Author Topic: Mini Keyboard with Trackpoint  (Read 136552 times)

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Offline lowpoly

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Mini Keyboard with Trackpoint
« on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 17:40:42 »
I finally finished my mini keyboard after I don't know how many weeks. For those of you who didn't see the 'teaser' pics i posted in the pics thread: I wanted a keyboard where I never had to leave the home row. I started with a clicky Cherry G80-3000LSCEU/2 and removed the alpha part with a Dremel. Then I added a Trackpoint from an old IBM keyboard. And a new USB hub. Basically.

I think I did almost everything twice because it wouldn't work on first try or I wasn't happy. For ex. I had to paint the case twice. First it fell down from 3 ft high after finishing 6 layers of paint. Which I could repair. Then I glued the rubber pads to the bottom exactly like the guy in the rubber store told me. Unfortunately the glue dissolved the paint at the edges. So I had to sand it all down and start over. I almost trashed the project that evening.

Enough whining, on with the pics. The surface I took the pics on is a light gray so color is a bit off:



The space bar level bracket/wire usually is at the front. I had to relocate it to the rear for the case to fit:



Inner case with isolation layer and hub:



Second time I used clear double-sided adhesive tape to glue the feet. I went for large area feet because I want to use this on my laptop and small feet always interfere with the laptop keys. Also, it looks cool. Should have taken black screws but you can't have everything:



Cardboard templates so the case could be as small as possible (done twice, of course):



Mouse buttons will work when the space bar is pressed:



Function keys for second key layer are left and right of the space bar. I sanded the Windows logo away and added my own logo which is supposed to be the letter 'G' making a whirl. It's better on the case bottom. When the function key is pressed only the assigned function keys will work, not the normal keys. Fn + space does backspace:



The keyboard should look as if it was floating:



Case was done from a sheet of Aluminum:



The Trackpoint uses ps/2 so I had to add a ps/2 to usb converter to feed the Trackpoint into the USB hub:



Two USB connectors and mini USB connection to the computer. Optional power supply for the additional USB connectors. The hub came with it and I decided to keep it:



It fits into the hole that is left in the G80 donor.



Also, it works. And it fits into the front pouch of the HHKB case.

Edit: pics with the keyboard on a Thinkpad on page 8.

Edit: 3d mock-ups on page 10. Example:



Edit: Final 2nd layer on page 11.

Edit: White keycaps on page 12. Example:



Edit: mass production has been canceled but there should be a limited production run or a kit. Starts on page 21.

Edit: Blank keycaps pic on page 24:



Edit 2014/03/18: Several pics and links repaired.

Edit: new pointing stick stuff on page 30.
« Last Edit: Sat, 22 March 2014, 17:37:44 by lowpoly »
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #1 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 17:52:01 »
Wow.

I like.

DIY HHKB+TrackPoint. Clever.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #2 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 17:57:06 »
That is the coolest mod I have ever seen, holy crap!

If you start making them, I want one first..
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The best keyboard is the one that's in front of you.

Offline xsphat

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« Reply #3 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 17:58:50 »
What do you call it?
Dell SK-8125
The best keyboard is the one that's in front of you.

Offline bigpook

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« Reply #4 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:02:01 »
Nice, job well done : )
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Offline Chloe

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« Reply #5 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:04:37 »
Wow, really impressive work!

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #6 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:09:37 »
Thanks for the comments.

Quote from: xsphat;14304
What do you call it?


I had a name for a long time. But when I did a last minute google before I printed the bottom label I found that a very similar name was used by a computer manufacturer already. I probably could still use it in Germany but didn't want to register the domains without being sure. So the name is postponed, only by a few days hopefully. For now it's just 'mini' which was the working title. I also registered type-in-style.com which was supposed to be the slogan.
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Offline zwmalone

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« Reply #7 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:19:03 »
That is the most awesome thing I have ever seen.  I want one.  The form factor and trackpoint are perfect.  Excellent finish, very polished.  Nicely done.
Can't get enough of them ALPS

Offline Chloe

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« Reply #8 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:20:18 »
How do the switches sound in comparison to being in a plastic case? There's something about the way it looks, I really want to try typing on it. :)

Offline D-EJ915

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« Reply #9 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:25:17 »
and that would be like $1000 if it were sold on the market.  VERY Nice work, excellent job.

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #10 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:29:24 »
Quote from: Chloe;14309
How do the switches sound in comparison to being in a plastic case?
Much quieter, the plastic case has a lot more resonance during the click and especially when bottoming out.
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #11 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:40:07 »
It's a shame the donor TrackPoint wasn't a three-button.

