Author Topic: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK  (Read 3886 times)

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Offline Phenix

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Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« on: Sun, 16 July 2017, 06:24:15 »
About me: I am using a ergodox as my daily driver, I stumbled about a decent offer for a Kinesis advantage (110) and I am about to pick it up, as I want to try the keywalls,


I do need QMK, so I am wondering what is the easiest way to convert it.
- Hasus USB Converter
- the two options named in the QMK-Kinesis folder
- https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=56923

What do you guys think? What's the easiest way?
I could not really find an info how I have to solder the controller of the third option in btw.
Winter is coming.

Offline vvp

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 16 July 2017, 07:11:13 »
The 3rd option not very easy since you need to make the PCB (or get it made by someone) and solder a TQFP package on it. Well, it is not hard but if the first or the second option do not involve any SMD part soldering then they would be easier.
I do not know anything about the first or the second option.

Notice that Kinesis Advantage supports key remapping and macros so you need a custom firmware only if you need special features like more than two layers or tap keys or whatever. The default Kinesis firmware has two layers (normal and keypad). You can get an easily accessible keypad shift by doing the palm key mod.

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 17 July 2017, 11:48:29 »
The 3rd option not very easy since you need to make the PCB (or get it made by someone) and solder a TQFP package on it. Well, it is not hard but if the first or the second option do not involve any SMD part soldering then they would be easier.
I do not know anything about the first or the second option.

Notice that Kinesis Advantage supports key remapping and macros so you need a custom firmware only if you need special features like more than two layers or tap keys or whatever. The default Kinesis firmware has two layers (normal and keypad). You can get an easily accessible keypad shift by doing the palm key mod.

Thanks for your input, but I use somewhat 4 layers on my ergodox, therefore a /copy/paste regarding the firmware would be nicer.

What do you think from the price point: is it worth  for 110 trying it out at that price? (I Dont feel comfortable building the Katy, but The kinesis would give me a idea of shaped kesywalls)
Winter is coming.

Offline vvp

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 18 July 2017, 07:36:06 »
You can resell it if you do not like it. So you would not waste whole 110 .
Sorry I do not have much idea about Kinesis resale value. I bought mine new.

If you would happen to travel through Slovakia, I have one Kinesis which I do not use any more. I think it has some quirks too. I could lend it to you for few months. But I do not want to sell it. I would like to replace controller in it ... sometimes ... not anytime soon ... as a fun project.
Well, it is unlikely you would travel through Ostblock regularly to pick it up and return back few months later  :D

Nobody near your location who would borrow you the keyboard for a while? Maybe make a thread asking for borrowing it and specify the area where you are willing to travel.

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 18 July 2017, 08:21:01 »
Indeed, Im not traveling trough Ostblock..
it is somewhat hard to find someone who would lend me one, as ergonomic boards are  not popular.. and if one has one , it's likely that it's his/her daily driver.

Replacing the controller is something I HAVE TO DO as well. QMK is a awesome firmware .

Winter is coming.

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 10 September 2017, 05:19:43 »
Quote
Notice that Kinesis Advantage supports key remapping and macros so you need a custom firmware only if you need special features like more than two layers or tap keys or whatever. The default Kinesis firmware has two layers (normal and keypad). You can get an easily accessible keypad shift by doing the palm key mod

Indeed - sadly the Kinesis doesn't work with Windows7 at all, so I am on the way to research more whats needed for QMK..
The drop-in replacement I saw looked promising, but its not usable with QMK..
Winter is coming.

Offline vvp

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 10 September 2017, 06:02:44 »
Yes, they have a known bug that it does not work work with some Windows 7 setups. It works with mine Windows 7 Pro EN but many people reported that it does not work. You can try to check with natas206. May be he can give you more information. But I agree that getting a custom controller/firmware is the best option :)

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 10 September 2017, 11:02:41 »
Yes, they have a known bug that it does not work work with some Windows 7 setups. It works with mine Windows 7 Pro EN but many people reported that it does not work. You can try to check with natas206. May be he can give you more information. But I agree that getting a custom controller/firmware is the best option :)

Quite now I think about if getting a hasu usb-usb better than a internal one..
I guess hasu is ruled out as I intend to add atleast a trackpoint..

