Animated LED Keyboard


[Brian] made this really cool LED keyboard. He started with a Deck Legend Fire. When he got it, he realized that every key had its own LED, but the entire unit was either on, or off. He just couldn’t live with that and decided to start hacking into it to make each light individually controlled. He found a perfect empty space in the back of the keyboard and designed custom PCBs to control his lighting. he notes that he spent 12 hours of cutting and soldering wires to each of the lights in the keyboard, that doesn’t include the PCB construction.

In the end, he had a fantastic looking keyboard that had cool effects like heat mapping and idle animations. All stock features still work and it looks almost entirely stock. The only obvious difference is the fact that it has two USB cables coming out of it due to some issues with his KVM switch not detecting it.

16 thoughts on “Animated LED Keyboard

  1. Totally stunning! Really nice work!

    This hack sure was worth the effort. The effect is great and offers more possibilities for playing around with the keyboard.

    For example you could make light radiate from the key you just pressed and fading out across the other keys.
    You could also use it to play games on the keyboard using the keyboard as a display (i just can’t imagine anything that would play good).

    Extremely nice, one of the hacks i would consider doing myself.

  2. He used a 68HC908JB8…brings back memories. It’s still a good chip for low-end USB projects. Cheap, has USB hardware built in, meaning that you just grab the interrupt and see what bytes you just received. While the effective instruction rate is around 1 MIPS, it still compares well against a similar-cost setup using software USB on an ATTiny, since the AVR is spending nearly all of its time on USB. The downside is development…he uses Codewarrior and assembly, but you can actually find a free HC08JB8 assembler from PE-Micro. The chip supports in-circuit programming, but you have to set a few jumpers and apply 11 volts to program it.

  3. This thing is so cool. A much more affordable alternative to the optimus maximus keyboard. The next step is to take it RGB. That would be a killer product. I would pay $200 for an RGB version. Even if it was just RGB on a-z.

  4. cool hack …

    which keys do you light for beeing useful? what about a typing aid system?
    -> Light the keys that are more probable depending on the last characters entered.

    There are some powerfull modeling tools for text compression (context tree weighting) that look at the last 5-10 characters and assign probabilities for next characters.

  5. schobi: A typing aid system would just be useful for people who actually look at their keyboard while typing. My keyboard is usually below the table where i can’t see it.

    _matt: I’ve also thought about lightsout (because i really like that game :)). But the keys arent in a 90 degrees grid. Actually you could just play it perfectly well on an 3×4 region on the numpad.

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