(Although, you could wire a third button that activates both left and right at the same time, although it might not fit...)

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #12 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:51:36 »
I'm not going to saw another hole into the case. :D I know I'd ruin the paint.

I still have one control key too many as caps lock is control too. I can use Autohotkey to remap one of them to the middle mouse button.

Not sure if I split the control keys that way already. But re-programming the layout is a matter of minutes.
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Offline lam47

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« Reply #13 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:54:30 »
very nice handy work!!
Its very clean and has taken some serious though to get just right.
You did well not to burn and drown it when it fell on the floor.
Amazing stuff.

Oh and can I say the aluminium work is superb. I'm crap with metals :)

I have been working on some designs for an exotic wood keyboard.
I make joysticks from the stuff why not keyboards.
Keyboards. Happy Hacking pro 2 x2. One white one black. IBM model M US layout. SGI silicone Graphics with rubber dampened ALPS. IBM model F. ALPS apple board, I forget what it is. And some more I forget what I have.

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Offline secularzarathustra

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« Reply #14 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 18:56:17 »
wow, what an amazing job...when do you go into production?

:)
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Offline bigpook

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« Reply #15 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 19:04:15 »
Quote from: secularzarathustra;14315
wow, what an amazing job...when do you go into production?

:)


You do plan on mass producing these, right? : )
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #16 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 19:05:12 »
New suggestion for caps lock... can you make it a num lock? (Actually, I'm thinking something like a multi-layered numlock. Have it simulate a numpad's editing block with it on, maybe, and the Fn (or swirly-G) key to get an actual numpad with it on or off?)

And, I think I know what the Menu button can be used for... middle mouse. ;)

(I haven't tried blue Cherries, but if I like them, I... want one of these. Never thought I'd be saying that about a spacesaver.)

Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #17 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 19:10:54 »
Thanks. :)

Quote from: secularzarathustra;14315
wow, what an amazing job...when do you go into production?

:)

:) Currently, it's more about 'if' than 'when'. This is not production ready yet.

Quote from: lam47;14314
very nice handy work!!
Its very clean and has taken some serious though to get just right.
You did well not to burn and drown it when it fell on the floor.
Amazing stuff.

Oh and can I say the aluminium work is superb. I'm crap with metals :)

I have been working on some designs for an exotic wood keyboard.
I make joysticks from the stuff why not keyboards.

Did you post these?
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Offline lowpoly

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« Reply #18 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 19:28:28 »
Quote from: bigpook;14316
You do plan on mass producing these, right? : )

I'd like to. It's a big step though.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14317
New suggestion for caps lock... can you make it a num lock? (Actually, I'm thinking something like a multi-layered numlock. Have it simulate a numpad's editing block with it on, maybe, and the Fn (or swirly-G) key to get an actual numpad with it on or off?)

I can put Num Lock on it but there are no numpad keys on the board right now. The controller doesn't support this I think. You have to program internal key codes not characters. I could put a numpad on layer 2 in the zxc/asd/qwe area. But you'd have to press Fn all the time. Or use one of those double action switches for caps lock. To switch Fn on an off. I can put more than one keycode on a key though. Like writing words with a single key.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14317
And, I think I know what the Menu button can be used for... middle mouse. ;)

Currently I use it as windows key because I use win+E quite often. The controller can't simulate mouse clicks. With Autohotkey no problem.

Quote from: bhtooefr;14317
(I haven't tried blue Cherries, but if I like them, I... want one of these. Never thought I'd be saying that about a spacesaver.)

:D
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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #19 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 20:20:11 »
True, I Win-D a lot.

I'm thinking my optimal layout for that four-key group on the right would be something like...

[Scroll] [Right Fn] [Windows] [Right Alt]

(I do need the right Alt key for stuff, so...)

I really should draw my optimal layouts... how many Fn-style modifiers does that controller support?

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« Reply #20 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 20:39:47 »
Blue cherries, trackpoint, and a small form factor.  That.  is.  AWESOME!

I'm fairly ignorant when it comes to the logistics regarding what it would take to produce production keyboards...but for what it's worth, you have the full support of geekhack.  If we can be of assistance, just let me know.  (we need a go to keyboard here)  :)

Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #21 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 20:59:14 »
Of course, it looks like it's another 10 years before the patents on the TrackPoint IV run out, so we won't be able to get third-party TrackPoint boards without some cloning going on.

