Type4me is a hardware clipboard for your digital copy and paste needs

type4me-hardware-clipboard

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again we find ourselves wanting for a more extensible cut and paste experience. Most notably we’ve searched for something that makes is very easy to keep multiple things in the clipboard and paste them as needed. Although we’ve tried several software offerings nothing really made it up to grade, but this hardware clipboard looks very promising. [Luca Dentella] calls it Type4me as it functions as a USB keyboard.

The PIC 18F14K50 enumerates as a USB keyboard, allowing it to send characters anywhere the cursor is located. It sends whatever string is stored inside, with an optional return character at the end. In addition to its keyboard properties it also establishes a serial connection, which allows you to push new strings to the device. This setup does require you to do copy or type your strings into a serial terminal, along with one of four special commands which are parsed by the microcontroller. One of these commands allows you to save the string to EEPROM so that it will be persistent through a power cycle.

The pasting back to the computer takes a mere push of the button. We’ve embedded the video demo after the break. It’s in Italian but there are English subtitles. Near the end [Luca] shows off the device as a macro button for gaming.

Comments

  1. john says:

    About the software clipboard managers: for windows I finally settled on the minimalistic freeware ‘Clcl’ (http://www.nakka.com/soft/clcl/index_eng.html). May be worth a shot.

  2. I use an amazing free clipboard manager called ‘Ditto’. Anytime you copy something, it goes into its memory. To pull something else out of the memory, you press CTRL-~, which is a command that quickly entered my muscle memory. You then select an item to paste and press enter, it pastes it and also puts that into your clipboard. It supports more than just text clipboards, it will do HTML and images and stuff too. It even will synchronize clipboards across multiple computers, and you can search for a recently copied item too.

    I can’t program without it anymore!

  3. Scott Jilek says:

    You should try Ditto-cp for a clipboard on steriods (via software). It’s open source & hosted on sourceforge. I’ve been a very happy user for years and highly recommend.

    http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/

  4. Will says:

    Looks cool but for Windows, I would think Ditto is a better solution for a buffered clipboard than having to copy text into a terminal. It also supports clipboard items beyond just text.

    http://ditto-cp.sourceforge.net/Help/DittoGettingStarted.htm

  5. Bogdan says:

    Wow…. this is the strangest thing i have seen.
    How exactly is this better than regular copy-paste? Or copy paste with the aid of a draft document to store stuff?

    @Mike Szczys your article starts stating the the problem is managing multiple things in the clipboard, yet the device does no such thing, it literally holds one batch of copy stuff. Not to mention how limited it is because of the RAM and how hard it is….

  6. charlie says:

    looks like that xtal it trying to escape.

  7. matt says:

    What a horrible website. They split up the pages in to a absurd amount to force you to view a ridiculous amount of ads. And what a shitty project. I mean what use is this at all? It can only hold plain text data, and a small amount at that. Boo hackaday, between this and the scale switch project, you guys seem desperate for articles.

  8. Zachary says:

    This actually seems super interesting to me. I would love to use one as a kind of digital penpal medium that records all of your keystrokes in writing a letter and then plays it back to the recipient who erases it and writes their own letter and so on.

  9. Josh says:

    I approve of this idea. Though i would probably try to write some kind of extension for the OS to make it a lot more streamlined if at all possible. Copy/paste into a terminal window for storage seems cumbersome to me. Also, do the copied strings persist if power is removed? Could be cool to carry your clipboard around in your pocket. As-is, though, it would probably be more efficient to just carry around a flash memory device with a text file on it. (I have not read the entire article, so pardon me if i am missing something major)

    • sneakypoo says:

      It took me 25 seconds to read the post and find out that it does indeed allow for saving text for power outages. Typing at 100WPM (which not a lot of people do) it would take a minute to type your post. Just saying…

  10. Zachariah says:

    You should check out the program Clipboard. I use it and it’s amazing. It saves the last 8 things you’ve copied and you can also make an unlimited number of custom “snippets” to paste from the same menu. I don’t really know what else you would want.

  11. Vonskippy says:

    There’s a zillion software clipboard manager apps – why would anyone want to use a clunky hardware device that adds almost ZERO additional features and slows down the entire concept.

    A quick google comes up with:
    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3-clipboard-managers-windows/

    All three of their recommendations have more features and don’t require additional hardware.

