Monday, January 15, 2018

I am Groot

Groot at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency

New restrictions on potted plants at the HEMA.

 It should probably be made more difficult to send emergency alerts.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Disappointing eBay purchase

Not broken.

Got these two 60% keyboards on eBay for cheap. They were listed "as is for parts". One is a Massdrop KC60 with the misspelled backspase key. The other is a V60 Matias.

Both work fine. Was planning to take them apart to use for parts, but since they work I will probably just leave them alone. They have little signs of wear.

The only thing wrong with the KC60 is there are no stabilizer inserts in the keycaps. This is probably because the Massdrop fake costar stabilizers are terrible. I'll probably just replace them with real ones.

I was planning to swap the PCB in the V60 with a Hasu Alps64 PCB. I think the last person using it could not figure out how to make it work with a Mac. The DIP switches were set weird. Other than that it works fine.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Modular keypad/keyboard

The basic unit is a 4x4 matrix with 16 keys. Up to 4 of these can be connected to each other side by side.

4x4, 4x8, 4x12 and 4x16 are possible.

There are pads for header pins on each side that complete the circuits from board to board. These can be permanently connected with solder bridges or with pin headers and shunt jumpers.

The PCB is a perfect square. Exactly 3 inches square. Standard switch spacing is 0.75 inches, 19.05mm. The header pins are the common 0.1 inch spacing (2.54mm).

The Gerber files are on github.

The schematic shows how the header pins are connected. The Row pins connect straight across. The column pins shift up diagonally from board to board.

The pinout. Each additional board uses another set of 4 Column pins.

It is running TMK. The 4x16 layout is here on github. For 4x4, 4x8 and 4x12 you can either modify the matrix or just ignore the columns on the right that are unused.

The top of an assembled 4x16 using 4 boards. Gateron clear PCB mount switches.

The bottom. A second set of 4 boards were used as the base of the keyboard. 3m Bumpons at each corner of each board.

Side view. M2 spacers and screws hold the two PCBs together. You can see the Arduino Micro on the right. It is right side up so that the reset button can be pressed.

The bottom of PCB with the socket for the Arduino Micro (not a Pro Micro). The Arduino Micro has an odd number of pins and I had to cut down two different sockets to fit it. If I had a 40 pin socket I could have just cut off pins from one end to make a 34 pin socket.

Close up of the solder bridges. Solder isn't a good mechanical connection, but it works. A solid plate or base plate is needed to keep the board from flexing.

Header pins are much sturdier and the jumpers are removable. I didn't have enough jumpers to complete a board. The header pins are the ones that came with Pro Micros, I snapped them into 4 pin sections.

Completed 4x4x4x4x4 board with keycaps. It is my standard Planck layout with a numpad on the right.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Purpose built steno keyboard

The Outrigger and Kon Tiki were modifications of a Gherkin that added 4 keys to the bottom. The Kolea is a complete redesign that adds some keys and removes others that aren't used.

The firmware is StenoFW by Emanuele Caruso. The only modifications are to the matrix. His original Stenoboard is a split design. The Stenokey project has added additional features to StenoFW.

The firmware is an Arduino Sketch, it also requires the PJRC Teensyduino libraries. You should check the PJRC site to see what is the latest version of Arduino that the current Teensyduino supports before installing the Arduino IDE.

The Kolea has 1.25u width keycaps for the * keys (middle of the board). You can also fit 1.25u or 1.5u keycaps rotated for the AOEU keys.

Like the Gherkin, a second PCB is used as the bottom. M2 spacers and screws hold the two PCBs together.

The PCB Gerber files are on Github.

The top of the board populated with diodes and resistors. The resistors are optional, only needed if you want LED backlighting.

The bottom of the board with the 28pin socket for the Teensy LC (or Teensy 3.2). The SOIC MOSFET is only needed if you want LEDs. This was a 32 pin socket cut down to size.

The matrix rows and columns. FN1 and FN2 are for changing output modes. NKRO, Gemini and TXBOLT are supported in the firmware.  If you have LEDs installed you can control the brightness with them.