But, Alps does make their own design... it's not as good as a genuine TrackPoint IV, but it's better than the Unicomp design...

(I'm thinking of this from a production standpoint. Buying TrackPoint IV keyboards to rip them apart to integrate the pointing stick = wasteful.)

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #22 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:25:01 »
Quote from: lowpoly;14319
I'd like to. It's a big step though.



all I can say is if the guy who launched metadot could do it on a whim with no previous manufacturing experience, then I think any of us can. Just a matter of getting the funders together with the lawyers :)

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #23 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:30:11 »
Of course, if we're designing our own low volume custom keyboard design, there'll be room for whatever keyswitches we want, except for possibly buckling spring, but possibly including Topre capacitive, in the design.

Time for a poll.

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #24 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:34:11 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14331
Of course, if we're designing our own low volume custom keyboard design, there'll be room for whatever keyswitches we want,


exactly! And then *all* of our dreams will come true :)

the board here is a great candidate as a universal switch receptacle. Its got everything everyone here asks for: spacesaver, trackpoint integrated, trim and even looks great.  (I could even live without the trackpoint if patents will be an issue. The rest of it is still brilliant). Each of us orders it with our favorite switch. Aaaah, nirvana.

I say again, if the code monkey who launched metadot can do it, any of us code monkeys can do it.

I dont even care who profits; i just want it to be available! And available state-side for a change.

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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #25 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:36:27 »
There's only 2 things I'd request changing on the design above --
1) that the capslock key be a normal flat-top key and not the 2-step or '2-level' style
2) that we throw in the normal 12 function keys along the top.

"Blah blah blah grade school blah blah blah IBM PS/2s blah blah blah I like Model Ms." -- Kishy

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Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #26 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:37:22 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14331
Of course, if we're designing our own low volume custom keyboard design, there'll be room for whatever keyswitches we want, except for possibly buckling spring, but possibly including Topre capacitive, in the design.

Time for a poll.


I could live without BS on this particular board (at least not at first, we can look into adding it later if its complicated), but I'd definitely ask for alps to be avail at launch :)

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #27 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:38:10 »
Well, I'm not sure about individual switch selection, although keeping it within a model line probably wouldn't be hard (think variations between Cherry MX models, but not switching to Alps, or vice versa.)

Also, I'd prefer a 2-step caps lock, and the 12 function keys can be handled with Fn.

Offline wellington1869

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« Reply #28 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:41:56 »
Quote from: bhtooefr;14336
Well, I'm not sure about individual switch selection, although keeping it within a model line probably wouldn't be hard (think variations between Cherry MX models, but not switching to Alps, or vice versa.)

thats ok then it means we produce 2 lines :)
Quote

Also, I'd prefer a 2-step caps lock, .


thats solved by shipping it with both types :) Taking a page from the Topre handbook ;) we should also ship it with the optional red escape key. *Drooool* :)

The entire board of course should be offered with 4 types of keycaps (for every switch version): white, black, white-blank, black-blank. :D

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Offline bhtooefr

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« Reply #29 on: Thu, 11 December 2008, 21:49:58 »
So, really, what we need to do is optimize the layout. Of course, the Caps key will be used for different things by different people. I'm thinking of mine as a navigation lock (implemented as a shift - I know there's versions of the Cherry MX that support physically locked keys,) now, with the editing block on the home row and the row immediately above it, with the arrow keys on WASD.

I'd use Fn for accessing function keys...

Of course, that begs the question... do I really even need two separate Fn shifts? The only inaccessible keys with that layout would be the numpad, which... isn't really needed all that much (except for Alt codes, but I use those rarely enough that I can use charmap instead.)

So, here's what I want on the top row:

Esc should be the `/~ key in Fn mode
1 through =/+ keys should be F1 through F12 in Fn mode

(I'm guessing this is how the top row is already implemented...)

Row 2:

W should be Up Arrow
U should be Insert
I should be Home
O should be PgUp

Row 3:

CapsLk should be a physically locking Fn
A should be Left Arrow
S should be Down Arrow
D should be Right Arrow
J should be Delete
K should be End
L should be PgDn

Row 4:

Leave it alone.

Row 5:

Keys should be in this order:

Ctrl Win Alt Space Menu RtFn RtAlt RtCtrl

RtFn shouldn't be physically locking. It'll be useful for when I quickly need to navigate in the middle of something, but don't want to lock it down.

(And, I want Menu there because that's as close to the spacebar as I can get it, perfect for using it as a scroll button.)