Author Topic: Mistel MD600v3 RGB keyboard review and tutorial  (Read 3883 times)

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Offline wolfv

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Mistel MD600v3 RGB keyboard review and tutorial
« on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 14:59:02 »
This Mistel MD600v3 RGB review and tutorial is organized into five posts.
  • Mistel MD600v3 RGB review
  • Limitations
  • Manual supplements
  • How the macro-programming firmware operates
  • Keyboard programming examples
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 September 2023, 20:18:55 by wolfv »

Offline wolfv

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Mistel MD600v3 RGB review
« Reply #1 on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 14:59:39 »
The MD600v3 RGB is a good split keyboard.
- It has 62 keys, all Cherry MX switches.
- The hardware is of excellent quality.

302490-0
It is a 60% compact keyboard, which means
- Press the Fn key to access the F-keys and navigation keys.
- My large hands can reach all keys (except for the '6' key) without moving my arm.

I like that the F-key numbers match the number keys, which makes it easy to touch type the F-keys.

It has three programmable layers.  All programming is accomplished via the on-board interface in the keyboard itself.  Three LEDs provide user feedback during the programming process.

The keyboard comes with three predefined typing layouts (QWERTY, DVORAK, and COLEMAK), thereby saving the user from manually entering those layouts.

The Mistel MD600v3 RGB is my primary keyboard.  I bought a second one for my other workstation.
« Last Edit: Mon, 11 September 2023, 15:52:32 by wolfv »

Offline wolfv

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Limitations
« Reply #2 on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 15:00:04 »
Every programmable keyboard has minor limitations and quirks.  The Mistel MD600v3 RGB is typical in this regard.

Fn + Tab cycles through QWERTY, DVORAK, and COLEMAK layouts.  There is no way to disable this feature.  There is a risk of accidentally pressing Fn + Tab while typing.

The Fn key can be on either the left hand or right hand.  There is no way to map Fn onto both left and right-hand keys simultaneously.

The on-board programming interface lacks some features found on computer-installed keyboard-programming software.
You can not save customizations to a file.  Usage:
- If you mess up a layer, manually restore the layer.
- If you have multiple Mistel keyboards, manually enter the program on each keyboard.
There is no on-screen display of the keyboard's customizations.  Usage:
- After making changes, manually test every changed key.

You cannot search the .pdf manual for keywords because every page is an image.
« Last Edit: Thu, 07 September 2023, 15:10:25 by wolfv »

Offline wolfv

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Manual supplements
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 15:00:25 »
The MD600v3 RGB manual can be downloaded from https://mistelkeyboard.com/products/807a19ebcb8b2924891d471974d65438.
Manuals that are also marketing tools omit limitations and workarounds.

The weak point of the Mistel MD600v3 RGB is the manual.  I almost returned the keyboard because the manual was insufficient for understanding how the keyboard works.  I wrote the following manual supplements to make programming the keyboard is easy.

Manual supplement 1: Main layers and Fn sub-layers
The keyboard has four main layers.  To switch to a main layer, press
- Default: Fn + m
- Layer 1: Fn + ,
- Layer 2: Fn + .
- Layer 3: Fn + /
The main layer remains active after the layer key is released.
 
Each of these four layers contains a sub-layer named Fn.  Holding down the Fn key activates the Fn sub-layer.

The Fn sub-layer allows keys to double up on functionality.  For example, on the default layer
- 1 sends the code for '1' to the computer
- Fn + 1 sends the code for 'F1' to the computer

Initially, all the layers are the same as the default layer.  The default layer can not be changed.  Layers 1, 2, 3, and their Fn sub-layers are programmable.

Manual supplement 2: Macro Programming Instructions
Macro programming firmware references the default layer.  While entering a macro sequence, it's like you're typing on the default layer.

Sometimes, while programming macros, the destination key needs a second press to start LED 3 blinking blue.  Always confirm that LED 3 is blinking blue before entering your macro sequence.

If you mess up a macro sequence, exit program mode, reenter program mode, and reenter the macro sequence.

Manual supplement 3: Remapping Function
Procedure for remapping Fn key to a new location
1. Press the current Fn + L_Shift for about 3 seconds (LED 3 blinking red).
2. Press the current Fn key.
3. Press a new Fn location on the keyboard.

