Author Topic: WEY keyboard Information  (Read 3136 times)

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Offline dorkvader

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WEY keyboard Information
« on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 20:37:22 »
This post is to serve as a starting point for WEY keyboards. I think they are awesome and not a lot is known about them. Unfortunately they are currently sort-of hard to get running but I plan to fix that. I will edit this post with more info over time.

Currently I have two WEY keyboards. One, an EK2000 is on loan from another GH'er. The other, an HK2000 is mine outright. Both are currently working though neither are currently fully functional.

As far as I know, to get a WEY keyboard working on USB, the trick is to use a connector box. I have a Connector box Va (five a) on loan from another GH'er. You can see photos of it in the album below:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/dork_vader/sets/72157648349409637/

The keyboard is plugged into the connector box via a cable. These cables were a real pain to find. They are called a number of different things.

  • IEEE-1284 type C
  • HPCN 36 (there is no consensus as to what HPCN actually means. My money's on Half Pitch CentroNics)
  • mini-centronics
  • MDR36 (MDR stands for "mini D ribbon I think)
You need a male-to-male cable.

Further complicating things, 10,25, and 50 pin versions of this connector exist. They are sometimes used for external SCSI or other protocols. I was not able to find these cables in the USA for under $50 each. Two sources had them listed for under $20 but turned out to not have stock. I found several sources in the UK with stock under 10 GBP though. It's up to European readers to determine if they are actually available though.

You can also use two of the much more common centronics36 to mini-centronics 36 cables and a centronics coupler.

The connector box has to be powered from a wall plug (otherwise it would be too easy) likely in part to power the power-hungry display that these things have. Mine takes 7-12V, and is supposed to be used with 12V at 0.15A (1.8W). The input is fused and there is an LED that lights up when the box is powered.

The box uses a "power DIN 3" plug. One of the large pins is power, the other is ground. The small pin is likely unused but is connected to power on the PCB. The pin closest to the smaller pin is power. The shell of the connector is not electrically connected.

These boxes (or at least mine) use a very expensive looking 4-layer PCB. They act as a power unit for the keyboard (possibly a control unit) and as a KVM. Mine has outputs for 5 or 6 different computers.

The way to get one working, then, is to get the keyboard itself, a connector box, a cable, and something to power the box. I soldered the leads from a 12V wall wart directly to the PCB. If you want to use a power brick with an actual power-DIN 3 connector on it: be ware! Most are 24V supplies for printers and the like.

Once you have the keyboard plugged into the box and the box powered, the keyboard will turn on and start working. You can press the keys, though most won't do anything. You can even change the mode of the keyboard. If you have an HK2000 with a display you can see the function keys change. It's pretty cool.

Now each keyboard "mode" is connected to a different "output" on the box, and likely meant to be connected to a different computer. On my keyboard, mode 2 was left pretty much default. I plugged in a USB cable to the USB2 port, pressed the "WS2" button on my keyboard and got scancodes! all 105 of them (I forget if altgr sends a different one or not, and I don't remember if the blank key next to LSHIFT does anything) The upper area of 16-keys did nothing. The upper 12 function keys sent "shift+fn#" because that's how the KB was programmed to act in that mode (sometimes they send F13-F24, sometimes who knows? they are just labelled "help" "bid" etc. on the screen.)

Easier ways to connect these?

Now I know not everyone is wanting to buy a $50 controller box on eBay and then also buy a bunch of cables just to get their keyboard working. I am pretty sure there is an easier way but not 100%. It will depend on if we can determine the pinout of that 36-pin connector. Here's what I have so far.
  • Most of the 36 pins are used. for something
  • about 3-4 of the pins carry power and ground, directly from the power-in on the power brick.
  • Some of the pins appear to carry PS/2 data. I think it's for the PS/2 port on the keyboard to also switch the mouse
  • I suspect the keyboard is PS/2 natively and that if we can find the right pins you can just cram a teensy in there with soarer's code and call it a day.
  • I really don't want to stick my scope on each pin there looking for stuff. Anyone have a logic analyzer handy?

