Here’s The First Person To Put A Pi In The Raspberry Pi Keyboard

Last week, the Raspberry Pi foundation released the first official Raspberry Pi-branded keyboard and mouse. As a keyboard, it’s probably pretty great; it’s clad in a raspberry and white color scheme, the meta key is the Pi logo, there are function keys. Sure, the Ctrl and Caps Lock keys are in their usual, modern, incorrect positions (each day we stray further from God’s light) but there’s also a built-in USB hub. Everything balances out, I guess.

The Pi keyboard started shipping this week, and it took two days for someone to put a Pi zero inside. Here’s how you do it, and here’s how you turn a Pi keyboard into a home computer, like a speccy or C64.

The parts required for this build include the official Pi keyboard, a Pi Zero W, an Adafruit Powerboost, which is basically the circuitry inside a USB power bank, and a LiPo battery. The project starts by disassembling the keyboard with a spudger, screwdriver, or other small wedge-type tool, disconnecting the keyboard’s ribbon cables, and carefully shaving down the injection molded webbing that adds strength to the keyboard’s enclosure. The project is wrapped up by drilling holes for a power LED, a button to turn the Pi on and off, and the holes for the USB and HDMI ports.

One shortcoming of this build is the use of a male-to-male USB cable to connect the keyboard half of the circuitry to the Pi. This can be worked around by simply soldering a few pieces of magnet wire from the USB port on the Pi to the USB input on the USB hub. But hey, doing it this way gives the Official Pi keyboard a convenient carrying handle, and when one of the ports breaks you’ll be able to do it the right way the second time. Great work.

49 thoughts on “Here’s The First Person To Put A Pi In The Raspberry Pi Keyboard

        1. Its already got strain relief. The USB ports are throughhole right angle and the PCB its on is held in place by some plastic pegs and clips. Anyone who breaks that is a shaven ape.

    1. Nothing new, of course. BUT, as hacks go, this is pretty epic. Also, did you read the article? In the second paragraph, Brian says just that, so your comment is redundant. And yeah, it’s a ZX Spectrum, if the Spectrum was high-definition and ran Linux.

  1. It’s a shame the Raspberry Pi organisation didn’t think of this :(
    Would have been easy to have the moulding allow for a Pi Zero board with mounting lugs and the knockouts for the connectors. No need for the power supply or battery as these can be external.
    Perhaps a rev2 keyboard case???

    1. They probably did but perhaps didn’t want to put too much work into an item that might not sale to begin with. Now if sales are good and enough customers start asking for keyboards with usable compartments for projects like this then we’ll start seeing changes in that direction (such as a slightly modified usb/keyboard circuit with available pinholes for power/data).

      Now something else they could do is create a partial diy where ya get the keyboard top (modified to use screws) and electronics along with files for 3d-printing the bottom casing which would allow you to make whatever changes you wanted for X project. Granted for a project like we see above there aren’t that many changes necessary, or perhaps someone out there likes the keyboard+pi so much that they want to build a laptop casing around them (maybe).

  2. I’m sorry but I fail to see why this adds anyting.
    Not everything that can be done, should be done. Nor are good Ideas to do.

    Back in the the 80’s with home computers most computer enthusiasts learned that it was quite annoying to have a bundle of cables dangling from your keyboard, and to make things worse this guy settles on a solution with both (HDMI and possibly other) cables and a battery ???

    If you don’t want to see your computer then slap it on the back of your monitor with a standard 100x100mm mount (Is that called “Vesa”?), or put everything (inclusive monitor) together into a box such as we’ve seen here repetatedly, or the Laptop like box from Olimex.

    1. To very many people, no, it doesn’t add anything useful to them. What this means to some people, though, is that you can take your one-piece computer to your friend’s basement and plug it into his monitor.

      Your way of thinking is what leads to hacking. An industry determines that 90% of people will have no need for something, and they decide not to make it, leaving the other 10% high and dry. Or low and wet – I don’t see how “high and dry” is a problem. Anyway, they only stopped making plug-into-your-tv computers because the market decided that we had to have either more expandability (thus, a PC box) or even more all-in-one (thus, laptops).

      The market also decided that netbooks – laptops with reduced keyboards and 8-10″ displays – were a loser, so they stopped making them. Then they started making 8-10″ tablet computers, and what does everybody do? They add keyboards to them!

      1. You do what anyone who reads HaD would do! Use an RPi with voice recognition to operate a relay hacked into your KB. Or put a toggle switch – preferably military style with a safety shroud – on the side of the KB. I superglue caps-lock keys or cut the trace. Removing the key cap leaves an awkward hole. Same with numlock.

  3. I like it.

    Just wondering if the pi could be powered from the monitor is the hdmi cable this would make it a one cable solution.

    For my little development system I power the pi from the USB port on the cheap lcd tv I use as a display – I hadn’t thought of looking into trying to suck power from the hdmi cable – if it is possible at all

    1. I have a little bsckup cam monitor I use sometimes when working with pis or when i want to look at a computer and not tie up my main monitor that for sure can run on the power coming over from the HDMI connection, so it is for sure a one connection monitor. I’ll have to play with it, but I think it worked the other way too when working with the pi, powered the monitor and the HDMI would backpower the pi.

  4. I like this, I think the guy did a great job!

    That said… I think I would change a few items.

    Route USB internally, I get you want to repurpose the keyboard and all, but maybe we could toss in something like this:

    https://www.lindy.com.au/2-port-usb-keyboard-mouse-switch

    Then I was thinking about the HDMI port thing, and having to bring in power. I barter is awesome so we could make an HDMI power “injector” and use an unused wire in the HDMI cable and connectors to pass 5.1-volts to the system. Would have to make both the injector and the customization on the Pi to route power. Then the device would only have a single cable going to it.

    Lastly toss in an arduino and wire into the keyboard matrix to make a key combination to control power up and shut down of the Pi.

    Then again, personally I agree with others, put the Pi behind the screen and use Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Wires are overrated.

    It’s still a really cool hack and I love these sort of things! Great job!

  5. I disagree, anything wireless can have interference and or can be hacked… Not to mention input lag. Although there are keyboard/mouse combos that have sub 1millisec response times which is plenty fast but at a steep premium.

    1. Now you’ve got me started. :-) He said ATSC heh heh…heh heh :-) A couple decades ago when my kids were learning to walk, turn on the TV, and use a trackball, I created my hown household TV channel using an NTSC UHF rf modulator that I got from Radio Shack. It worked great on the inhouse RG-6 cable network. I had accumulated a collection of quality video files that I had recorded off the air, Magic School Bus, Peanuts, Arthur, etc. and had a playlist randomly selecting and playing from that collection as an alternative to having my kids exposed to the kind of crap that is on the TV nowadays. That all went well and dandy until TV went digital and I didn’t have any affordable ATSC modulators. I had to take the “station” offline and it has been that way since. Still, it would be nice to be able to do it again so I can do the same for any grandchildren (none yet) who might spend a lot of time at my house. I’ve tried streaming methods but transitions from show to show seem to break connections and cause other problems. A cheap practical ATSC modulator would rock so very much. :-)

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