If you’ve been to a bar sometime since the 1930s, you’ve probably spied someone drinking a Tequila Sunrise. It’s a drink that mimics the beautiful colors of the dawn. In much the same way, so does this Sunriser keyboard build from [crashl1445].
Built for a high-school engineering project, the build looks resplendent with its yellow case, paired with yellow, orange and pink keycaps to produce the wonderful sunrise aesthetic. The build relies on an Elite-C v4 microcontroller, an off-the-shelf device specifically designed for building custom keyboards. As you might guess from the name, it features a USB-C port, serving as a modernized alternative to the Arduino Pro Micro for custom keyboard builders. KTT Rose switches are used as per [crashl1445’s] own preference, and there’s even a rotary encoder which acts as a volume knob, installed right by the arrow keys. The case is printed in several parts on a Prusa Mk3+, as the keyboard wouldn’t fit entirely on the build plate as a single piece.
The best thing about building your own keyboard is that you can design it entirely to suit your own preferences and aesthetic; we think [crashl1445] did a great job in this regard. If you’re cooking up your own sweet keyboard build, don’t hesitate to let us know!
Ever since the world decided to transition from mechanical ball mice to optical mice, we have been blessed with computer pointing devices that don’t need regular cleaning and have much better performance than their ancestors. They do this by using what is essentially a tiny digital camera to monitor changes in motion. As we’ve seen before, it is possible to convert this mechanism into an actual camera, but until now we haven’t seen something like this on a high-performance mouse designed for FPS gaming.
For this project [Ankit] is disassembling the Logitech G402, a popular gaming mouse with up to 4000 dpi. Normally this is processed internally in the mouse to translate movement into cursor motion, but this mouse conveniently has a familiar STM32 processor with an SPI interface already broken out on the PCB that could be quickly connected to in order to gather image data. [Ankit] created a custom USB vendor-specific endpoint and wrote a Linux kernel module to parse the data into a custom GUI program that can display the image captured by the mouse sensor on-screen.
It’s probably best to not attempt this project if you plan to re-use the mouse, as the custom firmware appears to render the mouse useless as an actual mouse. But as a proof-of-concept project this high-performance mouse does work fairly well as a camera, albeit with a very low resolution by modern digital camera standards. It is much improved on older mouse-camera builds we’ve seen, though, thanks to the high performance sensors in gaming mice.
As with any other community, it takes all kinds to make the keyboard world go ’round. Some like them thicc — more backing for the clacking and all — but some like them sleek and prefer the slimmest possible keyboard. For now and the foreseeable future, the go-to method for making whisper-thin keebs is to use Kailh Choc switches, because that’s about all that’s out there.
The whole video is great, and at less than 2½ minutes long, it’s definitely worth your time. There are a few little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout, like printing keycaps standing up on their backsides (like where they would have a little flash dot if they were factory-molded). This gives them a nice texture thanks to the layer lines. But the real reason we’re here today is this DIY method for making doubleshot keycaps with little fuss that [Khmel] just tosses out there toward the end.
Traditionally, doubleshot keycaps are made with two layers of plastic — one for the legend, and one for the rest. This produces a quite durable keycap and (used to be the norm), but the expensive process gave way to laser-etched and pad-printed keycap legends in the ’90s. [Khmel] was able to fake the look by printing legends at 0.25 layer height and then fusing each one to its respective keycap by laying a thin piece of glass (think microscope slide) on top and applying a soldering iron for a few seconds. Classy!
Trust me, you don’t have to build your own keyboard from the deskpad up to be happy or feel like one of the cool kids. Sure, it doesn’t hurt, but not everyone is able to or even wants to start from next to nothing. Take [Roger] for example. [Roger] started with a stock mechanical keeb — the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard (UHK) — which can be outfitted with magnetic add-on modules such as a thumb key cluster, trackball, trackpoint, and touch pad, and made it his own.
While the stock board that you choose may not be so option-laden, there are plenty of other things one can do to customize things, and [Roger] did basically all of them. The Kailh browns that the UHK came with were too loud, so [Roger] swapped them out for Zilent V2 Silent tactiles and dampened the case with plenty of neoprene foam.
[Roger] frequently switches between two keyboard layouts, which got confusing at times. But instead of boring blank keycaps, he scrounged around until he found a cool set. (We do like the way they look with the wood wrist rests.) Speaking of those wrist rests, the right one is carved out and hiding a 10,000 mAh power bank, because [Roger] also made the UHK wireless using one of those often-out-of-stock BT-500 Bluetooth adapters. This allows him to switch between two PCs with a keyboard shortcut.