Okay post any questions here and I'll see about updating this. Also post any other info you may have that I've forgotten. Thank goodness I started this before I learned more about WEY stuff or I'd probably never be able to type out an info post like this.

Ok enjoy! I'll put some some pretty pictures and whatever later. These keyboards are really interesting, designed in an expensive way (MSRP is like $1000)

More info is currently in this topic
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=63217.0

Forgot to say, both the keyboard and connector box are made by GMK are are branded as such on the PCB.

Work to be done:
  • figure out the pinout of the 36-pin connector
  • Figure out if the config is stored on the keyboard (pretty sure it is) and how to change / reprogram it
  • Figure out what protocol the keyboard uses to talk to the conenctor box with and allow easy teensy use
  • Figure out what protocol the keyboard uses internally to talk to the different parts (the 16-modular block is just a matrix extension: do data. The upper fn block and main block communicate to the motherboard via some sort of digital. Just need to read the chips, look up datasheets I think)
  • profit?
« Last Edit: Tue, 14 October 2014, 20:43:30 by dorkvader »

Online HoffmanMyster

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 20:40:15 »
Thank you for the wealth of information!!  I was following the discussion in the linked Great Finds thread, but this is a great summary for reference. 

I should finally have a board coming my way soon (I was initially sold one that didn't exist), and hopefully I can succeed in getting it operational.   :thumb:

Thanks again!  I'm sure this will be very useful for some people, myself included.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 21:37:52 »
Thank you for the wealth of information!!  I was following the discussion in the linked Great Finds thread, but this is a great summary for reference. 

I should finally have a board coming my way soon (I was initially sold one that didn't exist), and hopefully I can succeed in getting it operational.   :thumb:

Thanks again!  I'm sure this will be very useful for some people, myself included.
Well I wrote it for xavierblak but I guess it's okay if you benefit too. :p

I thought we were getting some really good info down in the thread and it was high time I started something in the proper forum. Let me know with your experience and what you run into. I think xavierblak is having issues with his connector box IV, but we will see.

The box IV is mostly PS/2 outputs, but there are some USB on it as well. Otherwise it is very similar to the box Va

Offline xavierblak

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 14 October 2014, 22:38:14 »
Here's a link to my photos of the Wey Modular Keyboard Connector Box IV

I also marked up a photo because I kept having to figure out the plug each time I pulled the wires out of the connector.


I'm currently in the process of soldering up a male to male ps2 cable. Hopefully I'll have some better luck with that vs the usb cable.

Any thoughts on what the "Keyboard Interface" connector is on the connector box?

EDIT: Success with the PS/2 Cable! PC1 Keyboard to a pc gives me normal keyboard functionality.
« Last Edit: Tue, 14 October 2014, 23:22:51 by xavierblak »

Offline dorkvader

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 08:01:05 »
Here's a link to my photos of the Wey Modular Keyboard Connector Box IV

I also marked up a photo because I kept having to figure out the plug each time I pulled the wires out of the connector.
Show Image


I'm currently in the process of soldering up a male to male ps2 cable. Hopefully I'll have some better luck with that vs the usb cable.

Any thoughts on what the "Keyboard Interface" connector is on the connector box?

EDIT: Success with the PS/2 Cable! PC1 Keyboard to a pc gives me normal keyboard functionality.

I suspect it's for programming the keyboard? I'm glad you got yours working on PS/2. Have you tried USB?

Offline xavierblak

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 10:12:10 »
I suspect it's for programming the keyboard?

Yeah that's what I'm suspecting as well.

I'm glad you got yours working on PS/2. Have you tried USB?

So far no luck with the usb ports. I'll give them another try today. My usb hub was misbehaving yesterday maybe it was just that.