There is no way to simultaneously have the Fn key on two locations (the newer Mistel MD600 Alpha has Fn keys on both the right and left sides).

Remapping the Pn key is similar to remapping Fn, but LED 3 blinks green.

Manual supplement 4: Program Macros with Fn in the default location
Perform all your macro programming with Fn in the default location.  Programming macros while Fn is in a non-default location can result in unexpected macros.  If you want Fn on a non-default location, it's safest to remap Fn after all macros of the layer have been programmed.

Manual supplement 5: Extending the coiled link cable
A coiled USB-C cable links the two halves of the split-keyboard.
Routing a link cable under a desk or behind a chair requires a longer cable.

You can extend the link cable with a USB-C extension cable (the coiled link cable is a non-standard USB-C cable, so replacing it with a longer standard cable won't work).
« Last Edit: Fri, 08 September 2023, 05:42:51 by wolfv »

Offline wolfv

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How the macro-programming firmware operates
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 15:00:43 »
It's helpful to understand how the macro-programming firmware operates.

Demo 1: Macro programming references the default layer
This section demonstrates that macro programming references the default layer.

Change 'f' key to 'x'
1. Select layer 3.
   - Fn + ? (LED 2 blue)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - program x onto f: f (LED 3 blinking blue), x, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
5. Test.
   - f key prints 'x'

Restore f key to 'f'
1. Select layer 3.
   - Fn + ? (LED 2 blue)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - program f onto f: f (LED 3 blinking blue), f, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
5. Test.
   - f key prints 'f'
Therefore, macro programming referenced the default layer.

Demo 2: Macro sequences containing Fn
While entering a macro sequence, it's like you're typing on the default layer.  In contrast, when remapping the Fn key, you type the Fn of the current layer (not the default layer).

If you want Fn on a non-default location, it's safest to remap Fn after all macros of the layer have been programmed.

The remainder of this section demonstrates three macro sequences containing Fn.

Programming the 'y' key
With Fn on its default location,
1. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
2. Program macro.
   - y (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + j, Pn (LED 3 blue)
3. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
The 'y' key types:
    Fn + j (left arrow)
Which is the result I was expecting.

Programming the 'h' key
Here is an example of why it's best to program macros with Fn in its default location.
With Fn mapped onto L_Space,
1. Enter programming mode.
   - L_Space + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
2. Program macro.
   - h (LED 3 blinking blue), L_Space + j, Pn (LED 3 blue)
3. Exit program m.ode
   - L_Space + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
The 'h' key types:
    space then Fn + j (left arrow)
It looks like the macro firmware inserted
- space from the default layer
- Fn from the current layer + j from the default layer

Programming the 'n' key
Here is another example of why it's best to program macros with Fn in its default location.
With Fn mapped onto L_Space,
1. Enter programming mode.
   - L_Space + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
2. Program macro.
   - n (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + j, Pn (LED 3 blue)
     where 'Fn' is the default Fn location
3. Exit program mode.
   - L_Space + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
The 'n' key types:
    F10 (Open menu)
I expected this macro to type Fn + j (left arrow).
Apparently, Fn is an exception to the "macro programming references the default layer" rule.
« Last Edit: Fri, 08 September 2023, 05:46:13 by wolfv »

Offline wolfv

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Keyboard programming examples
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 07 September 2023, 15:01:05 »
The following examples are how I programmed my MD600v3 RB keyboard.
My layer usage is
- layer 1: primary typing layer
- layer 2: lock-navigation layer
- layer 3: for testing ideas without messing up layers 1 or 2

The following examples assume that the Fn key is in the default location.

Procedure for remapping Fn key to default location
1. Press the current Fn + L_Shift for about 3 seconds (LED 3 blinking red).
2. Press the current Fn key.
3. Press the default Fn location.

Example 1: Rearranging left-column keys
This example moves Tab and Esc down and eliminates CapsLock.