It will work with either a Teensy LC or a Teensy 3.2. These are purple Teensy from OSH Park. (Teensy 3.2 on the top, Teensy LC on the bottom). There is no reason to use the more expensive Teensy 3.2, unless you are going to modify the firmware and need the larger amount of RAM and Flash memory.

When assembled with a second PCB on the bottom, the reset button on the Teensy is lined up so that it can be accessed through one of the switch holes.

The NKRO Keymap. In NKRO mode all the keys can be pressed and registered simultaneously.

The Plover stroke display showing all the different individual keypresses in Gemini or TXBOLT mode. The last line shows all keys being pressed simultaneously.

In Gemini and TXBOLT modes the output is through a virtual serial port over the USB connection. This is much more convenient as you can continue to use a regular keyboard at the same time as the Kolea.

Outrigger, Kon Tiki and the Kolea. I was using the Outrigger and Kon Tiki with Plover as NKRO keyboard devices. It was awkward. The serial output modes of StenoFW are a major improvement.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Stormtrooper Deluxe Gherkin

Gherkin with milled aluminum case

Black anodized aluminum. Designed to fit the Gherkin PCB without any plates. Blank white PBT SA keycaps. Blank white PCB.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

U2F Keyboard

Bare PCB U2F Security Key

I got one of these keys from Amazon. They are used for 2 factor security with websites like Google and Github.

There are many different styles of these keys. Some look like little USB thumb drives. Others like the Yubico or Feitian are plastic encapsulated. This one is a bare PCB with a physical switch.

The U2F Zero is a single purpose keyboard with one key switch. It uses the USB HID protocol and has an RGB LED. It's also one of the cheapest U2F keys available.

The U2F Zero is an opensource project hosted on Github.

I also have Yubikey NEO and Feitian NFC keys. These can be used with an Android phone to do U2F authentication via NFC. There are currently few applications that use them on a phone.

Here is a nice hands on comparison of many of the U2F keys currently available.

Monday, December 18, 2017

GOTW #10

Gherkin Of The Week #10

Another plateless Gherkin. This time with POS keycaps. These are keycaps made for cash registers. Each keycap covers more than one switch, there are no stabilizers.

These came from PMK grab bags. They are all DSA profile, I also have some in DCS and SA profile.

PMK sells blanks on their website. Similar relegendable POS keycaps are sold by X-Keys and Genovation.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Tree PCB

Christmas Tree Ornament

Not a keyboard, but made with many of the same parts. Other than the LEDs and PCB, the rest of the parts I already had.

The PCBs were made a while ago but I only finished assembling it this weekend. The first PCB version had sharp corners and was too dangerous to put on a tree. I rounded the corners and had another set of PCBs made. These are under 100x100mm and can be made at most places at a discount.

I used self flashing LEDs. I ordered some 5mm green/red flashing LEDs on eBay. They were supposed to be diffused (milky white), but they sent clear LEDs. These are way too bright and directional. The replacements they sent were also clear. So I ordered some 5mm RGB diffused flashing LEDs from another seller. The green/red does look more like Christmas tree lights.

There are holes for M2 spacers. Some are too close to the resistors to fit. But there are enough to hold two PCBs together securely. The board is powered from a mini USB connector.

Files on github.

First version on the left, rounded corner version on the right.

 The bare PCBs. You can see how sharp the corners were on the original PCB.

I used 1/4 watt resistors on the first one. They fit but the LEDs would not fit in some spots, I had to grind a bit off the edges. The 1/8 watt resistors on the second one don't interfered with the 5mm LEDs.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

POS Macropad

The "Roy"

Some DSA POS keys from a grab bag, turns a 6 key macropad into 2. The top keycap covers 4 switches, the bottom 2 switches.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Stormtrooper Gherkin

Black and White Gherkin

Gherkin with blank (no legends) white PCB. The bottom is a sanded and dyed black PCB.

Gateron clear linear switches. LEGO Star Wars First Order Stormtrooper.