Offline xavierblak

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 23:52:20 »
Some deep cut information gathering. I figure one strategy for getting these keyboards to be more functional would be to replace the stock controller and interface directly to the keyboard parts. So as a basic first step, I figured I'd try to determine if the ribbon cables used to inter-connect the boards could be easily sourced.

The actual part used is manufactured by odu which sadly doesn't seem to have any distributors that do direct sales. The connector is with a 1.27 mm pitch by 2.54 mm row space. A link to the Mini-fix brochure.

I found a similar connector (SFH41-PPPB-D05-ID-BK) which is pretty close. Some of the edges and the key might need to be shaved for it to fit the socket.



The idea here would be make it easier to get a handle on the signals being passed back and forth with out wrecking the original cables.
That all I got at the moment.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #7 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 07:22:37 »
this guy has the same pin pitch row spacing and nuber of pins:
http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/TE-Connectivity-AMP/2-111196-5/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMs%252bGHln7q6pm48SVpWlpfsEyWqKF%2fak9dM%3d

Will keep looking. Pretty sure 3M makes these as well.

edit: two 1.25mm pitch 5 pin connectors would probably also work. There's tons here's an example:
http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Hirose-Connector/DF14-5S-125C/?qs=sGAEpiMZZMs%252bGHln7q6pm7BjqI3J1T15KfRyGjFP%2fBI%3d
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 October 2014, 07:28:35 by dorkvader »

Offline berserkfan

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 12:27:50 »
Just one observation

These keyboards are PCB mounted, and yes, they do flex. My own cursory examination of my keyboard reveals no compelling reason to accept an MSRP of $300, let alone $1000. They also don't have credit card readers or something to make the keyboard worth more.

I strongly suspect that the main reason behind the price is a captive market in financial terminals. Bankers are not geeks and bankers have lots of money and can pay more. So if you currently don't have a WEY, I would not encourage you to buy one unless the price is good. Don't let the high MSRP fool you into thinking the keyboard itself is that good.

That said, I suspect the software/ controllers must have some special functions/ uses. Remember these terminals are meant to send certain commands eg Buy Stock X using proprietary software Y. It is possible the controller may send out non-keycodes that only WEY's box can translate?
Most of the modding can be done on your own once you break through the psychological barriers.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 12:52:19 »
Just one observation

These keyboards are PCB mounted, and yes, they do flex. My own cursory examination of my keyboard reveals no compelling reason to accept an MSRP of $300, let alone $1000. They also don't have credit card readers or something to make the keyboard worth more.

I strongly suspect that the main reason behind the price is a captive market in financial terminals. Bankers are not geeks and bankers have lots of money and can pay more. So if you currently don't have a WEY, I would not encourage you to buy one unless the price is good. Don't let the high MSRP fool you into thinking the keyboard itself is that good.

That said, I suspect the software/ controllers must have some special functions/ uses. Remember these terminals are meant to send certain commands eg Buy Stock X using proprietary software Y. It is possible the controller may send out non-keycodes that only WEY's box can translate?

CC readers are like $5. The screen on these things probably cost someone at least $100 most likely more. It's a crazy screen and there's all the hardware to support it, then there's the infrastructure to support the hardware, you then end up with $70 cables required to connect it to connector boxes, etc.

Plus the guys they sell to don't blink at paying $40,000 a seat for bloomburg stuff. WEY and bloomburg emulation is probably saving them money.

I think the bulk of the MSRP has gone into the fact that this keyboard has been very expensively designed. It seems at every turn they have taken the more expensive options to make this. They could easily reduce the price considerably by offering less customization and by cheapening it up in many areas. There are certainly several things they could have done that would likely not noticeably affect the overall quality.

Still, this is a very high quality product in my opinion. IT also happens to be inefficiently engineered with respect to price and therefore carries an absurdly expensive retail price.

It is entirely possible that the keyboard sends out crazy/fancy/interesting non-standard keycodes and data like the pinnacle deko does. the degree to which these are capturable and decipherable will depend on a number of factors. It may be easier to decipher the internal protocol the keyboard uses.

