Making a smaller keyboard

The keyboard on [Marek's] laptop stopped working. He didn’t want to buy a replacement so he decided to start using an external keyboard. But hauling around a full 104-key model is a bit of a pain so he decided to make himself a shorter keyboard. He basically chopped off the 10-key pad on the right side of the board. This had the unexpected consequence of removing the screws that hold the top and bottom of the case together so he ended up adding a few extra screws to shore it up. You may be wondering how the key matrix still works if a portion of it has been cut off. [Marek] used the simple trick of folding the extra part of the membrane over and covering the unused contacts with some tape.

If you try this you should consider getting rid of the directional arrows and editing keys as well. There must be a way to map those keys elsewhere. Perhaps the half-qwerty keyboard hack will give you some inspiration for that.

Comments

  1. Wes says:

    “Hack” in its truest sense.

  2. Luke says:

    Nice! This one gave me a good laugh. Someone needs to take it up a notch and do this but salvage the number pad as a separate keyboard.

  3. brett says:

    putting the hacksaw back in hacking?

  4. osgeld says:

    I would try it, but I dont think I have a power saw strong enough to take on my model M, oh well it would probably crush my laptop anyway

  5. geocrasher says:

    Wow, I wish I had known about this back when I broke my left hand a few years ago. I was doing sysadmin work. I trying learning right hand dvorak and drove myself to tears! I just tried the demo online and it worked beautifully. I can see typing very fast with that in a very short time.

  6. CutThroughStuffGuy says:

    I get the point of hacking is to modify something rather than buy it off the shelf. But somehow the name seems to make sense in the context of this site.

    The Happy Hacking Keyboard.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Hacking_Keyboard

  7. Shield says:

    Haha I love it, simple, effective, easy to do even if it isn’t the most pretty.

  8. davo says:

    using a bandsaw isnt a hack

  9. Scott says:

    > There must be a way to map those keys elsewhere.

    How about the back of the keyboard? AND gate chip to allow selective disabling of the back arrow/number pad. I don’t know how to solder that membrane, though.

  10. Darkheart says:

    I just got one of the soft rubber keyboards and can roll it up for travel.

  11. deathventure says:

    @Scott

    I wouldn’t solder the membrane, but a good conductive ink pen or conductive paint pen would work perfectly for it. Just draw your new trace.

  12. jim says:

    Pretty lo-tech, but literally a hack.

  13. --- says:

    This one looks a bit more professional: http://www.traipse.com/keyboard/index.html

  14. Hitek146 says:

    Replacement laptop keyboards are like $10 – $15 on eBay…

  15. mjrippe says:

    @Hitek146 – Sure, but this one was free!

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    Hacked by a blind woodsman!

  17. Pete S says:

    For windows users KeyTweak is a good registry tool to remap keys.

  18. Jeff says:

    Isn’t this more of a kludge than a hack? A new keyboard for most laptops is ebayable for under USD 20.00, and it’s usually one of the easier components to replace.

    A more elegant solution would be to take a negative of the keyboard to use as a mold, then take the membrane out of the keyboard, set it up in the mold and then cast a roll-up keyboard out of some sort of silicone. I know these are commercially available, but if you’re into the whole DIY thing, it would be a fun little project. Just my .02

    Jeff

  19. Osgeld says:

    you argue that a new keyboard is 20 dollars then suggest that someone cast a silicon mould to make a 5$ roll up keyboard (which I had one, and OMG they suck, unless you hit dead center of every key as you type)

    besides there is a fine line tween kludge and hack, personally it needs to be duct taped to the laptop

  20. saturnnights says:

    that’s a shame…cutting up a sun microsystems keyboard, considering they’re no longer their own entity anymore.

    a little piece of history gone.

  21. Toby Esterhase says:

    How did this even make Hackaday? Hey I have a car window scraper that’s too long to fit in my glovebox. Can I make Hackaday too if I cut the handle down a bit?

    One time I had a shovel handle that broke but I had about 10min of digging left, so I used duct tape and two short sticks to make a splint that held the handle together.

  22. Hitek146 says:

    @mjrippe:

    Yea, but with a replacement keyboard, you could actually carry and use your laptop like it was intended. Also, those Sun Microsystems keyboards are pretty nice. I would have at least used a cheapie keyboard…

  23. JoSSte says:

    I’d still say that http://woodgears.ca/computer_case/keyboard.html is one of the most elegant hacks of this type. But lugging a wooden keyboard around is probably not the lightest load….

  24. fartface says:

    Wow.. What is this, street people computer upkeep?

    replacement keyboard for laptop = $8.00 to $18.00 used price for a working sparc station Sun keyboard = $25.00 to $30.00

    Seems that Marek is not very good at economics or useability. Unless he was going for the homeless guy look.

    Marek: there is this secret website called “ebay” wher you can buy used parts for low low prices. Dont tell anyone! It’s a SECRET!