Winter is coming.

Offline natas206

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 15 September 2017, 12:08:13 »
Quote
Notice that Kinesis Advantage supports key remapping and macros so you need a custom firmware only if you need special features like more than two layers or tap keys or whatever. The default Kinesis firmware has two layers (normal and keypad). You can get an easily accessible keypad shift by doing the palm key mod

Indeed - sadly the Kinesis doesn't work with Windows7 at all, so I am on the way to research more whats needed for QMK..
The drop-in replacement I saw looked promising, but its not usable with QMK..


The original Advantage keyboard (KB500) actually works with Windows 7. The problem however is a very specific issue with a USB 3.0 driver on Windows 7 where the keyboard will completely fail. For sometime this problem didn't exist at all until a Windows update that updated the 3.0 driver, which will cause the keyboard to fail. There are a couple of work-arounds - you may be able to change some settings in the BIOS of the computer that will allow the keyboard to work (described under "USB 3.0 issues" under Tech/Troubleshooting Advantage keyboard), installing a "cable conversion kit" that you can get directly from Kinesis, which essentially is a replacement PS/2 cable and a USB adaptor (installing the PS/2 cable directly to the main circuit board of the keyboard bypasses the usb daughterboard/usb hub, which is the component the win7 usb 3.0 driver has an issue with), and lastly which isn't ideal for many people is to simply upgrade the operating system (the compatibility issue only exists on Windows 7 and does not occur on Windows 8 or Windows 10).

110 is a pretty good deal, assuming it isn't 10+ years old and in good condition. If you can get the serial number, check with tech@kinesis.com and we can look up the manufacture and sale dates.

The newer Advantage2 keyboard, KB600, has all new electronics built from the ground up and doesn't have any compatibility issues with any operating system. The firmware is much more advanced and will continue to improve. While it does only have two layers like the original KB500, you can certainly achieve four layers a number of ways, one is by using modifier keys to mimic a 3rd and 4th layer (this makes the most sense and is the easiest/simplest solution), and/or by using "hot-key layouts" which the Adv2 supports dozens. You can also program any key on the keyboard (besides the default Progrm & Keypad keys) to behave as a Keypad-shift or a Keypad-toggle, something the original couldn't do (unless you also have an additional footswitch that connects to the back of the keyboard via RJ11 cable, which you could use to remap a keypad-shift (but not a toggle, or maybe I have that reversed)). Btw, the "Keypad" key is our version of an "Fn" key found on many other keyboards, just different terminology mainly due to our Contoured keyboards always having an embedded 10-keypad on the right side (~25 years ago with the Model 100,  "fn" key wasn't really a popular term).   It could be possible we could add additional layers to our firmware at a later date as well (if it doesn't require a massive fundamental change), and add other useful features. For example, the ability to program different actions for a press and release (lets say holding Ctrl functions as a Ctrl but a quick tap of Ctrl acts as Esc), which is something we are working on (most of programmers time is with the Freestyle Edge at the moment however due to its release).

Currently there is a sale on refurbished Advantage2 keyboards for $269, marked down from the regular $349, which is a pretty good deal imo since they come with the same 3-year warranty & 60-day return policy as a new. A refurbished model is almost always a keyboard that was ordered online, the customer briefly tried it, decided they didn't like it and sent it back for a refund under our 60-day return policy. We test it, wipe it down with rubbing alcohol and restock it as a refurb. So they are essentially "like new" products with hardly any use.  International shipping costs though could be pricey though, depending on where you're at exactly, so that 110 used keyboard could be a better value for you, but imo if you can spend  a bit more money the Adv2 keyboard will be better in the long run and requires far less tweaks to achieve what you're looking for (plus it has mechanical function row keys, which is nice compared to the older rubber function keys). 

