Author Topic: Avant keyboard programming software!  (Read 1728 times)

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Offline omnigeek

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Avant keyboard programming software!
« on: Wed, 04 October 2023, 02:14:03 »
I've been working on a project, mostly for fun and learning and for my own use.  The project was to get some software running on modern Windows versions, that can program Avant Stellar and Prime keyboards.

After quite a bit more work than I thought it would take, I have it running!  And it actually works quite well on the couple of Stellars and couple of systems I've used it on.  It uses a keyboard filter driver that sits above the i8042 PS/2 port driver in Windows, and allows the Avant's programming protocol to work.

My first question is: would this software be of use to anyone else?  If so, I could upload the source, e.g. to Github, along with the information I've put together on the Avant keyboards and its programming protocol and the old software versions that came with it.

Next question: Since systems that have a PS/2 port are mostly long gone by now, ideally I'd like to be able to program the Avants through a USB-to-PS/2 converter like Soarer's or TMK.

My understanding is that Soarer's source code isn't public... I saw TMK's source code online, so would that be the best choice?  What I would need is a way to disable the scan code translation in the converter, so the Avant programming protocol could be used, and then re-enable the scan code translation when done.  That would probably require some firmware changes to the TMK converter; and it might require a Windows USB driver to set up the TMK to send/receive programming info to/from the keyboard.

Has anyone set up a USB-to-PS/2 converter to be able to write and read raw bytes on a programmable keyboard like this?

This leads to a larger question: is anyone even dealing with programmable keyboards anymore, since you can edit the scan code maps in Windows and there are things like AutoHotkey that can remap keys for you?  I feel like remapping keys in the keyboard itself is better since it doesn't depend on having software in each system and OS you use it on.  Or is that not so much of a concern anymore?

I can go into a lot more detail about the Avant hardware and software if anyone's interested, otherwise this post is too long already so I'll stop here :)
Northgate Omnikey Ultra rebuilt w/Matias clickies | Northgate Omnikey 102 | Avant Stellar | [/url]Visit the Typing Test and try!

Offline Findecanor

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Re: Avant keyboard programming software!
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 04 October 2023, 06:07:01 »
Cool project!

TMK contains probably the most used open source PS/2 to USB converter, and it is actively maintained.

This leads to a larger question: is anyone even dealing with programmable keyboards anymore, since you can edit the scan code maps in Windows and there are things like AutoHotkey that can remap keys for you?
I think most people who program/remap their keyboards prefer the programming to be stored in the keyboard  and be persistent between boots, even if a desktop app is the preferred way to program it.

Having the programming/mapping require software in the background could be a nuisance if you e.g. dual-boot Windows and Linux, use virtual machines or use multiple computers with a KVM.
I've even read accounts on this forum about people physically moving keyboards between computers and wanting the programming to be persistent.
« Last Edit: Wed, 04 October 2023, 06:27:29 by Findecanor »