  25. Dan says:

    @Toby Esterhase: Don’t you have anything better to do than bitch and moan that the hack isn’t enough of a hack?

  26. blue carbuncle says:

    I’m with Darkheart on this one. Roll up USB keyboard. I saw one in Bed Bath last weekend with the wife :) Nice chopping though, builder. Free is free :)

  27. geocrasher says:

    It seems that many people here do not know what “hack” is. Yes, this may be a bit of a kludge but I am personally happy when I take two something that is borked and make it usable again by spending NO money at all. I am into this stuff as much as anyone else, but with a wife and two kids to feed on my full time job, it doesn’t go very far. When I can hack or kludge something and end up with a usable product, I do, and I enjoy it!

    Over the weekend I took a nice, but incomplete AM2 cpu cooler and adapted it (with a bit of hack-kludgery) to my AM3 Phenom II so I could overclock it better. I can, I didn’t spend a dime, and you can hardly tell by looking at it, to boot.

    If it looked like a bailing wire, duck tape, zip tie hot glue hack I’d be just as happy. The point is, it WORKS. And, obviously, Marek was pleased with the results. Why rain on his parade? If he’s knowledgeable enough to do this hack, don’t you kids think he knows about ebay and how to replace a laptop keyboard?

    Get off your hobby horsies and recognize somebody for what they do, not for the way YOU would do it.

    Inconsiderate self centered jerks!

  28. Marek says:

    Hello.

    Thanks to hackaday for publishing my work. Thank you (you know who you are) for your positive comments.

    Have a nice day.

    -Marek

  29. osgeld says:

    “used price for a working sparc station Sun keyboard = $25.00 to $30.00″

    “that’s a shame…cutting up a sun microsystems keyboard, considering they’re no longer their own entity anymore.”

    “Also, those Sun Microsystems keyboards are pretty nice. I would have at least used a cheapie keyboard…”

    OMG people this is not some 20 year old relic, its a cheap ps2 logitech membrane keyboard with a sun logo painted on, you can buy these things at computer shows for like a dollar each

  30. ReeToric says:

    I’ve got one of these:

    http://geekhack.org/showwiki.php?title=Island:5849

    Hardly a hack, but there’s no risk of crap getting in via the gaping hole in the side ;)

  31. FDP says:

    I don’t blame the person who did this, but Hackaday should have better standards. Perhaps there needs to be a “micro-hacks” section where you list interesting things people have done with power tools, arduinos, etc.

    Then HAD wouldn’t be making these poor users look so pathetic by putting their afternoon projects next to things that took people months or even years of their time to accomplish.

  32. osgeld says:

    oh crap, did I accidentally go to “projectamonth.com”?

    how does sawing a keyboard not fit the discription of “down and dirty HACK”

  33. Mehville Rite says:

    OK, this does it. Your articles now have value just above that of spam. This is worse than the scroll map replica article from last week. I’m outta here for good. Just booted HAD from my bookmarks and will not be back again. I suggest changing the name to kludgeaday or uninspiredwasteofyourtime.com. Time for me to find a site that actually spends time finding and writing about actual hacks.

    But first, I’m submitting my “pencil sharpened at both ends for 100% writing efficiency increase” hack and get my 15 minutes of fame! Make sure you leave me only positive comments on my wonderful, insightful, and shockingly meh “hack”. Mehville out…

  34. therian says:

    I understand this is a hack but cmon dont bee so cheap :)

  35. sexiewasd says:

    Typing this on a happy hacking keyboard pro 2, I think that I have made the better choice, Although my friends still give me a hard time about how much I payed for it.

  36. anonymouse says:

    I am using a keyboard from 1987 with a DIN-5 to PA/2 adapter. It goes snincker-snack snicker-snack, and it’s built like a tank. It still has all the rubber fee and fold out legs. Unfortunately, it has a home key in the middle of the arrow keys, which can be a real pain when one scrolls with the arrows. Also, it has an unlabled key in the middle of Lctrl and Lalt, which I remapped as a windows key.

  37. anonymouse says:

    Er, make that PS/2 and rubber feet.

  38. pod says:

    heh I did this myself a couple years ago.
    I love my nice and little LAN keyboard :)

  39. ToykoDrift says:
  40. I’m a little disappointed in this hack, like some of the other commenters. I’m wondering if there wouldn’t at least be some compound or piece of plastic that could be applied or hot-glued to fit the gaping hole in the side?

  41. Dawna Silagy says:

    Keyboard stickers are utilise very well if you want to invest in an expensive keyboard.

  42. George Johnson says:

    The screws are right there on the bottom of the keyboard, why would doing this have ANY unexpected result of hacking off screws???

    (um, how about LOOKING before HACKING???

  43. Bill says:

    Annoyingly, half-qwerty keyboards are patented. They used to sell cheap $29ish ones to plug into Palm Pilots etc., but if you wanted a software driver for your PC, that was far more expensive, because they assumed your health insurance or your company ergonomics police would be paying for it.

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