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 20 September 2017, 17:28:38 »
thanks for the detailed answer!
I got the used Kinesis some time back - condition is ok, after removing some dirt and cleaning it up.. so like exspected.

I already tried bypassing the USB Hub: I hand-wired a PS2-cable to the main pcb connections. However, using a PS2-USB adapter, lights were lightning up but it didn't write.

I didn't asked Kinesis for the adapter kit as I still intend to do the stapelberg mod: in the end somewhat 60$ with even some pcbs as surplus..
Getting the Kinesis2 is not really a option for me - tough it offers some benefits, these are only striking if modding isn't intended.

What I intend is to basically set it up as my ergodox with QMK - layers, arrows at home row, spaceFN/sticky mods _ having the ability to add a trackpoint is nice as well, as i had like to integrate one soon.

Just out of curiosity: Do you have any idea if Kinesis is gonna release a v3 in the next years? Just asking as I feel like the Kinesis design is comfy but still can be improved in some ways..

Winter is coming.

Offline natas206

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 22 September 2017, 17:06:08 »
thanks for the detailed answer!
I got the used Kinesis some time back - condition is ok, after removing some dirt and cleaning it up.. so like exspected.

I already tried bypassing the USB Hub: I hand-wired a PS2-cable to the main pcb connections. However, using a PS2-USB adapter, lights were lightning up but it didn't write.

I didn't asked Kinesis for the adapter kit as I still intend to do the stapelberg mod: in the end somewhat 60$ with even some pcbs as surplus..
Getting the Kinesis2 is not really a option for me - tough it offers some benefits, these are only striking if modding isn't intended.

What kind of adapter was it? If it was a Passive adapter, it would not work. It must be an Active adapter, like this one for example.

Quote
Just out of curiosity: Do you have any idea if Kinesis is gonna release a v3 in the next years? Just asking as I feel like the Kinesis design is comfy but still can be improved in some ways..

Nothing for the immediate future, besides continuing to update/improve the firmware and add new features (posted on the Adv2 Resource page). We may release a "Pro" model at some point, which may just have a couple more bells & whistles than the regular version.

The next logical step, for an "Advantage3" is a fully split version. Which is something we've discussed here at Kinesis and plan to do one day, but it will be quite some time before we get there just due to other current projects.

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 24 September 2017, 03:14:08 »
Looking forward to the advantage3 then..
Any idea for chair-mounting-solutions?
At the moment I cant find anything which replicates the Datahand -mounting-system..

I used a active adapter btw.
Winter is coming.

Offline natas206

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 27 September 2017, 11:04:00 »

I used a active adapter btw.

I wonder what the problem was then. The main circuit board of the original Advantage was actually native PS/2. The "USB draughtboard/USB hub" attached to the bottom case was the component that converted it to USB (and added a few additional features (instant configuration, some multi-media, etc.)).

Quote
Looking forward to the advantage3 then..
Any idea for chair-mounting-solutions?
At the moment I cant find anything which replicates the Datahand -mounting-system..

Not really. Years ago we sold the "Evolution" keyboard, which had a chair mounted version. But a few years ago we sold all the remaining mounting parts in inventory otherwise I'm sure using those parts would be fairly simple to rig something up. I'll post some blogs I have saved on a different computer that could be useful for you later.

Offline Phenix

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Re: Easiest way to modify the kinesis advantage to QMK
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 27 September 2017, 11:18:31 »
Thanks, looking forward for those links.
IIRC I stumbled about it some time back as well, but didnt followed it closer. I will start looking into it once again, tough I guess it can be hard to source the parts for the chair-mounting. (I assume DIY is quite hard - I own ErgoTron monitor arm and I would likely not be able to build something similar for a keyboard)

Ordered the controller btw, pcbs will be ordered in the next days.

@those of you who also want one: I have surplus. pm me.  ;)
Winter is coming.