Dynamic Macro Keyboard Controls All The Things

Keyboard shortcuts are great. Even so, a person can only be expected to remember so many shortcuts and hit them accurately while giving a presentation over Zoom. [Sebastian] needed a good set of of shortcuts for OBS and decided to make a macro keyboard to help out. By the time he was finished, [Sebastian] had macro’d all the things and built a beautiful and smart peripheral that anyone with a pulse would likely love to have gracing their desk.

The design started with OBS, but this slick little keyboard turned into a system-wide assistant. It assigns the eight keys dynamically based on the program that has focus, and even updates the icon to show changes like the microphone status.

This is done with a Python script on the PC that monitors the running programs and updates the macro keeb accordingly using a serial protocol that [Sebastian] wrote. Thanks to the flexibility of this design, [Sebastian] can even use it to control the office light over MQTT and make the CO2 monitor send a color-coded warning to the jog wheel when there’s trouble in the air.

This project is wide open with fabulous documentation, and [Sebastian] is eager to see what improvements and alternative enclosure materials people come up with. Be sure to check out the walk-through/build video after the break.

Inspired to make your own, but want to start smaller? There are plenty to admire around here.

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The Macro Keyboard Is On Deck

The idea of a reconfigurable macro keyboard is a concept that has been iterated on by many all the way from custom DIY keypads to the polarizing TouchBar on MacBooks. The continual rise of cheap powerful microcontrollers with Wi-Fi and 3D printers makes rolling your own macro keyboard easier every year. [Dustin Watts] has joined the proverbial club and built a beautiful macro pad called FreeTouchDeck.

We’ve seen macro keyboards that use rotary encoders to cycle through different mappings for the keys. FreeTouchDeck has taken the display approach and incorporates a touch screen to offer different buttons. [Dustin] was inspired by a similar project called FreeDeck, which offers six buttons each with a small screen. FreeTouchDeck is powered by an ESP32 and drives an ILI9488 touch screen with an XPT2046 touch controller. This means that FreeTouchDeck can offer six buttons with submenus and all sorts of bells and whistles. A connection to the computer is done by emulating a Bluetooth keyboard. By adding a configuration mode that starts a web server, FreeTouchDeck allows easy customization on the fly.

[Dustin] whipped up a quick PCB that makes it easy to solder the ESP32 and the TFT together, but a breadboard works just fine. Gerbers for that are available on GitHub. To wrap it all up, a nice 3D printed shell encloses the whole system in a clean, tidy way. The code, documentation, and case designs are all on his GitHub.

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Micro Macro Keyboard Is ‘Mega-Based

There’s a certain kind of joy that comes in throwing something together from spare parts, or from finding utility in a proof of concept for another project. [Clewsy] is cooking up something clacky and built this baby keeb to prove some stuff out, such as reading a key matrix. Now it’s become a music/media controller that looks great next to a giant matching volume knob.

Beneath the gently backlit Gateron blues is a custom ATMega32u4-based board, which is viewable through the clear acrylic bottom plate. That’s a nice touch. We’re not sure if the wood came from a picture frame, but if not, they seem like a great candidates for enclosure material.

This keeb looks fantastic, and we are partial to both the clear and the chrome keycaps. We can only hope [Clewsy] sends the details of the next build our way.

If you want to get started building keyboards, you can’t go wrong with a macro keyboard like this one. If you have way more than four macros in mind, build something bigger, like a custom game pad with a joystick.

Micro Macro Keyboard Makes A Major Difference

Media keyboards are nice in theory. But in practice they never have all the keys you want, and they almost always have a few you don’t. Sure, you could maybe reassign the ones you don’t use, but then the caps are wrong, and it’s a whole thing. So really, the only winning move is to make a micro macro keyboard as [littleSilvr] did to make all your shortcuts one-button accessible.

This lovely input has an Arduino Pro Micro for a brain, and Gateron browns for brawn. That knob there is a rotary encoder, not a potentiometer, because endless volume knob twiddling is just so much nicer. In case you’re wondering, those shortcuts open Fusion 360 and Cura, but we’re still not sure what the hyphen does.

Can we talk about those keycaps, though? [littleSilvr] used [Make Anything]’s process of of printing in multi-color with a single extruder. The technique involves building a vector for each color, each of which gets its own STL file. Then you add retraction as you go up through the layers, slow the print speed, change filament colors while the nozzle and bed are still warm, and voila, a vibrant canvas of colors.

If you don’t have a printer and you don’t mind a bit of compromise on the number of inputs, try basing your build on an existing input, like an old rotary telephone dialer.

Via r/duino

A Macro Keyboard In A Micro Package

Remember back in the early-to-mid 2000s when pretty much every cheap USB keyboard you could find started including an abundance of media keys in its layout? Nowadays, especially if you have a customized or reduced-sized mechanical keyboard, those are nowhere to be seen. Whenever our modern selves need those extra keys, we have to turn to external peripherals, and [Gary’s] Knobo is one that looks like it could’ve come straight out of a fancy retail package.

The Knobo is a small macro keypad with 8 mechanical Cherry-style keys and a clickable rotary encoder knob as its main feature. Each key and knob gesture can be customized to any macro, and with five gestures possible with the knob, that gives you a total of thirteen inputs. On top of that, the build and presentation look so sleek and clean we’d swear this was a product straight off of Teenage Engineering’s money-printing machine.

The actions you can do with those inputs range from simple media controls with a volume knob all the way to shortcuts to make a Photoshop artist’s life easier. Right now you can only reprogram the Knobo’s Arduino-based firmware with an In-Circuit Serial Programmer to change what the inputs do, but [Gary] is currently working on configuration software so that users without any programming knowledge will be able to customize it too.

Knobs are just one of those things that everyone wants to use to control their computers, much like giant red buttons. Alternative input devices can range from accessibility-designed to just downright playful. Whatever the inspiration is for them, it’s always nice to see the creativity of these projects.

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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?

3D-Printed Macro Pad Ditches The PCB With Slick Wiring Guides

Reddit user [duzitbetter] showed off their design for a 3D-printed programmable macro keyboard that offers a different take on what can be thought of as a sort of 3D-printed PCB. The design is called the Bloko 9 and uses the Raspberry Pi PICO and some Cherry MX-style switches, which are popular in DIY keyboards.

The enclosure and keycaps are all 3D printed, and what’s interesting is the way that the enclosure both holds the components in place as well as providing a kind of wire guide for all the electrical connections. The result is such that bare copper wire can be routed and soldered between leads in a layout that closely resembles the way a PCB would be routed. The pictures say it all, so take a look.

Bloko 9 is available as a paid model, and while going PCB-free thanks to 3D printing is a technique others have played with, it is very well demonstrated here and shows there is still plenty of room to innovate on the concept. DIY keyboard and macro pad design is also fertile ground for hackers; we have even seen that it’s possible to 3D print one right down to the switches themselves.