    • Squirrel says:

      My personal favorite is Ditto (based on very little cross-sampling, but hey, I haven’t had reason to look elsewhere yet to satisfy my needs). Just glad that somebody posted that link here already.

  12. Acedio says:

    I had an idea similar to this a while ago. This would be useful for when you need to copy a string to a machine that doesn’t yet have a network connection or even an OS (e.g. entering in a product code when installing Windows).

  13. Why build a board to do this when you could just use an Arduino Leonardo?

    • lloyd says:

      Because despite what a lot of people think, the world does not revolve around Arduinos. Because despite what a lot of people think, not everyone wants to use Arduinos.

  14. Farkanoid says:

    Interesting project, but ugh… Pagination overkill for no reason at all

  15. jack says:

    Another awesome tools is clipx. Can’t code without it.

  16. JJ says:

    This device needs multiple buttons!

  17. someoneelse says:

    I think this project is better. http://www.irongeek.com/i.php?page=security/programmable-hid-usb-keystroke-dongle
    It has a hd on it and programmable switches for many different commands.

  18. beernutz says:

    I want to make people aware of ClipMate. It has been around a LONG time, is small and reliable. It holds clips in its own embedded database, can be searched, you can use SQL too if that is your bag. It can synchronize across networks to multiple computers, keep favorite clips, insert date-time, and do a VERY good job with graphic region clips, and data export. If you are in the market for a full featured clipboard manager for windows, you should definitely check it out: http://www.thornsoft.com/

    – VERY happy long term user.

  19. midnitesnake says:

    I prefer the Hak5 Rubber Ducky – programmable and extensible

  20. Andrew says:

    I use Klipper in KDE. It’s free, and you don’t need to solder it together.

  21. NewCommentor1283 says:

    first of all i like the thinking behind it.
    no matter WHAT os (if any) or WHAT hardware
    it will work, even on BIOS passwords

    and i totally get the whole “because we can” thing
    and “to learn about what ***-might-*** be involved…for FUN”

    BUT, this just really seems to be creating a problem we didnt know we had.
    now i feel like coding my own, both hardware and/or software methods.
    eventhough i’d probably never use it!

    (insert “troll about how great notepad is” here)

  22. Matthew says:

    I would love having this, just so I don’t have to type in “administrator” or the ridiculously long admin password one more time for all the PC’s I take care of at work.

  23. Harvie.CZ says:

    These were known long time ago… They were called keylogers :-)

  24. rackandboneman says:

    Software clipboards and managers are always a bit limited when it comes to pasting things into windows that rather wouldnt have anything pasted into them (KVM/VM/Remote access clients are notorious) because they do their best to get raw scancodes from the OS and/or block pasting passwords intentionally…

  25. ehrichweiss says:

    I’m glad someone finally built something like this. I’d been working on a similar idea but my idea requires some driver modification for two-way communication with the hardware clipboard and I’m not really in the mood to deal with drivers these days.

  26. Hi!

    Thanks for all your comments… and your suggestions!

    Let me answer some questions:

    – the device, enumerating as an HID device,can “paste” the text also when a software clipboard doesn’t work (BIOS, software forms that doesn’t allow copy&paste, MAME-emulated games… ;))

    – I didn’t use Arduino Leonardo because I wanted a super-simple (and cheap!) device… and I don’t know if you can write a sketch to make Leonardo enumerate both an HID device and a CDC one with the same USB connection

    – I’ve just published a GUI that speeds up the process to send data to Type4me:
    http://www.lucadentella.it/en/2013/01/15/type4me-gui/

    – I collected all your suggestions… I wanted a simple device but the next version will have more buttons (4?), an external storage (i2c eeprom seems enougth) and a GUI to let you know configure complex sequences, using all the keyboard keys (arrows…) so you’ll be able to peform all the attaks in SF2 ;)

  27. Simon says:

    I own an IBM XT-Style (84 key style) keyboard, which has that exact functionality built in. There are 8 macro keys which can be programmed from within the keyboard. It looks like it was built in the mid to late 80s. It’s definitely a 10-Function-Keys keyboard. It does have dedicated arrow keys, but CheckIt 3.0 reports they are routed to Shift+NumPad, and also identifies the keyboard as 84 key.

  28. Maave says:

    Wasn’t a keyboard emulation device designed maliciously a couple years ago? You plug the device in, it would press Window+R, start CMD, then type and execute an entire application from the command line.

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