Author Topic: how to pick a keyboard controller?  (Read 2365 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline brain29

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 5
how to pick a keyboard controller?
« on: Sun, 22 February 2015, 02:48:13 »
Me and a buddy of mine are thinking of making a keyboard as a summer project.

our starting layout is going this way, it will be split :cool: 
http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/#/layouts/3249f041acc4e3e83df272484098e406
not sure if there is a project like this already

We want it to be a heavy macro board, its hard for us to keep track of all the shortcuts jumping between programs. I do 3d and media stuff and my friend is getting into game programming.

were not sure what controller/encoder would best fit our needs we were leaning towards teensy 2++  then we found this little guy http://xkeys.com/PIComponents/USBEncoderBoards.php its expensive at $60 with a max of 128 keys in matrix but comes with what looks like pretty ok software.

Maybe what we want already exists and just seen it yet. I have found some macro muti-media boards but they're expensive and extremely bulky for my needs. I currently use a corsair K95 and want something a bit beyond it.

any help on a direction would be appreciated, my friend doesn't mind digging into some coding but if most the work is done for him it makes the decision easier 

Offline Oobly

  • * Esteemed Elder
  • Posts: 3929
  • Location: Finland
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 03:41:34 »
I'd try to use a Teensy 2.0 if possible. It has 25 IO pins, so you can have up to 12x13=156 keys in the matrix. The main reason, though is that there are already a lot of firmwares available for it, so you just have to adjust an existing one to make it work.

You're going to have to make your own plates / PCBs for that layout, but some places can cut steel or acrylic plates for you at a decent price. Our very own swill has made a plate designer you can use directly from the layout designer :) (https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=65189.0) It allows you to paste the layout editor link into it and it will process it and spit out a plate design :D

I suggest rather getting plates made and hand wiring than getting PCB's made. Firstly, it'll probably be cheaper. Secondly, you can adjust / fix any electrical issues you may come across easily. Thirdly, it's nicer to type on plate mounted switches. Fourthly, you can cut and move plate pieces around to change the layout a bit (I have used a standard plate to make my own split board like this).
Buying more keycaps,
it really hacks my wallet,
but I must have them.

Offline Moralless

  • Posts: 526
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 03:52:25 »
I'd try to use a Teensy 2.0 if possible. It has 25 IO pins, so you can have up to 12x13=156 keys in the matrix. The main reason, though is that there are already a lot of firmwares available for it, so you just have to adjust an existing one to make it work.

You're going to have to make your own plates / PCBs for that layout, but some places can cut steel or acrylic plates for you at a decent price. Our very own swill has made a plate designer you can use directly from the layout designer :) (https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=65189.0) It allows you to paste the layout editor link into it and it will process it and spit out a plate design :D

I suggest rather getting plates made and hand wiring than getting PCB's made. Firstly, it'll probably be cheaper. Secondly, you can adjust / fix any electrical issues you may come across easily. Thirdly, it's nicer to type on plate mounted switches. Fourthly, you can cut and move plate pieces around to change the layout a bit (I have used a standard plate to make my own split board like this).

Looking at his layout, I doubt the teensy 2.0 would be able to support it (too many keys). OP, I recommend using the Teensy++ 2.0, it's similar to the Teensy 2.0 (concept wise) but uses a different chip to be able to support the extra IO pins and I'm pretty sure hasu's tmk firmware supports the chip that it uses.

Offline hanya

  • Posts: 132
  • Location: Japan
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 04:03:50 »
If these parts are separated into own case, teensy 2.0 is enough for the host controller. Do you plan to put them into a case?
PFU HHKB JP, Sanwa MA-TB38 trackball

Offline brain29

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 5
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 17:30:36 »
Quote
I'm pretty sure hasu's tmk firmware supports the chip that it uses

So firmware for teensy 2.0 most likely wont port to teensy 2.0++  ? if true, that is something that I was not expecting to encounter - reading about the 2 teensy it made it sound like the ++ just has more memory and more pins but everything else should work the same

Right now the design is split Left 60 keys - right 70 keys with a separate keypad 31  = 161   (was planning to have 1 controller rule them all)
-but-
I can very easily have 2 teensy -  1 for the split keyboad  then 1 for the keypad
(with how big the board is i could probably hide a USB hub in it so that way its still just 1 cord but that's for later - just not opposed to it)

Quote
I suggest rather getting plates made and hand wiring than getting PCB's made.
that's probably the path me and my buddy will do.
- not to scared about making my own pcb's and making plates

Quote
Our very own swill has made a plate designer you can use directly from the layout designer :) (https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=65189.0) It allows you to paste the layout editor link into it and it will process it and spit out a plate design :D
I actually already used swills layout thing its pretty awesome! I used it as a default for my 3d mock up im working on


Right now im still in the planning stage so things will change .. the first stage is to figure out/finalize a controller and firmware. For the past year or so I have been really eyeing the ergodox, was able to borrow one a few months ago and really had a difficult time with the straight up matrix layout but loved the thumb buttons. So my goal for this in the end is to have a ergodox like split but with added macro buttons.

Offline suicidal_orange

  • * Global Moderator
  • Posts: 4771
  • Location: England
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 19:49:10 »
Soarers' firmware runs on the Teensy 2++ and should do everything you need, but if your board is split how many wires are you going to need to run between the halves to connect the matrix? Assuming it's really split rather than just having a gap in the middle of a single case it's probably not a good idea.

