Laptop Keyboard Conversion


[Leechar] liked the compactness of notebook keyboards and wanted one for his desktop. A friend provided a 486 notebook keyboard and Leechar found an old AT keyboard controller in a junk box. Instead of taking the time to decode the key matrix and make sure that every key was generating the proper scancode he just wired it so that each key generated a unique code. Then using KeyTweak he was able to build a registry key for the correct mapping. Still having fun abusing input devices he decided to marry his Toshiba laptop track ball with the guts of a Microsoft mouse by soldering directly to the photosensor connections.

UPDATE: It looks like we “H-bombed” the 5gigs server within 4 minutes of this being posted. Grynx has a mirror.

UPDATE: Leechar has gotten better hosting, links should be fine now.

24 thoughts on “Laptop Keyboard Conversion

  1. Nice. A notebook keyboard plus a trackball would be ideal for a HTPC-setup.

    I’m waiting for an old notebook with a trackpad to come my way. The lounge HTPC needs a decent control system; I plan to use the lower half in a fashion similar to that outlined here, placing the guts of a wireless KB/M combo inside the laptop shell.

  2. the happy hacking keyboard is designed around the same idea, though obviously it’s not quite as cheap, even counting labor.

    hey liam, please be aware that virtually all wireless keyboards and mice are designed for less than 4 feet distance. you can get ones that have 30 or 40 foot ability, but those are already small and portable. and, expensive. if you can figure out how to amp up the typical wireless keyboard, i will write poetry about you.

  3. Neat, but maybe not necessary for everybody who likes notepad keyboards. Logitech UltraX is a desktop kb with “notebook” keys, and at least I’m content with it. Sorry for advertising, even though the information might prove to be useful for somebody.

  4. #1 the Model M wieghs almost as much a gaming laptop by itself, and the keys, including base, are nearly an 1 inch tall! Intergrating one would result in a huge and heavy laptop. I suppose you could find a happy medium by taking an old 286 laptop with nearly full travel keys and modding a modern laptop guts into the case (as you wouldn’t be able to close the lid if you put the old keybaord in a new laptop).

    #7 you could do simular with a PDA keyboard, but you can get a Fellows SB folding keyboard for less than $15 on ebay.

  5. Why re-invent the damn wheel???

    airboard, I have one, very nice kb. Good tactile respononse and quick speed like a notebook kb. mouse kinda sucks, but its as good as a trackball. I dont think they make them anymore, but theyre all over ebay. IR must have line of sight to work, but would still work great for htpc. Also battery life is excellent (a year plus)

  6. tired2, you know why we do it…because we can. On that airbord thing, its irda, how good is your connection on it? How far away can you be and / or can you be at a different angle. I’m seriously looking for a good one for my car pc.

  7. mc: I’ve had a logitech cordless duo for a little over 2 years now and the range on it is great. I hooked up the media keys to work with winamp as I stream audio to my living room and it works for a good 40-50 feet (estimation)… there’s absolutely no way that it’s attached to a 4-foot bubble in any case.

  8. I agree with mike at #10. I picked up a miniature 88-key PS/2 keyboard with (as far as I can tell from his pictures) the same dimensions as his “finished” unit, including a nice matt black plastic shell and green status LEDs, and it only cost me AU$20 (Currently US$15.10). To paraphrase Zaphod, 10 out of 10 for ingenuity, but minus several million for re-inventing the wheel.

  9. Hey guys,
    This site is great. I’m in need of some guidance. I study political science and IS at Ohio State… so you can probably guess that I’m not that proficient in the world of electrical engineering. Here’s my problem… I’m taking a lot of Persian classes and have to type in Farsi quite a bit. On my home pc I am able to use Arabic text when typing, but when I use a computer in a lab or am at someone’s home I am unable to change their system. Consequently, I usually end up copying and pasting from a website like I want to modify a USB keyboard that I can take with me and type in Farsi with out having to change the system. Would anyone be able to point me in the direction of resources where I can do something like this? I’m looking forward to this project but I just need a starting point. Feel free to write me here or drop me an email…


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