CAT Is Not Your Average Meow-cropad

Are you completely over the idea of the keyboard in any flattish form and looking for something completely different for inputting your data? Or do you want a mega macropad for 3D design, GIMP or Inkscape work, or to use while relaxing with a nice first-person shooter? Then this ergonomic, double-fistable keyboard/controller mashup named CAT may be what you’re looking for.

Inside each of these slinky felines is pretty much what you’d expect to find — 25 or so switches and an Arduino Pro Micro. Interestingly enough, the switches are all lever-action and not push buttons. There are two breeds of CAT available to build or buy: one has 25 buttons, and the other has a joystick or trackball on the thumb between two upper and two lower buttons. You could have one type for each hand!

More information is available on the Lynx Workshop site, which is where you’ll also find tutorials and instructions for everything from the 3D printing to the electronics to the assembly and coding. There is even a bonus 3D modeling tutorial. Don’t want to invest the time to make your own CAT? These kitties are also available for pre-order. Claw past the break to check them out in action.

Looking for something with regular keyswitches? Oh, we have plenty of those.

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Macropopsicle Melts On Your Desk, Not In Your Mouth

We all know by now that macropads are super cool shortcut machines. And what’s cooler than a popsicle? Well, this cute little thing, which goes by the name of Macropopsicle.

The freezer’s open if you want your own Macropopsicle. There’s not much more to this tasty and practical desktop treat than an adafruit QT Py, a couple of Cherry MX-style switches, some wires, and a handful of printed parts. One cool thing about this design is that all the pieces print with little to no supports, and many of them snap together.

We say there’s a lot to like about Macropopsicle — it’s cute, it’s useful, and there’s even a little bite taken out of it that you can see in some of the renders. [oxisidia] even shoved a real popsicle stick in there to complete the look.

Keyboard aficionados will no doubt recognize Macropopsicle as a great companion to Milk, a 2% keyboard.

A macro keypad making music.

Meet The Marvelous Macro Music Maker

Do you kind of want a macropad, but aren’t sure that you would use it? Hackaday alum [Jeremy Cook] is now making and selling the JC Pro Macro on Tindie, which is exactly what it sounds like — a Pro Micro-based macro keypad with an OLED screen and a rotary encoder. In the video below, [Jeremy] shows how he made it into a music maker by adding a speaker and a small solenoid that does percussion, all while retaining the original macro pad functionality.

[Jeremy]’s original idea for a drum was to have a servo seesawing a chopstick back and forth on the table as one might nervously twiddle a pencil. That didn’t work out so well, so he switched to the solenoid and printed a thing to hold it upright, and we absolutely love it. The drum is controlled with the rotary encoder: push to turn the beat on or off and crank it to change the BPM.

To make it easier to connect up the solenoid and speaker, [Jeremy] had a little I²C helper board fabricated. There’s one SVG connection and another with power and ground swapped in the event it is needed. If you’re interested in the JC Pro Macro, you can pick it up in various forms over on Tindie. Of course, you might want to wait for version 2, which is coming to Kickstarter in October.

There are many ways to make a macro keyboard. Here’s one that also takes gesture input.

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Sparkpad Sparks Joy For Streamers

The best streamers keep their audience constantly engaged. They might be making quips and doing the funny voices that everyone expects them to do, but they’re also busy reading chat messages aloud and responding, managing different scenes and transitions, and so on. Many streamers use a type of macro keyboard called a stream deck to greatly improve the experience of juggling all those broadcasting balls.

Sure, there are dedicated commercial versions, but they’re kind of expensive. And what’s the fun in that, anyway? A stream deck is a great candidate for DIY because you can highly personalize the one you make yourself. Give it clicky switches, if that’s what your ears and fingers want. Or don’t. It’s your macro keyboard, after all.

[Patrick Thomas] and [James Wood] teamed up to build the perfect stream deck for [James]’ Twitch channel. We like the way they went about it, which was to start by assessing a macro pad kit and use what they learned from building and testing it to design their ideal stream deck. The current version supports both the Arduino Pro Micro and the ESP32. It has twelve key switches, a rotary encoder, an LED bar graph, and an OLED screen for choosing between the eight different color schemes.

