Custom Keyboard From A Cash Register

Cash register keyboard

Having a high-quality mechanical keyboard is often a rite of passage in the computing world, with gamers and coders alike having strong opinions on the best devices. Even then, the standard keyboard layout can be substantially limiting, and often something a little extra and customizable is needed beyond even the highest-quality QWERTY keyboards. Reddit user [RonaldMcWhisky] was looking for a keyboard to use for macros, and discovered that it is possible to put cash register keyboards into service for any unique task.

Cash register keyboards have a number of advantages over a standard QWERTY design. They have big keys, the keys can be labeled, and the keys can be ordered in a way the user wants. The hardware is also cheap since cash registers are everywhere. Adapting one to work with a standard computer took a little bit of doing. Since this is /r/linuxhardware, you’re not going to find any Windows support here, but assuming you have the minimum system requirements of a Linux install to recognize the keyboard itself, a Python script can handle the events as the keys are pressed and interpret them in whatever way you want.

The actual hardware in this specific build was a Wincor Nixdorf TA85P — let us know in the comments if you’ve got one of those in your junk box. But the idea of using a cash register for a custom keyboard is interesting, and certainly a lot of work is already done for you if you don’t want to build your own custom keyboard from the ground up.

19 thoughts on “Custom Keyboard From A Cash Register

  1. I had a POS Keyboard that I used to use with an off-line editor for a lighting console (ETC Obsession) back in my Off-broadway LX programmer days. I had the whole thing set up just like the real board, and the keys were pretty good. Got rid of it in the last move, which of course I regret. I hate that the lesson I keep learning is ‘never get rid of anything’.

  2. POS keyboards can be had for a great price. I kept trying to get my users to purchase one as a demo so they could see how much better they could have it over the WAY OVERPRICED manufacturer model that they just HAD TO HAVE.

    We still run those monstrosities. 5 pin DIN. $3500 EACH! a POS keyboard that could be customized to do much more than the original was a little over $150. Idiots!

    1. Custom manufacturer keyboards are the worst…
      We used to have one from Harris Radio for some specialised radio consoles and near the end of life of that equipment the replacement part cost started to skyrocket for service or repair.

      One of the last bills we got for repair of one of these *extremely special proprietary keyboards* was nearly $16000 !!!
      For repair of some switches on a single keyboard!!!

      Once those things finally got replaced I just had to look and see what made a keyboard worth 16000 and I found out that it was just an early mechanical keyboard similar to an IBM model M, but it had custom labelled keycaps and 24 function keys, was in a different shaped case, and had a 9-pin serial port cable instead of an AT or PS2 connector.
      I checked too, it was a standard ps2 protocol just running through their own cable and black box before going to the ps2 port of the cheap dell computer that ran it.


  3. wow a customizable keyboard being customized. personally am more interested in when siemens nixdorf changed their name, i used to install data centers using their tech back in the 80’s.

  4. Saw last year an article on detailing how to do this. I think even in the make magazine of germany there was a part about it. Seems to work really great and someone also used it for Kerbal. Was definetly an option for me, before i decided to get a dedicated BLE macropad.

  5. I have a pile of PS2 and USB ex-till keyboards brought joblot for the price of a fraction of 1 on eBay. The PS2 keyboards can only be programmed using win7 32bit or older while the USB ones are a doddle to program on anything. Useful to have one for different applications, or for teaching younglings code.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.