Offline xavierblak

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 14:14:53 »
Yes as already said there's no doubt that these keyboards were originally so expensive because they are built for a tiny industry that has plenty of money to blow on low volume parts. If you want a normal mechanical keyboard there is no reason to mess around with this.

But for me there is something very fun about owning such a purpose built keyboard like this one. It's like driving a bulldozer to work every day. I know I'm never going to use it for it's intended purpose and it's pretty impractical. But it's just enjoyable to have something unique. Plus I find it funny to think about they guy who used this keyboard before me. Some guy who worked in the financial industry buying and selling something all day mashing away at this keyboard with no idea that that one day some random guy would buy this same keyboard on ebay and try to hook it up to his pc because he thought it looked cool.

Online HoffmanMyster

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 15:10:17 »
But for me there is something very fun about owning such a purpose built keyboard like this one. It's like driving a bulldozer to work every day. I know I'm never going to use it for it's intended purpose and it's pretty impractical. But it's just enjoyable to have something unique. Plus I find it funny to think about they guy who used this keyboard before me. Some guy who worked in the financial industry buying and selling something all day mashing away at this keyboard with no idea that that one day some random guy would buy this same keyboard on ebay and try to hook it up to his pc because he thought it looked cool.

+ 1 !!!

That's exactly why I wanted one.  The challenge of getting it to work, the novelty of such a desk-hog actually being functional.  :D  I love it.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 16:23:00 »
If we can get a teensy to output PS/2, I think we can wire the top switches into said teensy and then plug it into the PS/2 port on the keyboard and have it switch them both together. Then you could use them for macros and stuff. I will have to play with the PS/2 port on the KB to see how it acts. Worst case is it's mouse-only. But I have my hopes.

Since my new job ts starting, I might or might not be able to play with the WEY too much. We'll see.

But for me there is something very fun about owning such a purpose built keyboard like this one. It's like driving a bulldozer to work every day. I know I'm never going to use it for it's intended purpose and it's pretty impractical. But it's just enjoyable to have something unique. Plus I find it funny to think about they guy who used this keyboard before me. Some guy who worked in the financial industry buying and selling something all day mashing away at this keyboard with no idea that that one day some random guy would buy this same keyboard on ebay and try to hook it up to his pc because he thought it looked cool.

I think you nailed it. If I owned a cement mixer I'd drive it everywhere. There's a challenge in unlocking the inner workings of this device and that appeals to me greatly. And since "there's no kill like overkill" I can use this absolutely overkill keyboard all the time.

GH122 is not overkill enough. It's only got, what? 136 keys? my keyboard has 144 (more or less) That means I can PWN you twice as hard. It means I can have a key for every kind of useless macro I can think of (and more). I can do every whimsical little improvement and still have room for 12 more. I can have my cake and eat icecream too.
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 October 2014, 16:27:39 by dorkvader »

Offline berserkfan

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Re: WEY keyboard Information
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 22:12:09 »


GH122 is not overkill enough. It's only got, what? 136 keys? my keyboard has 144 (more or less) That means I can PWN you twice as hard. It means I can have a key for every kind of useless macro I can think of (and more). I can do every whimsical little improvement and still have room for 12 more. I can have my cake and eat icecream too.

Oh, I know exactly what you can do with that keyboard all right.

Set up a dummy or training trading account with any broker. Make sure it is a dummy account with no real dollars inside! (I think they'll give you $100k virtual money.)

Program your WEY accordingly.

Press one key, and it logs into your trading account and executes a buy order for 100 Apple stock, then prints out the screen.

Post the photos to geekhack to show off.

Bask in glory like an emperor until some kid comes along and points out you're naked, that this is a fake trading account and that you are really in between jobs.

Go to bed with ego deflated and a looney tunes sound effect repeating in your head.
Most of the modding can be done on your own once you break through the psychological barriers.