Software Shortcut Keyboard Registers Many Macros

[FabroLabs Technologies] is an industrial designer who uses several creative-type software programs in a given day. Unfortunately, they all have slightly different shortcut schemes, and trying to remember all the different modifiers is a waste of time better spent elsewhere.

This lovely little macro keyboard is every bit as useful as it is cool looking. Spinning the rotary encoder cycles through a menu of programs on the 16×2 LCD, and the key map just updates automatically for the chosen program. At the heart of this build is an Arduino Pro Micro and 20 of the loudest key switches ever made — Cherry MX blues. We like that it manages to look like toy cash register and a serious peripheral all at once — it probably has something to do with those way-cool circular keycaps that were made on a resin printer.

We’re glad that [FabroLabs] laid down such a comprehensive and open build guide during the process of making this macro keyboard. The average hacker can learn a lot from industrial designers who show their work. Remember the time [Eric Strebel] showed us all how to improve our foam board design game?

18 thoughts on “Software Shortcut Keyboard Registers Many Macros

  1. Damn. In the frontpage photo of the finished thing, I thought each keycap was one of the Playstation-style thumbsticks. Now that’d be a keyboard to behold!

    Nice job though.

  2. It looks nice, but I imagine it would be a bit of a nuisance to have to rotate the encoder for each program you launch. It might work better to skip the screen and encoder, just send some generic keystrokes that are normally unused, and then run a program on the computer that remaps them to the appropriate shortcuts for whatever window is active at a given time. And this way one could update the shortcuts without uploading new firmware. A downside of that is that one can’t then just plug the device into another computer. But one could also have it present a small USB drive with the shortcut program on it (assuming the Arduino has enough flash).

    1. The alternative is to make a launcher that send HID commands to this keyboard to tell it the mapping and then launch the app. The launcher could be as simple as a batch file. Since the mapping is stored on the PC side, no firmware changes will be needed for new apps.

    2. There is already a device and scripts to allow you to do that.
      Check out the Linus Tech Tips youtube video titled “Can your Keyboard do THIS?? – Make ANY key a MACRO!”

  3. “Unfortunately, they all have slightly different shortcut schemes, and trying to remember all the different modifiers is a waste of time better spent elsewhere.”

    But trying to remember 20 sets of buttons for each shortcut scheme is NOT a waste of time!?!!

    1. Indeed.
      I don’t know what software is used that has a bad keymapping, but at least all the better tools would allow you to customize all the default key mappings, allowing you to have a common set of commands for all the tools, without any extra hardware.
      I can see the use of a few extra keys or even macros here and there, but for that, i just got a cheap USB numpad (you can pick up for a few bucks) and mapped the frequently used “special functions” to these keys…

  4. Absolutely NOT the loudest keyswitches ever made. Go watch Chyrosran22’s channel on YouTube. After a few hours you’ll have several much better answers… trust me ;)

  5. I made something similar with an STM32F103 “blue pill” dev board acting as a USB HID device (keyboard basically), and a couple of small pushbuttons soldered to a piece of perfboard. It worked well enough.

    I made it to switch weapons quickly while playing a FPS videogame. Now looking back, a properly made case with good sized switches could have done wonders

  6. Personally, I like Touch Portal a lot more. Does the same thing, but uses a tablet or phone. It is totally programmable, different pages, different images per button, etc etc.
    One of the features I use the most of the if then else and toggle a button. On my Zoom page I have a control to toggle video on or off, including a colour change to show the toggle status. There are tons of pages for Photoshop etc and it is integrated with OBS.

    1. Thanks for this! I was thinking there must be something like this out there, just never really searched for it…
      Definately giving Touch Portal a try, one of my older phones might get a second chance to be useful again with this.
      Someone maybe even knows about a similar open source software solution?

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