Default-layer left col:
ESC      1
TAB      Q
CapLock  A
L_SHFT   Z


New layer-1 left col:
`        1
ESC      Q
TAB      A
L_SHFT   Z


Advantages compared to the default layer
- not press Fn to type '`' and '~'
- Esc key closer to home row (for users of the vi editor)
- not accidentally press CapsLock

Procedure for programming left-column keys
1. Select layer 1.
   - Fn + < (LED 2 red)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   Move Tab and Esc down (which also eliminates CapsLock)
   - program '`' onto Esc:                      Esc (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + `, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - program Esc onto Tab:                   Tab (LED 3 blinking blue), Esc, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - program Tab onto CapsLock:         CapsLock (LED 3 blinking blue), Tab, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - program Tab onto Fn + CapsLock: Fn + CapsLock (LED 3 blinking blue), Tab, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)

Test all changes.  Online keyboard testers are a convenient way to test non-character keys like Esc. https://www.keyboardtester.com/tester.html

Example 2: Disabling Ins
This example disables the insert by mapping ';' onto Ins.

Procedure for disabling Ins
1. Select layer 1.
   - Fn + < (LED 2 red)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - program ';' onto Ins: Fn + ; (LED 3 blinking blue), ;, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)
5. Test the change.

Example 3: Implementing vi-style navigation keys
This example adds navigation keys similar to the vi editor's h-j-k-l keys.
 
Default right-hand keys that will be programmed:
     Y    U    I    O
     H    J    K    L


Right-hand navigation keys after programming:
     HOME PGDN PGUP END
     LEFT DOWN UP   RIGHT


Program navigation keys on layer-1 Fn
Procedure for programming navigation keys
1. Select layer 1.
   - Fn + < (LED 2 red)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - left  arrow: Fn + h (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + j, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - down  arrow: Fn + j (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + k, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - up    arrow: Fn + k (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + i, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - right arrow: is same as default
   - Home: Fn + y (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + h, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - PgDn: Fn + u (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + o, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - PgUp: Fn + i (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + u, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - End : Fn + o (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + n, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)

Disable keys on layer 2
Navigation on layer 2 is similar to layer-1 Fn navigation keys but without having to hold down the Fn key.

To avoid unintentional edits while locked on the navigation layer, disable all keys on layer 2 except for:
    Esc

    L_Shift    Default Layer1 Layer2 Layer3 R_Shift
     L_Space bar                     Pn  Fn  R_Ctrl


There is no way to disable keys on this keyboard.  However, keys can be assigned a harmless value such as Esc.

Procedure for programming Esc onto layer 2 [key]s
1. Select layer 2.
   - Fn + > (LED 2 green)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - Esc onto [key]:  [key] (LED 3 blinking blue), Esc, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)

Disable keys on layer-2 Fn
Disable all keys on layer-2 Fn except for:
    Layout
    L_Shift    Default Layer1 Layer2 Layer3 R_Shift
     L_Space bar                     Pn  Fn  R_Ctrl


Procedure for programming Esc onto layer-2 Fn [key]s
1. Select layer 2.
   - Fn + > (LED 2 green)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - Esc onto Fn + [key]: Fn + [key] (LED 3 blinking blue), Esc, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)

I could not program these five keys: Fn + Tab (Layout), Fn + r, Fn + t, Fn + g, Fn + b

Program navigation keys on layer 2
Now that most keys on layer 2 are harmless, program the navigation keys.

Procedure for programming navigation keys
1. Select layer 2.
   - Fn + > (LED 2 green)
2. Enter programming mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 blue)
3. Program macros.
   - up    arrow: k (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + i, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - left  arrow: h (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + j, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - down  arrow: j (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + k, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - right arrow: l (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + l, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - Home: y (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + h, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - PgDn: u (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + o, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - PgUp: i (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + u, Pn (LED 3 blue)
   - End: o (LED 3 blinking blue), Fn + n, Pn (LED 3 blue)
4. Exit program mode.
   - Fn + R_Ctrl (LED 3 off)

Remap the Fn key onto the left space bar
Before remapping Fn, test all layer-2 keys on https://www.keyboardtester.com/tester.html.

Now that all macro programming is done, remap Fn key on layers 1 and 2.

Procedure for remapping the Fn key onto the left space bar
1. Select a layer.
   - layer 1: Fn + < (LED 2 red)
   - layer 2: Fn + < (LED 2 green)
2. Hold Fn + L_Shift for 3 seconds (LED 3 blinking red).
3. Press the Fn key.
4. Press the left space bar.

Example 4: Turning off RGB backlighting
Procedure for turning off RGB backlighting
1. Cycle through LED modes until LED backlighting is off.
   - Pn + 4
« Last Edit: Thu, 14 December 2023, 13:57:30 by wolfv »