Analyzing The Microsoft Surface Touch Keyboard Cover

The Microsoft Surface is an awesome Tablet PC, but it has one problem: there is just one USB port on it. There is an additional port, though: a connector for the Surface Touch Keyboard connector. That’s what [Edward Shin] is looking into, with the long-term intention of creating an adapter that allows him to connect a Thinkpad keyboard to this proprietary connector. His initial work identified the connector as using Microsoft’s own HID over I2C protocol, which sends the standard USB HID protocol over an I2C connection. So far so good, but it seems to get a little odd after that, with a serial connection running at nearly 1 Mbps and sending 9 bits per transfer with 1 stop bit. Presumably this is because Microsoft had planned to release other devices that used this connector, but this hasn’t panned out so far.

Anybody want to help him out? He has posted some captured data from the connection for analysis, and is looking for assistance. We hope he manages to build his converter: a Microsoft Surface with a decent keyboard and an open USB port would be a great portable setup. Bonus: for those teardown fans among you, he has done a great teardown of a Touch Cover keyboard that reveals some interesting stuff, including a lot of well-labelled test points.

Via [Reddit]

17 thoughts on “Analyzing The Microsoft Surface Touch Keyboard Cover

      1. I love Windows. It’s just that they’re incapable or at least unwilling to make a good version anymore. Now it’s all about phones/tablets and hopelessly pushing their cloud services for their own benefit.

        1. It is true. Ubuntu without any problems at all on a Surface pro 1 or 2 they are a LOT cheaper than the meh 3

          Only thing not working is the junktastic Marvell wireless, but that barely stays working under windows.
          Disclaimer I have a Pro 1 and a Pro 2 and I have to regularly remove and reinstall the marvell driver. the pro 1 has ubuntu on it now and it’s as useable as Windows 8

  1. I’ve got the updated surface pro keyboard with a built in batter — I can watch videos throughout a 7 hour flight without any issues and still have power at the end.

    P.S. They sell a little low profile 4-port usb hub that clips right on the side the surface (plugs into the one port) and solves your problem of too few usb ports. Don’t get me wrong, nothing against hacking hardware for the sake of understanding it better, but not really all that necessary in this case.

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