Crabapplepad Folding Keyboard Is Actually Pretty Sweet

[Sergei Silnov] was quite attached to the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard, an updated version of their Natural keyboard that brought so many into the split fold. But once [Sergei] started writing notes in coffee shops, it was time for something portable.

The trouble with many portable keyboards, especially folding ones, is that they’re not often comfortable to type on. However, the Crabapplepad, a sleek, elegant offering, looks as though it begs to differ.

[Sergei] truly thought of everything and packed it into this 2cm thick wonder. There’s a little kickstand to hold your phone, or you can just throw an Apple trackpad between the halves and it magnetically attaches. Inside there’s a Seeed Studio XIAO nRF52840, and the switches are the extremely thin and hard-to-find Kailh PG1425 X, a sweet-looking scissor switch.

The only problem with X-switches is that there is only one type of keycap for them at the moment, and there aren’t any homing bums for F and J. To get around this, [Sergei] designed some 3D-printed frames to go around the keycaps and make them more distinct. Yes, this beauty it is open source, so go forth and be comfortable in absolute style. Don’t forget to check out the demo after the break.

To be honest, there once was a pretty good folding keyboard — the Palm Portable. Don’t worry; someone made a Bluetooth adapter for them.

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Repurposing A Palm Portable Keyboard

Typing comfortably on a Smart Phone is best done using an external keyboard, especially if you spend a lot of time on IRC or use other chat apps. Obviously, the keyboard needs to be portable too. [cy384] felt the current crop of portable keyboards left a lot to be desired in terms of build quality and feel. That’s when the Palm Portable Keyboard (PPK) caught his eye. It’s small enough to fold up and fit in a pocket, yet unfolds to a size big enough to feel comfortable while typing. Unfortunately, the version he preferred to use did not have either a Bluetooth or a USB interface, so he built up this Palm keyboard adapter.

The portable keyboards have a serial interface and custom connectors depending on the Palm model they were designed to connect to. [cy384]’s goal was to adapt the PPK as a generic USB HID keyboard using an Arduino Pro Mini clone, with a 3D printed adapter for both of the keyboard types that he had. The keyboards  use inverted TTL logic at 9600 baud with no parity and one stop bit. Some handshaking needs to be taken care of and there’s a low power mode that needs to be managed via the Arduino code. He was lucky to get his hands on a reference document that provided the hardware and software details to help him crack all of this. His Github repository has the code and 3D printable files for the adapters.