If you’d rather have dynamic screens instead of cool keycaps, you can do it cheaper by making non-touch screens actuate momentaries.

Custom Num Pad Does Double Duty As Macro Pad

Why buy a num pad or a macropad when you can build something new and beautiful, open source that bad boy, and be a hero to the community? We think that should be all the justification you ever need to build instead of buy, even if you think your thing is Just Another Keypad [JAnK] as [Clewsy] claims.

At first glance, JAnK appears to be a standard number pad with four macro keys across the top. But when you roll your own ‘board, all the keys are programmable. [Clewsy] took advantage of this by adding a second layer that’s accessible with (what else?) the Num Lock key. This switches JAnK over to 21-key macro pad mode.

[Clewsy] rolled their own PCB for this and used the venerable ATMega32u4 because of its HID and USB host capabilities. Every key is backlit, and these LEDs are driven by an MP3202 LED driver and PWM from the AVR. [Clewsy] was able to build a prototype by sawing the num pad off of a stainless steel key switch plate from another build, but eventually ordered JAnK its own custom, laser-cut, stainless steel plate. The lovely enclosure is made of spotted gum wood and an acrylic base.

Putting it all together proved to be a bit problematic. [Clewsy] soldered up the minimum viable components for testing and discovered that the ATMega’s VCC and GND pins were both shorted. This killed the AVR programmer, but not the chip itself, and [Clewsy] happened to have a spare. To add insult to injury, the Num Lock light didn’t work, but [Clewsy] was able to simply reverse the LED instead of ordering a new pile of boards. Check out the detailed write-up with code and tons of pictures over on [Clewsy]’s personal site.

One of the awesome things about this build is that [Clewsy] was able to re-use the code from macr0, which began life as a proof of concept for scanning key matrices, and retired to become a music and media controller.

Go Ape With A Banana Macropad

The super fun thing about macro pads is that they’re inherently ultra-personalized, so why not have fun with them? This appealing little keeb may have been a joke originally, but [dapperrogue] makes a valid point among a bunch of banana-related puns on the project page — the shape makes it quite the ergonomic little input device.

Inside this open-source banana is that perennial favorite for macro pads, the Arduino Pro Micro, and eight switches that are wired up directly to input pins. We’re not sure what flavor of Cherry those switches are, hopefully brown or green, but we suddenly wish Cherry made yellow switches. If you want to build your own, the STLs and code are available, and we know for a fact that other switch purveyors do in fact make yellow-stemmed switches.

Contrary to what the BOM says, we believe the sticker is mandatory because it just makes the build — we imagine there would be fewer double takes without it. Hopefully this fosters future fun keyboard builds from the community, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth into the split version!

There are a bunch of ways to make a macropad, including printing everything but the microcontroller.

Via r/mk and KBD

This Pineapple Keyboard Is The Bomb

Now why didn’t we think of this? While building a dactyl manuform — a semi-ergonomic split keyboard — [dapperrogue] had the life-changing epiphany that keyboards can be any shape or size, as long as there is room for wiring and a microcontroller inside. [dapperrogue]’s first foray into the world of fictional ordnance came in the form of an F-bomb — a round macro keeb made in the classic round explosive shape and covered with function keys. Building on the explosive feedback from that, [dapperrogue] built this bomb of a pineapple keeb, the only anti-personnel factor being the clickiness of the key switches.

This groovy grenade has 25 keys total, 24 of which are in a 4×6 grid around the body. The 25th key, the best one, is hiding under the lever and you bet it can only be actuated by pulling the pin first. We love the use of the lever because it makes us think of Morse code keyers, which might be what we would use that switch for.

Inside is an Arduino Pro Micro running QMK and some skillful wiring. The entirely 3D-printed enclosure is in two main pieces that are connected with M3 screws, plus the top. If you want to pack one of your own, the STLs and firmware are out on GitHub. Just don’t take it to the airport.

Be sure to check out the demos after the break — in the stock firmware, every key types out a different onomatopoeic boom-type sound. Are you more of a pacifist when it comes to macro pad design? That’s understandable. We have plenty of different builds to admire.

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