The other option would be doing as the ergodox does by having an IO expander chip in one half to reduce the connection to only four wires, connected to a normal Teensy in the other half.  You should probably look into how that works and what firmwares support the ergodox if this is what you're planning :)
120/100g linear Zealio R1  
GMK Hyperfuse
'Split everything' perfection  
MX Clear
SA Hack'd by Geeks     
EasyAVR mod

Offline Melvang

  • Exquisite Lord of Bumfluff
  • * Maker
  • Posts: 4398
  • Location: Waterloo, IA
  • Melvang's Desktop Customs
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 22:03:53 »
I just want to chime in and say the only difference between the 2.0 and the 2.0++ in this situation is the number of pins.

Any firmware for the 2.0 will work on the 2.0++.

It is the 3.0 where things get different due to that being an ARM based chip.
OG Kishsaver, Razer Orbweaver clears and reds with blue LEDs, and Razer Naga Epic.   "Great minds crawl in the same sewer"  Uncle Rich

Offline brain29

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 5
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 23 February 2015, 23:50:31 »
Quote
Any firmware for the 2.0 will work on the 2.0++.
thank you for clarifying. I started to get a little worried :confused:

Quote
doing as the ergodox does by having an IO expander chip
I would only be able to do this if my friend is ok with it. I was planning on having something like a flat ribbon cable gong from side to side. In-between I would have a touch pad or Wacom tablet. There is a (left over) nik nac computer parts warehouse close to where we live so I'm sure we can find one that we can play with.

Is there a firmware that can change modes/macros based on what .exe program is opened? I see that I can manually make modes and switch between them but I'm not sure if there one that looks for the program

p.s.
I don't plan on building this till august - thanks for all the input, kind of worried after posting someone would tell me im out of my mind for wanting so-many keys

Offline suicidal_orange

  • * Global Moderator
  • Posts: 4771
  • Location: England
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 24 February 2015, 02:21:30 »
I just want to chime in and say the only difference between the 2.0 and the 2.0++ in this situation is the number of pins.

Any firmware for the 2.0 will work on the 2.0++.

It is the 3.0 where things get different due to that being an ARM based chip.
Noted, thanks :)

Is there a firmware that can change modes/macros based on what .exe program is opened? I see that I can manually make modes and switch between them but I'm not sure if there one that looks for the program

Not that I know of.

It would probably be easiest to hack round it by adding a second Teensy to an internal USB hub, where the second Teensy connects to an exe you made that monitors what's running (or maybe a custom launcher - you click the game in your exe and it sets up the keyboard then opens the game?) and sets pins high on the first to simulate a keypress - it would effectively hold an FN key the whole time, changing the layer.

You're going to need a lot of layers for that though, unless you have an FPS one, a driving one etc and use them for multiple games...

Quote
p.s.
I don't plan on building this till august - thanks for all the input, kind of worried after posting someone would tell me im out of my mind for wanting so-many keys

It did seem a little crazy but what people do in their own homes that doesn't hurt anyone/thing is their business :))
120/100g linear Zealio R1  
GMK Hyperfuse
'Split everything' perfection  
MX Clear
SA Hack'd by Geeks     
EasyAVR mod

Offline vvp

  • Posts: 886
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 24 February 2015, 05:35:37 »
Is there a firmware that can change modes/macros based on what .exe program is opened? I see that I can manually make modes and switch between them but I'm not sure if there one that looks for the program

Not that I know of.

It would probably be easiest to hack round it by adding a second Teensy to an internal USB hub, where the second Teensy connects to an exe you made that monitors what's running (or maybe a custom launcher - you click the game in your exe and it sets up the keyboard then opens the game?)

I do not see how a second teensy can help. It only makes things more complicated. You can send layer change commands through the control interface of the original keyboard controller. The problem with a request to automatically change layers based on the currently running application is that one needs a special keyboard driver or a background program which will monitor which application has focus and notify keyboard controller about it.

Offline Moralless

  • Posts: 526
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 24 February 2015, 05:47:36 »
I just want to chime in and say the only difference between the 2.0 and the 2.0++ in this situation is the number of pins.

Any firmware for the 2.0 will work on the 2.0++.

It is the 3.0 where things get different due to that being an ARM based chip.

Thanks for that clarification Melvang, that's what I keep getting mixed up about in terms of software compatibility.

Offline brain29

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 5
Re: how to pick a keyboard controller?
« Reply #11 on: Wed, 25 February 2015, 21:43:23 »
Thanks for your input guys, After talking to my friend I think we are going to order both to see what we like best. He too is leaning towards just having 1 teensy 2.0++ but the software with the xkeys controller makes us wonder.

Unless someone knows of a driver to change macros based on the program(.exe) selected we might have to lean towards the xkeys they also seem to play nicely with blackmagic software that I will be using allot in the future

I attached (hope it attached) 2 renders of the main board that I did for space testing. Right now all keys have 1mm (1.014 says the computer) spacing around each key. The curve is planned to be about 6 degrees change for every row after the spacebar.
« Last Edit: Wed, 20 May 2015, 00:26:22 by brain29 »