Think you want to go split, but not sure about key wells and column stagger and all that jazz? Something like the UHK is a good place to start, because it takes the familiar brick wall layout and breaks it into two pieces. No idea what you want? Check out the split keyboard finder.
On paper, chording — that’s pressing multiple keys to create either a single character or a whole word — looks like one of the best possible input methods. Maybe not the best for speed, at least for a while, but definitely good for conserving the total number of keys. Of course, fewer keys also makes for an easier time when it comes to building keyboards (as long as you don’t have to code the chording software). In fact, we would venture to guess that the hardest part of building your own version of [CrazyRobMiles]’s Pico Chord Keyboard would be teaching your fingers how to work together to chord instead of typing one at a time.
[CrazyRobMiles] took inspiration from the Cykey chording design used for the Microwriter and later, the Microwriter Agenda that also featured a qwerty blister keyboard. Both featured small screens above the six keys — one for each finger, and two for the thumb. While the original Microwriter ran on an 8-bit microprocessor, Pico Chord Keyboard uses — you guessed it — the Raspberry Pi Pico.
We love that [CrazyRobMiles] went with four 14-segment displays, which gives it a nice old school feel, but used transparent keycaps over Kailh switches. This is actually important, because not only do the LEDs show what mode you’re in (alpha vs. numeric vs. symbols), they also teach you how to chord each letter in the special training game mode. Be sure to check it out in the video after the break.
Despite their claims of innocence, we all know that the big tech firms are listening to us. How else to explain the sudden appearance of ads related to something we’ve only ever spoken about, seemingly in private but always in range of a phone or smart speaker? And don’t give us any of that fancy “confirmation bias” talk — we all know what’s really going on.
And now, to make matters worse, it turns out that just listening to your keyboard clicks could be enough to decode what’s being typed. To be clear, [Georgi Gerganov]’s “KeyTap3” exploit does not use any of the usual RF-based methods we’ve seen for exfiltrating data from keyboards on air-gapped machines. Rather, it uses just a standard microphone to capture audio while typing, building a cluster map of the clicks with similar sounds. By analyzing the clusters against the statistical likelihood of certain sequences of characters appearing together — the algorithm currently assumes standard English, and works best on clicky mechanical keyboards — a reasonable approximation of the original keypresses can be reconstructed.
If you’d like to see it in action, check out the video below, which shows the algorithm doing a pretty good job decoding text typed on an unplugged keyboard. Or, try it yourself — the link above implements KeyTap3 in-browser. We gave it a shot, but as a member of the non-mechanical keyboard underclass, it couldn’t make sense of the mushy sounds it heard. Then again, our keyboard inferiority affords us some level of protection from the exploit, so there’s that.
Editors Note: Just tried it on a mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Blue switches and it couldn’t make heads or tails of what was typed, so your mileage may vary. Let us know if it worked for you in the comments.
What strikes us about this is that it would be super simple to deploy an exploit like this. Most side-channel attacks require such a contrived scenario for installing the exploit that just breaking in and stealing the computer would be easier. All KeyTap needs is a covert audio recording, and the deed is done.
Custom keyboards? They’re totally great. And we can keep telling you this, but you really won’t feel it until you try a few and find one or two that are right for you. If you’re already on board, we wonder: is there any limit to what custom keyboards can provide in terms of a good, comfortable time for your fingers, wrists, arms, shoulders, and neck? We think not, and as time goes on, there is more and more evidence to support this.
Take [vpzed]’s Toast keyboard for example. The beauty of customization is that as with any other human input problem, you’ll discover many more people who share your misery once you present a solution. In this case, it is the portion of the population whose index fingers are shorter than their ring fingers (which is evidently men in general). This is known as the 2D:4D ratio and is decided during gestation. At first, the phenomenon was thought to be due to high testosterone exposure in the womb, but subsequent studies have debunked this belief.
Toast aims to sate the need for a keyboard layout that accounts for a significantly shorter 2D than 4D by way of aggressively staggering the index finger’s key positions and staggering the columns overall. As you might imagine, there are no inner keys for length-challenged index fingers to grasp at — that would just be cruel. But there is another pinky column on each hand, which bring the key total to 34. We like the square boards, and frankly wish they were bread-shaped.