, and my sketching configuration, a large Wacom tablet in the center of my desk space and the keyboard halves on either side. I really like this setup, as I can stop during sketching to answer an email or Slack message without having to move anything around.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m lucky in that I am actively working on designing and building it. As far as system specs, I love what AMD is doing with Threadripper 2, but I may be biased by this sponsored project I built the cases for. Can’t say what I would want for a GPU right now, as the Titan RTX hasn’t been released quite yet, but if it is anything like the projected specs, I want two.

The case I want to build into is Spectre, one I designed and built for Singularity Computers, and ironically don’t have, as we can’t keep up with orders as it is. Like the old saying “The cobbler’s kids never have shoes”, I design a lot of things I don’t get to play with… As far as monitors, I would love three of these, the Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K.

As far as a keyboard, the ErgoDox EZ, of course, but with a couple of customizations. I am in the process of designing a CNC-milled housing oriented to the angle I like with a machined recess for the wrist rest. I am hoping to have time to print up some custom keycaps on my Form 2, as I love the DCS keycaps, but wouldn’t mind some textured WASD keys with the same profile. Selection is very limited in that keycap family.

As far as my dream desk, you will have to wait, as I still have to design it. As far as my chair, you will have to wait there as well, as it’s an extremely high-end one that I am currently building the prototype for. It’s a startup client, and it is still under NDA (Maybe I can update this once it goes public). I’m in the odd position of designing and building my dream setup already, and not ever quite getting to use it.